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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad57.14%
Total Crap: 7.14%

1 review, 8 user ratings

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Jewel of the Nile, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Far From a 'Jewel' of a Sequel"
2 stars

Oh, it did okay box-office business, but very few audience members came out of the theatre sated and hungering for a second sequel.

The Jewel of the Nile, the sequel to the wonderfully entertaining Romancing the Stone, is a particularly depressing experience, and not because the picture is bad per se, but because it's been so impersonally prepackaged that just about all the freshness and appeal from the original has been drained out. Michael Douglas produced Stone as well as starred in it, as is the case here, yet the screenplay, as opposed to Stone's, is synthetically stale, devoid of the surprise and wit and engaging characterizations that made the original such an undiluted pleasure. Some accused Stone of being too obviously similar to Raiders of the Ark, but Diane Thomas, whose first screenplay this was (written five years prior to Stone's production, thus actually predating Raiders), toyed with genre expectations rather than lazily ceding to them -- the movie had a familiar blueprint but not entirely familiar ingredients. It also had above-average directing by Back to the Future's Robert Zemeckis, who gave the proceedings both looseness and adroitness; here, the director is Lewis Teague, who displayed agility and imagination in the enjoyable low-budget monster movie Alligator and the bigger-budgeted Stephen King adaptation Cujo, but who seems completely hamstrung this time around, as if Douglas and the studio, 20th Century Fox, were worried about any semblances of unchecked unpredictability upsetting their pandering-to-the-audience template -- it's as if a mere adequate hack has helmed it, and Teague is more than adequate and far from a hack. Only about three or four scenes stand out, one of which is the pre-title sequence, which puts a humorous spin on the pre-title sequence that graced Stone: there, we saw a fantasy of Turner's best-selling romance-novelist Joan Wilder's envisioning the heroic exploits of her literary hero and heroine in an old-time Western setting as she was typing it out; here, we get swashbuckling escapades on a pirate ship, with a funnily cynical ending applied. We're brought back to the present day, with Joan on hers and Douglas's Jack Colton's luxury yacht on the coast of France, with Jack waterskiing and a writer's-blocked Joan frustrated at the typewriter, which she throws overboard, and as it sinks to the bottom someone swimming underwater almost get hit by it, who proceeds to attach a mysterious something to the hull. All of this is fluidly, deftly staged and timed. Unfortunately, it's the high point of the movie, and we've got one-hundred minutes to go, most of which are lackluster, though occasionally enlivened by Danny De Vito, who returns as the forever-wisecracking two-bit criminal Ralph, and it says something about a romantic adventure when you look forward to someone like Ralph, whose specialty is being abrasive.

Joan and Jack's relationship has hit an impasse. For the past six months he's had the time of his life traveling from one exotic locale after another, but she's frustrated at the lack of shore-leave and the inability at finishing her next book. Once meek and mild-mannered but now headstrong, Joan is approached at a local book-signing by the wealthy Middle Eastern sheik Omar to come to his country and pen his autobiography; he's to take power in a few days, but he's already rife with enemies -- a failed assassination attempt is made as he and Joan are getting into a limousine; Joan's naturally hesitant about accepting the offer, but it's her chance at writing something "serious" for once. Jack, however, stubbornly dead-set about sailing to Greece, gives Joan an ultimatum: she chooses to go with Omar. From here, Jack's boat blows up (from the device put there by one of Omar's henchmen), a freedom fighter (the same one who attempted to kill Omar) tells Jack Omar has stolen the "jewel of the Nile" from the people and that Joan is in great danger, and the ever-greedy Ralph (foul-tempered from having done a stint in a foul South American prison) tags along with Jack to Omar's dangerous domain to attain the "jewel" to make up for the "stone" lost to him in the original. All of which aren't necessarily unworkable story elements, and to the movie's credit it tries to be different than its predecessor, but the screenwriting team of Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner (responsible for the fine The Legend of Billie Jean, the inane Superman IV: The Quest For Peace) forgot, or chose to ignore, that the chief pleasure of Stone was the believable, affecting character development. When Jack and Joan do reunite midway through, it just results in a tiresome array of shouting matches: they wouldn't be in this mess if Jack had been willing to commit to marriage; if Joan wasn't so committed to her writing; etc. And with Douglas considerably stiffer this time around, and with Turner given nothing interesting to play, Jack and Joan simply don't have the allure they once had, and soon become just another screen couple trust into a series of action sequences that fail to actively engage us. Teague doesn't lay down on the job, exactly, but, whether it's a ground chase with the hero and heroine inside a fighter jet or some jumping around on top of a moving train, his heart doesn't seem to be in it -- we're reduced to taking it in strictly as stunt choreography. But there are compensations. Ralph proving himself to the freedom fighters through a far-from-painless initiation is worth a few chuckles. Spiros Focás gives the megalomaniacal Omar a forceful orneriness. And cinematographer Jan De Bont does right by the beautiful Moroccan locales, giving us several levels above mere travelogue.

If you haven't seen "Romancing the Stone," please do.

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originally posted: 03/10/13 06:46:49
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User Comments

12/12/08 Jack Sommersby Stiff, facile & obnoxious. Only Turner manages to work into our graces. 2 stars
1/29/08 Pamela White just as boring as Douglas seems in this movie 2 stars
8/05/06 nicolecrom2678 Great movie! Funny. a must see 4 stars
11/24/02 Charles Tatum No big deal, Part II 4 stars
9/02/02 y2mckay Have fallen asleep halfway through on each of my 3 attempts- what does that tell you? 1 stars
4/06/02 Justin A cool sequel from Romancing The Stone! 5 stars
1/14/01 R.W. Welch Uninspired sequel to Romancing the Stone. 3 stars
9/19/00 homer simpson inferior compared to theeee first movie romancing the stone 3 stars
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  02-Dec-1985 (PG)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



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