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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 41 - August, 1998

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Sphere"Sphere", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, DD, Surround Sound, 2 Hr 15 min, Rated PG-13; Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson; A team of scientists is summoned by the NAVY to dive 600 feet beneath the Pacific Ocean in order to explore an apparent alien spacecraft that landed 300 years ago. Inside the craft is a strange sphere, that once entered, endows the subject with the power to turn nightmares into reality. One by one, the exploration team is attacked by their own fears. Although the script is puerile, with the jokes needing a laugh track, the action sequences are excellent and quite scary. - JEJ -

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

 

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The Replacement Killers"The Replacement Killers", Columbia Pictures, 1997, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound DD, 1 Hr 28 min; Rated R; Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker; John Lee (Yun-Fat) is a hit man for Terence Wei, but refuses to murder the child of a policeman, Stan Zedkov (Rooker), who killed his own son in a drug bust shootout. In response, Wei trys to have Lee killed as well as his mother and sister overseas. Lee contacts Meg Coburn (Sorvino) to have her forge some passports so that he can rescue his family before Wei's men get to them. Caught in the middle of all this is Zedkov, who must uphold the law, yet who feels gratitude that Lee saves his son. Pyrotechnics and blood take up most of the film, and I am surprised that the studios would put Academy Award winner Sorvino, who is a fine actress, in a schlock movie like this. - JEJ -

 

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

 

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U.S. Marshals"U.S. Marshals", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.73:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 11 min, Rated PG-13; Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey, Jr.; Mark Roberts (Snipes) is a criminal being hunted by the FBI for killing FBI Agents. When he is captured, but escapes, Marshal Sam Gerard (Jones) heads the team to hunt him down. FBI Agent John Royce (Downey) assists. I realize this is an attempt to capitalize on Jones' success as the same character in "The Fugitive" , but the escape from a crash, the pursuit through the swamps, and then, when it turns out that Roberts has been falsely accused, well, this is a bit too much deja vu. However, the action sequences are first rate, just as they were when Gerard was chasing Dr. Richard Kimble. - JEJ -

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

 

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Zero Effect"Zero Effect", Castle Rock Entertainment, 1997, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.73:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 56 min, Rated R; Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, Kim Dickens, Ryan O'Neal; Private Detective Daryl Zero (Pullman) is a genius at his work, but has no social skills and lives as a recluse. His assistant, Steve Arlo (Stiller) does all the front work, getting the client interviews, and thinks Zero is a nutcase. Gregory Stark (O'Neal) hires Zero to find his safety deposit box keys, because someone has broken in and is now blackmailing him for a rape-murder case that went unsolved. Zero locates a young woman, Gloria Sullivan (Dickens), who is the apparent blackmailer, and as he builds the case against her, he also falls in love, complicating his loyalty to the client. The film moves very slowly at first, but interest builds, and the Sherlock Holmes similarities become reasonably intriguing. However, those first 20 minutes or so make it not quite up to par. - JEJ -

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

 

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The Rainmaker"The Rainmaker", Constellation Films, 1997, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 17 min, Rated PG-13; Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Danny DeVito; In Memphis, a young lawyer, Rudy Baylor (Damon), takes a job with a shady law firm, run by "Bruiser Stone". When Bruiser is indicted for illegal activities, Rudy and his friend Deck Shifflet (DeVito) start their own law firm, even though neither of them has passed the board exams yet. His first client is a young man who is dying of leukemia, and is suing the insurance company that denied him medical treatment. Leo Drummond (Voight) heads the legal defense team for the insurance company, and Leo has Rudy's office bugged to see what he is up to (that's illegal, of course). In the meantime, Rudy meets a young woman, Kelly Riker (Danes), who has been repeatedly battered by her husband, talks her into filing for divorce, and falls in love with her. Between having to deal with her violent husband and the shifty Leo Drummond, there is plenty to keep Rudy and Deck busy. The story is mesmerizing, as John Grisham and Francis Ford Coppola make an awesome combination for story telling and direction. - JEJ -

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

 

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Wag the Dog "Wag the Dog", New Line Cinema, 1997, Color, Filmed sphereically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.76.:1, Surround Sound, DD, Rated R; Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Anne Heche; Two weeks before re-election, the President of the United States is embroiled in a sex scandal that involves a very young lady. With the help of publicicist Winifred Ames (Heche), White House spinmaster Conrad Brean (DeNiro) hires a hollywood producer, Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to stage a war with a foreign country (Albania) so that the President can distract everyone from the scandal by confronting the crisis. The CIA puts a stop to the scam, and Motss comes up with another idea. Sgt. William Schumann (Woody Harrelson) is "left behind" enemy lines and now he has to be rescued. Anything to keep the public's mind off sex until after the election. The film is supposed to be a comedy, but it is only after the situation becomes rediculous that the movie's purpose becomes apparent. The problem is that it walks too fine a line between comedy and drama, and it is not funny enough. - JEJ -

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

 

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Dark City"Dark City", New Line Cinema, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, Rated R; Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt; Strangers from a dying planet invade earth to see if it can be a suitable replacement. They have the talent of "Tuning" whereby reality can be altered by simply willing it to be so. The strangers steal memories from humans and imprint them into the brains of others, with the goal of confusing everyone to the point that no one knows what reality is anymore. John Murdoch (Sewell) awakens from a failed imprinting, and suddenly realizes he has the power of tuning. Dr. Daniel Schreber (Sutherland) helps John use his power to fight the strangers. In the meantime, Inspector Frank Bumstead (Hurt) thinks John has been murdering hookers, so he is hunting for him. Also, his wife Emma (Connelly) is upset because he has not been home for two weeks and when he does show up, he can't remember being married to her. Finally, when the strangers find out that he knows how to tune, they consider him a threat to their plans, and want to slice him into little pieces. So, John has his hands full. This sci-fi thriller is Batmanesque, in that it never seems to have any daytime . . . only the night, with all the boogiemen that inhabit dark alleys. - JEJ -

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

 

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Palmetto"Palmetto", Castle Rock Entertainment, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.23:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 53 min, Rated R; Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue, Gina Gershon; Harry Barber (Harrelson) gets out of jail, and the last thing he wants to do is go back to the town (Palmetto, Florida) where he was falsely accused, but a sultry blonde, Rhea Malroux (Shue), talks him into doing just that, with a $50,000 temptation. She wants him to make a phone call to her husband saying that he has his daughter Odette, and will return her for $500,000 ransom. Rhea and her stepdaughter Odette are in on the scam, and just want to get more than the paltry allowance the aging patron is giving them. His take will be 10% off the top. He accepts the offer, but finds that he is being set up by Rhea and her lover. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep most dime mystery novel fans glued to the screen. That, plus lots of night bug sounds. - JEJ -

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

 

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