OnVideo NOVEMBER Video Reviews
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Around the World in 80 Days In this boring take on Verne's classic, Passepartout (Jackie Chan) must make it to China in order to return a valuable jade Buddha that was stolen from his family's village. He seeks refuge with an eccentric London inventor, Phineas Fogg (Steve Coogan), who puts his reputation, fortune, and career on the line in a daring bet to make it around the world in 80 days. Joining them is Monique (Cecile De France), a young French artist who decides that a trip around the world would provide new inspiration. Opposing the group is Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent), who's wagered his position as head of the Royal Academy of Science against their journey's success. Their incredible adventure spans colorful and exotic lands from historic London to Paris, Turkey, India, China, across the Great Seas, to a burgeoning United States, and more. Along the way, the group encounters an eclectic assortment of characters including Queen Victoria (Kathy Bates), a Scotland Yard Sergeant (John Cleese), a hot air balloon engineer (Richard Branson), a Turkish Prince (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an eccentric inventor (Rob Schneider), the Wright Brothers (Owen and Luke Wilson), and many other characters, played in cameo roles like the 1956 original, which was also danged boring.
Director: Frank Coraci. Stars: Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Robert Fyfe, Jim Broadbent, Cecile De France. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Action, 2004, Box office gross: $22.804 million, (Disney), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 11/2, DVD: Day & Date.
Nine years ago, director Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise" introduced American twentysomething Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French twentysomething Celine (Julie Delpy). The two met on a train to Vienna, and spent the night together wandering around the city, talking, and falling for each other. They parted ways, vowing to meet in Vienna in six months. This outing picks up where the 1994 film left off. In Paris promoting a novel he has written about their one perfect night together (the two were never reunited), Jesse is dumbfounded when Celine shows up at his last bookstore interview. With just a few hours remaining before his flight back to the States, Jesse and Celine meander through Paris, returning in no time at all to their playful banter, flirtation, and intense conversations about life, love, and the state of the world. Although the sexual tension is palpable, Jesse is married -- albeit unhappily -- and has a young son, and Celine has a boyfriend. Are these thirtysomethings really soul mates, or ships destined to keep passing in the night?
Director: Richard Linklater. Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 80 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $5.174 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, THE
Vin Diesel reprises his "Pitch Black" role of enigmatic anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in the new science fiction action-adventure epic. Riddick has spent the last five years on the move among the forgotten worlds on the outskirts of the galaxy, eluding mercenaries bent on collecting the price on his head. Now, the fugitive finds himself on planet Helion, home to a progressive multicultural society, which has been invaded by the Lord Marshal (Feore), a zealot who targets humans for subjugation with his army of warriors known as Necromongers. Exiled to a subterranean prison where extremes of temperature range from arctic nights to volcanic days, Riddick encounters Kyra, the lone survivor from an earlier chapter in his life. His efforts to free himself and Kyra lead him to the Necromonger command ship, where he is pitted against the Lord Marshal in an apocalyptic battle with possibly the fate of all beings-both living and dead-hanging in the balance.
Director: David Twohy. Stars: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Science Fiction, 2004, Box office gross: $57.637 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 11/16, DVD: Day & Date.
Suspense thriller about the American Dream gone awry. Wayne and Eileen Hayes (Robert Redford, Helen Mirren) appear to be living a perfect life. But all illusions are shattered when Wayne is kidnapped in broad daylight from the Hayes' peaceful Pittsburgh estate. Under the microscope of a probing FBI investigation and her own painstaking introspection, Eileen also becomes a victim. The interrogation introduces a life underneath outward appearances; the suspicions, the secrets, the inadequacies, and what can happen along the way to achieving the American dream. Suddenly the man who, at one point in his life, prided himself on being a cunning negotiator finds his fate resting in the hands of a kidnapper (Willem Dafoe) who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Will he succeed in the most important negotiation ever ... for his life?
