The easy to read summary of the glut of movies released in August, 2004.
Alien vs. Predator stars Lance Henriksen, who links both sets of earlier film franchises, and Sanaa Lathan. Human archeologists uncover a prehistoric Alien society just as a group of young Predators comes searching for Aliens, placed on earth by elder predators, as hunting stock. AVP wasn't shown to critics until an hour before y'all get to see it. Usually that's bad news but, in this case, not. It's hard to balance action and terror, AVP is heavy on the former and just a shade light, for us, on the latter. To use teenspeak: it didn't suck. Recommended
Anacondas, an adequate popcorn flick, is the sequel to you-know-what. There's a logical reason why there's more than one and an equally intriguing subplot. Those expecting mayhem to the nth degree aren't going to get it. Not Recommended
Code 46 stars Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton. Don't miss the first two minutes, which establishes the logic of the story (involving cloning and genetic laws) or you'll be lost. That being said, the rest of the film's a thrill-free dud. Not Recommended
The Cookout, which stars Storm P and Queen Latifah with Danny Glover and Farrah Fawcett. We don't know if it wasn't screened for the press because it's awful or if it wasn't screened for us because we're out of the target demographic. Or it may be because we've had some trouble with distributor Lions Gate, though we're not quite sure why. We did, after all, suffer through Godsend and gave thumbs up to Danny Deckchair. Go figure.
Criminal stars John C. Reilly as an aging con artist who takes a newbie (Diego Luna) under his wing. Hotel running sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal) does her best to get in the way since the mark (Peter Mullan) is a patron of her hotel. If it's near you, find it. Recommended
End of the Century offers up just about everything a rock 'n' fan of the late, great band called The Ramones could want -- except their legendary appearance on NBC's Tomorrow Show on which they did three songs in five minutes. OTT, this loving tribute and history is well worth your time and money. Recommended
The Exorcist: The Beginning ... Oh what a tangled history this prequel, starring Stellan Skarsgård, has. Paul Schrader directed it. Renny Harlin stepped in for reshoots and took such control that he gets final credit. The studio didn't screen the film until 8:30pm the day before release, and didn't schedule that screening until it was too late for us (meaning a different film got our RSVP 'cuz we guessed the wrong day for the screening). The buzz on this film is awful, but we don't believe buzz anymore. We do believe doctor stuff, so we're dealt with that instead
Hero stars Jet Li, the martial arts star who prefers weapons to honed hands. The cinematography is gorgeous in a story which derives from the history of China's first Emperor -- it's a complicated story undermined by the need to read the subtitles, and a bad stretch of titling at a most important part of the story. Still, it's not a bad sit and so it Recommended
Little Black Book stars Brittany Murphy with Holly Hunter, Kathy Bates and Ron Livingstone in the romantic dateflick of the week. 20-somethng femmes near us cheered as the credits rolled. We, not 20 nor femme, were bored silly until a Third Act story twist. Simply, Murphy is an a newbie TV producer who searches out the old flames in her boyfriend's Palm pilot. Hunter is her TV boss and Bates is the talk show superstar who really runs the show. Not Recommended
Mean Creek stars Rory Culkin and Ryan Kelly is a twisted take on what happens when a bunch of kids team up to put the local bully in his place during a secretive river trip. A big hit at film festivals, it is intelligently written and well acted and strongly recommended for those who prefer the arthouse.
Open Water is probably the best shark flick since Jaws,and it takes a whole different tack to the story, too! The medical problems we've alluded to on earlier home pages surfaced an hour before we were to see the film a couple of weeks ago, so we missed it. Reviewers we respect, on the other hand, advise that the film may scare you silly. In our current condition, that could kill us so you're more than welcome to toss the dice. We would. Recommended
Paparazzi stars Cole Hauser and Robin Tunney. Hauser plays a movie star who plots revenge against paparazzi photogs who've caused injury to his wife (Tunney). Despite what Rotten Tomatoes reported, the film was screened (for New York) press on Friday morning, a courtesy given to critics when studios don't want to make the Friday "weekend" section of the newspaper. That means exactly what you think it means. We overslept and missed it. Sorry.
Resident Evil Apocalypse is a much more enjoyable film than the first one -- probably because this edition sticks more closely to the game. Joining Milla Jovovich above the title is Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, the "real" star of the game and band of monsters, zombies and rabid dogs. You know if you want to see it. Then again, we're not into the game and we liked it in that dumb, eat a lot of popcorn way. Recommended
Suspect Zero stars Aaron Eckhart and Carrie-Anne Moss as FBI agents on the trail of a serial killer (Ben Kingsley) thought to be the key to every missing child in the U. S. of A. The characters aren't any more developed than that description in a film only prospective film writers should watch, if only to learn when a draft is still a draft. Not Recommended
We Don't Live Here Anymore, is a hardcore arthouse drama all about infidelity and the after effects of such. Starring Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Peter Krause and Mark Ruffalo, the film left us gasping for breath and had all the critics in our screening running for the exits. It isn't badly made at all but it is for the audience that prefers films that make you wish you were any place but the theater you're watching the film in. Not Recommended
Without a Paddle stars Seth Green and Matthew Lillard. In which three friends search for the long lost skyjacking ransom of DB Cooper. When it is funny, it is very very funny. When it is not it is a perfectly average movie, and definitely a lighter alternative to everything else out there . . . But since Oscar only pays attention to Supporting Actors in movies like this, they should pay attention to Burt Reynolds in a seriously side splitting role. Seriously, it's that funny (but we're an old fart so what do we know?)
Yu-Gi-Oh, the big screen version of the small screen 'toon is, to those of us who don't know the teevee 'toon, an incomprehensible story of good versus evil (aren't they all?). The kidlets in our audience, who did know what the heck was going on, applauded at the end. But that's what kids'll do. There's one bit of violence that we wouldn't expose a single digit kid to (a stabbing). OTT, you know your kids better than we do.