ANTWONE FISHER /
Denzel Washington's directorial debut continues the successful tradition
of actors becoming directors. His "Antwone Fisher" is
able to draw a brilliant debut performacne from Derek Luke, and
the script has all the emotional stability and authenticity of the
great films of our time. Unfortunately, Washington isn't able to
master a rhythm in his direction, and sometimes he ends up stretching
patches of the material too thin to be appreciated.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER /
After the painfully unfunny "The Spy Who Shagged Me,"
the third "Austin Powers" flick represents an entertaining--if
somewhat unoriginal--return to comedy. Michael Caine, who plays
Austin's father, carries his role perhaps better than most of the
film's other characters, such as Foxy Cleopatra, whose charm and
vivacity is sometimes too vapid in some scenes. Watch out for the
movie's brilliant opening sequence, which shows off big Hollywood
names as they undertake the task of playing the familiar spy caper
roles in a movie that Spielberg is directing about Austin himself.
THE BANGER SISTERS /
Goldie Hawn plays an aging groupie who is fired from her work, left
stranded with no money, and unattatched to anything of her past
lifestyle. Nonetheless, she seeks to revive it all by going in search
of her former "Banger Sister" Vinnie (played by Susan
Sarandon), who is now the wife of an aspiring senator and has two
snotty teenage girls living under her roof. Hawn and Sarandon have
a certain skill when it comes to interaction, and a few of the jokes
are cute, but like the era they were popular in, this movie is better
BLADE II /
The long-awaited sequel to the immensely successful comic book adaptation
sees the conflicted hero do battle with a species far more superior
and dangerous than ordinary vampires, who prey on anyone that happens
to be in the way. Very exciting and engrossing, although it isn't
nearly as good as the first movie. Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson
reprise their roles.
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE /
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore challenges his audience with
what is his most brutally honest and coherent product to date, a
daring and sometimes startling attack on the atmosphere of violence
in America and the often deadly consequences it has on our children.
Moore's interviews are conducted with a strong sense of perspective,
and a few of the sequences, such as the last featuring Charleton
Heston in the hot seat, are among the most courageous seen in this
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF /
The French-made costume saga, which utilizes elements of drama,
thriller, ghost story, kung fu movie and even period epic all in
just over two hours, comes off as one of the most profoundly entertaining
and brilliant pictures ever to come from an overseas market. The
movie begins well and just bets better and better as it exposes
all its dirty secrets and conspiracies to us. Almost like watching
"Sleepy Hollow" on acid.
THE CAT'S MEOW /
This ghastly period drama which offers an interpretation of the
fateful events aboard William Randolph Herst's cruise ship in the
late 20s is as big a snoozer as the mystery itself. Characters glide
through scenes, party, dance, expose secrets and create mysteries
in their head like they've been extradited from a meth lab. Though
their costumes are neat and their dialogue occasionally engaging,
these are people who would bore you to death before anyone would
have a chance to shoot you anyway.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE /
After the tragedies that played out on Sept. 11, the makers of the
terrorist thriller "Collateral Damage" made a wise decision
by pushing back the October release date of their film. Their bigger
mistake: releasing it period. Not only does the latest Schwarzenegger
flick lack flair and a common line of reasoning, it knows nothing
about the intricate webs that serve as the backbone for terrorist
THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE /
Steve Irwin's antics as a crazy but fearless watcher of dangerous
Australian animals sees himself thrown into a movie where the fact
that there is a plot is more insulting than anything else. Irwin's
antics offer the only light in this often dim nature caper, but
even then there is still something missing.
THE COUNTRY BEARS /
Never trust Disney when they opt to adapt a theme park ride for
their latest live action vehicle. "The Country Bears"
is based on the famous Country Bear Jamboree from the Dinsey theme
parks, but that becomes a minute problem when the audience is allowed
to witness the creepy spectacle in front of them. Ferocious grizzly
bears walk and talk like normal human beings and live cohesive lives
in society... and yet no one ever says a word? Gimme a break!
Jeremy Renner's convincing portrayal of the sadistic serial killer
Jeffrey Dahmer nearly gets lost behind a script filled with manipulations
and unconvincing depictions, but that's not all he's up against
in this thing. The movie isn't just an oddly constructed character
study; it is an uneven, slow and sometimes implausible endeavor
as well. Without Renner's presence, this could have easily been
one of the worst films of the year.
EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS /
Just when you thought it was safe to trust Adam Sandler again, he
goes and allows himself to participate in this awful, laughless,
tone-deaf and insipid animated comedy, no doubt the worst major
feature cartoon since "Cool World." In it, Sandler voices
a character who looks a lot like himself, a low-life detestable
who vandalizes property, exudes rude behavior, breaks out in obscenity
and even breaks the law whenever possible. In other words, "Happy
Gilmore Part 6."
The true story of a father's pursuit to overturn Irish law that
forbids him for being a parent to his abandoned kids is sweet and
wise, and also benefits from a performance by a young little actress
who captures our hearts almost as easily as Drew Barrymore did in
"E.T." years ago.
FAR FROM HEAVEN /
Todd Haynes' much-hyped commentary on 1950s suburbia is a technical
achievement beyond words, but perhaps less than satisfying as a
narrative. Emploring the dysfunctional family cliches already mastered
by "The Ice Storm" and "American Beauty," "Far
From Heaven" tells the story of a married man who has a wandering
eye for other men, and his wife who finds herself attracted to the
black gardner in town. The result is startling and brave, but hardly
FORMULA 51 /
Samuel L. Jackson plays a chemist who tricks a drug cartel, goes
overseas, and plans to sell the formula for his latest drug invention
to the highest bidder. Things, needless to say, go wrong (and not
just in terms of the storytelling). New words should be invented
to describe just how bad this movie is.
The directorial debut of actor Bill Paxton takes the audience into
an atmosphere steeped in horrifying psychological complexities,
and results in what is one of the best films made in recent memory.
As we are faced with the plot's merciless tendencies to subject
innocent kids to the ramblings of a caring (but seemingly psychotic)
serial killer father, we almost feel like there's nothing to redeem
it... until the climax pounds down our defense walls and leaves
us perplexed beyond fascination.
GHOST SHIP /
The Dark Castle group undertakes the task of remaking yet another
silly old-school horror movie, but unlike their previous efforts
with "House on Haunted Hill" and "13 Ghosts,"
they have failed to even sculpt decent visuals for the end result.
The story, furthemore, tries to be taken seriously when it should
simply have fun with itself, a decision that results in two of the
most dreary, tiresome and bland hours of moviewatching all year.
THE GREY ZONE /
The true account of an uprising in Polish concentration camps during
Nazi Germany's powerful rule in World War II is almost more unrelenting
and harsh than any holocaust movie that has come before it, with
no light at the end of the tunnel even when the movie deceives us
into believing there actually is. Solid performances anchor the
film more than the moody narrative, although the movie should be
seen regardless of its scripting fumbles.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS /
The second in the inevitable long line of "Harry Potter"
films is by far a more engaging and well-made effort than its predecessor,
but director Chris Columbus has yet to find a satisfying payoff
in these adventurous kid tales. The movie's first half is so promising
and exciting that it's a shame we have to be subject to the last
hour, which sees characters and visuals detaching from each other
and operating on conflicting planes of existence.
ICE AGE /
20th Century Fox's first major animated venture since the financial
failure of "Titan A.E.", this offbeat CGI comedy sees
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary as a Mammoth, a Sloth
and a Sabretooth Tiger who struggle their way across a frigid landscape
in hopes of returning a lost infant girl to its rightful owners.
Their adventures along the way aren't exactly the most exciting
or involved--some even feel like they've been thinly lifted from
a couple of PIXAR endeavors--but the dialogue exchanges are some
of the most witty and humorous the genre has ever seen, and the
walk-on/comedy relief character named Scrat is probably the most
ingenious and hilarious cartoon creation since Donald Duck. Short
IGBY GOES DOWN /
In this dark coming-of-age comedy, Kieran Culkin stars as an emotionally-numb
slacker named Igby who challenges his authority simply for the sake
of keeping his own identity, although it isn't always clear to himself
exactly what that is. Also stars Ryan Phillipe and Susan Sarandon.
A fine piece of filmmaking with enough humor and drama to work above
the typical level.
Keeping with tradition of early year releases, "Imposter"
plays like an alternate version to "Virus" and "Supernova,"
in which characters are trapped in a dark, moody, and unattractive
sci-fi setting where even the most likable actors are turned into
transparent personas hell-bent on proving something to the idiots
around them. Boring and uninspired.
JASON X /
The inevitable tenth entry into the never-ending "Friday the
13th" series sees Jason Vorhees upgraded in the year 2455,
a time when Earth is in shambles, space is home for most, and humans
are just as horny, naive and stupid as they were at Camp Crystal
Lake all those years ago.
