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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 113 - August, 2004

Staff

 


Now Playing
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Hellboy 13 Going on 30
The Whole Ten Yards Taking Lives
Hidalgo Twisted
Kill Bill: Volume 2

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Revolution Studios

2004, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hr 2 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans, John Hurt

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro

 

DVD Release Date 7/27/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"Hellboy"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

It is 1944, and the Nazis are preparing for an attack through supernatural forces. At a desolate castle in Scotland, Allied Forces, assisted by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (Hurt), come upon an eerie scene where Nazis are trying to open a window into the netherworld where the Seven Gods of Chaos reside, apparently hoping to free them in return for destruction of the Allies.

The Americans attack and interrupt the procedure, but the leader of the occult group, Colonel Karl Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), escapes into the window.

The story advances to the current time, and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in Newark, New Jersey, headed by Professor Bruttenholm, who has lived through the war and now helps the USA fight occult evil, using unusual beings that include something that looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, called Tachyo Sapiens, nicknamed "Abe", and also, Hellboy (Perlman), a.k.a. "Red", or "HB", a creature that Professor Bruttenholm found during the war.

FBI Officer John Myers (Evans) arrives at the Bureau. Professor Bruttenholm tells him that he is to assist Hellboy and Abe in destroying various monsters that are plaguing the earth, as part of an effort of Colonel Kroenen, who has escaped the window and is now back in the real world, trying to rekindle the Reich.

Complicating matters is Liz Sherman (Blair), a Firestarter residing at a psychiatric hospital, and who is recruited to help Myers, Abe, and Hellboy  fight the Nazis. HB has a crush on her, and soon Myers is smitten as well. Hellboy, who has the body of a Minnesota Vikings fullback, doesn't particularly appreciate Myers' attentions to his girlfriend.

Commentary

The movie is based on a comic strip, par for the course in the last decade or two of movie-making, but this one does an especially good job of it, with spectacular CG, and great acting by Perlman.

Extras

These are included on a second disc, with a 2.5 hour documentary on The Making of, Deleted Scenes, Character Bios, Storyboards, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Revolution Studios

2004, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hr 2 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

Directed by Gary Winick

 

DVD Release Date 8/3/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"13 Going on 30"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Jenna Rink, at 13, suffers from the things that most 13 year olds do. She wants to be part of the cool group at school. Matthew, her next door neighbor, tries to help, but she just can't make it work. So, Matt gives her some wishing dust, and she wishes she were 30 instead of 13.

Voila, she wakes up one morning, sees her 30 year old self (Garner) in the mirror, and finds a man in her bathroom taking a shower.

She runs out of the apartment, and meets Tom-Tom (Greer) on the street waiting for her to get into a limo and take them both to work. Jenna discovers that she is now the Editor-in-Chief of "Poise", a hip magazine for young women.

Unfortunately, she also finds that she is not a very nice person, having lost contact with her old friend Matt (Ruffalo), as well as not being on very good terms with her parents.

The rest of the film is devoted to how she tries to change her image, along with constant forgetting that she is 30 instead of 13.

Commentary

The plot is old (wake up a different age or in a different body), but this one is cute and very watchable. Jennifer Garner does a great job, and is very funny with the innocent moments of resisting being kissed, and trying to make a date with an adolescent boy by mistake.

The ending is a little rushed and predictable.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Commentaries, Making Of, Music Videos, The 80's Outfit Challenge, and Then and Now.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Franchise Pictures

2004, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 39 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollack, Natasha Henstridge

Directed by Howard Deutsch

 

DVD Release Date 8/10/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"The Whole Ten Yards"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Jimmy "The Tulip" (Willis) is still living in a Mexican suburb, having been a hitman but now is retired.

His wife Jill (Peet), a novice hitman, comes home and tells Jimmy that she only succeeded in killing her mark because he fell out of the window. Jimmy tries to explain that killing someone is not an easy job, all the while describing the special dinner he has prepared. She is not impressed with her former killer husband now wearing an apron and vacuuming the floor.

Meanwhile, gangster Lazlo Gogolak (Pollack) has been released from a Chicago prison, and Dentist Oz Oseransky (Perry), living in Brentwood, California, fears for his life, having faked Jimmy's dental records that let him escape in the first place. But, Oz's wife Cynthia (Henstridge) can't understand why he is so scared.

Lazlo kidnaps Cynthia, demanding that Oz to tell him where Jimmy is hiding, because he wants revenge for the death of his son.

Oz escapes from Lazlo's henchmen, and is on the run. He travels to Mexico and asks for Jimmy's help. Of course, Jill wants to be part of the operation too.

So, they all go back to California to rescue Jill, and the race is on.

Commentary

This is a terrible movie. The action is OK, but trying to turn a story about gangsters who murder one another into a slapstick comedy just does not work. I am sure Willis made a ton of money, but he probably is embarrassed to be in the film.

Extras

This consists only of a Director and Screenwriter commentary.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Warner Brothers Pictures

2004, Color, Rated (Not Rated)

1 Hr 49 min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo,  Gena Rowlands

Directed by D.J. Caruso

 

DVD Release Date 8/17/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Explicit

Language

Bad

"Taking Lives"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

FBI Profiler Illeana Scott (Jolie) travels to Montreal, Canada to help the local police catch a serial killer. Captain Paquette (Martinez) and Lt. Leclair (Karyo) head up the investigation.

They tell Scott that they have a lead on the killer who has been murdering people in the Montreal area for 20 years and taking on their identities. A young man named Costa (Hawke) witnessed the latest murder and saw the murderer's face. He is an artist, so he draws the killer's picture for them.

They are led to believe that the serial killer is named Martin Asher, and they speak to his mother (Rowlands) who tells them she has not seen him in so long, she does not even know what he looks like now.

