Friday, April 19, 2013

Movie Review: The Jewel of the Nile

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: A funny action adventure romance movie
Cons: Danny DeVito's pointless return
The Bottom Line:
Continues story
In a fun new direction
Just one final flaw

Not a Sequel but a Continuation

Most of the time, sequels are raked over the coals, and for good reason. They are nothing but the same characters in the same situations again. Having said that, I do tend to enjoy them, but that's another review (or 200). I would be hard pressed to call The Jewel of the Nile a sequel, however. True, it meets the strict dictionary definition. But to me, it feels more like a continuation of Romancing the Stone.

It's been a few months since Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) and Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) sailed off into the sunset (literally). They are now in the Greek isles. Jack loves their life of leisure living on their yacht, but Joan is getting board and is fighting a major case of writer's block. In fact, she can't seem to finish her latest book, which is already overdue to the publisher.

Things change when Joan gets an offer she thinks she can't refuse. Omar (Spiros Focas) is about to become King of his country in Africa, and he is a fan of Joan's work. He wants Joan to write his biography. She is delighted and jumps at the chance, even though Jack isn't interested, and the two split.

But things aren't as they seem. Joan soon learns that Omar isn't all he pretended to be and she must write only what he approves. Jack gets wind of the danger and set off to rescue her. Can he find her? Will they get away? And what is this jewel that everyone is trying to find?

Unlike a typical sequel, the set up for this one is completely different. Yes, there's still action, laughs, romance, and kidnappings, but they don't feel like a retread. In fact, I think I found this movie funnier. There are several great action sequences, particularly the climax. And can I just say I found the scenes with the jet to be hilarious?

And I buy the romance here more than in the first movie as well. I never buy those movies where a couple, meets, bickers, and falls in love in a couple of days. This go around, the romance is established, and I felt that Jack and Joan truly did care about each other, even when they fought.

This movie is more polished as well. The first one had a certain level of 80's cheese to its production. While there still is some there, it isn't nearly as noticeable as in the first movie. This certainly applies to the special effects. Okay, so they aren't up to today's standards. But they are believable here.

The acting continues to be strong. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are fun to watch and completely believable. Most of the main cast are unknowns, but they don't disappoint in the slightest.

The film has one flaw, however, and that is it's one bend to the pressure of being a sequel. Danny DeVito returns as Ralph, one of the bad guys from the first film. They try to explain how and why he's showed up half way around the world and why he teams up with Jack, but I don't buy it. It felt forced. Worse yet, most of his scenes could have been in another film. They marginally play into the climax, but they could have easily done it another way. This isn't a knock on Mr. DeVito, who is great as Ralph. This is a knock on lazy screen writers and/or contractual obligations.

As with the first film, parents will want to watch out for some foul language, although it seemed toned down to me here.

This is one of those rare films where the sequel isn't inferior to the original in any way. So if you enjoyed the first, check out The Jewel of the Nile today.

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