KNOCKAROUND GUYS /
Sons of mob bosses botch a crucial delivery and find themselves
spiraling out of control when their superiors threaten with force
if the package isn't returned safely. The specifics aren't really
important, however, because "Knockaround Guys" is a walking
corpse of a production, without shape, reasoning, or even essential
energy. The movie isn't even interesting enough to make us despise
LILO & STITCH /
An alien experiment lands on Earth where he makes a home with an
orphaned Hawaiian girl, who treats him as a family equal even though
his eccentric appearance and behavior often create trouble for others
around them. The creature Stitch, however, isn't yet aware that
his creator is looking for him, either. Though the movie has a few
bright spots and is bold with back history, the protagonist/anti-hero
is too annoying to sit well with this viewer.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS /
Peter Jackson's second venture into the famous Middle-Earth saga
is the most visionary and extravagent fantasy-based war movie ever
made, with convincing imagery, plausible new characters, faithful
(and sometimes appropriately modified) storytelling, and independent
spirit. Not quite as enthusiastic or memorable as "The Fellowship
of the Ring," the first movie in the series, but only by a
mere hair. The highlight: a digital creature named Gollum whose
presence is one of the most heartbreaking and realistic computer-manipulated
creations we have ever seen.
Max Rothman, a Jewish art dealer in Germany following World War
I, takes a German soldier under his wing to teach him about the
essential tools of art and how to have your work embraced--or even
acknowledged--by some kind of audience. The catch: the soldier is
actually Adolf Hitler, who has not yet been totally consumed by
his anti-Semitism or his naive "race purity" ideology
to make him the dangerous threat we think of him as. Noah Taylor's
performance as Hitler is startling and brave, and the movie he's
surrounded in is magnified by its own brilliant sense of chaos,
as it dares to argue that the German dictator was once just a human
being who simply fell into the trap of his country's political climate.
MINORITY REPORT /
Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the well-known short story by Philip
K. Dick refuses to trap itself in cliche or visual cheese, and finds
balance with exciting images and a compelling sense of plot direction
from the very start. Tom Cruise and Colin Farrel are amazing as
men at war with each other and their own sense of ideals, and Samantha
Morton is beyond incredible as the ill-fated pre-cog whose every
waking moment is spent predicting a frightening future homicide.
The film's only weakness is the ending, which insists that audience's
are too naive and stupid to realize what's going on even with a
good chunk of innuendos.
MOONLIGHT MILE /
Director Brad Silberling's semi-autobiographical story of a man
whose fiancee is killed and whose family wants him to stick around
is surprisingly callice and despondant with its source material.
Jake Gyllenhaal steps into the widowed boyfriend role, and Susan
Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman have respectable roles as his would-be
in-laws. But there's too much of nothing going on in this endless
excercise; characters almost sleepwalk through daily life, discuss
the insincerity of others, briefly mourn, and then go silent before
they repeat the process again. Next time Silberling wants to get
a personal message across, he should tell us rather than force us
to endure something like this.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE /
The dark, complex kaliedoscope of ideas in David Lynch's latest
film leads us into a reality so splintered and disurbing that it
comes off as one of the most fascinating films of 2001. Naomi Watts
and her costars are piercingly convincing in multiple roles, subject
to a plot that hooks us on for a ride through many dimensions that,
needless to say, wouldn't make sense even if you tried to explain
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING /
The funniest and most innocent comedy of the year, a Cinderella
story for Nia Vardalos in which she plays a woman whose evolving
committment to a man outside of the Greek heritage is at first reviled
by her large and somewhat eccentric family. Charming and silly from
one scene to the next, this is one of those rare treats that has
you grinning from ear to ear until the final credits role. Deserves
every amount of success it has received over the last few months.
ONE HOUR PHOTO /
Robin Williams gives one of his finest performances in this quiet
and shy masterpiece of a movie, as a photo mat clerk whose brewing
obsession with a family of customers is about ready to snap what
is left of his sanity. Not a thriller like the ads would suggest,
but a sad and compelling character study that simply presents its
material as is without glossing on all sorts of meaningless extras.
The movie's bleached and eerily-tattered look is classic of director
Mark Romanek, who makes his feature film debut here after filming
some of the most beautiful music videos ever made.
ORANGE COUNTY /
The most laughably bad comedy of the year comes at a time when star
Jack Black seemed to be at the top of his game. Supporting performances
come from the kids of Tom Hanks and Sissy Spacek, but be advised:
they aren't anywhere near winning awards for their screen talents.
