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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 17 - January, 1997


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Ratings:    
  Extraordinary
  Good
  Acceptable
  Mediocre
  Poor

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A Time to Kill"A Time to Kill", Warner Brothers, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.37:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 2 Hr 30 min, Rated R; Sandra Bullock, Samuel Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey; In Canton, Mississippi, a couple of drunken white men rape a young black girl and are caught. The girl's father, Carl Lee Hailey (Jackson) shoots and kills the two men in the court house. He is charged with murder, and both Judge Omar Noose (Patrick McGoohan) and District Attorney Rufus Buckley (Spacey) are running for office, so they in the mood for a quick conviction. Hailey is defended by Jake Brigance (McConaughey) with the help of Harvard law student Ellen Roark (Bullock) who comes down from Boston because she is against the death penalty. Meanwhile, the brother of one of the men who was shot calls the Ku Klux Klan together to do some rather unpleasant things to Brigance et al. The story is riveting (John Grisham novel), the acting superb, and the ending is satisfying.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio: (eerie sounds and great nightime crickets via AC-3)
Photography:
Violence: rape, shooting, beatings, man burned alive
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

 

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The Island of Dr. Moreau"The Island of Dr. Moreau", New Line Cinema, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 36 min, Rated PG-13; Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk; Edward Douglas (Thewlis) is found adrift and picked up by a man named Montgomery (Kilmer), and he is taken to an island where strange experiments are being performed on animals, by Nobel Laureate Dr. R.G.V. Moreau (Brando). Douglas meets a strange girl named Aissa (Balk) who promises to help him get off the island. Dr. Moreau and Montgomery prevent his escape, because they plan to experiment on him as well. In my opinion, this is one of the worst films Brando has ever made. The scraps off the cutting room floor from "Planet of the Apes" would have made a better motion picture. The contact lenses for the "animals" were very unique, and that's about all there is here.

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

 

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A Family Thing"A Family Thing", United Artists, 1995, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 49 min, Rated PG-13; Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones; Earl Pilcher, Jr. (Duvall) is a good old Arkansas kind of guy, running his father's equipment rental business. His mom passes away and leaves him a letter explaining that she is not really his mother, but rather, a black woman was. Earl is devastated by the news, because he is prejudiced, and he travels to Chicago to meet his half brother Raymond Lee Murdoch (Jones). They don't really care for each other at first, but, with the help of Aunt T. (Ray's and Earl's Aunt), they find that being brothers transcends the past. This is really a fine movie, with great actors and script. A "feel good" film.

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

 

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Striptease"Striptease", Castle Rock Entertainment, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.81:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 57 min, Not Rated; Demi Moore; Armand Assante, Ving Rhames, Robert Patrick, Burt Reynolds; Erin Grant (Moore) was working for the FBI, but since her former husband Darrell (Patrick) got into trouble with the law, she loses her job. A judge awards custody of her daughter to Darrell, and she takes a job as a stripper to pay for legal fees so that she can get her daughter back. Congressman David Dilbeck (Reynolds) becomes obsessed with Erin, and his colleagues resort to murder in order to protect his reputation. Lt. Al Garcia (Assante) and Erin's bodyguard (Rhames) keep her from ending up in the river. This film is what's sometimes called "Dark Comedy" as it tries to make fun of the dark side of human nature. However, it is clearly just a vehicle for Moore's excellent physique, displayed within a tenuous story line.

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

 

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Escape from L.A."Escape from L.A.", Paramount Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated R; Kurt Russell, Stacey Keach, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson; In 1998, a 9.6 earthquake turns Los Angeles into an island, and the U.S. isolates all morally irresponsible people there. New inmates have a choice of repenting and being electrocuted on the spot if they wish. In 2013, the President's daughter steals a satellite weapon control system and joins forces with Cuervo Jones in L.A., where they plan to launch an attack against the U.S. The President (Robertson) hires Snake Plissken (Russell) to retrieve the satellite control device. Snake doesn't particularly want to do it, but unfortunately, he has been injected with the Plutoxin 7 virus, and unless he gets the antidote within eleven hours, he will die very unpleasantly. So, in he goes. The original film, called "Escape from New York" was mediocre, and this follow up is worse. The tired old fires in the garbage cans, people in wild outfits, wading through sewers, riots on the streets, etc., are simply not enough to carry a movie any more.

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

 

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Independence Day"Independence Day", Twentieth Century Fox, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 2 Hr 25 min, Rated PG-13; Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid; Affectionately known as ID4, this film surprised everyone with its billion dollar revenues. On July 2, the earth finds out we are not alone, when huge ships hover over major cities. U.S. President Tom Whitmore (Pullman) and his staff leave the white house just as scientist David Levinson (Goldblum) decodes alien radio messages indicating unfriendly intent. On July 4, as human populations are reduced, pilots from around the world gather to attack the mother ship. The attack must be timed perfectly with a software virus that is to be introduced into the alien computer system, unlocking their protective shields. A drunken crop duster, Russell Casse (Quaid) provides the final heroic measure. Probably all of our readers have seen the movie at the theater, or have already rented (or purchased) it. But if you have not seen it, you should. It is great fun.

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

 

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Rental movies viewed but not formally reviewed:

"The Cable Guy": (The studios that were outbid for this pathetic script were the lucky ones.)

"Captives": (The beginning is just too dreary and slow.)


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