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Number 105 - December, 2003

Staff


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Pirates of the Caribbean Bruce Almighty
X2: X-Men United The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Seabisquit

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Walt Disney Pictures

2003, Color, Rated PG

2 Hr 23 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Jonathan Pryce

Directed by Gore Verbinsky

 

DVD Release Date 12/1/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Disney

"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When Jack Sparrow (Depp), Captain of the Black Pearl, is cast ashore by Barbossa (Rush) after taking over the ship, he escapes the island and gathers a crew to retake his vessel. Along the way, he meets Will Turner (Bloom) who wants Jack to help him rescue the girl who loves him, Elizabeth (Knightley), who had been taken captive by Barbossa's crew. Barbossa thinks Elizabeth holds the key to a curse that has been placed on himself and his crew.

In order for the curse to be lifted, the blood of a Turner family member has to be spilled on the treasure of Cortez, and Barbossa thinks Elizabeth is a Turner descendent. It turns out that she simply holds a medallion that was originally owned by the first Turner. It is Will Turner that Barbossa really needs, and for most of the movie, he does not know that.

Commentary

This is Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World, come to life on the big screen. It was a huge success at the box office, and is just as much fun in the home theater. Depp has matured and his performance in this film is worthy of an Academy Award.

The special effects that are used to convert skin and bone to just skeletons who fight in the moonlight are spectacular.

Disney obviously will continue turning their amusement park rides into movies, but I doubt if they will all be as successful as Pirates of the Caribbean.

Extras

There is an entire disc dedicated to the extras, which are specified as being over 10 hours in length. These include 19 deleted and alternate scenes, a blooper reel, audio commentaries by the director, Johnny Depp, and Keira Knightley, The Making of . . ., an interactive history of Pirates, and image gallery.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Universal Pictures

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 42 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

Spanish Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall

Directed by Tom Shadyac

 

DVD Release Date 12/2/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Mild

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"Bruce Almighty"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Bruce Nolan (Carrey) is a news reporter who desperately wants to be an anchor. When the job is given to someone else, he goes crazy on camera and is fired. He challenges God to smite him, and quickly receives an answer in the form of an invitation to meet Him directly. God (Freeman) tells Bruce that He is going to give him supernatural powers to see what the job is like, and takes a vacation while Bruce has the powers.

Bruce, of course, at first does not believe that he is God for a day, but soon finds that he does have the capabilities to do some pretty amazing things, including making a monkey come out of the rear end of someone who had bullied him recently.

Unfortunately, Bruce uses his powers for selfish reasons instead of helping others. From time to time, God drops in to lecture Bruce on correcting his mistaken use of the powers. This sort of reminds me of "Play it Again Sam" where Humphrey Bogart drops on on Woody Allen to coach him on using the Bogart approach to romancing his women.

Bruce's girlfriend Grace (Aniston) does not care for Bruce's selfish ways, so she moves out. The town goes nuts with all the prayers that Bruce has answered with a "yes" in bulk e-mail on his computer. So, maybe God's job is not so easy as Bruce thought.

Commentary

I am not a Jim Carrey fan, but this movie is really funny, with some great lines that Carrey has obviously said impromptu.

Extras

These include 15 deleted scenes, Inside the Creative Mind of Jim Carrey, and interviews with the director.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hr 13 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

Spanish Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, James Marsden, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming

Directed by Bryan Singer

 

DVD Release Date 12/9/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"X2: X-Men United"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) is back, trying to protect the Mutants in a world that does not appreciate them. Kurt Wagner (Cumming), a.k.a, the Nightcrawler, attacks the President of the United States, and causes such an uproar, that there is a movement to find and destroy all the Mutants. Of course, Xavier, and the others, such as Jean Grey (Janssen), Wolverine (Jackman), Storm (Berry), and Rogue (Paquin) do not intend to be taken down so easily. To make matters worse, Magneto (McKellen) is causing destruction of his own.

