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SKULLS, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Luke McNamara (Joshua Jackson), a student at New Haven university, dreams of completing his degree at a prestigious law school. Without the money and connections of many of his blue-blooded classmates his prospects seem bleak until he's invited to join a secret college society called The Skulls. Despite the warnings of roommate Will Beckford (Hill Harper) Luke eagerly joins, his future apparently assured by connections to the money and power of its alumni and his chances of winning the affections of Chloe (Leslie Bibb) greatly enhanced. When Will is found dead under suspicious circumstances while attempting an expose of The Skulls, Luke discovers the high price demanded by membership to its sinister ranks.

"If you like paranoia and conspiracy thrillers The Skulls delivers modest but entertaining results. The idea of secret boys clubs wielding extraordinary power is a catchy hook and not too far-fetched when it's known that at least three US presidents have passed through the ranks of these elite organisations. Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson fits the bill with his perfect preppie looks and there's sufficient intrigue in The Skulls' sinister workings to maintain interest. There are also good contributions from Craig T. Nelson as the demanding father of Luke's appointed "Skull buddy" Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker) and William Petersen has fun with his role as a pragmatic elder statesman of the Skulls. Unfortunately the requisite romantic sub-plot fails to generate much excitement despite the novelty of Luke and Chloe actually knowing each other as friends first. As a morality tale on the price of power and success, The Skulls hardly reaches Shakespearian proportions but does raise a few interesting questions about just who really might be really running things. Director Rob Cohen handles it slickly and while this remains a minor item it supplies decent doses of tension in the novel setting."
Richard Kuipers

"The producers of The Skulls obviously have a sense of timing. In the current US Presidential campaign, an issue has arisen about Republican front-runner George W Bushís membership while at university of a secret society called Skull & Bones. Itís a group with (supposedly) immense political influence - and the model for the society of the filmís title. And while this is all very interesting, it canít save The Skulls from being anything more than a potboiler of dubious credibility and immense stupidity. The film starts out promisingly enough, but pretty soon descends into some rather foolish stuff - then proceeds to continually top itself by becoming more and more preposterous as it goes along, before finally petering out to a limp conclusion. At times unintentionally hilarious, The Skulls features a cast largely of television actors having a shot at a feature film. The characters range from the stock-standard to the mundane - the preppy spoiled rich boy, the manipulative father, the crusading hero and the stand-by-your-man girlfriend. When the story tries to move forward, itís bereft of any imagination or even plausibility; choosing instead to rely on ludicrous twists that would make even John Grisham blush. The only cast member to inject any real life into a character is Spike Lee alumnist Hill Harper as Will; but he lasts only 20 minutes or so. The other actors try hard, but weighed down by a leaden script and wooden characterisations, thereís precious little they can do to lift the material. The Skulls is one of those releases that really should have gone straight to video - in the discount bin."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

SKULLS, THE (M)
(US)

CAST: Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker, Hill Harper, Leslie Bibb, Christopher McDonald, Steve Harris

DIRECTOR: Rob Cohen

PRODUCER: Neal H. Moritz, John Pogue

SCRIPT: John Pogue

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shane Hurlbut

EDITOR: Peter Amundson

MUSIC: Randy Edelman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bob Ziembicki

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 6, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: December 23, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment







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