PANIC ROOM /
After "Fight Club," David Fincher's talent as a director
was called into question by a few of us. Thankfully his new effort,
"Panic Room," restores some of our lost faith. The movie
stars Jodie Foster as a recent divorceé who moves into a
brownstone apartment in upstate New York with her daughter, and
is then terrorized by three burglars who have arrived to collect
some money hidden within it. The catch: the house contains a "panic
room," or a steel enclosure designed to secure household members
from outside harm, and the characters unwittingly take shelter in
it when it's that exact room that the thieves want in to. Smart,
subtle, and framed by some of the most astounding camerawork of
the director's career.
THE PIANIST /
Based on the memoirs of a surviving Polish musician during the Nazi
invasion in Warsaw, Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" is
a new peak in the director's career, a work of genuine depth and
sensibility that never loses its focus or compromises its integrity.
Adrien Brody, who has come a long way since his work in "Summer
of Sam," disappears into the title role here like he is living
and breathing the actual material, and Polanski's thoughtful direction,
no doubt partially inspired by his own life in a Polish ghetto during
World War II, anchors the drama. One of the best films of 2002.
The fourth screen endeavor for director Neil LaBute represents somewhat
of a misstep in his near-flawless career, as he tackles theories
of Freud in this double romance split between two distinctively
opposite time periods. What interferes with relationships? Is love
enough? Do the results in one time reflect those in the other? All
these questions are at the center of the material, which is interesting
and well-written by lacks the shrewd intensity of works like "In
the Company of Men" and "Nurse Betty."
Boy is this movie a mess! Christina Ricci stars as a plastic sorority
girl at Southern California State University, who along with her
fellow pledges decides to assist mentally handicapped people train
for the Special Olympics. Needless to say, her world gets turned
topsy-turvy by the connection she developes with her own athlete,
and thus the movie goes into flamboyant mode by tossing us countless
curved balls and manipulative plot twists. The characters are almost
as dimwitted as the screenplay's ideas, but at least they have an
outlet--at one point, one of the players drives himself off of a
cliff to get away from it all. Unfortunately, the movie plays an
even bigger prank by forcing him to survive the incident. Oh the
PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE /
Paul Thomas Anderson's third venture into the intricate and offbeat
lives of Southern California citizens is almost too good for words.
Instead of bombarding itself with lots of exploring and exhibition,
"Punch Drunk Love" savors the quirks of its story. It
stars (believe it or not) Adam Sandler as a lonely and shy man named
Barry Eagan, who meets and falls in love with someone who admires
his innocent nature instead of being appalled by it like so many
others are. More of a character study than anything else, the movie
is well acted, nicely filmed and tugs at your emotions more genuinely
than most Hollywood romances have for years.
RED DRAGON /
Anthony Hopkins revives his Hannibal Lecter persona for a third
time, in Brett Ratner's taut and observant prequel to "The
Silence of the Lambs." Here, Lecter is utilized by his FBI
captor as a consultant for the ongoing "Tooth Fairy" murders,
which are ritualistic in nature but lack the pattern of most serial
killers. Meanwhile, the movie explores the antagonist's psyche as
well, one that is fragmented by old memories and new loves but is
dwindled by the apparent presence of a dark force inside. A solid
effort that more than lives up the the name of its successor.
REIGN OF FIRE/
One of the most unique summer blockbuster premises in the recent
years is destroyed by a cold and miscalculated exterior. "Reign
of Fire" is a movie about dragons and humans in a fight for
survival in a "Max Max"-esque apocalyptic future, but
it is hardly worthy of that description. Starring Christian Bale
and Matthew McConaughey as competing vigilantes in the war against
fire-breathers, the movie is ugly, overlong and generally dreary.
Some isolated scenes do make an impression, but beyond that? Nada.
RESIDENT EVIL /
The highly successful Catchcom video game gets adapted into an equally-bloody
movie with "Resident Evil," a film about an underground
research facility dubbed the hive that has been locked down by the
main computer system as the result of a destructive disease being
set on the loose within the compound. Of course, the people who
infiltrate the bunker don't know any of that, and when they reboot
the system, they wind up setting free thousands of flesh-eating
zombies. The recent Woody Allen movies are more ambitious than this.
THE RING /
Perhaps the most original horror film seen in years, "The Ring"
takes a rather hokey premise and turns it into a glossy platform
for all sorts of psychological jolts and touches of brilliant tension.
Naomi Watts is fabulous as a journalist seeking to uncover the mystery
behind a video tape that had something to do with a bunch of teenage
deaths, and her investigations uncover a slew of details that are
both tragic and disturbing all at the same time. The ending itself
is almost worth the admission.
