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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 46 - January, 1999

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Switchback"Switch Back", Paramount Pictures, 1997, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 58 min, Rated R; Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, R. Lee Ermey; A young man hitchhiking in New Mexico is picked up by a strange cowboy, Bob Goodall (Glover) driving in a car with pictures of naked women attached all over the inside. The kid is uneasy at first, but Bob is so congenial, he is soon at rest and actually finds him likeable. In Texas, FBI Agent Frank LaCrosse (Quaid) is assigned to a brutal murder, but the local sheriff Buck Olmstead (Ermey) is unsure of LaCrosse. Soon, he discovers that LaCrosse is looking for a serial killer, and that the killer has kidnapped his son to keep him from tracking him down, but that it has not stopped the FBI agent from his obsessed search. Finally, on a remote mountainside, and on a fast moving train, Goodall and LaCross come face to face in a showdown, with the child as the prize. - JEJ -

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

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Armageddon"Armageddon", Touchstone Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 31 min; Rated PG-13; Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi; When an asteroid the size of Texas is discovered to be hurtling towards earth, NASA Executive Director Dan Truman (Thornton) hires deep core driller Harry Stamper (Willis) and his motley crew to fly with some astronauts on a space shuttle to the asteroid so they can drill 800 feet down and plant a nuclear warhead. They only have a short time to place the weapon, and if they blow it up too late, the fragments will still hit the earth. The film is a combination of Police Academy (as they train for the mission) and the old Flash Gordon serials. The special effects are almost surreal and beautifully done. A little too tongue in cheek though, for a group of people that faces annihilation. - JEJ -

 

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

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The Negotiator"The Negotiator", Regency Enterprises, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 20 min, Rated R; Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, J.T. Walsh; Danny Roman (Jackson) is a Chicago Police Negotiator who tries to keep hostages from getting killed in a crisis. He discovers that someone is pilfering money from the pension fund, but his partner is murdered and he is framed. Before he can be indicted, he takes a police captain hostage himself, believing that the captain is part of the conspiracy. When the police and media surround him, he calls for a negotiator from the west side of Chicago, Chris Sabian (Spacey). While Chris keeps the police from closing in for the kill, Danny proves to Chris that he is innocent and that some of the officers outside want him dead at any cost. The story is taught and explosive, and occasionally, preposterous. - JEJ -

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

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Blade"Blade", New Line Cinema, 1998, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr , Rated R; Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N'Bushe Wright, Donel Logue; In 1967, a baby was born of a mother attacked by a vampire. Now, that child has grown up and hunts vampires with a vengeance. Calling himself Blade (Snipes), he goes from city to city, and with his friend Abraham Whistler (Kristofferson), he tracks the undead on the move and kills them with the classic silver bullets. A doctor (Wright), herself wounded by a vampire, helps Blade try to discover a cure for his own vampire tendencies. Together, they apply search and destroy tactics against the leader of the demonic forces, Deacon Frost (Dorff). The film is visually slick with a rapid fire pace. If you like vampire movies, you will enjoy this one, but it is graphically violent and wallows in devil worship, so if you don't like this sort of thing, you will find it vile and decadent. - JEJ -

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

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Mouse Hunt"Mouse Hunt", Dreamworks Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.84:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 38 min, Rated PG ; Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Maury Chaykin, Christopher Walken; When Ernie (Lane) and Lars (Evans) Smuntz inherit their father's company, Smuntz String, they discover that the estate includes a dilapidated old house that he never told them about. In order to get it ready for sale, they must get rid of a single mouse that runs around in the walls each night. Unfortunately, the mouse proves to be resistant to irradication, so they resort to hiring an exerminator (Walken). The movie did poorly at the box office, but it is worth the rental if you like the old Laurel and Hardy shorts, and especially if you have kids. It has a nice, clever, and happy ending. - JEJ -

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

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Lethal Weapon 4 "Lethal Weapon 4", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 7 min, Rated R; Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Jet Li; Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) are at it again, this time to catch smugglers who are bringing in illegal Chinese immigrants, only to enslave them. Martial arts star Jet Li portrays one of the smugglers. Joe Pesci returns as Leo Getz, now with his PI (Private Investigator) badge. The special effects are spectacular, and sometimes I think that if life were really like this, we would all be dead. It's unfortunate that there are so many long winded conversations throughout the film, because they slow it down too much. The editors should have cut out about 15 minutes of seemingly ad-lib talking, which would have made it a much better movie. They could leave in the bits about Riggs' pregnant girlfriend Lorna (Russo) and Murtaugh's pregnant daughter (Riggs and Murtaugh talk about them when they are under siege) while still keeping the story tight. - JEJ -

