August 20, 2003

Kate & Leopold

katenleopold.jpgLiev Schreiber plays an inventor who finds a way to travel into the past. Hugh Jackman plays a 19th century duke who notices Liev's bumbling and chases him back to 2001. Meg Ryan is a market research executive and Liev's ex-girlfriend. Hugh and Meg meet and fall in love. Hugh has to go back to avoid temporal disaster.

The movie as a whole is cute and avoids some of the more annoying cliches of fish-out-of-water films. I like what writer/director James Mangold is doing with playing the integrity and manner of Jackman's character against the shamelessness of Ryan's 21st century marketing mentality.

The time travel aspects of the film are very sloppily handled. For instance, when Jackman returns to the past, Schreiber warns him that he will be returning before he left so he might have to re-live some of the day when logically what would happen would be that there would be two of him until the point where his original self went forward. Yes, time travel is theoretically impossible, but every other aspect of the time travel in this movie implies that your physical presence is what is transported, and this detail had Jackman's consciousness travelling back and replacing the one he had before. Consistency, please.

There are lots of anachronistic features. Most of them involve Jackman knowing about things that didn't happen until after he came forward, but one obvious one was the use of 50-star US flags in 1876 when it should have been the rather distinctive 37-star version. These kinds of blatant things are so easy to get right. I'm not going to quibble about historical inaccuracies like the economic conditions in Mangold's past, but if you're going to include flags, make sure they're the right flags. Sheesh.

But beyond these technical quibbles, there's still something just not quite right about the movie. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about the pacing or the shooting style or something that just didn't let me sink into the film.

The DVD includes the theatrical version as well as an original director's cut with 4 extra minutes. The extra minutes consist of a brief glimpse of Ryan's character in the past at the beginning of the movie, a long scene with a cameo by Mangold playing a director having his film shown at a test screening, and a number of brief references that show that Schreiber's character is Jackman's (and hence (spoiler!) Ryan's) n-great grandson. Apparently the studio had a problem with the fact that Schreiber's character was in a romantic relationship with his n-great grandmother (before the action of the movie). Whatever.

There are also some deleted scenes and a commentary track plus two forgettable featurettes. The commentary is Mangold doing one of those "here's what I was trying to say with this film" kinds of things. I didn't listen to the whole thing, but it was mildly interesting.

Posted by jeffy at August 20, 2003 11:33 PM
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