2 items from 2002
2 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Where's Vin Diesel when you need him?
In "Extreme Ops", a pair of snowboarders who have teamed up with a downhill gold medalist to shoot a commercial in the Austrian Alps find themselves having to outmaneuver nasty terrorists in addition to the obligatory avalanche.
It's the kind of stuff that could use a larger-than-life lead, but, given the budget constraints of this German-British co-production, big-ticket talent has had to take a back seat to cost-effective backdrops.
They're in vivid, wind-swept supply here and, in the capable hands of former cinematographer Christian Duguay (the Emmy-nominated director of "Joan of Arc"), the able international cast looks convincingly frostbitten.
But because of a cumbersome script that takes forever to click into gear, too much of the picture ends up getting left out in the cold.
The result, which wasn't screened in advance for critics to file opening-day reviews, won't be drawing a large Thanksgiving weekend crowd, but neither is it a turkey, despite all the extra stuffing.
Determined to please an important Japanese client, a smarmy ad executive (England's Rupert Graves with a very convincing American accent) and a British commercial director (Rufus Sewell) overcome their concept vs. cost differences and agree to make a high-stakes commercial for a new digital video camera involving three expert skiers and a fast-moving avalanche.
With a pair of gonzo snowboarders (Jana Pallaske and Joe Absolom) and a comely gold medalist (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) in tow, the production sets up camp in an unfinished resort perched on a 12,000-foot mountaintop straddling the border of the former Yugoslavia.
It just so happens that a highly dangerous Serbian war criminal (Klaus Lowitsch) has been taking refuge in the very same spot after having faked his death in a plane crash, and when the crew's cameraman (Devon Sawa) inadvertently shoots footage of the bad guy, all hell breaks loose.
Unfortunately, the script, credited to first-time screenwriter Michael Zaidan, requires the game cast to trudge through an awful lot of exposition before getting to the heart-pounding bits; by the time those more involving action sequences finally arrive, the effectively chilled viewer is too "XXX"hausted to muster up much enthusiasm.
Paramount Pictures, MDP Worldwide and Diamant Cohen Prods. present an Apollomedia/Extreme Prods. production in association with the Carousel Picture Co.
Director: Christian Duguay
Screenwriter: Michael Zaidan
Story: Timothy Scott Bogart, Mark Mullin
Producers: Moshe Diamant, Mark Mullin
Director of photography: Hannes Hubach
Production designer: Philip Harrison
Editors: Clive Barrett, Sylvain Lebel
Costume designer: Maria Schicker
Music: Normand Corbeil, Stanislas Syrewicz
Will: Devon Sawa
Chloe: Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Jeffrey: Rupert Graves
Ian: Rufus Sewell
Mark: Heino Ferch
Silo: Joe Absolom
Kittie: Jana Pallaske
Yana: Liliana Komorowska
Pavle: Klaus Lowitsch
Running time -- 93 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
30 August 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Managing to be nonsensical, shamelessly derivative, leeringly exploitative and fundamentally boring all at the same time, "FearDotCom" is the latest in a wave of grotesquely inept horror pictures that are giving the genre a horrific name.
Directed by William Malone (1999's "House on Haunted Hill" remake) from a script by Josephine Coyle based on a story by producer Moshe Diamant, this U.K./Germany/Luxembourg co-production, which also includes location filming in Montreal, boasts seven executive producers and not one moment of genuine suspense or even a hint of dramatic tension.
There is, however, no shortage of flashing images of screaming, naked women being tortured and mutilated, which the film keeps coming back to at every given opportunity.
The only upside to all of this unpleasantness is, given its Labor Day weekend upload, "FearDotCom" should log a minimal number of hits.
It's generally a good rule of thumb that when an opening segment features a haunted-looking guy (fright flick fave Udo Kier) being hit by a subway train while clutching a book called "The Secret Soul of the Internet," movie magic will unlikely follow.
At least in that respect, the film doesn't disappoint, as brash New York police detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) joins forces with attractive Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to figure out why four very different people have died nasty deaths just 48 hours after each logged on to Feardotcom.com, a live-cam Web site with a virtual hostess who starts off the fun by asking each visitor if they'd like to hurt her.
Letting their curiosity get the best of them, Mike and Terry take the site's bait, meaning they've got just two days to track down a diabolical cyber killer or meet a fate similar to that of the four victims.
Of course, the bigger mystery here is why so many so-called New Yorkers speak with a toned-down but still very noticeable German accents, but that's the least of the picture's problems.
More pronounced problems are the regurgitated stylistic and narrative elements from "The Cell", "Seven" and many other popular genre pieces that the filmmakers have seen fit to haphazardly pile on.
It's also sad to see sturdy actors like Academy Award-nominated Stephen Rea, who plays the sicko villain, willing to taint their reputation for an all-expenses-paid trip to Luxembourg.
Behind-the-scenes contributions don't do much to clear up any of the muddle. Judging from all the darkly photographed scenes, the money they were able to save on illumination was spent on renting those irritating strobe lights.
Warner Bros. Pictures
MDP Worldwide presents an Apollomedia/Fear.com Productions/Carousel Film Co. co-production with the support of Film Fund Luxembourg
Director: William Malone
Screenwriter: Josephine Coyle
Story: Moshe Diamant
Producers: Moshe Diamant and Limor Diamant
Director of photography: Christian Sebaldt
Production designer: Jerome Latour
Editor: Alan Strachan
Music: Nicholas Pike
Mike Reilly: Stephen Dorff
Terry Huston: Natascha McElhone
Alistair Pratt: Stephen Rea
Polidori: Udo Kier
Denise: Amelia Curtis
Styles: Jeffrey Combs
Running time -- 101 minutes
MPAA rating: R
2 items from 2002
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