Swordfish (2001) – Movie Review

Swordfish movie poster

Written by: Skip Woods
Directed by: Dominic Sena
Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones

My Advice: Matinee.

Gabriel (Travolta) is a man with a mission. Suffice to say that mission involves a lot of guns, cigars, high speed chases, and Halle Berry topless. But of course, those are the elements of all good missions. Anyway, the one thing this mission is lacking is a world-class hacker. Gabriel finds one in Stanley (Jackman), a burnt-out computer cowboy with an ex-wife and a daughter living in stepfatherly hell. Gabriel has something up his sleeve you see, and it involves a lot of money and an intricate plan to get at it. Hot on the trail of everybody is Agent Roberts (Cheadle). And of course, Vinnie Jones is quickly becoming the Danny Trejo of the next millennium.

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Arthur (1981) – DVD Review

Arthur DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written & Directed by: Steve Gordon
Starring: Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, John Gielgud, Geraldine Fitzergerald, Ted Ross

Features:

  • Theatrical trailers
  • “Behind the Scenes” information

Released by: Warner Brothers
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Hell no.

My Advice: Avoid it because of the crappy DVD presentation.

Arthur Bach (Moore) is a millionaire playboy. He’s also a drunk and an embarrassment to his family. Constantly going out at night, picking up hookers and bringing them home to his stately manor–he keeps winding up in the papers. It’s only through the efforts of his manservant Hobson (Gielgud) that you imagine he’s survived this long. But hey, he’s enjoying life, he’s about to get married to a wonderfully rich girl, and he’s got fifty pairs of short pants hanging in his closet. What could possibly go wrong? Well, he just might slip up and fall in love with the wrong girl for his family, but the right one for him.

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Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1999) – DVD Review

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written & Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Nick Moran, Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher, Vinnie Jones

Features:

  • U.S. & U.K. theatrical trailers
  • Cast & crew bios
  • Production featurette
  • Cockney rhyming dictionary

Released by: Universal
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: No

My Advice: Rent it.

It seemed like the perfect plan. Four friends decide to pool their resources and give the card playing prodigy among them, Eddie (Moran), the chance to win at high stakes poker. Unfortunately, like most perfect plans, the thing goes right into the toilet, threatening to drag all four of them down, taking Eddie’s dad (Sting) and most of the neighborhood with them.

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Shrek (2001) – Movie Review

Shrek movie poster

Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Roger S.H. Schulman & Joe Stillman, based on the book by William Steig
Directed by: Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow

My Advice: Matinee

Shrek (voiced by Myers) is an ogre who lives a pretty good life. He has his own swamp to live in, mud to wash himself with, and villagers to terrify. Farquaad (voiced by Lithgow) is lord of the nearby lands, and wants to create the perfect realm for himself. In order to do so, he forces all of the fairytale creatures out, relocating them right onto Shrek’s doorstep. Now all Farquaad needs is a bride, and guess who shows up in time to strike a deal to get him one?

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Brazil (1985) – DVD Review

Brazil Criterion Collection DVD

Film:
DVD:

Written by Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown & Tom Stoppard
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert DeNiro, Ian Holm, Michael Palin

Features:

  • Director’s cut with Gilliam audio commentary
  • “What is Brazil?”, a 30-minute documentary
  • “The Battle of Brazil: A Video History”, 60-minute documentary
  • In-depth coverage of the many drafts and treatments of the script, with comments from McKeown and Stoppard
  • Production designer Norman Garwood on the look of the film
  • Costume designer James Acheson on the costumes and their inspirations
  • Composer Michael Kamen on his work for the film
  • In-depth look at the storyboards for the original dream sequences with writeups on their content
  • In-depth look at the special effects, including some raw footage
  • Theatrical trailer, with publicity and production stills
  • 94-minute “Love Conquers All” version of Brazil overseen by the studio, with audio commentary by Gilliam expert
    David Morgan

Released by: Criterion.
Rating: R.
Region: 1
Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Own It.

