Short reviews of films playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.
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.
Blood Work (R) Clint Eastwood's latest is a workmanlike and wholly unremarkable thriller about a retired FBI agent with a brand new heart transplant and a serial killer on his tail. Eastwood stars and directs and, as in almost all of his films, there are some nicely detailed, low-key moments here. Most of the movie is far too predictable and very close to being an outright bore, however, and there are several dramatic moments that wind up seeming unintentionally funny (one being old Clint's lovemaking scene with yet another starlet 30 years his junior). Also starring Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda De Jesus and Tina Lifford.
Blue Crush (PG-13) For all its faults, this is one surf movie that takes its cue more from Bruce Brown's Endless Summer than from Baywatch. Offering a glimpse into the lives of a group of young female surfers in Oahu, Blue Crush is a fairly interesting movie when it's just following its characters around. When the film attempts to tell us a story — something about finding love, regaining your confidence and becoming the best darned surfer in the word — it's predictable, shallow and not very good. The movie is unusually watchable, though, for such a lame narrative. It pays consistently close, respectful attention to the ins and outs of surf culture, from the beauty and sheer power of the sport to the particulars of the young, Twinkie-gobbling high school dropouts who are its devotees. Stars Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Matthew Davis and Sanoe Lake. Opens Aug. 16 at local theaters.
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.