random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

DVD REVIEW: Haven (2004) *

Haven (2005)
R for language, drug use, sexual content and some violence.
98 min.

written & directed by: Frank E. Flowers
produced by: Robbie Brenner & Bob Yari



This Blockbuster online thing is kinda cool. They'll send me any three DVDs I order online and when I'm done viewing them, if I return them in an actual Blockbuster store....I get three FREE in-store rentals. Hello! So, I've been renting quite a bit of movies that I've either wanted to catch up on or older movies that I've simply wanted to finally see.

All I need now is more time. My wife has been noticing that most of these movie selections have been strictly my choices. Taking note of this as well, I asked her what she would like to see sometime. Of course, she didn't know but asked that the next time I'm lookin' around that I select something I think she'd like. Knowing that she likes Orlando Bloom. I unfortunately picked this dud. Even she could not list this as mere eye candy as Bloom is far from pretty or hunky in this film.

Anyone ever heard of this movie or remember it in the theater? There's a reason. Now and then there are movies that are filmed and produced years before their release date. In the case, here's a movie that was made in 2004 and was released in very limited release for a short time in September of 2006. This usually happens when the studio knows the film is a dud and hopes to recoup any expenses upon DVD release. Well, I dunno if that's gonna happen with this one but ya never know cuz people do tend to rent crap movies. Okay, so you obviously know how I feel about the movie before I've even gone into what the movie is about....or at least tries to be about....
The laughable muddled crime drama is set in the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean outpost as famous for its tax-free, no-questions-asked banking attractions as for its tropical beauty. That's where a shady Miami businessman Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) flees the feds, dragging along his restless 18-year-old daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner), who falls in with a scamming local wanna-be thug named Fritz (Victor Rasuk), while elsewhere on the island a different sort of poor local Shy (Orlando Bloom, yes, his dreamy, low-energy self, cast as another cutie of lowly birth) is conducting a secret romance with the comely daughter Andrea, pronounced "On-drey-uh" (Zoë Saldaña, soon to be in James Cameron's return "The Avatar") of a powerful, rich man Mr. Sterling (Robert Wisdom), the Romeo and Juliet-ness of which is uncovered by her hotheaded weakling brother Hammer (Anthony Mackie), who throws acid in the cute poor boy's face. Then the screen goes black, followed by those traditional words of cinematic defeat, ''four months later''....





Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana in Yari Film Group's Haven
I'm not gonna even bother to let you in on what picks up after those four months. It's just not easy to describe and flat boring. I guess I'll also mention that Stephen Dillane (taking a break from futball movies) as a nefarious financial adviser, Bobby Cannavale as a federal agent, or Jake Weber as a cop, three more of the bemused name-brand cast. I was dismayed to see the talented Joy Bryant here in a small but somewhat pivotal role cuz I really did like her "Antoine Fisher" but....ah well.
Perhaps this is precisely the sort of film you can imagine being pitched to actors as "a working vacation with an easy paycheck." I certainly can't picture any of these actors being drawn in by writer/director Frank E. Flowers' (nice mafia name) script -- a pathetic over-heated piece of melodrama that, bizarrely, seems to incorporate elements of "Laguna Beach" and "Romeo & Juliet." Yeah, no questions asked about character motivation, story coherence, or whether the mania for movies composed of seemingly unrelated, interlocking stories peaked even back in 2004, when it was made. I can answer the last: No. Wait for Babel. Yup, it's that desperate. I can appreciate a good sun, skin and surf flick as much as the next guy, but I can only suspend my disbelief for so much.
I'm always baffled as to the way movies are plugged. Sometimes there will be movie critics from a newspaper or news station from a town you never heard of and then there's the various taglines above the movie title that would read something like "from the makers of" or "from the producers of" blah blah blah). In this case, the film is being plugged as "the team behind Oscar winner "Crash", another piece of cinema tied together by coincidence and chance. So what/ What does that mean? Was it written by Oscar winner Paul Haggis who wrote & directed "Crash"? What? What is the connection? The only difference between the two films is that with "Crash", you at least somewhat cared about the characters, here, not a chance. I just wanted to slap all these characters in the face and the actors on the hand. Bordering on ludicrous by its climax, "Haven" doesn't wrap itself up neatly so much as it explodes all over the screen in a messy, senseless fashion. There's crap and then there's crap -- here's a movie that doesn't even have the decency to have a sense of humor about it all.
Special Features:
Ha! I didn't even bother. Sometimes I'll look at the special features of a dud film with the hopes of finding ANY redeeming quality, but, alas I couldn't bring myself to do so. There's a three minute, 26 second making-of featurette, along with the film's theatrical trailer and a couple other films. Meh.
The Skinny:
  • I really didn't find much about this movie which didn't surprise me one bit. I did find this weak interview with Bloom and Saldana here.
  • Turns out the common denominator between this film and "Crash" is it's producer Bob Yari. Never go on that alone.

DVD REVIEW: Snakes on a Plane (2006) **1/2

Snake on a Plane (2006)



R for language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence.
1 hr. 45 min.

written by: Dave Delassandro & John Hefferman & Sebastion Gutierrez
produced by: Craig Berenson, Dave Granger, & Gary Levinsohn
directed by: David Ellis


"Snakes....why did it have to be snakes?"

- Indiana Jones

The virtual match that struck up the heat on this movie happened about this time last year, methinks. It may have started with the curiousity that surrounded the film's title which I'm sure must have started as a movie execs joke or fatigued brainstorm. How many times do you see a movie summed up in it's title....I mean, there's "Scary Movie" but that's an obvious parody. But, here's a movie with all intentions and purposes intact. I mean the story and characters are playing this serious but the director is laughing along with you. So is Samuel L. Jackson who the producers can thank for ever getting this movie to the big screen. He supported this movie even when there were thoughts about changing the title. I figured a stupid action/suspense/horror film with a dumb title starring Jackson has gotta be worth a look see. I knew its hype was overblown last August still I knew I'd see it on DVD at some point....

The movie starts with surfer named Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) driving around Hawaii on his dirt bike and sucking back some Red Bull when he comes across a gangster named Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) in the midst of killing someone who got just a little too close for comfort. Kim sees him and sends his cronies after him – they can't leave any witnesses alive, of course. Sean heads back to his apartment (which is stocked with more Red Bull) and just as he hears someone breaking in through the front door he heads out back and meets Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), an F.B.I. agent who has somehow managed to find out what's happening and arrive just in time to save him from certain death. Yeah, if they plane had as many plotholes as the story the movie would end real quick.




