2000 Reviews

CASTAWAY
(PG-13) - December 29

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A FedEx plane goes down, stranding sole survivor on deserted island.

REVIEW: Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis (the duo behind Forest Gump) now bring us the story of Chuck Noland. Chuck works for Federal Express and travels to problem sites with the goal of improving their delivery times. Time is a very important aspect of Chuck's life. His work is all about time and he seldom is able to spend enough time with his girlfriend, played by Helen Hunt. After a brief Christmas together, spent in his car, Chuck is off to solve another problem. Or so he thought. In a very dramatic plane crash, Chuck Noland miraculously survives and drifts ashore a small island that is little more than a volcanic outcropping. A large portion of the movie is spent alone with Chuck on the island as he gathers the remains from the FedEx plane, tries to signal for help and ultimatly realizes that help was not coming. Eventually, Chuck knows that the only way to get off the island is to do it himself. Much has been said about Hanks weight loss for this role. Filming was suspended for 6 months as Hanks lost 50 lbs. to play Chuck after his years of isolation on the island. The film's ending isn't necessarily a happy one but it is an honest one that leaves the door open for possibilities.

BOTTOMLINE: Excellent, believable performances makes this film a modern classic.


MISS CONGENIALITY
(PG-13) - December 22

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Female FBI agent goes from sow's ear to silk purse... kinda.

REVIEW: Sandra Bullock plays Gracie, a tomboy federal agent that the male agents percieve as just one of the guys. A terrorist plot is discovered that leads the FBI to the Miss United States pageant. They need to get an undercover agent inside the pageant. After all other options are exhausted, they draft Gracie to be a beauty queen contestant. Michael Caine plays Vic, a consultant to potential beauty queens, who is able to transform Gracie into an actual contender. The agent leading the operation is played by Benjamin Bratt, who eventually falls in love with the newly beautified Bullock. Other notable stars are Candice Bergman, William Shatner and Ernie Hudson. All of the actors did a credible job... with the material they were given. Sandra Bullock's character is extremely likable but, a lot of the film's jokes seemed to fall flat. Ultimately, Miss Congeniality seemed more like an average sitcom instead of a big budget motion picture.

BOTTOMLINE: Desperate for entertainment? Devoted to Sandra Bullock? Give this film a look... otherwise consider it a second runner-up.


WHAT WOMEN WANT
(PG-13) - December 15

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Mad Max wearing panty hose... what's the world coming to?

REVIEW: Mel Gibson plays Nick Marshall, a chauvinistic ad executive whose assumed promotion was given to Helen Hunt's character, an aggressive female creativity director. To complicate Nick's life his estranged daughter is staying with him as his former wife goes away for her honeymoon. The advertising agency needed to reach the female demographic so Nick Marshall's old sexist advertising ways had to go. All the agency personnel were given a package of female products that were in need of new advertising campaigns. After a drinking binge, Nick starts playing with all the products; nail polish, panty hose, mascara, etc. and falls into the bathtub with a hairdryer and gets a shock. He gets a greater shock when he awakens the next morning, able to read every woman's thoughts. In the beginning Nick cannot stand the unwanted thoughts, then he starts using what he learns to his advantage, and finally he realizes that his new insight is changing him. Most women will love this romantic comedy, while most guys will suffer through with little lasting effect.

BOTTOMLINE: Definitely a chick flick but there are some good comedic moments.


VERTICAL LIMIT
(PG-13) - December 9

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Big mountain plus stupid people equals lots of dead stupid people.

REVIEW: While climbing a sheer rock face, Chris O'Donnell's character is forced to choose between sacrificing his father's life to save his sister's life and his own. His sister never forgives him for this decision. Jump ahead a couple of years and his sister is now part of an expedition financed by Bill Paxton's character. Chris O'Donnell's character had given up mountain climbing until his sister's team is trapped on the mountain and will soon die unless a rescue team reaches them quickly. The standard group of climbers are assembled, the wizened old master, the crazy brothers, the love interest and a local boy. If all rescues go as poorly as this one God forbid you get trapped on a mountain. This is your standard "B" movie fare which never pretends to be anymore. If you like no-brainer action flicks this one works.

BOTTOMLINE: Although Vertical Limit never reaches it's peak there are numerous inspired action sequences.


DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
(PG-13) - December 8

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Popular role playing game comes to life.

REVIEW: Justin Whalen (Lois & Clark) and Shawn Wayans (Scary Movie) are two thieves that stumble upon a plot to dethrone the princess of Izmer. Along the way they team up with an apprentice Mage, an Elf and a Dwarf. The evil wizard, Prometheus played over-the-top by Jeremy Irons is intent on taking control of the city by finding the Red Dragon staff. It's up to the thieves to find the staff that controls the Red Dragons before the wizard's henchmen reach it. This movie's CGI is standard fare, but the Red and Gold Dragon battle is very well done. Shawn Wayans is decent comic relief but, if you're not a fan of fantasy films you may want to pass on this one.

BOTTOMLINE: After a questionable start, D&D eventually finds its footing and becomes a decent fantasy film.


UNBREAKABLE
(PG-13) - December 1

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A lone survivor of a train wreck slowly realizes he is... unbreakable.

REVIEW: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard at a local university whose marriage is in trouble. Returning home after a New York job-hunting trip, the train David Dunn is on derails outside of Philadelphia and everyone onboard is killed... except for David of course. Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson) is an eccentric comic book art gallery owner that suffers from a rare disease that makes his bones extremely brittle. Elijah and David share a mysterious bond, one extremely susceptible to injury, the other never gets sick or hurt. Elijah is intent on finding out why the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Unbreakable shares similarities with the Sixth Sense... slow and deliberate pacing, a mystery to be solved and a twist ending that seems obvious after the fact. One thing left out of the previews is the movie's connection with comic books. I have been a comic fan most of my life but, those who aren't may find this story difficult or impossible to relate to. The Sixth Sense is a hard act to follow but writer/director M. Night Shyamalan offers a unique movie that, although not for everyone, I found entertaining.

BOTTOMLINE: Fans of comic books may appreciate this movie far more than the general audience.


THE 6TH DAY
(PG-13) - November 17

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Ah-nuld is cloned and he doesn't like it.

