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The Skulls (2000) Review


Sometimes, I come across a movie that has such a terrible script, I can’t help but wonder why on earth it ever got made. The Skulls is one of these movies. 

In The Skulls, Joshua Jackson (of Fringe fame) stars as Luke McNamara, a Yale student hard up for cash. When he’s inducted into the local secret society, The Skulls, life seems to take a turn for the better — at least until his best friend (Hill Harper) commits suicide after snooping around The Skulls’ inner sanctum.

If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. Essentially, The Skulls is a bad rip-off of The Firm. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Firm (I felt it was far inferior to the book), but I would watch it a hundred times before I subjected myself to this tripe again.

The largest problem with this movie is the writing. It’s on-the-nose and stilted. Nothing ever seems to happen naturally. What’s more, things in the script just don’t seem to make sense. Despite the fact that The Skulls are a “secret society,” everybody knows who they are, where they are, and the organization’s history. Emotions change without warning. One moment, the characters are having a polite civilized conversation, then the next someone is storming out of the room. Since the writer, John Pogue, is best known for Rollerball, I  didn’t go in expecting David Mamet, but I definitely didn’t go in expecting this.

Even more ridiculous than the writing is the “clubhouse” that The Skulls call home. Enormous, painfully obvious to the rest of the campus (again, what kind of secret society announces their existence?), and decked out with everything from Indiana Jones-style stone slab doors to enormous chambers made entirely of travertine marble to complex theatre lighting rigs and laser light shows that seem to have been perfectly focused for every event that takes place, even the unexpected ones. Oh – and they have a neon green glowing crystal skull.

The technology in this movie is atrocious. I know it’s only a very small part of the overall movie, but I can’t just let these things go by. The Social Network proved that you could be true to the way technology actually is and still create an interesting movie, so now I expect that same thing from every other movie. Here, they say that a computer is random. The truth, of course, is that it’s just the opposite. Creating a truly random computer is nearly impossible, not automatic. They also do that thing where they “enhance” a surveilance video to get more detail. I die a little every time that happens in a movie.

Though the director, Rob Cohen, cannot be left blameless in the equation that created this piece of garbage, I think that this albatross should be around the neck of Pogue, who — in addition to writing — also produced this monstrosity. My bottom line: just don’t watch this. There are a lot of better movies that cover similar ground.

I give The Skulls a 0.5/5.

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