Cinema Signal:

Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne

. "Around the World in 80 Days"

This live action cartoon creates a world that has nothing to do with the real one, so it can be as exaggerated as it wants to be without getting lost in details. And, certainly, no Jackie Chan outing is going to put any pressure on matters of reality for the sake of action choreography and a few laughs.

From the quality look of the production, no money is spared to provide the global circumnavigation required, or a cgi artist's facsimile of it, when late 19th century inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) takes the nasty minister of the Royal Academy of Science's sneering Lord Kelvin's (Jim Broadbent) bet that he, for all his inventive notions, can't do it.

Chased by the police for a robbery he pulled off, Lau Xing (Jackie Chan) has passed himself off as a Frenchman with the handle, Passepartout (strictly to satisfy the 1873 source material from the esteemed author, Jules Verne, whose fault this is). As a ploy to escape apprehension and imprisonment, Xing has offered his services to the wealthy inventor as a valet and, now, his travel companion.

Into the mix for a little romantic depth to the two dimensional takeoff comes Monique La Roche (Cecile de France) who Chan and Fogg meet at an art exhibit for French impressionist painters. Trying to help her out of a scrape by taking her along for a small part of the journey, she won't let go and insists herself for the duration, with emotions turning disdain into kisses by journey's end.

Much is at stake for Fogg. If he succeeds in returning in the alloted time, he takes over Kelvin's position as head of the Academy. If he fails, he gives up his house, his laboratory, his inventions and any claim to membership in the Academy. This London gentleman's very life is at stake.

Injecting some cinema spice to the journey are the cameo appearances of a string of celebrities. Most prominent is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the guv himself, in a role that might have compromised his candidacy in California. Then there's Kathy Bates, Luke and Owen Wilson, Richard Branson, Macy Gray, John Cleese and other characters from far and wide.

But, lest you get the wrong idea, this is a Jackie Chan escape and adventure vehicle for his action choreography and deadpan laugh agenda. For adults and the discriminate, it's mostly a yawn. For the kids and the undemanding, it's colorful, high paced and not too much to inspire nightmares.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

The Soundtrack Album


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