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MadReviewer

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77 reviews in total 
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Good, if not great, action thriller, 16 April 2001
7/10

Pretty good suspense film, based on James Patterson's novel of the same name. The opening of the film is very implausible, and left a sour taste that took a long time to go away. Once the main story is well underway, though -- the kidnapping of a U.S. Senator's child by mastermind Gary Soneji -- things get moving along at a tight, crisp pace . . . until about fifteen minutes to go, when a gratuitous "Keyser Soze-esque" ending gets tacked on for no good reason. (To be fair, the ending is similar to the book ending as well -- both leave you scratching your head).

Morgan Freeman is exceptionally good, except for the fact that he's a little too old for the Alex Cross role -- Cross, in the novels, is supposed to be a much younger man. Still, that's a casting flaw, certainly not Freeman's fault, and Freeman makes the most out of a good part. Monica Potter is excellent as Special Agent Jessie Flanagan as well. Their performances really make the movie, and they're able to pull off some awfully cliched lines with enough style to make them actually sound good. Same script with different actors . . . "Along Came a Spider" might've been a clunker.

Overall, very good. Could've been a great film with a slightly different ending (and a completely different beginning), but still manages to entertain. If nothing else, it'll be a fun movie to rent.

B+

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An Insult to Filmgoers Everywhere. Horrendous., 16 April 2001
2/10

The novel "Starship Troopers", while not Robert Heinlein's best, still had enough elements to be the basis for a great movie . . . and possibly a great sci-fi franchise. Well, too bad Paul Verhoeven didn't read the book, because this piece of rancid garbage is one of the worst excuses for a big-budget sci-fi extravaganza ever made.

The actors couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag. All they manage to do is look good, and to pleasantly spout trite, vacant, rah-rah dialogue.and are impossibly beautiful. Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards might as well be store-front mannequins, because that's how well they act and that's how much you care about them in the film. You actually root for the bugs to kill all the humans after awhile, because that's how unlikeable all the characters are. Only Michael Ironside manages to make any sort of positive impact, but it's not nearly enough to save the awful dialogue spouted by every other witless character.

The movie also makes no logical sense at all. The story seems to have been cribbed straight from a Western (Troopers are cowboys, big evil bugs are Indians), except the situation doesn't work in a sci-fi setting. Put it this way -- if you're landing on an alien planet, does it really make sense to land on the opposite side of a mountain from an alien base, so your soldiers can be bushwhacked by aliens while crossing over the mountain to get to the base? Why not simply land next to the base in the first place? For that matter, why land at all? Why not just hit the base with tactical nukes from outer space? There's at least a good half-dozen situations like that throughout "Starship Troopers"; yes, the movie is science FICTION, but there's enough plot holes in this movie to drive a fleet of Mack trucks through them.

The effects and battle scenes? Phenomenal. It's just not enough to save a stupid movie with stupid characters and slow, plodding, stupid direction. Read the book, but don't watch the movie. "Starship Troopers" = Waste of Time. D-

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Duvall's Finest Performance, and an Awesome Character Study, 16 April 2001
8/10

"The Great Santini" is a powerful, gut-wrenching film that manages to tell the tale of a powerful, abusive, often unlikeable hero named Bull Meecham (Duvall). . . and yet you care about what happens to Bull Meecham just the same. Meecham, a legendary pilot and naval hero, is at his best when faced with death -- but at his worst when faced with peacetime, and with his wife and children. Meecham is actually both sad and scary when left alone with his family; he's an abusive terror, almost trying to start a full-scale war in his own home just so he can feel, well, normal.

Duvall is nothing short of brilliant in this movie -- he was nominated for an Oscar, and, in my opinion, he should've won it hands down. Also amazing is Blythe Danner as Lillian, his put-upon wife. An amazing character study that isn't always fun -- in fact, sometimes it's downright harrowing -- but definitely a great story with some incredibly moving performances. A-

Smart, slick, and very entertaining, 16 April 2001
8/10

`Out of Sight', a fairly faithful adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, is a clever, slick, sexy flick loaded with charm and wry humor. Jack Foley (George Clooney) is a career bank robber who recently escaped from prison, Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) is the Federal Marshall that Jack took hostage for a brief time in order to escape - and who's now trying to bring Jack back to jail. Besides the obvious cat-and-mouse game of hunting down the illustrious Mr. Foley, there's a certain romantic connection going on between Jack and Karen that complicates things, as well as a plan to rob a Michael Milken-esque criminal of over one million dollars' worth of diamonds.

The dialogue is vintage Elmore Leonard - lots of dry humor, lots of wisecracks, and perfect comic timing. The chemistry between Clooney and Lopez is great; you actually find yourself caring a lot about what happens and will happen between the two. The situation they're put in is slightly implausible (Federal Marshall falling in love with a career criminal . . . not exactly realistic); I don't know if the movie could've survived without the deft romantic tension between the two. Also of note in the film is Don Cheadle as Maurice `Snoopy' Miller, the cold-blooded criminal who thinks he's a lot smarter than he really is. `Snoopy' moves effortlessly between being laughably stupid and heartlessly cold-blooded, sometimes within the same scene. His performance alone makes the movie worth watching.

