phillafella

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Reviews

Wild Wild West
(1999)

How the West Was Lost.
No other stinker in 1999 could compare to the witless and tasteless experience that was WILD WILD WEST, a big-budget bomb of epic proportions that is a total disgrace to the TV western of the same name. Will Smith is James West, a slick gunslinger who, along with his partner (Kline) must prevent a political assassination and save a town from destruction. Unsatisfying visuals and second-rate special effects only add to the horrible acting and the film's unclear direction. It is so disappointing to see such good actors wasted in such a terrible mess.

0 out of 5

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
(1991)

The Original Trekkies Improve on Their Final Adventure.
STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY is a decent way to end the original Star Trek franchise. This time, the Enterprise crew's plans to go at peace with the Klingons backfires when the Klingon spaceship is suddenly attacked, beginning another huge war. Though STAR TREK VI is not the best of the Trek movies, it proudly makes up for the disasterous FINAL FRONTIER and returns the franchise to its true form with the excellent cast and neat special effects intact.

3 out of 5

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989)

They Boldly Went Where No One Has Ever Gone Before, and This Time They Went Nowhere.
It looks like the Star Trek franchise has finally jumped the shark with this incredibly weak entry. In STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, the Starship Enterprise is hijacked by Spock's Vulcan brother (Luckinbill), who sends Kirk and crew on a voyage to a secret planet at the center of the galaxy. While not a total waste, THE FINAL FRONTIER is easily the worst of the Star Trek movies, from Shatner's unappealing campfire songs to his utterly bizarre direction, proving that Shatner can't sing or direct. Fans of the franchise will definitely enjoy STAR TREK V, but few others will.

1 out of 5

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)

Kirk and Crew Face the 1980s.
One of the most explosive, if not the best, Star Trek movies, THE VOYAGE HOME has Kirk and his team time-traveling to 1986 Los Angeles in search for a pair of humpback whales, the only beings that can be signaled by a mysterious alien probe threatening to destroy 23rd-century Earth. During their mission they must also face the reality of 1980s civilization. Not as powerful as WRATH OF KHAN, but it is very close to that standard and is never dated as an "80s Movie." Some good performances help too, as well as spectacular special effects that make THE VOYAGE HOME a highly enjoyable entry in the Star Trek film series.

4 out of 5

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
(1984)

A Decent Search.
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK picks up where THE WRATH OF KHAN left off with a bittersweet situation. The Starship crew have defeated Khan, but in the process, Spock died, McCoy (Kelley) is beginning to go insane, and Admiral Kirk (Shatner) and the rest of the team have lost control of the Starship Enterprise, but when Spock's father visits unexpectedly, they steal the ship back and thus beginning the search for Mr. Spock, with the evil Klingons right behind them. A decent, but rather weak entry in the Star Trek movies that manages to push past average status with the help of some great special effects and Nimoy's fine direction.

3 out of 5

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)

Somehow Superior to the First One.
Impressive followup to the otherwise overlooked film adapted from the classic TV series has the members of the Starship Enterprise facing a familiar foe from their past who plans to get rid of Kirk (Shatner) and the rest of the starship crew out of revenge. Stellar performances, especially a powerful one from first-timer Kirstie Alley, along with excellent pacing and good special effects make this entry the most exciting of the series.

4 out of 5

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
(1979)

The Beginning of Another Hit or Miss Film Series.
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE is some kind of rarity, a film based on a TV series with the same characters and the same actors that somehow works. Captain Kirk (Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Nimoy) return to the Starship Enterprise to help prevent an alien attack on Earth. As always, films like STAR TREK are very likely to produce sequels. Go figure. The only disappointment here is the film's length, but if you like the Trek movies as well as the TV series, this film is highly recommended.

3 out of 5

The Shawshank Redemption
(1994)

Could Be the Most Important Film of the Decade.
I have nothing but praise for THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. It is touching, high-spirited and full of motivation. Tim Robbins plays a banker who is wrongly convicted of the murders of his wife and her lover. He is sentenced to life in prison and eventually befriends another lifer (played by Morgan Freeman in a powerful role) who has just been denied parole. It may sound like a simple story, but Frank Darabont's direction, along with endearing performances and a cheerful climax, makes the film so energetic and magical. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is a breath-taking masterpiece.