REVIEW: In the near future, human cloning is outlawed and the 6th Day law is passed, so of course that means somebody will have to clone humans. Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenagger) owns his own air charter service that specializes in extreme sport vacations. One of his clients, Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) is a supporter of clone research and through a series of events, Adam Gibson is mistakenly cloned resulting in the need to eliminate one version. Which one doesn't really matter. Robert Duvall plays Dr. Graham Weir, the scientist that developed the cloning technology who eventually questions his wealthy benefactor. This movie seems similar in ways to another Scwarzenagger film, Total Recall. This movie also brings up the moral and ethical implications of cloning and has a lot of fun in the process. One source of humor concerns a ragtag group of would-be assassins that are constantly being recloned because Arnold repeatedly kills them. After a long dry spell, Arnold is back and seemingly on the road to better films.

BOTTOMLINE: Action, sci-fi, humor and two Arnolds... a pretty good combination.


MEN OF HONOR
(PG-13) - November 10

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: True story of first black man to become Navy master diver.

REVIEW: Men of Honor is based on the life of Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), a man who rose from humble beginnings and broke race barriers to become a Navy master diver. Along the way he is instructed by Master Chief Sunday (Robert DeNiro), whose own diving career was cut short by injuries he received while rescuing a fellow diver. Sunday was never able to overcome his inability to dive which often resulted in drinking binges and fighting. He pushes Brashear because he wants him to quit the diving program but, eventually he learns to respect the man. DeNiro and Gooding both turn in good performances in this inspiring, although somewhat fictionalized, true story. If you're a big fan of military movies, line up for Men of Honor, if not... let this one sink.

BOTTOMLINE: Decent drama if you like movies with a military theme.


CHARLIE'S ANGELS
(PG-13) - November 3

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Funny, stylish, sexy reworking of classic seventies T&A show.

REVIEW: Alex (Lucy Liu), Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and Natalie (Cameron Diaz) are Charlie's Angels, an elite group of female agents employed by a reclusive millionaire. The girls are assisted by the often in-over-his-head Bosley (Bill Murray). The plot revolves around voice identification software developer Knox (Sam Rockwell) and a communications conglomerate. The Angel's are hired to find Knox after he is kidnapped. The most likely suspect is the CEO of Redstar Communications (Tim Curry). The thin plot eventually results in numerous over-the-top matrix-style fight scenes that are a blast to watch. And, making an unexpected appearance as a seemingly mute bad ass, is Crispin Glover, best remembered as Michael J. Fox's dad in the Back to the Future movies. The humor is tongue-in-cheek and infectious. Rumors of this movie being a difficult shoot are certainly not apparent. All the actors seem to be having a blast in their respectively campy roles. The only original Charlie's Angels star making an appearance is John Forsyth as the voice of Charlie. This movie is a fun ride... sit back, turn your brain off and enjoy it.

BOTTOMLINE: Surprisingly good combination of action, humor and gorgeous women.


BEDAZZLED
(PG-13) - October 27

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A lonely man sells his soul to the Devil for seven wishes.

REVIEW: Elliot Jones (Brendan Fraser) tries desperately to be liked by his fellow coworkers but fails miserably. To make matters worse, he is hopelessly in love with Alison, a woman he has worked with for years that doesn't know he exists. Elliot pleads aloud that he would give anything to be in Alison's life. At that moment, the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) enters the picture. Never, in the history of cinema, has the Devil ever looked this good. The Devil tells Elliot that she will give him seven wishes for his pitiful little soul. A desperate Elliot reluctanly agrees to make athe deal. Brendan Fraser really shines as he jumps from character to character as the Devil grants his wishes with evil comedic twists. For example, he wishes to be rich and powerful and ends up being turned into a Columbian druglord. Fortunately, the Devil gives Elliot a pager by which he can remove himself from his present situation and be returned to the Devil for another attempt. This is a cute movie that never really reaches its full potential but it is still a funny diversion that is worth your time.

BOTTOMLINE: An average comedy that allows Brendan Fraser to play many different characters.


LEGEND OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER
(R) - October 20

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Jackie Chan must rescue national treasures from foreigners intent on stealing them.

REVIEW: Legend of the Drunken Master takes place in China during the late 1800's. Foreign interests have started looting Chinese art and antiquities when, Wong Fei-Hong (Jackie Chan) accidentally takes possession of a stolen antique Jade seal. Fei-Hong lives with his father and stepmother and soon various parties show up intent on reclaiming the Jade seal. The term Drunken Master refers to a form of martial arts known as Drunken boxing. A style of martial arts that is more loose, unpredictable and therefore almost impossible to defend against. When Fei-Hong drinks alcohol, his Drunken boxing reaches a new level and he becomes a true Drunken Master. If you do not like martial arts movies... avoid this film! But if you do, this movie has the best fight choreography I have ever seen. By the time the credits were rolling I was physically exhausted from just watching the incredibly long action sequences. Although originally produced 6 years ago, Drunken Master is probably one of Jackie Chan's best. As in most Jackie Chan movies there is lots of comedy, violence resulting in death is not glamorized - only one person dies and it's an important part of the story, and Jackie does his own stuntwork. One stunt that stands out is when Jackie is knocked into a firepit and must get out before being burned alive. It's obvious that this isn't some Hollywood computer-generated trick - he is actually rolling around on a real fire. Ouch! American audiences may not like this Hong Kong movie as well as Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon but, Legend of the Drunken Master should not be missed.

BOTTOMLINE: Truly inspired action sequences and genuinely funny moments that aren't lost in the english-dubbed translation.


ALMOST FAMOUS
(R) - October 13

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Semi autobiographical look at the early life of writer/director Cameron Crowe.

REVIEW: William Miller's (Patrick Fugit) early childhood was spent being sheltered by his overprotective mother (Frances McDormand). Fortunately, William's sister opens his eyes and ears to Rock music. With talent far beyond his years, William is soon writing for Magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone. What follows is basically the story of Cameron Crowe's youth as a Rock-n-Roll writer. The fictional band Stillwater serves as an amalgam of all the bands that Cameron Crowe traveled with in the early to mid seventies. William falls in love with one of Stillwater's groupies, Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). But Penny Lane is in love with Stillwater's front man, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). The performances in Almost Famous are extremely real and offer a glimpse into the world of Rock-n-Roll stars.

