Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick with additional dialogue by Mark Burton & John O’Farrell, based on a story by Peter Lord & Nick Park Directed by: Peter Lord & Nick Park Starring: Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Benjamin Whitrow, Tony Haygarth
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
Ginger (Sawalha) is a chicken with a dream. She wants to escape from the farm she is kept captive in, her egg-laying abilities and those of her comrades exploited by the Tweedys (Richardson and Haygarth). She has all of these marvelous plans for escape–but she insists on getting the rest of the farm’s population out as well. Suffice to say, it’s one disappointment after another. That is, until one day, a rooster from America named Rocky (Gibson), literally drops in on the farm–and he inspires Ginger to think that perhaps there is a way out after all.
Written by: Richard Price, Shane Salerno & John Singleton, based on the 1971 movie written by John D.F. Black & Ernest Tidyman and the novel by Ernest Tidyman Directed by: John Singleton Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Wright, Christian Bale, Vanessa Williams, Richard Roundtree
My Advice: Rent it.
Police detective John Shaft (Jackson) walks onto a pretty heinous crime scene. Racist uberbastard Walter (Bale) has just caved in the skull of a young black man who talked back to Walter’s tauntings in a bar. Open and shut case, yes? Well, not quite. Walter’s the son of a VIP rich real estate mogul, and can afford lawyers and bail out the ying yang. And hey, there weren’t any witnesses…or were there?
This is a film where if you decide to take it too seriously, you will be seriously disappointed. It’s pretty much just a vehicle for Samuel “Badass” Jackson to work his magic–and work it he does. When he’s not pistol whipping drug peddlers he’s breaking the nose of Christian Bale’s character–and the fun, winking aspects of the movie (along with the action sequences) work really well. Bale himself is suitably malevolent and Wright is acting up a storm as Peoples Hernandez, the second villain of the piece–it’s just a shame that he seemed to drown in his own accent at times. Williams does reasonably well as Shaft’s police backup and Busta Rhymes does not annoy in the role of the wise-cracking driver. As for Richard Roundtree? Even as Uncle Shaft, he’s still the man.
Written by: Corey Mandell, based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard Directed by: Roger Christian Starring: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Richard Tyson
My Advice: Wait for MST3K. On the other hand, Don’t Miss It.
Welcome to the year 3000. It seems that a thousand years ago, a race of aliens known as Psychlos showed up and literally bombed the human race back to the Stone Age. Now, Johnnie (Pepper), lives in the caves with his tribe and dreams of a better life for his people. Despite the protests of his girlfriend, Daryl Hannah (Coates), he decides to go out into the world and see what there is to see–but there’s a problem. The problem is nine feet tall–Terl (Travolta), the Psychlo chief of security. He’s got a job for the industrious Johnnie, and the young “man-animal” could turn it to his advantage and take back the planet–or wind up getting everybody killed.
Written by: David H. Franzoni, John Logan & William Nicholson Directed by: Ridley Scott Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Connie Nielson, Richard Harris
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
Maximus (Crowe) is not an Autobot, he’s in actuality a Roman general, who is running out of non-Roman ass to kick on the European continent. He’s anxious to return to his wife and child and put his military career behind him. However, his emperor, Marcus Aurelius (Harris), calls upon him to undertake an important mission to bring Rome back to greatness–but this task will put Maximus directly at odds with Marcus’ own son, Commodus (Phoenix). And let me tell you, if there’s one thing you did not do in the Roman Empire, it’s get in the way of someone vying for the title of Caesar.
Written by: Eric Bernt & John Jarrell, based on a story by Mitchell Kapner Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak Starring: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong
My Advice: Wait and rent it.
Po (Jon Kit Lee) is asking for trouble. You see, he’s the son of Ch’u (Henry O), an Asian warlord who has relocated to the United States. That, and apparently he’s just running amok, going into clubs, picking fights–like I said, he’s asking for it. And sure enough, if you ask for it long enough, you get it. Once Po has gotten it, the obvious ones to blame are the O’Day family, led by Isaak (Lindo). But while this war between two crime organizations escalates, a wild card gets thrown into the mix: namely Han (Li), who simply wants to know who truly had his brother Po killed.
