OnVideo OCTOBER Video Reviews
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS
Residents of a rural mining town discover that an unfortunate chemical spill has caused hundreds of little spiders to mutate overnight to the size of SUVs. The movie is kind of a spoof of 1950s 'B' giant bug science fiction movies, replete with grown-ups who don't listen to their kids when the young ones figure out what's really eating all the farm animals and pets in town. The computer-generated spiders are a gas and the tongue-in cheek attitude works -- for awhile. Should fare better on the small screen. Movie tagline: Do you hate spiders? Do you really hate spiders? Well
Director: Ellory Elkayem. Stars: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug, Rick Overton. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min.), Sci-Fi comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $16.500 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/29, DVD: Day & Date.
A "Sleeping With the Enemy" for the 21st century. Jennifer Lopez plays Slim, a working-class waitress who finds herself transformed when she marries Mitch (Billy Campbell), a wealthy yuppie contractor. She settles into an idyllic suburban life and seems to have everything she wants: a loving husband, a beautiful home and an adorable 5-year-old daughter. But Slim's dream is shattered when she discovers her husband is anything but perfect. His sudden violent and abusive behavior, as well as his infidelities, force Slim to take her daughter and go on the run, eluding an increasingly obsessive Mitch and his lethal henchmen. Just when Slim thinks she has successfully started a new life, Mitch reappears and the threats begin all over again. With nowhere to turn for help, Slim is forced to fight back -- she takes a crash course in Krav Maga, the Israeli army's martial art -- and engages Mitch in a physical and psychological battle, finally showing him that she's had enough.
Director: Michael Apted. Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Tessa Allen, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Noah Wyle, Fred Ward, Christopher Maher. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min.), Revenge Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $39.177 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/8, DVD: Day & Date.
Sent from the city to investigate the murder of a teenage girl in a small Alaska town, a veteran LAPD detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) accidentally shoots his partner while trying to apprehend a suspect, whom Dormer believes is mystery writer Walter Finch (Robin Williams as a repugnant creep). Instead of admitting his guilt, the detective is given an unexpected alibi, but as an ever-shining Midnight Sun wreaks sleep-depriving havoc on his body clock -- and multiplies the emotional complexity and guilt over his partner's death -- his investigation begins to falter and he enters a cat and mouse game with Finch. Meanwhile, a local detective (Hilary Swank) conducts her own personal investigation ... of Dormer's partner's death. Involving follow-up by Nolan to his much admired debut "Memento." Here he again takes us deep into his characters' feelings and confusions, all the while exerting a strong grip on the pacing and storyline. This "Insomnia" is based on the fabulous 1997 Swedish film of the same name.
Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, Maura Tierney, Nicky Katt, Paul Dooley, Jonathan Jackson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 118 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $66.700 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/15, DVD: Day & Date.
A team of government scientists working at the Crystal Lake Research Facility has finally captured the seemingly indestructible killer Jason Voorhees and, in order to contain him, plan to freeze him in cryogenic suspension. But, as always, something goes terribly wrong and Jason breaks free to continue his murderous ways. The lone surviving scientist, Rowan, finally manages to freeze the killer but, in a weird twist, is frozen in time with him. Flash forward to 2455. Old Earth is a contaminated abandoned planet, and humans have returned to research the artifacts of the lost civilization. And as in any good horror film, they uncover Rowan and Jason and take them back to their starship. They unfreeze Rowan and guess what -- that other guy in the hockey mask comes a callin'. Its mayhem in outer space as Jason goes on his latest rampage, aided and abetted by the ship's machines, who repair his body with the latest technologies. In outer space, you can't hear any groans. Director: Jim Isaac. Stars: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Chuck Campbell, Jonathan Potts, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Horror/Slasher, Box office gross: $12.610 million, New Line, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.
LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT
Lannie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie with a very unflattering hair job) is an upwardly mobile, career-focused television reporter with her eye on a network assignment. She has the perfect boyfriend and the perfect apartment. In fact, she thinks her life is perfect ... until she meets a homeless man who predicts she is going to die the next week. When all of the predictions of the street psychic start to come true, Lannie begins to take a hard look at her life. With the help of her longtime co-worker and nemesis Pete (Edward Burns), she tries to take control of her destiny ... with unpredictable and unusual results. This film's destiny was less assured at the boxoffice, and its weak mix of comedy and romance made it something of a dud.
Director: Stephen Herek. Stars: Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Stockard Channing. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min.), Romantic comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $14.448 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/15, DVD: Day & Date.
Adam Sandler takes on a classic film (Frank Capra's 1936 "Mr. Deeds," which starred Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur) and the classic loses -- that is, Sandler's mean-spirited and dimwitted remake is an affront to the original. Where oh where is the Adam Sandler of "The Wedding Singer"? That loveable spirit keeps falling by the wayside in the bathroom humor and nastiness of the actor's subsequent outings. Oh, well, they do make money. In the modernization, Sandler is Longfellow Deeds, a simple-minded, small-town pizzeria owner whose life is turned upside down when a long-lost relative leaves him an inheritance of $40 billion. In the tiny town of Mandrake Falls, N.H., Deeds has become a local celebrity famous for reciting offbeat but hilarious greeting card poetry. Life is good as the owner of the town's only pizza parlor until Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher), a sleazy corporate mogul come to whisk Deeds and his $40 billion inheritance away to corporate America. It's a rags-to-riches story that quickly puts Deeds in a full-fledged media frenzy. Leading the pack of tabloid reporters salivating for the story is Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder), a beautiful TV producer who devises a devious plan to get the scoop and falls for Deeds in the process. Deeds moves to Manhattan to take over his newly inherited business and immediately shakes things up, letting everyone know that even though he's a billionaire, he's still the same small town guy. As sleazy Cedar tries to take over Deeds' empire, Deeds learns what life is all about and sets out to prove that money changes everything: but not everyone.
