OnVideo DECEMBER Video Reviews
ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID
Horror-thriller set deep in a primitive Borneo jungle, where an extremely rare red orchid -- the "blood orchid" -- may hold the key to producing a youth-preserving serum. When a gung-ho group of scientists embark on a treacherous journey into the jungle to find the orchid -- in the hopes that a fountain-of-youth discovery will make their careers and their corporate bosses a lot of money -- they quickly realize that more than bad weather and heavy undergrowth separate them from their treasure. Within the mysteries of the jungle lies a deadly predator that keeps the secret of the orchids safe and stops anyone who dares to enter its territory from leaving -- and the adventurers begin dying, one by one. Mild and predictable excitement.
Director: Dwight H.Little. Stars: Johnny Messner, Morris Chestnut, Eugene Byrd, KaDee Strickland, Nicholas Gonzalez, Karl Yune, Matthew Marsden. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $31.526 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY
Will Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, the top-rated anchorman in the San Diego TV news market in the '70s. When feminism marches into the newsroom in the form of ambitious newswoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), Ron is willing to play along at first -- as long as Veronica stays in her place, covering cat fashion shows, cooking, and other "female" interests. But when Veronica refuses to settle for being eye candy and steps behind the news desk, it's more than a battle between two perfectly coiffed anchor-persons ... it's war. But a comic war. In PG-13 and unrated DVD editions.
Director: Adam McKay. Stars: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Fred Willard. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 94 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $84.136 million, (DreamWorks), $22.99 VHS SRP. Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE
Sequel to 2002's "The Bourne Identity," the big screen version of Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel that had at its center a trained assassin attempting to recover his memory while evading shadowy figures from his past. Matt Damon returns as trained assassin Jason Bourne who, with Marie (Franka Potente, returning in a brief reprisal of her role in the first film) have maintained their anonymous, underground existence at the cost of permanence. Fueled by splintered nightmares and haunted by a past he cannot remember, Bourne moves Marie from city to city, trying to remain one step ahead of the threat implicit in every unexplained stranger's glance, every "wrong number" phone call -- that at any second, without any warning, he might get pulled back into the world he hopes he left behind. When an operative appears in the sleepy village that has been their latest home, Bourne and Marie collapse their lives and head out. But before they can, Marie is killed and Bourne heads off to Europe to find out why he's still targeted for murder. Along the way he begins to recover some of his memory, which leads him to the architects of Treadstone -- the covert, now dismantled operation that spawned cold-blooded, professional assassins, and created Bourne -- and Bourne finds that he's being used in a global game of cat-and-mouse. And he won't stand for it. Exciting, smash-up action and intrigue.
Director: Paul Greengrass. Stars: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen. CC, (MPAA rating: Pg-13, 108 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $172.218 million, (Universal), $22 VHS SRP. Available: 12/7, DVD: Day & Date.
Love story set in an eerily possible near-future where entry to cities is heavily controlled, accessible only through checkpoints. People cannot travel unless they have "papelles," a special travel insurance. Outside these cities, the desert has taken over and shanty towns are jammed with non-citizens -- people without papelles whose lives are severely restricted. William (Tim Robbins) is a family man who works as an insurance investigator. When his company sends him to another city to solve a case of fake papelles, he meets a woman named Maria (Samantha Morton). Although he suspects she's the one creating the forgeries, he falls completely in love with her. He hides her crime and they have a wild, passionate affair that can only last as long as his papelles: 24 hours. Back home, William is obsessed with the memory of Maria. He tries to see her but is refused the necessary papers to travel. Desperate, he uses one of the fake papelles he kept from his investigation. He eventually tracks her down, only to discover she has been accused of a Code 46 violation.
