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6 reviews in total 
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Everything Counts In Large Amounts...., 6 May 2000

I've seen Galaxy Quest three times now, once in my local megaplex and twice in my home theater. I find that I have a greater appreciation for it with each successive viewing. This is a concept movie that hits all the right notes and works on so many levels that you may want to see it more than once so you can enjoy them all.

As usual, we will not discuss plot points, as you are well aware of the setup by now, and I don't want to give anything away so let's begin with what was done well.

Galaxy Quest succeeds because it does all the little things right. Plain and simple. There is no one aspect to this film that makes it outstanding, but when you put all the components together, I can't possibly see how it could not work.

The film is poking fun at anyone who has ever been obsessed with anything. The direct correlation is with Star Trek, but let's face it, South Park, the Simpsons, X-Files and any other pop culture phenomenon is the inspiration for the story. Any T.V. show, movie or book where the fans know every detail, even more so than the people involved, is the subject matter here.

If you have never been to a Bi-Monthly Science Fiction Convention, Galaxy Quest will show you what you have been missing. From cast members re-living the show to fans getting dressed up to discuss the exact details of each episode. We see that each person attending the convention, including the stars of the show, are there to celebrate the experience and be fulfilled. The movie is smart to not try to make fun of the actual people, it hones in on where the joke actually lies, which is in the reality of the situation. All of the scenes involving the cast of Galaxy Quest at one of these events is executed wonderfully.

Galaxy Quest then takes us into space where the former crew of the NSEA Protector (a.k.a the USS Enterprise), find themselves on a real NSEA Protector, fighting the evil Sarrus to save a race of friendly aliens who have mistaken the episodes of Galaxy Quest for "historical documents". The film executes the science fiction aspect of the film very well (the Protector is a dead ringer for the Enterprise) and the special effects help to support the world our crew now find themselves in. I enjoyed how the story employed the use basic Sci-Fi stereotypes, like the crew beaming down to the planet to gather raw materials, and the bizarre names given to those materials ie: birilium sphere.

From the music, to the set and costume design, Galaxy Quest pays homage to all those old TV shows, movies, and books. It's just such fun to watch. There is so much here that I found myself having trouble enjoying the story as I was so distracted by all the references to it's inspiration.

The performances were outstanding. This is not a dramatic movie where there were many tense moments but the crucial element is they tap into our expectations and meet them. The film knows most people who attend are familiar with the Star Trek phenomenon, and even if you haven't seen an episode of the show, or one of the movies, Galaxy Quest manages to play on our preconceived notions about the show and turn them into comedic moments and draw us right into the fantasy.

This movie can be enjoyed by anyone, but the greater attachment you have to the Star Trek phenomenon (or any other pop culture phenomenon for that matter) the more you will find in this movie to enjoy.

Fight Club (1999)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This is your life......, 4 May 2000

I have seen Fight Club three times now, twice in my megaplex, and once in the comfort of my home theater. I have determined the following: If more films like Fight Club were released, society would not be complaining about uninspirational stories.

Fight Club is a passionate film in every capacity. The story is powerful, with an energy that dares you to try to keep up with it. It has believable character development, which the actors easily bring to the screen, under the brilliant direction of David Fincher. The cinematography helped to add a visual effect to complement and enhance the story, not upstage it. The soundtrack, by the Dust Brothers, provided a electric mood that kept me on the edge of my seat at all times, as if a climactic event could occur at any moment.

I was amazed at how well all of these elements came together to tell an engaging story, depicting characters the audience could relate to, and sympathize with. Fight Club has charisma, you just want to watch it.

The underlying message of this film which I picked up on was that rebellion can be a healthy thing, until taken to the extreme.

Our hero is a character who feels emotionally detached from himself, and from the society around him. He exists in a world where he speaks in a corporate language that has no emotion or meaning, he works in a job that is dehumanizing, and he has no meaningful relationships with anyone. Eventually, his mind has no choice but to pull his body out of it.

He starts touring self help groups for people who are afflicted with terminal illnesses. He pretends to be dying(which he is - emotionally) so he can express himself to people who will really listen to what he has to say. He is tired of talking to people who (instead of listen), wait for their turn to speak.

Then he meets Tyler Durden, and the movie takes a turn. Now we have a character who can relate to our Narrator, but more importantly, act as a catalyst for his development.

At this point, I urge you to see this movie. To reveal anything about the relationship between our two lead characters, and the nature of Fight Club, would break the first rule of Fight Club, which is "Do Not Talk About Fight Club".

