Patriotic parables of real American heroes overthrowing enemies of knowable origin was a particularly hot topic for the phase of post-9/11 moviegoing. Heroes that earned their stars and stripes, military propaganda, it is something that struck up a dependable line for the action genre to take. The Last Castle, then, is an odd failure of such a marketable strategy. A box office bomb and now a later stage entry of cultural amnesia, The Last Castle’s dependable ensemble are now up for grabs as an unsung feature of the early 21st century. Rightly so, somewhat. Rod Lurie would peak and fall with this middling feature that provides all the right highs and lows of an action feature, but its determination to capture the hearts and minds that were so deeply affected at the time is a grand failure.
Before we explore the mysteries of the jungle, our technology will expand so far into the future that we’ll be able to arm Bruce Campbell with a laser capable of cutting through leaves and not much else. Congo is stupid, let us get rid of the idea that it could be anything more than that almost immediately. With that in mind, the Frank Marshall-directed piece must clamber to the right side of stupid, it must present effective, fun moments with gore and engaging characters. That is a hard task to manage, and the hilarity is prevalent even when it shouldn’t be. Such is the effect of our modern culture and the impact Tim Curry can have on a screenplay. Fear not, for Congo is now the cult classic we have all needed in our lives, it is a necessary, big-budget car crash that finds solace in its unintentional humour and aversion to science.
How easy it must be to make such a boring film. When aiming for awards, it is easy for the tunnel vision to consume any semblance of interest in a project. With its sole aim being to provide Michael Caine with an Academy Award on a silver platter, the work within The Cider House Rules leaves much to be desired. Approaching its cast with such meticulous care and fear of offence, the instant downside to this piece is that it has nothing emotive or interesting in its possession. All heavy-hitting points to make for what should be an amicable opening to a film that bagged Caine his second Oscar, but why hold back the punches if they’ll be let loose anyway? The Cider House Rules, after all, has become somewhat of a relic, and it held such a stature long before it had made the rounds on the DVD nostalgia market.