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Clever's Movie Reviews: N-S

The Hits!

The Namesake ****
Nine ***
No Country for Old Men ***

North Country ***
Notes on a Scandal ***
O Brother, Where art Thou?
***
October Sky ***
Open Range ****
The Pianist ****
Passion of Mind ***
Patriot ***
Paulie ***
Pay it Forward ***
Pearl Harbor ****
Possession ****
Prairie Home Companion ****
Psycho ****
Quartet ***
Queen ***
Quills
***
Ratatouille ***
Ray ****
Renoir ****
Return to me ***
The Road ***
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ****
Saving Mr. Banks ***
Saving Private Ryan ****
Sense and Sensibility ***
Serious Man ***
The Sessions ***
Shakespeare in Love ****
Shakleton's Arctic Adventure ***
Sharon Ha ***
Shrek ****
Shrek2****
Sicko ***
Silver Linings Playbook ***
Simple Plan ****
Skyfall ***
Something's Gotta Give ****
Spanglish ***
Spectre ***
Spiderman ***
Spotlight ****
Star Wars, the Force Awakens ***
Straight Story ***
Summertime
***



The Duds!

O'Horten **
Once *
Original Sin**
Painted Veil **
Patch Adams
**
Perfect Storm
*
Perfect Pitch **
Planet of the Apes **
Poseidon, the remake *
Prisoners *
Random Hearts
*
Requiem for a Dream **
Riding in Cars with Boys
**
Road to Perdition *
Royal Tennenbaums *
Save the Last Dance
**
Saving Silverman
*
Scary Movie
*
Second Best Marigold Hotel **
Serendipity **
Side Effects **
Shallow Hal
*
Sleepy Hollow **
Slumdog Millionaire *
Slums of Beverley Hills **
Snatch *
Someone Like You *
Space Cowboys **
Star Trek into the Darkness **
Star Wars II **
Sum of All Fears
**

 


The Namesake ****
reviewed by the Phantom
This film is based on the terrific novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. An Indian couple moves to the US. He's a scholar, a professor at Harvard, she's a new immigrant. They name their first child, Gogol, after the Russian writer, which becomes the thrust of this movie. It's a compelling story of the entire family's struggle to come to terms with American culture -- beautifully told, both the movie and the book. I enjoyed every wonderful frame of this most appealing and well-cast movie.

Nine ***
Reviewed by The Phantom
This is essentially an over-the-top remake of Fellini's 8-1/2, which accounts for the title. Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido, an Italian film maker with a serious case of film maker's block. He can't think up his next great film so he dallies and lies to his production crew and fools around with his mistress, Penelope Cruz. It's a musical, with wonderfully staged production numbers, wildly performed by a great cast of talented charmers. This part of the film is spliced into Guido's story, in unlikely out-takes, which probably caused some anxiety to those who can't understand this sort of fantasy.

This film bombed at American box offices, which surprised me. But since it's mostly 13 year old boys who are buying the movie tickets these days, perhaps I shouldn't be so shocked -- no transformers, no 3-D, no car chases or buildings being blown up. It was a unique film, dressed to the Nines, playful and fun, with rich overtones and nostalgia for the type of movies that are past their prime. It's a grown up treat

No Country for Old Men ***
reviewed by the Phantom
By now everybody has probably heard just how awful this movie really is -- so awful that it's a box office dud. So awful that the kids who love gore aren't even showing up to gasp at it. The only reason I saw this movie is because it won the Oscar and I have a perfect record that I want to keep intact.

So it took some thinking to get past the gruesome nature of this film to figure out just why it won the award. We have to start with Cormac McCarthy, the Western writer of note who dreamed up this horror story, which takes place somewhere near Hard Scrabble, Texas. To say life is hard in Hard Scrabble is an understatement, and places like that turn out some hard folks. McCarthy's prose is unique. His characters embody the difficulties faced by people who live hard lives in hard places.

This story is simple, sort of, a hunter finds a bunch of kilt people lying around the desert outback, most of them deader than door nails, it's a drug deal gone bad, very bad. Then the hunter stumbles on a whole lot of cash, say around two million dollars worth. It's not his money, of course, but he takes it and tries to keep it. The really bad guy, a psychopathic killer, is the one who wants that money back, and the chase is on.

The next thing to consider: This would have been a slasher-style B movie if not for the Cohen brothers, who won the Oscar for directing it. They somehow brought McCarthy's words to life with visual images that startle us beyond words. And I don't think that was an easy task. They captured the brutality of place and combined it with the nastiness of the most desperate human beings on earth, people without a conscience.

This is a film about those kind of people, it's a film about killing without reason, without remorse and without redemption, so don't be looking for a happy ending!


North
Country ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This movie tells the true story of discrimination against women miners working in Minnesota. One would think that that's an old story, like it might have happened in the early 1960s. But no, this grim tale harks only from 1989. Apparently Minnesota is still rather behind the times when it comes to male-female relationships. Here's the cast: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek, Woody Harrelson. They are all terrific, but especially Charlize in the shit-disturber role. Could be another Oscar performance for her.

Notes on a Scandal ***
reviewed by the Phantom
Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench star in this English drama about a school teacher who has an affair with a rather impertinent teenager. It's engrossing, but I found it difficult to watch. There was nobody to like in this film. I didn't feel sorry for the mess Cate's character got herself into, and I truly didn't like the rather seamy portrait of the conniving lesbian played by Judi. There were no redeeming moments in this truly sordid little drama, no life lessons, no happy ending, it's just one of those films that make you want to go have a burger and forget about the whole deal.

O Brother
, Where art Thou? ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
The bumbling jailbirds in O Brother, Where art Thou? learn their lessons well, as they follow a path leading them toward a buried treasure, finding a whole lotta mischief along the way. These guys didn’t seem to realize that their scheming ways directly resulted in the bad fortune they experienced. Luck and circumstance was generally attributed to the other-worldly forces of God and the Devil. The film portrays the struggle to balance the inner goodness clearly present in these men with the temptations and opportunities for vice offered up by the material world. Filmed beautifully with great music and performances full of heart, O Brother… leaves the audience with the feeling that goodness has prevailed, this time.

