THE SKULLS / (2000) *
Starring: Paul Walker, Joshua Jackson, Craig T. Nelson, William L. Peterson, Christopher McDonald, Hill Harper, and Leslie Bibb. Directed by Rob Cohen. Written by John Pogue. Running time: 107 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for violence, some language, and brief sexuality).
By Blake French:
A secret society so powerful, it can give you anything?at a price. That is the subtitle to "The Skulls," a new thriller by Rob Cohen. The film is entirely fictional, although it claims to use concepts behind a real secret campus society called Skull and Bones. This film rips off the outline of the society's reputation and controversy, but the filmmakers should have ripped off even more-as much as they could have. At first glance this movie, with its ironic principles and mysterious overtones, sounds as if it may be something of interest, and extremely externally it is. However, if you are a filmgoer who likes films with the slightest hint of intelligence or consistence, you will discover "The Skulls" is a horrendous production.
Joshua Jackson, (also starring in the upcoming "Gossip") is cast as a college student named Luke McNamara. His roommates are the rich and beautiful Chloe (Leslie Bibb), whom Luke has a forbidden crush on, and an African American student journalist named Will Beckford (Hill Harper). Luke is a very busy young man. He is a varsity rower, works in a fast food restaurant, is a full time student, and rides his bicycle everywhere. Luke also has an unsettling history: his father passed away when he was a baby and has no mother. Even so, due to his strong will, an elite force chooses him as a candidate for membership to the top-secret society The Skulls.
Another key character in this film is Luke's other friend, Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker), who is popular among young girls and is muscularly attractive in appearance. His father, Litten (ex-"Coach" star Craig T. Nelson) is running for Supreme Court. Litten is also a judge for the Skulls, heads the society along with Sen. Ames Levitt (William Petersen). Caleb is under high amounts of pressure by his demanding father who expects his son to live up to the family name. This is one cliché I have had enough of lately.
Inside the Skull's headquarters, there are surreal and enticingly designed sets. They include a pool filled with black coffins, many dark hallways, private trap doors, concealed dungeons, several cement arches, and a creepy collage of ornamentation. During a business introduction, the society provides prostitutes for the members. Other benefits include money being casually added into bank accounts, free sexy sports cars, college acceptance, and protection against outsiders. All of this heavenly treatment soon becomes distant and inferior to Luke after Will dies mysteriously.
The Society is first developed through casual conversations. Entrance is like playing a giant video game. The characters are forced to undergo tests to prove their strength? Their bravery? Their endurance? Their strategy? We never learn about the Skulls enough to understand what happens.
To make things worse for "The Skulls," its stakes are simply not high enough-or perhaps there is too little conflict. What little tension present is not introduced until the story is well on its way into the second half. The movie is not challenging, involving, or thought provoking. Partially to blame is the lack of empathy for the main character. There is no narrative connection between Luke and the audience. Half way through the story he becomes absolute, then miraculously back in action. The rest of the characters are mechanical, one-dimensional plot puppets. No one has a mind of their own. All actions, or should I say reactions, are cause and effect notions, developing little tension or depth.
As if the father-son strives were not enough, the movie also features a romantic cliché between Chloe and Luke. The audience never cares about this romantic subplot because it is never developed or examined. Leslie Bibb and Joshua Jackson do not create passionate character chemistry. Paul Walker, whose horrible "Meet The Deedles" still wreaks in the back of my mind, once again struts his flaunting character around like an arrogant robot. He recites his aimless dialogue as if mechanically programmed.
As bad as "The Skulls" is, I still would have never reasoned a conclusion like this. I have no idea what the filmmakers were thinking when they decided to portray an ending consisting of a duel between Caleb and Luke to withdrawal truth behind a death. What does a dead student, a secret society, a beautiful girl, and an old fashion sharp shooting challenge have in common? In one scene, a chairman of the Skulls asks Luke if he has any questions. "Millions," he responds inquisitively. After watching "The Skulls," we know exactly how Luke feels.
"The Skulls" is brought to you by Universal Pictures.
The Skulls (2000) 1080p YIFY Movie
The Skulls (2000) 1080p
Luke McNamara, a college senior from a working class background joins a secret elitist college fraternity organization called "The Skulls", in hope of gaining acceptance into Harvard Law ...
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The Synopsis for The Skulls (2000) 1080p
Luke McNamara, a college senior from a working class background joins a secret elitist college fraternity organization called "The Skulls", in hope of gaining acceptance into Harvard Law School. At first seduced by the club's trapping of power and wealth, a series of disturbing incidents, such as his best friends suicide, leads Luke to investigate the true nature of the organization and the truth behind his friends supposed suicide. He starts realizing that his future and possibly his life is in danger.
