Sun, 23 Mar 2003

Now Showing March 23, 2003

The Hours (Drama, 114 minutes) Starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Miranda Richardson, Toni Collette, Ed Harris and John C. Reilly. Directed by Stephen Daldry.

If acting was the only thing that mattered in a film, then this would have been a grand achievement.

But the contemporary story about Virginia Woolf's suicidal days and the impact of her novel Mrs. Dalloway on two women fails to touch those who are not familiar with the celebrated author and lesbian activist.

This is director Daldry's disappointing outing after Billy Elliot, which was heartfelt, while The Hours is obviously much- fabricated intellectual candy.

For a truly moving women's movie, see the underrated Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (2001) which has a similar style of storytelling and deserves more attention than this pretentious film.** (out of ****)

Daredevil (Action/Fantasy, 103 minutes) Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau and Joe Pantoliano. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson.

A dumb -- but not in a good way -- often laughable superhero movie has Affleck as a lawyer by day and a crime-fighting-man-in- costume-who-takes-justice-into-his-own-hands by night.

Blinded after being exposed to radioactive material as a young boy, Affleck, as Matt Murdock, had his four other remaining senses enhanced to superhero proportions.

Unlike Spiderman, which has good guys and great villains we care about, the characters in Daredevil seem disjointed, making each of them look like they are posing for playing cards instead of being in a movie together.

Even the fights are not that good.

This is the first of three movies based on superhero comic books that are scheduled to be released this year, preceding X- Men 2 and Hulk. And this is strike one.

The Jungle Book 2 (Animation/Family/Musical, 72 minutes) Voices by Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, Mae Whitman and Phil Collins. Directed by Steve Trenbirth.

The belated and unnecessary sequel to the 1967 classic has Mowgli, voiced by Osment, living peacefully in a village. But the villagers know that they can not take the jungle out of the boy as he misses his old animal friends.

Baloo, voiced by Goodman, also misses him so he pays a visit to the village and somehow brings Mowgli back to the jungle.

His girlfriend Shanti and an impressionable child, Ranjan, follow him, unaware of the dangers that are waiting for them.

A slightly unmemorable Disney outing, but it is still quite enjoyable for the whole family.

Collins contributes his voice as Lucky, a vulture with a thick English accent.**1/2