Director: Michael Winterbottom. Stars: Samantha Morton, Tim Robbins, Om Puri. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Futuristic thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $0.197 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
Gritty thriller set in nighttime L.A. revolves around Max (Jamie Foxx), who has lived the mundane life of a cab driver for 12 years. He longs for something more -- this is just a temporary gig, he says to himself, until something better comes along. And something indeed comes along -- Vincent (Tom Cruise), a contract killer hired by a narcotrafficking cartel that has been indicted by a grand jury. Vincent's mission: kill five key witnesses, all in one night, before the next morning's trial is mounted. He hires Max and his cab to escort him around town on his journey, but right off the bat one of the murders goes awry and Vincent hijacks Max and the cab, and Max becomes collateral -- an expendable person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through the night Vincent forces Max to drive him to each assigned destination. And as the LAPD and FBI race to intercept them, Max and Vincent's survival becomes dependent on each other in ways neither would have imagined. Director Michael Mann focuses his extravagant eye and camera on L.A.'s grainy, dark night life, turning the mundane streets into a world all its own, making the city a central star in the action. Fine performances by Foxx and Cruise.
Director: Michael Mann. Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 120 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $100.030 million, (DreamWorks), $23.99 VHS SRP. Available: 12/14, DVD: Day & Date.
An original musical portrait of American composer Cole Porter, filled with his unforgettable songs. In the film, Porter (Kevin Kline) is looking back on his life as if it was one of his spectacular stage shows, with the people and events of his life becoming the actors and action onstage. Through elaborate production numbers and legendary hits like "Anything Goes," "It's De-Lovely," and "Night and Day," Porter's elegant, excessive past comes to light - including his deeply complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Linda Lee Porter (Ashley Judd). 1964. A dying Cole Porter sits alone in his New York apartment, playing the piano and picking out a familiar, melancholy tune. Suddenly a mysterious stranger appears -- Gabe (Jonathan Pryce) -- who transports Cole to an empty theater where Gabe is directing what becomes a stage version of Cole's life story. All the key figures from his past appear onstage to re-enact his life -- lovers, colleagues, friends, and, most importantly, his wife, Linda. The film -- peppered with performances by Natalie Cole, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette and Robbie Williams, among others, singing Porter's songs -- transverses the Jazz age, Paris in the 20s, New York in the 30s, Hollywood in the 40s as Porter struggles to find the perfect love song -- and the perfect lover.
Director: Irwin Winkler. Stars: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Alan Corduner, Sandra Nelson. Performances by Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Cole, Robbie Williams and Elvis Costello. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 125 min.), Musical Bio, 2004, Box office gross: $13.245 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY
Billed as "a film that grabs life by the ball." The story's protagonist, Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn), is a charismatic underachiever and proprietor of a rundown gym called Average Joe's. The facility's clientele of decidedly less-than-"average Joes" is made up of a self-styled pirate, a scrawny nerd who dreams of impressing an unattainable cheerleader, an obsessive aficionado of obscure sports, a dim-witted young man, and a cocky know-it-all who, of course, really knows nothing. Peter's humble gym catches the eye of White Goodman (Ben Stiller), the power-mullet-sporting, Fu-Manchu-d, egomaniacal owner of Globo Gym, a gleaming monolith of fitness. White intends to take over Average Joe's, and Peter's non-existent bookkeeping is making it all too easy for him. A foreclosing bank has stationed attorney Kate Veatch inside Average Joe's to finalize Globo's takeover of the gym. But Peter's boyish charms win her over and Kate joins his team of social rejects to beat the odds -- and their own ineptitude -- to try to save Average Joe's. How? A showdown dodgeball competition against Globo Gym.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $114.173 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/7, DVD: Day & Date.
DOOR IN THE FLOOR, THE
Steamy melodrama explores the complexities of love in its brightest, most mysterious, and darkest corners. Set in the beach community of East Hampton, New York, the film chronicles one pivotal summer in the lives of famous children's books author Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Basinger). Their once-great marriage has been strained by tragedy. The Coles lovingly parent their surviving child, bright 4-year-old Ruth (Elle Fanning), who takes everything in stride as perhaps only a child can. But Marion's equation of love with loss, coupled with Ted's infidelities, points towards a much-needed change in the relationship. That may come in the form of Eddie O'Hare (Jon Foster), the young man Ted hires to work as his summer assistant -- and, Ted hopes, the catalyst to invigorate the Coles' bond of marriage. Eddie idolizes Ted, but Ted's erratic work habits soon leave Eddie to his own devices. Marion becomes an object of desire for Eddie, rekindling in her some surprising emotions as a mother and as a woman. To Eddie's surprise and delight, his yearning is potently reciprocated. As he becomes passionately entwined with the seemingly fragile yet increasingly bold Marion, Eddie comes to realize that, similarly, Ted's surface fecklessness hides something deeper within. As the summer draws to a close, Marion and Ted must make difficult decisions about the future of their family.