October Sky***
reviewed by The Phantom
I had heard that this was a good movie but I've grown a little tired of young men coming-of-age movies so I didn't see this one when it first came out.  I had missed a good one.  It's a story we've heard before -- the smart young man of poor circumstances trying to break away from what's expected of him.  But this young man wants to be a rocket scientist, not a basketball player or a rock star, and that's what makes this movie so interesting.  Like all truly good stories, this one teaches us something we didn't know before, while the good guys fight the bad guys.  Even though I knew how it would turn out way before it was over, I was touched by the ending, and I think you will be too. 

Open Range **** 
reviewed by the Phantom

When us older folks were growing up, movie westerns were part of our culture. We understood the code of the west, we knew about the open range, and what it meant for cowboys to have to take the law into their own hands on occasion. For some reason, those old western movies have faded into the distant past. Maybe we all just became too sophisticated for them. Or maybe we just lost touch with an old friend.

Now along comes Open Range, telling a classic western tale, posing a classic problem of  the good guys against the bad guys. But this time, things are a little murkier and meaner than they were in the old movie days. We can really feel their pain as we watch the free-grazers moving their herd of cattle through a range that is no longer open to them. At least that’s the way the bad guys see it, and since they are bad, they will go to any length to control what they believe is theirs.

And this time the bad guys are once again going to meet up with a flinty range boss, who has a loyal and fierce cowpoke at his side. These two, played perfectly by Duval and Costner, convince us they’ve spent their lives riding horses, sleeping rough and doing manly things, including murder when they have to.

From the first scene to the last, we watch classic movie action. We are familiar with every scene, from the camp fire small-talk, to the bar room fight, to what the inside of the local jail looks like. Watching this movie is like visiting the past, only this time it's all a little darker and grittier. I’m highly recommending this movie, especially for those of you who haven’t spent much time watching westerns, and also for those of you who have. We need more movies like this one.

Passion of Mind ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
Demi Moore stars in this unappreciated film about a woman who lives two lives, one of which takes place in her dreams. It seems as though whenever she falls asleep, she takes up one or the other of her lives. In one, she's a widow with two young children living in France; in the other, she's a single career woman living in New York City. Both lives seem very real and interesting and the viewers are drawn into her mystery of trying to figure out which is her real life. At various times we root for each to be "the one."

This film is probably not doing terribly well at the box office but it's a worthy film with a remarkable performance by Moore. I'd say it's one of her best roles ever. If this film came to the US from France, we'd hail it as a work of art. It's beautifully decorated, provocative and convincingly real. I recommend it but you'll probably have to wait for the video or check what's playing at your local art house.

Patriot ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This film was supposed to be a summer blockbuster, but something went wrong and nobody is quite sure just what it was. It's the American Revolution again, which never seems to quicken our pulses as much as it should. And perhaps we're just a little too familiar with Mel Gibson's anger. He's Braveheart again -- the reluctant warrior forced into battle one more time. The storyline is familiar (of course), the battle scenes are shockingly horrible, and the characters are time-honored stereotypes of soldiers willing to die for their cause as they go through their paces in a predictable manner (so maybe that's exactly what's wrong with this film). Still, it's an entertaining film to rent.

Paulie ***
reviewed by the Phantom
In this charming film, a parrot learns how to read, think and talk while sitting on his little friend's shoulder as the friend uses flashcards to overcome a speech impediment, and although he is afraid of flying, he's not afraid to speak his mind, which leads to his expulsion from his happy home and into Parrot Hell, where he scours the earth to find his lost friend, wherein he meets several strangers, including an ex-patriot Russian, who finds Paulie to be irresistibly clever, so he ultimately helps him find the perch he's searching for.

Pay it Forward ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
I’ve decided not to look too closely at this one. You could totally go there and get deep with the Jesus analogies, but I think that would actually detract from the easy enjoyment of this movie, the hands-down tearjerker of the year. Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt were both brilliant in this one--I’ll nominate them next year when the Academy calls. Haley-Joel-whoever failed to impress me--a number of times I couldn’t resist offering up the easy "I see dead people!" crack to my movie-going partner when the kid flashed his earnest and scared, this-close-to-tears look. 

He did carry off the role reasonably well, though, which is as much as I’m willing to give him. In spite of some very good acting and a somewhat original story, Pay it Forward definitely commanded a hefty amount of eye-rolling, snorting, and generally oppositional behavior on the part of this oh-so-mature reviewer. The cheese-factor is high, but the grown-up actors deftly slice their way through it and turn out a quality product full of heart and integrity. I guess I liked it in spite of myself. Recommended -- see it with a good friend.

Pearl Harbor ****
reviewed by the Phantom
John Wayne would have loved this movie. It's one of those popcorn and big drink films that don't come around very often. It's World War II again but this time the US isn't doing too well, until close to the end, of course, but we all know how this story ends. It's a love story that's also rather old-fashioned and touching, just the way they used to be in John Wayne's time. As history, it's a rather shallow lesson. But the Japanese don't have anything to worry about. They are spared the usual war-movie stereotypes. Great battle sequences, all well filmed. It's engrossing and engaging, well worth the time commitment (it runs about 3 hours!). The older kids can see it as well as the adults. See it on the big screen for the full effect. (June 2001)

The Pianist ****
reviewed by the Phantom
I thought I didn't need to see another WWII film Jewish Holocaust film after Schinder's List, but I was wrong. This film is a testament to the human spirit, showing us the grim reality of the Warsaw ghetto through the eyes of concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman as he struggles to survive the unsurviveable. The film is based on his memoir. It's cruel, dispassionate, brilliant and haunting. Bravo to Roman Polanski for bringing us another unforgettable film.

Possession ****
reviewed by The Phantom
I rarely say this about a movie: it was better than the book! The story is complex – about two scholarly researchers looking into the private life of a dead poet. It’s an academic subject that lacks passion on the printed page. But in the movie the story flashes back to recreate the dead poet’s life and we get to visualize a passionate Victorian romance, while the living researchers are having their own love affair, sort of. The film is gorgeous, beautifully textured and faithful to Byatt’s novel. It’s a must-see for thoughtful romantics.

Prairie Home Companion ****
reviewed by the Phantom
This movie is a love letter to NPR addicts like me. I listen to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home radio program nearly every week so I just couldn't wait to see this movie. Robert Altman, the director, must be a fan too. He and Garrison created this masterpiece, the set is as good looking as the actors. It's the story of their last performance, complete with Guy Noir on the scene, silly as always. But it's Meryl Streep and Lilly Tomlin who steal the show. They sing and talk, both at the same time, nattering on about nothing, just like Garrison. I can't wait to go see it again!

