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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 12 - August, 1996


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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

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12 Monkeys"12 Monkeys", Universal Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.80:1, Surround Sound, 2 Hr 10 min, Rated R; Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt; It is the year 2035 and most of the world's population has been decimated by a virus that emerged in 1996. James Cole (Willis) is a convict who is sent back in time (in exchange for a reduced sentence) to locate the source of the virus so that the future survivors can find a cure. He is supposed to end up in 1996, but . . . whoops . . . it's 1990, and he finds himself in a psychiatric hospital (Baltimore County Hospital) where he is examined by psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Stoew). After being introduced to the hard cases in the ward, and meets Jeffrey Goines (Pitt), he escapes, only to be captured and thrown into isolation. He is whisked back to 2035, questioned and sent back to the proper year . . . with a side trip to the trenches of WW1 . . . and finally manages to convince Dr. Railly that he is not delusional. Apparently the Army of the 12 Monkeys is supposed to have released the virus, but there is a strange twist with Mr. Goines and his father, a renowned biologist. Sounds like a great plot doesn't it? Unfortunately, the movie stinks with the tired old future-psycho-fi, steamy boiler rooms, and slow motion exit wounds. Editing is way too choppy. It had potential, but . . . sorry . . . no cigar folks.

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ***
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: no time for it
Language: the usual R rated vulgarity

Eye for an Eye"Eye for an Eye", Paramount Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.76:1, Surround Sound, Dolby Digital AC-3, 1 Hr 42 min, Rated R; Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland, Ed Harris; Karen McCann (Field) is stuck in traffic on her way home to her youngest daughter's birthday party. One of her other daughters, Julie, is getting things ready, when an intruder, Robert Doob (Sutherland) breaks into the home, rapes and murders her. Doob is captured, and the DNA evidence is clear, but his attorney gets the case dismissed because the defense was not given part of the sample. Doob murders another woman, and is released yet again. Karen plans her revenge, in spite of a non supportive husband, Mac (Harris). This film plays upon the dissatisfaction of the American public with the justice system. We are tired of being victims, of having violent criminals released on technicalities, unsympathetic judges, lawyers who have forgotten that their purpose is to see truth emerge and justice being done, rather than just winning their case, etc., etc. I guess we rely on a Constitution that is outdated. The founders did not anticipate drugs and guns in school, or pornography hiding under the free speech amendment. They did not anticipate that the average life span would double, allowing people to spend what would have been more than an 18th century lifetime as career politicians, and Supreme Court Justices to make important rulings that affect us all, well into their dotage. The movie will make you sad, then angry, then pleased. But in the final analysis, it is a mediocre production that could have been much better.

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ***** (The digital transfer is one of the best I have ever seen)
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: rape and murder
Sex: see above
Language: I think I will make a one-button macro for the "F" and "S" words

Father of the Bride, 2"Father of the Bride Part II", Touchstone Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, Dolby Digital AC-3, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated PG; Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams; George Banks (Martin) having seen his daughter Annie (Williams) married and settled down, decides to cut loose and maybe travel a bit with his wife. Annie announces her first pregnancy, and George is feeling old. His wife Nina announces her own pregnancy, and poor old George has to forget about living the good life. Franck (Short) is back to do the baby shower and decorate the new baby's room. George's daughter and grandson are born on the same night, while he and Franck run back and forth between the two hospital rooms to hold the ladies' hands (Annie's husband is on his way back from a business trip overseas). George finds that the good life was right there in front of him all along. Even though this is not as good as Part I, it is still a nice daddy's movie, with some great laughs about every 15 minutes or so. If you are a parent with a marriage aged daughter, like we have, your eyes might even get a little misty now and then.

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ***
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: no

Dead Presidents"Dead Presidents", Hollywood Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.30:1, Surround Sound, Dolby Digital AC-3, 1 Hr 59 min, Rated R; Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker; Anthony Curtis is about to graduate from high school in New York. His friends are into drugs, pimping, and other such things. He decides to join the Marine Corps and tour Viet Nam (1960s, during the war). It changes him greatly as a person, not to mention teaching him the deadly skills of a warrior. He comes home to his girlfriend who has already given birth to their child, and she becomes pregnant with their second. He can't find a decent job. Together with some other vets, he plots to heist a huge load of currency that is scheduled for shipping to Washington, D.C. The film drags along for most of the way, but the Viet Nam portion is riveting. P.S., if you are wondering about the title of the movie, take a look at whose pictures are on the currency.

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: ** (too many glitches)
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: extreme; graphic decapitation
Sex: explicit
Language: from the gutter

Broken Arrow"Broken Arrow", Twentieth Century Fox, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, Dolby Digital AC-3, THX, 1 Hr 48 min, Rated R; John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis; Vic Deakins (Travolta) is nuts, but his best friend Riley Hale (Slater) does not know it . . . yet. They fly a Stealth bomber with two nuclear weapons on board, as part of a training mission for ground control to attempt tracking them with the radar-invisible capabilities of the bomber activated. Deakins trashes the Stealth after ejecting Hale, and dropping the weapons by parachute onto the Arizona desert floor. Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Mathis) discovers Hale "trespassing" and then helps him chase down the bad guys and disarm the nukes. The story is ok, the acting is passable, but it is action director John Woo who makes this movie exciting. Lots of moving camera shots, plus custom made guns, and 60,000 rounds of ammunition definitely hold the attention. Other than that, it is a typical nuclear weapon blackmail film.

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: *****
Photography: *****
Violence: yes, lots of exit wounds
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

Mr. Holland's Opus"Mr. Holland's Opus", Polygram, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, Dolby Digital AC-3, 2 Hr 23 min, Rated PG; Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis; In the mid-1960s, Glenn Holland (Dreyfuss) is trying to write a symphony, but the reality of paying the bills forces him to take a job teaching music at John F. Kennedy High School, in Portland, Oregon. At first, he hates it, because the students are unresponsive, and the Principal (Dukakis) chides him for his lack of enthusiasm. Then he finds that he has the touch for inspiring motivation and ends up staying at the school for 30 years, touching the lives of everyone around him. The Physical Education coach, Bill Meister (Thomas) talks him into letting the football players sing and dance in a George Gershwin tribute that brings in enough money to continue the music program. He tutors a shy clarinetist who ends up the State Governor, and generally becomes a very well liked teacher, but fails to understand his deaf son and his wife Iris' (Headly) frustration. However, it all turns out well, except that Dreyfuss didn't win Best Actor, for which he was nominated in this superb motion picture.

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ****
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: mild

Other laserdiscs viewed but not formally reviewed:

"Richard III": * (Shakespeare does not translate well to the 1930s)


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