Written by: J.J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Hensleigh, & Shane Salerno, based on a story by Jonathan Hensleigh & Robert Roy Pool, with additional writing by Paul Attanasio, Ann Biderman, Scott Rosenberg, & Robert Towne Directed by: Michael Bay Starring: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
Michael Bay does it again and producer Jerry Bruckheimer is pretty much forgiven for his part in making Con Air a reality. That’s right, it’s the first big-ass plastic mindless destructorama flick I’ve seen this summer to actually make good on its promise and thrill. But be forewarned–you’re entering Jerry Bruckheimer’s world, a world that gives physicists in our world ulcers and headaches. We’ll tell them to bugger off in a minute. First, the synoptic thing: A rock the size of Texas is headed towards Earth (played by itself) and will wipe out everything including politicians, movie critics, and other forms of bacteria. There’s only one thing to do–drill a hole in the sucker, plant a nuke in it, and blow it to hell. Or wherever space rocks go after they die when they’ve been bad and menaced whole planets. And I know what you’re thinking, true believers–you already reviewed this movie, Widge, and were disappointed! Ah, not this movie but its bastard cousin. More on that to come. Anyway, the head of NASA (Thornton) calls on the best deep driller in the world (Willis) to save all creation. Nuff said.
Directed by Terry Gilliam Written by Alex Cox, Tod Davies, Terry Gilliam & Tony Grisoni, based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson Starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey, Cameron Diaz
My Advice: Don’t Miss It.
How odd that the first film I’ve designated with “Don’t Miss It” this year and the first film rife with Oscar-worthy stuff I’ve seen this year probably won’t get a single nod. Hollywood’s funny/stupid that way. Let me go ahead and say up front that some people probably shouldn’t see this film, despite my “Don’t Miss It” verdict. Those are the people who didn’t like the book, people who have no idea what Thompson or the book is like, and people who think that any film that has drugs in it condones illegal drugs. It’s a film that will give a strong reaction: love or hate, seldom an in-between. That having been said, this film is a trip–no pun intended.
Written by: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich, based on the character owned by the Toho Company Directed by: Dean Devlin Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer
My Advice: Wait for MST3K
It seemed like the match made in heaven, right? D&E, the men behind ID4, take on the king of all monsters in a cage match where the cage is Manhattan, yes? What could possibly go wrong? You name it. What need is there for a synopsis, really–I mean it is a Godzilla flick, right? Well, I won’t spoil anything that the newspapers and other reviewers haven’t by telling you that the G-Man is a G-It and can lay eggs and proceeds to do so. So you got Godzilla Babies coming to the Saturday Morning LineupTM anyday now.
Let’s talk about the cast, all great talent–at least in other films they’ve done. Broderick must have figured he was in cash cow, um, cash lizard heaven, because his performance lacked any redeeming qualities. Instead he seemed to revert to Ferris, forgetting that he’s proven his worth with films like Glory. Jean Reno is the only one to leave this flick without egg on his face, doing such a great tough guy (complete with Elvis impersonation) that Warner Bros. has him in the Batsuit for the next chapter of that particular franchise. Maria Pitillo’s character is so pitifully helpless and annoying that I was praying for her to die ten minutes after meeting her. Hank Azaria does fairly well with his New York cameraman bit, but it’s almost a one-note for this guy. Harry Shearer‘s sleazy newsman is delightfully bad, but hey, he wants to sleep with Pitillo’s character so I wanted him to die too.
Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin & Michael Tolkin Directed by: Mimi Leder Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave
My Advice: Matinee.
Still waiting for a film to satisfy the way you thought it ought to have? Yeah, me too. This was my number one film to look forward to this year, but alas. Synopsis: Big rock heading toward earth. Death. Destruction. Dogs and cats, etc. So let’s talk about what the film does have going for it. First and foremost, it has Bruce Joel Rubin, the man who brought us Jacob’s Ladder, a Needcoffee.com classic. It’s he and Tolkin that are responsible for pushing this over the top and making it a slightly above average film. It’s the concept more than anything else–the idea of humanity trying to deal with its own extinction, and the choices that must be made, sometimes in a matter of seconds, that decide the fate of sometimes just a family, sometimes millions of people. Unfortunately, I smell cutting and rewrites that crippled what could have been a great film.
Written & Directed by: James Toback Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Heather Graham, Natasha Gregson Wagner
My Advice: Wait for MST3K
This proves that even at 84 minutes, a feature film can be too long. The premise is the film’s title, except that the first two characters didn’t know about each other prior to the film’s start, since they were sharing said guy. What starts off looking like a very interesting piece where you get a small number of actors in an enclosed place and let them act their asses off (for proper reference see Closet Land, see Mindwalk) turns into an episode of The Real World. If Toback wants to have really great actors improvising emotional situations, somebody show him Secrets & Lies.
A word about Downey–if the boy could ever get his personal shit together, he’d be the actor of his generation. He’s a Needcoffee favorite but sometimes I just wanna strangle him. Enough of that. When he’s alone (accusing himself in a mirror or talking to his agent) we get a great performance from him. However, once the two women come into the scene it’s over. Then it’s all screaming matches, thrownaway lines, the whole bit.