Psycho (the original version) ****
reviewed by the Phantom
If it's been 40 years since you saw this movie, or if you've never seen it, be sure to watch it. So dated in look and feel, so noir, yet still so extremely watchable. You have to let yourself to back to the early 1960s when people still signed the motel register and used pay phones. Back then there were still back roads with lonely, creepy motels where a person might have to spend a night. It will still scare you and make you wish that Hitchcock was still with us.

Quartet ***
reviewed by the Phantom
It's Maggie Smith again, I guess we haven't seen too much of her in Downton Abbey. Here she is again, this time a Diva in a retirement home for aging opera singers down on their luck, still making waves. This isn't one of those light-hearted British comedies that we love so much. Nope, it's rather nostalgic and even a touch depressing to see all these once-famous stare in the old folks home. Gorgeous scenery, wonderful ensemble acting, Dustin Hoffman's directing debute. Bravo.

The Queen ***
reviewed by The Phantom
Helen Mirren will be nominated for an Oscar for this truly intriguing performance as present-day Queen Elizabeth. She becomes Elizabeth in tone, in style and eerily, in looks and mannerisms. It's truly a brava performance depicting how the British Monarchy stumbled and then regained its balance after the death of Princess Diana. Of course, we are forced to once again witness the tragedy of Diana's death and the mourning that followed, complete with newsreel footage. It's still difficult to watch, but nevertheless, it's a story worth seeing. You will become a fan of Mirren's, if you haven't been before. FYI: Mirren is most famous for her continuing TV series, Prime Suspect, in which she plays inspector Jane Tennyson -- must-see TV.

Quills ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
We’re quickly reminded that goodness doesn’t always win, as this movie grapples with the questions of how to know good from evil and how to discern worldly temptation from divine purpose. Quills dives deeply into this perplexity and characterizes a struggle between one man’s compulsively-driven life purpose and the Word of God as interpreted by mere mortals. 

The creatively rendered persona of the Marquis de Sad serves beautifully as the center of this intriguing dispute. Does temptation necessarily lead to downfall? How far does personal responsibility extend in creating and resisting earthly pleasures? A myriad compelling questions are raised, and the choice to supply few answers positions this film amidst the realms of the brilliant. The symbolism goes deep and the irony extends perhaps a tad too far, but the overall effect is profound. Hopefully the subject matter will not detract the Academy from honoring the fabulous performances and direction.

Ratatouille ***
reviewed by the Phantom
A Disney animated feature film. It's about a Rat who can talk and cook -- he can cook really well -- chef-level cooking, not just routine rat cooking. He goes to Paris, but of course, because that's where the great chef's are, but his favorite chef -- his idol -- is dead. Alors! He befriends a total loser kitchen worker and through him Rat is able to do his stuff. The kitchen work is fun, especially when the rats take over. Wonderful Disney fun, rats everywhere, lots of rat racing. This is a totally ratty adventure -- a proven Oscar winner. It's really for grown-ups, the kids won't get the jokes.

Ray ****
reviewed by the Phantom
I loved this movie but I learned more about Ray Charles than I needed or wanted to know. I love his music and was interested to learn why he was blind, but I didn't really need to know about his personal life, his drug addiction and his sexual history, or did I? Jamie Foxx was brilliant as Ray and the movie reminded me of the "old days" when movies like this one would have earned an Oscar, or at least would be up against the likes of Kinsey. Now I'm fearing that both of these fine films will be overlooked at Oscar time due to junk movies like The Incredibles. We'll just have to wait and see.

Renoir ****
reviewed by the Phantom
In French with subtitles, but easy to follow. Cinematically gorgeous. This movie tells the story of Renoir's last years, he's still painting, pampered by a retinue of family and employees, including a lovely young woman who poses for him. Jean Renoir, his son, who goes on to become famous as a film director, is also in the story. So interesting. So French. It's wonderful to watch, every scene is framed as though it were a painting. Lovely movie, well done.

Return to Me ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This is an old-fashioned romantic comedy set in Chicago. The back story features the Lincoln Park Zoo, a charming and popular urban zoo that I was delighted to see on film. David Ducovney and Minnie Driver are the love interests. It's great to see Ducovney in such a different kind of role and on the big screen. He underplays it, as usual, but his character works as a heart-broken young widower. The support cast is likeable, the scenes are touching, and the story has a somewhat predictable ending, but sometimes that's okay.

The Road ***
Reviewed by Josh Goller

The world is slowly dying. An unexplained destruction has befallen the planet and a man and his boy traverse the barren landscape. Animals are long gone and the color green only exists as flecks in the eyes of the few living humans who slog through the ruins as scavengers amidst the ash and rot, rummaging for the last remaining canned goods and fighting off the cold.

The Road paints the bleakest of tableaus, where humans resort to their basest instincts for survival and roving bands of cannibals pick apart the last shreds from the carcass of humanity Based on Cormac McCarthy’s critically acclaimed novel, the film follows the nameless man and boy as they make their way through the post-apocalyptic detritus toward the Coast.

Viggo Mortensen is spellbinding as the haggard father, in turns nurturing to his son and desperately vicious when threatened. Even in the worst circumstances the man and boy still act as the good guys who “carry the fire.”
The Road is as dark as any film, but the underlying tenderness makes the journey worth it.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ****
reviewed by the Phantom

Loved this comedy-drama, great cast: Kristin Scott Thomas and Ewan McGregor, British. A Yemeni prince wants to create a fishing grounds in Yemen similar to Scotland's, complete with a dam and salmon runs. It's an outrageous idea, but he's outrageously wealthy. The Brits are enlisted to help with the project. The British humor is perfect, the plot is absurd, but almost believable because of the good acting. I found it totally charming and fun. It's not getting good reviews, perhaps because movie viewers these days prefer movies like The Hunger Games. We need to remind film makers that many of us are no longer teenagers but we still love the movies. We want to see the good stuff, like this one. We aren't interested in cartoon super heroes, horror stories and gratuitous violence.

Saving Mr. Banks ***
reviewed by The Phantom

The biggest problem with this movie is the title. It's the story of bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen. Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks, must convince the writer of Mary Poppins, played by Emma Thompson, that Disney Studios can do her book justice. She doesn't want to see Mary "disney-fied". She a tough old bird who needs the money but hates all things Disney. Mr. Banks is her father. I'm still a little confused about what part he actually plays in this movie. That's the problem the audience had too. It's a muddle, but an interesting film nevertheless. Hanks was very good at Disney, I'm not so sure about Thompson.

