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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 126 - September, 2005

Staff

 


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Sahara XXX: State of the Union
Monster-in-Law Danny Deckchair
   

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Paramount Pictures

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 3 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Breck Eisner


Starring Penélope Cruz, Matthew McConaughey, Lennie James, Delroy Lindo, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

No

"Sahara"

Synopsis

In the latter part of the Civil War, an ironclad ship, laden with gold from the Confederate Army, disappears.

Now, 140 years later, Dirk Pitt (McConaughey), who searches for sunken ships as a member of NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Administration), is in Africa on his latest mission to recover lost treasures for an African country.

He rescues Dr. Eva Rojas (Cruz), who is being attacked by a gang of murderers that are working for the president of the country, General Zateb Kazim (James). General Kazim does not want her to discover the true nature of a disease that seems to be killing local tribe members.

In the process of the rescue, Pitt finds a piece of gold from the lost ironclad ship, and so, Pitt, his sidekick Al Giordino (Zahn), and Eva, set off in search of the ship.

During the search, the trio discovers why the locals have been dying, and now they must stop the general before he destroys the entire continent.

Commentary

I have been a Dirk Pitt fan for many years (books written by author Clive Cussler), and McConaughey does not fit the character at all. Pitt is dangerous, and McConaughey plays him as a not too serious fun loving adventurer.

As a result, the story comes off as dull, sort of like a James Bond movie that did not have enough money for all the requisite big sets and fancy special effects.

If you must watch Sahara, watch the 1943 film by the same title, starring Humphrey Bogart. It is much more entertaining.

Technical

The film has blown out whites and uses the surrounds only sparingly.

Extras

These include Across the Sands, Visualizing Sahara, Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Columbia Tristar Hom

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 41 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Lee Tamahori


Starring Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Peter Strauss, Sunny Mabrey, Scott Speedman

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"XXX: State of the Union

Synopsis

Secretary of State General George Octavius Deckert (Dafoe) wants to take over the U.S. Government, because President James Sanford (Strauss) is a pacifist.

C.I.A. Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) needs special help in fighting Deckert, so he brings a former agent, XXX Darius Stone (Cube), who was convicted of treason and is now in prison, back into duty.

Darius has special talents, and works alone.

He meets Charlie (Mabrey), a Washington insider, and enlists her help in finding the proof they need to nail Deckert.

Things get complicated when Darius discovers that General Deckert is bringing in an entire attachment of soldiers who are loyal to his cause, and now he has to worry about the safety of the President because he knows Deckert is about to pull off a coup.

Commentary

This film was a 100 million dollar project, and failed miserably at the box office.

The question is why, since it is actually a pretty good story. It has a plot that is easy to follow. The action is great. I guess you can never predict how a film will do once the audience is asked to plunk down their money.

Extras

These include The Director's Commentary, The Making Of, Bullet Train Breakdown, Top Secret Military Warehouse, and other things.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Warner Brothers

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 41 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Robert Luketik


Starring Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

References

Language

Mild

"Monster-in-Law"

Synopsis

Charlotte "Charlie" Cantelini (Lopez) is a Temp. That is someone who fills in for employees when they go on vacation, or when an extra set of hands is needed. She also paints and runs a catering service.

She meets Dr. Kevin Fields (Vartan) at a party she is catering, and they hit it off. In fact, they hit it off so well, Kevin takes her home to meet his mother, Viola (Fonda). Viola is taken aback by the fact her son is in love with a Temp. She thinks he should aim higher, and tries everything she can to upset their plans to get married.

Viola's assistant Ruby (Sykes) is on Kevin's side, but she has to walk a fine line not to upset her boss.

Viola has a serious panic attack, and her doctor recommends that she be given some TLC (tender loving care). Kevin is busy at the hospital, so Viola ends up staying at Charlie's house, with predictable results.

Soon, Charlie discovers what Viola is up to, and tries a few tricks of her own.

Commentary

The film is harmless family fun, and Fonda is terrific as the would be romance breaker. Sykes' character Ruby is perfect. Between the two, they make the movie enjoyable. Lopez and Vartan's parts in the story take a back seat to Fonda's and Sykes' comedy.

Extras

These include Commentary, Blooper Reel, Deleted Scenes, Ruby's Makeup Bag, and other things.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Lion Gate Films

2003, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 30 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Dolby Digital

 

Directed by Jeff Balsmeyer


Starring Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Mild

Language

Mild

"Danny Deckchair"

Synopsis

Cement worker Danny Morgan is stuck at home due to his girlfriend canceling their camping trip, so he begins crawling the walls and emptying the cupboards with boredom. He thinks, what about filling multiple jumbo balloons with helium and attach them to his deck chair, and then ride to the stratosphere. You know, just to see if it would work.

So, Danny fills enough balloons to lift him off the ground, and he soars into the sky, straight into a massive storm. The storm not only takes Danny far away from home (Sydney, Australia), but also causes the rescue crew to lose track of him. A violent crash landing in a tree brings Danny smack dab into the back yard of Glenda. Soon Danny and Glenda find much needed change in their boring lives and proceed to masquerade around her small town as old university friends.

Meanwhile, back at Danny’s home, his wife Trudy and friends are worried sick, so they decide to use the horde of television reporters camped outside to help locate him. This soon elevates Danny into becoming an intriguing mystery and national celebrity. It also brings attention and fame to Trudy, which she devours.

Soon, all the attention catches up with Danny, and he is located. Discovering that he has less at home than in Australia, he follows his heart back to Glenda.

Commentary

Sounds pretty far fetched doesn’t it. Man straps helium balloons to deck chair and floats off to a new life. Well, Danny wasn’t the first to try this. In fact, back in 1982, Larry Walters actually did this trick in California. After reaching about 16,000 feet (Jet Liner territory), he descended by way of a BB gun. In fact, it was that story that intrigued me, ultimately leading me to rent this movie

However, the film is less about the journey and more about the reason for the flight. Being able to escape one's boring life is a daydream for many people, and the way in which Danny does it is very unique. Nonetheless, it is the characters in the movie that are far more entertaining that the flight itself. A delightfully light romantic comedy that was very fun to watch. Nothing too deep or dark.

Technical

The dialogue is clear, and the surrounds are used very lightly. Nothing spectacular visually, however. Don’t expect this to be your next reference disc.

Extras

These include The Making Of, Director's Commentary, and Trailer.

 - Jared Rachwalski -

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