Films Review July

BODY, THE (PG-13)

All talk and no bite, the new religious thriller “The Body” feels like a double cross. It promises much more than the filmmakers are willing to deliver, and when all is said and done, you feel like you’ve been taken for a ride.


Based on the controversial novel by Richard Ben Sapir, “The Body” is one of those intriguing what if ideas. What if an archaeologist stumbled across a grave that contained the body of Jesus Christ? Imagine the chaos that would ensue. The pillars of religion would crumble, creating mass hysteria. Not in “The Body,” a conventional thriller that never takes itself seriously enough to make a difference. It doesn’t take long to realize that “The Body” is actually a sheep in wolf’s clothing. It looks like a mainstream film, and even stars Antonio Banderas as a Vatican priest sent to investigate the find. Look closer and you’ll see that the film is just more religious propaganda like “Vanished” and “Left Behind.” Unlike the novel, the screenplay by director Jonas McCord is extremely homogenous. Even though it takes place in modern day Israel and involves terrorist activity, not one drop of blood is shed. Why turn off the film’s core audience. So people get shot, but they never bleed. It’s not that kind of movie. If McCord had any guts at all, he would have made a film that forces the audience to either challenge or confirm their faith. Instead, he takes the cowards way out by creating an ending that reaffirms their beliefs. That’s not a bad thing, but it does rob the film of any impact. A real thriller would have left us in the dark, never knowing the truth. (Columbia-TriStar)

DRACULA 2000 (R)

Wes Craven presented this update of the Bram Stoker legend, a familiar tale that gains its strength from unexpected revelations. Gerard Butler plays the Prince of Darkness, who has been tucked away in the bobby-trapped vault of antiques dealer Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) for the past century. Unaware of what hides inside the vault, Van Helsing’s assistant Solina (Jennifer Esposito) arranges a high-tech heist. The thieves don’t know what’s in the coffin, but since someone went through so much effort to protect it, they steal it anyway. Bad move. It’s not long before Dracula is up and about, turning everyone he meets into either vampires or pulp. Justine Waddell co-stars as Mary, a New Orleans record store clerk who finds herself being stalked by Dracula. “Dracula 2000” isn’t a great film, but it is very serviceable. The actors all seem to be on the same page, and the script takes some daring leaps with its connection to Jesus. The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces, including Omar Epps, Jonny Lee Miller, Danny Masterson (“That 70’s Show”), Lochlyn Monroe and Jeri Ryan. (Dimension)

HEAD OVER HEELS (PG-13)

Lightweight piece of fluff takes its cue from Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” but comes nowhere close to being as exciting or satisfying. Monica Potter (“Patch Adams”) plays Amanda, an art restorer for the Met in Manhattan. Amanda has better luck with art than with men, especially when she walks in on her live-in boyfriend’s afternoon delight with a model. Desperate for a place to live, Amanda settles into an apartment shared by four models. Talk about Karma. When her roommates learn that Amanda is attracted to fashion executive Jim Winston (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who lives in the building across the street, they doll her up and crash one of his parties. Of course it’s love at first sight, and the two hit it off immediately. Amanda thinks she’s found Mr. Right, until she believes she sees Winston kill someone. Is her dream man a nightmare? Not to worry, as “Head Over Heels” never strays far enough from familiar territory. It’s exactly what you expect, nothing more, nothing less. Those who appreciate such efforts will enjoy the ride. (Universal)

SNATCH (R)

Madonna’s husband Guy Ritchie directed this fast-paced yet ultimately dull crime caper that feels like pieces of other movies thrown into a blender and poured out on the screen. Despite a fascinating cast, Ritchie can’t stand still long enough to let any of them do their jobs. He’s more content with filling the screen with self-indulgent camerawork and music video editing, exactly what you would expect from a a former music video director. An 84-carat diamond is the focus of several nefarious groups, including the diamond thief (Benicio Del Toro) who took it, a Russian mob boss (Rade Sherbedgia), crooked boxing promoters and a local mobster who disposes of his enemies by feeding them to the pigs. All colorful types, but they seem lost in the script’s numerous twists and turns and double and triple crosses. Brad Pitt has some funny moments as a gypsy boxer who doesn’t understand the meaning of taking a dive. Worth a look, but nowhere near as clever or engaging as the director thinks it is. (Columbia-TriStar)

WEDDING PLANNER, THE (PG-13)

Jennifer Lopez sparkles in this winsome romantic comedy as Mary, a wedding planner who is so wrapped up in her work that she doesn’t have time to plan her own wedding, much less find a groom. Fearing that his daughter will grow up to be an old maid, Mary’s father Salvatore (Alex Rocco) sets her up with childhood friend Massimo (Justin Chambers), hoping that sparks will fly. Sparks fly, but not between Massimo and Mary. When Mary is rescued by handsome pediatrician Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey), she believes that she has found the man of her dreams. They share a perfect evening before Mary finds out that Steve is the fiancĂ©e of her new client, a rich internet entrepreneur (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) whose account she desperately needs to get a promotion. Despite the expected complications, the cast makes this much more than it is. Lopez and McConaughey make a great on-screen couple, while the script and direction are just as engaging. Great supporting cast includes Kathy Najimy, Joanna Gleason, Charles Kimbrough, and Judy Greer. (Columbia-TriStar)



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