BOTTOMLINE: A touching movie that pays homage to the music of the seventies.


MEET THE PARENTS
(PG-13) - October 8

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Every potential son-in-law's worst nightmare.

REVIEW: Greg (Ben Stiller) was on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend (Teri Polo) when her sister called and told her she was getting married in two weeks. Greg had to go meet the parents (Robert De Niro & Blythe Danner) and decided it would be best if he ask the father's permission to propose to his daughter. An already tense situation is amplified when the potential father-in-law has a mysterious past and thinks no man is good enough for his little girl. Mishap after hilarious mishap occurs, undermining Greg's confidence and eventually threatening his relationship with his girlfriend. The interaction between De Niro and Stiller is almost perfect. Stiller's character, nervously trying to gain approval from the suspicious and intimidating father figure (De Niro) is fun to watch. This film isn't a non-stop laugh riot but is still good for a lot of genuine laughs.

BOTTOMLINE: The comedic tension seems very real in this humorous look at in-laws.


REMEMBER THE TITANS
(PG) - September 29

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Football team helps bring a racially divided town together.

REVIEW: This film takes place in 1971 Virginia, when an all-black and an all-white high school are combined into one. Under protest, Coach Yoast (Will Patton) is replaced by Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) as head coach of the newly integrated T.C. Williams Titans. The city is in turmoil and coach Yoast contemplates quitting but decides against it so that his players will stay for the season. Coach Yoast's young daughter (Hayden Panettiere) steals the show as a pint-size coach wannabe that rants and raves on the sidelines just like the adults. This film is loosely based on the true story of the Titans legendary season. Although football is the backdrop for this film, racial tolerance and understanding is the real focus. This film can be enjoyed by the whole family and offers a positive message while still being an entertaining movie.

BOTTOMLINE: One of those true inspirational stories that you can't help but like.


FREQUENCY
(PG-13) - September 22

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A son talks to his long dead father, thirty years in the past and changes their future.

REVIEW: Dennis Quaid plays Frank Sullivan, a firefighter in New York with a wife that's a nurse and a young son named John. The year is 1969 and Frank Sullivan unfortunately dies in a warehouse fire while trying to save someone's life. Fast forward thirty years and Frank's grown son is now a police officer whose life is somewhat dark and lonely. When a neighbor kid comes over they pull out Frank Sullivan's old ham radio. Now, exactly how the Aurora Borealis and sunspots are able to send ham radio signals back and forth across time is unclear but, ultimately... it's just a movie. And, through movie magic, the father in 1969 is able to talk to the son in 1999. In an effort to save his father's life, the two unwittingly change history, in some respects, for the worse. The rest of the movie is spent trying to make things right. I caught this film at a theater specializing in older films for a mere $2.00 and wouldn't have been disappointed if I had to pay the full ticket price.

BOTTOMLINE: Although slow to start, this movie eventually picks up speed and is a different take on the whole time travel scenario.


NURSE BETTY
(R) - September 15

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Waitress goes nuts and thinks she's in a soap opera.

REVIEW: Renee Zellwegger (Betty Sizemore) is married to a loathsome used car salesman that pisses off the wrong people. Early in the film, Betty witnesses an event so horrible that she slips into the fantasy world of her favorite soap opera, A Reason to Love. Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock play hitmen that end up chasing Betty cross country as she tries to reunite with her fictional love, Dr, David Revelle (Greg Kinear). This movie is a journey for Betty, not just from Kansas to LA, but from unhappy, lonely woman to complete person. Morgan Freeman and Renee Zellweggar steal the show. Renee is very convincing as the sweet, innocent Betty that is pushed over the edge as is Morgan Freeman as the hitman with a heart. Nurse Betty is a dark comedy that has some very good moments, but they're not outstanding

BOTTOMLINE: This is a very good film that isn't as predictable as most.


BRING IT ON
(PG-13) - September 1

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A cheerleader movie... WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKIN'!

REVIEW: Kirsten Dunst (Interview with a Vampire) and Eliza Dushku (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) star as cheerleaders in a defending national championship squad that just found out that all their cheers were swiped from another school. Uh-oh. The championships are quickly approaching so they reluctantly buy a cheer from a "professional" choreographer. That doesn't work out so they create an incredible cheer just in the nick of time. Yeah! I can't imagine how this film has managed to stay at the top of the box office ratings, but it has. There are amusing moments in this movie but they are few and far between. By the end of this movie... I was cheering for a quick death.

BOTTOMLINE: If you're a fourteen year old girl you might like this movie... then again you might not.


THE ART OF WAR
(PG-13) - August 25

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Operative is setup to take the fall to sabatoge trade agreement.

REVIEW: Wesley Snipes stars as Shaw, an operative working for the United Nations. The Secretary General of the UN (Donald Sutherland) is attempting to finalize a trade agreement between China and the western world. Anne Archer plays the General Secretary's assistant, who is Shaw's contact. Shaw and his team, Bly (Michael Biehn) and Novak (Liliana Komorowska) gather information that is used to blackmail the Chinese to continue negotiations. Then the table is turned and Shaw is framed for the murder of the Chinese ambassador. While on the run, Shaw enlists the aid of Chinese translator Julia (Marie Matiko) to help him find out who framed him and why before the trade agreement is sabotaged. This film was produced by Amen Ra films, Wesley Snipes production company. This film was shelved for almost a year before its release due to whatever reason. Possibly they wanted a less competitive release date or they realized the film was marginal at best. You might want to wait for this to come out on video to find out.

BOTTOMLINE: While at times very stylish, this film was quite predictable and ultimately average.


THE REPLACEMENTS
(PG-13) - August 18

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Professional football strike allows washed up players one last chance at glory.