Tygh Runyan in New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane




Flynn and his partner convince Sean to testify against Kim and decide to fly him back to LA where the trial is goin' down. They commandeer the second level-first class section of a big ol' jetliner and, with the rest of the supporting cast tucked firmly away in coach and a witty pilot named Rick Archibald (the great David Koechner) in the cockpit, they leave Hawaii for the lengthy trip over the Pacific Ocean. Where there's nothing but, yes, water....and you know snakes are gonna be on this plane and there's nowhere to go! Kim has somehow managed to get a gigantic box of poisonous snakes on the plane and has had all of the lei's that the passengers were given by the airline doused in a pheromone that is known to make snakes unusually aggressive. Once they're up in the air, the snakes are unleashed and Agent Flynn has to take charge of the situation to make sure that he gets Sean safely to L.A. while trying to save as many innocent civilians as possible.







Julianna Margulies in New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane




Thankfully, he's not completely alone – there are four members of the flight crew: Grace (Lin Shaye), Claire (Julianna Margulies), Tiffany (Sunny Mabrey) and Ken (Bruce James), a rapper named Three G's (Flex Alexander – a great name for an action figure!) and his two body guards Troy (Kenan Thompson) and Big Leroy (Keith Dallas), a ditzy Paris Hilton (Rachal Blanchard) type chick with her annoying tiny dog (you know that dog's fate), a snooty English dude (Gerard Plunkett) who doesn't like Americans or the ditzy chick's dog, and a young foreign lady (Elsa Pataky) and her newborn baby. Oh, and there's a competitive kickboxer (Terry Chen) on the plane too, but he doesn't really do much. If this cast of characters seems over the top or crazy just remember those Airport disaster movies from the '70's and all the various victims they had on those planes. That's pretty much the same deal here.






Passengers are surprised to discover that there are, in fact, snakes on their plane in New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane


Jackson's screen presence and penchant for chewing through even the thickest of scenery are reason enough to give this a look, the best part of the movie is the creativity and complete stupidity of the snakes themselves. Wanna see a couple who smoke a doobie and try to join the mile high club get attacked by snakes? You got it. Wanna see a guy take a leak and have his ding-a-ling get attacked by a snake that jumps out of the toilet? You got it...they thought of that too! Snakes are all over this plane, biting women in the eyes and fat dudes on their heiny with reckless abandon. You've got big snakes, small snakes, in-between snakes - snakes of many colors, shapes and size are all here, and they're all biting people like crazy. There's even a burmese python that somehow got in the lights and crashes down to squeeze to death the snotty English dude. After a while you're cheering for them reptiles....way to go snakes!






Kenan Thompson in New
 Line's Snakes on a Plane



Let's be real....if you're the type of viewer who wants realism in their cinema, this one ain't for you. Even if you're able to suspend your disbelief easily enough, it's hard not to scratch your head wondering why certain characters do what they do or even how exactly the snakes got on the plane undetected in the first place. There are so many flubs in the film that it's hard to keep track of them all, and nothing really happens for any logical reason either. The characters are all stereotypes of some sort (with Jackson even playing the stereotype of himself) and the dialogue and actions of these stereotypes play exactly as you would expect them to. That being said, the movie is a lot of fun! Its' big, dumb, and it knows it. It works in elements from disaster movies, horror movies, and action movies with plenty of darkly comic touches. The end result is a sort of tasty can of cheap genre stew. Not something you'd order at a fancy restaurant, but a tasty meal of a movie that warms your belly and which satisfies your hunger....for venom in the sky! High art it's not, but it's a great beer and pizza movie.






Samuel L. Jackson in New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane










Special Features:



There's a pretty impressive selection here starting things off with an audio commentary featuring director David Ellis and the man himself, Samuel L. Jackson. Also here are visual effects guru Erik Henry, producers Craig Berenson and Tawny Ellis, and second unit director Freddie Hice. I only listened to some of the commentary which is, of course, pretty humorous with Jackson cracking jokes left and right. Along the way they talk about how the project came together and point out interesting facts along the way. They cover how the movie started as a project called "Venom" with MTV/Paramount, then how it finally wound up at New Line. They talked about how Samuel Jackson stood by the "Snakes On A Plane" name, with Jackson elaborating on why he felt that it was a good name as it tells you exactly what you're going to see in the movie. They explain how snake vision (yes, you read that right. Hey, snakes gotta see too!) was used and elaborate on little things that pop up in the movie, but generally they just seem to be having a good time watching the film together.






Samuel L. Jackson and director David R. Ellis on the set of New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane
I watched the hilarious Gag Reel which features some flubs with the snake trainer, with the rapper and his bodyguards, with the pilot, and with some of the effects work. Then there was the Deleted/Extended Scenes, ten of them in total: None of these really alter the movie as it was shown in theaters very much and most (though not all) were trimmed for pacing reasons if the optional commentary from both Ellis', and Berenson is anything to go by. Up next were a series of featurettes starting with Pure Venom: The Making Of Snakes On A Plane which features some fun behind the scenes footage and interviews with most of the crew members as well as the writers and some of the cast members. They explain where the idea came from and how the project came together as well as how Jackson came on board. Jackson himself talks about his character and what he liked about the movie while a lot of the other actors talk about what it was like working with him and what it was like working with snakes. It's fairly generic and self congratulatory as these things usually are but there are also some refreshingly honest moments like when they discuss how they tried to work in a lot of pop culture with some of the characters, the rapper specifically. The behind the scenes footage that concentrates on the effects and how they accomplished them is pretty interesting as are the all too brief instances where we see some of the production art. We see how some of the CGI was used and how many of the scenes with the snakes in them were shot.






Snake handler Jules Sylvester and director David R. Ellis on the set of New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane


The second featurette is called Meet The Reptiles and, as you could probably gather from the title, it's a segment where most of the people who were in the first featurette show up again to talk about snakes. Sigh. Jackson, Shaye and a few of the others discuss the unpredictability of working with snakes and how they were incorporated into the movie. It's not a big time science piece, but it is fairly interesting. This is followed by a VFX Featurette that shows how big a role computer animation played in creating the interaction between the actors and the snakes that we see in the film. There's some interesting behind the scenes and raw animation footage in here that makes it worth a look.