Director: Tod Williams. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Elle Fanning, Jon Foster. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 111 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $3.779 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP. Available: 12/14, DVD: Day & Date.
Delightful, warm and intuitive (about the human condition) indie film (released by Fox Searchlight) by first-time director Zach Braff. A kind of 21st Century "The Graduate," "Garden State" is the story of Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), who has shuffled through life in a lithium-induced coma until his mother's death inspired a vacation from the pills to see what might happen. A moderately successful TV actor living in Los Angeles, "Large" hasn't been home to the "Garden State" in nine years. But even with 3,000 miles between them, he's been unable to escape his domineering father Gideon (Ian Holm) and the silencing effect he's had on his son from afar. Stunned to find himself in his hometown after such a long absence, Large finds old acquaintances around every corner living quite unique lives as gravediggers (Peter Sarsgaard), fast food knights and the panderers of pyramid schemes. Meanwhile, at home, he does his best to avoid a long-simmering but inevitable confrontation with his father. By a twist of fate, Large meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a girl who is everything he isn't. A blast of color, hope and quirks, Sam becomes a sidekick who refuses to ride in his sidecar. Her warmth and fearlessness give Large the courage to open his heart to the joy and pain of the infinite abyss that is life.
Director: Zach Braff. Stars: Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman, Ron Leibman, Ian Holm, Method Man. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 109 min.), Comedy Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $24.553 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
Will Smith stars as Detective Del Spooner in the high-tech thriller loosely based on the "I, Robot" stories by sci-fi impresario and visionary author Isaac Asimov. In the year 2035, technology and robots are a trusted part of everyday life. Robots have been programmed to do humankind's bidding, with the first law of robots being that they do no harm to humans. But Spooner, who has never been a fan of robots in the first place, discovers that that trust has been broken when a scientist mysteriously commits suicide and, at least in his eyes, all clues actually point to a murder-by-robot scenario. No one believes him, of course, and in an effort to solve the case, Spooner uncovers a nefarious plot by the robots to take over the world. The film employs spectacular visual effects to bring the world of robots to life. The character of Sonny, a special robot who holds the key to the murder -- and perhaps the survival of the human race -- represents a cutting edge in photorealism as an emotionally complete, three-dimensional CGI character. Unfortunately, at times the CGI-world overshadows the acting and the story line, as the film rolls down an oh-so-predictable path. But fun nevertheless.
Director: Alex Proyas. Stars: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Science Fiction, 2004, Box office gross: $143.373 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/14, DVD: Day & Date.
Chan Wing Yan (Tony Leung), a hard-nosed cop, is sent undercover to infiltrate the notorious Triad crime ring. An expert at bringing down crime syndicates, Chan believes this next mission to be routine. What he's not prepared for is the discovery that the Triad gang has a mole within his own police department -- who is hunting Chan. What ensues is a battle of wills and only one cop can win. Winner of seven 2003 Hong Kong Film awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. In Cantonese with English subtitles.
Director: Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak. Stars: Tony Leung , Andy Lau, Anthony Wong , Eric Tsan. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $0.089 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/7, DVD: Only.