Director: Pieter Jan Brugge. Stars: Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 91 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $5.736 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN, A
Witty, satirical "A Day Without A Mexican" is the first release from Mexico City's Televisa Cine, and was directed and written by Rock en Espanol star Sergio Arau (son of famed director Alfonso Arau). "A Day Without a Mexican" begins one morning when Californians wake up to find that one third of their population has disappeared. A strange pink fog surrounds the state and communication outside its boundaries is completely cut off. As the day progresses, it's discovered the single characteristic that links the missing is their Hispanic background. Californians are in shock. The economic, political and social implications of this disaster threaten their very way of life. The film delves into the suddenly disrupted lives of four characters: Mary Jo Quintana (Maureen Flanigan), teacher and housewife; Senator Abercrombie (John Getz), hastily promoted to Governor; Louise McClaire (Muse Watson), ranch owner and agribusiness representative; and Lila Rodriguez (Yareli Arizmendi) reporter, and apparently the only Latina left behind. For all of them, the Hispanic void immediately throws their lives into chaos. Theories abound to explain the phenomena: UFO kidnappings, biological terrorism, maybe even The Rapture. Or perhaps, after being taken for granted for so long, the Latino population simply up and left. As time passes, California begins to deteriorate. Garbage piles up, crops rot on the vine, children run wild, businesses close. The realization finally dawns on the remaining Californians of the incredible debt owed to those missing Latinos; the cooks, gardeners, policemen, farm and construction workers, athletes and most importantly, the consumers, who make and keep the state running.
Director: Sergio Arau. Stars: Maureen Flanigan, John Getz, Muse Watson, Caroline Aaron, Tony Abatemarco, Melinda Allen, Frankie J. Allison, Fernando Arau, Yareli Arizmendi. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Satire, 2004, Box office gross: $3.538 million, (Xenon Pictures), $14.99 VHS SRP, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
A human baby raised as an elf. A city where no one remembers the true meaning of Christmas. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human raised in the North Pole to be an elf. After wreaking havoc in the elf community due to his size, Buddy heads to New York City to find his place in the world, and track down his father. But life in the big city is not all sugarplums and candy canes. His father is a "Scrooge" and his eight-year-old stepbrother doesn't believe in Santa. Even the snowmen aren't friendly in New York. In fact, they don't even speak. Worst of all, everyone has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, and it's up to Buddy and his simple elf ways to win over his family, realize his destiny and, ultimately, save Christmas for New York and the world.
Director: Jon Favreau. Stars: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $173.381 million, (New Line), $14.95 VHS SRP, Available: 11/16, DVD: Day & Date.
Amazing rock documentary of a "train" tour through Canada by some of the greatest musicians of all time. Set in 1970 -- and consisting largely of footage that has never been seen since -- "Festival Express" documents an eponymous "happening." Following on the heels of Woodstock, "Festival Express" was a multi-band, multi-day extravaganza that captured the spirit and imagination of a generation and a nation. What made it unique was that it was portable; for five days, the bands and performers lived, slept, rehearsed and did countless unmentionable things aboard a customized train that traveled from Toronto, to Calgary, to Winnipeg, with each stop culminating in a mega-concert. The entire experience -- both off-stage and on -- was filmed by Peter Biziou, with extensive footage remaining locked away until now. That material, along with contemporary interviews with various participants, witnesses and survivors has been assembled by award-winning director Bob Smeaton to create a thrilling document of something that would -- and could -- never be duplicated. The footage is among the very first to document musicians' lives, both on and off stage, for such an extended and continuous period of time and offers glimpses of a lifestyle perhaps never to be seen again. First-person interviews with a selection of the musicians, crew and even some of the music lovers who were in attendance provide a unique insight into what may have been the last great rock 'n' roll ride. According to Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, "That train was buzzing down the rails. We achieved lift off for sure." With performances from Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, The Buddy Guy Blues Band, Delaney & Bonnie, Flying Burrito Brothers, Sha Na Na, Ian & Sylvia, New Riders of the Purple Sage.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
