It’s been four years since we last saw columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her faithful best friends--Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). The years have been kind to them: Charlotte is living her dream life with her loving husband Harry (Evan Handler) and adoptive 3-year-old Chinese daughter; Samantha has moved to L.A. to manage her boy toy Smith’s (Jason Lewis) acting career and give monogamy a chance; Miranda is a working mom in Brooklyn juggling her demanding career and her marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg); and finally Carrie now a bestselling author who has settled into domestic bliss with her beloved “man friend” John James Preston aka Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Domestic bliss? Carrie and Big? Is that possible? Well let’s just say the road to happiness still isn’t smooth for any of them (save maybe Charlotte) but the film’s outcome is a wholly satisfying experience. For our four lovely leading ladies reprising their Sexy alter egos must have been like riding a bicycle. Parker Nixon Davis and Cattrall defined their SATC roles so succinctly during the HBO show’s six-year run that watching them again feels as if they never stopped. Parker especially eases right back into Carrie mode albeit older and wiser. Gone are her earlier youthful hang ups about commitment replaced by a stronger more mature Carrie--who still has her quirky insecurities. And of course her fabulous one-liners still fly fast and furious (“I need to get out of this Mexi-coma” is a personal favorite). Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson adds a fifth element to the proceedings as Carrie’s smart and sassy assistant who has firm belief in love. The men of SATC also fit right in again. Noth’s Big in particular continues to frustrate but ultimately becomes the man we all knew he could be. The road to a big-screen adaptation of Sex and the City was also not a smooth one. After the show ended in 2004 there were immediate talks about doing a movie version. But not everyone in the cast was ready to continue the gig--namely Kim Cattrall who decided she needed a break (and possibly more money). Still through the perseverance of producer Sarah Jessica Parker and writer/director Michael Patrick King SATC The Movie finally became a reality--and we are very thankful that it did. Many fans just couldn’t let go after the show’s series finale; they wanted more. And so the film gives back in spades bringing us back into these women’s lives for awhile longer--almost to a fault actually. The half-hour TV show was perfect but a SATC film at two hours and some change drags a little in the middle. There’s also the fact the film is certainly grander glossier in scale than the more grounded TV show. Nevertheless it’s just what the doctor ordered for those lovers of all things Sex and the City. Bring on the sequels!
In this latest doomsday pic Earth's inner core has stopped rotating a situation that will eventually cause the planet's electromagnetic fields to collapse. If it isn't fixed pronto static charges will create "super storms" that will generate hundreds of lightening strikes per square mile and cause microwave radiation to ultimately cook the planet. Government and military officials conjure up a team of scientists led by geophysicist Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) to travel to the planet's core and get it spinning again. Accompanying them are geophysicist Dr. Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) atomic weapons expert Dr. Levesque (Tchéky Karyo) "terranauts" Major Childs (Hilary Swank) and Commander Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Dr. Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo)--the renegade scientist who built the subterranean vessel. Their mission is to travel to the center of the earth to detonate a nuclear device that will hopefully jump-start the core and save the world. Like the "terranauts" grinding their way through Earth's layers to get to the planet's core The Core laboriously plods through the storyline to get to its climax--and both are equally uneventful.
Despite a really corny scene in which he demonstrates what will happen to the planet by torching some sort of fruit on a fork Eckhart (Possession) is believable as the sensible Keyes. Co-star Swank (Insomnia) meanwhile brings intensity to the role of fledgling astronaut Childs. It is Tucci (Big Trouble) however who creates the film's most interesting character the arrogant Dr. Zimsky. The diva-esque geophysicist heads to the center of the earth in style with his Louis Vuitton monogrammed canvas bag and an endless supply of cigarettes--making him politically--and refreshingly--incorrect. You'll love how he pompously records the mission's progress in a Carl Sagan-style narration. Back at mission control D.J. Qualls' computer-hacking character Rat mirrors a recent report describing the characteristics of computer virus writers: Male. Obsessed with computers. Lacking a girlfriend. Aged 14 to 34. Capable of sowing chaos worldwide. Qualls (The New Guy) couldn't be more suited for this digital graffiti artist role.
Director Jon Amiel helps define the film's main characters by weaving vignettes of their everyday lives throughout the first half of the film but so much effort is devoted to exploring their individual backgrounds that relationships among the team members are never established. The minor characters are like extras in a Star Trek episode--they're just onscreen to die. The Core also fizzles as a believable disaster movie because of its flimsy scientific reasoning even if you try to suspend your disbelief for the sake of cinematic "escapism." While I can make myself believe for example that a government-created weapon of mass destruction is to blame for the planet's imminent annihilation I cannot buy into the notion that this high-tech vessel was built by a renegade scientist in his backyard and is able to withstand the rough trip to the center of the earth. Although the film's original November release date was delayed because more time was needed to complete the special effects don't expect to be visually dazzled by the voyage. Most of what we see is what the "terranauts" see on their screen: spotty black-and-white renditions of sharp jagged rock. Scenes of the Roman Coliseum getting zapped by lightening and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge melting aren't convincing either.
New York City detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) teams up with Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to investigate five bizarre deaths. Before long they discover that all the victims died exactly 48 hours after visiting the Web site feardotcom.com. The site itself looks amateurish with rapid-fire images of a strange doorway screaming faces torture tools and indiscernible grainy objects. Users log on to watch a twisted doctor perform autopsies on people--while they're still alive torturing his victims until they beg to be killed. The voyeurs must then interact with a mysterious woman who asks things like "Do you want to hurt me?" She challenges users to find her within two days--or die. Those who don't find her end up suffering whatever gruesome fate they fear most and--this is the best bit--it's brought on by some sort of evil force generated through the computer. Of course curiosity gets the better of them and Mike and Terry log on to the site only to find themselves embroiled in a supernatural violent fight for their lives. If this explanation made sense that's more than we can say for the plot of feardotcom.
Dorff is well cast as Mike Reilly a brash young city police detective whose curious nature gets him into trouble. But the character is too simplistic and underdeveloped to give Dorff much to do. Although we get a little more insight into McElhone's character Terry (we know she has a cat name Benny for example) there isn't much to like or dislike about her. Dorff and McElhone's characters strike up a sort of friendship as the film progresses but there isn't much chemistry between the actors. A couple of the creepier roles in the film are much more entertaining to watch especially Stephen Rea and Michael Sarrazin. Rea plays Alistair Pratt the twisted doctor whose torture victims provide feardotcom.com's "entertainment " while Sarrazin plays Frank Sykes a drunk and washed-up author. It's a shame these two didn't have more screen time.
Director William Malone explains in the production notes for the film that feardotcom offers both a scientific and spiritual explanation for what happens in the film and that it is ultimately up to moviegoers to decide which school of thought they subscribe to. But the film's storyline is so convoluted and contradictory that it's difficult to figure out what question the film is asking let alone find the answer. Even if nothing about the story--or the philosophical questions it purports to ask--makes sense the intense look of the film is enough to keep you watching. Malone bathes the film in murky blue tones and sunlight never even trickles in. Offices are dimly lit and apartments are always dank and dilapidated. It rains day and night. The weird flashes of images presented in this setting are graphic and disturbing making feardotcom a film for the strong of heart--and stomach.