Saving Private Ryan ****
reviewed by the Phantom
 W.W.II Captain Miller, former Pennsylvania English literature teacher, and a hand-picked squad of soldiers scour the Normandy countryside looking for an army private whom they eventually find, after an earlier misidentification, on a suicide mission covering a small bridge in a burned-out village, which is eventually overrun by Germans, but due to the quick-thinking Miller is held in an Alamo-like shootout until the US Air Force finally arrives to save the day, as well as liberty and freedom for all.


Sense and Sensibility ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I missed this one in the theater so was excited to get a chance to see it at home. What a cast! Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Kate Winslet romp thru this delicious Jane Austen novel of manners. The scenery, and the costumes are a wonderful feast for the eyes, and the actors are truly enjoying themselves in this engaging film. It's a must-rent.

A Serious Man ***
Reviewed by Josh Goller

Larry Gopnik has hit a rough patch. His neighbor incrementally encroaches on the property line, his brilliant but socially inept brother spends hours in the bathroom draining his sebaceous cyst, his adolescent children don’t respect him, a student tries to bribe then extort a passing grade from him, and his wife announces she wants a divorce so she can marry a family friend.

And it’s all downhill from there.

In the Coen brothers’ latest tragicomedy A Serious Man, Larry serves as a modern day Job, cursed to suffer for unclear reasons. Set in a seamlessly depicted 1960s Midwestern suburbia, A Serious Man follows Larry as he seeks answers from his rabbis, his divorce lawyer, his nude-sunbathing neighbor, even listening to advice proffered by the very man who has stolen his wife. 

The film is packed full of despair tempered with the darkest of humor. This isn’t the most accessible Coen brothers movie, but with marvelous acting performances and an approach steeped in metaphor and introspection, A Serious Man shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The Sessions ***
reviewed by the Phantom
Silly me, somehow I missed the buzz and the reviews of this movie starring Helen Hunt. I thought it was a romantic comedy, mainly because Helen Hunt is in it and I heard that it was about a therapist. However, that's not quite an accurate description of the film. Instead it's a sort of serious bio-pic about real life polio victim Mark O'Brien's love life. Hunt is a sex therapist who helps him. It's an exceptional film, of course. Daring and sensitive -- but I went to the movie expecting a romantic comedy. Oops, was I ever in for a surprise. But I must say that Hunt was great and so was William Macy as the priest. Good performances all around, some light moments. Well done, but I'll be shocked if it makes the Oscar lists.

Shakespeare in Love, ****
reviewed by Karen Dale 
Willie S., down and nearly out as a playwright, has a severe case of writer's block, while working on a play called Romeo and Ethel, which is fixed when he falls in love with an aristocratic woman, who, unbeknownst to Willie, impersonates an actor in his show, and teaches him the true meaning of passion and duplicity, leading him to realize that alas, he needs to change the name of his play to Romeo and Juliet, and all's well that ends well.

Shakleton's Antarctic Adventure***
reviewed by the Phantom
Shakleton, the failed explorer, is enjoying great popularity these days, so if you'd like to become acquainted with his great adventure in the Antarctic, mosey on down to your local IMAX theatre for a thrilling hour of entertainment. (If you don't have an IMAX nearby, check out your TV listings. A variety of stations, mostly PBS-types, will be showing this film soon.) I won't give away the details of his life here, except to say they are worth checking out. The IMAX adventure glosses over his personality (problems?) and and just gives us the highlights, so if you're interested in the nitty-gritty, read about him.

Sharon Ha ***
reviewed by the Phantom
This is a quirky little film, shot in black and white, but who cares, right? It's billed as a comedy, but I didn't laugh one time. I thought Sharon's life in NYC was frustrating and sad. She's a dancer, living on the edge of poverty, making her way like so many others do these days. She's serious, but I don't think she'd get a ticket to Vegas if she tried out for the famous dance show. Her friends are somewhat callus, hardened by their so-called difficulties, but we're not talking Oliver Twist here. These are all pampered kids who fall back on the richest among them, or parents, in a pinch. Perhaps you need to be 20 to think this is a comedy. Aside: I loved watching a movie in black and white again, even though there was nothing Noir about it.

Shrek ****
reviewed by the Phantom
You haven’t seen this one yet? You’re missing out. If you need a laugh, you better get yourself on down to the movies. Yes, it's animated but it’s not just for kids. Yes, it’s a fairy tale, but again, it’s not just for kids. Most of Donkey’s lines, voiced by Eddie Murphy, will go right over the little kids heads, but they’ll be laughing anyhow. Murphy’s never been better. I think Donkey should get a nomination. And you’ll leave the theater loving ogres, especially if they sound like Mike Meyers. Carman Diaz is the princess, make that the warrior princess, who is waiting for her prince to come, but she’s willing to settle, with a little encouragement from Donkey. The extras in the film are all fairy tale characters. The storyline is wonderful. What else can I say? I enjoyed every minute of it. (6/2001) (Wanna read the Phantom's synopsis? Click here!)

Shrek2 ****
reviewed by The Phantom

Shrek and Princess Fiona are now married and it’s all lovey-dovey between them for a little while, until the inevitable happens – Shrek’s gotta go visit the in-laws. They happen to be royalty of course. How else could Fiona be a princess? She didn’t marry a prince, she married an ogre. Shrek, like most husbands, wants to stay home, hang out with his swampy friends, play in the mud and fart around, literally. Fiona has other ideas, she wants her parents to know that she’s been rescued and has made a new life for herself – with an ogre – which isn’t all that bad, since she’s an orgrette herself.

Donkey convinces the happy couple that he should go with them on their adventure to Far, Far Away, where the royals live. They take off in their garlic-shaped carriage with Donkey in the backseat, who becomes bored with the journey like any small child. His boredom antics are truly amusing and don’t stop until they reach Far Far Away which looks exactly like Hollywood, Rodeo Drive and Disneyland all smushed together.

The folks are appalled by Shrek. After all, he has horrible eating habits, loves to burp, dresses like a slob and is green, for heaven’s sake. Just like Fiona, unfortunately. They think Fiona could have done better. Dad and the wicked Fairy Godmother, who happens to have an unmarried son named Charming, who would love to be a prince, conspire to get rid of Shrek and make Fiona kiss Charming, thereby turning him into Prince Charming. Will it work?