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes to see innovative storytelling. This film is very entertaining, but can reward a viewer who wants to dig deep into it. There are camera styles that will dazzle your eyes and ideas that will stimulate thought. The special effects are fantastic, the performances are uncanny and all these aspects combine to create one of the best films of the year.

Yet another solid picture from Michael Mann, 25 April 2000

I saw this film in the comfort of my own home theater so my constitution would be significantly higher than at my local MegaPlex. This is important to note. I have zero complaints, suggestions or criticisms with respect to the length of this film. Mr. Siskel said it best (and I paraphrase..) no good movie is too long, no bad movie is too short.

This is a good film. This is a VERY good film. It tells an engaging story with believable characters who are flawed and wonderfully human in every respect. Characters who allow us to struggle with the age old decision of what is good for the many outweighs what is good for the few, or the one. The twist here is that the character making this decision is the one who will benefit the least from the overall good, which heightens the emotional investment tenfold.

One aspect of storytelling I've always enjoyed is the treatment of the characters as organisms within the story. Characters that evolve as if they were real people, and not just to serve the progression of the plot. I always enjoy it when we see characters think in movies, when the story almost halts, to let us watch the characters make decisions as opposed to acting on decisions in order to meet the needs of the plot.

This film allows the characters to exist in the universe it creates. It takes time to let us see all the characters and get into their heads, so when the climax of the film occurs, we are alongside each character, understanding every action and decision they make.

The Insider tells the story of a man so driven to do the right thing, that it destroys almost everything he's trying to protect. This is not an easy decision for him to make, he is afraid of the consequences (losing his family, his reputation). He is humiliated by his relationship with his former employer. He is angry at being in his current position, and he is betrayed by all those he trusts. Struggling to reconcile all these powerful emotions, Russell Crowe plays Dr. Wigand as a flawed, yet decent man. His flaws are real, and no less human than anyone else's. He is a man of science who feels he has betrayed his profession, made to do so by a corporation who promised him money and a better life for his family.

It could be argued that Dr. Wigand sold out, that he sacrificed the needs of the many to serve the needs of the few (his family) or the one (himself). But as a father, Dr. Wigand had to provide his family with the best medical care he could (as one of his daughters was very ill).

The film begins with Dr. Wigand leaving work for the last time. He has been fired. He realized he could not be a man of science if he ignored the immense responsibility that comes with great power. He realized he must look out for society, for the lives science tries to enhance. This is the backdrop against which we see every struggle Wigand endures to finally end up on "60 Minutes".

I really enjoyed The Insider. It's not a film that is overwhelming to the viewer because it allows the viewer inside the story, as opposed to throwing it at us.

I would recommend this film to all fans of Mann's great visual style and anyone who loves a good story.

U-571 (2000)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Some great suspense and intensity in this film., 22 April 2000

My girlfriend and I went to see 28 days, but ended up walking into U-571 as she changed her mind at the last minute and wanted to see an action movie. How sweet is that?

Sadly, the best part of the experience for me was seeing the M:I 2 preview. Which was awesome, just awesome.

U-571 was a good movie. Not a great movie, but a good movie. There was some great suspense and it gave me an interesting perspective of what it must have been like to be in a U-Boat in WWII. Granted this film was not made to be referred to as a historical document but since I have zero frame of reference in this category, I learned a few things.

We know this is a film that was (loosely) based on the true exploits of Her Majesty's Forces in WWII, but since Costner butchered the British accent in Robin Hood all those years ago, the producers thought discretion to be the better part of valor and told the story with the good ol' boys from the US Navy as the heroes. I don't want to bore you with plot points, as it lacks many surprises in that respect, and let's talk about what was worth seeing.

It was extremely claustrophobic. U-Boats don't have a great deal of room in them, and this film made me feel trapped. By the end, I was ready to get out. With nothing to see, and in a crippled submarine, the movie generated real suspense, and the digital sound really helped in this capacity as we hear the depth charges falling down from the passing Destroyers. These were the scenes that worked for me in a big way.

There was great tension as we got a taste of what being on board U-571 had to offer. The sailors couldn't read German so they had trouble operating the controls, the ship was damaged and wouldn't run properly, no weapons, and very low on power. These elements helped to raise the emotional level for the exchanges between the characters, and made it seem very real in certain scenes.

