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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 6 - February, 1996


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Ratings:    
  ***** Extraordinary
  **** Good
  *** Acceptable
  ** Mediocre
  * Poor

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"Clueless", Paramount Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.76:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 37 min, Rated PG-13; Alicia Silverstone; A delightful comedy about teenagers in Beverly Hills, using every valley girl cliché known to mankind. If you have teenage kids, you will understand that they really do talk like this. Example: when my own daughter was 17, she called me from her car phone and asked me to start her bath because she was running late. In the film, cellular phones are constantly ringing on the campus, and two 16 year old girls - Cher and Dion - attempt to makeover a new student, as well as play cupid for a couple of teachers. You will need your children to translate the lexicon for you. Some memorable lines include, "Here is my house. The columns date back to 1972," and, "Take good care of my daughter on your date tonight because I have a 45 and a shovel" (not exact quotations, but close enough).

Entertainment: starstarstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar
Photography: starstarstar
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

"Waterworld", Universal Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.81:1, Surround Sound, THX, 2 Hr 16 min, Rated PG-13; Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn; In the future where the polar ice caps have melted, the earth is covered with water, but the legend of "Dryland" still lives. In the meantime, everyone lives on "atolls", little floating cities of garbage that cost the movie studio a fortune. Inhabitants dress accordingly. The Mariner (Costner) boards an atoll, buys some water and a tomato plant, is sentenced to execution because he happens to sport a few gills, escapes, and runs off with a woman (Tripplehorn) and a little girl who has a tatoo which is a map to the Dryland. Being chased by the one eyed Deacon (Hopper) is no fun, and Mariner slaps the girls around in between anti-aircraft cannon fire ripping his boat apart. They finally locate Dryland (nice place, since the movie was filmed in Hawaii). I only have one comment: they should have taken the millions of dollars spent on this movie and given it to the homeless, the real ones I mean, not the extras in the movie.

Entertainment: starstar
Video Quality: starstarstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar
Photography: starstar (composition is too tight)
Violence: yes
Sex: partial nudity
Language: the "S" word

"First Knight", Columbia Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, THX, 2 Hr 13 min, Rated PG-13; Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Julia Ormond, Ben Cross; King Arthur (Connery) is tired of wars and wants to get married so he can live the good life in Camelot. Nasty old Malagant (Ben Cross) is jealous and starts burning and pillaging. Arthur doesn't particularly care for that. Malagant kidnaps Arthurs bride, Guinevere (Ormond). Arthur REALLY doesn't care for that, and he retires to the cathedral to pray. Meanwhile, Lancelot (Gere), a fight-for-pay vagabond, decides to save the girl, just for the heck of it (well, OK, he saw her in the forest, and it was love at first sight). Malagant returns to Camelot, and is he ticked! No king, let alone a vagabond, is going to ruin his party. Amidst swords clanging, kick boxing routines, and bodies falling off of parapets, the battles conclude. A corpse sails into the sunset, aflame. Guess who?

Entertainment: starstarstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar (a bit harsh, but the surround is wonderful)
Photography: starstarstarstar
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: no (speaking of language, don't you think the studio could have come up with a Lancelot who speaks with an English accent?)

"Under Siege 2: Dark Territory", Warner Brothers, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.77:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 40 min, Rated R; Steven Segal, Eric Bogosian, Katherine Heigl; Casey Ryback (Segal), ex-Navy Seal, is back . . . cooking up something special (literally) for his niece on a train, when, out of nowhere, a group of terrorists have hijacked the train and setup a rolling satellite dish to control a very powerful weapon orbiting in space. Back at the US command station, the brass hats want to know who has taken control of the weapon. Turns out to be the man that designed it, and whom . . . whoops . . . they fired some time ago. Now the best line of the movie. "Why did you hire this maniac?" asks the Admiral. "Because no sane person would build such a weapon," answers the CIA. Meanwhile, back at the train . . . one by one, the terrorists are going down, against the walls, out the windows, into the stove . . . "No one beats me in the kitchen," says Ryback (second best line in the movie). The terrorists offer to blow up Washington in exchange for one gigabuck to be deposited in the proverbial Swiss bank account. The client? The Middle East of course. This is a very good action film, nice special effects, and it is great to see the Stealths are useful for something. The plot is absurd though. It is time for Hollywood to come up with a new generic enemy. This constant sand innuendo is not conducive to world peace.

Entertainment: starstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar
Photography: starstarstarstar
Violence: a Steven Segal movie? Oh yes.
Sex: partial nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

"The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain", Miramax Films, 1995, Color, Filmed anamorphically at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 36 min, Rated PG; Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney; In 1917, while WW-I rages, two cartographers (map makers) arrive in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, a small town in Wales. Their assignment is to measure the height of Ffynnon Garw and to classify it as either a mountain (>1000 feet) or a hill (<1000 feet). The townspeople have always considered it a mountain, and when the measurement turns out to be 984 feet, they get into an uproar. While keeping the cartographers' car in a constant need of repair (so they can't leave), and preoccupying the younger of the two (Mr. Anson - Hugh Grant) with the flirtations of Miss Elizabeth (Tara Fitzgerald), the townspeople move dirt and sod (from the game field) up the "hill" to turn it back into a mountain. This is apparently a true story, and such tales are usually quite entertaining when made into movies. Modestly done in this case.

Entertainment: starstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstar
Photography: starstarstarstar
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: no

Other laserdiscs viewed but not reviewed formally:

A Dangerous Woman: starstarstarstar
Bad Boys: starstar
Flesh and Bone: starstarstar
The Real McCoy: starstarstar
Something to Talk About: starstar
The Net: starstarstarstar


© Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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