"Fool's Gold" Blu-ray Review
June 16, 2008 by Zach Demeter
It should come as no surprise that after the revenue that Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson brought in from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days that they’d eventually be paired up again. What is surprising, however, is it took five years for them to be paired up again for this effort, Fool’s Gold. Unfortunately for audiences the quirks that their first pairing spawned didn’t carry over to the new film, brought to us by Hitch director Andy Tennant. Despite McConaughey, Hudson and Tennant having entertaining films on their own, it seemed when they all came together with a story by John Claflin and Daniel Zelman that they just couldn’t quite make it all work.
As a just-divorced couple, Benjamin (McConaughey) and Tess (Hudson) find themselves at a crossroads. While Tess wants to move on, Benjamin wants to try to make it work again. Despite trying to get away from him, Tess finds herself hopelessly wrapped up in one of Benjamin’s latest treasure hunting expeditions, where he ropes her current employer into funding his search in an attempt to find the whereabouts of the Queen’s Dowry, a fabulous fortune that disappeared in the Caribbean in 1715. Unfortunately for Benjamin and Tess, they aren’t the only ones looking for the treasure, as Benjamin’s old mentor Moe (Ray Winstone) shows up in the very same location that Ben is searching in.
There seemed to have been equal parts of what was necessary to make this film work, only the amounts they came in is what hindered the final product. While I’ve no doubt this could have been a quirky and cute film that’s light on plot but thick with jokes and tension between the two leads, what we ended up with was a bloated adventure-comedy that had a tiny bit of romance thrown in on the side. The chemistry between Hudson and McConaughey here is rarely felt and aside from the constant references to Benjamin being good at sex, we learn little about their relationship through the near two-hour affair.
Fortunately for what the film lacks in story and characterization it makes up for in the locations. The scenery in the film is largely what makes it such a treat to watch, with the crystal clear water, beautiful beaches and lush foliage that keeps the viewer enchanted with the film, purely based on visuals alone. There were quite a few moments I was astonished by the beauty of it all, but that likely was in large part due to the Blu-ray transfer (more on that later). Still, it’s definitely a high point of the film, but you could see this easily enough on the Discovery or National Geographic HD channels if you waited for the right airing, so the scenery alone isn’t enough to warrant a viewing—it just makes it more pleasant if you get roped into watching it.
Although it broke even in the States, the film didn’t fare any better overseas and for all intents and purposes it seems that this was a general failure. This can be traced back to the performances where each one of the characters can be easily pigeon-holed into a generic character stereotype. McConaughey and Hudson were unremarkable, with the only two sources of humor, for me, being Donald Sutherland and Alexis Dziena, who despite playing run-of-the-mill characters, still managed to maintain a small level of humor, all of which stemmed from Sutherland’s character being consistently flabbergasted by his daughter’s (played by Dziena) apparent complete lack of common sense and knowledge about the world.
For a duo that had such a great on-screen presence with one another on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, McConaughey and Hudson really sputtered out and fell flat here. While the early part of the relationship seemed promising enough, Hudson’s character quickly turned into someone who, despite saying she was angry with McConaughey’s character, never truly made it felt like she actually hated him. Instead it seemed like she was doing it all for attention of some short, which made it all the more confusing; McConaughey wanted his wife back, which after near two hours, came back to him easily enough. It’s a very poorly conceived relationship that, aside from a scene of passion later in the film, could have passed for a brother-sister relationship rather than one actually based on romance.
There are other elements to the story, such as the Bigg Bunny gangster element that McConaughey gets wrapped up in, that seem absolutely worthless. If they left that portion of the story out we could’ve lopped off a good half hour to the story, which would have allowed it to breathe more. Instead this mobster/rapper subplot just dragged the film down, although they were worth a few laughs, I’ll admit.
If it wasn’t for this length this film might actually be worth watching. It could have used more romance, more treasure hunting and fewer scenes between characters that end up being wasted efforts; had the film trimmed its fat a bit more, it would be worth watching. As it is, it’s worth a Rental at least and nothing more. I highly doubt you’ll get too wrapped up in anything but the visuals and maybe some of the music in the film; it’s simply not worth your time.
Fool’s Gold arrives on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray casing with an insert telling you to keep your Blu-ray player up to date. Menus for the set are simple and easy enough to navigate, although there’s so little to navigate to, so that may be the reason. Disc art mirrors the cover and that pretty much wraps up the presentation of the Blu-ray release; not a whole lot to go through.
The aforementioned beautiful visuals came through brilliantly on this 2.4:1 1080p transfer, especially the sequences at sea and some of the helicopter shots of the island. Unfortunately the transfer failed to impress on some of the other sequences, with the occasional lack of clarity on some of the tighter shots. It’s a nice picture for the exterior pieces, but the sequences with tighter angles and more characters simply don’t hold the same level of clarity, although it’s still a nice transfer regardless…just not something you’d use to show off the format.
For the audio we get the same less-than-stellar performance, with a Dolby Digital English 5.1 track being the main source of audio here (no TrueHD track), along with French and Spanish 5.1 tracks. The English 5.1 track is clear enough, but I did notice a lot of hiss during some sequences, notably during the scene between Sutherland, McConaughey, Hudson, and Dziena where they’re discussing the treasure. I didn’t notice it so much when anyone but McConaughey was talking and that’s when it started to really kick up. First time I’ve actually heard hissing like that on a modern film…very strange.
The extras here are nothing to write home about either; a short piece on “Flirting With Adventure—The Chemistry Between Two Charming Contemporary Stars”, which is incredibly weird to include here considering there’s so little chemistry between the two on this film, and a quick gag reel. Like I said, not a whole lot to check out and nothing truly worthwhile; like the film, this release is a strict Rental only.
Fool's Gold arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 17th.