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

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Wrongfully Accused"Wrongfully Accused", Morgan Creek Productions, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.33:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 26 min, Rated PG-13; Leslie Nielsen, Richard Crenna, Kelly Le Brock, Melinda McGraw, Michael York; Ryan Harrison (Nielsen) is a celebrated violinist, whose friend Hibbing Goodhew (York) is murdered, and Ryan is framed for the crime. Police Lieutenant Fergus Falls (Crenna) chases him while Ryan looks for the real killer, a one armed, one legged, and one eyed terrorist. The film is one more in the Nielsen series of silly parodies that use visual comedy. It's about the same as all the others, and mildly entertaining. The jokes are starting to wear out, though. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: kind of
Sex: sort of
Language: not really

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Hope Floats"Hope Floats", Twentieth Century Fox, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.76:1, Surround Sound, DD (two-channel), 1 Hr 54 min, Rated PG-13; Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick, Jr., Gena Rowlands; Birdee Pruitt (Bullock) goes on a talk show only to find her best friend admitting to an affair with her husband Bill. She takes her daughter Bernice and moves back home to Smithville, Texas, to live with her mother Ramona (Rowlands) while she tries to get her life back together. An old boyfriend Justine Matisse (Connick) tries to start up the relationship again, but she just lies around in bed, depressed. Finally, she gets a small job working in a one hour photo department of a drug store, and little by little, Justin and Birdee fall in love. It's a girl movie, so rent it for her, and next year, she won't complain when you bring home the DVDs of "Saving Private Ryan", and "The Thin Red Line". - JEJ -

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

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Dragon's Lair"Dragon's Lair - DVD Video Game", Digital Leisure Inc., Color, Full Screen, Dolby Digital English 5.1, Exclusive interviews with Don Bluth and Rick Dyer, Animation by Don Bluth, Directed by Rick Dyer, $44.95; The princess has been captured by the Evil Dragon, and you control the actions of Dirk the Daring in his attempt to rescue the fair maiden. You must fight your way through the Evil Wizard's castle, past monsters and obstacles to rescue Daphne the Dazzling. I remember when this game first hit the arcade. I was just 13 at the time. People would line their quarters across the top of the machine to signify that they were next. It was one of the first games that I can remember taking 50 cents to play. While being common today, 50 cents was unheard of back then. I also remember watching people maneuver their way through the game . . . that is if I could get close enough. Dragon's Lair Video Frame 1There was usually a crowd of people watching some wiz playing the game. I played, but was never able to finish the game. This was back when movie theaters were a typical home for video games as well as the local arcade in the mall. Many games followed that used laserdisc technology, but none were as successful as Dragon's Lair. I have probably played every incarnation of this game released to date, and it was the reason I wanted a Coleco Adam. I remember playing it on the Commodore 64, but it was nothing like the real game. It looked more like Jump Man. Next, I remember playing it on my 486 back in '92. It was a bunch of bitmaps with some moving sprites on the screen. It also only contained 1/3 of the arcade version. When the Internet first started gaining popularity you could occasionally find a used copy of the original game laserdiscs for sale, but they went for a pretty hefty price. I was excited when I first heard that Digital Leisure was going to release the game on both DVD-ROM and DVD. Dragon's Lair Video Frame 2I was skeptical at first, knowing how the previous attempts have all but failed. When I received the DVD in the mail, I immediately popped it into my DVD player to see just what they were able to accomplish. I was floored; it looks, at least from memory, exactly the same, maybe even better! The DVD offers a few extras. First you get to preview Space Ace, Dragon's Lair 2, and an interactive movie called a Fork in the Tale. There are some TV spots and interviews with Don Bluth and Rick Dyer. The sound quality is rather poor on this section but must be watched. Audio spends most of the time coming out of the right speaker, then eventually switches to the left. It actually stays in the center for a minute or so. The other two options are to watch the complete game, which is really cool if you have never completed it or are having trouble getting past an obstacle. If you own a Toshiba 2107 or 3107, you will not be able to play the game. Apparently this model has a problem dealing with user input when graphics are overlaid on the screen. There is more info on this at the Digital Leisure website. It played fine on both the Sony S-7000 and Panasonic LD-10 Palm Theater. The sound quality on the game itself is good, even though the sound effects are actually pretty cheesy by today’s standards, but hey this is the original game, sound for sound and frame-by-frame. The game control takes a little getting used to, but after you die a few times, you will get the hang of it. DVD has promised a lot of different features such as multi-angle, and this is the first DVD that is a . . . real . . . game. - SLS -

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ****
Animation: ****
Violence: video arcade style
Sex: no
Language: no

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© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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