A beautiful Parisian woman opens the wrong door and steps into a dizzying psychological mystery that will forever change two lives in Patrice Leconte's "Intimate Strangers." Leconte's 20th feature film -- the follow-up to his acclaimed "Man on the Train" -- is a provocative love story masked in the guise of a suspense thriller. It all begins when troubled Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) makes a mistake on her way to visit a psychiatrist. Accidentally choosing the wrong office, she is greeted by William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) who, unbeknownst to Anna, is actually a mild-mannered tax accountant. Anna explains that she has arrived in a state of personal emergency, and, before William can protest, begins to expose the most intimate details of her marriage and sex life. Startled and secretly riveted, William doesn't have the heart to tell her his true identity. Playing along with her misconception, he accepts another appointment as her therapist. On her third visit Anna, aware now of who William is, angrily confronts him with his ruse, accusing him of violating her trust and very being. And yet ... she returns again. Soon, Anna and William have resumed their weekly appointments in spite of everything. Neither can resist going forward with this most unusual, and seemingly fated, form of "therapy." William is moved and drawn out of his shell by hearing Anna's strange, juicy marital secrets -- feeling he is at last privy to the things men almost never hear. Meanwhile, the more Anna talks, the more her anxiety begins to lift -- as she realizes she has met a man who can listen like no one else she has ever encountered. Yet when their sessions probe deeper, William becomes suspicious. Who is this woman who speaks of crippling accidents and controlling husbands? Is she in danger? Is she dangerous? Is she lying? William's own motivations are equally suspect. Does he think he can rescue Anna? Is he simply getting a voyeuristic thrill from her? Or is he on the verge of falling perilously in love? It's a winding game of psychological cat-and-mouse in which the pair chase each other into places neither one ever expected. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Patrice Leconte. Stars: Sandrine Bonnaire, Fabrice Luchini, Michel Duchaussoy, Anne Brochet, Gilbert Melki, Laurent Gamelon. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 104 min.), Mystery, 2004, Box office gross: $2.080 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
Historians have thought for centuries that King Arthur was only a myth, but the legend was based on a real hero, torn between his private ambitions and his public sense of duty. A reluctant leader, Arthur (Clive Owen) wishes only to leave Britain and return to the peace and stability of Rome. Before he can, one final mission leads him and his Knights of the Round Table -- Lancelot, Galahad, Bors, Tristan, and Gawain -- to the conclusion that when Rome is gone, Britain will need a leader to fill the vacuum. Britain needs a king -- someone not only to defend against the current threat of invading Saxons, but to lead the isle into a new age. Under the guidance of Merlin, a former enemy, and the beautiful, courageous Guinevere (Keira Knightley) by his side, Arthur will have to find the strength within himself to change the course of history. An interesting take on the legend, which fell flat in the States but has been wowing them overseas.
Director: Antoine Fuqua. Stars: Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Mads Mikkelsen, Ray Winstone, Hugh Dancy, Keira Knightley, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgard, Til Schweiger. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 126 min.), Action adventure, 2004, Box office gross: $51.607 million, (Buena Vista), $24.99 VHS SRP. Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE
Interesting remake (actually a rethinking and update) of the classic John Frankenheimer 1962 thriller that starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury. U.S. Army Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) can't sleep at night ... and he doesn't want to. Marco spends his days giving inspiring speeches about his platoon's ambush in the Kuwaiti desert during the first Gulf War and the heroics of Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), who won the Medal of Honor for saving Marco's crew. But at night, Marco's dreamlike memories of the desert turn sinister and terrifying. And Marco privately wonders whether the two soldiers who died in the firefight might have met darker fates than officially recorded -- and whether Shaw might not be the glorious hero that everyone thinks he is. When platoon members start to turn up dead -- and Marco discovers that they, too, have been having the same dreams, Marco's suspicions grow stronger. And when Shaw takes the national stage as a surefire candidate for vice president -- under the thumb of his controversial mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw (Meryl Streep) -- Marco is forced to act on gut feelings. With military officials questioning his sanity, and the net of security tightening around him, Marco races to probe deeper into the unimaginable, shocking truth before the White House is won. Along the way he uncovers a conspiracy at the highest levels of government and power involving private Manchurian Corp. and its attempts to take over the U.S. for the benefits of private enterprise. In the early 1960s, the enemy was the Red Chinese, and brainwashing was the method of indoctrination; now, in Demme's vision, the enemy is big business and power politics, and scientific mind control using implants and drugs are the preferred method for domination. My, how the times have changed. Or, if one looks at both Frankenheimer and Demme's subtext -- the manipulation of candidates and elections -- have they?
