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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - # 84 - March, 2002

Staff

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Ratings:
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Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
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"The Musketeer", Universal Pictures, 2002, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.36:1, DD, DTS, 1 Hr 45 min, Rated PG-13; Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth, Justin Chambers; In 14th Century France, Cardinal Richelieu (Rea) is seizing the opportunity to take over the country from King Louis XIII. Richelieu's henchman, Febre (Roth) is more than up to the task, having rampaged the countryside, arresting members of the Musketeers, who would normally serve as the King's private guards. Young D'Artagnan (Chambers), son of the famed D'Artagnan, together with his Musketeer friends and a peasant girl named Francesca (Suvari), attempt to save the King from this fate. The Queen (Deneuve) wants peace at any cost, and aids the Musketeers in their quest. They rescue Lord Buckingham, an emissary from England, who brokers for peace, but who had been secreted into prison by Febre. There have been many, many films about the Musketeers, and this is not one of the more memorable ones. Although the candle and torch lighting give a realistic look to the various castle and inns, the story seems trivial. Tim Roth does continue to make great bad guys though. - JEJ -

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

 

 

 

 

 

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"A Glimpse of Hell", Twentieth Century Fox, 2002, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.76:1, DD, 1 Hr 25 min, Rated PG-13; James Caan, Robert Sean Leonard, Daniel Roebuck, Jamie Harrold, John Doman; In 1989, the USS Iowa, commanded by Captain Fred Moosally (Caan), is having practice maneuvers to show off its 16" gun accuracy to a Naval Admiral, and there is a horrific accident. Gun Turret 2 explodes, killing dozens of seamen. Lt. JG Dan Meyer (Leonard) examines the accident scene, recording where bodies were found, and discovers that the Navy reports on the accident are attempting to cover up the fact that the guns were in need of maintenance so that the Captain's record will not be blemished. He treads lightly, fearing for his own career, including testifying at an enquiry in Washington, D.C., before a House Senate Committee. The INS concludes that one of the seamen purposely set off an explosion in order to commit suicide, but Lt. Meyer strongly believes differently, and is put under pressure to accept the Navy's official conclusion. The story is true, and a testament to how far people will go to prevent the admission of personal error. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ** (The entire movie has bad edits that produce combing.)
Audio: ***
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: no

 

 

 

 

 

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"AI - Artificial Intelligence", DreamWorks and Warner Brothers, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.77:1, DD, DTS, 2 Hr 25 min, Rated PG-13; Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas, William Hurt; In a future world, global warming has destroyed major cities, and now the living space is at a premium. Pregnancy is regulated, and people must be content with robots, called Mechas, to keep them company and clean the house. As an experiment, a scientist, Dr. Hobby (Hurt), at Cybertronics builds a child robot named David (Osment) that has unconditional love to give. A couple, Monica (O'Connor) and Henry (Robards) Swinton, whose own child Martin (Thomas) is in a coma, accepts David into their home. Then, Martin regains consciousness, and he resents David to the point that the parents take David back to Cybertronics to be destroyed. At the last moment, Monica releases David into the woods near Cybertronics, so that he won't be destroyed with the rest of the returned robots. David meets Gigolo Joe (Law), a Mecha who takes care of lonely women, and together, they set out to find the Blue Fairy, whom David believes can turn him into a real boy, like Pinnochio.  With cameos by Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Chris Rock, and Ben Kingsley, along with music by John Williams, special effects by Dennis Muren and Stan Winston Studios, everyone involved assumed this would be a blockbuster hit, maybe an Academy Award winner. The news media touted it, the pundits on TV touted it, but it failed at the box office. A disaster. Why? Well, probably for a number of reasons. One is that Steven Spielberg wrote it, produced it, and directed it. No one has the talent to pull that off . . . Spielberg included. Even William Wyler, who was probably the best director who ever lived, didn't try to do all that. Secondly, the movie attempts to teach (preach) a moral about life's purpose. Movies should entertain. That is their purpose. They should not attempt to moralize, philosophize, politicize, proselytize, or otherwise, try to force some principle of belief (preaching) onto an audience, at least if they want to be financially successful. Going to the movies is a voluntary experience, and it is expensive. Going to church is voluntary and inexpensive. If audiences want to be preached to, they will take the less expensive route. Third, there are some seriously violent scenes where robots get shot through a huge electric fan, which might have caused some kids (PG-13) to wake up screaming for mommy. Families may have told the neighbors this is a "Don't go see it." Fourth, the separation anxiety angle of David crying when his mother abandons him might upset parents who, again, tell their friends, "Don't go see it." Fifth, this movie is basically Stanley Kubrick, done by Steven Spielberg. Kubrick's stuff was popular in the 60's, 70's, and 80's, but the Zeitgeist has changed, and Kubrick may be out of fashion. And, there you have it. A $100 million dollar failure. A lot of self esteem in Hollywood and the corporate media went down the drain, because consumers didn't fall for the hype. - JEJ -