Up next is Snakes On A Blog and it examines the internet buzz that propelled the film long before it was even seen by any one. There are some great clips here of the fan films that were made around the time that the hype was peaking and this does a great job of documenting how it all spiraled out of control starting with a mention on Ain't It Cool News. There's some fun fan art in here as well as footage from the premiere and the blogger after party that New Line held.


Rounding out the extra features on the disc are a music video (complete with an optional making of documentary), a soundtrack info text screen, five TV spots and two original theatrical trailers for the film, trailers for other New Line DVD releases, animated menus and chapter stops. For the DVD-Rom equipped, New Line has also supplied the disc with some 'Interactual' content that allows you to watch the movie with some interactive content and which features some exclusive web links. There's also an Easter Egg found in the TV Spots section that plays a mock airline safety warning.






The Skinny:




  • The story is credited to Mr. David Dalessandro, a University of Pittsburgh administrator and first-time Hollywood writer, who developed the concept in 1992 after reading a nature magazine. Dalessandro said: "I read about the Indonesian brown tree snake climbing onto planes in cargo during World War II." He originally wrote the screenplay about the brown tree snake loose on a plane, titling the film Venom. He soon revised it, expanding upon the premise to include a plague of assorted poisonous snakes, then—crediting the film "Alien"—revised it once again to include "lots of them loose in the fuselage of a plane."
  • Dalessandro's third draft of "Venom" was turned down by more than 30 Hollywood studios in 1995. However, in 1999, a producer for MTV/Paramount showed interest in the script, followed up by New Line Studios, which took over the rights for production.
  • Originally, the film was going to be helmed by Hong Kong action director Ronny Yu. Jackson, who had previously worked with Yu on "The 51st State", learned about the announced project in the Hollywood trade newspapers and, after talking to Yu, agreed to sign on without reading the script based on the director, storyline and allegedly the title.
  • Surprisingly, the film's title and premise generated a lot of pre-release interest on the Internet. One journalist even wrote that Snakes on a Plane is "perhaps the most internet-hyped film of all time". Much of the initial publicity came from a blog entry made by screenwriter Josh Friedman, who had been offered a chance to work on the script. The casting of Jackson further increased anticipation. At one point, the film's working title was altered to "Pacific Air Flight 121". In August 2005, Jackson told an interviewer, "We're totally changing that back. That's the only reason I took the job: I read the title." On March 2, 2006, the studio reverted the title to Snakes on a Plane. New Line hired two additional writers to smooth out the screenplay.
  • Over 450 snakes were used for filming to represent thirty different species of snakes. The different species include a 19-foot boa constrictor, a Scarlet Kingsnake (the non-venomous double for the coral snake), a milk snake (which attacks the couple having sex), corn snakes, rattlesnakes, and mangrove snakes. About two-thirds of the snakes seen throughout the film were either animatronic or computer generated.
  • On June 13, 2006, comic book writer Chuck Dixon announced on his web site that he would be writing the comic book adaptation of Snakes on a Plane. DC Comics has since released a two issue miniseries on August 16, 2006 and September 27, 2006 under their Wildstorm imprint. In January 2006, Wired featured the film as "The best worst film of 2006", based solely on the title and concept of the movie.
  • Snakes on a Plane: The Complete Quote Book was released by HarperCollins on August 8, 2006.
  • Some radio stations have noted the hype associated with the movie in their broadcasts, creating fake promos for supposed sequels such as Dinosaurs in a Cab, 'Whitesnakes on a Plane, and Trouser Snakes on a Plane. Many have also been using the voice message of Samuel L. Jackson, which is found on the film's official site, for promoting their stations.
  • Several independent T-shirt manufacturers made T-shirts with graphics illustrating various humorous representations of the movie. One, created by Jeffrey Rowland, depicts a frontal exterior view of a plane cockpit, with the pilot and co-pilot depicted as snakes themselves. Another uses vintage road signs to formulate "Snakes + Plane = Snakes on a Plane". A third showed a cartoon representation of Samuel Jackson's Mace Windu character from the "Star Wars" film series cutting down snakes with a lightsaber. It was pulled, presumably for copyright reasons.
  • Many of the early fan-made trailers and later other viral videos and commercials circulated via YouTube, and captured media attention there with such titles as: "Snakes Who Missed The Plane", "All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us" (a spoof of the All your base are belong to us phenomenon), and "Steaks on a Train". Several websites also held contests about the film in fan-submitted short films and posters. On July 6, 2006, the official Snakes on a Plane website started a promotional sweepstakes called the "The #1 Fan King Cobra Sweepstakes". The contest makes innovative use of the publicity-generating potential of the Internet, requiring contestants to post links on forums, blogs, and websites and collecting votes from the users of those sites. The winner was Max Goldberg, owner of YTMND, who opted to split the prize with the second place winner.
  • In August 2006, Varitalk launched a hilarious advertising campaign in which fans can send a semi-personalized message in Jackson's voice to telephone numbers of their choosing.


Monday, January 22, 2007

DVD REVIEW: The Illusionist (2006) **1/2

The Illusionist (2006)


PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.
1 hr. 49 min.

written by: Neil Burger from a short story by Steven Millhauser
produced by: Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Michael London, Cathy Schulman, and Bob Yari
directed by: Neil Burger


I caught this one over the weekend. The execution of illusion, trickery, and escapism has always been interesting to me. Although, it's never inspired me to learn any tricks, I'm always curious about how one learns such skill and mastery of deception. So, with that interest in mind and being a fan of the three main actors here. I decided to roll my sleeves up and pull this DVD outta my hat for a viewing.

After a sepia-saturated opening credits and beautiful Philip Glass score starts this turn of the century mystery/drama in Vienna. The story begins in the middle of the film as Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) recounts the history of Eisenheim for Crown Prince Leopold, following Eisenheim's arrest during what appears to be necromancy passed off as a magic show.
Uhl narrates what he knows of Eisenheim's (Edward Norton) past in order to give some background on the character as well as introduce him to the viewers. It seems Eisenheim was the son of a carpenter and as a teenager (Aaron Johnson) he met a traveling magician along a road. The magician performs several tricks for him and then, according to various accounts, both the magician and the tree he was sitting under vanish. Eisenhim becomes obsessed with magic tricks after that and also falls in love with a girl supposedly his age named Sophie (Jessica Biel), a duchess well above his social standing, whose parents hired Eisenheim's father as a cabinet-maker.

