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The Green Mile Review


Excellent
The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon. Start the race and the movie together: The race would long be over before the film. The winner would be at home, taking a nap. Yes, The Green Mile is three hours long.

Not that long movies have never been successful, and not that The Green Mile is bad. You might even think a long movie is required here. Pulled from Stephen King's acclaimed series of six books by the same name, King returns to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his), the kind that seems to perform the best, away from splatter and gore, and into the minds of the strangest of characters.

Continue reading: The Green Mile Review

The Polar Express Review


Weak
The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The Polar Express draw inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful Christmas novel of the same name. Beginning with the late-night arrival of the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming locomotive and ending with the narrator's ringing of a symbolic bell, these whimsical bookend scenes find the perfect holiday ambiance that wraps us in a cozy blanket of adolescent wonder.

Bridging the film's beautiful opening and closing, though, are 77 minutes of exhaustive, roller coaster-worthy action sequences, death-defying skids across frozen lakes and approximately 15 harrowing occasions where the beloved Polar Express is inches away from jumping its tracks and killing everybody on board. It's Van Allsburg by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it just doesn't fit the initial warm-and-fuzzy mood.

Continue reading: The Polar Express Review

The Naked Man Review


OK
Nothing makes you want to see a movie as much as a title like The Naked Man, does it? Feels like a vanity project: Michael Rapaport is Edward Blis, a chiropracter becomes a wrestler (clad in a leotard painted with the human anatomy, he's known as "the naked man") and later a sort of vigilante super-hero. Rapaport isn't terribly memorable, nor is the oddball script (co-written by Ethan Coen), but give it a whirl if only for Rachael Leigh Cook's leather-clad, hair-teased psycho-vixen, with love/hate tattooed across her breasts.

Jurassic Park III Review


Excellent

Dinosaurs!

While the first Jurassic Park was mediocre and the second film god-awful, Jurassic Park III finally gets the formula right. These movies were never meant to be science heavy or overly sentimental; they should've been what #3 is -- an amusement park thrill ride packed wall-to-wall with dinosaurs and more dinosaurs, clocking in at less than 90 minutes with as little dialogue and subplot as possible. Plus, big bonus -- no Jeff Goldblum!

Instead of Goldblum, JP3 brings back Sam Neill as the slightly grizzled Dr. Alan Grant who seems happy to put his terrifying up-close dino experiences behind him. Grant and his new protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola) are once again looking for funding for their research, and are coaxed into accompanying a new wealthy benefactor -- Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his wife Amanda (Téa Leoni) -- on a fly-over of the second Jurassic island, Isla Sorna. But things turn ugly when the Kirbys announce they plan to land on the island to search for their 14-year-old son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who was conveniently lost there while paragliding. When the group ends up crash landing in the jungle, the movie becomes a race to see who will get off the island and who will become lunch. (Sounds like a cool idea for the next Survivor.)

While dialogue has never been these films' strongest suit, JP3 remedies this by having less of it. Regardless, the writers behind this screenplay-of-fewer-words are pretty impressive: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor are the minds behind Citizen Ruth and Election. It comes off as a bit like how a dumb movie turns out when it's penned by smart people (like a Wayne's World) -- lots of action peppered with throw-away goofball lines like, "They weren't making dinosaurs; they were playing God."

As evidenced by dialogue like that, JP3 doesn't take itself too seriously, which is perhaps its saving grace; and it pulls no punches when taking potshots at the other two movies. For example, when Grant finds Eric (or, rather, after Eric rescues Grant), Eric tells the scientist, "I've read both your books. I liked the first one better than the second." Also, the so-called millionaire Kirby turns out to be a plumber. So much for a repeat of John Hammond.

Above all, JP3 packs in more dinosaurs per square inch than any other JP film before it. This time, big, angry reptiles are coming out of the sky and water as well as land, and the filmmakers even introduce a dino to rival the T. Rex, a massive monster called Spinosaur (that's right, dino-fighting). And, of course, the raptors are back, and now they can communicate with each other (don't ask, evolution's a bitch). Most importantly, none of the humans try to fight the dinosaurs themselves, so we won't be seeing any unbelievable scenes of kids knocking out velociraptors with a few gymnastics kicks.

Efficiently crammed with lots of thrills, Jurassic Park III may come off as a little bit like a big-budget B-movie, but you're not likely to have a better time at a blockbuster this summer. It's just loud, smash-and-crash monster movie fun at its finest.