5 out of 5

Jack Frost
(1998)

Frost-Bite.
Michael Keaton stars as a struggling musician who spends more time with his band than with his family. He dies in a car accident one winter evening and then returns one year later in the form of a snowman. JACK FROST isn't really a terrible movie; it actually starts out as a good, touching family flick, right up to when the snowman comes to life. That's when the film plunges downward, with weak special effects and a predictable story that does not allow the film to take off. Kelly Preston is the film's only attraction; she gives a likeable performance and saves the film from being an utter mess. Still a disappointment, though.

2 out of 5

Tremors
(1990)

A Nice Surprise.
TREMORS is an excellent example of a movie that is not supposed to work, but somehow it does. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are two handymen who team up with a seismologist to help a group of citizens in a desert area fend off vicious underground monsters. Bacon delivers his finest performance since FOOTLOOSE, along with fun bits from Michael Gross and Finn Carter. Also a good showcase for country singer Reba McEntire, who proves she can act as good as she can sing. Overall, a fine blending of sci-fi, horror and comedy that is funny and entertaining.

4 out of 5

Fatal Beauty
(1987)

Another Fatal Flaw From Whoopi.
Whoopi fails again in this preposterous film in which she plays a narcotics cop who takes on a gang of drug hijackers by making disguises that are just plain silly. But that's nothing compared to the film's sophomoric humor and a pointless plot. A pure waste of a movie that even makes BURGLAR look good. Quite possibly the worst of Whoopi's films.

0 out of 5

Lucas
(1986)

A Touching and Emotional Teen Drama.
Haim gives his overall best performance as the 14-year-old title character who has a crush on new girl Green and they bond during the summer, but by the time school begins, he gets teased by the jocks and Green leaves him out in the cold and has eyes for football hunk Sheen, who has become Lucas's bodyguard. Fraught with rejection and neglect, Lucas attempts to prove himself worthy by trying out for the football team, which he knows is no easy task for a boy his age. Unlike many other teen movies, LUCAS gives us a character that we can actually relate to, and the other characters fit in perfectly. One of the best teen movies of the 80's.

4 out of 5

Money Talks
(1997)

Well Worth Your Money.
MONEY TALKS is a good showcase for Chris Tucker, who utterly saves the project from being a disappointment. Here, he plays a street hustler who is wrongly accused of murder. Charlie Sheen is the reporter who risks his engagement to his fiancee (Heather Locklear) to help Tucker out. While the action isn't all that good, Sheen and Tucker's chemistry makes up for it in this above-average comedy.

3 out of 5

Nothing to Lose
(1997)

If You Want to See Just One Martin Lawrence Movie, This Is the One to See.
NOTHING TO LOSE is Martin Lawrence's finest hour and is really one of the very few films to showcase his comedic talent. Lawrence plays a jobless carjacker who meets a depressed executive (Tim Robbins) who is having a very bad day. The two team up for a wild adventure consisting of robberies, car chases and other encounters while being pursued by not only the police, but two rival criminals as well. While the chemistry between Lawrence and Robbins is quite strong, the highlight of the film is Lawrence at home getting his face smacked repeatedly by his mother. Simply put, this is Martin Lawrence's best movie.

4 out of 5

Burglar
(1987)

There Should Be a Law Against Making Movies Like This.
BURGLAR is a stupid outing for Whoopi, who plays a cat burglar who witnesses a murder and becomes wanted for it. Now she has to find the person responsible for the murder before it's too late. Everyone seems wasted in this film, and not even Goldberg is any help this time. At least her role in JUMPIN' JACK FLASH was interesting. She took the money and ran on this one, resulting in a film with poor acting and lack of direction. A near-total waste.

1 out of 5

Jumpin' Jack Flash
(1986)

It's a Run Out of Gas Gas Gas.
Typical Goldberg fare in which she plays a banker who communicates with a "Secret Agent" with the code name Jumpin' Jack Flash while being pursued by a group of spies. Goldberg has good potential here, and the film has an interesting premise, but it doesn't deliver much and the supporting actors fail to bring much life into it. Whoopi's performance saves the film from being a major disappointment.

2 out of 5

Jury Duty
(1995)

Pauly Being Pauly.
JURY DUTY is exactly what you would expect from Pauly Shore: obnoxious, silly and ridiculous. Here, Shore plays a jobless boy who decides he can get himself a free hotel room by posing as a juror for a murder trial. Usually, I give movies what they deserve, but since Shore never made a good movie, I have to give him credit. I mean, here is another guy whose movies were successful at the box office, but had little or nothing to show for it. If you are a fan of Pauly, I doubt you will be disappointed. Others beware, for JURY DUTY will be a real trial to sit through.

