Antz (1998) – Movie Review

Antz poster

Written by: Todd Alcott & Chris Weitz
Directed by: Eric Darnell & Laurence Guterman
Starring: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken

My Advice: Don’t miss it.

Z (Allen) is an ant that is, well, Woody Allen. So you can understand that when we meet him, he’s neurotic, complaining about being the middle child in a generation of millions, and only able to lift ten times his own body weight. He feels out of place as a worker, where all he does all day is move earth and hate his life. But then he meets the princess of the colony, Bala (Stone), and everything changes.

This movie is not only funny (and quite funny at that), it also has quite a bit of social commentary going on. And it gets major points for doing so in a way that isn’t a forced “Think for yourself, schmuck!” like Robert Anton Wilson might say. Don’t get me wrong, that certainly has its place, but I never did like a movie’s message to be delivered like they used to at the end of each Super Friends episode. And I hope they killed that purple monkey. But I digress.

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Ronin (1998) – Movie Review

Ronin movie poster

Written by: David Mamet (writing as Richard Weisz) and J.D. Zeik, based on a story by J.D. Zeik
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Jonathan Pryce

My Advice: Rent it.

Ronin begins with a definition of the title (in a really crappy font, nonetheless). For those who don’t know, a ronin is a masterless samurai. My first thought was that the film was beginning in a deficit. “Why explain the title up front? Why not have it explained during the course of the movie?” To my great chagrin, they did explain it again, I guess for those that were busy at the concession stand and missed the opening of the film. That’s pretty much indicative of the rest of the film, I fear.

The call goes out from Deirdre (McElhone). She needs people to go and grab a mysterious case which apparently contains the soul of Seamus (Pryce). I’m kidding. Who shows up? A cool and collected bunch of mercenaries, and Sam (DeNiro), an American former CIA agent, becomes their impromptu leader. Simple, right? Take a case away from some guy. Easy pickings, right? Well, not really.

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Blade (1998) – Movie Review

blade-movie-poster

Written by: David S. Goyer, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Gene Colan & Marv Wolfman
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright

My Advice: Don’t Miss It.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Wesley Snipes. You see, I was looking forward to a number of films this summer. Deep Impact was my Number One Movie to Look Forward To this year, and you know how that turned out. Blade was the last bastion of hope that I allowed myself, that one movie would be just as good as I thought it should. And damn, if you didn’t pull it off, Wes! I’ve even forgiven you for Passenger 57, this flick was so good. I’ve seen Blade twice, for pity’s sake, having felt the need to drag some friends along for the ride the next time. Sigh. Okay, enough euphoria–it’s just the summer stock has sucked this year, and to finally get a decent film is….overwhelming.

Okay, the synopsis is this: Blade (Snipes) is half-human, half-vampire, going about kicking vampire tush with the help of his particular Kenobi, Whistler (Kristofferson). However, his arch-nemesis, Deacon Frost (Dorff), wants to topple the bloodsucking hierarchy that exists and bring something really, really nasty over from the other side.

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BASEketball (1998) – Movie Review

BASEketball poster

Written by: Lewis Friedman, Robert LoCash, Jeff Wright & David Zucker
Directed by: David Zucker
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Yasmine Bleeth, Robert Vaughn, Jenny McCarthy

My Advice: Matinee.

There is a subgenre that has been suffering recently. That’s right, it’s called “Damn Silly Movies.” We’ve been torn between Mel Brooks, whose last semi-inspired foray was Spaceballs back in 1987, and Leslie Nielsen, who hasn’t had a really funny one since the first Naked Gun back in 1988. I’m pleased to announce that this movie is downright damn silly, and it’s funny…all the way through to the other side. I know, I know. You’re skeptical because you’ve been burned before. But go with me on this one.

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Disturbing Behavior (1998) – Movie Review

Disturbing Behavior movie poster

Directed by: David Nutter
Written by: Howard Gordon & Scott Michael Rosenberg
Starring: James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler

My Advice: Wait for MST3K.

Welcome to Cradle Bay, a nice little town that Steve (Marsden) and his family move to in order to get away from the past. There he meets goth girl couldhavebeen Rachel (Holmes), perennial outcast Gavin (Stahl) and a bunch of Blue Ribbons, the nice well-to-do overachievers who seem to run everything. However, the Blue Ribbons and the school guidance counselor Dr. Caldecott (Greenwood) have a sinister secret, one that will shake the pillars of heaven and bring hell to earth in the form of STEPFORD TEENS!

Jesus, what a piece of garbage. You’d think once I said “The Stepford Teens” you would know just how bad the film was going to be. No, believe me, it’s worse.

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There’s Something About Mary (1998) – Movie Review

There's Something About Mary movie poster

Written by: Ed Decter, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly & John J. Strauss
Directed by: The Brothers Farrelly
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, Chris Elliott, Lee Evans

My Advice: Rental.

The hypemonster rides again in this highly irreverent and also highly unfunny movie, which many are touting as the funniest movie of the decade. Granted, from the trailer you would think that was the case. Unfortunately, the trailer’s got the majority of the best parts of the film in it and comparing this to other movies that were actually funny is insulting. But first, a word about the plot. Ted (Stiller) is the nicest loser you will ever meet. He’s been carrying a thirteen-year crush on Mary (Diaz), and who can blame him? She doesn’t wait for you to ask her about coming up to see your etchings, she wants you to come up and watch Sportscenter. He hasn’t seen her in the same amount of years, ever since he got his member (although it’s referred to by a fairly funny Keith David as a particular food) caught in a zipper on the night of Prom. Ted hires Pat (Dillon) to go find her, and when he does, Pat falls for her as well. Because of the title, of course.

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Armageddon (1998) – Movie Review

Armageddon movie poster

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.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – Movie Review

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas movie poster art

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.

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Godzilla (1998) – Movie Review

Godzilla (1998)

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.

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Deep Impact (1998) – Movie Review

Deep Impact movie poster

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.

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