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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 43 - October, 1998

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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The Gingerbread Man"The Gingerbread Man", Polygram, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.81:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 50 min, Rated R; Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall; Savannah, Georgia Attorney Rick Magruder (Branagh) falls for a caterer, Mallory Doss (Davidtz) and finds that she is being harassed by her psychotic father Dixon (Duvall). He decides to assist her in getting her father committed to a pschiatric hospital, with the aid of his associates Clyde (Downey) and Lois (Daryl Hannah). Supposedly, Dixon kidnaps Rick's children out of revenge, and Rick kills him, only to discover that his children were never kidnapped. In spite of a plethora of well known stars, as well as a fine director (Robert Altman), the movie is trite and boring, and in fact, a real stinker. - JEJ -

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

 

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Lost in Space"Lost in Space", New Line Cinema, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 10 min; Rated PG-13; Gary OIdman, William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Mini Rogers; In the year 2058, the Global Sedition Raiders are attempting to upset peace that had settled into the universe. The Robinson family is readying themselves to travel through hypergate in order to reach distant Alpha Prime, the only habital planet known besides earth. Dr. Smith (Oldman), secretly a member of the sedition, finds himself aboard the Robinson ship, and tries to sabotage the expedition. Dr. John Robinson (Hurt), wife Maureen (Rogers), daughters Judy (Heather Graham), Penny (Lacey Chabert), and son Will (Jack Johnson), along with a robot, Dr. Smith, and pilot Don West (LeBlanc), begin their journey, only to have the ship damaged, and they become LOST . . . IN . . . SPACE. The film is based on the 1960s TV series of the same name, and many of the original stars have cameo roles. It has a melange of numbing special effects that take one's mind off the sometimes silly script. Reasonably entertaining though. - JEJ -

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

 

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Twilight"Twilight", Paramount Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 36 min, Rated R; Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, Stockard Channing; Retired Policeman and Detective Harry Ross (Newman) takes on one more job for his benefactor Jack Ames (Hackman), supposedly delivering a package to a young woman. He discovers a dead body instead, and finds himself the main suspect by the Police. His old friend Verna (Channing), a police detective, tries to help, but he just can't get out from under the magnifying glass. Meanwhile, his romatic involvement with Jack's wife Catherine (Sarandon) complicates the situation, because the package he was supposed to deliver was payoff on an old blackmail scheme that linked the Ames to the death of Catherine's former husband. It sounds like a great plot, but it trods along slowly and never gets above a whisper. - JEJ -

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

 

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The Odd Couple II"The Odd Couple II", Paramount Pictures, 1998, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 37 min, Rated PG-13; Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau; Decades after they had lived together in New York as room mates, Oscar Madison (Matthau) has now retired in Sarasota, Florida, while Felix Ungar (Lemmon) still lives in New York. They are surprised to discover that Oscar's son Bruce, and Felix's daughter Hannah, are getting married. They both fly to Los Angeles, meet each other, and share a car to drive to the small town north of L.A. where the ceremony will take place. Along the way, they end up three times in the same jail, get crop dusted, and survive various other Neil Simon situations. Although it is not as funny as the original, the film still holds its own, and both movies will fit nicely on one side of a DVD in a future double re-release for collectors. - JEJ -

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

 

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Black Dog"Black Dog", Universal Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 29 min, Rated R; Patrick Swayze, Gabriel Casseus, Randy Travis; Ex con Jack Crews (Swayze) is lucky to have a job as a truck mechanic. His boss needs him to drive a stolen cache of AK-47 assault rifles from Atlanta to New Jersey, and threatens Jack with his job unless he does it. Jack goes to Atlanta, picks up the goods, and begins the trip down that long highway with assistants Earl (Travis) and Sonny (Casseus). The man who gave them the rifles in Atlanta attempts to hijack them along the way, and I mean ALL along the way. That's the jist of the movie. Wide angle shots of the truck's front end, cars blowing up, etc. Sort of a "Smokey and the Bandit" with exit wounds and bad language. When the script runs out of hijacking tricks, the employer kidnaps Jack's wife and daughter, because Jack has decided to let the FBI handle the situation. The story is terrible, and the DVD is suitable only as a subwoofer test disc. - JEJ -

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

 

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City of Angels "City of Angels", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, Rated PG-13; Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan, Dennis Franz; Guardian Angel Seth (Cage) watches over a patient being operated on by a surgeon, Maggie (Ryan), and falls in love with her. He lets her see him, hoping that she will return the sentiment. In fact, she does, but is confused by his heavenly nature, not understanding until late in the relationship, from whence he came. They cannot sense each other's touch, and in order to do so, he becomes human. Their newly found bliss is cut short by tragedy. The perpetually cute Ms. Ryan and fine actor Cage do the best that they can with a less than adequate script. - JEJ -

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

 

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Titanic"Titanic", Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, 1997, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.21:1, Surround Sound, DD, THX, Rated PG-13; Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Cathy Bates, Bill Paxton; On April 15, 1912 a great big boat full of people sank, and this is another film version of it. So, what do you want me to say? You all saw it 10 times at the theater. Was I the only one to wait until it came out on video? It's not really about the ship you know. It's a love story, with a nasty accident as the backdrop. The first half is a little slow, but the second half blows you out of your seat. Beautifully directed and photographed. Eleven Academy Awards. Mucho bucks for the studios and genius James Cameron. I wish he had directed all the Alien films. Then we would have had four great space-monster flicks instead of just one. - JEJ -

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

 

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Species II"Species II", MGM, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.76:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 33 min, Rated R; Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, Justin Lazard; After the destruction of Syl in Species 1, a group of scientists, including Dr. Laura Baker (Helgenberger), clone the alien being with half her genes being human. The new girl is named Eve (Henstridge). Astronauts returning from a Mars landing are contaminated with alien DNA, and Patrick Ross (Lazard) now has an uncontrollable urge to mate, producing offspring that are part human, part alien, like Eve. The scientists, and former expert on the aliens, Press Lennox (Madsen), use Eve's telepathic abilities to find Ross. Unfortunately, Eve and Patrick want to mate so they can produce pure alien offspring. Dr. Baker and one of the astronauts who was not contaminated (Williamson) devise a method to use his DNA to contaminate the aliens' DNA, fighting fire with fire. Species 1 was a schlock film (not a compliment), and so is the sequel. Henstridge is obviously one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but she should offer to take less money to get better roles, because she is a pretty good actress. She doesn't need all this chest-high camera work to obtain success. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: gruesome
Sex: explicit, and lots of it
Language: the "F" and "S" words

 

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