Due to their social status, the two are forbidden to see each other causing them to meet in a secret hideout in the woods. It is here that Eisenheim tells of his plans to go to China cuz he read that the Chinese know a way to make people disappear. Sophie idealistically promises to go with him. On the day that they are going to leave, however, the police come looking for Sophie. The two hide in the secret room and Sophie begs Eisenheim to make them both disappear. He is unable to fulfill this request, however, and the two are separated. Eisenheim leaves his village to travel the world and perfect his magic after this.

Edward
 Norton and Jessica Biel in Yari Film Group's The Illusionist


Fifteen years later guess who's back in town? Hey, you're pretty clever. So, Eisenheim does his young Bruce Wayne thing around the world, picking up all sorts of trickery and knowledge to support his passion for illusion. He returns a master illusionist, gets a manager and sells out theatrical shows night after night. He's a sensation! He talks about existential topics such as time, life and death in his performances while wowing audiences with illusions that relate to his topic. He slices an orange in half on stage, picks out a seed and inserts it into a flower pot sitting on a pedestal. He backs up, outstretches his hand while grabbing the air in front of the pot. Soon enough an orange tree starts to grow out of that pot. The audience, including Inspector Uhl, is understandably amazed.

Eisenhein soon finds out that Sophie is expected to marry the ruthless Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell, that's right ruthless Rufus as he is in just about every role lately). Leopold is an insecure Royal hothead who has a reputation for backhanding the ladies. After humiliating the crown prince during a private show, Eisenheim finds his hit performance shut out of Vienna. Eisenheim and Sophie, having recognized each other at a performance, meet privately and finally consummate their love. Their romance begins anew and they plan to run far away from Vienna and Leopold. Yet something must be done to stop Leopold, who, she reveals, is planning a coup d'etat to take control of Austria from his aging father, the emperor. Frequently drunk Leopold has Inspector Uhl, follow the couples every move and report to him. Unfortunately, Leopold's aristocratic social standing makes any accusations against him unthinkable. As Eisenheim plunges into despair and the citizens of Vienna begin to suspect Leopold of murder, Uhl begins to observe Eisenheim's actions more closely.

Next thing we know the Inspector has to somehow piece together a murder mystery that revolves around all these characters. That's not an easy thing for him because he respects and admires Eisenheim although part of him thinks the illusionist is a bit off. The other problem is if he continues to serve the Crown Prince to his pleasure, he can guarantee a position as either the Chief of Police or Mayor of Vienna. All quite attractive for a hard-working son of a butcher who just wants the truth to be revealed. Still, in the entertainment business Eisenheim is in, it is hard for Inspector Uhl to decipher what is real, what is an elaborate trick and most importantly who is a murderer.


Paul Giamatti in Yari Film Group's The Illusionist
It all sounds like an intriguing movie and it certainly holds the viewers attention. The reason I'm giving it this rating though is because I feel writer/director Berger didn't trust his audience enough. I can't get into why that is without spoiling the ending for you. If you have any interest in this kinda movie, see it cold turkey. I haven't given any revealing plot points but my wife and I were easily able to figure out what was going on in the movie before the movie could tell us. I woulda given the film three stars if not for that. As for the actors, the movie has a decent cast. Giamatti was great as always. I've enjoyed his work since his bit part in "Saving Private Ryan" to his great role in "American Splendor". Here he's in what is essentially one of those "viewer" roles where he knows just a little less than those watching the movie. He's learning as he goes only we're one step ahead. Giamatti shows the confusion the character has in investigating Norton's Eisenhein, while maintaining the inner conflict due to his loyalty to royalty. Oscar-nominated Norton has made some good career choices and this character can be added to his respectable filmography. I haven't seen Biel in a whole lot but I prefer her to all the other "Jessicas" out there (Simpson, Alba, etc.). She almost seemed a tad to young for Norton though. Like a uncle-niece affair. I know. And as I mentioned above, Sewell always plays his villians the same. I mean he's good but should we really have to see him "phone it in" like this each time? I'd like a lil more "Dark City" from him.

The film is quite an accomplishment when you consider Burger's background. His only other film credit was a shot on digital mockumentary about the Kennedy assassination, which could not possible prepare audiences for a lush period piece centering on forbidden love, a twisty whodunit, and a main character whose craft seems almost supernatural. It's a leap of faith so large than many a movie fan wouldn't dare the creative chasm. And that's a shame. Taking a typical tale of class-crossed lovers, political intrigue and personal vendettas and filtering it through the evocative world of turn of the century Europe, the end result is a movie that's inviting, intriguing and never short on ideas. Still, it didn't have to talk-down to the audience or at least to me. By combining the celebrated showmanship of old world magicians with a few technological tweaks, we end up with a fascinating display of dramatics that subverts the basic challenges of keeping the unexplained enticing within the already enigmatic realm of cinema.
Special Features:


The Making-Of featurette is nine minutes of actors spewing out their undying love for the film (blah blah blah! Hey, it's fun to get pad too!) and its creator. Even worse, the Jessica Biel interview is merely the full length version of the clips contained in the prior puff piece. Say what? Indeed, the only significant bonus is an amiable audio commentary from director Burger, which I didn't listen to. From what I've read, it's very upfront about the film's origins and ideas ( Steven Millhauser's short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist", features none of the romantic backstory or murder mystery elements included here) and eager to explain most of the magic tricks shown (including indications where CGI was a necessary evil), the discussion is in-depth and intriguing. Especially noteworthy is his opinions on Biel (more a looker than an actress, at least before this role) and how Giamatti and Norton fleshed out their already complicated parts. If there is a single factor that elevates this otherwise dreary DVD package, it's probably Burger's candid conversation.
The Skinny:


