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FOOL'S GOLD
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Ewen Bremner, Alexis Dziena, Kevin Hart, Ray Winstone
Director:  Andy Tennant
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  Featurette, Gag Reel
Length:  112 Minutes
Release Date:  June 17, 2008

“Ain’t no fool like a gold fool!”

Film **

Fool’s Gold offers pretty standard romantic comedy fare dressed up in a beautiful package…and no, I’m not talking about Matthew McConaughey for the girls and Kate Hudson for the guys.  The Caribbean setting and underwater photography make for a gorgeous film to look at.  But if you peel away the bright wrapping, you’re left with an empty box.

McConaughey plays Benjamin Finnigan, a somewhat inept treasure hunter with a couple of problems.  One is that his latest benefactor is the trigger-happy rap star Bigg Bunny (Hart), to whom he owes a great deal of cash because his latest expedition kind of underwater.  The second is his impending divorce from wife Tess (Hudson), a bright young woman with an eye for better things in the future than schlepping around looking for chests (not just the one Finn bares constantly) and working as a yacht steward for millionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Sutherland).

But as it turns out, Finn’s latest excursion wasn’t a total bust…a piece of a plate with a royal crest leads him to believe he’s on the track to the Aurelia, a legendary lost ship that was carrying a mountain of treasure intended for a wedding.  The Aurelia and it’s history represents everything he and Tess got into the game for in the first place.  It’s no Lost Ark, I suppose, but there it is.

With the help of the bewildered Nigel and his yummy but clueless daughter Gemma (Dziena), the reluctant Tess soon agrees to join Finn in one last attempt at resurrecting the lost gold.  But not only does he have Bigg Bunny and entourage to deal with on the way, there is also Finn’s one-time-mentor turned rival Moe Fitch (Winstone).  Can Finn rescue the gold, save his own hide, and make off with his one time girl?

Well, I suppose if it didn’t all work out in the end, there wouldn’t be a point to the movie.  There’s not much to begin with.  It’s not terribly funny, the characters are weakly drawn (Bigg Bunny represents as bad an African American stereotype as I’ve seen in some time), and the attempts to make a plot often ridiculous.  Some character, even the exceptionally dumb ones, are always coming up with the next big clue to further the story.  It’s as though the story hangs on a deus ex machina like a clothesline.

McConaughey and Hudson are gifted actors, and both capable of comedy.  They work well together, but they need a little more to work with.  I can’t say I blamed them if the only reason they signed on was to spend a few weeks in the Caribbean.  The visual settings are enough to make you forget everything else that’s going on.  At least most of the time.

But I couldn’t help feel given the basic ideas and the talent of the cast that there was a better movie left somewhere buried on the ocean floor.  A little more effort might have uncovered it.

Video ****

As mentioned, the visuals are the real treat in this movie, and this disc delivers them with stunning perfection.  I’m developing an opinion that the best of the best when it comes to Blu-ray are computer animation and underwater photography.  The Carribbean is the real star of the film, and it looks gorgeously blue throughout, whether filmed from above or below.  Images are crisply rendered throughout, and the color schemes are vibrant and well-presented, with beautiful detail from start to finish.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 audio serves the film well…some good music here and there, and a couple of big scenes including one at a dangerous ‘blowhole’ (that’s what the movie called it) where the water rages menacingly.  These sequences give the rear channels and subwoofer a little more work.  Apart from that, spoken words are cleanly delivered all the way.

Features *

The only extras are a short featurette on the two stars and a gag reel.

Summary:

All that glitters isn’t gold, and Fool’s Gold relies too much on surface allure and too little on substance to make it a true treasure…almost like the title implies.  Gorgeous settings and appealing stars work only so much.  This is a great title to show off the video capabilities of your high definition system, but doesn't offer much more.

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