REVIEW: The Washington Sentinels, as well as the rest of this film's fictional football league, go on strike for more money. There are four games left in the season and the Sentinels need to win three of them to get in the playoffs. Gene Hackman plays the newly hired coach that must put together a winning team in a weeks time. He assembles the typical ragtag group of players as well as Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves). Shane was an excellent college quarterback but, a dismal performance in the Sugar Bowl took away his confidence and he never played again. Now, not only did the players go on strike, it seems the cheerleaders did as well. The squad is eventually filled with mostly ex-strippers that have a very unique way of cheering. This film is first and foremost a comedy but there are dramatic moments as well as a romance between Shane Falco and the lead cheerleader. Although this film may seem familiar, it was still very funny and I found myself cheering for the Sentinels to win.

BOTTOMLINE: This story has been done many times before but, that doesn't mean it isn't fun.


HOLLOW MAN
(R) - August 12

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Man becomes invisible then promptly goes nuts.

REVIEW: Director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) brings his version of the invisible man to the big screen. The cast includes Kevin Bacon as an arrogant scientist leading the search for invisibility, Elisabeth Shue and Josh Brolin as fellow scientists that share more than a love for research and finally... the special effects. Without a doubt, the effects used during the invisibility transformation scenes are incredible. Probably Academy award worthy. After Kevin Bacon's character inevitably uses himself as a guinea pig, the distance between egotistical scientist and homicidal maniac, is a short one. More time could have been spent following the character's descent from simple voyeur to physcho killer but, that's a small complaint. This film offers a different twist on the tired invisible man story but... it could have been better.

BOTTOMLINE: Top notch special effects surround an average story.


SPACE COWBOYS
(PG-13) - August 4

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Aging astronauts attempt to save a Russian satellite.

REVIEW: In 1958 four young Air Force aviators (Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner) were on the leading edge of America's burgeoning space program. That is until NASA was formed and they lost their opportunity to go into space... to a chimpanzee. Nearly 40 years later, an aging Russian satellite's orbit is decaying and in need of repair. The guidance system was one that Clint Eastwood's character had designed and he was the only one capable of repairing it. He used this as a bargaining chip to assemble his crew for one last chance to reach outerspace. This film requires you to not take the premise to seriously. Once you do that, the film is a lot of fun. The aging astronauts medical physicals and training sequences are hysterical. The special effects were, for the most part, very good. I noticed some problems with the CGI space walking astronauts... but they were minor. This film is about age versus youth... I'll let you guess who wins this one.

BOTTOMLINE: Exciting conclusion and lots of moments that make you chuckle.


NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS
(PG-13) - July 28

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Professor Klump returns for more of the same.

REVIEW: Eddie Murphy returns as Sherman Klump, the overweight, lovesick genius. This time around, with the help of a fellow scientist (Janet Jackson), Sherman develops a youth serum. Through a series of events Sherman's sleazy, opportunistic alter ego, Buddy Love, steals the youth formula and derails Sherman's romance with Janet Jackson's character. The Klump family (also played entirely by Eddie Murphy) plays a much larger part in this movie, pun intended. That is when the movie is at it's best. The interplay between the family members is very funny at times. Unfortunately, there are an equal number of moments that seemed awkward and uncomfortable. Part of this may have been due to my reaction to the young children that were in attendence during this film. This film seemed a little too raunchy for very young children. Ultimately, Eddie Murphy does an outstanding job playing a total of six different characters in this film and maintaining their individual personalities. However, that alone could not save the movie in my opinion.

BOTTOMLINE: Very funny moments, but not enough of them.


WHAT LIES BENEATH
(PG-13) - July 21

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Young woman's ghost haunts wife and unbelieving husband.

REVIEW: Robert Zemeckis' (Forest Gump) latest effort is the Alfred Hitchcock inspired thriller, What Lies Beneath. Harrison Ford and Michelle Phieffer star as Norman and Claire Spencer. Claire's daughter, from a previous relationship, heads off to college, leaving her alone with a husband whose obsessing over a research project. Claire notices her neighbors fighting and even sees the woman crying hysterically. When the woman goes missing strange things start to happen... doors open by themselves, pictures fall and things turn off and on repeatedly. Norman doesn't believe Claire's claims but her experiences become more frequent and severe. This movie starts slowly but the tension gradually increases until the end. What Lies Beneath doesn't offer any real surprises but it does make you jump a few times. I found the ending to be somewhat contrived... I preferred it when the film offered only quick glimpses of the mysterious force instead of the in your face conclusion. But then again... what do I know?!

BOTTOMLINE: Engaging thriller which builds to a somewhat disappointing climax.


SCARY MOVIE
(R) - July 15

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Horror movie spoof of Scream and others.

REVIEW: The Wayans family has fun at the expense of recent teen horror films! The film's original title was Scream, I know what you did last Halloween! The studio felt that was a little long, so they opted for the shorter title, Scary Movie. Keenan Ivory Wayans directs this slasher spoof which stars his younger siblings, Shawn and Marlan. Most of the other actors are relative unknowns but, there are a few notable cameos. This movie is very funny, along the same lines as Airplane, a lot raunchier though. Scary Movie borrows most of it's plot, as it is, from the original Scream. Even if you haven't seen the movies this one spoofs, it's still a funny film.

BOTTOMLINE: Low brow humor but, fun nontheless.


X-MEN
(PG-13) - July 14

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Good mutants versus bad mutants.

REVIEW: For those uninformed, the X-men comic book has been around for over 38 years and is one of the most popular titles to this day. Now, there is no possible way to cram almost 40 years of history into a single hour and forty-five minute movie but, director Bryan Singer does an admirable job. I think my only complaint about this movie is that not enough time was spent introducing or spotlighting the main characters. Aside from Wolverine and Rouge, the rest of the X-men seemed like second or third string characters. That aside, this movie worked. For those with no idea who the X-men are this film gives just enough background information to keep the story moving. To keep the budget to a reasonable level, there were no big name stars featured. The good guys were: Professor X (Patrick Stewart, Star Trek), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, little known Australian actor), Rouge (Anna Paquin, The Piano), Cyclops (James Marsden, Disturbing Behavior), Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen, Goldeneye), Storm (Halle Berry, Flintstones) and the bad guys: Magneto (Ian McKellan, Apt Pupil), Mystique (Rebecca Romjin Stamos, married to John Stamos of Full House fame), Sabretooth (Tyler Mane, professional wrestler) and finally the Toad (Ray Park, Star Wars' Darth Maul). The special effects, though rushed to meet the July 14th deadline, were well above par as were all the performances. This movie could have been called Wolverine and the X-men because, clearly, this character was the film's focus. Considering that Wolverine is the most popular character, that is understandable. For those Marvel comic fans out there Stan Lee has a brief cameo, true believers!

