|INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)|
Treasure Lost at Sea:
Diving to the World's Great Shipwrecks
by Robert and Jenifer Marx
(In Paperback from Amazon)
I'm such a sucker for eye candy I sat and enjoyed this little romantic comedy like any sappy romantic would. There's nothing like the sprightly and intelligent beauty of a Kate Hudson and the energy of perfect little Alexis Dziena to divert my critical senses. Of course, I knew what to expect going in: it would be a challenge to any semblance of reality; the boy and the girl would separate but come back together after a journey full of missteps and tragedies; and the mindset of the writers would have nothing to do with precious metal. The gold they give us here is unblemished skin, sunshine and shipwrecks.
"Finn" Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) is an adventurer to a fault, and there are many of them. While he's facing the loss of a wife that's all the gold a man could want, he's out searching for treasure in shallow water off the Florida coast (actually at an Australian location). What's pushing him are two things: professional satisfaction and possibly the greatest riches ever found. What he hasn't a clue about is a sense of reponsibility to anything else.
About the time he and his diving partner are vacuuming the sea bottom for signs of the wreck, the boat sinks and, with it, his chances of heading off the divorce proceedings underway.
So now, not only does he owe a big one to Cordell, (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), the gangster who loaned him the boat, but he's got to convince wife and research partner Tess (Kate Hudson) that a shard of a plate that he found bears the seal and other identifying properties of the family who's scion was on the galleon they're looking for. Trouble is, he left it with Cordell, and Cordell is out drumming up a poaching operation.
When Tess does her own research on the drawing of the plate's pattern and stamp, it's an "Oh my God" moment and she's in on the operation to beat the poachers to the Spanish coin, emeralds as big as a fist, pearls and all manner of artwork in gold and silver.
Just how they're going to manage this comes in the form of ultra rich Nigel Honeycutt (doesn't the name just smell wealth?) (This is Donald Sutherland very badly affecting a British accent) on whom Tess is employed as a staff steward. And he, idle and bored as he is, then comes with his visiting daughter Gemma Honeycutt (Alexis Dziena), a fabulous item of treasure all her own. Gemma is smart enough to act dumb in order to get the attention she craves and gorgeous enough to be a weapon of distraction to the enemy.
In the end... well, I can't tell you that because the fun is only just leaving port. Suffice it to say that McConaughey is in muscular splendor to please the femme part of the audience, while Hudson and Dziena have the testosterone contingent covered and the decks under control. Guys, I promise you plenty of leering moments. In fact, Dziena's role has little to do with anything except to provide a lot of barside testimonials for the picture.
The production values maintained by writer-director Andy Tennant ("The Wedding Album," "Hitch") and his co-writers John Claflin & Daniel Zelman are a chest of cinema wealth: vivid, spicy and appropriate to the subject matter; with cinematographer Don Burgess doing great justice to cast and setting alike. Underwater shots are sterling.
Too bad because, with all that, it's going to be dragged through the critical mud because it's not "Atonement." Steaming in on the heels of "National Treasure: Book Of Secrets" might add more negatives for visibly exploiting the success of a hit series.
My rating, and my confessed enjoyment, probably derive in part from my love of wreck diving off the coast of Southern California and of Kate Hudson and, oh yes, by judging it according to the prevailing winds of the genre. In that respect, I can't help thinking it's a bit above average, better than the last McConaughey-Hudson fan pleaser, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," and no worse than "Romancing the Stone," a romance and treasure comedy from yesteryear. Which may read like an excuse for enjoying it, but I'm making no apologies.
~~ Jules Brenner