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HTF DVD REVIEW: Fool's Gold



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#1 of 1 Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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  • 6,068 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 20 2001
  • Real Name:Kenneth McAlinden
  • LocationLivonia, MI USA

Posted June 17 2008 - 07:29 AM

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Fool's Gold

Directed By: Andy Tennant

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Ewen Bremner
Alexis Dziena, Kevin Hart, Ray Winstone
Studio: Warner Brothers

Year: 2008

Rated: PG-13

Film Length: 112 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Release Date: June 17, 2008

The Film

Matthew McConaughey plays enthusiastic dim bulb Caribbean treasure hunter Ben Finnegan who's life takes a double turn for the worse when he runs afoul of his current financier, murderous thug rapper Bigg Bunny (Hart), coincident with the finalization of a divorce from his wife, Tess (Hudson). Tess has had enough of Ben's irresponsible ways that have consumed all of their finances, and plans to return to Chicago and resume her history studies as soon as she can get herself financially solvent. In the mean time she is crewing on the yacht of uber-wealthy Nigel Honeycut (Sutherland). A desperate Ben escapes an assassination attempt from Bigg Bunny after making a discovery he is sure will lead him to a massive lost 18th century Spanish treasure called "The Queen's Dowry". Completely broke, he ingratiates himself with the Paris Hilton like Gemma Honeycutt (Dziena), eventually landing on her father Nigel's yacht, much to Tess' chagrin. After explaining his discovery, he convinces Honeycutt and Tess to assist him in searching for the treasure in and around a private island owned by Bigg Bunny. Bunny, for his part, hires rival treasure hunter Moe Fitch (Winstone) to find it before they do.

Fool's Gold is an incredibly undemanding adventure comedy that gets by almost entirely on the beauty of its location photography and the charisma of its two lead stars. Other than that, the characters are basically a group of stereotypes, and the talented supporting cast is wasted with each playing a single broad note over and over again.

Although the screenplay's chief sin remains its lazy characterizations, another mis-step of note is one of the most protracted and dull scenes of exposition I have scene in a modern film. It involves McConaughey and Hudson's characters explaining the history of the Queen's Dowry to the Honeycutt's, and I swear it makes the scene from Psycho with Simon Oakland as the Psychiatrist look positively efficient by comparison.

The third major flaw results from the film spending way too much time on the relationship between Nigel and Gemma. Like all of the supporting characters, they are drawn incredibly broadly and never do anything surprising or interesting. Despite this, the filmmakers seemed to think the viewer would develop a vested interest in whether they could re-establish their father-daughter relationship.

To their credit, McConaughey and Hudson do seem to have a knack for bickering in an entertaining way which makes their scenes together watchable, although one cannot help but wish they were in a better movie. The location photography, much of which uses Australia to stand in for Florida and the Carribean , is impressive, and provides some appealingly sunny eye candy, particularly nice for theatrical viewers who would have seen it when it was released in February.

The Video

Being an increasingly rare example of a Warner new theatrical release encoded on a dual-layered disc, I was hoping that this 16:9 enhanced presentation at the film's theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 would offer significantly improved image quality over the bit starved single-layered presentations I have been reviewing lately. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The presentation suffers from artifacts that look something like an unholy marriage between edge ringing and mosquito noise with noisy bright ringing around high contrast edges. Curious as to why a dual layered title under two hours with minimal extras would look like it had compression issues, I checked the disc out on my DVD-ROM drive and found that it did not even use five GB of the available eight GB capacity of the dual layered disc.

The Audio

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is encoded at a 384 kbps bitrate. It provides a decent rendering of the moderately immersive surround mix which comes to life particularly during the film's action and comedic set pieces. Fidelity holds up pretty well despite the relatively low bitrate encoding. Alternate language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are presented in Spanish and French.

The Extras

The first item on the special features menu is the featurette Fool's Gold: Flirting with Adventure which is presented in 16:9 enhanced video and runs four minutes and 34 seconds. As one may guess from the brief running time, it is a very light and fluffy electronic press kit style piece that focuses almost entirely on the subject of the on-screen chemistry of the film's two main stars. Commentators, who are usually interviewed on set or on location, include Hudson, McConaughey, Producer Donald DeLine, Director Andy Tennant, and Stunt Coordinator Ray A. Rondell.

A Gag Reel is presented in 16:9 ehanced video and runs two minutes and 46 seconds. It consists of a combination of outtake film footage as well as additional shots caught behind the scenes featuring the standard assortment of line flubbing and goofing around by the cast and crew.

Packaging

The disc is packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with no inserts. The disc is a dual-layered DVD-9.

Summary

Fool's Gold is an undemanding action comedy that tries to get by on charm, but quickly depletes any audience goodwill by constantly trading in stereotypes. It is presented on DVD with a transfer that suffers from noisy edge ringing artifacts that will be particularly bothersome to those watching via large screen projection. Extras consist of a very brief featurette that is more promotional than informative and a three minute gag reel.

Regards,

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA