Dagger Jones: The Time Warrior (2003)
Written and directed by Ryan Seacrest
Based on a story by Matt Damon

It's been awfully difficult to avoid this movie, as much as I have tried. Every time I walk into Radio Shack, I am bombarded with Ving Rhames standees, floor decals, and all sorts of other advertisements. Any product you buy there comes with a free preview DVD of the film. I received one when buying a Tandy TRS-80 replacement printer cable.

This isn't the typical preview DVD that features pointless interviews and re-edited commercials. You actually get to see the entire movie, except that Ving Rhames's image is whited-out through the entire presentation, and his dialog is replaced with the sound of a slide whistle. You have to pay to see the movie to catch any bit of Dagger Jones himself.

The ploy worked, of course. After seeing his breakthrough performance in the special edition DVD set of The Two Towers, I was as much of a Dagger Jones fan as anyone. There hasn't been an action star of this caliber in years. Vin Diesel? More like Vin Super Unleaded!

The movie, though, left me unfulfilled. It clearly delivers on the action, but what I, and I think the rest of the audience, was expecting, was to find out what ever happened to the Ring of Power once Dagger took it off to Mount Doom. These events had already transpired by the time the movie started, while the story begins with Dagger in 14th-century Tuscany trying to find and eliminate the cause of the bubonic plague.

It turns out that this is none other than Middle-Earth's own Saruman (played masterfully by Danny Glover), who has gotten access to a time travel machine. Dagger pursues him through just about every century, and at the end of each scene, he faces a "boss," and this is where the film really gets interesting.

Each moviegoer is issued a flashlight when they enter the theater, and when Dagger is fighting a "boss," a yes/no question comes up on the screen, and whichever side the most people shine their lights on is the choice that Dagger goes with. I was outvoted on most of the battles, but I did get a few of my picks in. Unfortunately this option doesn't come up with the final battle scene, where Dagger finally tracks down Saruman at the height of ancient Machu Picchu.

I'm not going to give away the ending (of which there will be several to choose from on the DVD edition, which is available only upon exiting the theater), but I'll say that we once again hear Danny Glover utter the tired line, "I'm gettin' too old for this!" Rhames responds, typically, "You ain't too old for me to kick yo ass!"

All that I've discussed isn't all that bad, but the true weak point of the movie is the inclusion of an animated laser cannon for comic relief. At least it dies at the end.

Ving Rhames definitely displays his moxie, but that is the only real attraction. It's a bit much to ask an audience to sit there for nine hours, though the flashlight interactivity does make it more bearable. Fortunately there is a two-hour trailer at the end for the upcoming album, Dagger Jones: Cloak and Dagger.

The movie isn't that great, but I'll grudgingly say you should go see it, if only for the opportunity to get the DVD when you leave.

America wants Dagger Jones. Hollywood needs Dagger Jones. And there will doubtlessly be another film for Dagger Jones, because Ving Rhames says so in the movie's final shot.

Review by Innocent Pope Innocent