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by Robert Flaxman

"The film for which the term 'cliche-ridden' was invented."
1 stars

Shot for about five million dollars but looking like it wasted considerably more, the direct-to-video clunker Coronado may be the first movie to be built exclusively from Hollywood action clichés. Half the film’s scenes are either hackneyed or exceedingly contrived, and the remaining half are both.

Coronado is the sort of film with no stars whatsoever except for one B-lister who owed the director a favor – in this case, it’s John Rhys-Davies, cast totally against type as a bumbling, sweaty guy with a beard. Looking like he stumbled in for a day’s worth of shooting and was talked into a second, Rhys-Davies plays a Central American dictator, a character brutally ill-conceived as the comic relief in a film with no discernable sense of humor. He also has about three total minutes of screen time, but still gets major billing because he’s theoretically a big enough name to get people to notice the film.

The plot… well, the less said about that, the better. The film runs a mere 87 minutes, and this includes both an overly dramatic opening credits sequence and the end titles, meaning that the film really runs more like 80 minutes, and even that has been stretched by means of a cheesy – and come film’s end, utterly nonsensical – framing device.

Suffice it to say that Claire is an American who decides to follow her fiancé to Switzerland for Christmas (he’s supposedly there on business). She finds that he is in fact not there, and discovers that he has in fact gone to the tiny Central American dictatorship of El Coronado (a thinly-veiled reference to El Salvador). Upon arriving, she immediately bumps into “rugged” field reporter Arnet McClure, and they begin bickering about two seconds later, which means they’re going to end up together, in case you haven’t watched a movie since the invention of sound.

The government is fighting a rebel insurrection in the country. The American government is evidently supporting the current government – which, in this-isn’t-metaphorical-at-all fashion, is clearly delineated as the bad side in the film. The rebel leader, one Rafael, seems inspired by Che Guevara, while Rhys-Davies’ Ramos is every ugly dictator who ever got rich at the expense of his people – and as noted, Ramos is the comic relief while Rafael is supposed to be serious and inspiring (except in one egregiously misplaced scene which cuts back and forth between the two doing an “if they know that we know that they know” routine straight out of Abbott and Costello).

Many of the filmmakers are German, and the effects team evidently has connections to Independence Day, which was directed by Day After Tomorrow helmer, and thus noted critic of America, Roland Emmerich. This might explain the obvious anti-American sentiment of the film – the Americans support the wrong side, and Claire’s fiancé is a total sleaze. On the other hand, Claire and Arnet are the big heroes of the film; it’s more than a little ironic that in a film with such obvious undertones criticizing and/or satirizing America, it’s still Americans who end up saving the day. The film probably wanted to establish that they were different because they hung out with the rebels, but it really can’t do so in the time it has.

What can the film do in the time it has? Spend about four of its five million dollars on visual effects, it would appear. The effects are hardly great – they’re obvious at least half the time and even the ones that blend in acceptably never really look real – but they’re far better than a release of this scope deserves.

If only the script had gotten the same treatment, it might not seem like a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together from better films. Instead, we’re stuck with a film covered in obvious sutures. The “tough, can-do heroine” role is a joke – Claire manages to be both a pampered Beverly Hills almost-housewife and a med student, in perhaps the least convincing duality since Adam Sandler played a brilliant law student who moonlighted as a tollbooth operator in Big Daddy. Worse still, her first thought after discovering that her fiancé is somewhere in rebel country is “I’m going to go rescue him and take on those rebels single-handedly!” What? Five minutes ago this woman was diving under a table because a few helicopters flew overhead. (Of course, she successfully toughens up, enough that she gets to survive a 100-foot drop off a bridge into a river. She even gets to do the thing where she punches someone and then shakes her hand as if to say, “Ow! My hand hurts! Because I just hit someone with it and I’m a woman!”) The rest of the characters, such as they are, are no better and even less worth analyzing.

The film as a whole is a curious mélange of uninteresting action, vapid social commentary, and insipid and out of place attempts at comedy – the only enjoyment this is likely to provide will come from cracking jokes with friends at its expense. There may indeed be talent behind Coronado, but virtually none of it found its way to the screen.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11373&reviewer=385
originally posted: 01/02/05 04:50:32
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User Comments

4/29/05 Drew Johnson was a fun B film 3 stars
1/29/05 Betsy Jones Few monkeysm but plenty of explosions! 3 stars
1/19/05 Paul McTurk Total Crap Squared 1 stars
1/17/05 Roy Smith Again If Kristin Dattilo is not naked in her next movie I don't have a reason to see it. 2 stars
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  28-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



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