Director: Steven Brill. Stars: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, John Turturro, Allen Covert, Jared Harris, Steve Buscemi. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $120.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/22, DVD: Day & Date.
Scooby-Doo goes CGI in this crowd pleasing big-screen adaptation of the television cartoon dog-gone hero. Two years after a clash of egos forced Mystery Inc. to close its doors, Scooby-Doo and his clever crime-solving cohorts Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Velma (Linda Cardellini) are individually summoned to Spooky Island to investigate a series of paranormal incidents at the ultra-hip Spring Break hot spot (college kids are being turned into zombies, which is probably not far from the truth). Concerned that his frightfully popular resort might truly be haunted, Spooky Island owner Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson) tries to reunite the notoriously meddling detectives to solve the mystery before his supernatural secret scares away the college crowds. Scooby and the gang have to overcome their personal differences and forget everything they think they know about fake ghouls and phony creatures to crack the case, save themselves and possibly the world. A generally fun outing with many sly digs at pop culture.
Director: Raja Gosnell. Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 86 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $151.000 million, (Warner), $24.95 VHS SRP, Available: 10/11, DVD: Day & Date.
SCORPION KING, THE
Prequel of sorts to Universal's modern "The Mummy" franchise, set 2000 years earlier than the Scorpion King's introduction in "The Mummy Returns," this blessedly short sword-and-sandal epic reminds one more of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Conan than the Brendan Fraser outings. The plot is pure adrenalin: Warlord Memmon (Steven Brand) has created a reign of terror across the desert using a sorceress (Kelly Hu) who guides him to his victories. Only a few free tribes remain and in order to defeat Memmon they hire Mathayus (The Rock) to kill the beautiful seer. Unfortunately being a true hunk, The Rock falls for the woman and instead of killing her, he uses her to lure Memmon into a trap. With the aid of the leader of one of the tribes (Michael Clarke Duncan), the stage is set for the ultimate showdown.
Director: Chuck Russell. Stars: The Rock, Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 88 min.), Action, 2002, Box office gross: $89.541 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/1, DVD: Day & Date.
SUM OF ALL FEARS, THE
Terrorist-themed, nuclear-blasting fourth big-screen Jack Ryan spy adventure (based on the Tom Clancy books), here starring Ben Affleck as a younger Ryan (he was portrayed in previous incarnations by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford) who alone can prevent World War III. It seems some real bad guys (ex-Nazi and rogue Russian military types) have acquired a lost Israeli nuclear bomb and blow up Baltimore in the hopes of causing a face-off between the U.S. and Russia. Fortunately for the good guys, Ryan and partner John Clark (Liev Schreiber) are on the case, and track the mushroom cloud to the real villain, Richard Dressler (Alan Bates). Now it's a race against time to prove their case before the American president retaliates and sets off armageddon. A frightening, harrowing thriller that scored at the boxoffice, no doubt playing off -- and feeding -- post 9/11 fears.
Director: Phil Alden Robinson. Stars: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber, Alan Bates, Philip Baker Hall, Ron Rifkin, Bruce McGill, Bridget Moynahan. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $118.000 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/29, DVD: Day & date.
Failed war epic from action master John Woo. Though Woo throws all he's got into the blistering action sequences, with widespread World War II slaughter everywhere, the film falls apart with its one-dimensional characterizations, particularly that of lead Nicolas Cage (who's made a habit lately of putting on one-note performances). The film tells the story of the secret military program for which a small group of Navajo Indians were recruited in order to develop their native language into a code that the Japanese couldn't break. During the brutal battle of Saipan, Sergeant Joe Enders (Cage) guards -- and ultimately befriends -- Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), one of the Navajo Code Talkers. But Ender's job is more than that of a guard: If Yahzee is in danger of being captured by the Japanese, Enders is empowered to make sure that the code doesn't fall into enemy hands -- using any means necessary.
Director: John Woo. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Peter Stormare, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Slater, Roger Willie. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 134 min.), War, 2002, Box office gross: $41.000 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/15, DVD: Day & Date.
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN
A sexually candid film, "Y Tu Mama Tambien" tells the story of a beautiful older woman who schools two eager teenage boys in the fine points of passion in this erotic and haunting coming of age drama. Julio and Tenoch are two teens ruled by raging hormones and a mission to consume exotic substances. But one summer, the boys learn more about life than they bargain for when they set off on a wild, cross-country road trip with seductive 28-year-old Luisa. Both boys taste forbidden fruit, but will their mutual desire for her destroy their friendship? Available in R-rated and unrated versions. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron. Stars: Mribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Lunas. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 105 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $3.622 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/22, 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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September 15, 2002