  • So that the crew would not have to use CGI to "fake" the magical illusions seen in the movie, Norton received intensive training in sleight of hand and other stage magic techniques from British magician James Freedman.
  • Although the film is set in Austria, it was filmed mostly in the Czech Republic. The city of Vienna is represented in the movie by those of Tábor and Prague, while the scenes set in Eisenheim's childhood village were shot in Èeský Krumlov. The Crown Prince's castle is actually the historical fortress of KonopiÅ¡tì (located near BeneÅ¡ov), formerly the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. All other shots were at Barrandov Studios in Prague.
  • "The Illusionist" is one of three 2006 films which revolve around the topic of stage magic and feature magicians as main characters. The other two are "The Prestige" and "Scoop", which share two actors: Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson. The Prestige and The Illusionist are both set in the past; Scoop is set in modern times. Scott Penrose and James Freedman (Edward Norton's trainer for The Illusionist) were among the magic consultants for the movie.
  • Although the story is fictional, some of the details are based on the life of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf, only son of Emperor Franz Josef. The painting of the emperor which Eisenheim creates is an actual portrait of Franz Josef. The bodies of Rudolf and his mistress, the Baroness Mary Vetsera, were found at his hunting lodge Mayerling on January 30, 1889 in what is now known as the "Mayerling Incident". This was initially covered up by the Imperial Family, creating controversy and mystery.
  • When Prince Leopold is approached by Inspector Uhl, while hunting, to inform him of Eisenheim and Sophie's meetings, the Prince asks what they were seen doing together. The line about if they were seen "fornicating" was originally filmed as him saying "@#$%ing" instead. They chose the take using "fornicating" to avoid an R-Rating in compliance with the MPAA's policy that the f-word not be used in reference to intercourse in a PG-13 film.
  • The character portrayed by Philip McGough is shown in the credits to be named Dr. Hofzinser, after the prominent sleight-of-hand artist of the same name.
  • The character of Crown Prince Leopold, though himself fictitious, appears to be based on the historical Crown Prince Rudolf, who was heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne until his death in 1889. Like Rudolf, Leopold is described as being the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, who appears briefly in the film, along with a young cousin of Leopold who bears a close resemblance to Emperor Karl I.






Tuesday, January 9, 2007

DVD REVIEW: The Lake House (2006) *

The Lake House (2006) poster





PG for some language and a disturbing image.
1 hr. 38 min.
written by: David Auburn (screenplay), Jina Yeoh & Eun-Jeong Kim
produced by: Doug Davison & Roy Lee
directed by: Alejandro Agresti
Take two mediocre actors who rarely take risks anymore and give them a lame remake script and see if the sparks fly. Well, they don't fly, they don't even spark. You gotta be an obsessive fan of both Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves to like this film, let alone stay awake through it. Someone thought that because these two were in 1994's "Speed" that they had chemistry. Wrong! If ya can't guess the ending of this film in the first 15 minutes than ya must have been distracted by the paint chips peeling off yer wall. Ya just can't find an intelligent time-spanning romance anymore. This movie made me long for Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. It's too bad this is a remake of the Korean film 2000's "Il Mare" cuz it woulda been better if this tepid romance had any association to any previous film.
On a winter morning in 2006, Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) is moving out of a beautiful lake house (built outta glass resting on stilts right on the lake. Kinda cool) for a job at a Chicago hospital.. She leaves a note for the next tenant asking them to forward her mail to her new address. She writes about the paw prints on the front path and the box in the attic. Off she goes to her new city flat.
The lake house in Warner Bros. Pictures' The Lake House
A young architect named Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) is the new tenant of the lake house, who's working construction of a new complex of houses at the city outskirts. Alex finds the lake house kinda rundown with no paw prints to be found. After reading Kate's letter, he forgets about what he read until a coupla days later when a stray dog runs across the freshly painted front path, leaving paw prints where Kate's letter said they'd be. Cue the X-Files theme music. He writes her back and places his letter in the mailbox and the two of them eventually discover that they are separated in time by two years, with him being in 2004. Regardless of how absurd this seems, the two continue their time-crossing correspondence via magic lake house mailbox.
In between all their handwriting bondage, we see them go through the motions of their separate lives.
Kate is getting acclimated to long hospital hours at the fictitious Chicago City Hospital. Her lead doctor there Dr. Klyczynski (Shohreh Aghdashloo), shows her the ropes as she tries to befriend Kate. This friendship is shown when she tries to comfort Kate after she fails to save the life of "some guy" getting smacked by a bus on her lunch break at Daley Plaza. Back in 2004, we see that Alex has a estranged relationship with his father, Simon Wyler (Christopher Plummer) a famous architect. These characters are there to hopefully flesh out the characters of Kate and Alex but honestly these actors are so much more interesting that I almost wish it was these older actors falling in love. With Aghdashloo's sexy voice and Plummer's stoic charisma that mighta been something. But, alas we're stuck with mopey (Kate) and mopier (Alex).
They start to build a relationship thru mail (while I start to gag, sorry) and it would seem they are trying to convince the viewer that they are falling for each other. Ugh. Could they ever meet each other? Ever? Now, since Kate is in the future she can tell Alex where to find her in her past and his present. Kate comes up with a plan that may hopefully bring them together. She tells Alex that she left a gift for her father (a paperback of Jane Austen's "Persuasion") at the Metra Riverside train stop where she was meeting her then lover, Morgan (a wasted Dylan Walsh). She asks Alex to go there and retrieve this gift and somehow find away to return it to her in the future. I'd tell her to go suck a rock. Guess what? Alex finds the paperback and briefly sees long-haired Kate look out the window of her departing train. Sucker! So, now he has this book but he doesn't put it in their magical mailbox. Nope. He tells her that he will find away to return it to her in person. Aw....
So, how do they hook up? Well, in 2004, that stray dog that happened to belong to both of them (poor dog) was hanging with Alex on his construction site and runs away from him as his desperate co-worker Mona (Lynn Collins) tries to make some moves on clueless Keanu. They follow the dog to a house that Morgan happens to live in (I gotta thank that dog for propelling the plot, cuz so far this is one dragged-out snoozer) and for some reason he invites them to a birthday party for Kate. At the party, Alex introduces himself to past-Kate since he's been corresponding with in the future-Kate. The two wind up with a dance and a lip-smacking rendezvous outside the party, witnessed by Morgan and Mona. Busted.
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
 in Warner Bros. Pictures' The Lake House
Determined to bridge the distance between them at last and unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary connection, they tempt fate by arranging to meet. After a failed attempt at a date at a phony, fancy restaurant at Millennium Park called Il Mare, (wonder where they got that title from?) in 2006, Kate retreats, believing she will never have happiness. <sniffle> She urges Alex to move on. Do they eventually meet up? Yeah? Does that bus incident at Daley Plaza come back into the story. Uh huh. Is this a predictable sap-fest of a movie? You betcha.