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Dune (2000) – DVD Review

Dune miniseries DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written by: John Harrison, based on the novel by Frank Herbert
Directed by: John Harrison
Starring: Alec Newman, Saskia Reeves, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Barbora Kodetova, William Hurt

Features:

  • Production notes
  • “Behind-the-Scenes” Featurette
  • Photo Galleries
  • “The Cinematographic Ideation of Frank Herbert’s Dune”: an Interactive Written Treatise by Vittorio Storaro

Released by: Artisan
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Nope.

My Advice: Rent it.

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Serious Sam: The Second Encounter (PC) – Game Review

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Overall:

Developer: Croteam
Publisher: Gathering of Developers
Platform: Win 95/98/Me
ESRB Rating: M (Blood & Gore, Violence)

First off, don’t worry if you haven’t played the first Serious Sam. I hadn’t and it’s not necessary. Second, while it’s called Serious Sam, the game is in fact, very silly. The chainsaw-wielding maniacs with jack-o-lantern heads are a big clue. There is a plot, but it’s not that important to your gaming experience. You’re killing alien invaders in pre-Columbian South America, ancient Babylon, and medieval Europe. And killing lots and lots of alien baddies. Did I mention the killing?

On paper, Serious Sam 2 sounds like another Duke Nukem clone. Clearing levels of bad guys, picking up keys, ammo, and power ups, and taking out the boss creature at the end while talking trash. However, within that formula the development team from Croatia (yes, Croatia, really) has worked in a lot of originality and style. The enemies have definite attack strategies that require the player to use the various moves and weapons available. And their design runs the gamut from silly (the above mentioned pumpkin-headed maniacs with chainsaws) to the scary (bigass demons that toss massive fireballs at you).

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Cast Away (2000) – Movie Review

Cast Away movie poster

Written by: William Broyles, Jr.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Christopher Noth

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Chuck Noland (Hanks) is an efficiency expert for Federal Express. He travels around the world, preaching the doctrine that no time should be wasted. For Noland, speed is all that separates FedEx from becoming the Postal Service. So wrapped up is he in his career that many times his relationship with his fiancee, Kelly (Hunt), takes a back seat. During the holidays, he is called overseas to handle an efficiency emergency for the company. But he never reaches his destination. Due to a fairly spectacular plane crash, he finds himself washed up on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. His chances for rescue slim to none, he must find a way to stay alive, despite the odds being stacked against him.

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Princess Mononoke (1999) – DVD Review

Princess Mononoke DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, translated into English by Neil Gaiman
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson

Features:

  • Featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

Released by: Miramax
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own it.

When a demon invades his village and sets in motion events that are certain to eventually claim his life, Ashitaka (voiced by Crudup), must accept his destiny and go forth to find the origins of the demon and end the evil. On his journey he meets the beautiful yet savage San (voiced by Danes), who, with her family of wolves, is at war with the Lady Eboshi (voiced by Driver). Eboshi wants all the wilderness destroyed so she can mine for iron ore, whereas San is the forest’s protector. They want to kill each other. Out of all of this conflict, Ashitaka must somehow find a way to bring all the sides in this war to peace–lest no one survive.

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Almost Famous (2000) – Movie Review

Almost Famous movie poster

Written and Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman

My Advice: Don’t Miss It.

William Miller (Fugit) is a young aspiring writer who is given music by his sister (Zooey Deschanel) as a parting gift when she runs off with her boyfriend to escape their mother (McDormand), who isn’t exactly domineering–let’s just say she cares a lot. He takes the music and makes it his life, and at the age of fifteen, William meets Lester Bangs (Hoffman). Bangs, an editor for Creem magazine gives William his first assignment–to write an article on Black Sabbath. While trying to get into the concert, he meets not only the band Stillwater but also their lead “band-aid”, Penny Lane (Hudson). His relationships with Lane, the band, and music journalism all come to a head as this young man comes of age on Stillwater’s tour.

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