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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 107 - February, 2004

Staff

 


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Underworld Second Nature
Secondhand Lions Lost in Translation
Matchstick Men

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Screen Gems

2003, Color, Rated R

2 Hr 1 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Stereo

 

Starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Bill Nighy

Directed by Len Wiseman

 

DVD Release Date 1/6/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"Underworld"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In a dark and gothic city, Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves) are in a war to destroy each other.

Selene (Beckinsale) is a vampire and an assassin whose job is to hunt Lycans and kill them everywhere they can be found.

Kraven (Brolly) is leader of the vampires, but who has made a secret agreement with Lucian (Sheen), leader of the werewolves to help find a way to join the blood of a vampire and a werewolf to make a ruler powerful enough to govern both groups.

Selene meets a human, Michael (Speedman) who has been bitten by Lucian, and who therefore will turn into a werewolf. She falls in love with Michael, in spite of the fact that love between vampires and werewolves is forbidden.

She discovers the pact between Kraven and Lucian, and so she awakens Viktor (Nighy), King of the Vampires, who has been asleep for centuries, to ask his advice. He does not believe her story, and she must now fight for her life.

Commentary

The movie is filled with extreme violence and gore, which takes away from the entertainment somewhat. There is no real character development, and I feel like I just tuned in to a vampire soap opera that has been going on for some time.

In writing the Plot Overview, the story seems silly now, but the movie is very slick, and the sultry Beckinsale, who starred in "Pearl Harbor" makes the film work to a reasonable degree. It appears to have been filmed in Hungary, and that is the part of the world from which the vampire legends originate. The credits state that, "Any similarity to real persons is purely coincidental." If there is any similarity of these characters to people somewhere, I don't think I will vacation there.

Extras

These include Director and Writer Commentary, Technical Commentary, Creative Effects Featurette, Music Video, Making Of, Stunts, Storyboard, Trailers, and TV Spots.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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TNT

2002, Color, Not Rated

1 Hr 31 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French, Spanish

 

Starring Alec Baldwin, Powers Boothe, Louise Lombard, Philip Jackson

Directed by Ben Bolt

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

N/A

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"Second Nature"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Paul Kane (Baldwin) wakes up to find himself in a hospital, in critical condition, with memories of a an airplane crash in which his wife and children were killed.

Paul remembers that he is an assassin, working for the US Government. His boss (Boothe) welcomes him back.

After he recovers, he takes on a new assignment, but when he finds he can't pull the trigger, suddenly he becomes the target.

A young doctor (Lombard) helps him in his attempts to get away from the government officials who are chasing him, but he become suspicious even of her motives.

He now discovers that he is part of a big experiment, and is not who he thinks he is. Maybe he is even worse.

In the final showdown, who are his friends, and who are his enemies?

Commentary

This is a TNT Production, which is a TV channel, making movies for the big screen vs. made for TV.

The plot (hunter becomes the hunted) is not new, but the story works and is interesting because Baldwin makes it interesting. This is just his kind of role. Except for being a bit pudgy, he might make a good 007.

Extras

There are no extras.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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New Line Cinema

2003, Color, Rated PG

1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish

 

Starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Nicky Katt, Kyra Sedgwick

Directed by Tim McCanlies

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

*

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Secondhand Lions"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Walter (Osment) is a young boy whose mother, Mae (Sedgwick), needs to drop him off at his uncle Garth's (Caine) and uncle Hub's (Duvall) farm in Texas for the summer while she chases around looking for a husband.

She tells Walter by the way that his uncles may have been bank robbers back in the old days, and he might try to find out where they have hid all the money.

At first, Garth and Hub don't like the idea of having a kid around, any more than Walter wants to be there in the first place. But, soon, the three of them are inseparable.

The uncles continue to chase off salesmen, but one day Walter wants to see what they are selling. It turns out to be a machine that tosses clay pigeons in the air, and Garth and Hub just happen to really like using their shotguns.

After being so pleased with their first purchase, Garth and Hub set about buying just about everything they see, including some old circus animals, one of which is a lion they name Jasmine.

Now Garth starts spinning some yarns to Walter about how he and Hub were adventurers in Arabia way back when, and that Hub married a princess.

The stories, along with all the circus animals, make Walter sort of not want to go home when his mother comes to get him, especially now that she has apparently found a husband.

Commentary

Although the stars are mostly Academy Award winners or nominees, the story does not quite have the substance to make a memorable film. But, it is interesting to see how Osment has matured. One of these days, he will get his Oscar.

Extras

These include deleted scenes, On the Set, Visual Effects Comparisons, Commentary by the Director, and Trailers.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Focus Features

2003, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 42 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS

French

 

Starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Fumhiro Hayashi

Directed by Sofia Coppola

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

*

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

No

Sex

Nudity

Language

Mild

"Lost in Translation"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Bob Harris (Murray) is an American movie star who is in Tokyo to shoot a Suntori whiskey commercial. He is bored to death because he can't sleep and can't speak a word of Japanese.

In the hotel bar, he meets Charlotte (Johansson) ,who is also bored because her husband (Ribisi) has brought her with him to Tokyo on business but who now has had to leave town for a few days.

Bob and Charlotte strike up a conversation and find they have boredom in common. Even though he is in his 50s and she in her 20s, they spend a lot of time together touring bars and other nightlife in Tokyo.

They are both married and know that it would be wrong to let the relationship go any farther, but have a hard time keeping it on a friendship level.

Finally, Bob has to go back home to the USA, but it is apparent he wants to stay.

Commentary

This film has been nominated for Best Picture. I don't know what they were smoking when they nominated it, but Lost in Translation is nowhere near deserving of Best Picture. Maybe Best Class Project in college film school, but that is about the limits. It comes off as a documentary of "Bill Murray Visits Tokyo". The lines seem ad libbed, and the scenes look like they were assembled from a bunch of footage shot in bars, without any specific thing in mind when the cameras started rolling. Many of the scenes are of Bob and Charlotte running into each other in the bar, with, "Hi. How are you?", "I'm fine. How are you?" kind of dialogue.

This movie is boring, boring, boring. It is a turkey with Hollywood political connections. The Academy loses credibility by hyping this kind of nonsense.

Extras

These include a conversation with Murray and Coppola, Behind the Scenes Documentary, Music Video, and Deleted Scenes.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Warner Brothers

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 56 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French

 

Starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman

Directed by Ridley Scott

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

*

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"Matchstick Men"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Roy (Cage) and Frank (Rockwell) are con artists, pulling all sorts of scams to fleece unwitting victims out of their savings.

Roy is divorced and has not seen his former wife in 15 years. He discovers that he has a 14 year old daughter, Angie (Lohman), who was born after he split with his wife, and due to an argument, he is saddled with Angie for a few days during summer vacation.

Roy tries to keep Angie out of his business, but when she discovers that he is a con artist, she is eager to learn, and turns out to be a pro right from the start.

Complicating all this is the fact that Roy is an obsessive-compulsive, afraid of the outdoors and germs. Frank sets Roy up with a Psychiatrist friend who not only gives Roy some medicine, but advises him on how to handle his daughter.

Roy and Frank set up another con artist, and the take is going to be big. They decide that maybe Angie can be a part of this one. Unfortunately, this time the sucker has a gun.

Commentary

The typically hyper Cage is perfectly suited for this role, and his performance as a compulsive avoider of dirt is not only entertaining, but accurate.

Extras

These include Tricks of the Trade: The Making of Matchstick Men, Commentary by the Director, and Trailers.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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