BOTTOMLINE: One of the better comic-to-film translations.


THE PERFECT STORM
(PG-13) - July 7

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Fishermen lost at sea during hurricane.

REVIEW: Director Wolfgang Peterson brings a film based on the true story of the crew of the Andrea Gail to the big screen. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg star as captain and crewmember of the ill-fated fishing boat, Andrea Gail. Clooney and Wahlberg appeared together in last year's critical success, Three Kings. Other notable stars are Diane Lane and Mary Elisabeth Mastriantonio. But the biggest star, of course, is the storm! The special effects are incredible. You'll actually believe that this little fishing boat is being tossed about inside a real hurricane. Once this storm gets going it doesn't let up until the end. Even though the ending was predetermined it doesn't detract from the film or the edge of your seat tension that you'll feel when watching it. This film needs to be seen at the theater to truly appreciate the scale of the waves and utter helplessness that these men must have felt.

BOTTOMLINE: Slow to start, but quickly picks up speed til the enevitable conclusion.


THE PATRIOT
(R) - June 30

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Action packed revolutionary war drama.

REVIEW: Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin; the duo behind Stargate, Godzilla and Independence Day, bring us the story of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson). Martin is a widowed father who's oldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), joins the Colonial army to rebel against England's rule. Benjamin Martin had fought earlier in the French-Indian war and has no desire to fight again. But when his family is threatened and attacked by Colonel William Tavington (Jason Issacs), he retaliates and joins the militia. The first initial battle scene where Benjamin Martin, with the aid of his two young sons, attacks 20 redcoats is intense. None of the other battle scenes quite compare to this ruthless attack but there is a good reason behind it. See the movie! This is one of those films where you can't wait until the bad guy gets what he deserves. But basically, this movie is about the sacrifices that were made to form this country. The Patriot weighs in at 2 hrs. and 40 min. but it never really drags. You might compare this movie to Mel Gibson's Braveheart... only with muskets!

BOTTOMLINE: A patriotic, flag-waving tale which makes you cheer when the bad guy bites the dust.


SHAFT
(R) - June 24

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Shaft is back to right the wrongs that the legal system can't.

REVIEW: A young black man is killed by a wealthy realtor's son who thinks he is above the law. The murderer skips bail and leaves the country. When he returns two years later, police officer John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) is waiting to bring him to justice. For fans of the original Shaft of the 70's, never fear, Richard Roundtree is back! Samuel L. Jackson plays the nephew following in his uncle's footsteps. A witness to the murder (Toni Collette) is running from the bad guys, crooked cops and even Shaft. This movie suffered from lack of action and slow pacing at times but Samuel L. Jackson was quite good as the cop turned vigilante. Jeffrey Wright also turned in a great performance as druglord Peoples Hernandez, who has delusions of moving his business uptown. Issac Hayes' slightly revised theme song is a welcome addition to this John Singleton remake.

BOTTOMLINE: This film was a little slow at times but, Shaft is still one bad mother... shut your mouth!


ME, MYSELF & IRENE
(R) - June 23

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Mild mannered police officer develops aggressive alter ego.

REVIEW: From the Farrelly brothers (Dumb & Dumber and There's Something About Mary) comes this unique and disturbing look at Rhode Island State Trooper, Charlie Bailey Gates (Jim Carrey). Approximately 18 years earlier, Charlie's wife left him for another man so he raised their three black children all by himself. After his wife left, Charlie repressed all his anger until he snapped and developed a second personality called "Hank". Enter Irene (Renee Zellweger), who ends up running from both bad guys and the law with only Charlie/Hank to help her. In this twisted tale, bad taste, sight gags, sex jokes and more fill the screen from beginning to end. Charlie's kids, now grown, steal the movie every time they appear in front of the camera. The kid's have IQ's off the scale but they were raised watching Richard Pryor. So while discussing such high brow topics as quantum physics or the properties of flight, every other phrase is filled with obsenities. If you like sick, twisted comedies, Me, Myself & Irene is the film for you.

BOTTOMLINE: An extremely gross and funny movie... definitely not for preteens though.


TITAN AE
(PG) - June 17

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Earth is destroyed and one young man can save the human race.

REVIEW: From Don Bluth, the man behind An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and The Secret of NIMH, comes the sci-fi adventure... Titan AE. After Earth (AE) was destroyed, by a race of energy creatures called the Dredge, the surviving humans are scatted across the galaxy. Young Kale (Matt Damon) was separated from his father, who developed the Titan project, and was raised on an alien space station. Korso (Bill Pullman) and Akima (Drew Barrymore) come looking for young Kale, but so do the Dredge. It seems that young Kale has a map in his hand that can lead them to the Titan ship. The Titan ship is the human's last chance at finding a new home. Soon the chase is on to find the ship with the Dredge in hot pursuit. That was one thing I never quite figured out... why did the Dredge hate humans so much? It was never explained to my satisfaction. Anyway, this animated film was a nice departure from the same old singin' animals we've seen from Disney for years. The blending of CGI with traditional animation was seamless and breathtaking. Although we didn't have singin' animals there was a musical score which featured more contemporary, upbeat numbers. Some of the supporting voice actors were, John Leguizamo, Janeane Garafalo, Nathan Lane and Ron Perlman.

BOTTOMLINE: Visually stunning animated film telling an average sci-fi story.


GONE IN 60 SECONDS
(PG-13) - June 9

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Car thief comes out of retirement to rescue brother.

REVIEW: Former car thief Randall "Memphis" Raines (Nicholas Cage) is forced out of retirement to save his brother's life, who's attempting to follow in Memphis's footsteps. The younger sibling, Kip, was unable to keep his end of a bargain to deliver 50 exotic cars so, unless Memphis can deliver the 50 requested cars in one day, his brother will be killed. Along the way, Randall enlists the aid of several past associates. One of which is Sway, (Angelina Jolie) a woman he was previously involved with romantically. We can all guess the conclusion of this movie. But it doesn't really matter. The car chases are white knuckled, pedal to the medal fun. There are some funny moments in the film. The asian woman taking driving lessons from a car thief was a riot. Don't go to this movie expecting classic cinema... unless Fox's Wildest Police Chases is your idea of classic. This is a fun, no-brainer movie. Gentlemen, start your engines...

