Home Page

 

Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 57 - December, 1999

Staff

Divider

 

Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

Divider

Entrapment"Entrapment", Twentieth Century Fox, 1999, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 53 min, Rated PG-13; Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Will Patton, Ving Rhames; Want to know how catch a thief?  Answer:  Use a better one.  After a very expensive painting has been stolen, Virginia Baker (Zeta-Jones), an insurance agent of the highest caliber, has been asked to track down the number one suspect, super-thief Robert MacDougal (Connery). After all, the insurance company stands to lose big if this claim is paid out.  It turns out that MacDougal didn't commit the robbery.  Instead Baker, a thief in disguise, had actually committed the crime just to get a chance to work with MacDougal herself.  Baker is now in the position to play both sides (Mac and the insurance company) against each other to pull off the greatest robbery of all time, worth $8 billion.  Every action movie seems to have a defining moment.  Who could possibly forget Tom Cruise's balancing act in "Mission Impossible"?   For Entrapment, this moment comes with a sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones seductively working her way through a grid of hidden lasers. - Jared Baldwin -

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

Divider

A Murder of Crows"A Murder of Crows", Franchise Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated R; Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Berenger, Eric Stoltz; In the Big Easy (New Orleans), attorney Lawson Russell (Gooding) quits as defense counsel in a murder trial, and is disbarred as a result. After moving to the Florida Keys, and working as the captain of a boat for hire, he meets a stranger named Christopher Marlowe, who gives him a copy of his book manuscript "A Murder of Crows" to read and evaluate. The stranger dies suddenly, and Russell decides to publish the book as his own. It is fabulously successful, but unbeknown to Russell, the book accurately portrays the murder of five attorneys who had defended some terrible criminals and gotten them acquitted. New Orleans Police Lt. Clifford Dubose (Berenger) had been on the case of one of the murdered attorneys, and recognizing details only the murderer would know, arrests Russell. He escapes and finds that Marlowe is not only alive, but a completely different person who had disguised himself. There are no substantial special effects in this film, but it is suspenseful and exciting to the finale. - JEJ -

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

Divider

Saving Private Ryan"Saving Private Ryan", DreamWorks Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, DTS, 2 Hr 49 min, Rated R: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore; After the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944, Captain John Miller (Hanks) is assigned the task of locating Private James Ryan whose brothers have all been killed. He is to be sent home so that his parents will not lose all their sons. The group of 8 men, commanded by Captain Miller, questions the nature of risking so many to save just one life. The D-Day scenes probably represent the most accurate, and most brutal depiction of war's horrific nature ever filmed. The rest of the movie is more routine, but Spielberg all the way. It is not the "Best Picture" of 1998, but it certainly is a good one. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***** (DTS version may not play on some DTS DVD players)
Photography: *****
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

Divider

Instinct"Instinct", Touchstone Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.27:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 6 min, Rated R; Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney; Dr. Ethan Powell (Hopkins) has been in an African prison for two years after murdering a couple of local policeman. Since living with a group of gorillas in Africa, he had turned into a violent maniac, so the African officials claimed. When he is released, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital in Miami, Florida, where his unusual behavior is to be examined. Dr. Theo Calder (Gooding) is assigned the case by his supervisor, Dr. Ben Hillard (Sutherland), and Calder's first challenge is to get Powell just to say something. Not only does Powell speak, but he tells Calder the complete story of his experiences in Africa, including the fact that the policemen had shot the gorillas, forcing him to retaliate by beating two of them to death with a club. The film has a very unusual plot, with two very fine actors. Hopkins, in particular, is spectacular, but then, he always is. - JEJ -

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

Divider

The Confession"The Confession", Franchise Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.79:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD (two-channel), Rated R; Alec Baldwin, Ben Kingsley, Amy Irving; In New York City, Harry Fertig (Kingsley) and his wife Sarah (Irving) take their young son to an emergency room at a hospital. The doctors, nurse, and an orderly, tell him to wait his turn, even though they stand outside smoking during their break, while their son burns with fever. The boy dies, and Harry takes revenge by shooting the doctor, nurse, and orderly to death. The city seems very sympathetic towards Harry and Sarah, but despite this, Harry insists on pleading guilty. His attorney, Roy Bleakie (Baldwin), who tries to convince him to plead not guilty at first, slowly comes around to understand the deeply religious Harry Fertig. In the meantime, he also discovers a dark secret as to why Harry's employer is desperate to have Harry plead not-guilty by reason of insanity. This is one of those films with a modest script, but such good acting, it is very enjoyable. - JEJ -

