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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HH1/2 Braveheart

Mel Gibson's Braveheart is a curious combination of historical legend and modern dramatic techniques woven together into a tapestry of connected stories. With the plot based loosely on Scotland's real-life struggle for independence from England and the screenplay straight from modern Hollywood, the three-hour show reminds one more of Lethal Weapon than Rob Roy. A Scottish commoner, William Wallace (Mel Gibson) returns to his native land after an education in continental Europe with his uncle. He yearns for a idyllic life on a farm with his childhood sweetheart and new wife, Murron (Catherine McCormack). His domestic bliss is shattered when British lords kill his beloved wife; in response, Wallace assembles his friends and neighboring clansmen into an army, burns the British forts and charges toward the English border. Braveheart increases its appeal by contrasting these highland goings-on with portrayals of British royalty, especially the powerful, evil King Edward I (Patrick McGoohan) The queen-to-be, Princess Isabelle (Sophie Marceau), is bored with her marriage to the king's homosexual son and becomes infatuated with Wallace in a distracting subplot. The battle scenes in Braveheart may be gruesome and a bit extreme, but the film as a whole is immensely satisfying. -Teresa Esser. Sony Nickelodeon.

HHH Crimson Tide

Tony Scott's latest action film (produced by the Simpson-Bruckheimer team behind Scott's Top Gun and Days of Thunder) stars Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman as a pair of feuding commanders on the U.S.S. Alabama, a submarine poised to deliver nuclear warheads to a Russian rebels who seize a missile base and put the world on the brink of World War III. Predictably, in the tradition of submarine films like The Hunt for Red October, the suspense factor is very high: The main characters are positioned for a face-off concerning a order to launch the missiles and an incomplete message which could possibly revoke the order. With Hackman as the hawkish commander and Washington as the idealistic lieutenant, the remainder of the plot details effortlessly fall into place; however, the film is so skillfully done, you don't mind being shown these situations again when you're enjoying the ride. -Scott Deskin. Sony Copley Place.

HH1/2 Die Hard With a Vengeance

From the opening frames of this film, when a bomb detonates in a department store - sending debris out into a crowded New York City avenue - you know early on that this film aims solely at maximizing action. In this third film, police detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) enlists the help of Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise shop owner in Harlem, to engage in a battle of wits with criminal mastermind and explosives expert Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons). Gruber, of course, is the brother of Hans Gruber (from the first film), and claims to carry a grudge against McClane. Despite this plot device, it's difficult to look beyond the actors on the screen and into the story. The three stars act well, and the action sequences are spectacular, but neither the characters nor the story evoke much emotion or compassion. Minute for minute, number three is more action-packed than the first two, which were tied down to specific locations. The fact that it Die Hard With A Vengeance moves through a whole city gives the story many more opportunities; however, the sheer number of coincidental encounters between the good guys and the bad guys defies the laws of probability in favor of dumb luck. Such events make action films interesting, but too many of them can tarnish the effect. -Kamal Swamidoss. Sony Cheri.

HH1/2 While You Were Sleeping

A romantic comedy with a lot of classic scenes. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lonely Chicago Transit Authority worker who falls in love with Peter, a nice guy who rides the train to work every day. She's waiting for the right opportunity to meet him when one day, she saves him from a speeding train. He's at the hospital in coma, and through some misunderstandings, his family believes that she's his fiance. Then she meets Peter's brother, Jack, and the plot thickens. The film is entertaining because from the starting situation, the story and characters evolve in a likeable way. It isn't jaded or cynical; it's a funny love story that your younger siblings, your girl/boyfriend, or your parents can enjoy. -KS. Sony Copley Place.