Well, Shrek has other ideas, sort of. He and Donkey need a plan, but in the meantime are attacked by Puss in Boots, who steals the show by the way, as a would-be foe turned best buddy of Shrek. Puss is wonderfully feline, even when he’s barfing up a hairball. He’s so cute that Donkey nearly becomes green with envy himself.

The story concludes when Shrek and Fiona realize – again – that they are meant for each other even though they must overcome all odds to maintain their love. They get help this time by a giant gingerbread man and some other fairytale characters who all go wild trying to stop the vile fairy godmother once and for all. Everything gets sorted out eventually and they all end up living La Vida Loca.

Shrek, Donkey and Boots truly are cartoon characters meant for adults. The humor is a little too sophisticated for kids. Sponge Bob, it ain’t. There probably aren’t enough sight-gags to amuse them. There wasn’t nearly as much bathroom humor this time out, and only once did somebody get hit in the crotch. There wasn’t much foul language, no chase scenes, and not much in the way of the usual violence that kids seem to like. But the crowd loved it and got exactly what we expected -- loads of good-humored silliness.

Sicko ***
reviewed by The Phantom
Another Michael Moore documentary. This one is way less flamboyant than 911, but nevertheless it is definitely worth watching. It's a critique of the American Health Care System. Michael compares ours to health care systems of other countries, like the UK, France and Canada. We come up laughably short. Our health care system is the most costly in the world because we are at the mercy of the politicians, the lobbyists, the HMOs, and above all, the pharmaceutical companies, who all have their hands in our pockets. Their greed and duplicity has created a system that costs the American taxpayers billions of dollars every year for less than adequate care for most people. Those who can afford to pay the most get good treatment, but the rest of America must make some awful choices if a catastrophic illness befalls them. Even Cuba treats its citizens better than we do. It's a real eye opener.

Silver Linings Playbook ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I wish I would have liked this movie more than I did. It's about being bi-polar, hard to play this for laughs, but the two actors tried. It was tough going. They end up in a dance competition. The screen writers were desperate to find something funny for these two. It works to the same degee that the movie works, which is just barely, in my book.

A Simple Plan ****
reviewed by the Phantom 
Anyone planning to "just keep the money" that you found but know doesn't really belong to you should watch this simple plan turn into a complicated nightmare that twists good and evil to the point where you might even find yourself rooting for what's morally wrong to succeed over what you know is the right thing to do.

Skyfall ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I'm liking our newest James Bond very much. The storylines are better. No more of that stupid gadgetry, and Bond's love life is underplayed nicely. That's because there are real plot points that follow each other logically, and a real storyline to follow that makes sense. This is basically a revenge story, even though it's hard to believe that one person could concoct such a complicated scenario to get even. The time and money and technology that went into his devious plans are sort of hard to believe, but that's the essence of Bond characters. They go to any lengths to get their way and only Bond can stop them.

Something's Gotta Give ****
reviewed by the Phantom
What everybody wants to see is Diane Keaton, pushing 60, take her clothes off. She does and proves that it is possible to have a great body at that age. We also have to suspend our disbelief at another level too -- that she could possibly fall for either or both Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves. Jack is an over-the-hill womanizer who is dating Diane's daughter, until he is forced to spend time with Diane at her gorgeous beach house. In the meantime, Diane discovers she's still loveable when she starts dating Keanu. Then things change. Again it's the performances by these two super-stars that take this screwball comedy into the realm of great movie watching. Another treasure with a delicious ending set in a Paris cafe. Tres bien.

Spanglish ***
reviewed by The Phantom
This is an over-looked gem of a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler in one of his best performances so far. The nanny-housekeeper, who only speaks Spanish for about half of the film, is Flor Moreno (we could definitely watch more of her). The plot is simple: Sandler's wife hires a housekeeper, and he falls in love with her. The movie plays it smart rather than wacky, which is probably why it didn't do as well as was expected. Rent it -- definitely!

Spectre ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I have especially enjoyed Daniel Craig as Bond. The plots make sense and are not as sexist as the earlier ones. I think some of the past films were merely eye rolling send ups of Ian Fleming's work and did not serve the genre well at all. However, Spectre was probably the weakest of the Craig bunch. I did enjoy reviewing the past with him, but it was a rather thin storyline that needed a lot of embellishment to fill up the time. The current ongoing story line has completely strayed from Fleming's stories. It might be time to retire the series, or find a script writer willing to go back to the source and find some storyline that is truer to Fleming's work.

Spiderman   ***
reviewed by Karen Dale
You know, I really liked this one! It had good action, not too much blood, and it actually makes you care about the actors. The dynamic between the Green Goblin and Spidey is done well and the lead-in to the sequel doesn’t leave any feelings of incompletion or dissatisfaction. Highly recommended for respite from the summer blues.

Spotlight ****
reviewed by the Phantom
This is the Boston pedophile priest cover up story. In 2001, Boston Globe investigative reporters, back when newspapers actually had such teams, worked for months uncovering this story, and then had a hard time convincing the paper to actually run it. It caused all kinds of trouble for the Catholic church. The fall out still echoes around the globe. We are now waiting for Pope Francis to do something about it, 15 years later. We still worry that there are still nasty priests "out there" harming children and nothing is being done about it. It's up for an Academy award. It's always good to see stories like this get some attention.

Star Wars, the Force Awakens ***
reviewed by the Phantom
I'm not a Star Wars fan, although I think I've seen most of them. I went to this movie because it was a family event, a holiday movie. As far as I'm concerned, it's the same movie over and over again. How many times must we watch the flying scenes, and the fights. I cannot for the life of me figure out why these films are so popular.

The Straight Story ***
reviewed by Cheryl Smith Levinson

  • Not to mention the gorgeous photography that shows us sun-drenched cornfields waving in the Iowa breeze, rain storms that infuse dampness into our bones, and the run-down small houses in the main character’s hometown.
  • Not to mention the natural dialogue that pulls us in and makes us think, “Yeah, I know lots of people who talk this way and say these things.”
  • Not to mention the smallness of this movie, yet how wide it gets and how deep it goes.