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

Divider

Desert Heat"Desert Heat", Long Road International Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated R; Jean Claude Van Damm, Dese Irita, Danny Trejo; Eddie Lomax (Van Damme) races across the desert, not knowing what his future holds. When his bike develops trouble, he stops for a rest, and a bunch of tough local cowboys beat him up, steal his bike, and leave him for dead. An old friend (Trejo) finds him, nurses him back to health, and then Lomax goes to get his bike back in a nearby desert town. One by one, he kills the cowboys who stole his bike, and eventually runs off with one of the town girls. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The acting is not so bad, but the script is absolute nonsense. - JEJ -

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

Divider

Wild Wild West"Wild Wild West", Warner Brothers, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.71:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 45 min, Rated PG-13; Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, Ted Levine; Federal Officer James West (Smith) and his pal Artemis Gordon (Kline) try to foil a plot by the evil Arliss Loveless (Branagh) and General McGrath (Levine), who have kidnapped the President of the United States - Ulysses S. Grant (also played by Kline), along with the world's best scientists. One of the scientist's daughters, Rita Escobar (Hayek) joins in the fun, including the battle of Loveless' huge mechanical spider. And the movie? OOOH! OOOH! AHHHHH! Sorry about that. I had a wedgie. The movie? Sorry, it stinks. Just about any of the TV series episodes were more entertaining. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: scenes from a brothel
Language: the "S" word

Divider

Deep Blue Sea"Deep Blue Sea", Warner Brothers, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.34:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 45 min, Rated R; Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard, Michael Rapaport; Dr. Susan Blake (Burrows) believes she has found a cure for Alzheimer's disease in the form of a specific brain matter that comes only from sharks.  Russell Franklin (Jackson), Dr. Burrows' financial benefactor, wants to prove to himself that his money isn't being wasted, so he decides to get a first hand look at the project. This is where the movie falls apart.  The research center is in the middle of the ocean, and Russell just happens to be visiting on the weekend when almost the whole crew has gone home. Meanwhile, to speed the process of acquiring the necessary amount of protein, Dr. Blake has been foolishly injecting growth drugs into the shark's brain to make it bigger (oops…).  The end result is some very disgruntled sharks with the brain power to do something about it.  This movie doesn't have a single original idea.  Just imagine Leonardo trying to out swim a shark as the Titanic sank and you'll have a clear picture of what this movie is about.  It's unfortunate that one of Hollywood's best actors (Samuel L. Jackson) is in such a poor film. - Jared Baldwin -

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

Divider

The Red Violin"The Red Violin", Lions Gate Films, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, DTS, 2 Hr 12 min, Rated R; Carlo Cecchi, Irene Grazioli, Jean-Luc Birdeau, Greta Scacchi, Jason Flemyng, Samuel L. Jackson; In 1681, Nicolo Bussotti (Cecchi) builds a violin for his unborn child. Unfortunately, the childbirth is difficult, and a fortune teller says that his wife Anna (Grazioli) has trouble ahead. The story follows the life of the violin, painted red with blood in the varnish, as it passes through the hands of several prodigies, finally landing at an auction in Montreal in 1997. Many parties are desperate to own the violin, and a master of antique instruments, Charles Morritz (Jackson) is assigned the task of insuring its authenticity. The movie is beautifully filmed, and the sound track is worth owning on CD. The little boy (Christoph Koncz) who plays the child prodigy, Kaspar Weiss, does an incredible job of aligning the music with his hand movement, including the vibrato. (The music is actually played by a violin master.) - JEJ -

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

Divider

Inspector Gadget"Inspector Gadget", Disney Studios, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 18 min, Rated PG; Mathew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher, Michelle Trachtenberg, Andy Dick, Cheri Oteri, Dabney Coleman;  Sticking with the theme of reviving the past, Inspector Gadget is the attempt to resurrect the once popular children's cartoon of the same name.  John Brown (Broderick) is a security guard whose lifelong dream is to become a police officer.  Little known to Brown, he is about to achieve his goal when he attempts to foil the robbery of Dr. Brenda Bradford's (Fisher) lab.  Unfortunately for Brown, he is almost killed trying to save Dr. Bradford's most prized work.  When traditional techniques prove faulty, Brown is saved by the very technology he almost died to save.  This "technology" turns John Brown from a wannabe police officer to the most formidable crime fighter in history, thus creating Inspector Gadget (Broderick).  Now his number one job is to find the perpetrator of the robbery, the Claw (Everett), and put him behind bars. Although exclusively marketed as a film for children, there is some adult content that would make this movie very questionable for young children.  Also, Penny (Trachtenberg), who is Inspector Gadget's niece, is hardly in the film, contrary to the central character she played in the cartoon. - Jared Baldwin -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: mild
Language: mild

Divider

© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
Return to Table of Contents for this Issue.