Soderbergh's direction is very good, if a little uneven - I think he was still finding his voice with this film and with `The Limey'. A lot of the quick cuts between scenes are meant to be edgy, but wind up just being irritating. Still, the story moves at a crisp pace, and some of the scenes (such as a meeting between Jack Foley and `Snoopy' Miller at a boxing gym) are brilliant.

A highly entertaining film - I'm amazed this didn't do better at the box office when it was originally released. Rent it already!! A-

494 out of 550 people found the following review useful:
Brutal, brilliant, and one of the best Westerns ever made, 16 April 2001
10/10

A sprawling Western epic that follows the adventures of three gunfighters looking for $200,000 in stolen gold, Sergio Leone's `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' is a masterpiece, one that continues to get better and better with each viewing. In a way, it's a morality play, weighing the consequences of good and evil, but it does so in a realistic manner. Sometimes, crime does pay, at least in the short term, and sometimes good does go unrewarded. This film probably signaled the death knell of the traditional John Wayne `White Hat/Black Hat' Western.

The three main characters make the film. Lee Van Cleef (`The Bad') is evil personified. Totally ruthless, he'll do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Clint Eastwood (`The Good') is the Man With No Name, not really `good' in a traditional sense . . . but he has a certain sense of honor and tries to do the right thing. (Watch the scene when he gives a dying Confederate soldier a puff of his cigar - powerful, and it sums up everything that the Man With No Name is all about, without saying a single word.) Eli Wallach (`The Ugly') is Tuco, and he's easily the most complex - if not the best - character in the film. All impulse and rage, Tuco spins wildly throughout the movie, stealing, lying, pretending to be Clint Eastwood's best friend in one scene, trying to kill him in another - Tuco truly represents `the ugly' side of people.

The movie is long, but there's not a wasted scene in the film. Each one slowly lets the film unfold with a certain style and grace, revealing more about each character and what's going on. The pacing is incredible, as is the direction - Sergio Leone manages to build a lot of uncomfortable tension in the film, keeping the film from ever getting predictable. Any typical Western cliché that you can possibly think of is either given a unique twist or utterly destroyed by Leone's masterful storytelling. Of special mention is Ennio Morricone's score, which is absolutely perfect. Two scenes - one in a Union prison camp, one in the climatic gunfight in the cemetery at the end of the film - are amazing on their own, but they become absolutely astonishing with combined with Morricone's powerful score.

This movie is absolutely brilliant. If you haven't seen it yet, I strongly urge to do so. Immediately. (And then, go watch `Unforgiven' . . . in a way, I think that `Unforgiven' is the sequel to `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - it's the story of what eventually happened to the Man With No Name.) `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' is easily one of the best Westerns ever made. A++

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Awful, Awful, Awful, 16 April 2001
1/10

A movie that desperately wants to be hip and funny, and succeeds at neither. The original cartoon series had more depth and wit than this tired, bloated, unwatchable film.

Rachael Leigh Cook is okay, but both Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid are one-dimensional airhead stereotypes. (And anybody who thinks that Tara Reid can "really" play drums after watching this is out of their mind.) The big problem -- the story wants to be a tale about being true to yourself and independent, while the movie is the most shameless shill for corporate America in the history of film. Can't have your cake and eat it too, Pussycats. Also, the "jokes" and the "humor" (I guess that's that they'd be called) fall flat time and time again. This movie is so bad, you can't even laugh at it MST3K style.

Do not watch this in the theaters, do not watch this on video. Do not give the studios an excuse to make a sequel to the horrendous excuse for a movie. Easily one of the worst movies made this year.

F-

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Fairly entertaining, despite all the cliches, 16 April 2001
6/10

Like a number of other reviewers, I though "Varsity Blues" wouldn't amount to much more than "Dawson Plays Football", MTV-style. Well, it's not -- it's actually quite good. It deals fairly realistically with the trials and tribulations of Dawson . . . sorry, Mox (James Van Der Beek), the backup quarterback more interested in "Catcher in the Rye" than in his own playbook, who is forced to become the starter for his team. The movie's filled with cliches: the town obsessed with the football team; the overweight, goofy lineman; the slutty cheerleader with the heart of gold; the arrogant coach; the teacher straight out of an early 80's Van Halen video; etc, etc. Surprisingly, there's enough twisted and wrinkles thrown into these cliches to make the story seem pretty fresh, if not entirely original. You know how the story's going to end, but you're not always sure how it's going to get there, and that's what keeps it interesting.

Van Der Beek is very good, much better that I ever thought I'd give him credit for. Also good: Paul Walker as the original starting quarterback, and Amy Smart as Van Der Beek's smart girlfriend. They played real characters as opposed to stereotypes, and I thought their performances really made the movie. Surprisingly, I thought the weakest link was Jon Voight as the head coach. He was a cardboard villain, no substance to him whatsoever. I kept waiting for the film to explain why he wanted to win so bad, why he'd push his kids with such inhuman cruelty . . . and besides "because he wants to win", an answer was never given. Too bad, although I think this was more the fault of the script than of Mr. Voight.

It's certainly not the best movie ever made -- for that matter, it's not even the best football movie ever made -- but it's still good. It has heart, and most of the performances make this film a cut above most of the "Teen Films" that are out there. A fun rental.

B-


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