In "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Harry, Ron and Hermione, now teenagers, return for their third year at Hogwarts, where they are forced to face escaped prisoner Sirius Black, who poses a threat to Harry. Harry and his friends spend their third year learning how to handle a half-horse half-eagle Hippogriff, repel shape-shifting Boggarts and master the art of Divination. They also visit the wizarding village of Hogsmeade and the Shrieking Shack, which is considered the most haunted building in Britain. In addition to these new experiences, Harry must overcome the threats of the soul-sucking Dementors, outsmart a dangerous werewolf and finally deal with the truth about Sirius Black and his relationship to Harry and his parents. With his best friends, Harry masters advanced magic, crosses the barriers of time and changes the course of more than one life.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, David Thewlis, Gary Oldman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 142 min.), Fantasy, 2004, Box office gross: $225.700 million, (Warner), $22.99 VHS SRP, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
Sumptuously choreographed martial arts drama with colors that just drip off the screen and a "Rashomon"" story line. At the height of China's Warring States period, the country was divided into seven kingdoms: Qin, Zhao, Han Wei, Yan, Chu and Qi. For years, the separate kingdoms fought ruthlessly for supremacy. As a result, the populace endured decades of death and suffering. The Kingdom of Qin was the most determined of all. The Qin King was obsessed with conquering all of China and becoming her first Emperor. He had long been the target of assassins throughout the other six states. Of all the would-be killers, none inspired as much fear as the three legendary assassins, Broken Sword, Snow and Sky. To anyone who defeated the three assassins, the King of Qin promised great power, mountains of gold and a private audience with the King himself. But defeating the killers is a near impossible task. For 10 years no one came close to claiming the prize. So when the enigmatic county sheriff, Nameless, came to the palace bearing the legendary weapons of the slain assassins, the King was impatient to hear his story. Sitting in the palace, only 10 paces from the King, Nameless told his extraordinary tale. For 10 years, Nameless studied the way of the sword and resolved to challenge the three assassins. Using the secrets of swordsmanship, Nameless defeated the mighty Sky in a furious showdown. Following this initial victory, he destroyed the famed duo of Snow and Broken Sword, this time using a weapon far more devastating than his sword -- their extraordinary love for each other. The King hung on every detail of this curious story. But then something most unexpected happened -- the King has a different story to tell of how Nameless really came to sit there, face to face with the King! It appears that everything was not so simple. In the center of the intrigue sits Nameless -- a solitary ranger and the King of Qin -- the ruler of the Kingdom, with only 10 steps between them. Within those 10 steps holds an earth-shattering tale of love, honor and duty, a story that moves beyond the reaches of history. A story about what it means to be a hero. In Chinese with English subtitles.
Director: Zhang Yimou. Stars: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao Ming, Donnie Yen. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min.), Martial arts, 2004, Box office gross: $41.652 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/30, DVD: Day & Date.
HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, A
Bobby and Jonathan have been inseparable since they were teenagers in suburban Ohio. Bobby has suffered many losses for someone so young, and is starved for love and affection. Awkward teen Jonathan has a nice family, and a particularly wonderful mother (Sissy Spacek). The boys not only become as close as brothers, but they also experiment sexually. The two lose touch, but find each other again in their mid-20s in the early 1980s, when Bobby (Colin Farrell) moves to New York and joins Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) at the apartment he shares with Clare (Robin Wright Penn), an aging hippie. Bobby and Clare become lovers, however, Clare had planned to have a child with Jonathan, who is now openly gay and who is still interested in Bobby, and to whom Clare used to be attracted. The trio becomes its own unique entity, questioning the traditional definitions of family and love, and dealing with the complications of their love triangle. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Cunningham, who also wrote the screenplay and who was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
Director: Michael Mayer. Stars: Colin Farrell, Dallas Roberts, Robin Wright Penn, Sissy Spacek, Matt Frewer. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 96 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $0.951 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/2, DVD: Day & Date.
