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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 16 - December, 1996


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Ratings:    
  Extraordinary
  Good
  Acceptable
  Mediocre
  Poor

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Last Dance"Last Dance", Touchstone Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated R; Sharon Stone, Rob Morrow, Randy Quaid; Rick Hayes (Morrow) joins the Public Defender's Office, and his first case is Cindy Liggett (Stone), convicted murderer who is waiting on Death Row for execution. Hayes must battle not only a governor resistant to clemency, but Liggett herself, who has been through all the appeals over the last 12 years and is ready to give up. It turns out that her partner in crime made a deal with the D.A., in return for a reduced sentence, and may have been coerced to lie about the details of the crime so that the state would have its revenge. Hayes fights the clock as Liggett receives a death warrant. This film is in the same vein as "Dead Man Walking", except that there is more sympathy for the death row inmate, in spite of a terrible crime committed.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography:
Violence: explicit
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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Dragonheart"Dragonheart", Universal Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, THX, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated PG-13; Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Dina Meyer, Julie Christie, Sean Connery; In jolly old England, late 10th century, the wounded son of a slain Celtic King is taken by his mother (Christie) to a dragon's lair, where he is given a portion of the dragon's heart in return for a promise to be a good and merciful king, instead of a nasty one like his father. Unfortunately, the young king Einon (Thewlis) breaks his promise, and decides that being nasty is more fun than being nice. His mentor, Bowen (Quaid), feels betrayed and sets out to find the dragon. As it turns out, the dragon (voice of Connery), is kind and gentle (awwwwwwww . . . ), and they become friends. In fact, they hoodwink the local villages by having Bowen pretend to kill the dragon for money. In the meantime, Einon uses one of the villagers for archery practice, and the man's daughter, Kara (Meyer) seeks revenge. Together, Bowen, the dragon (Bowen names him Draco), Kara, and a minstrel named Gilbert (Postlethwaite), who is always reciting poetry to fit every occasion, arm the villagers and assault the king's castle. The outcome is nastier than Einon anticipated. I thought the film silly at first, but the computer graphics are so brilliantly done, and Connery is terrific as the dragon, the story gripped me within 10 minutes or so. It might scare young children though.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography:
Violence: swordplay and very big axes
Sex: no
Language: no

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The Rock"The Rock", Hollywood Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 1 Hr 16 min, Rated R; Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris; General Francis Hummel (Harris) is rather piqued that some of his men died in battle without recognition from the U.S. Government, just because the actions were covert. So, along with some other Marines, he steals rockets carrying VX Poison Gas warheads, and takes hostages at Alcatraz. He contacts the FBI and demands that one hundred million dollars be transferred from a secret slush fund, called the Red Sea Trading Company, to the families of those slain in battle. Of course, a few million will go to himself and his followers in this escapade. Otherwise, San Francisco and its inhabitants will have a very unpleasant afternoon, via poison gas. Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Cage), an FBI research chemist specializing in chemical warfare, is asked to accompany a team of Navy SEALs to Alcatraz for the rescue of the hostages and neutralization of the rockets. Meanwhile, they need someone who knows the passageways that line the bowels of the island so they can infiltrate secretly. Turns out that John Mason (Connery), who successfully escaped Alcatraz, and who has been held for 30 years without trial for stealing J. Edgar Hoover's secret files on everyone from J.F.K. to Churchill, has a blueprint of Alcatraz in his head. So, mild mannered Dr. Goodspeed, Mason, and the SEALs launch their rescue. This is one of the best action films of the year, with some unusual comedy lines.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography: (the laserdisc image was too tightly cropped for home TV screens; tape version will probably be much better)
Violence: graphic, knife in the throat, rocket in the gut, lots of exit wounds
Sex: yes
Language: I haven't heard this many "F" words since "Scarface"; other extreme vulgarities as well

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Tin Cup"Tin Cup", Warner Brothers, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.37:1, Surround Sound, 2 Hr 15 min, Rated R; Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson; Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy used to be a great golfer, but has now retired to being a drunken golf pro at a small town Texas driving range. Dr. Molly Griswold (Russo) signs up for lessons, because her boyfriend, David Simms (Johnson) is a professional golfer on the circuit. McAvoy and Griswold become involved, but she won't leave Simms for one reason or another. McAvoy decides to get back in shape and compete in the U.S. Open, for himself, as well as for her affections. If you are a golf fanatic, you will probably enjoy this movie. Otherwise, you will find it to be a rather silly, boring salute to such things as, ". . . letting the big dog eat," and, "singing the double bogey blues." There are some famous golfers who have cameo roles, but my mother-in-law had to point them out to me.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio: (almost no stereo, let alone surround sound)
Photography: (good shots of Texas; I know because I was born in Fort Worth)
Violence: no
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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Fear"Fear", Universal Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 37 min, Rated R; Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano; Steve and Laura Walker are a typical family: previously divorced and each brings one child to the new marriage. Steve's daughter Nicole (Witherspoon) is a high school student and rebellious. She meets an older (25) guy, David McCall (Wahlberg) who seems to be the man of her dreams . . . kind, considerate, and loving. Bit by bit, we see his real personality unfold, and her father objects, seeing that something is not quite right. More than that, David is a psychopath. The film starts off a little slow, but if you are a father of a teenage daughter, it becomes riveting as the inevitable finale approaches.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography:
Violence: graphic
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" and "S" words


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