OnVideo AUGUST Video Reviews
A sci-fi outing for the Nick bunch. Jesse Bradford plays a Southern California teen whose main goals in life are to buy a neat car and catch the eye of an attractive transfer student from South America (Paula Garces). Naturally she'll have nothing to do with him -- until one day he puts on a watch sent to his research scientist dad by a former pupil (French Stewart). Seems the watch speeds up the molecules of whomever comes in contact with it, effectively making the world appear as if it has slowed down. This makes for all kinds of fun and nifty special effects as Jesse and Paula move through the city, playing practical jokes on people. But there's something sinister afoot -- a bad guy techie wants the watch for his own nefarious ends and goes so far as to kidnap Jesse's dad in the hopes of perfecting the device. Now the teens have to give up their stop-motion fun for a little espionage. Innocuous fun that zips along fairly quickly. The kids will love it -- and mom and dad can get some kicks too.
Director: Jonathan Frakes. Stars: Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces, French Stewart, Michael Biehn, Robin Thomas. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 94 min.), Kids Science Fiction, 2002, Box office gross: $36.225 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/13, DVD: Day & Date.
DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS
Documentary takes a wild and wonderful look at the rise of skateboarding as a pop culture phenomenon by looking at its roots in Southern California. In the early-mid 1970s, in the rundown Dogtown section of Venice, a group of teenagers nicknamed the Z-Boys hung out at the Jeff Ho & Zephyr Production Surf Shop as a home away from home. In between bouts with waves, they took up skateboarding as a way to "surf" on the street, where they modeled their actions on surf board moves, something unheard of. At the time skateboarding was considered a passe fad (from the 1960s), something "for the kids," but the Z-boys brought skateboarding into the realm of popular culture sport. They began doing stuff never done before -- like touching the ground with a trailing hand while making a turn. Always looking for a new frontier, the Z- Boys began practicing their skateboarding moves in empty swimming pools, whose swooping sides emulated the sweep of waves. Their free-form, assertive skateboarding style set new precedents, and word of their feats spread. The public unveiling of their unique brand of athletics -- as the Zephyr Skating Team -- took place at the Bahne-Cadillac Skateboard Championship in 1975. As the aggressive Dogtown style (and pugnacious attitude that went with it) began taking hold, the young masters of this new style of sport became international superstars. Fabulous clips from the era as well as a raucous heavy metal soundtrack.
Director: Stacy Peralta. Stars: Narrated by Sean Penn. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min.), Documentary, 2002, Box office gross: $0.618 million, (Columbia TriStar), $19.96 VHS SRP, Available: 8/6, DVD: Day & Date.
Run-of-the-mill thriller has Ashley Judd playing a high-powered San Francisco attorney who risks her career to defend her husband when he's arrested by the FBI and charged with the massacre of eight civilians during a 1988 Marine raid on a small village in El Salvador. He claims he's innocent and says he's being framed; Judd takes on the Court Martial case and enlists the help of ex-military attorney and ex-alcoholic Morgan Freeman. Together with the court-appointed lawyer and Judd's sexy sister (Amanda Peet) they uncover an elaborate coverup, missing and dead witnesses, destroyed documents and, what's worse, find themselves wiretapped, stalked and beaten by mysterious men. As Judd and Morgan unravel it all and come closer to the truth, they come closer to losing their lives. This is one of those films where you can't quite believe what's happening onscreen but you're impelled to sit it out to the bitter -- and in this case, twist -- ending.
Director: Carl Franklin. Stars: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Jim Caviezel, Adam Scott, Bruce Davison, Tom Bower, Juan Carlos Hernandez. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $41.131 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/27, DVD: Day & Date.
IN THE BEDROOM
A resonant drama of loss and regeneration with deep emotions that are forced to the surface by extraordinary circumstances happening to seemingly ordinary people. Set in a quiet New England fishing village, the film revolves around the Fowler family: Matt and Ruth (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek) and their straight-arrow college-bound son Frank (Nick Stahl). But Frank has more than books on his mind -- he ends up having an affair with a local single-mother (Marisa Tomei) who's violent ex is lurking in the wings. When the estranged husband shows up, Frank gets in the way of a jealous rage and is senselessly killed. Now the Fowlers are devastated and must find a way to heal their wounds -- one that may involve taking justice into their own hands. But not after a lot of soul searching and soul baring by Matt and Ruth, and revelations about their deepest emotional turmoils.
