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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHHH Blade Runner: The Director's Cut

The classic film Blade Runner celebrates its 10th anniversary with the release of the film director Ridley Scott originally wanted to make - without the annoying voice-over and the upbeat ending. The result is a wonderful, Kubrickian film with a meditative mood and a soaring Vangelis score. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young give career performances in an apocalyptic urban nightmare of the future that was and may still be years ahead of its time. Worth seeing over almost any "new" movie currently playing. Brattle Theatre; Saturday, Sept. 10.

HH1/2 The Crow

This action film casts the late Brandon Lee as Eric Draven, a deceased musician who returns from the grave to exact revenge on his tormentors. By way of avenging the rape and murder of his girlfriend (on Halloween), he can finally achieve peace. However, his mission encounters a series of obstacles, namely a young girl whom he seeks to rescue from the dangers of the city, and the sadistic urban overlord/villain who proves to be a defiant match for Draven's supernatural immortality. It's tempting to try to like this film (almost too tempting, in fact), as the message of redemption is a truly sentimental one, and Lee's performance is impassioned as a mock angel of death. It also has a dark, Batman-influenced edge to most of its Gothic visuals, which is fine. In the end, though, the violence is too excessive - even if it is expertly staged and exhilarating. Watching this film is emotionally draining, and although that may be a relief compared with the vacuousness of traditional summer movies, it's not a fun movie to watch. - Scott Deskin. Brattle Theatre; Friday, Sept. 9 through Saturday, Sept. 10.

HHHH The Lion King

Disney's newest animated feature is amazing. The story - a lion cub runs away, fearing that he is responsible for his father's death - is simple enough for children to understand, yet still entertaining for adults. The animation is first-rate, including both computer and traditional hand-drawn graphics mixed to perfection. And, in the tradition of Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, the music is superb. Finally, the characters of The Lion King are some of the most memorable of all the recent Disney creatures. All-in-all this is one of the best Disney films. Loews Copley Place.

HHH Maverick

Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster star as poker players trying to raise the $25,000 entry fee for "the poker game of the century." Maverick features good bad-guys, bad good-guys, smart women and avoids all the typical stereotypes of westerns. It's a "politically correct" western that fits easily in the genre of western. Director Richard Donner masterfully keeps the plot one step in front of the audience, creating an unpredictable, hilarious, and thoroughly enjoyable non-standard western. LSC Saturday.

HHH Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone's latest film focuses on a marauding couple (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) whose sensational mass-killing spree catapults them into the national spotlight. Their lives are consequently exploited by a TV tabloid journalist (Robert Downey Jr.), a sadistic cop (Tom Sizemore), and a somewhat dimwitted prison warden (Tommy Lee Jones). All elements of justice and the media machine are represented as cartoonish caricatures, which degenerate as the film goes on: the main problem is the director's somewhat hypocritical attitude that fails to recognize that he is part of that same machine. The main attractions in the film are the hyperkinetic performances of the cast members, the excessive violence, and the bizarre, rapid-fire editing of picture and sound - all of which Stone executes brilliantly. By the end of the film, audiences will either revel its visual audacity or deplore its apparent lack of message. - SD. Loews Cheri.

HH1/2 True Lies

Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest action-adventure-comedy casts him as Harry Tasker, a top-secret government agent who hides his real identity from his wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), who thinks he is a computer salesman. That premise is no less believable than any of the other plot twists, which primarily involve the efforts of Middle Eastern terrorist of the "Crimson Jihad" (Art Malik) to hold America hostage with some nuclear warheads. The special effects are pretty impressive, considering the seamlessness of the final product - including some nifty scenes with Harrier jets and exploding bridges - which seems to be a direct counterpoint to the exotic morphing effects of director James Cameron's last effort, Terminator 2. But most of the movie drags between its main action sequences, especially some dumb plot involving an affair between Helen and Simon (Bill Paxton), a man pretending to be a spy. The film is partially redeemed by the easygoing performance of Tom Arnold as Harry's sidekick, but most of the performances seem forced. - SD. Loews Cinema 57.