I could leave out all of the above and just focus on the acting jobs done by Richard Farnsworth (Alvin), and Sissy Spacek (Rose), who plays his slightly-off daughter. Their brilliance alone would entice you to see this film, and then tuck it into a pocket of your heart forever.  You wouldn’t hesitate to go on Alvin’s journey because it is your journey as well, that is, if you’ve had enough life experience to grasp some simple, lost truths. Or, if you’ve developed enough awareness of the bittersweet life we all tend to deny yet know deep in our bones.

As profound as this film is, there are some questions that remain disappointedly unresolved. Alas, I can’t tell you what they are. It would ruin the way this work unfolds, petal by delicate petal. You’ll only need one Kleenex. So get comfortable and enjoy.

Summertime *** (1955)
reviewed by the Phantom
Katharine Hepburn, an older unmarried woman, travels to Venice for her summer vacation. She brings lots of clothes with her, of course, and looks simply beautiful idling in San Marco Square and strolling across the Realto Bridge.  The scenery is wonderful, of course, and so is this old-fashioned romance between her and Rossano Brassi.


The Duds:

O’Horten **
Reviewed by Josh Goller

When a creature of routine is suddenly cast adrift, the adjustment period can be, well, odd. In the Norwegian import O’Horten, the appropriately named Odd Horten embodies this truth as – after four decades living the regimented life of a train engineer – he stumbles into post-retirement life.

The pipe-smoking Horten is launched on a surreal odyssey filled with deadpan humor, buried emotion, and awkward situations. Horten drifts wherever the wind carries him, with periodic stops back at his favorite watering hole and a visit to his dementia-stricken mother.

O’Horten doesn’t follow a narrative arc, instead it’s a series of vignettes that vacillate between tension and playfulness. Much of the film is dreamlike, with surreal images - such as a man in a business suit sliding on his backside down an ice-glazed street - adding to the quirk. The disjointed segments are so self-contained many could stand alone as short films themselves, but are cobbled together in such a way that the viewer roots for the aging retiree throughout.

A quaint and quirky film that could easily have gone off the rails, O’Horten strikes the right balance of wit and wonder to stay on track.

Once *
reviewed by The Phantom
I actually couldn't stand this art film, one of the Indies that everybody loves because it only cost them $100 to make, or something. It's about a homeless Irish song writer, I guess, who is befriended by a young woman passing by while he sings for strangers at a store front. They are both sort of dull and uninteresting. He sings to her a dull, long, monotonous ballad. She loves it. It's their love story. There is very little dialog, and what there is is that slice of life stuff that is also boring and disjointed, with little meaning. For some strange reason he gets enough money together to make a track of his piece and the movie finishes with the notion that he's going to be a big star. If you rent this one, I'm sure you'll fall asleep on the couch 100 times before you finish watching it.

Original Sin **
reviewed by Karen Dale
I left this movie feeling very tired of Angelina Jolie. She is absolutely not subtle with her sexuality. Not only does she play up every single moment to its sultry peak, but she doesn’t seem to know how to come down. The finger-sucking and lip-biting started to become downright raunchy after the first half-hour. And I could swear the movie went on for about three more hours after that. The plot concerned itself with revenge, greed, and Cuban-style emotional terrorism. It was entertaining enough, but nowhere near believable. I’m developing a new pet peeve regarding characters who fail to show any lack of personal growth after suffering, repenting, and living through hell for several hours. After having to watch them go through all of that, I at least want to know that their anguish served some kind of purpose. My anguish in suffering through Original Sin resulted in warning you good people away from this one to save you a few precious hours of your lives. 

Painted Veil **
reviewed by the Phantom
Naomi Watts and Ed Norton star in this period piece set in China during the late colonial era. There's a cholera epidemic and Ed plays a researcher/doctor who tries to figure out how to treat people dying of it. He's a somewhat passionless person so it's difficult to feel sympathy for him, either for his efforts or for his bad marriage. The movie is beautifully set, but seems very self-conscious, lingering over the landscapes and sets far too long. It was way too soon to begin caressing an Oscar, before the nominations were even handed out. The story is based on a Sommerset novel of manners, or ill-manners, in this case. Naomi plays Dr. Ed's rather spoiled and childish wife. She has an affair and then feels bad about it but Ed won't forgive her. The plot seemed somewhat tedious to me, dwelling far too long on the love story, while cholera is raging. It wins my too-full-of-your-fine-self award.

Patch Adams: ** 
reviewed by Tom Beall
This is like Robin Williams' other movies, The Fisher-King, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam. What a delight! Pay no attention to the reviewers assertions that the only funny stuff was in the advertisements. Not true by a long shot! Robin Williams is in his element, and pulls this part off superbly, as usual. It's a delightful, poignant, sad, and hilarious story of a man in depression, who checks himself into a mental hospital to get help. While there he discovers he has a knack for helping people through caring and humor. He decides to attend medical school in an effort to be qualified to give the help people need. His adventures in medical school are wonderful. Why this movie failed to garner any academy nominations but score, is beyond me.

Perfect Pitch **
reviewed by the Phantom
A storyline that Glee threw out accidentally got made into a movie. The singing is great. I'm always in favor of stories about a cappella music so that's why I got snookered into seeing this silly wanna-be romantic comedy about college kids who love to sing. If the producers had gotten a little more serious about singing competitions and not played the whole thing for laughs, it might have been a better movie. Netflix will have it soon. Rent it when Glee goes into re-runs.

Perfect Storm  *
reviewed by Karen Dale
To start on a positive note, the book is really good. The rare phenomenon of multiple storms intersecting to create the mother of all meteorological nightmares is fascinating, and the levels of chutzpah, bravado, or plain ol’ stupidity of the fisherman who braved that maelstrom must have been staggering.  Unfortunately, the film fails to adequately investigate these interesting facets of the incident, in favor of inventing a hopelessly superficial and sappy storyline and focusing on the gaps of unknown information about the event. 

It is obvious that the creators’ goal was to produce a movie full of kick-ass graphics and exciting adventure sequences, plot and believability be damned. I found the computer-generated wave graphics to be entirely fake-looking, and I couldn’t hold back my cynical barbs every time they filmed from their blatantly-Hollywood "back-of-the-boat” set. Other giveaways as to the lack of concern for realism include deep ocean water as clear as a sandy bank in Cancun, twenty-foot waves outside and a motionless crew in the galley, and the most dysfunctional application of CPR ever to be performed on a non-plastic prototype. The latter was especially unforgivable for me, as George Clooney clearly should have been able to draw on his lengthy background of medical acting to give this scene an ounce of credibility. If you’re interested in the story, I suggest reading the book to get the accurate and truly compelling account of the occurrence. If you still feel compelled to check out the special effects, hold out for the $2 matinee at the cheap theater.