Director: Todd Field. Stars: Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei, William Mapother, Celia Weston, Karen Allen, Frank T. Wells, V. Clapham Murray. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 130 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $36.000 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/13, DVD: Day & Date.
Weak-kneed get-even comedy has Tim Allen starring as Joe everyman, a nondescript video specialist at a marketing company whose life is incredibly dull and plain. Divorced and unattached to anyone except his precocious daughter, Joe is so bland and out-of-touch that he can't even pursue the possible romantic interest embodied by the company's "wellness coordinator" (Julie Bowen). But all that changes when Joe gets into an argument with the company bully over a parking space in the company's parking lot and is decked in front of his daughter. Demanding a rematch, he enlists the aid of a martial arts instructor (Jim Belushi imitating Steven Seagal) and begins to engender the admiration of his co-workers as they support him in his venture. Unfortunately, there's no where for this predictable schoolyard fantasy to go -- despite Joe's eventual growing awareness of what it really means to be a man -- and the film falls apart and pulls its punches as it approaches its climax.
Director: John Pasquin. Stars: Tim Allen, James Belushi, Julie Bowen, Patrick Warburton, Greg Germann, Kelly Lynch. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 98 min.), Comedy, 2001, Box office gross: $22.700 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/20, DVD: Day & Date.
LORD OF THE RINGS, THE: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
"The Lord of the Rings" collectively tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit who battles against the Dark Lord Sauron to save his world, Middle-earth, from the grip of evil. In the trilogy of films, "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" (shot concurrently by director Peter Jackson entirely on location in New Zealand), Frodo and his Fellowship of friends and allies embark on a desperate journey to rid the earth of the source of Sauron's greatest strength, the One Ring -- a ring that has the power to enslave the inhabitants of Middle-earth. The trilogy chronicles extraordinary adventures across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth and reveals how the power of friendship, love and courage can hold the forces of darkness at bay.
An epic vision of good versus evil, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" recounts the heroic quest of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a peaceful Hobbit entrusted with a terrible responsibility. Placed in possession of the omnipotent One Ring --- lost for centuries and containing the Dark Lord Sauron's "cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life" --- Frodo must travel through Middle-earth to the land of Mordor in order to destroy the ring in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged. Frodo is accompanied on his journey by a nine-member assemblage, the Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship is aided in their quest by Elf Princess Arwen (Liv Tyler), Elf Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving), whose knowledge of the One Ring brings to light the true danger and importance of the Fellowship's collective journey. Relentlessly pursued by Lord Sauron's dark riders, marauding Orcs, cave trolls, and goblins summoned by evil wizard Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), the Fellowship must resist the ring's limitless powers of corruption.
Impeccably cast, written and directed, the 178-minute film is a monumental and delicious achievement.
The second film, "The Two Towers,"heads to theaters December 18th, 2002. The third, "The Return of the King," will be in theaters December 2003.
Director: Peter Jackson. Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 178 min.), Fantasy, 2001, Box office gross: $310.000 million, (New Line), $22.94 VHS SRP, Available: 8/6, DVD: Day & Date.
QUEEN OF THE DAMNED
Adapted from Anne ("Interview With the Vampire") Rice's series "The Vampire Chronicles," this hot-blooded rock-infused vampire tale focuses on Rice's vampire Lestat who becomes a pop star and plays up his vampireness (violating the unspoken code of vampirehood that states that vampires should keep away from the limelight). Throw in a paranormal investigator and the centuries old queen of the vampires (Aaliyah) who picks this time to wake up, and the rivers of blood flow from New Orleans to Death Valley, where a climactic rock concert takes place. Cutting edge vamp flick keeps your attention and, in particular, shows off Aaliyah and what she might have become on screen if she hadn't died.
Director: Michael Rymer. Stars: Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Aaliyah, Vincenr Perez, Lena Olin, Paul McGann. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Horror, 2002, Box office gross: $30.307 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 8/27, DVD: Day & Date.