The DVD extras focus on the film's special effects -- surprisingly, very little CGI, very many animatronic legs and jaws.

Continue reading: Jurassic Park III Review

Air Bud Review


Good
Quaint children's film about a basketball playing dog and a kid depressed because of his father's death. Only Disney could do something like this.

Thursday Review


Good
A definite sleeper, not for the faint of heart. Thursday features 24 hours in the life of a reformed drug dealer, who has been trying to put his life in order for the last four years. When his old partner rolls into town and drops a load of smack in his L.A. house, all manner of nefarious sorts stop by to collect it. Body count ensues, plus Paulina Porizkova in (and out of) a red, rubber dress. I'll buy that for a dollar.

Drop Zone Review


Weak
Woo-hoo, it's a parachutin' movie! Thrill to Wesley Snipes falling through the sky to fight crime! Jolt yourself awake before the lights come back on! If you're looking for excitement, try jumping out of a plane.

The Gift (2000) Review


Weak
Maybe Paramount held back on giving The Gift a wide release during the Christmas season to avoid too many reviewers saying, "This Gift is a holiday lump of coal..." or something like that. If so, good call.

The latest from Sam Raimi (For Love of the Game) is a muddled thriller, filled with tired clichés and some of the worst casting in years. Raimi, along with screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, try so hard to create a "serious" psychic chiller that the film is practically drained of any excitement.

Continue reading: The Gift (2000) Review

The Green Mile Review


Good

"The Green Mile" begins with a little deja vu. Like Tom Hanks' last mid-Century, Oscar-baiting drama, "Saving Private Ryan," it's bookended by a modern framework that finds an old man reluctantly reminiscing about a difficult year of his life, more than half a century ago.

Because of the familiar faces and the similar prestige posturing, this platitudinous structure invites a little eye-rolling as Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden on "Little House On the Prairie"), playing the aged Hanks, begins to spin what becomes an engrossing three-hour yarn about a year of extraordinary horrors and miracles on death row in a Louisiana state penitentiary.

Hanks plays prison guard Paul Edgecomb, an unjaded joe in charge of death row who treats people on both sides of the bars with humanity and civility. Set in 1935, the central story opens with the arrival of a kindly colossus of a condemned killer named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan).

Continue reading: The Green Mile Review

Jurassic Park III Review


OK

In 1993, the first "Jurassic Park" took Hollywood's first giant step into the world of computer generated special effects, rendering from scratch huge life-like dinosaurs that genuinely interacted with the humans they chased and chowed on. There were a few tell-tale signs of CGI style that savvy audiences now recognize (soft-focusy skin on some critters, for example). But there wasn't a movie-goer on Earth who wasn't agog at how real those dinos looked.

CGI effects have evolved exponentially in the last eight years and in "Jurassic Park III" the movie's biggest stars are so seamless blended and thoroughly convincing that the very concept of these ancient beasts being a special effect barely even crosses your mind. It only occurred to me once, for about 10 seconds, during a fight between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and this movie's even bigger, meaner baddie called Spinosaurus. Half way through the furious dust-up, it hit me: "Holy cow, these things aren't real!"

I might not even have thought about the effects at all except for being drawn to the extreme deliberateness of the movie's big-budget post-production by the over-amped, over-bearing, Dolby'd-to-death sound effects, apparently designed to shatter eardrums.

Continue reading: Jurassic Park III Review

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Michael Jeter Movies

The Green Mile Movie Review

The Green Mile Movie Review

The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon....

The Polar Express Movie Review

The Polar Express Movie Review

The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The...

Jurassic Park III Movie Review

Jurassic Park III Movie Review

Dinosaurs!While the first Jurassic Park was mediocre and the second film god-awful, Jurassic Park III...

The Green Mile Movie Review

The Green Mile Movie Review

The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon....

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Open Range Movie Review

Open Range Movie Review

During a summer in which TV remakes, romantic comedies, sequels, and comic book movies overcrowd...

Welcome to Collinwood Movie Review

Welcome to Collinwood Movie Review

Among the ever-impressive list of projects undertaken by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's Section Eight...

The Polar Express Movie Review

The Polar Express Movie Review

The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The...

The Gift (2000) Movie Review

The Gift (2000) Movie Review

Maybe Paramount held back on giving The Gift a wide release during the Christmas season...

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