Written by: Ben Ramsey Directed by: Che-Kirk Wong Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Avery Brooks, Christina Applegate, Bokeem Woodbine
My Advice: Wait and rent it.
In a word: “John Woo’s Grosse Pointe Blank.” Too simplistic? Perhaps, but this is actually a very enjoyable film for the reason that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, even when the bullets are flying. Wahlberg is a hard-working hitman who is deadlier than E. coli on the job but goes home to Maalox moments with his fiancee (Applegate) and lady-on-the-side (Lela Rochon). Wahlberg plays both sides of his character, Marvin, very well: the killer and the whipped homebody. He wants everyone to like him, for pity’s sake, and you end up liking him despite the fact he’s a major weanie.
Written and Directed by: James Cameron Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton
My Advice: Don’t Miss It.
To take the space to try to convey to you all of the things that Cameron did right with this film would basically wipe out my alloted server storage. I could tell you about the incredible editing job that moves you from one time period to another with eerie seamlessness. I could tell you about the cunning way Cameron introduces you to the tragedy and then makes you watch it unfold, step by step. I could tell you about all the different things that the ship is going to be declared to represent in the next few weeks. But I won’t. I’ll tell you instead that it’s brilliant. It’s the best Cameron I’ve seen. The acting is superbly done. DiCaprio and Winslet are two of the most solid young actors we have around, and their relationship was so natural it was scary. Even the normal places where the film might go wrong–the frame story, the fact you know the ending, the sheer schmaltz of trying to show humanity at its lowest and highest–it all works. Do yourself a favor and see on the big screen in a theatre with a great sound system. That about sums it up. Read More
Written by: Nicholas Klein, from a story by Nicholas Klein and Wim Wenders Directed by: Wim Wenders Starring: Bill Pullman, Andie MacDowell, Gabriel Byrne, Traci Lind, Pruitt Taylor Vince
My Advice: Wait for MST3K.
Let me try to synopsisize this thing for you. Bill Pullman is a movie producer who doesn’t have time for his wife (MacDowell) and who almost gets killed by two hitmen for some reason but are spotted by Gabriel Byrne who sits in an observatory watching the entire L.A. basin when he’s not boffing his housekeeper (Marisol Padilla SÃ¡nchez) or delivering pizza to his dad (Sam Fuller) and then killer satellites (or something even more sinister) save Pullman from sure death while on the side his wife starts boffing a rap star (K. Todd Freeman). Oh, and throw in some fair performance poetry (Nicole Parker) and something about an actress who wants you to define everything (Lind) and the detective who loves her (Vince). Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson Written by Philip Eisner Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Richard T. Jones
My Advice: Matinee.
Okay, let me say this right out of the starting gate. I eat pepperoni pizza and watch Dawn of the Dead at the same time, okay? I am not one to let myself get overly disturbed by a film; the last instance of that was Jacob’s Ladder. But this film left me completely and utterly unable to sleep. This has never happened before. So I look at this film with a great deal of respect, despite its flaws.
Plot: A superhightech spaceship disappears and then reappears seven years later, and a team is sent to investigate. First, let’s get some things out of the way that are obvious problems: Some of the laws of physics are not just broken but sneered at. Also, somewhere along the line Eisner thought to himself, “Cenobite.” There is a question about a particular recording and how far-fetched it is that everyone’s forgotten how to speak Latin other than one guy on a spaceship. But there’s a lot of other things that make you think those things later: A harrowing sequence in an airlock, a really messed up clue of what happened to the ship’s original crew, and the production design with a ship sure to please any black-eyelined leather-wearing goth.
Written by: Akiva Goldsman Directed by: Joel Schumacher Starring: George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone
My Advice: Wait for MST3K
What a marvelous study in what not to do. I won’t even begin to waste your time synopsizing this thing. I only hope textbooks someday use this piece of shite as a nice negative example of filmmaking. Don’t get me wrong, there are some kudos to hand out. Clooney would make a fine Bruce Wayne/Batman–if he was in another film that actually had decent dialogue. O’Donnell would make a fine Robin, even with the dialogue–if he were ten years younger. Schwarzenegger would make a great Mr. Freeze (the moments he spends pining over his wife are the best in the entire film)–if he didn’t spew out really crappy one-liners everytime he opened his blue glowing mouth. Uma Thurman did exactly what Schumacher asked for–act like an idiot, so she gets the points even though her hairstyle was a cross between the Mother character in Pink Floyd The Wall and Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd. Alicia Silverstone doesn’t fool me for one minute–she’s twelve. Michael Gough comes out of this smelling like roses, since he’s been the only consistently good thing in all four films, despite being turned into Alfred Headroom at one point. He also gets bonus points for his character becoming terminally ill in a desperate attempt not to be in the fifth film. John Glover is mildly amusing as Jason Woodrue, although he’d be in much better shape in another movie altogether. I’ll give a dollar to anyone who can convince me that Vivica Fox and Elle Macpherson served any purpose in this film whatsoever. And am I the only one who noticed that Uzi Gal (creator of the gun) was a cop in this? Qwa?