Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 5, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
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Minority Report (PG-13,145 minutes). Steven Spielberg’s new film is a triumph, working on our minds and emotions: a thriller and a human story, a movie of ideas that’s also a whodunit. The master filmmaker is at the top of his form, working with a star, Tom Cruise, who generates complex human feelings even while playing an action hero. Set in 2054, it stars Cruise as the chief of the Department of Precrime, which uses precognitives to stop crimes before they are committed. Of course, if you could beat the system, you’d have the perfect crime. With Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell.
Rating: Four stars.Capitol
Men in Black II (PG-13, 88 minutes).
Rating: One and a half stars.
The Bourne Identity (PG-13, 118 minutes). A movie that exists only to expend kinetic energy, which it does well. Matt Damon stars as a trained killer who is saved from certain death, has no memory of who or what he is, and seeks answers in a deadly game against CIA operatives. Franka Potente co-stars as a woman who comes along for the ride for no better reason than that the hero needs someone to partner with. Chris Cooper and Brian Cox are CIA handlers. Meaningless, but very well done, with skilful action sequences and a great chase scene through Paris streets.
Rating: Three stars.
Lilo & Stitch (PG, 85 minutes). A surprisingly delightful new animated comedy from Disney, about a hostile alien creature named Stitch, who escapes to Earth, lands on Hawaii, and is adopted as the pet of a little girl named Lilo. Bright, smart, funny, with lots of pop culture jokes and six songs by Elvis. Light-years better than its boxoffice rival Scooby-Doo.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Ratillg: Thfee and a half StarS'
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Agent Ray (Tommy Lee Jones) and his partner Agent Jay (Will Smith) return as members of the highly funded government organization that polices and monitors extra-terrestrial activity on planet Earth, in the Columbia Pictures sci-fi adventure comedy Men In Black ll.
Back in black but with no spark
Some sequels continue a story. Others repeat it. Men in Black II creates a new threat for the MIB, but recycles the same premise, which is that mankind can defeat an alien invasion by assigning agents in Ray-Bans to shoot them into goo. This is a movie that fans of the original might enjoy in a diluted sort of way, but there is no need for ROGER BERT it — except,
-- of course, to
at the movies take another
haul at the box office, where the 1997 movie grossed nearly $600 million.
The astonishing success of the original MIB was partly because it was fun, partly because it was unexpected. We’d never seen anything like it, while with MIB II we’ve seen something exactly like it. In the original, Tommy Lee Jones played a no-nonsense veteran agent, Will Smith was his trainee, Rip Torn was their gruff boss, and makeup artist Rick Baker and a team of f/x wizards created a series of fanciful, grotesque aliens.
Although the aliens had the technology for interplanetary travel, they were no match for the big guns of the MIB.
Maw in Ila cis II
Ray — Tommy Lee Jones Jay — Will Smith Zed — Rip Torn Serleena — Lara Flynn Boyle Scrad/Charlie — Johnny Knoxville Laura Vasquez — Rosario Dawson Jeebs — Tony Shalhoub Tee — Patrick Warburton Frank — Tim Blaney (voice)
Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. Written by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro.
Based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham. Music by Danny Flfman.
Running time: 88 minutes.
Classified: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence and some provocative humour).
In MIB II, the guns are even bigger and the aliens are even slimier, although they do take sexy human form when one of them, Serleena, morphs into Lara Flynn Boyle. Another one, named Scrad (Johnny Knoxville), turns into a human who has a second neck with a smaller version of the same head, although that is not as amusing as you might hope.
The plot: The aliens are here to capture something, I’m not sure what, that will allow them
to destroy Earth. The top MIB agent is now Jay (Smith), who needs the help of Kay (Jones), but Kay’s memory has been erased by a “deneuralizer” and must be restored so that he can protect whatever it is the aliens want. Kay is currently working at the post office, which might have inspired more jokes than it does.
Smith and Jones fit comfortably in their roles and do what they can, but the movie doesn’t give them much to work with.
The biggest contribution is a dog named Frank (voice by Tim Blaney), whose role is much expanded from the first movie.
Frank is human in everything but form, a tough-talking streetwise canine who keeps up a running commentary as the reunited MIB chase aliens through New York. One of the eyewitnesses they question is a pizza waitress named Laura, played by the beautiful Rosario Dawson, who Jay likes so much he forgets to deneuralize.
The special effects are good, but often pointless. As the movie throws strange aliens at us, we aren’t much moved — more like mildly interested. There’s a subway worm at the outset that eats most of a tram without being anything more than an obvious special effect (we’re looking at the technique, not the worm), and later there are other aliens who look more like doodles at a concept session than anything we can get much worked up about. There is, however, a very odd scene set in a train station locker, which is occupied by a chanting mob of little creatures who worship the keyholder, and I would have liked to see more of them: What possible world view do they have?