BOTTOMLINE: The story was a little cheesy but the exciting car chases make up for it.


SHANGHAI NOON
(PG-13) - May 29

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: To rescue a Chinese princess, east and west must join forces.

REVIEW: Jackie Chan's latest American film is by far his best effort to date. Jackie plays a member of the Chinese imperial guard sent to the wild west of old to rescue a kidnapped princess. Along the way Jackie teams up with Owen Wilson, a would-be outlaw who's way too much of a slacker to be taken seriously. This film has it all, laugh out loud humor, beautiful cinematography and classic Jackie Chan action scenes. The Indian fight sequence is outstanding. This movie is funny, without having to resort to gross-out tactics. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy gross-out movies but, this is one of those films that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

BOTTOMLINE: Extremely enjoyable action comedy.


MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2
(PG-13) - May 26

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Ethan Hunt returns to save the world, and the woman he loves.

REVIEW: This time around, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must keep a highly contagious virus out of the hands of former IMF agent, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). The turncoat agent has the only sample of the antidote but he still needs the virus. The situation is complicated by the beautiful thief, Nyah Hall(Thandie Newton) that had a past relationship with Sean Ambrose. A love affair develops between Ethan and Nyah. This storyline is much easier to follow than the original Mission: Impossible. This film looks very good and the action sequences are very original. But that's it. Everyone in the film seems very one dimensional and there's almost no background development on any of the characters. I am a big John Woo fan and think he is a brilliant director. But, I think that the studio, and possibly Tom Cruise, took control away and John Woo's version never made it to the big screen.

BOTTOMLINE: Big on action and style, small on character development.


DINOSAUR
(PG) - May 19

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Dinosaurs learn to work together to survive.

REVIEW: An Iguanadon mother cares for her eggs until a Tyrannosaurus Rex attacks. In the resulting confusion, one of her eggs is taken by various predators until it ends up on a nearby island. The young Iguanadon, Aladar, is raised by a family of Lemurs until meteors strike the planet. After escaping the disaster Aladar and his adopted family encounter a large herd of dinosaurs searching for a lush, green valley that was untouched by the meteor's effects. This film combines real environments with incredibly realistic computer generated dinosaurs. One of the hardest things to recreate digitally is hair. In this film, the Lemur's hair looks very real. The voice acting is also top notch. If everything is so great why didn't I give it a higher rating? Basically, the story has been done before. It was called "The Land Before Time." A film I liked a lot more. At least the Dinosaurs didn't start singing showtunes.

BOTTOMLINE: Talking CGI dinosaurs from Disney. How can it miss?!


BATTLEFIELD EARTH
(PG-13) - May 12

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Humans rebel to save their planet from alien oppressors.

REVIEW: It's the year 3000 and man is reduced to living in tribes or as slave labor for the Psyclos. The Psyclos are an alien species that came to Earth approximately 1000 years earlier and defeated all of earth's military might in a matter of minutes. John Travolta and Forrest Whitaker play a pair of Psyclos that are in charge of security on Earth. They have located a large deposit of gold, only problem is that it is in an area that is poisonous to Psyclos. They decide to train some "man-animals" to mine the gold for them. They put one such man-animal in a learning machine. Only problem was he learned too much. He organized the humans to revolt against the Psyclos to take their planet back. This movie is based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard and is your standard sci-fi fare. John Travolta seems to have fun playing the evil Psyclo, Terl. If you suspend your disbelief this movie can be fun. Otherwise you'll be asking yourself things like, "How could these primitive humans learn to fly Harrier jets in 7 days?!"

BOTTOMLINE: Not classic sci-fi cinema by any means, but it's a decent popcorn flick.


GLADIATOR
(R) - May 5

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A Roman General goes from slave, to gladiator... to hero.

REVIEW: Russell Crowe stars as General Maximus under Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, played by Richard Harris. The Emperor, near death, plans to pass his title on to his brave and loyal General. The Emperor's son Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a jeolous and self-centered man that could not allow that to happen. Through a series of events, Maximus' family is murdered and the General finds himself sold into slavery. Maximus is purchased by Proximo, played by Oliver Reed (who died near the end of filming), and forced to fight in the gladiator arena. Maximus fights in hopes of meeting his betrayer, Commodus in the coliseum of Rome one day. Ridley Scott directed this picture as well as other classics such as Alien, Blade Runner and oh, yeah... the 1984 Apple Computer commercial! This is classic story-telling on a grand scale. The performances, cinematography, special effects and action sequences were all top notch. Russell Crowe's portrayal of General Maximus will most likely propel him from brooding character actor to leading man, on a par with superstars Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson.

BOTTOMLINE: A Roman epic the likes of which I had never seen before. See it on the big screen where it can truly be appreciated. What are you waiting for... go now!


U-571
(PG-13) - April 28

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Submarine mission in search of secret German code machine.

REVIEW: Matthew McConaughey plays the XO of a submarine during WW II who is looking for command of his own vessel. Bill Paxton plays his commanding officer who is reluctant to give the junior officer his sought after promotion. Other notable crew members are played by Harvey Keitel, David Keith and Jon Bon Jovi. The sub leaves port after two new officers board the vessel and reveal a mission that involves the capture of an enigma machine from a crippled German sub. The enigma machine is a device the Germans use to send coded messages. If the allies can obtain this device, without the German's knowledge, it could turn the tide of the war. The mission goes well, until after boarding the German sub and obtaining the device, another German sub attacks and destroys the American sub. The small boarding party is then forced to use the crippled sub to defend themselves and try to get the enigma machine back into Allied waters. This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and has very good special effects. Matthew McConaughey gives a good performance as the young officer who learns the responsibilities that come with command.

BOTTOMLINE: Gripping WW II drama, though not based on a true story, was inspired by actual events concerning the enigma machine.


28 DAYS
(PG-13) - April 21

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Party girl goes to rehab.