Planet of the Apes **
reviewed by the Phantom
Despite the hype for this movie, it’s mostly about the special effects, not the story. Thoughtful reviewers say this movie, like the one in the late ‘60s, contains a subtle message about our culture, having to do with wake-up calls regarding specie-ism or racism or controlling and killing animals for fun and profit. But if you talk to most movie-goers about what they might have learned from this film, they’ll just say “huh?” To most people, it’s just another adventure-thriller, summer movie with great special effects.

Poseidon (the remake) *
reviewed by the Phantom
Mayday, Mayday! for this movie. I saw this one because I remembered the first one, which was also a bad movie. This one is even worse. A rogue wave hits a gigantic cruise ship causing it to turn upside down and float in the water like that until 8 out of the thousands of passengers on board can escape into a life raft that has also escaped and is floating conveniently near the overturned ship. Unlike the first Poseidon adventure, there is no back story and we really don't care a twit whether these people live or die. They, of course, must overcome very dramatic and totally unbelievable feats of physical endurance to get to the life raft, and of course they make it just before Poseidon plunges, once again, to its watery grave. Just for the fun of it, I looked up "rogue wave" on the internet. There is no such thing unless you mean the rock band or the MySpace website. So keep cruising and don't bother looking for rogue waves when you're on the love boat.

Prisoners *
reviewed by the Phantom
This child kidnapping movie is almost impossible to watch. I personally do not like to watch children being harmed, touted as entertainment. I didn't walk out on this film but I probably should have. There are too many real life horrors being committed these days. I don't understand why we need to see this stuff on the big screen, or any screen, as entertainment.

Random Hearts *
reviewed by the Phantom
I couldn't wait to see this film starring Harrison Ford and what's her name, Kristin Scott Thomas. It was actually billed as a thriller. It was not! I guess we all know the plot by now. These two characters, who would never have met, except that their spouses were in a plane crash together. Oops! The film tries to make a story out of an ending and it simply doesn't work. The film's pace is much too slow, too much mood music (that's always a dead giveaway), too many Harrison Ford thousand-yard stares and nothing really left to say. Then the viewers, after two hours of waiting, are cheated by the only small moment surprise left to us and Dutch, the Harrison Ford character. I won't reveal that moment, so you too can feel cheated, if you accidentally rent this film, or heaven forbid, actually go to see it in a real theater.

Requiem for a Dream *
reviewed by the Phantom
This is a drug addict movie with those nauseating through-the-eyes-of-a-drugged-out-user camera shots. It’s very hard to watch. The message: don’t do drugs (duh!), and don’t watch it unless you take your Dramamine first.

Riding in Cars with Boys **
reviewed by Karen Dale
This movie was really long. What made it feel even longer was the discomfort I felt in watching this young woman with a complete lack of parenting skills and knowing the damage she was causing her neglected, angry son. However, I appreciated the discomfort because it spoke to the reality of the situation being depicted. Drew Barrymore played a very young, essentially single mom with a drug addict husband to a heartbreaking “T”. 

The story chronicles her struggles through teenage and young-adulthood, seeming to elaborate every minute and every tiny problem. It became a bit tedious, as we definitely got the point, but the correlation between our boredom and frustration as an audience served to increase our identification with this character and her messed-up child. The mother character was neither complete heroine nor total 
loser: actually, all of the characters in the story were well-drawn and balanced. And towards the end, we saw the mom-son duo begin to break from their ugly codependent cycle, which was uplifting and served as a nice reward for our patience. If you’ve got deep issues with your parents, you’ll probably love this one. (12/01)

Road to Perdition *
reviewed by The Phantom
The dictionary defines perdition as a state of final spiritual ruin, in other words, hell. So why would a person make a road trip to such a destination? This movie tries very hard to pretend that it’s got something profound to tell us about the human condition, but the plotline is pretty much explained in the TV commercials: a hit man on the road with his son. They are being chased to Perdition, which is also a small town in Michigan I think, because they are the bad guys, but they aren’t being chased by the good guys. No-no. They are being chased by other bad guys for reasons I won’t go into. And the dad is teaching his son how to be a man, sort of gangster style – the tricks of the trade, which include shooting, driving the getaway car, that sort of thing. They have father-son fun while doing it, but this isn’t a fun movie. The profound moral it teaches us: bank robbing can be fun; don’t kill people. Rent this one later. (Aug 2002.)

The Royal Tennenbaums *
reviewed by Karen Dale
Who cares about this screwed up family. The premise is that this family is too unbelievable to be real, so why would they think we'd want to spend two hours of our lives witnessing their fake antics? A royal pain in the ass.

Save the Last Dance **
reviewed by the Phantom
This is the perfect no-brainer I wanna dance but I’ve got a big problem video rental. We’ve seen this story done oh so much better before: Billie Elliott, Flash Dance, et cetera. This time the writers just changed the ethnicity of the dancers and mixed hip-hop with ballet for the dance sequences. The storyline is thin, the acting is marginally good, and the dance tries for slammin’.  It’s not great art but it’s watchable. (11/01)

Saving Silverman   *  
reviewed by Karen Dale

Saving Silverman
’s basis and storyline have a lot of potential. Three guys have been the best of buds since forever, one of them gets a pain-in-the-ass girlfriend and the other two do whatever it takes to break them up. Not bad stuff. And not bad actors: Amanda Peet, Jack Black, Jason Biggs' are all real up-and-comers. The movie’s downfall was its editing. The plot was chopped up into individual comic bits that could have been blended together more naturally to keep the laughter flowing. And the timing before and after jokes was thrown off by the movie rushing to the next bit and not giving the good moments the time they needed to really take. When the same jokes that are really funny in the trailer fall completely flat in the movie, you know it’s the person who pasted the thing together that screwed it all up. Too bad.  

Scary Movie *
reviewed by Karen Dale
This movie was lucky to earn one star from me, which was based on a few scenes that caused genuine out-loud laughter.  It’s highlight is also it’s undoing, however, as this movie is really just a string of short, semi-funny bits held together by a borrowed amalgamation of recent horror movie plots. And if your age doesn’t begin with a "1", chances are low that you’ve seen all the movies on which the jokes are based. There are a few esoteric references that an older crowd might appreciate more, but it’s not worth the pain suffered in getting there. I’m not a huge marijuana fan, myself, but my guess is that this movie would probably be a fall-down riot if viewed while stoned.  