Director: Jonathan Demme. Stars: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright, Kimberly Elise, Jon Voight, Ted Levine, Miguel Ferrer, Bruno Ganz. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 130 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $65.520 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
MARIA FULL OF GRACE
This Sundance and Berlin Film Festival award-winner tells the story of one young woman's journey from a small Colombian town to the streets of New York. A bright, spirited 17-year-old, Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Colombia and works stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation. The offer of a lucrative job involving travel -- in fact, becoming a drug "mule" -- changes the course of her life. Far from the uneventful trip she is promised, Maria is transported into the risky and ruthless world of international drug trafficking. Her mission becomes one of determination and survival and she finally emerges with the grace that will carry her forward into a new life. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Director: Joshua Marston. Stars: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Bobby Plasencia, Patricia Rae, Orlando Tobon, Yenny Paola Vega. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $3.000 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/7, DVD: Day & Date.
From Preston, Idaho comes Napoleon Dynamite, a new kind of hero complete with a tight red 'fro, some sweet moon boots, and skills that can't be topped. Napoleon lives with his Grandma and his 30-year-old, unemployed brother Kip, who spends his days looking for love in internet chat rooms. When Grandma hits the road on her quad runner, Napoleon and Kip's meddling Uncle Rico comes to town to stay with them and ruin their lives. Napoleon is left to his own devices to impress the girls at school and help his new best friend Pedro win the election for Student Body President against the stuck-up Summer Wheatley.
Director: Jared Hess. Stars: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Diedrich Bader, Tina Majorini. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 86 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $39.092 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
Sleeper indie hit. Based on true events that befell young couple Daniel and Susan (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) on an island holiday. Even before they leave for the airport, Daniel and Susan's relationship is under strain from their workaholic lifestyles, and they need a vacation even more than they realized. The next morning the couple, certified scuba divers, board a local dive boat for an underwater tour of the reef. The boat is crowded with other vacationers, and due to a series of innocent miscommunications, the couple is, after only 40 minutes or so underwater, accidentally left behind. What follows is the story of their ordeal: cold, alone and miles from land, the couple is adrift in shark-infested waters. But given their stormy relationship, one question persists: did they lose themselves in open water on purpose?
Director: Chris Kentis. Stars: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 79 min.), Adventure, 2004, Box office gross: $30.500 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
PRINCESS DIARIES 2, THE: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT
Sequel to the popular teen romance. Mia (Anne Hathaway) is ready to assume her role as princess of Genovia. But no sooner has she moved into the Royal Palace with her beautiful, wise grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), than she learns her days as a princess are numbered -- she has to lose the tiara and immediately take the crown herself. As if getting ready to rule wasn't enough, the stakes for Mia have never been higher -- with Genovian law stating that princesses must be married before being crowned. Now Mia must juggle her preparations for Queenhood with the search for a suitable mate, with love taking a back seat as a parade of suitors -- who all would like to be her king -- vie for her hand. But love shows up in the most unlikely place. What did you expect?
Director: Garry Marshall. Stars: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Heather Matarazzo, Hector Elizondo, Raven, Caroline Goodall, John Rhys-Davies, Callum Blue, Chris Pine. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 113 min.), Romantic comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $93.244 million, (Buena Vista), $24.98 VHS SRP. Available: 12/14, DVD: Day & Date.