Col. William Stryker (Cox), whose own son is a Mutant, organizes a military strike against a school where the Mutants are being trained.

Now, Xavier must find the Mutant who tried to assassinate the President before all of the Mutants are captured and killed.

Commentary

X-Men is a Marvel Comics group of superheroes, each of whom has a specific power. It is sort of like Superman spread out in several people. I thought I might have to read some of the comics in order to understand the movie, since it presumes you know who these guys are, but I still enjoyed it.

The domination of the Mutants over the military special forces during the attack on the school suggested to me an anti-military theme.

The major success of this film at the box office suggests that there are a lot of movie goers out there who are X-Men fans.

Extras

The extras are on a separate disc, and include "Nighcrawler Attack", an interactive multi-angle scene study, "Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal", "The Sacred Uncanny Issue of X-Men", a making of documentary, an anthology entitled "The Secret Origin of X-Men", "Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler", deleted and extended scenes, and theatrical trailers.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

Spanish Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Sean Connery, Shane West, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Jason Flemyng

Directed by Stephen Norrington

 

DVD Release Date 12/16/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In 1898, the "Fantom" is bringing the world to the brink of war by causing mayhem in England and Germany that each country blames on the other. The British Government brings Allan Quartermain (Connery) to London and offers him a membership in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, whose task is to find the Fantom and bring him to justice in order to prevent a World War.

Joining Quartermain are Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, and one of Dracula's henchmen. Together, they travel on Nemo's Nautilus and search for the Fantom. Unfortunately, one of them is a traitor, as Dr. Jekyl's potion disappears, and bombs are planted on board.

Commentary

If this sounds like an absurd array of "Superheroes", well, it does to me, too. And the story is just as absurd.

The CG is not very convincing, and this is due in part to having so many companies supplying their services in this area. Perhaps a computer game is in the plans for this movie, because it looked just like one on the movie screen. The fight between Mr. Hyde and one of the Fantom's soldiers who takes the potion, is particularly bad in terms of realism. The buildings collapsing in Venice are not very good either.

In spite of my obvious disappointment in the film, it is such an unusual one, it is still interesting enough to rent for a one time viewing.

Extras

Extras include an audio commentary by the director and actors, as well as the costuming and makeup artists. There is also a behind-the-scenes documentary and 12 deleted scenes.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Universal Pictures

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hrs 21 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

Spanish Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, William H. Macy

Directed by Gary Ross

 

DVD Release Date 12/23/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

The "S" Word

"Seabisquit"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In the early 1900s, a businessman, Charles Howard (Bridges), meets a horse trainer, Tom Smith (Cooper), and together they look for a horse to train for the major races around the country.

In the meantime, a young jockey, Red Pollard (Maguire) is having a tough time finding a job.

When Charles and Tom locate a horse, named Seabisquit, whom the previous owners think is a loser, they buy him for $2,000. Seabisquit is an angry and aggressive colt, and local jockeys don't want to ride him.

Then Tom sees that Red Pollard has just the right personality to work with Seabisquit, so a partnership is born.

Together, the team of three people and one small horse set the world of horse racing on fire, at least on the West Coast.

In the East, War Admiral is the champion, and the owners are not willing to deign themselves in order to test their horse of breeding and class against the colt from the West whom they think is beneath them.

Finally, after a lot of bargaining, the race of the century is set, and the world listens.

Commentary

In today's field of movies that have non-stop CG to make the film work, this one comes up from behind and bites you in the tail. It is a spectacular story, probably because it is true, but also because it is about an underdog who whips the snobs. The acting is not all that noteworthy, except for William H. Macy, who steals the scenes as a fast talking radio host.

Extras

Extras include Seabisquit's history, Director Gary Ross' dissection of how he moved the script to the screen, Jeff Bridges' personal photographs of the movie making, a Making Of documentary, and commentary by Gary Ross and Steven Soderbergh.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Copyright 2003 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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