The Skulls Trilogy 

2000-2003

When "The Skulls" came out in 2000 shortly after President Bush took office, the issue of Ivy League secret societies was hot. What a difference a near-decade makes! The hit thriller now comes packaged with both its straight-to-video sequels in the affordable, two-disc "The Skulls Trilogy."

Joshua Jackson, then on "Dawson's Creek" and now on "Fringe," stars in the original "Skulls" as a working-class college student with eyes on law school, but not the cash. That changes when he's recruited to join the exclusive Skulls, a tight-knit but secret society  (well, as secret as one can get with having its own logo-emblazoned building) for only the most prestigious pupils.

But membership has its un-privileges. Along with the fast cars, fast women and fast money comes cold-blooded murder, and Jackson's character has the cojones to confront the powers that be and expose their corruption. As far as pop-thrillers go, it' s not half-bad. Rob Cohen directs the slick proceedings with a heavy hand, but Jackson is an appealing, sympathetic hero.

The same cannot be said for 2002's "The Skulls II," which simply transplants the same plot and changes the characters' names and few minor details. Thus, it's more of a remake than a sequel, but the unlikable lead (Robin Dunne, TV's "Sanctuary") makes things problematic. The following year's "The Skulls III" is an improvement, gender-flipping things with Clare Kramer aiming to first the female member, against all odds. Homicide quickly turns its head, however.

Unsurprisingly, all the DVD extras are confined to the first film.

"?Rod Lott

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