Reeves and Bullock are a lovey-dovey duo with the kind of low-key chemistry that doesn't depend on anything but witty, unnatural banter. Instead, they just happen to go together. They were better together via magic mail box. I'm not really a fan of either actor but since the movie was filmed in Chicago (I saw them filming it. See pic below) and it had two decent supporting actors in Aghdashloo & Plummer, I thought I'd give the disc a spin. I never saw the original and this movie made me lose any interest in doing so and that's too bad cuz it just has to be better than this.

I'll give credit to European director Alejandro Agresti and Director of Photography, Alar Kivilo for at least making the film look good. But, then again that's cuz they chose a great city to film in. Yes, one of the better stars of this movie is Chicago. There's a certain calm and vibrance in the city that attempts to revive the film. Sadly, that isn't enough. This movie is unfortunately a decent Lifetime movie at it's best. If you and you're significant other are home sick and this happens to be on TV, check it out as you both check out. What the heck was Ebert sniffin'?

I was hoping that someone involved in this film woulda started out these special features with a formal apology but no luck for me. Sigh. Instead, there's 5 deleted scenes. You bet I watched all of them in an effort to redeem the last sucky two hours. Not a chance. These deleted scenes were on the cutting room floor for a reason. Watched separately or all-together, they don't mean much to the final cut of the film, though one outtake is cute. There's a decent theatrical trailer which is better than the movie. In the future, if there's a special edition with Reeves and Bullock doing a commentary, I'd watch it again just to hear them explain their way outta this mess.


The Skinny:
  • You cannot drive a pick-up truck or anything larger on Lake Shore Drive! But, don't tell that to Keanu Reeves or any filmmakers for that matter. For some reason, filmmakers always seem to make this same mistake. I've seen it in "National Lampoon's Vacation" and in "My Best Friend's Wedding."
  • John Cusack was the first choice for the role of Alex Wyler, but he declined. Drat!
  • Sandra Bullock revealed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that the title house had running water but no toilets.
  • The name of the exclusive restaurant in the film is "Il Mare". "Il Mare" is also the name of the house and the International title of the Korean film upon which "The Lake House" is based, 2000's "Siworae" (2000).
  • The construction site that Reeves' character is working on is real. It is owned by Pulte Homes and is the Madison Park Community in Aurora, Illinois.
  • First movie to be released simultaneously on DVD, HDDVD, and Blu Ray. How unworthy.
  • This isn't the first film shot in Chicago by Reeves and Bullock. Reeves made "Chain Reaction" , "Hardball" and "The Watcher" here and Bullock made "While You Were Sleeping" here.
  • Bullock states that she felt compelled to name the dog "Jack" which was Keanu Reeves' character in "Speed" - the first movie the two of them made together.
  • The building that Bullock's character lives in is 1620 Racine. That is the same address of the house of Sean Connery in 1987's "The Untouchables" in Chicago. Wherein, his character, Malone died screaming like a stuck Irish pig.



Monday, January 8, 2007

DVD REVIEW: Miami Vice (2006) ***

Introduction:

I've always been a fan of Miami Vice, the show that NBC pitched as "MTV cops." I remember seeing the actual 2 hour premiere on a Sunday night back in 1984. My 12 year-old eyes were taken by the kinetic opening montage filled with the beautiful sights of Miami and the distinctive sound of Jan Hammer's synthesized score. The fast cars and boats. The undercover assignments to bring drug dealers to justice. I was enthralled by all of it. My dad, sister and I would eventually be hooked on the Friday night show. The shows glitzy and gritty storylines and integration of music attracted not only viewers but also some great musicians and actors.

Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, ZZ Top, Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Godley and Creme, Glenn Frey, U2, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Foreigner, The Police, Laura Branigan, Ted Nugent, Suicidal Tendencies, The Damned, and Billy Idol. Some of them even guest-starred in episodes, such as Phil Collins as a game show host (whose single "In the Air Tonight" became synonymous with the show), Glenn Frey as a drug smuggler, Willie Nelson as a retired Texas Ranger, Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent as a drug dealer. Some of the other actors that appeared were Miles Davis playing a pimp, Frankie Valli a mob boss, Danny Sullivan in his acting debut, played a racing driver which was incidentally his actual profession, Little Richard as a street preacher, and Leonard Cohen was an Interpol agent. In a bizarre move, auto executive Lee Iacocca appeared in one episode as a gun-crazy parks commissioner while G. Gordon Liddy added a realistically political edge to two episodes by starring as a politically-motivated drug runner.

Athletes also played guest roles on the show, as legendary Boston Celtics center Bill Russell appeared as a crooked judge with a huge gambling debt, with 1980s NBA superstar Bernard King playing his son, a star basketball player for the FIU Sunblazers. Boxer Roberto Duran appeared as a convict, while fellow pugilist Carlos Palomino appeared as a drug runner who runs a boxing gym as a cover. Other notable appearances include now well known stars such as Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Viggo Mortensen, Ben Stiller, Chris Cooper, Wesley Snipes, Liam Neeson, Michael Richards, Chris Rock, Julia Roberts, Helena Bonham Carter, Melanie Griffith, Alfred Molina and Benicio Del Toro. The show also featured many up-and-coming television and film actors including Michael Madsen, Dennis Farina, Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Charles S. Dutton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ed O'Neill, Luis Guzmán, Ving Rhames, Jimmy Smits (who appeared in the pilot as Crockett's ill-fated original partner), Dan Hedaya, Bill Paxton, Bruce McGill, Garcelle Beauvais, Penn Jillette, Nathan Lane, Michael DeLorenzo, Giancarlo Esposito, Esai Morales, Vincent D'Onofrio and Ian McShane.

Shwew! Yeah. There's some really amazing talent and some surprising ones too.It just goes to show that for it's time, the show had an attraction from all aspects of the entertainment world.