REVIEW: Sandra Bullock portrays Susannah Grant, a woman that parties way too much and by party I mean she abuses alcohol and drugs. At the wedding of her older sister, played by Elizabeth Perkins, Susannah and her equally messed up boyfriend, Jasper, totally ruin the wedding - starting with the toast, the wedding cake, the limo, a nearby house... you get the idea. Susannah ends up in a rehab center which is ran by a former addict, played by a somewhat subdued Steve Buscemi. The remaining cast members are also recovering addicts. For me, Gebhardt stole the show. Gebhardt was a recovering addict that was Austrian and gay. His mannerisms, voice and utter desperation were hilarious. Viggo Mortensen soon arrives as a ballplayer whose addictions to women and drugs are on the verge of ruining his career. A potential relationship is started between Sandra and Viggo's characters but Jasper, her tie to a life of drugs and alcohol, is constantly there to tempt her.

BOTTOMLINE: A thoughtful and entertaining look at how someone can hit rock bottom and the extreme effort it takes to get back up.


THE ROAD TO EL DORADO
(G) - April 14

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Two con artists find adventure and the legendary city of gold.

REVIEW: Miguel (voiced by Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (voiced by Kevin Kline) are con men running scams on the streets of Spain. By accident, they end up on a ship captained by the ruthless Cortez. They escape the clutches of this evil Spainard, and with the aid of a map they won in a bet, find the lost city... El Dorado. The natives think the two Spanish tricksters are Gods. Except for Chel (voiced by Rosie Perez) a native girl that shares their love of gold. El Dorado's Witch Doctor and Chief have different views of the newly arrived "Gods". The jovial Chief believes they are benevolant beings while the twisted Witch Doctor thinks they will cleanse the city of non-believers... namely everyone but the Witch Doctor. The animation is extremely well done, blending traditional hand drawn cells with the latest computer animation into one seamless image. The story and voices are very good, but not outstanding. As in most Disney films, this Dreamworks production also has a message. Friendship, and helping people should come before personal gain.

BOTTOMLINE: An enjoyable animated film that could have been better with fewer mediocre musical numbers


RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
(R) - April 7

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Decorated soldier accused of murder during embassy evacuation.

REVIEW: Samuel L. Jackson (Childers) and Tommy Lee Jones (Hodges) play marines that served together in Vietnam. In 1968, Childers saves a seriously injured Hodges' life during a battle. Flash forward to the present and Hodges is about to retire after serving the marines as a military lawyer. Meanwhile, Childers is sent to Yemen to evacuate the ambassador and his family after demonstrators become violent. During the evacuation, several marines are killed and Childers orders his marines to fire into the crowd, killing 83 and wounding hundreds. Childers is brought up on charges so he enlists his friend Hodges to defend him. This was an engaging film that keeps your interest, even if it is similar to other recent military/legal dramas.

BOTTOMLINE: Above average courtroom drama with good performances by Jackson and Jones.


ROMEO MUST DIE
(R) - March 31

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Hip Hop version of Romeo and Juliet with Hong Kong action.

REVIEW: Two rival families, one Chinese, the other African-American, compete for highly sought after waterfront property. Oday's daughter, leader of the African-American family wants nothing to do with her father's business. The Chinese leader's youngest son is killed mysteriously with blame being placed on the Oday family. The slain man's brother, played by action star Jet Li, escapes from prison to avenge his brother's death. In Hong Kong, Jet Li's character was a cop but, he was arrested after helping members of his family escape justice by fleeing the country. Aside from some vocal members of the audience, I enjoyed this film. Jet Li's english still isn't up to par so they kept his dialogue to a minimum.

BOTTOMLINE: Good action sequences, some funny moments but, I could have lived without all the rap music.


FANTASIA 2000
(G) - March 23

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Incredible images set to classical music.

REVIEW: Visually, Fantasia 2000 is stunning and if I had a greater appreciation for classical music, I would say the same for the instrumental score. I suppose my tastes are not refined enough to enjoy the classics as much as I should. Just like the original Fantasia, I found myself being put to sleep by the lack of dialogue or vocals. Fantasia 2000 is being presented in IMAX theaters and the only segment to suffer from the larger scale is "The Sorceror's Apprentice," the lone surviving segment from the original Fantasia.

BOTTOMLINE: Would have been more enjoyable if the soundtrack was more contemporary.


ERIN BROCKOVICH
(R) - March 17

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: True story of a single mom that takes on big power company.

REVIEW: Julia Roberts stars as an outspoken, unemployed, divorced single mom in Erin Brockovich. After driving away from an unsuccessful job interview, Erin's car is side swiped by an ER doctor driving a jaguar. After her attorney loses her personal injury case, the desperate Erin demands that he give her a job. The crusty old lawyer, that reluctantly gives her a job, is played wonderfully by Albert Finney. In the course of filing documents, she discovers a real estate case that contains medical records. A power company was trying to purchase homes from nearby residents, who all seemed to suffer from a variety of ailments. The countless hours spent researching this case left little time for Erin's children or boyfriend. I really liked this film and not just because aspects of Erin Brockovich's life closely paralleled my wife's. The similarities are; outspoken, unemployed, divorced, attorney lost their cases, same attorneys gave them a job, became very good at their jobs, clients preferred to talk to them instead of attorney, attorney's would approach them for advice, incredible memories, etc. Kind of spooky if you ask me... but maybe that's why they call my wife Spooky Jo.

BOTTOMLINE: Surprisingly funny and involving movie.


MISSION TO MARS
(PG) - March 10

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: The origin of life on Earth is found on Mars... of all places.

REVIEW: Tim Robbins, Gary Sinese, Jerry O'Connell and Connie Nelson star as astronauts sent to rescue another astronaut stranded on Mars after an... unnatural disaster. Brian De Palma's newest film is chockfull of corny dialogue that the actors struggle with as best they can. This movie tries its best to inspire awe and wonder but usually failed. The space scenes and special effcts were quite good but they alone couldn't save this screenplay. I wouldn't waste good money at the theater but this film is worth the rental price.

BOTTOMLINE: Campy sci-fi melodrama that has decent special effects.


PITCH BLACK
(R) - March 3

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Transport ship crashlands on an inhospitable alien planet.