Written & Directed by: Jun Falkenstein Starring: Jim Cummings, Nikita Hopkins, Ken Sansom, John Fielder, Peter Cullen
My Advice: Matinee
Okay, I’m eight years old again. I’m going to see Disney‘s latest installment of Winnie the Pooh films, The Tigger Movie. Pretty cool right? Well, in a word, yeah: it was pretty cool indeed. Or as I would have said at the age of eight, “that’s pretty trippy.” So there I sit with my best friend in the whole world, who at the age of twenty-eight is actually my fiancee and best friend in the whole world, all eager for the movie to start. Here is what I saw.
The movie starts with a nice little intro of live action, in obviously what is Christopher Robin’s (Tom Attenborough) room, and goes into the beginning of a classic Pooh movie. Its right here that things start to change, and it stops being a Pooh movie and becomes, ahem… (pause for dramatic effect) The Tigger Movie. See that’s one of the things that you have to understand, this movie comes with more action than the typical Pooh movie. It has some excitement. I actually saw where a reviewer in a local paper complained that it wasn’t like the other Pooh movies. Gee, maybe that’s why they called it The Tigger Movie.
Directed by Rob Bowman Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Blythe Danner
My Advice: Wait for Cable.
It is my sincere hope that someday, thirty years or so in the future, when Hollywood gets around to doing a remake of The X-Files movie (which you know they will), they make one better than this turned out to be. Basically, hardcore X-Philes should catch a matinee and have a blast, but anyone else should stay away. Before I start ranting, here’s the synopsis: Agents Mulder and Scully (Duchovny and Anderson, respectively) run around and investigate weird goings-on for the FBI (or rather, despite the FBI). Their project (“The X-Files,” it’s called, natch) has recently been shut down and they’ve been relegated to an FBI office in Dallas. There they stumble onto a bomb threat, which leads them deeper into the conspiracy they’ve known was going on all along.
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson Starring John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards
My Advice: Wait for Cable.
Paul Thomas Anderson begins his opus with an interesting postulation. All of those urban legends (or are they? Hmmm…) that you’ve no doubt gotten in your in-basket more than once–the unlucky scuba diver and the unlucky victim of a murder turned suicide–they may be strange and weird, but they happen all the time. So how weird can they be? This is what the narrator presents us with before Anderson introduces us to a veritable slew of different characters. What they all have in common is that they are miserable and their parents more than likely screwed up their lives. We deal with their crap for two and a half hours. And they all sing a song together…don’t ask. And then the really weird thing happens, which I won’t spoil for you, because it and Tom Cruise the two interesting things in this art-wank festival.
Written and Directed by Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cate Blanchett
My Advice: Wait and rent it.
Tom Ripley (Damon) is a nobody living in a sub-basement apartment, until the day he’s mistaken for a schoolmate of Dickie Greenleaf’s (Law) by Dickie’s father (James Rebhorn). Dickie apparently is living the bohemian life over in Italy, playing at being a musician, and also playing at being a boyfriend to the lovely Marge Sherwood (Paltrow). Tom’s well-paid assignment is to go to Europe and convince Dickie to come home and presumably take up the family steel business. But Dickie has no intention of doing so, and contrives with his newfound chameleon friend Tom to wring more money from his father. In the meantime, Tom has found that he really likes Dickie’s lifestyle, not to mention Dickie himself, to an obsessive perhaps unhealthy degree.
Written and Directed by: Frank Darabont, based on the novel by Stephen King Starring: Tom Hanks, David Morse, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter
My Advice: Matinee
Paul Edgecomb (Dabbs Greer) is an old man with a strange past, which gives him plenty of sleepless nights. When he finally begins to crack a bit about the edges, his friend Elaine (Eve Brent) becomes concerned, so he finally unburdens his tale upon her. It so happens that during the Depression, when Paul was younger (Hanks), he was a prison guard on death row. This particular row was known as The Green Mile. His life, and the life of his co-workers, is changed forever when a hulking giant of a man, John Coffey (Duncan), is brought in for execution.
Add another title to the list of good King cinematic adaptations. In fact, were it not for the attention the novel garnered when it was first published in serialized form, this would surprise the same cinemagoers who could not believe King brought us the basis for Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption. It’s so unlike him, they would say… not an undead shambling thing to be found. Well, surprise and get over it. King is a masterful storyteller, and when his game is on… it is on with a vengeance, no matter the subject.