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I saw this movie at United Artists Bethesda, instead of my usual preferred baliwick of AMC City Place, home of the frequent loud repetition of the comment "Damn! Look at that!" during my recent re-viewing of Titanic. Partly this was calculated, as the audience at City Place would most likely be a huge swarm of black women gaping at Denzel and making comments about his general fine-ness throughout the movie. Since this was supposed to be a scary/general-nature-of-evil movie I decided to attempt to eschew the audience comments, and Bethesda is the best theater besides City Place that I go to for an actual consistent audience response to jokes and stuff. However, Bethesda does present its own special perils. For example, when the killed was meeting his death by lethal gas near the beginning of the film, I was thinking, "Yeah, that guy's cologne is a little strong and a little funky, but that hardly merits that react––…wait, that character isn't here and I'm not in the movie."

I was having a lot of trouble not projecting myself into the movie, because Denzel, while being hyperbolically attractive, was reacting to the whole fallen-demon hypothesis pretty much as I think I would, listening but humorously incredulous the whole time. Denzel does have a certain intensity about him at all times that I don't seem to be able to carry off, though. He had this in "Virtuosity" also, which was a thoroughly silly but nonetheless memorable movie mainly due to the fact that whenever the movie seemed about to drift into terminal silliness Denzel showed up to keep it on something of a level.

This movie ain't supposed to be silly. And it's not. There's nothing outwardly wrong with it, in fact; Denzel, as noted above, is more than competent, the visuals range from good to stunning, the only other major character who has much of a chance to screw anything up is the Exposition Lady, who is good-looking in a non-ostentations way and cold scared calm throughout, the music is actually abnormally good (by Tan Dun, composer of "Symphony 1997" to commemorate the Hong Kong-China reunification, which is a huge piece of first-rate movie music [albeit not for a movie] and which earned him a mention in a rap song I wrote), the story makes sense if you accept the premise. It just doesn't gell. There's no core. You get scared as a Korean banker [this was written during the failure of Asian capital markets in 1998] when Tan Dun is playing the music and somewhat less scared during the silent final scene, but it all slips away immediately and then you realize that you weren't really that scared in the first place. It's well-crafted but emotionless, like certain novels where you get the impression that the writer is writing more to show you how good a writer he or she is than to show you an emotion you wouldn't normally feel. Everything is there to be a good horror movie except the horror.


Believability: Premise —> conclusion, fairly accurately.

Tension: When Tan Dun is rocking the mike, the tension is fairly high, but the tension would also be fairly high if you bought the soundtrack to this movie and cranked it after watching news of a murder on the 11 o'clock.

Action: Decently done when necessary; not exactly the raison d'etre of this movie. I'm reviewing it anyway because I want to.

Attractive Man Count: Denzel gets the very first 2 given to a person in any movie I have reviewed. He is easily the best looking man in Hollywood today.

Attractive Woman Count: The Exposition Lady gets a 1.

Overall Grade: C-. Worth it if you have a crush on Denzel, I guess. So maybe everyone at City Place had it right after all.


The name of the actress who plays what I refer to as the Exposition Lady above is Embeth Davidtz. It would be completely unprofessional of me not to include this information in a movie review meant for publication. But how much does knowing that the Exposition Lady is played by Embeth Davidtz actually contribute to your ability to judge whether or not you would go see this film? How much information included due to slavish following of professional conventions of movie reviewing actually contributes to most people's experience of movies? I gotta think about that one. You'll observe me thinking this one through in print over the next few months.


All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.