1 out of 5

Outrageous Fortune
(1987)

Outrageous Failure.
Bette Midler and Shelley Long play two total opposites who hate each other. When they discover they both have the same boyfriend, they set out to find him, with just about everyone in pursuit of them. Basic comedy starts off good, but gets silly and uninteresting as the movie progresses. Midler and Long have decent chemistry, but it is not enough to make this film a real success.

2 out of 5

Hollow Man
(2000)

Hollow Is Just the Right Word to Describe This Film.
Kevin Bacon has come up with a theory that a man can become invisible, and decides to test the project on himself. However, the theory backfires when the project turns out to be irreversable and Bacon soon becomes a psychotic killer. This film has some good special effects, but other than that, this is just your typical slasher movie, with uninspired acting and a poorly written script. Watch this only if you like special effects.

1 out of 5

Blue Collar
(1978)

It's Well Worth Your Time.
Excellent urban drama depicting the lives of three friends who work at a car plant, and plan revenge on their boss. Pryor is great in the lead role, which is probably his best performance in a movie. Schrader does a fine job in his directorial debut and makes this film a pure enjoyment. Bravo for Keitel and Kotto in their supporting roles. A highly underrated film that deserves much better than it got.

4 out of 5

The Waterboy
(1998)

All Dried Up.
Adam Sandler works as a water boy for a college football team with a huge slump. One day, fed up with getting teased by the football players, he finally snaps, and coach Winkler puts him on the team. Another weak vehicle for Sandler, who provides a character that's just as witless and 1-D as his other roles, and his Porky Pig accent is terrible. The other actors provide some relief, but this film is still very much a loser.

1 out of 5

Volcano
(1997)

1/5 stars
Year: 1997

Run time: 1 hr 45 min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Mick Jackson

Tommy Lee Jones; Anne Heche; Gaby Hoffmann; Don Cheadle; Jacqueline Kim; Keith David

When a newly formed volcano erupts in downtown Los Angeles, it's up to Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche to do what they can and save the day.

...And that's about it. Volcano is very much a by-the-numbers disaster flick, with cardboard characters, a very unconvincing story and, especially, lame special effects. If you want to see a good volcano movie, then watch Dante's Peak, which I believe came out at around the same time. Only watch this movie if you like tedious disaster flicks.

Dante's Peak
(1997)

Expect the unexpected.
Year: 1997; Run time: 1 hr 48 min; Rating: PG-13; Director: Roger Donaldson

DANTE'S PEAK - 3/5 stars

Pierce Brosnan; Linda Hamilton; Jamie Renée Smith; Jeremy Foley; Elizabeth Hoffman; Charles Hallahan

In 1997, not one, but two volcano movies hit the big screen. This one, entitled Dante's Peak, is set in a fictional town in the pacific northwest. It has just been labeled the second most desirable place to live in the United States, but shortly after, a vacationing geologist (Brosnan) tries to warn city officials of a nearby volcano that could erupt at any minute. Dante's Peak is your typical disaster flick, but it does have good action and special effects, and decent performances from Brosnan and Hamilton help a lot. The other characters are well-developed as well. Too bad I can't say the same about the script and storyline, which are fairly predictable. That, however, doesn't keep Dante's Peak from being a non-stop action thrill ride.

Rush Hour 2
(2001)

Tucker Runs Scared.
Passable sequel has Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker on vacation in China. Chan wants to keep solving crimes and Tucker just wants to live the good life while he still can, but they both eventually come upon a counterfeiting case which takes them back to the U.S. where they now must stop the counterfeiters. Though this sequel is very much the same as its predecessor, the film actually has some good action sequences and more funny jokes and one-liners from Tucker. A film worth watching.

3 out of 5

Rush Hour
(1998)

A Movie That Makes You Feel Good.
Jackie Chan plays a Chinese detective who is sent to California to solve a kidnapping, but the FBI wants none of his help so they hire Chris Tucker to babysit him. RUSH HOUR is a pure gem of a movie, and the best buddy action movie since the original LETHAL WEAPON. Chan is in top form and Tucker's hilarious one-liners make this film enjoyable entertainment.

4 out of 5

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