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Reviews of 'Road to Perdition,' 'Reign of Fire'

Aired July 13, 2002 - 08:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Appearing on a big screen near you, a movie that's already generating some Oscar talk and another adventure thriller.

Movie reviewer Paul Clinton offers his take on "The Road to Perdition" and "Reign of Fire."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL CLINTON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's an old saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that's the case with the new film, "The Road to Perdition." This highly anticipated film is exquisitely mounted by director Sam Mendes and stunningly photographed by cinematographer Conrad L. Hall. But things are strangely hollow at its emotional core.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friends are put on this earth to trouble their fathers. Natural law.

CLINTON: This is a story about fathers and sons and redemption and destiny, all told through the eyes of a young boy, Michael, whose father, played by Hanks, is a hit man for the Irish mob in Depression era Chicago. Paul Newman plays Hanks' boss and surrogate father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the life we chose, the life we lead, and there is only one guarantee -- none of us will see heaven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael could.

CLINTON: The themes of this film are Shakespearian in their depth and scope. In many ways, this movie is a work of art. But despite brilliant execution, this slip of a story is not up to the task. The ending feels false and contrived, and ultimately emotionally uninvolving.

Speaking of uninvolving, the futuristic thriller "Reign of Fire," starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale is a mishmash of MTV editing, special effects and a paper thin plot that is at best ludicrous, and at worst, laughable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's playing with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not playing with us. It's setting us up. CLINTON: The audience is being set up. Set in the future where dragons have taken over the world, McConaughey plays a bald, bare- chested, tattooed dragon slayer. Most of his dialogue is almost unintelligible due to a saliva soaked cigar clenched in his teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And get ready to rock and roll!

CLINTON: Unfortunately, when he finally spits the soggy stogie out...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man the .50 cal, lock and load, cut the engines and take your positions.

CLINTON: ... it doesn't really matter. This isn't a movie, it's a rock video. In fact, as if to underline the point, this music video is being released with the film.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: And Paul Clinton thought he could get away with just leaving us a taped report and sleep in this Saturday morning. Sorry, Paul. The alarm bell range.

CLINTON: I tried. I tried, you know?

O'BRIEN: Hello. CNN calling. Get into the bureau.

Good to see you, sir.

CLINTON: Good seeing you.

O'BRIEN: "Perdition," "Perdition," actually, yes, who is it I was watching? I think it was Letterman, the other night. He was going on and on and on about this movie. He loves the movie. That's one man's opinion. You're, you know what I read this morning? See if you can do this. This is kind of like an art house film with a much higher budget.

CLINTON: Yes, it is. It's actually, you can describe it like that. It's a big, beautiful, gorgeous movie. There's Oscar written all over it. It is beautifully done, exquisite. The cinematography by Conrad L. Hall is just breathtaking. But this is supposed to be a movie and not a coffee table book. And beautiful visuals can't just do it all.

The story is overpowered. It's based on a graphics novel, which is basically just a long comic book. And at the end you don't really feel like you've connected with anybody. Nobody really goes on a journey in this film. It's all told through the eyes of the young boy and it's a six week time period in 1931 when he goes on this killing spree with his father to revenge the death of the rest of his family.

And he never really goes from Point A to Point B. He's basically the same kid he was at the end, he's just now an orphan. It is...

O'BRIEN: So between Newman and Hanks, I think we could probably count up about 97 Oscars on their mantles.

CLINTON: Oh, not only Newman and Hanks, we're talking the director, we're talking Sam Mendes, the costumes, the -- Conrad Hall has two Oscars. If everybody on this project brought their Oscars to the set, they'd have to have a whole trailer just for the Oscars.

O'BRIEN: So, I mean, we're talking about a Hollywood A team here. Is it just sort of a preordained conclusion that this will be well represented at the Oscars this year?

CLINTON: Oh, it definitely will be well presented at the Oscars. This is definitely going to be a contender. And it will be up there. But all in all, bottom line, I did not really find it emotionally involving. And I know, you know, I'm in the minority. But there are other people that agree with me. I've dug them out and found them. I know Newman and, you know, Hanks are American icons and I'm probably going to get deported. But, you know, I just...

O'BRIEN: Well, you're going to go to Perdition is where you're going.

CLINTON: I'm going to Perdition, you know, on a hand cart, yes.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's get -- we've got to move on. I'm going to go to Perdition if we don't move on to the next movie, which is "Reign of Terror" or Fire or...

CLINTON: "Reign of Fire."

O'BRIEN: Or "Ring of Fire" or...

CLINTON: Now, this was so easy to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

O'BRIEN: Or "Bring On the Dragons" or whatever they call it. Yes.

CLINTON: Yes, no problem hating this one. I mean, no controversy whatsoever. Everybody...

O'BRIEN: No ambiguity in your hatred of this one?

CLINTON: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. There's nothing to like about this. I don't feel conflicted at all. It is over the top from beginning to end. It's a rock video. It really is a rock video and the trailer is just great. And a lot of, you know, 17-year-old kids are going to go to this and they might just eat it up. But it really is, it's a summer movie. It makes no sense. Everybody is screaming and yelling.

The costumes and the sets all look like they're left over from Mad Max. Everybody's wearing leather and big boots and they're all dirty and it's just like any other end of the world scenario you've ever seen. And...

O'BRIEN: Well, now, now, wait, Paul. Mad Max is a classic. Come on, now. Careful what you compare this one to. CLINTON: I'm, no, I'm talking about just the sets and the costumes.

O'BRIEN: OK. All right. All right.

CLINTON: Not the content. But, yes, it is, you know, Matthew McConaughey, he got to shave his head, put on the tattoos and be the action hero now. Hopefully that's out of his system and he can move on. But it is, it's just a summer, you know, it's for teenaged boys and I'm sure they'll enjoy it. But there's no really redeeming factor here.

O'BRIEN: Right. We all teenage boys like fire.

CLINTON: Yes.

O'BRIEN: All right, Paul, Paul Clinton, thanks for getting up. Go back home. Go to sleep if you want.

CLINTON: I have to go see "Stuart Little."

O'BRIEN: Oh, hey, I'm dying to know about that one. My kids, well, my kids are dying to know.

Anyway, we'll see you soon, I hope.

CLINTON: OK. You take care, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right.

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