I loved the characters of the show created and produced by Michael Mann. Vice detective Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) with his sunglasses, pastel suits complete with loafers and no socks, living on a boat with his pet crocodile, Elvis. Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas with his three first names) came from New York City in pursuit of a drug lord named Calderone who killed his detective brother Raphael. Eventually the two detectives realize they are both in search of Calderone and team up in pursuit. Those two were the main characters but the supporting cast I liked just as much. There was fellow detectives Trudy Joplin (Olivia Brown) and Gina Calabrese (Saundra Santiago) who would go undercover with and without Crockett and Tubbs. The other detectives Switek (Michael Talbott) and Zito (John Diehl) added some comedic relief but always had the team's back. The glue that held the team together was their eventual lieutenant Martin Castillo (played with quiet intensity by Edward James Olmos). He was probably one of the coolest characters on television at the time. Always kept his cool. I remember the time when he had to take action and he got out this samurai sword. Alright!

The rest is 80's history. When I first heard that Michael Mann was updating the concept of Miami Vice for the big screen I was filled with trepidation and pessimism. Chicago's very own Michael Mann whose birthday is the day after mine (different year mind you) has put out some great movies over the years like "Thief", "Manhunter", "Last of the Mohicans", "Heat", "The Insider" and "Collateral" but it still made me nervous that he would be updating a show dear to my heart. Sure, the show is now quite dated but it excelled for what it was (plus I was watching it between the impressionable ages 12 to 17) still, I didn't see what more he could do with it. After recently watching this updated version that was released last July, It took me a while to soak it all in, but I have to say I'm not nervous anymore. My trust in Mann's abilities are restored....



Miami Vice (2006)



MIAMI VICE (2006)
***
rated R (for strong violence, language and some sexual content)
2 hrs. 15 min.
written by: Michael Mann
produced by: Michael Mann & Pieter Van Brugge
directed by: Michael Mann
Speedboats racing in Universal Pictures' Miami Vice



In the 2006 Miami Vice world you can forget the white suits and flared hair of the '80s. This glitz is gone, but the grit is still there and Mann gives us some sharp-edged material that truly shadows any recollection of his TV series. It's all here – his signature cinematography, strong characters, and tightly woven script. While the dialogue grips your attention (it has to cuz unfortunately, many of the characters mumble their lines which is why I watched it with English subtitles) with its lightning quick pace, the intricately confusing plot is equally as cold and heavy as the aesthetic elements of the film. Instead of being cool to behold like Mann's stellar outings with "Heat" and "Collateral", however, this film taxes the soul and confuses the mind. Yet, with gripping performances and some moments when the intense story truly shines through the clouds, Miami Vice comes washes up on shore as a fairly enjoyable, yet frustrating crime caper.

Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are two undercover detectives working the underbelly of Miami. During one of their higher-profile engagements, a colleague phones in a life-threatened warning to Crockett regarding his involvement in the exposure of several government operatives. After receiving this call, the pair learns of the government's mission, who the target is, and how they can become involved. What ensues is an offer to both Crockett and Tubbs to be yanked into a very high profile drug syndicate that spans numerous continents.

As the pair sinks further into this underworld utilizing their own resources, aliases and talents, they begin to weave into the syndicate, gain their trust, and piece together the hierarchy. This hierarchy is much larger than the streets of Miami, however. Along the way, Crockett reaches out to the enemy by growing infatuated with Isabella (Gong Li), a professionally ambivalent financier that works with the syndicate to strategize and maximize profits. The further ingrained Crockett and Tubbs edge into the operation, the more their personal lives weave into their cause.

Mann knows how to craft one slick, stylish film. His eye for chilling cinematography, his ear for impeccably fitting audio accompaniment, and his wonderful ability to craft engaging characters set his films apart from the typical crime caper fare. Furthermore, Mann has a way with casting those quality characters with fitting actors. From Jamie Foxx's Tubbs to the fantastic work from John Ortiz as Yero (one of the dealers), each character is bestowed life through quality performances. This supporting cast was especially vibrant this time around, especially Gong Li and Naomis Harris (as Trudy Joplin). Farrell, even though a bit rough along the edges, stayed strong and fairly impressive as Crockett. Everything is here for Mann's next high-quality crime film possessing the same weight as his preceding works. I was totally disappointed in the casting of Barry Shabaka Henley as Lt. Castillo, who exuded no mystery or authority here. I did enjoy the character of Gina (Elizabeth Rodrigez) who played a crucial role in rescuing Trudy from some arian junkies. The supporting cast that excelled in their roles were good enough to carry the film yet I wanted to know more about them.





Jamie Foxx and Elizabeth Rodriguez in Universal Pictures' Miami Vice


The tense performances and the slick cinematography are there but the film tends to waver away from the solid core that distinguishes Mann's talents from the rest: heart and soul. Amidst the intricate, confusing storyline, the emotional connection with the characters gets lost. Throughout the course of the film, some connections are made that really do pop out and ignite some warmth. However, they are very few and far between. Watching a Mann film is like waltzing along a high wire trapeze – the story leans heavily towards the criminal portion of a story and, just as faith feels lost, the film leans back over to a heartfelt center by connecting the viewer with the heroes OR the villain. In general, the film feels lost amidst the complicated storyline and doesn't surface enough above the plot to rejuvenate that warmth. Plus, this film is highly dialogue driven without enough action. While the tension is there, the excitement factor and the passion behind the characters are lacking.

Even through its shortcomings, "Miami Vice" is a fast-paced, stylish film that's definitely worth a watch. Mann crafts some stellar performances, a delicious pairing of visuals and score, and an interesting, albeit demanding, storyline. Staying strong during both the blindingly-fast dialogue and the demanding storyline will help the film be an enjoyable experience.
Colin Farrell and Gong Li in Universal Pictures' Miami Vice



The DVD rated here is the Miami Vice Unrated Director's Edition. As Michael Mann states in his Director's Commentary, this "Director's Edition" isn't necessarily just expanded, but also re-edited and fleshed out further. As I have not seen the theatrical edition of Miami Vice, any comparisons between the two are unable to be made by me.


Special Features:


This Director's Edition of "Miami Vice" comes with some particularly interesting extras:

A Director's Commentary is included from Mann. Mann is always particularly entertaining in regards to his explanations of his films. He goes to lengths to capture the perfect mood, setting, and other aesthetical elements of his films. His commentary on Miami Vice is no different.

Miami Vice Undercover is a featurette regarding how Farrell and Foxx honed in on their undercover mind frames for the film. As with his other films, Mann demands his cast get a realistic feel on how their characters work by real-time experience. Farrell and Foxx worked with undercover cops involved with an equally high-profile scenario as in this film. The cast also accompanied a crew on a government bust. Through these elements (and a realistic prank played on Farrell involving a training exercise), the process appeared to be fairly interesting.

