Because some things you simply need to know. But it’s silly to make you read a whole post about each one. The only thing sillier is us writing an entire post about each one. Enjoy.
Directed by Brian DePalma
Written by Jim Thomas, John Thomas & Graham Yost; story by Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas & John Thomas
Starring Gary Sinise, Connie Nielsen, Don Cheadle, Jerry O’Connell, Tim Robbins
My Advice: Wait for Cable.
Luke Graham (Cheadle) has been tapped to lead the first manned mission to Mars. His friend Woody (Robbins) is going to lead the second wave of exploration and research. Their compatriot Jim (Sinise) had to drop out of the running to be first man on Mars due to the loss of a loved one. Everything looks like it’s great for Luke and his crew, but then something goes wrong and contact with the Mars Base Camp is lost. Now the Mars 2 Mission has a different objective: rescue.
All I can really say for the film is this: they meant well. In trying to address exploration of Mars and the origin of the human species, they picked some really nice big targets to shoot for. And it looked like they had everything lined up: good FX, kick-ass cast, A-list guy handling the musical score, and what would seem on the surface to be a decent story. So why is the end result a pretty-looking piece of melodramatic tripe? Well, let’s see how it is in reality.
Written by: Stephen Gaghan, based on the original BBC miniseries by Simon Moore
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio del Toro, Don Cheadle, Dennis Quaid
My Advice: Matinee
The macrocosm of worldwide drug trafficking condensed into the microcosm of a theatrical release film. A judge (Douglas) gets appointed to be the new U.S. drug czar, only to learn that his daughter (Erika Christensen) is addicted to the very stuff her dad now is in charge of stopping. The wife (Zeta-Jones) of a businessman (Steven Bauer) learns that her husband’s real business was trafficking drugs into the U.S.–after he’s been arrested, leaving her and her family in dire straits. A Mexican cop (del Toro) has to fight the system and his own ethics when dealing with the drug trade.
My primary beef with Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic is that it’s just so long and drawn out. It had a very powerful message, and dealt it the way my favorite “message films” have done. They say, “Here’s the scenario–now here is it from every angle. You figure out what to think.” The problem with this film is that it takes forever to get to where it’s going. Granted, when it finally gets there, it’s a hell of a bomb to drop.
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.