Costa tells them that a potential buyer of his art, named Hart (Sutherland), wants to meet him to purchase some of his works, and Paquette suspects it is the killer who knows that Costa is the only living witness who can identify him. So, they set up a trap, but that fails.

Now Costa has a one man show in Montreal, so Paquette, Leclair, and Scott attend the show, in hopes that Hart will be there to get at Costa. They are not disappointed.

Commentary

This is a much better movie than I anticipated, as the reviews from newspapers were not that good. It shows you that you can't depend on movie reviews ;->

The whole thing works very well, with many scary moments and a clever ending. It is the unrated Director's cut, but I think it should be rated at NC-17 due to the explicit sex scene

Extras

This consists of The Art of Collaboration, Inside the Director's Mind, Secrets of Working on an Ultra-Tense Thriller, Puzzle Within a Puzzle, Gag Reel, and other items.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Touchstone Pictures

2004, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hr 16 min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish

 

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Said Taghmaoui

Directed by Joe Johnston

 

DVD Release Date 8/10/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Hidalgo"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In 1890, cowboy Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen) is a drunkard, doing riding tricks in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He claims that his horse Hidalgo is unbeatable in long distance races, all of which he has won in the last couple of years.

This claim affronts the Arabs who annually run their Arabian horses in a race called "The Ocean of Fire", which is a 3000 mile contest through the Arabian Desert to Damascus. They believe that any of the Arabian horses could beat Frank's mustang, which is a mixed breed.

They challenge Frank and his horse to enter the race, with a prize of $100,000. Frank accepts and travels to Arabia.

There, he meets Sheikh Riyadh (Sharif) owner of a champion Arabian horse in the race. They become tentative friends, and Riyadh wishes him well, although he wants his own horse to win.

During the race, Riyadh's daughter Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson) is kidnapped with the Sheikh's horse as ransom. After saving Jazira from her kidnappers and returning her to her father, Frank continues the race to an electrifying finish.

Commentary

This is one of the best movies of 2004 and should be nominated for at least one Academy Award. The entire story - based on actual events - is riveting from beginning to end. If this movie had been made 20 years ago, it would have been a great vehicle for Harrison Ford. If you are a fan of movies that reflect history, this is a must-see.

Extras

These include the requisite Making of, as well as The Story of Hidalgo's Ancestors.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Paramount

2004, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 36 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9Enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia.

Directed by Philip Kaufman

 

DVD Release Date 8/31/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Sensuality

Language

Bad

"Twisted"

Synopsis

Ashley Judd stars as Jessica Sheppard, a San Francisco police inspector on the case of serial killer whose victims all have one thing in common: her. 

Commentary

This movie is a been there, done that.  It scores only par as a basic thriller and on the whole feels like something made for late night low demographic TV airtime.  Judd has done better work in far more rewarding roles, while both Jackson and Garcia play such little parts as to seem a waste of their talent.  One can see the twist coming from a mile away as we are presented with the all too obvious decoy, leaving only one path for the story to go.

Extras

There is an audio commentary track by director Philip Kaufman.  Sorry Kaufman, you barely held my attention with this movie.

There are three featurettes:

Creating a Twisted Web of Intrigue is sort of a making-of type feature, though it is mostly the makers patting themselves on the back and the actors glorifying their roles.

The Inspectors: Clues to the Crime tries to be about real life inspectors, but again, vanity takes hold, and it ends up being more about how proud the movie makers were about the authenticity of their crime scenes.

San Francisco: Scene of the Crime explores, as the names suggests, the locations of the film.  The makers liken their work to Film Noir and even Hitchcock's Vertigo is mentioned . . . both inappropriate comparisons!

Cutting room floor give us 10 extended and/or deleted scenes.  Even at 1:36 running time, this movie was already too long.

Technical

Video

The Telecine is par by today's standards.  It has consistent, if somewhat artistically muted, color, a black level which is bang on, and decent detail.  It can at times be a little noisy and while much less than what we have seen in the past, there is still a touch of edge enhancement/ringing.

Audio

This is an unremarkable soundtrack, and therein lies the genius of it.  Dialogue is for the most part quite clear, and the sound fields are so delicately created that you don't spend the movie preoccupied with the sound.  It is worth noting though, a couple instances of very deep, concussive bass.  If your subwoofer is a low distortion product, you will hear nothing, but feel it, as I did, within your sternum!

 - Brian Florian -

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Miramax Films

2004, Color, Rated R

2 Hr 17 min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah

 

DVD Release Date 8/10/04

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"Kill Bill: Volume 2"

Synopsis

Volume 2 is the continuation from Volume 1. This was supposed to be one movie, but it was so long, they split it into two parts.

It opens with a more detailed story of how The Bride - and we find her real name is Beatrix Kiddo - comes to be shot down at her wedding by Bill's assassins.

Kiddo is still bent on revenge, and locates Budd (Madsen), who is Bill's brother, living in a trailer and working as a bouncer in a Barstow, California bar.

She sneaks up on his trailer at night, but things don't exactly go as planned.

Elle (Hannah) is to meet Budd and give him $1,000,000 for a priceless Samurai sword, but again, things go just a little off track.

Beatrix and Elle decide to argue about the sword, eyeball to eyeball shall we say.

Anyway, Beatrix now sets out for the final showdown with Bill. Whoops! Surprise, surprise here as well.

Commentary

Although not quite as exciting as Volume 1, this is still a very good movie. I have a feeling that the whole thing deserves some Academy Awards, but the complication of having it broken into two separate movies might eliminate this possibility. We will see early next year. I hope it gets some sort of recognition, because it is certainly fine entertainment.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes, Making Of, and the Premiere.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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