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel **
reviewed by the Phantom
Judy Dench is working again, along with her pals from the first Marigold Hotel movie, and Richard Gere makes an appearance. It's more of the same and not quite as funny. This time the Indian lad who runs the hotel is getting married, he has big fat Indian wedding plans, so that felt like a re-run too. Also, the hotel is being "mystery guest shopped". That's the other storyline. None of it is too interesting. It seems like the jokes, sketches, situations, whatever, are all just paste-ups of other movies. Totally disappointing.


Serendipity **
reviewed by Karen Dale
John Cusack pulls this dog along by its collar. Cute premise, but ultimately exhausting when you know where it’s going but it just refuses to go there until you’re pulling your hair out. Moral of the story: If you screw with fate, it’ll screw with you right back. (12/01)

Shallow Hal *
reviewed by Karen Dale
-
Sad, not too funny, and the fat-suit's not fooling anyone.

Side Effects **
reviewed by the Phantom
Unfortunately, this movie is a dud. It will come and go to the rental bin before you can blink. It could have been better but the story just wasn't there. It was billed as a thriller, but it turned out to be anything but. The ending was contrived and looked to be one of many they might have tried out, sort of tacked on to wrap things up. I wanted to like this movie but just couldn't. Really forgettable. Rent it this summer.

Sleepy Hollow **
reviewed by Daren Dale
See this one for Johnny Depp. He definitely makes the movie. It's surreal and creepy and more than a bit gory--very Tim Burton. The story is somewhat confusing and its hard to follow the logic at times. Stylistically and visually it's quite a feat, though, and easily fits into the genre of entertainment. And accordingly, I will recommend it as entertaining, but not a must-see.

Slum Dog Millionaire *
reviewed by the Phantom


Present-day Mumbai's shanty town is the setting for this Indian film. I was shocked from the first frame until the last one I watched, some15 minutes into this one. Scenes of everyday violence, and then extreme torture of a child. It was at that point I became aware of how cruel it all was and that I was supposed to be entertained by it. It was like watching a Roman circus. I just couldn't stand any more of it, no matter that it's supposed to have a happy ending. I'm really getting sick of being so manipulated by movies these days. Why can't we be entertained without having to watch such scenes of horror? By the way, if you walk out of a movie in progress because you don't like it, ask for your money back. I got mine back without a question. Skip this one unless you are entertained by watching children being tortured.

Slums of Beverly Hills **
reviewed by Roger King
Combining the mind-numbing boredom of yet another teenage angst-filled coming of age theme with Alan Arkin's portrayal of a pathetic 90's version of a Willie Loman character, including a gratuitous scene of his Clintonesque groping of a needy family relative, this white-trash family of Jerry Springer audition rejects received all stars from the pretentious, pseudo-intellectual movie critics of the Bay Area who should be condemned to re-watch this film weekly on a double billing with The Avengers with their feet glued to one of the numerous sticky floors available locally, until they admit, although legally and technically correct, they did indeed commit a sin in recommending this movie.

Snatch *
reviewed by Karen Dale
Snatch is a crazy, violent, spastic burst of noise leaving the visceral message that lying and cheating lead to trouble, and trouble is dangerous to your health. British gangsters shoot it out in a Pulp Fiction-wanna-be jumble that’s hard to follow and more or less pointless. It’s lively and watchable, with Brad Pitts’ character and a squeaky dog adding some humor to distract from the spiraling spasms of chaos and violence.

Someone Like You **
reviewed by Karen Dale
Your basic romantic comedy. I liked the way it was set up, and the fact that the protagonist was clearly a thinking woman. The predictability sets in after about twenty minutes. Thank goodness for Marissa Tomei, who adds great life and energy to the standard shmaltz. Character motivations were unclear, and the match that was supposed to make our toes tingle left most of the audience shivering and suppressing an “eww, gross”. When the final kiss between two people who have finally found each other makes you wonder whether one or both of the actors is gay, there’s a definite chemistry glitch.

Space Cowboys ** 
reviewed by The Phantom
The guys probably like this one better than us girls. I thought it was sort of boring, even with the great cast of good old boys.

Star Trek into the Darkness **
reviewed by The Phantom
A summer action movie, one of the only ones I will watch. My kids are Star Trek fans so they were happy to see that the Star Trek enterprise has figured out a way to continue this somewhat endless series by starting over with a new, younger cast. My gripe is that Star Trek's premise is to go in peace exploring the universe. Their vow to go where no man has gone before is right out of the command given to the real Captain Cook by the King of England for his voyages of exploration. And the beginning of this current film, gave us a little taste of that. But of course, Into the Darkness isn't a peaceful mission. It's yet another one of those evil villain vs. the good guys. We all know this plot so well, with the chase scenes, warriors fighting and buildings being blown up. I find it all to be relentless nonsense.

Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones *
reviewed by Karen Dale
I prefer the title “Little Orphan Annie”. If people claim that this movie comes anywhere close to the genius of the original “Star Wars”, then it can truly be said that our society has lost its critical eye for moviemaking. It’s sad, if not pathetic, that this new series even bears the name of its progenitor. Think about it -- if this movie were simply titled “Attack of the Clones”, would you ever consider camping out for tickets, skipping work to see it in its first days of release, or even paying full price? Heck no! It would be lucky to capture your attention as a Blockbuster rental. Are we so numbed and dumbed by our short attention span, technology-dependent society that this passes for quality entertainment? How very sad. Specifics: unexciting, no intrigue or suspense, all injuries are instantly remedied, dull storyline, bad acting, what happened to the underlying spirituality of Luke Skywalker's personal quest and discovery of The Force? -- and finally, what's up with those cartoonish special effects? This is drivel.

Sum of All Fears **
reviewed by The Phantom
Unfortunately Ben Affleck has taken over for Harrison Ford as Tom Clancy's stock character, Jack Ryan, and believe me, Ben is no Harrison Ford. Too bad. This one is typical Clancy where the world as we know it just about comes to an end -- again! -- except for Ryan, who manages to save the day, despite the best efforts of the CIA, the neo-Nazis and all the rest of the world's bad guys. See Baltimore Stadium get nuked. If that interests you, this is your kind of movie. June 2002.


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