By Amy Schoeffel
Who says a movie with several key flaws can't still make an impact? Yes, Medicine Man does suffer from unsteady acting and directing and a thin plot line, but don't send this patient to intensive care. The film still has strong appeal.
This is the first movie I've seen that addresses protection of the rain forest, points out the endless bureaucracy of medical research and throws in a moral dilemma just to shake things up a bit.
The acting in Medicine Man is nothing to brag about. Veteran Sean Connery plays eccentric medical researcher Dr. Robert Campbell, who, after years of confinement in the Amazon rain forest, must deal with a hot-headed newcomer, Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco). Although Connery does an adequate job in his role of the "mad scientist," Bracco could not convince me that her character had ever done field-research before. I was completely unimpressed with her inconsistency. She is a "macho" woman from the Bronx but still seems helpless, even wimpy, in the jungle.
More bothersome than the acting is the screenplay, which dwells on insignificant, witty remarks. It never verbalizes the major points of the movie. You certainly can't run for popcorn during this movie (you can't even sneeze) because most of the foreshadowing is visual. Even the subtitles are important.
As for the chemistry between Connery and Bracco, well, their romance is a little hard to believe. I definitely didn't leave the theater thinking, "Boy, weren't Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco a great couple!" However, their romantic interest is not the center of this movie.
They start out as professional rivals, so romantic interest develops slowly. Unlike practically every other movie this season, there are no sex scenes. Personally, I commend Medicine Man for avoiding the pitfall of almost every movie with male and female leading roles. Perhaps romance (until the very end of the movie) would have ruined the credibility of both characters, who are dedicated to finding a cure for cancer.
With scenes that can best be described as straight from National Geographic, Medicine Man has impressive panoramic views. Its true-to-life portrayal of the rain forest is definitely this movie's greatest asset. The dirty clothes, elaborate ritual costumes, exotic plants and continuous rainstorms add a crucial element to this film _ credibility. Although controversial in the bay area, T-backs are the norm in the jungle.
I think it's about time moviemakers stop trying to retell the past and start showing us today's global problems. Medicine Man expertly ties together two very important problems of the 20th century: the depleting rain forest and the wide-ranging searches for a cure for cancer. Compared to other Hollywood renditions, Medicine Man certainly forces these issues to our attention, despite its ills.