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, one of only two survivors of the contained biochemical disaster in the first "Resident Evil," the $100 million hit that serves as a prologue to the all-out action and horror of this sequel. The film begins where the first left off, with Alice in the heart of the deadly Raccoon City, which has been ravaged by the T-virus that turns the dead into zombies. Alice discovers that she has been subjected to biogenetic experimentation by the vast Umbrella Corporation and has become genetically altered, with super-human strengths, senses and dexterity. When Umbrella cordons off the city to contain the spread of the virus, Alice teams with a small band of elite soldiers, led by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and Carlos (Oded Fehr) to survive and escape what is quickly becoming a City of the Dead. Their only hope lies somewhere within Raccoon City -- Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), one of the leading scientists for Umbrella, will help Alice and the others escape -- if they find his daughter, who became separated from him and now hides somewhere in the city. To rescue the girl and escape the city, the group has to battle their way through the relentless onslaught of the ravenous undead, as well as Umbrella forces and terrifying bioengineered weapons, the most deadly of which is the colossal, heavily armed assassin, Nemesis. A true thrill-a-minute outing.
Director: Alexander Witt. Stars: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Sandrine Holt, Mike Epps, Jared Harris. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 94 min.), Sci Fi Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $50.138 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
"Shaun of the Dead," a "rom zom com" (romantic zombie comedy), follows the bloody funny adventures of underachiever Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) as they cope with a zombie invasion of North London and attempt to rescue Shaun's girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and his Mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton). On Friday, Shaun is in a rut. At 29, he's coasted through life -- and still hasn't gotten very far, usually winding up at the local pub, the Winchester. His roommate Ed looks up to him -- when he can take his eyes off the TV, that is. Liz is re-evaluating their relationship, particularly after Shaun fails to do something special for their anniversary on Saturday. That day, there are train delays, people fainting in the streets, TV news reports of unexplained calamities. No, it can't be. But, it is -- the dead have risen. Saturday's isolated incidents mushroom into a full-on zombie assault and, once daylight breaks, it's Sunday bloody Sunday. As manners and flesh take a beating, it's time to separate men from meat, humans from zombies, and living from undead. Shaun and Ed grab whatever is at hand (cricket bat, shovel, LP) to repel the attacking zombies, summoning reserves of strength they didn't know they possessed and straining muscles they forgot they had. Rounding up friends and family, they press on towards the sanctuary of the Winchester. All that stands (or lopes) in their way are hordes of the flesh-eating undead.
Director: Edgar Wright. Stars: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Nicola Cunningham, Penelope Wilton. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Comedy horror thril, 2004, Box office gross: $12.893 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP. Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
Facing another Christmas alone, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) decides to go back to his idyllic childhood home to spend the holidays with family. There is, however, one problem: the people living there now are not Drew's family. Nevertheless, Drew has his mind set on an old-fashioned family Christmas, and the fact that the "family" in question, the Valcos, are complete strangers, isn't about to put a crimp in his plans. Offering them a small fortune, Drew bribes his newfound "parents" (James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hara) to let him spend Christmas in their home, pretending to be part of the family. Just when the Valcos begin to question if any amount of money is worth being dragged all over town on such traditional family holiday excursions as Christmas shopping and the requisite choosing of the Christmas tree, their eldest daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) comes home for the holidays, with no intention of adopting a new "brother." Bomb.
Director: Mike Mitchell. Stars: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O'Hara. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $10.284 million, (DreamWorks), $15.95 VHS SRP, Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
Live-action feature film based on the hit British television series of the 1960s. Set in the year 2065, this is the story of ex-astronaut and USAF Colonel Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton) and his five sons who form a rescue team called International Rescue (nicknamed "The Thunderbirds") that uses a fleet of vehicles, from rockets to boats, to race into action whenever their unique services are required. While his father and his four elder brothers are busy saving the world, Alan Tracy's (Brady Corbet) biggest challenge is saving his grade point average at boarding school. And what's worse, he can't even tell his schoolmates that his dad and brothers are better known as the fearless adventurers behind the top-secret Thunderbirds. Alan dreams of one day joining his close-knit family in their global vocation and even getting into the driver's seat of one of the awesome, incredible machines the Tracys utilize in their life-saving work. Back home on Tracy Island -- a secret oasis in the South Pacific and headquarters to International Rescue -- Alan and his friends, the brainy Fermat (Soren Fulton) and the adventurous Tin-Tin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), are left behind as Jeff Tracy and his elder sons are deployed on a fake mission by their arch nemesis, The Hood (Ben Kingsley). Once the master criminal takes control of Tracy Island and the Thunderbirds, it falls to Alan and his friends to come up with a plan to defeat The Hood and rescue his family.