JU-ON: THE GRUDGE
Creepy Japanese horror flick by director Takashi Shimizu. A series of people are killed by a violent curse known as Ju-on. Born of a grudge held by someone who suffers a violent and angry death, the curse is transmitted to the next victim each time someone dies. A volunteer home-care worker, Nishina Rika, comes to call at a house occupied by a bed-ridden old lady, Tokunaga Sachie. There is a strange atmosphere in the house and Sachie is obviously terrified of something. On the second floor Rika finds a closet shut with duct tape, in which hides a boy holding a black cat. Startled, she asks the boy's name, and he answers 'Toshio.' Rika sees an angry spirit and faints while Sachie dies, raving in terror. Several days earlier Sachie's son Katsuya returns home from work to find his wife Kazumi collapsed in their bedroom, unresponsive. Sensing something behind him, he turns to see a boy with pure-white skin standing there. The boy's mouth opens, and we hear the scream of a cat. Katsuya's eyes glaze, as if he is in the grip of something. At this point his younger sister, Hitomi, arrives, but he tells her that she's come at a bad time and sends her away. On the day that Rika comes to call, Hitomi is attacked at work by an angry spirit, escapes, and witnesses the death of a security guard who has gone to investigate. She flees to her apartment. The doorbell sounds and she looks through the peep-hole to see her brother Katsuya standing there. But when she opens the door she finds no one. Sachie's body is discovered, and with her Rika, who is in shock but otherwise unhurt. In the crawlway under the roof are found the bodies of Katsuya and Kazumi. The police investigators, finding that a whole series of people have gone missing from this house, visit the former detective who handled the first of these incidents, in which a man named Saeki Takeo murdered his wife Kayako. Their son, Toshio, who was six years old at the time, had never been found. It is the angry and growing spirit of Kayako's vengeance that infects the house. Killing Toyama, his daughter Izumi and Rika's friend Mariko, the ring of horror grows to include all who are involved. The "Ju-on" spirit now approaches Rika as, with a shudder, she realizes the truth. Timed for the late-October release of the U.S. remake, also directed by Shimizu, and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr and Clea DuVall.
Director: Takashi Shimizu. Stars: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa, Kanji Tsuda, Kayoko Shibata. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 92 min.), Horror Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $0.256 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
After battling a fire-breathing dragon and the evil Lord Farquaad to win the hand of Princess Fiona, Shrek now faces his greatest challenge: the in-laws. Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon to an invitation to visit Fiona's parents, the king and queen of the Kingdom of Far Far Away. With Donkey along for the ride, the newlyweds set off. All of the citizens of Far Far Away turn out to greet their returning Princess, and her parents joyfully anticipate the homecoming of their daughter and her new Prince. But no one could have prepared them for the sight of their new son-in-law, not to mention how much their little girl had -- well -- changed. Little did Shrek and Fiona know that their marriage had foiled all of her father's plans for her future -- and his own. Now the king must enlist the help of a powerful Fairy Godmother, the handsome Prince Charming and that famed ogre killer Puss In Boots to put right his version of "happily ever after." No one thought DreamWorks could top the success of "Shrek," but they sure did with this delightful and witty sequel.
Director: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury. Stars: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 92 min.), Animated, 2004, Box office gross: $429.441 million, (DreamWorks), $15.95 VHS SRP, Available: 11/5, DVD: Day & Date.
SCHOOL'S OUT! Julie (Alexa Vega) has invited her best friends -- Hannah (Mika Boorem), Farrah (Scout Taylor-Compton), and Yancy (Kallie Flynn Childress) -- to come celebrate the last day of junior high, but what begins as just another sleepover turns into the adventure of their lives. Eager to cast off their less-than-cool reputations, the friends agree to a challenge from the "popular girls": an all-night scavenger hunt. With Julie's father distracted by a home-improvement project downstairs, they sneak down the rose trellis, borrow Yancy's electric car, dodge Julie's mother at a nightclub, steal a pair of boxer shorts from the cutest guy in town (Sean Faris), go to their first high school dance, fall in love, and in the end, learn a little something about themselves. Typical girl teen comedy: boys and pseudosex.
