Uncovered (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The restoration of an old Flemish painting leads to a historical mystery, which then develops a parallel in a modern day murder mystery. The restorer (Kate Beckinsale) uncovers a hidden inscription beneath the painting, and that eventually leads her to unlock some secrets hidden in the content of the painting itself, consisting of subtle, long-forgotten messages involving an obscure politically-motivated murder. The painter, unable to represent the murder directly, chose to hide allegorical clues in a chess game being played by the subjects.

Meanwhile, events in the restorer's own life start to mirror the progress of that very same chess game. Some of her friends and family are murdered, and she is sent a "captured" chess piece for each victim. She doesn't really get it, so she enlists a chess expert to help her predict the killer's next move.

There is nothing especially engaging about either the historical mystery or the parallel contemporary murder mystery, but the movie really isn't bad if you like that sort of thing. It isn't brilliant, but it has its pleasures. I understand that it was based on a really terrific novel. I haven't read it, but I can see how it would be quite similar to The Da Vinci Code.

The only glaring weakness of the film is that the acting is hammy and sometimes amateurish. Heaven only knows how Kate Beckinsale ever survived in the acting business after this effort. If you're a Beckinsale fan, you may want to avoid this flick, in which her acting is about at the level of a primary school Christmas show, and she demonstrates a subtlety which was apparently honed at the Vince McMahon Academy of the Dramatic Arts (above).


see the main commentary

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features, no widescreen

  • transfer is acceptable

  • no meaningful features

The film does have two very big positives:

1. Extensive nudity from Kate Beckinsale, who hasn't gotten naked on camera before or since, and is now a major star.  Some frames show a camera angle right up her spread legs. Is that her coochie, or was she wearing a modesty patch? I don't know. It's just pure blackness, and there is no definition of any kind to be seen up there in the Inn of the Seventh Happiness.

2. Lovely visuals of Barcelona, which is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. In fact, the director was completely smitten by the city and was letting his camera linger on interesting sights even when it was slowing down the movie.

The Critics Vote ...

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Decent genre film plus Beckinsale in the buff.

Return to the Movie House home page