Sat, 12 Feb 2000

Something for everyone at the local movie theater

JAKARTA (JP): A serial killer is on the loose and a lethal chemical weapon is on the run as a teenage ugly duckling turns into a swan. It is all happening at a theater near you. The following reviews and grades are by Oren Murphy and Tam Notosusanto.

The Bone Collector. Detective story, 118 minutes; starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker and Ed O'Neill. Directed by Phillip Noyce.

Washington is a paralyzed forensic expert who joins forces with Jolie's brilliant rookie cop to solve a series of gruesome murders meticulously set up by an ingenious, diabolical killer. Effectively chilling, this film apparently derives some of its gory inspiration from the likes of The Silence of the Lambs; in particular, a scene where the star chomps off another man's face (although here it is in self-defense). B (TN)

Chill Factor. Action, 101 minutes; starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Peter Firth and David Paymer. Directed by Hugh Johnson.

An alternative title would probably be: Quick, Before it Heats Up! Common folks Gooding and Ulrich suddenly get the improbable task of delivering a secret chemical weapon to safe hands while chased by a villainous army officer (Firth) and his band of mercenaries. With similarities to Speed and any past buddy-movie that involves a black man and a white man, this movie is a formulaic venture with a good dose of death, car chases and explosions. It zips by you, and then vanishes without a trace. C+ (TN)

Double Jeopardy. Action thriller, 105 minutes; starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, Bruce Greenwood and Annabeth Gish. Directed by Bruce Beresford.

Judd is wrongly imprisoned for the murder of her husband, whose body is never found. Then she finds out that dear hubby is still walking and breathing in another part of the country, with their child and a new wife. Even though she keeps saying, "I just want to see my son," we know that all she wants is revenge. Vigilantism is alive and well at the movie theaters. C+ (TN)

Fight Club. Dark comedy, 139 minutes; starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Directed by David Fincher.

Men discover beating each other to a pulp is nourishing for the soul. Sardonic social commentary and graphic violence make strange, but often effective bedfellows. A piercingly funny script and highly original plot save the film from the inconsistencies of pretentious anarchist theory. The target audience is clearly males aged between 16 and 25, but others will find nourishment in its irony, or at least in seeing Brad Pitt punched repeatedly in the face. B+ (OM)

The Mighty. Youth Drama, 100 minutes; starring Elden Henson, Kieran Culkin, Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands and Gillian Anderson. Directed by Peter Chelsom.

A humongous, slow-witted teenager teams up with a brilliant, disabled boy to battle bullies and bad guys alike. It is really rare that we get inspiring and unsentimental films like this, which touchingly portrays a friendship as a wonderfully symbiotic relationship. See if you can recognize The X-Files' Anderson in her supporting turn as a bimbo with a heart of gold. B+ (TN)

Random Hearts. Adult drama, 130 minutes; starring Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haysbert and Bonnie Hunt. Directed by Sydney Pollack.

Ford and Scott Thomas are strangers who meet after learning that their respective spouses, who are killed in a plane crash, were having an affair. Then they go and have an affair of their own. Whether they do it out of passion or revenge, this slow- moving film never tells, thanks to Pollack's uneven direction. C+ (TN)

She's All That. Teen comedy, 95 minutes; starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Kevin Pollak, Kieran Culkin and Anna Paquin. Directed by Robert Iscove.

George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion is relocated to an American high school, where the school's Mr. Popular (Prinze) makes a bet with his buddies that he can turn the school's resident nerd (Cook) into a Prom Queen. Long before we get to the climactic Prom Night, we know that he and everybody else will be blown away by the makeover results. There is not much surprise and the humor is sparse, but the petite Cook reminds us of a younger, more fiery Holly Hunter. C (TN)

The 13th Warrior. Adventure, 102 minutes; starring Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora and Omar Sharif. Directed by John McTiernan.

Braveheart moves to Scandinavia. The film is ostensibly about an exiled Arab diplomat, Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Banderas), who joins a group of Norse warriors in their return from abroad to defeat a terrifying and cannibalistic foe. What it is really about is bloody battles with more scenes of decapitation than any film in recent history. The cinematography is at times breathtaking and the battle scenes well-choreographed, but the story is sidelined to make room for more dismemberment. C+ (OM)