Director: Joe Nussbaum. Stars: Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Kallie Flynn Childress, Scout Taylor-Compton, Sam Huntington. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Teen comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $8.070 million, (MGM), $19.98 VHS SRP, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
Two years have passed since the mild-mannered Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) walked away from his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and decided to take the road to responsibility as Spider-Man. Peter must face new challenges as he struggles to cope with "the gift and the curse" of his powers while balancing his dual identities as the elusive superhero Spider-Man and life as a college student. Peter's life-long yearning for M.J. becomes even stronger as he fights the impulse to abandon his secret life and declare his love. In the meantime, M.J. has moved on with her life. She has embarked on an acting career and has a new man in her life. Peter's relationship with his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) has been overshadowed by Harry's growing vendetta against Spider-Man, whom he holds responsible for his father's death. Peter's life becomes even more complicated when he is pitted against a powerful new nemesis, Dr. Otto Octavius (Molina) -- the multi-tentacled "Doc Ock" (created in an experiment, sponsored by Osborn's company, to harness an inexhaustible supply of energy for humankind, an experiment that goes horribly awry). Peter must now learn to accept his fate and harness all his superhero talents in order to stop this diabolical madman in his octagonal tracks.
Director: Sam Raimi. Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Donna Murphy, Daniel Gillies, Dylan Baker, Willem Dafoe, Cliff Robertson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 127 min.), Action adventure, 2004, Box office gross: $360.973 million, (Columbia TriStar), $24.97 VHS SRP, Available: 11/30, DVD: Day & Date.
STEPFORD WIVES, THE
Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) thinks she's made it to the top of her world. The youngest president in the history of the EBS television network, she also has an attentive husband and two beautiful children. On the surface, Joanna's life appears to be, well, perfect -- until one catastrophic day when it all comes crashing down around her. Fired from her job, her perfect marriage in trouble, unable to remember where her kids go to school, Joanna is starting to look like a candidate for electroshock therapy. There's nothing like a nervous breakdown to make Joanna and her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) reexamine their priorities, pack up the family and make a fresh start in the idyllic suburban paradise of Stepford, Connecticut. But something strange is happening in the quaint little town of Stepford, and Joanna is suspicious. So is Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler), who recently moved to town with her irascible frat-boyish husband Dave (Jon Lovitz). It's the wives. They're all like Claire Wellington (Glenn Close) -- beautiful, happy and unusually creative with crafts. They can bake a cake, paint the house, mow the lawn, play with the kids and still greet their husbands in lacy lingerie at the end of a busy day. Disturbed by the stunning but subservient women she meets in Stepford, Joanna grows increasingly uneasy. And anyone who rocks the boat in Stepford is ripe for ... replacement? Comic remake of the 1975 thriller.
Director: Frank Oz. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Jon Lovitz. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min.), Sci-Fi thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $59.448 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
"The Terminal" tells the story of Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a visitor to New York City from Eastern Europe, whose homeland erupts in a fiery coup while he is in the air en route to America. Stranded at John F. Kennedy International Airport with a passport from nowhere, he is unauthorized to actually enter the United States and must improvise his days and nights in the terminal's international transit lounge until the war at home is over. As the weeks and months stretch on, Viktor finds the compressed universe of the terminal to be a richly complex world of absurdity, generosity, ambition, amusement, status, serendipity and even romance with a beautiful flight attendant named Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But Viktor has long worn out his welcome with airport official Frank Dixon, who considers him a bureaucratic glitch, a problem he cannot control but wants desperately to erase. A well-honed comedy -- with some romance -- by the always craftmanlike Steven Spielberg.
Director: Steven Spielberg. Stars: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry "Shabaka" Henley, Kumar Pallana, Zoe Saldana, Eddie Jones, Jude Ciccolella, Kevin Weisman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $77.032 million, (DreamWorks), $15.95 VHS SRP, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE
Feature film based on the popular Japanese comic book, animated TV series, video game and trading cards franchise. The meager story: Heroic Yugi squares off against archrival Kaiba in a dangerous adventure when the virtual monsters in their cards become ferociously real -- and when an old evil enters the fray.
Director: Hatsuki Tsuji. Stars: Dan Green, Wayne Grayson. CC, (MPAA rating: Pg, 91 min.), Animated, 2004, Box office gross: $19.696 million, (Warner), $19.96 VHS SRP, Available: 11/16, 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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October 31, 2004