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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 18 - February, 1997


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Ratings:    
  Extraordinary
  Good
  Acceptable
  Mediocre
  Poor

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Chain Reaction"Chain Reaction", Twentieth Century Fox, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.77:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated PG-13; Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman; In Chicago, at the Hydrogen Energy Project, Alistair Barkley is working on a method for converting water to its components, hydrogen and oxygen, so that the hydrogen can be burned as a clean fuel. Machinist Eddie Kasalivich (Reeves) discovers the secret that makes the process energy efficient. The group readies to put the formula on the Internet so that the world can have a clean, low cost fuel. Someone out there does not particularly care for this idea, and the laboratory is destroyed. Eddie and a young physicist are framed for the disaster and escape, with the FBI and CIA on their trail. Paul Shannon (Freeman), who heads the project, promises to bring them in alive. This film could have been so much better, but unfortunately the flow (delivery, timing) is not well done, and it just does not jell.

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

 

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The Trigger Effect"The Trigger Effect", Gramercy Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.71:1, Surround Sound, THX, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated R; Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney; The electricity goes out. No big deal, right? The problem is that it went down in the entire city. No power, no communications. Matthew and his wife Annie ask their friend Joe to stay with them until the power comes back on. It stays off, and off, and off. Havoc breaks out, and an intruder breaks in. People lose trust in one another. Here is another movie that had potential, but it was not exploited fully. It appears to be somewhere in California, perhaps L.A. and it seems to be hot. So why have fires in the fireplace? And, I don't think this much unrest and paranoia would have occurred in just a few hours. We are used to power outages, and it just does not happen this way. Sorry, no sale.

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

 

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Phenomenon"Phenomenon", Touchstone Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 2 Hr 3 min, Rated PG; John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker, Robert Duvall; George Malley (Travolta) is minding his own business, working at a small town auto body shop, when, on the night of his 37th birthday party, a blinding light from the sky knocks him unconscious. He awakens to find that he now has extraordinary mental powers. Reading several books each day does not scare him, but discovering that he has the power of telekinesis does. It scares the neighbors and the FBI too, and he realizes that having a brain on overdrive can be a real problem. The only person in town who seems to understand is Doc (Duvall), but even he is awed by the changes in his long time friend, especially when George starts beating him at chess. This is one of Travolta's best works to date. I think he does much better at this type of story than with high speed action movies.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio: (almost no use of surround)
Photography:
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

 

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Bullet"Bullet", New Line, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1:35:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 36 min, Rated R; Mickey Rourke, Tupac Shakur; Butch "Bullet" Stein (Rourke) is released from prison, having served time for armed robbery. Immediately, he and his friends go back to their old ways of drugs and theft. Tank (Shakur) is the local dealer in heroin. Bullet stabs one of Tank's gang members, and Tank tries to poison Bullet with bad drugs. The rest of the film (in fact, the whole film) wallows in a miasma of despair, violence, and dysfunctional family. It's scary, provocative, well acted, but not much of a plot.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography:
Violence: extreme
Sex: explicit
Language: the "F" and "S" words, and then some

 

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Gotti"Gotti", HBO Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1:35:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 57 min, Rated R; Armand Assante, William Forsythe, Anthony Quinn; The story of "The Teflon Don" - John Gotti (Assante) is presented on film (originally made for cable television). When New York mob boss Carlo Gambino dies of a heart attack, Paul Castellano is made the head of the Gambino family, instead of Gotti's mentor, Neil Delacroce (Quinn). Castellano is assassinated, and Gotti becomes the Don. Sammy Gravano (Forsythe) is Gotti's chief executioner. They get away with a great deal of activities that the FBI would prefer to nail them for. Gotti's flamboyant manner does not help his situation with the mob, and finally, some incriminating FBI audio tapes set the stage for the final chapter of the Gotti saga.

Entertainment:
Video Quality:
Audio:
Photography:
Violence: mob executions
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words, and more

 

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Rental movies viewed but not formally reviewed:

"Fled": (Good plot but the script was a joke.)


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