Matthew McConaughey's character was impacted the most by this tension, giving him the most development in the film. You could clearly see him traverse from caring X-O of the American sub to hard nosed Captain of U-571, with a little help from Harvey Keitel of course. If you like McConaughey, you won't be disappointed here.

The supporting cast was good, but we really didn't get a chance to see them and spend time with them so we could empathize with them. We met certain characters briefly, but sacrificed their development for the action sequences. Films like Saving Private Ryan should be a case study in how you can have both. If you see the film you'll know what I mean.

I would recommend this movie if you haven't seen Das Boot, which is a vastly superior film. Unlike Das Boot, U-571 has few plot surprises, doesn't let us get inside the characters and doesn't revolutionize storytelling as it relates to a U-Boat film. Fortunately, U-571 tells an interesting story, and generates some real suspense and tension, and the sound will leave you rattling in your seat.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid adaptation of certain themes in the novel..., 16 April 2000

I read the book several years ago and originally thought it would be close to impossible to turn this into a coherent, linear motion picture. The story didn't strike me as the kind that could adapt itself to have a beginning, middle, and ending. At least in so far as it could be told in 90-120mins.

I had read several reviews of the film and found myself interested to say the least. I understood the violent aspects of the book were largely omitted, and the movie tried to focus on more of a satirical depiction of life on Wall St. in the mid-80's.

It was here that I had trouble thinking about how they could really translate the book because it constantly bombarded me with product placements and notions of status based on material wealth. I couldn't fathom how this could be conveyed through dialogue between two characters on screen.

I was surprised how well the film was executed. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman in a performance that seemed to have manifest out of my imagination while i was reading the book. He seemed to dissolve into the character. His physical presence was exceptional, with his facial expressions, body language, and tone of speech. He gave Patrick multiple dimensions as not only a sadistic killer, but a faceless member of a society so defined by the material, that the inner never really shows through.

This point is well driven home as many of the characters have no idea who they are really talking to from one moment to the next. They know the people to speak, criticize, and gossip about them, but they have no idea what they really look like, even if they are speaking to them. Patrick has conversations about himself with other people who have confused him with some other interchangeable member of the social circle. It's quite funny to watch.

The movie is extremely funny at times and extremely gory at others. The violence is REALLY toned down from the book, but what remains is still the gory aftermath of that violence, which is significant. Add to the fact that once you are left to imagine the violent act itself, it suddenly becomes ten times as vivid. This film is not for the fragile or faint of heart. Take heed.

The story is as it is in the book, non linear. There is no real beginning or end. It's just a story about this person, and the horrible things he does. There are some traditional plot mechanisms thrown in to give the movie some sense of linear progression, and they work well, but they betray the sheer randomness of the book, which for me was one of the endearing qualities.

I would recommend this movie to people who enjoy a vivid lead character. The supporting cast is there, but not really. Christian Bale carries this film from beginning to end just like Patrick Bateman did in the book. It hinges on his believability and he responds powerfully. He is convincing in every capacity. Every move he makes, every word he speaks resonates the character of Patrick Bateman. Congratulations and thanks to Christian Bale, for he made this film thoroughly enjoyable for me.

11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Quality Paul Newman Flick....., 13 April 2000

My girlfriend took me to an advance screening of this film so we had no idea what we were in for. I had just seen Nobody's Fool so I was well prepared for the pace of the film, and Newman's sly, charming style. Fortunately, he didn't disappoint, (he's still as reliable as ever), and the film still held plenty of surprises for me. I will admit I was less than interested for the first 20 minutes, but by the end, I was impressed.

Newman plays Henry Manning, a old thief who crosses paths with Carol Ann MacKay (Fiorentino) who is a restless nurse at a rest home. As you can guess, it's a heist film with plenty of hilarity and real suspense. Keep in mind, it's a mild hilarity and suspense, with subtle exchanges and real emotional investment. The scenes play slowly and meticulously, like a heist, waiting for the exact moment to give us the payoff. They hit the mark more often than not in both arenas of comedy and suspense,

The chemistry between the principles is strong, especially with Fiorentino and Newman, with intelligent dialogue that takes the plot through a natural progression that doesn't betray the two lead characters.

Make no mistake, Newman's presence elevates this film, as he often does, and he does it with such ease that it's a joy to watch. If you like Newman's recent work, this film will not disappoint you.

As I have indicated, it's a slow film, not too deep, not overly witty, but subtle. It works on many levels, so I have no problem recommending it to fans of Paul Newman.