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Seeing Double

Columbia TriStar

LONDON -- "Seeing Double" forms part of that bizarre grouping of movies that feature pop bands running around glamorous locations looking for an excuse to sing and dance. The film, which marks the big-screen debut of Britpop sextet S Club, could prove to be a minor U.K. success, but it's hard to see it as more than a video/DVD release in most territories.

The script is by Kim Fuller, who also wrote "Spice World". The story is typical small-screen tosh: A mad inventor clones the six members of S Club while they are off at a gig in Spain and has the well-behaved new S Club clones play a series of concerts in Los Angeles. It is left for the plucky popsters -- Bradley, Rachel, Hannah, Jo, Tina and Jon -- to make their way to the United States and get to the bottom of this nefarious plot.

The real S Club break into a fortresslike L.A. mansion and discover that the fake S Club are actually bellybuttonless "popbots," and the clonemaster (David Gant) has evil plans to control the minds of the world's youth by controlling their pop icons.

On a certain level, "Seeing Double" is simply an extended television program, replete with awful jokes, nice locations, standard pop-video direction and a smattering of song-and-dance routines. The six members of S Club work hard at being attractive, endearing and mildly wacky, but only Hannah Spearritt (as Hannah) shows a natural spark. The scene where she tries to distract a pair of nasty-looking guard dogs with her glove puppet is genuinely quite amusing.

The Spanish and L.A. locations are extremely nice, and director Nigel Dick goes about his work with tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. He is an experienced pop video director and, unsurprisingly, the performance sections are handled very well. In many ways, "Seeing Double" is an old-fashioned and endearingly innocent teen movie aimed fair and square at the Easter holiday marketplace.

SEEING DOUBLE

Columbia TriStar

Double Vision/Media Pro

Credits:

Director: Nigel Dick

Screenwriter: Kim Fuller

Producers: Simon Fuller, Alan Barnette

Director of photography: Joan Benet

Executive producer: Gayla Aspinall

Production designer: Laia Colet

Costume designers: Bobbie Read, Antonia Marques

Music: S Club

Editor: Mark Henson

Cast:

Bradley: Bradley McIntosh

Rachel: Rachel Stevens

Hannah: Hannah Spearritt

Jo: Jo O.

Running time -- 91 minutes

No MPAA rating

Film review: 'Con Air'

Film review: 'Con Air'
A dirty dozen wad of cons hijack a prison transport plane in "Con Air", a high-flying actioner fueled by equal parts schmaltz and high explosives that is likely to pack high-altitude grosses for Buena Vista among younger viewers and action fans.

Starring Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich as the respective white hat and black hat, "Con Air" carries a first-class load of hardened con players -- Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, M.C. Gainey, Danny Trejo -- that would give the guests at Marion the heebie-jeebies. While this Jerry Bruckheimer blaster is likely to knock down big international grosses as well, don't look for it on your next flight to Cannes.

The main con here is not Hannibal the Cannibal, but rather Cyrus the Virus (Malkovich), a cerebral slime who has masterminded an escape plan to take place during a transport of the country's most vile criminals to a new superprison.

The plane itself is a virtual flying prison, with all the amenities one would expect for its last-class passengers. In addition, to the sadistic Cyrus, prisoners include a serial killer (Steve Buscemi), a multiple rapist (Danny Trejo), a black militant (Ving Rhames), a crackhead (Renoly), a berserko killer (Nick Chinlund), as well as some other dudes who, rap sheets aside, are just plain mean and ugly. And there's one ringer in the deck, a sweet-natured parolee, Cameron (Cage) who has served seven years on a bum rap, and who's en route to reunite with his wife and child (Monica Potter, Landry Allbright).

The takeover is swift, sadistic and successful as Cyrus and his group of crazy cons commandeer the plane to a secret destination where they'll be whisked away to the sandy beaches of nonjurisdictional waters. Their daring has essentially flummoxed the flatfoots on the ground who don't even have a contingency plan for such an event -- so unlikely is its occurrence.

Only Cameron stands between them and umbrella drinks: Does the young husband risk his life to serve a system that has screwed him or does he just settle in for the ride? Hint: "Die Hard" in the sky.

Packed high with explosive action and loaded with high-stakes jeopardy, "Con Air" charts a generally sound narrative course, although it hits some story turbulence before it hits its climactic jackpot. Despite a descent into generic action pyrotechnics, Scott Rosenberg's screenplay is juiced with dry, witty dialogue and recharged with some preposterously apt comedy.

Director Simon West keeps things on course and aloft with a tight, in-your-face style that rarely loosens its grip; at times, however, the percussively charged story loses wallop in technical overkill -- the fiery explosions are piled too high, and the music, or so the bombastic thundering is called, is a deadening overkill.

Still, the tech credits, especially cinematographer David Tattersall's kinetic compositions and visual effects supervisor David Goldberg's high-tech blendings, stoke the story.

It's the well-chosen cast, however, that make this thing fly. As the parolee who risks his life to thwart the cons, Cage exudes bravery of the decent Everyman who rises to the occasion. With his flowing locks, scrabby beard and beatific gaze, Cage exudes a Jesus-on-the-cross sacrificial persona, albeit a Christ who pumped iron.

Oozing bile, Malkovich is highly menacing as the sociopathic sadist Cyrus, while Rhames is chilling as a murderous militant. As an intelligent serial killer, Buscemi's buggy performance is easily the film's eeriest -- Bundy, Gacey and Dahmer rolled into one.

On the ground, John Cusack is well-cast as a brainy U.S. marshal and Colm Meaney is entertaining as a loathsome good guy. Mileage plus awards to cast members Mykelti Williamson as Cameron's diabetic cellmate and Rachel Ticotin as a guard.

CON AIR

Buena Vista

Touchstone Pictures

A Jerry Bruckheimer production

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer

Director Simon West

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg

Executive producers Chad Oman,

Jonathan Hensleigh, Peter Bogart,

Jim Kouf, Lynn Bigelow

Director of photography David Tattersall

Art director Edward T. McAvoy

Visual effects supervisor David Goldberg

Costume designer Bobbie Read

Music Mark Mancina, Trevor Rabin

Casting Victoria Thomas

Sound designer Christopher Boyes,

David Farmer

Color/stereo

Cast:

Cameron Poe Nicolas Cage

Larkin John Cusack

Cyrus the Virus John Malkovich

Garland Greene Steve Buscemi

Billy Bedlam Nick Chinlund

Bishop Rachel Ticotin

Malloy Colm Meaney

Swamp Thing M.C. Gainey

Diamond Dog Ving Rhames

Baby-O Mykelti Williamson

Johnny 23 Danny Trejo

Sally Can't Dance Renoly

Tricia Poe Monica Potter

Casey Poe Landry Allbright

Running time -- 110 minutes

MPAA rating: R

See also

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