January 1, 2005 -- This is a great-looking movie in search of a plot. There's Jackie Chan and not much else in this bungled remake of the Jules Verne classic story. One of the worst movies of the year.
Chan choreographed the fight scenes, so they are pretty good, but the script is a mess. Steve Coogan of “24 Hour Party People,” who plays Phileas Fogg, seems miscast, as does Cecile de France of “L'Auberge espagnole” who plays his love interest, French artist Monique. The script is incapable of putting forth any reason whatsoever for Monique to be on this trip with Chan and Coogan, other than she's cute, but she's not really cute enough to warrant a free ticket.
Most of the attempts at humor fall flat, as do the 200 or so pratfalls that pass for humor. The dialogue is indescribably bad. Even a great actor like Jim Broadbent (who plays Lord Kelvin, head of the Royal Academy of Science) looks foolish when the script forces him to scream inanities repeatedly. The idea seems to be if a line isn't funny, you just say it LOUDER.
Kathy Bates is one of many stars with brief cameo appearances in the film. Bates escapes unscathed with one decent scene as Queen Victoria. John Cleese escapes with an even briefer scene as a London Bobby. Arnold Schwarzenegger falls flat on his face playing a self-mocking role as an egotistical ruler in Constantinople. He is doing a lot better as governor than he did in this movie.
The cinematography and special effects are quite good. The movie looks fine. The heart and soul of it, the story and the casting, are a complete mess. This film rates a D-.
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