REVIEW: A cast of relatively unknown actors star in this low-budget sci-fi film. Vin Diesel, last heard as the voice of the Iron Giant, plays Riddick - a convicted killer in the custody of a bounty hunter. The passenger ship they are on is struck by several meteors and crashes on a planet with three suns. After Riddick escapes, the survivors soon realize he isn't what they should be worried about. Creatures that attack in the dark start claiming victims. To make matters worse, the planet experiences a total eclipse and the creatures come out in force. In my opinion, this film is about redemption. Can a killer be redeemed? Can a pilot willing to sacrifice everyone for herself be redeemed? The answer is an entertaining film that greatly exceeds its modest budget.

BOTTOMLINE: A truly tense, involving movie that has a very other worldly feel about it.


REINDEER GAMES
(R) - February 25

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Mistaken identity leads to a bungled casino heist.

REVIEW: Ben Affleck plays Rudy Newman, a convict about to be released from prison. He pretends to be his former cellmate Nick, so that he can get close to Nick's beautiful lonely hearts girlfriend, (Charlize Theron) who has never seen her amorous penpal. Big mistake, her brother (Gary Sinise) has read Nick's love letters and plans to use him for a robbery of a casino where Nick was employed. Even though you can be sympathetic for Ben Affleck's character, his stupidity became quite annoying. He could have escaped from his captors on numerous occasions, but he risked certain death to stay. The next is a personal gripe but, it really bothers me when scenes in a preview never make to the big screen. An exciting scene where Ben Affleck's character leaps a gorge and clings to the other side, present in the previews, was noticeably absent during the actual film. I hate that.

BOTTOMLINE: Predictable story with a lot of unlikeable characters but, if you're bored it's worth the price of a rental.


THE WHOLE NINE YARDS
(R) - February 18

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Hitmen, wifes, a mob boss and a dentist compete for money and love.

REVIEW: Matthew Perry plays a Chicago dentist transplanted to Canada. He lives with his shrew of a wife (Rosanna Arquette) and her equally despicable mother. Their new next door neighbor, played by Bruce Willis, is a Chicago hitman recently released from prison. The story gets more complicated from there and does its best to keep you guessing. Matthew Perry is very amusing as the man clearly in over his head while Bruce Willis does his standard smartass character. The rest of the cast is quite good, especially Amanda Peet, as Jill, the would be hitperson.

BOTTOMLINE: This is a fun movie with a couple of twists and turns that keeps things interesting.


SNOW DAY
(PG) - February 11

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Snow falls... kids get out of school.

REVIEW: Chevy Chase plays a TV weatherman reduced to stupid costumes and gimmicks to try and bolster his dismal ratings. The unseasonably warm winter ends when a blizzard covers the small city with over a foot of snow. Since the children have never had consecutive snow days off, they plan to stop the Evil Snowplow Man, played by Chris Elliot, from clearing the streets. The movie's subplot deals with a young man's infatuation with the most popular girl in school. You know the story, he has a really good friend, that's female, and he can't see that his friend is really the perfect girl for him. Snow Day feels much more like a made-for-TV movie rather than a theatrical release. Although the audience laughed repeatedly during this movie, the only thing I found amusing was the constant, unrelenting snowball bombardment of Principal Weaver by unseen assailants throughout the entire film. I'm a bit sadistic.

BOTTOMLINE: If you're under the age of 14 you might like this film, otherwise watch Snow Day for free when it airs on Nickelodeon.


EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
(R) - January 28

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Psychos fall in love... from a distance.

REVIEW: Ewan MacGregor, best known as Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, plays "Eye", an emotionally disturbed british surveillance expert that lost his family. His target is Ashley Judd's character, Joanna Eris, a woman with psychological problems that kills practically every man she meets. Jason Priestly, "90210"; Patrick Bergen, "Sleeping with the Enemy"; K.D. Lang, singer/songwriter and Geniveve Bujold, "Coma" also star in this would-be stylistic thriller. Eye is constantly haunted by the vision of his daughter that was taken from by his estranged wife. Even when Eye's work is done he continues to watch and protect Joanna because he either wants her to be like a daughter to him or possibly a wife... I wasn't sure which. The fact that it's hard to sympathize or identify with any of these characters makes it difficult to like or even watch this film.

BOTTOMLINE: If your idea of a good time is watching disturbed people, see this film... otherwise consider yourself lucky if you miss it.


THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
(R) - January 21

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Rich guy gets bored, steals paintings.

REVIEW: Pierce Brosnan plays Thomas Crown, a wealthy business man that finds excitement in stealing works of art. Rene Russo plays his equal as an insurance company investigator hoping to retrieve the painting and apprehend the thief. Along the way, their cat and mouse game becomes a rather steamy love affair. This movie seemed to drag a little bit for my tastes but it was still an enjoyable film.

BOTTOMLINE: It's like a tame version of Bond... with only one woman.


SUPERNOVA
(R) - January 14

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: An uninspired rip-off of Alien... without the alien.

REVIEW: The Nightingale, a space faring medical ship, answers a distress signal from a rogue mining moon knocked out of it's orbit by a nearby star about to go nova. The lone survivor of the mining crew brings back an alien artifact that has altered him. James Spader and Angela Bassett are crew members on the Nightingale that have a rather emotionless romance. The rest of the cast is also very one dimensional, which keeps the audience from becoming attached to any of the characters. Walter Hill, ordinarily an outstanding director, had his named removed from this film's credits. This movie was never released to test audiences because the studio knew it was a stinker of a film and were hoping to get some early box office returns before reviews started coming in.

BOTTOMLINE: This supernova goes bust!


ANNA AND THE KING
(PG-13) - January 7

        

    PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: A teacher and a King fall in love... almost.

REVIEW: Famed Hong Kong action star Chow Yun Fat plays the King of Siam, alongside Jodie Foster's portrayal of Anna Leonowens, a widowed English school teacher. Based on a true story, this film is an incredible achievement as far as costuming, set designs and cinematography are concerned. Chow Yun Fat delivers one of his best American performances to date. He is both a powerful monarch and a vulnerable man which plays well against Foster's English reserve and deep sense of loss following her husband's death. If you like old fashioned love stories this is a good film, even if we know how the story ends.