RETURN TO NEVER LAND
Fanciful and well-wrought sequel to Disney's 1953 classic, "Return to Never Land" takes you back to the enchanted place where kids never grow up and where Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys still taunt the villainous Captain Hook. Set in WWII London years after she left Never Land, Wendy is now grown up with children of her own. She tries to comfort her young ones with stories of Peter and Hook but practical 12-year-old Jane has no time for make-believe -- until she's kidnapped by Captain Hook, who mistakes Jane for Wendy and hopes to use the girl as bait to capture Peter. But his plan is foiled and Peter and the boys rescue Wendy, who promptly wants to get back to the real world. Not believing in pixie dust and flying, she makes a deal with Hook and Peter is captured. As things progress, Jane realizes the errors of her ways, and learns that growing up means tempering reality with a bit of youthful imagination and play, and she join s the gang in foiling Hook once again. The film deftly merges the original's animated style with some stunning CGI effects (in particular the opening sequences of war-torn London and the arrival of Hook's ship) and the story line is solid enough to not betray its roots. Though not an "instant" classic like "The Lion King," this Disney outing is a keeper for the little ones.
Director: Robin Budd. Stars: Voices of Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 72 min.), Animated, 2002, Box office gross: $48.000 million, (Disney), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 8/20, DVD: Day & Date.
Stirring story of courage and determination, based on the real-life story of baseball player Jim Morris whose promising career ended when he threw out his shoulder. Now a chemistry teacher and baseball coach in a small Texas town, Morris makes a bet with his losing team: If they win their district title, he'll try out again for the majors. Incredibly, the boys win and Morris has to fulfill his end of the bargain. And, amazingly, he tries out for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- with a 98 MPH fastball. In three months he's in the majors -- winning games with his amazing Arm. It's a dream of a story -- a great inspiration for kids and adults alike.
Director: John Lee Hancock. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Beth Grant, Angus T, Jones, Brian Cox, Rick Gonzalez. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 127 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $72.544 million, (Buena Vista), $22.99 VHS SRP, Available: 8/27, DVD: Day & Date.
Two of moviedom's most charismatic stars, Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy, team up for a cop comedy -- about a pair of L.A.P.D. detectives who become fodder for a TV reality show -- with a less than stellar result. De Niro and Murphy are the cops in question, who agree to let a network producer (Rene Russo) follow them around and film their activities. The gimmick is that Murphy's character really wants to be an actor, so he spends as much time preening for the camera as he does fighting crime. There's plenty of gags added on to the typical cop fare of car crashes, chases and gunfights, as well as a subplot involving a drug dealer who uses a super gun capable of launching rockets. It's totally unbelievable but, hey, it's a comedy, and it stars De Niro and Murphy, who are always worth watching, and Russo, who's doubly worth watching.
Director: Tom Dey. Stars: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Frankie R. Faison, William Shatner, Drena De Niro, Pedro Damian. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $37.948 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 8/13, DVD: Day & Date..
SWEETEST THING, THE
A trio of hot babes (Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair) ply their romantic trade in San Francisco, on the look out for the right guy but tumbling in and out of sex faster than a runaway cable car. The plot -- such as it is -- involves Christina (Diaz) meeting -- but not connecting with -- a guy (Thomas Jane) at a club and regretting it the next day, when she decides to spend the rest of the movie tracking him down. Lots of crude bathroom jokes and sex (it's kind of a female version of all those raunchy Farrelly brother movies).
Director: Roger Kumble. Stars: Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Thomas Jane, Selma Blair, Jason Bateman, Parker Posey. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 84 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $24.430 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/20, DVD: Day & Date.
WE WERE SOLDIERS
Based upon the best selling book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," by Lieutenant-General Harold G. Moore and journalist Joseph L. Galloway, this top-notch war drama follows Moore (played by Mel Gibson) as he leads his troops into one of the first major battles of the Vietnam War (in late 1965). In a place soon to be known as the Valley of Death, 400 American soldiers found themselves surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese troops. The fighting is realistic (as is the won't with war films these days) enough to make you squint away from the screen, and the sentimentality is piled on (as the women at home find out about their lovers and husbands' deaths), but the film is admirable in its depiction of the war-is-hell ethos. And, it actually paints the enemy as being human.
Director: Randall Wallace. Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein, Keri Russell, Barry Pepper, Don Doung. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 138 min.), War action, 2002, Box office gross: $77.977 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 8/20, DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1080 DVD Audio/Video Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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July 15, 2002