Short reviews of films playing throughout Tampa Bay
Austin Powers in Goldmember (PG-13) The least fabulous of all the Powers entries to date but still good, disposable fun. Goldmember is really just a loosely connected series of gags, routines and set pieces (not that the other two movies weren't) with much of the humor coming off as more raunchier and more obsessively screwy than ever. As usual, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me steal the show, although Myers gets off a few good licks with the latest addition to his roster of villains, the revolting and thoroughly irritating title character. Highlights include a brief trip back in time to 1975, a quick visit to swingin' Tokyo and, best of all, a series of cameos that begin and end the film on such a high note that everything else feels just a little flat. Stars Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Michael York and Seth Green.
Australia: Land Beyond Time (PG) The film takes us Down Under to the flattest, driest continent on earth, immerses us in parched, otherworldly landscapes and introduces us to tons of incredibly odd and supremely adaptable animals — from cute koalas and feisty dingoes, to an endless variety of bizarrely shaped lizards, to the amazing and little-understood kangaroo. Animal lovers will want to pounce on this one.
Bad Company (PG-13) More a failed genetic experiment than an actual motion picture, Bad Company is a pathetically clumsy attempt to graft not just two completely different genres, but two actors who should never have appeared in the same film. The wisp of a plot of this lazily scripted sub-generic spy movie — something about terrorists attempting to detonate a nuclear weapon in the U.S. — is really just an excuse to allow Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock to share screen time. Also stars Gabriel Macht and John Slattery.
The Bourne Identity (PG-13) Matt Damon plays an amnesiac who also just happens to be a world-class fighter, linguist, escape artist — in fact, he pretty much possesses all the skills of a top-notch spy/sleuth/assassin. Complicating matters is the fact that, even as he tries to reclaim his memory, Damon's being hunted by the ultimate bad guys who appear to be his old bosses — our old pals, the CIA. The Bourne Identity is basically an action movie, but it's an overly murky one that lacks a real sense of urgency or purpose.
Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (PG) An extremely (and probably unintentionally) bizarre hybrid of a movie in which documentary-like sequences featuring cable TV personality Steve Crocodile Hunter Irwin uncomfortably coexisting with a brainless Hollywood comedy about bumbling CIA agents trying to retrieve a fallen satellite in Australia.
The Country Bears (G) A bear cub raised by humans sets out to discover his roots and winds up hanging with an all-bear band in Nashville. Stars Haley Joel Osment, Christopher Walken and Charles S. Dutton.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (PG-13) A consummate chick flick, but not a particularly good movie. Ya Ya spends the better part of two hours alternately skewering and romanticizing its central character — a self-centered, substance-abusing mother played as a young woman by Ashley Judd and as an aging matron by Ellen Burstyn — and then resolves all the complicated issues between the woman and her daughter in a final rush of unrepentant mush.
Eight Legged Freaks (PG-13) Frenetic but utterly brain-dead activity with jumbo-size spiders terrorizing a sleepy little Arizona town. Hordes of aggressive arachnids chatter and giggle as they slither and hop about, creating mayhem, but these critters exhibit virtually no personality . Eight Legged Freaks should have been a lot more fun than it is: It certainly isn't scary, and the humor is infinitely more miss than hit. The CGI spiders are technically impressive as state-of-the-art digital special effects, but soulless — they simply look too clean and perfect to really get under our skins. Stars the ever-annoying David Arquette, as well as Kari Wuhrer and Scarlett Johansson.
The Emperor's New Clothes (PG) A beautifully mounted if unspectacular What If? story in which Napoleon escapes exile from St. Helena in 1821 and returns to Paris, where he goes unrecognized and lives out his days in more or less happy obscurity. Ian Holm is extremely watchable as Napoleon (he's actually played this role on two previous occasions), but the film never rises to the level of its concept. Despite a handful of nice moments, it's basically sweet but slightly dull stuff. Also stars Iben Hjejle and Tim McInnerny. Opens Aug. 2 at Tampa Theatre.
Enough (R) This film completely screws up a premise that cries out for a serious celluloid treatment. Director Michael Apted and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (who penned Reversal of Fortune in another lifetime) aren't interested in exploring such an explosive topic as wife beating; they're more interested in dolling up star Jennifer Lopez and letting her kick ass in an obvious finale that can be predicted even by those who haven't seen the tell-all trailer.