Miami and Beyond focuses on the locations that Michael Mann selected across the globe for Miami Vice. Some of these obscure, yet strangely beautiful locales are very interesting. From the inclimate conditions of Miami's hurricane season to the obscure locations in Uruguay, this series of places crafts a very distinctive look for the picture. The actors all are in awe at how Mann finds these locations, and Mann seems to take pride in his ability to find them.

Visualizing Miami Vice shows how Michael Mann gave this film (and his other films) such a distinct look. It's interesting to see how he meshes the scenery with artistic elements and camerawork to create such attractiveness. He discusses such elements from what guns he decides to use for the film, all the way to his work with aerial cameras and photography to grab his work.

Three other Behind The Scenes Featurettes are included – Gun Training, Haitian Hotel Camera Blocking, and Mojo Race. While the Haitian Hotel piece is mildly interesting to watch since it involves an intricate location and the actors navigating through the room, the Gun Training and Mojo Race pieces are both pretty entertaining. Gun Training shows all of the primary actors in fairly rigorous automatic weapons training. Any chance to see the actors learning a new craft is a blast. The Mojo race piece is interesting since it talks about how the crew assembled this fully functional speedboat that also integrates camerawork into the mix.

As stated before, this is not like the "Miami Vice" from the '80s. This is sleek, calculated, and extremely hard-edged in regards to the multi-layered drug associations across continents. The music is great as with all of Mann's films. there's some Audioslave, some Moby, and a okay cover of "In the Air Tonight" by Nonpoint. The characters are, for the majority, engaging, compelling, and portrayed very well from the great cast. While the plot has some coherency issues and the dialogue needs a bit of work (and annunciation), the story is still compelling enough to grasp your attention. "Miami Vice" is what it should be, an interesting trip into the world of undercover cops involved in an extremely high profile crime bust.

The Skinny:



  • Filming in Dominican Republic was suspended during October 2005 due to raucous behavior from the public and a shooting where the aggressor was injured.
  • Jan Hammer was asked to do a different type of score, but turned it down.
  • The quotes in the theatrical trailer, "We get down, if the play calls for it bud" [Crockett], and "We can close each others eyes real fast, but then nobody's gonna make any money" [Tubbs], were both lines from the 'Smugglers Blues' episode of the original series.
  • Gunshots heard outside of the film's Dominican Republic set on October 24th, 2005 caused the crew to delay filming for three days.
  • The RZA was hired to do the films score, but was later replaced with Organized Noize.
  • The sunglasses worn by Colin Farrell are the "Slam" model made by Sama Eyewear.
  • Several of the firearms used in the film include the Barret M82A1 .50 sniper rifle, the Heckler & Koch G36C and G3A3 assault rifles, a Heckler & Koch HK69 40mm grenade launcher, a Benelli M4 Super 90 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, a Sig 552 carbine, a Remington M24 sniper rifle, and a Colt M4A1 carbine.
  • The boat taken to Cuba by Sonny and Isabella is a MTI 39' foot powerboat. Top speed: ~115 miles per hour.
  • Crockett's car in the film is a Ferrari F430 Spider, which according to Ferrari of North America, has a top speed of 193 mph and can go from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.
  • The twin engine pusher/puller airplane is an Adam Aircraft A500.
  • The following boats are used by Crockett & Tubbs to transfer the load from the cargo ship into Miami: Donzi 38 ZR, Donzi 43 ZR, Donzi 38 ZF Daytona.
  • Mann had his actors train with real-life undercover law enforcement officers. Colin Farrell stated that he was told they would be tagging along on real sting operations. During one such operation, guns were drawn and the officers identities questioned. Farrell reports being scared for his life. The next morning, Farrell was contacted and told that the sting operations were staged and that the dealers were actors. Farrell stated feeling "punk'd."
  • During filming in Uruguay the crew came across bootleg and other illegal merchandise for sale in a similar fashion to that of the film's theme. Mann purchased a copy of "Collateral" for two dollars while he was there.
  • It was Foxx who first brought up the idea of a "Miami Vice" film to Mann during a party for Muhammad Ali. Jamie had gone on for more than 20 minutes about why the movie should be made. This led Mann to revisit the series he helped create.
  • Like "Collateral", which also starred Foxx, most of the film was shot with the Thompson Viper Filmstream Camera, and the remainder was shot on Super 35mm film.
  • Also like "Collateral", there are no opening credits. The title appears at the end of the film.
  • The first teaser trailer to appear for the film featured the Linkin Park/Jay-Z song "Numb/Encore".
  • When filming was completed, Colin Farrell entered into rehab for exhaustion and dependency on prescription medication. The medication had been prescribed to him after he suffered a back injury while filming "Alexander".
  • According to a Euroweb article, Tubbs' suits were designed by famous fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. He had worked with Foxx in the past and caught Mann's eye who then asked him to work on the movie.
  • Crockett's Boat (white paint and labeled "Mojo") is a MTI (Marine Technology Inc.) 39 Series with two Mercury Engines fitted. In correct sense it is a Offshore Catamaran.
  • Prominent product placement occurrences include Apple, BMW, Bacardi, IWC, Range Rover and Sony.
  • Lyndon LaRouche has stated that his slogan for his 2008 Presidential Campaign will be Rico Tubbs' line "Smooth. That's how we do it".
  • Luis Tosar who played drug lord Arcángel de Jesús Montoya does not dub himself in the Spanish version.
  • When deciding if they will continue to work with Yero, Tubbs quotes The Eagles by saying "Let's take it to the limit one more time", a reference to the song "Take It To The Limit".
  • Special Agent Fujima (Ciarán Hinds) asks Sonny "what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?". In "The Insider", the character Wigand asks the FBI agent the exact same thing when he asks Wigand if he owns a gun.
  • Lines between Crockett and Isabella about life being short and whatever time people have being luck echo a line spoken by Robert DeNiro in Mann's crime saga "Heat". Also in Mann's "Manhunter", Detective Graham has a similar conversation with his wife.
  • Edward James Olmos was offered and declined the opportunity to reprise Castillo, saying he'd never actually watched the original show. Sigh, that woulda been cool.




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