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

 

 

 

 

 

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"Heist", Morgan Creek Productions, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1, DD, 1 Hr 49 min, Rated R; Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay; Joe Moore (Hackman) is a jewel thief, and on his latest job, he is caught on video tape, so he wants to escape to South America with his wife Fran (Pidgeon). Another crook named Bergman (DeVito) has a job for him so that he can leave with some cash. It involves stealing gold on its way to Switzerland. The bargain is that Bergman wants his protege, Jimmy Silk (Rockwell) to go along. So, Joe and his team Bobby (Lindo) and Pinky (Jay) set it all up. The problem is that everyone wants to double cross the others, so lots of things go wrong all the way to the end. The film has an all-star cast and plenty of action, but the characters are not well developed, and the storyline is difficult to follow. However, it is directed by David Mamet who makes it into a pretty good film noire anyway. - JEJ -

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

 

 

 

 

 

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"Zoolander", Paramount Pictures, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.37:1, DD, 1 Hr 29 min, Rated PG-13; Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Jon Voight; A company that enjoys good profits from slave labor in Malaysia is being threatened by a reformist Malaysian Prime Minister. They look for someone with practically no intelligence to brainwash into murdering the Prime Minister. The vacuous New York male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is a perfect match. When Derek loses Male Model of the Year to newcomer Hansel (Wilson), the company takes the opportunity to try and kidnap him for the brainwashing, so they hire Model Agency Guru Mugatu (Ferrell) to do the job. News Reporter Matilda (Taylor) helps Derek escape from the bad guys and save the Prime Minister from assassination. The film spoofs the assumption that models are brainless by showing you what would happen if they actually were. It is a silly, but funny look at the world of modeling, with cameo appearances by many famous faces from the New York fashion scene. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: mild
Sex: mild
Language: the "S" word

 

 

 

 

 

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"Training Day" (HD DVD), Warner Brothers, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1, DD, 2 Hr 2 min, Rated R; Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg; LA Detective Alonzo Harris (Washington) is the head of a narcotics team, and takes on rookie officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke) as a trainee. At first, Jake is very enthusiastic, but soon learns that Alonzo's tactics are not part of the instruction manual. In fact, Alonzo is worse than some of the crooks he is trying to put away. He explains to Jake that the only way to deal with thugs, is to be a thug too, but is murder part of the game? The film is awesome and represents what can happen when everything works perfectly, the script, the direction, and the acting. Last night, Denzel Washington received the Academy Award for Best Actor in this movie. It sets new standards for crime dramas, and is a must-see. - JEJ -

HD DVD Version (9/06 - Kris Deering): This could easily be one of my top video references yet. While I imagine it will get overtaken when we start seeing direct digital transfers of animation in HD, Training Day has that rare pristine look that extends all the way to the farthest objects in the image. Crisp is too light a word. Fine object detail is incredible without even the slightest sign of halos or enhancement. Colors are rich, and contrast is striking at times. This is what HD is all about.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital + soundtrack is equally pleasing with the urban hip-hop soundtrack and dynamic action sequences. More than that, I was impressed with the ambience that the surround soundstage provides. You really get that feeling of being there, which is rare even nowdays.
- Kris Deering

 

 

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: ***** 1080p
Audio: ***** English Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1,
English Dolby True-HD 5.1
Photography: ****
Extras ***
Violence: Explicit
Sex: Nudity
Language: Bad

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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