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.

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