Director: Jonathan Frakes. Stars: Brady Corbet, Deborah Weston, Bill Paxtb11on, Ben Kingsley, Soren Fulton, Vanessa Anne Hudgens. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Adventure, 2004, Box office gross: $6.768 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP. Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
An epic adventure of discovery, survival and wonder, "Two Brothers" is the story of twin tiger brothers who are born amidst the temple ruins and exotic jungles of French Indo-China. Separated as cubs and taken into captivity, one tiger is forced to become a circus performer, the other a trained killer. Years later, the brothers find themselves reunited, but as forced enemies pitted against each other. The film stars Guy Pearce as a romantic explorer whose tragic intervention into the idyllic lives of the two tiger brothers forever intertwines their fates.
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud. Stars: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Freddie Highmore, Oanh Nguyen. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 109 min.), Family, 2004, Box office gross: $18.947 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP. Available: 12/21, DVD: Day & Date.
WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Based on two works by Andre Dubus, "We Don't Live Here Anymore" is a sexy and provocative drama about married life and its discontents. The film charts the amorous affair of a married man with his best friend's wife and how their liaison upsets the delicate balance of relationships, culminating in a fling between their spouses. Unfolding from four alternating viewpoints, the story captures the paradoxical actions of loving parents determined to save marriages they secretly long to escape, as the couples struggle through their emotional and sexual entanglement. College instructors in a small university town, Jack Linden and Hank Evans have an easygoing friendship involving runs between classes and drinks at the pub after work. Jack's wife Terry is best friends with Hank's wife Edith, and the four have dinner parties where, once the kids have gone to bed, the wine flows freely and the record collection is in constant rotation. But the Evanses and the Lindens are not the happy couples they appear to be. For Jack and Terry, the everyday tribulations of being parents of young children trying to make ends meet have taken their toll on the once passionate couple. And Hank, a self-absorbed writer at heart, is fond of his daughter and family life, but not all that interested in monogamy, it turns out. Trying to find a way to make her marriage work under the new circumstances, Edith turns to Jack for comfort. What begins as a playfully lascivious affair erupts into a season of infidelity, leaving all four to sift through the emotional wreckage to find their way home.
Director: John Curran. Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Naomi Watts, Sam Charles, Haili Page, Jennifer Bishop. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $2.037 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/14, DVD: Day & Date.
Intriguing "disappearance" thriller. From the moment Matthew (Josh Hartnett) sees Lisa (Diane Kruger), nothing else matters. She walks past the window of the shop where he works in the Wicker Park section of Chicago, and he's immediately captivated; he follows her, they meet, and soon they fall deeply in love. Everything about their relationship seems perfect -- until the day she disappears without a trace. Two years later, Matt has built a new life for himself, but he's still haunted by her memory and the nagging torment of unanswered questions. Then he catches a quick glimpse of someone he thinks must be her in a bar ... but is it? Thus begins a twisting, obsessive search for the woman who captured his heart years ago -- and for someone who's playing with his mind right now. Intricately moving back and forth in time and revealing the story from varying perspectives, the film takes Matthew's search for the truth deeper into mystery, with each discovery more deceiving than the next.
Director: Paul McGuigan. Stars: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diane Krueger. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $12.831 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is an unlucky guy, scoring "love" both professionally and personally. Seeded near the bottom of the world tennis ranks, he manages to score a wild card, allowing him to play in the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. There, he meets and falls in love with American tennis star Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst). Fueled by a mixture of his newfound luck, love and on-court prowess, Peter works his way up the ranks of the tournament players and actually stands a chance of fulfilling his lifelong dream of winning the men's singles title -- if his luck can just hold out. Director: Richard Loncraine. Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, James McAvoy,
Director: Richard Loncraine. Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, James McAvoy, Jon Favreau, Austin Nichols, Sam Neill, Bernard Hill. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min.), Romantic comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $16.831 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP, Available: 12/28, DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1060 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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November 30, 2004