Coronado (2003) Movie Review

The only remarkable thing about “Coronado”, a film starring Americans but made by Germans, is that it manages some impressive special effects for what must have been a modest budget. While calling “Coronado” a “movie” is a bit of a stretch (it’s really one big 80-minute SFX reel), it’s better to point out that this is the type of film that can now be made with the right people and the right computer effects programs. Of course having spent so much time tailoring a movie around special effects, Fah and company wants to be forgiven for having forgotten to write a coherent and believable story to go along with it.

“Coronado” stars Kristin Dattilo as Claire, a Beverly Hills rich girl who stalks her fianc’ around the globe, ending up in Coronado, a patch of green mountains and indecipherable Latinos in Central America. The country is ruled by dictator John Rhys-Davies, who shows up for about 10 minutes, collects a nice paycheck, then returns to his real job in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Being that Rhys-Davis’ Ramos is one of those Saddam Hussein types (by way of Mister Bean with dashes of Baghdad Bob) a rebellion led by a Castro-wannabe is currently sweeping the country.

Into this mush of incoherent storytelling stumbles Claire, who discovers that her lawyer fianc’ Will (Michael Lowry) is actually a CIA agent (I think, because this whole CIA stuff is a bit muddling) sent to help the rebels overthrow the tyrant. While searching for Will, Claire quickly falls for dashing investigative journalist Arnet (Clayton Rohner), who himself quickly forgets about all that bothersome journalistic integrity stuff. Before you can say, “What’s in that safe, Geraldo?” Arnet is running guns for the rebels and killing the dictator’s soldiers in shoot-outs. After a couple of days in the jungle, Claire is ready to dump Will for Arnet.

Asking questions about things that happen, or don’t happen, in a movie like “Coronado” will almost certainly get you into trouble. The fact is, the writers show such little effort that it’s not even worth my time to tell you how lousy the script is. I can’t even be bothered to call the script uninventive, childishly immature, and wholly laughable. Instead, I’ll just say that “Coronado’s” entire script was obviously written around the movie’s dozen or so CGI set pieces. There are so much special effects in “Coronado” that I’m not even sure if the movie was even shot in Central America. Apparently the producers must have gotten a deal on computer-generated aircrafts, because every other scene in the movie features a CGI aircraft flying here and there.

You may be wondering how the heck rebels hiding out in old mountain caves got their hands on Apache and Chinook helicopters in the first place. Well, you’re asking the wrong person. Also, you shouldn’t be thinking at all. The best way to approach a film like “Coronado” is not only to switch off your brain, but to remove it permanently, because this is the type of movie that could care less about plausible logic. It’s all about trying to sell CGI tanks and helicopters, even if the notion of mountain rebels living in caves having possession of, oh, 100 tanks or so doesn’t really make a lick of sense.

But I digress. Whatever faults it has, “Coronado” does manage to be an entertaining little film. At just 80 minutes, it’s not a lot of time to waste, although you should be sure that it is a waste of time. There’s nothing about this film that will stay with you once the fake CGI jeep breaks down in the distance and the credits appear. The performances by all involve, although ranging from good to actually quite good, are all unnecessary because you can feel the filmmakers getting anxious to move on to the next CGI set-up whenever characters stop to talk for too long. In this case “too long” means a minute or so without something computer generated moving across the screen.

As it stands, “Coronado” isn’t much of a movie anyway. At least the film was breezy, although it’s a bit odd that the whole thing was played as slapstick instead of moderately serious. I guess if some things were played serious it would be a bit hard to just shrug off a character getting blown up by a CGI jet that showed up just to blow up a CGI bridge for no apparent reason. Actually, “no apparent reason” is a good way to describe “Coronado”. Everything about this movie, including the movie itself, happens for no real apparent reason that I can think of.

Then again, maybe that’s not so bad. It’s certainly mindless, but it is rather intriguing what can be done nowadays with the right computer programs and the right people. Of course, writing a good script first wouldn’t hurt.

Claudio Fäh (director) / Volker Engel, Marc Weigert, Claudio Fäh (screenplay)
CAST: Kristin Dattilo …. Claire Winslow
Clayton Rohner …. Arnet McClure
Michael Lowry …. Will Gallagher
John Rhys-Davies …. Presidente Hugo Luis Ramos

Buy Coronado on DVD