ROAD TO PERDITION /
Based on a graphic novel in which a son wittnesses his father murdering
another and sets a series of violent tragedies and confrontations
into motion, "Road to Perdition" is well acted and looks
fabulous. And yet the movie isn't nearly as absorbing as it should
be, either. Could it be that the movie doesn't really know
what it wants to be about? Perhaps. Part mob drama, part father/son
story and part inner-character study, the screenplay is very dodgy
and seldom gives the audience the chance to savor the ideas that
Apparently the victim of countless revisions and edits during its
time in production, "Rollerball" is the most clumsy and
incompetent major movie I have had the displeasure of witnessing
in years. The editing is choppy, the violence and sex are toned
drastically down to escape an "R" rating, and the script
makes just about as much sense as Don King's hair. Avoid like it
was a bad case of Ebola.
THE RULES OF ATTRACTION /
Easily the most sick and twisted film of the year, but perhaps also
one of the most underrated. Roger Avery's adaptation of Bret Easton
Ellis' interesting novel has the essential themes down to a science--no
one in the movie thinks beyond themselves, and when they do, they
have little or nothing to motivate them anyway. Very sexually-driven
and violent (particularly when a background character is elevated
to the foreground by her grizzly suicide), but curiously intriguing
and observant as well.
THE SANTA CLAUSE 2 /
Here is the kind of sequel that almost works well enough to make
you forget about the travesty before it... almost. Tim Allen reprises
his role as the big-bellied Holiday hero, and though the movie tends
to ignore important background elements that were established long
before, it has an amusing streak of success. The North Pole sequences
are colorful and energetic, and Allen genuinely seems suited to
the role of St. Nick this time around.
This newest teen gross-out comedy exists simply for the
sake of turning stomachs, offering the viewers visuals so appalingly
unfunny that theaters should be permitted to hand out barf bags
to those with the courage to see it.
SLAP HER, SHE'S FRENCH /
A popular Texas-based high school cheerleader opens her home to
a French foreign exchange student, only to be one-upped by her seemingly
kind guest using every trick and quirk that she taught her. The
movie begins on an amusing note, with our protagonist being booked
and photographed at a police station after an apparent fight with
her rival, but it quickly falls in the mundane category by failing
to be very funny or amusing in the process. Very run-of-the-mill
work with an occasional bright spot, but nothing more. Note:
due to the independent studio's sudden disappearance from radar,
this movie remains unreleased.
The third effort from M. Nigh Shyamalan finally puts to rest his
streak of overrated fluff. "Signs" revolves around a family
living out in farm land who wake up one morning and find crop circles
traced in their fields. Already saddled with personal tragedy, they
band together as reports of similar circles come in from across
the globe, and when it becomes apparent that they might be bearing
witness to a major alien invasion, it tests their fears and faith
in perseverance. A genuinely scary film that tests stamina and the
psyche in more ways than one.
This silly but near-brilliant work of satire tells the story of
a big Hollywood director whose career is on the downswing until
a young and unknown blond actress cast in the lead role of his latest
film captures the hearts of millions. The catch? She's a digital
illusion, manipulated via microphones and keyboard commands. Very
watchable comedy earns points for purposely suspending every morsel
of logic and enjoying it; the movie is carefree about everything,
which results in an audacious streak of pomposity that is simply
too delicious to be described.
SNOW DOGS /
The Mouse House just can't take a hint, can they? The live action
"Snow Dogs," which was promoted for supposedly containing
talking animals a la "Babe," tries to be a valid family
film but comes off just as cold and desolate as the Alaskan landscape
it takes place in.
Steven Soderbergh descends even further into his pit of shameless
self-indulgence with this severely miscalculated space drama, about
a planet named Solaris which can take memories of lost loved ones
and recreate the people in them. Interesting ideas from beginning
to end here, but no knowledge of answers or even thoughtful speculations;
the screenplay is dry, muddled, fragmented and painfully pointless
in several areas. A man who directs something as good as "Traffic"
is capable of accomplishing so much more.
Although in the tradition of the most exhilaration summer blockbusters
of our time, "Spider-Man" actually represents a mild downfall
in the recent resurgence of comic book-based film adaptations. Not
nearly as much story here as its most recent predecessor "X-Men,"
the film is primarily focused on special effects, which are fun
but sometimes obvious and awkward as well. Tobey Maguire does a
good job in the role of Peter Parker, but if the movie had cared
more about him and less about his gift, it might have been much
more than just passable visual entertainment.
SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON /
Unlike many of the recent Disney feature cartoons, Dreamworks looks
at animals in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" as just
that--plain animals. And as such, they're stubborn, brave, faithful
and loving creatures without actually having to excercise the human
vocabulary. The approach is a refreshingly pleasant one, and further
proof that even the Mouse House can learn a thing or two from its
competitors once in awhile.
STAR WARS EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES /
Easily the most snore-inducing entry into the ongoing "Star
Wars" saga. "Attack of the Clones" drolls endlessly
on the same ideas, which basically involve Annakin Skywalker, now
aged and played by Hayden Christensen, fawning over Senator Amidala
(Natalie Portman) while his superior, Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor), tries
to uncover the mysteries of an impending clone war spearheaded by
a former Jedi. Nothing new or very interesting here--the film's
sole thrust is to bridge the gap between the last prequel and the
one scheduled for release in 2005.
STEALING HARVARD /
Tom Green plays buddy to a guy who has to (literally) steal enough
money to pay for a family member's college education. Need I say
STUART LITTLE 2 /
In this rather amusing little sequel to the 2000 hit kiddie comedy,
Stuart befriends a bird being hunted by a ferocious falcon, and
the two embark on adventures together that are not exactly capable
of solo living in a world dominated by tall human beings. The movie
doesn't demand that you view the original "Stuart Little"
outing in order to understand everything going on, and though a
few of the past references tend to pass quickly over some heads,
it's never too obvious to prevent us from having a decent time.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA /
Reese Witherspoon is such an infectious charmer on screen that she
is able to elevate the potentially-lethal material in "Sweet
Home Alabama" to something respectable, although just barely.
She plays an up-and-coming fashion model whose rich boyfriend has
just proposed marriage, but is conflicted when she realizes that
she still isn't divorced from her first love. Her trip to the south
to get that divorce, needless to say, stirs up a slew of old feelings.
The result is always predictable and sometimes a little too silly
for its own good, but Witherspoon is likable enough here to excuse
some of the plot's lunacy.
TREASURE PLANET /
One of the best of the recent Disney animated features is a retelling
of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story set amidst a backdrop
seeped in science fiction fundamentals. This time, our adolescent
hero is enlisted in the search for a treasure on a distant planet,
and the adventures he has on the way range from the sweet (his relationship
with now-half-human John Silver) to the plain bizarre (encounters
with aliens whose first language is flatulence). The movie might
have been too odd for its own good had it not trapped these traits
in breathtaking animation, but the film delivers on that promise--it
is lush and freeflowing and one of the most distinctive cartoons
of its kind.
TUCK EVERLASTING /
Someone with substantial power inside the executive offices at Disney
must be suffering from some serious lack of quality control, otherwise
live-action films like "Tuck Everlasting" wouldn't be
pumped out by the studio on such a frequent basis. This is a halfhearted
adaptation of the highly successful book of the same name, about
a girl with wandering tendencies who encounters a strange family
deep in the woods and learns that they are beneficiaries (or victims)
of the very much sought-after fountain of youth.
Adrian Lynne reconnects with the tiresome "Fatal Attraction"
cliches that began the sexual drama craze back in the late 1980s,
the only difference this time being that (other than gender switching)
this movie has very little going on despite the characters moving
around like marathon competitors. Diane Layne and Richard Gere are
mercilessly squandered by a script built on a shaky foundation,
and the movie only teases us with a hint of potential from Olivier
Marinez as the man who can come between two married people. Depressing,
unrewarding, cold and detached. It feels like having sandpaper rubbed
in your face.
WE WERE SOLDIERS /
As it turns out, one CAN have too much of a good thing. The war
movie is stretched, remolded, modified and presented for the zillionth
time with this Mel Gibson vehicle, about a troop of soldiers who
went into battle vastly underestimating their enemies, but wound
up calling the disaster a success because of their "perseverence."
Sorry folks, but I think you already told us that with "Saving
Vin Diesel stars as Xander Cage (or "X," as he is known
as by his friends), a daredevil of extreme sports who is blackmailed
by a high-intelligence government agency to learn the secrets of
Anarchy 99, a Czechoslovakian rebellion group with big plans for
unleashing a deadly disease on the free world. The story is run-of-the-mill
for films of this James Bond flavor, but the film works because
its dedicated to its cause rather than trying to utilize stunts
and special effects simply for the sake of bombarding the eyes.
Could this impending franchise replace 007? Here's hoping.
© 2002, David