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The Reviews for The Skulls (2000) 1080p
One of the year's worst films, with a ridiculous story and defective characters. * out of ****.Reviewed byMovie-12Vote: 2/10
THE SKULLS / (2000) *
Mix schlocky but hilarious Hollywood hack dialogue with equallyschlocky but hilarious Hollywood hack plotting, and you get a potent1-2 sucker punch to your intellect...I call it...THE SKULLS. Adelightfully silly movie, it moves briskly through semi-seriousconflicts and silly conspiracies, and all with the the intelligence ofyour average CBS movie of the week. But it has a sense of momentum thatyou can't escape, and soon your on a ride that combines equal partslaughs and smiles, nothing too grim, but a (for what it is) fanaticaldevotion to its own plot devices. The maguffin of the Skulls society istheir rule book, a device that comes to charming use late in the movie.William Peterson's senator reminds Joshua Jackson repeatedly that everyconflict, every ordeal, can be solved within the rule book...and indeedwithin the world of the Skulls, this book does hold all the answers.Dropping hints here and there as to how it'll all end, the movie has acharming level of mystery, no more sinister or thrilling than The DaVinci Code, but thankfully much less serious in its handling.
One of my favorite scenes is one of the stupidest. The chosen boys aregiven a grand reception with the many distinguished alumni on a remoteisland that at times resembles Alcatraz and Hogwarts School forWizards. The boys are given expensive diving watches (an obviousproduct placement) and then dressed in tuxedos where they shake handsand shift uncomfortably in their cumberbunds...until the directorinexplicably cranks out Creed onto the soundtrack ("Can You Take MeHigher" no less!) and then this huge door opens and out walk whateverwaif models were hot in 2000. And they strut out as if on a runway, nosense of acting in any of their faces, and it's pure schlock...and Ilove it!
Rob Cohen went on to XXX and then tanked with Stealth, but this showswhat people in Hollywood saw in the guy. The film is fun, never tooheavy, and perfectly suited for a fall evening with yournone-too-intellectual school friends OR consumed in 12 minute intervalson TNT. It's plotted swiftly and compellingly enough to justify itsrunning time...another honor not bestowed on The Da Vinci Code.Basically, it's perfectly mindless, harmless fun, with a better thanaverage cast who seem to revel in the camp of it all. Enjoy when yougot nothing better to do.
I just saw "The Skulls." Wow. It's bad.
If I might, I'd like to share with you a comparison that eluminates some of the more glarring problems I had with Rob Cohen's latest "thriller." I am currently an undergraduate student at a fairly exclusive university; much like Luke McNamara. He is alledgedly a poor college student who came from a rough background, and has to pinch every penny to afford his higher education. I make no such claims, but I live in a cramped dorm room that is still one of the bigger ones on campus. Luke lives in a gigantic "dorm room" filled with ample furniture, and several rooms, all with hardwood floors. For a poor guy, he's pretty well off.
Enough of that; what you want to hear about are the titular Skulls, a "Secret" Society on campus that gives its members everything they ever wanted... (insert dramatic music) ...but at a terrible price.
I put secret in quotes up there, because much is made of the idea of Secret Societies on college campuses and how well-guarded their secrets are, and how everyone wants to know all about them. Here are my tips to people looking to start their own societies, taking what I learned from watching "The Skulls"
-Branding your members makes them pretty easy to identify.
-Mood lighting, and well-timed light cues really adds drama to those initiation ceremonies.
-If you don't want people to know where you live, don't put a gigantic Skull on top of your mansion.
-Before you drug people, let them know that they are going to wake up inside a sealed coffin, so they immediately know where they are when they wake up, and how to get out (Given the relative ease with which the Skull recruits jump out of SEALED coffins I can only assume they were warned in advance).
Not very secretive. I'm surprised they don't advertise in the college newspaper. The movie defies logic and general interest at every term. Drama and tension are manufactured out of forced moments, incredible cheesy music, ridiculous lighting (Every single scene in "The Skulls" seems to take place in late afternoon), and often thin air. I laughed at the opening title card, the bizarre love scene, the lengthy metaphors, the terrible dialogue, and general insanity that goes around in the Skulls.
Additional highlights include gas torches flicked on with a switch, Craig T. ("Coach") Nelson as a villain who's about as intimidating as Dick Dastardly from "Wacky Races," a very poorly edited chase scene, and two times in which the director really wants you to think the characters are going to get shot...and boy does he sure pull the wool over your eyes! Tragic really.
"The Skulls" is a manufactured movie. Everything is artificial and fake, and I loved laughing at every minute of it.