If Men in Black III opens with the occupants of the locker, I will at least have hope for it.
Michael Ovitz says ‘sorry’ for comments made in Vanity Fair interview
LOS ANGELES — Michael Ovitz has issued an apology for saving his career was sabotaged
by several top Hollywood players he referred to as the “gay mafia” in a magazine article.
In an interview published in the August issue of Vanity Fair, the 55-year-old former head of the CAA talent agency — once considered the most powerful man in Hollywood — cast the blame for his professional down
fall on former colleagues.
He blamed his woes on Disney chief executive officer Michael Eisner, for whom he worked as president of The Walt Disney Co. until he was ousted in 1996. He also said a “gay mafia” led by DreamWorks cofounder David Geffen sought to eliminate him.
Not everyone he mentioned in the interview is gay.
In Wednesday’s edition of the
trade newspaper Variety, Ovitz apologized for the remark about homosexuality but did not retract any of his other accusations.
“I made some statements that were inappropriate during an open and frank dis-c u s s i o n with Vanity Fair,” he said
through a spokesman.
“In particular, the term ‘gay mafia’ does not reflect mv true feelings or attitudes. It is regrettable and I am truly sorry.”
Shatner carns honour
TEMECULA, Calif. — Star Trek star William Shatner will be recognized for his earthly achievements in entertainment at this year’s Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival.
Shatner, 71, will be honoured with the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award in September, director Jo Moulton says.
“He has been involved in front and behind the camera, television and movies," she said. “He is longevity."
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Scooby Doo (PG, 87 minutes). Live-action version of the TV cartoon series, with actors playing all the characters except for Scooby Doo, who is animated, and steals the show. Perhaps of interest to Scooby Doo aficionados. Nothing much for anyone else.
Rating: One star.
Windtalkers (R, 133 minutes). Starts with the fascinating story of Navajos who use their language to fashion an unbreakable code in World War II — and then buries that material in routine war movie cliches. The Indians are even upstaged in their own movie by Nicolas Cage, as an Italian-American sergeant who is the only welldeveloped character. Director John Woo, the Hong Kong action expert, gives us way, way too much battle footage and shortchanges the Navajos.
Rating: Two stars.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (PG-13, 178 minutes). Tolkien’s masterpiece has been transmuted into a modern sword-and-sorcery epic, heavy on action and special effects, at the cost of the book’s naive and guileless vision. As the story proceeds, the hobbits are moved off center stage and increasingly become supporting characters while wizards, elves, men and monsters stand astride their little world and steal their thunder. The film is, to be sure, an impressive achievement; director Peter Jackson has mounted a state-of-the-art action fantasy, with inspired special effects. What he has not done is capture the peculiar magic of Tolkien — the novel’s songs and poems are missing, along with the whimsy and comfortability. Of more appeal to Gladiator and Matrix fans than to those who grew up with the trilogy. With Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett.
Rating: Three stars.
THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (R, 103 rn., 2001). A peculiar and sort of brilliant family comedy that exists on a knife-edge between comedy and sadness. There are big laughs, quiet moments when we’re touched, and then the rug gets pulled out with deadpan audacity. Gene Hackman plays the patriarch of a sensationally dysfunctional family; Anjelica Huston is his estranged wife, Danny Glover is her fiance, and the three kids are played by Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson — with Owen Wilson as the kid they grew up with. Old grudges and long memories interfere with the father’s hopes of moving back home, in a movie that’s funny and then blind-sides us with unexpected emotional twists. Directed by Wes Anderson (Rushmore).
Rating: Three and a half stars.
CHARLOTTE GRAY (PG-13, 124 rn., 2002). That invaluable actress Cate Blanchett plays a Scots woman who falls in love with an RAF pilot and, when he is shot down over France, trains as a spy and parachutes into France to fight with the Resistance and maybe find him again. Blanchett and two actors playing French characters (Billy Crudup and Michael Gambon) are good, but they’re performing life support on a hopeless screenplay. The movie never succeeds in making Charlotte seem much more than the superfluous love interest. Directed by Gillian Armstrong (Oscar and Lucinda), who makes it look good and sound good, but can’t make us believe it.
Rating: Two stars.
NO SUCH THING (R, Ulm., 2002). Inexplicable, dull, shapeless film by Hal Hartley about a TY reporter (Sarah Polley) assigned by a cynical network executive (Helen Mirren) to track down an immortal monster (Robert John Burke) who lives off the coast of Iceland. Elements of Beauty and the Beast, but unrealized, in a film that seems not half-baked but never to have seen the inside of an oven.
Rating: One star.
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