On the Screen
HHH Apollo 13
Tom Hanks takes his Oscar-winning ways to the moon in Apollo 13. The film offers astronaut Jim Lovell's account of the nearly disastrous real-life mission to the moon in the spring of 1970; when things go wrong on board Apollo 13, it's up to Hanks - I mean, Lovell - to hold the crew together so they all get home safely. The cast for Apollo 13 works well together, having met up on several fronts in the past. Hanks gives another solid performance in this film, but Ed Harris, as the main supervisor at Mission Control, has the best, most understated role. One of the movie's problems is that the script is too formulaic and casts the performances too much to the caricatures that they are: dependable family man Lovell; slightly insecure family man Haise; and young, swinging bachelor Swigert. The main problem, though, is the film's pacing, which feels too calculated and methodical. If you're looking for grandeur, try The Right Stuff. But if you can't see that film on a big screen, Apollo 13 may offer some instant, if only partial, gratification.
-Scott Deskin. Sony Cheri.
HH First Knight
This latest in Hollywood escapism infuses the King Arthur myth with modern themes, but unfortunately forgets about the magic. Richard Gere plays a cocky Lancelot, who while wandering the countryside one day rescues Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond) from kidnappers, and falls in love. Unfortunately for him, she's already betrothed to Sean Connery's King Arthur, and parries Lancelot's lustful advances. First Knight has a lot going for it - Ormond's subtle performance is never forced; Gere's Lancelot is cocky but reasonably convincing. But Connery is wasted as Arthur: Though he looks and sounds the part, the film makes Arthur a virtual nonentity. Arthur is set up from the start as nothing more than a lame duck amidst his young militia; the passion between Arthur and Guinevere is never developed. Also, the battle scenes are a letdown after the masterful ones in Braveheart. It's unlikely First Night will be remembered as a definitive rewrite of the myth of Camelot, much less an original one. When Arthur dies at the end of the film, all youre left with is the romance between Mancelot and Guinevere, but that's not enough to leave you satisfied.
-SD. Sony Cheri.
Pocahontas overflows with many trademarks of a Disney animated film: a bosomy heroine with great marketing potential, a villain who takes his character flaws to an unhealthy extreme, catchy songs, and animal characters that have more personality than most of the humans. There are, however, other important qualities that audiences have come to expect from Disney flicks, such as dazzling animation, an entertaining story, and humorous lines of dialogue. But Pocahontas falls short of its predecessors on these points. The writers do not adequately develop the romantic relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith, and the trademark-Disney exciting, climactic fight scene in which good conquers evil is tedious, predicatable, and disappointing. But overall, Pocahontas is in itself an entertaining movie, replete with many funny and poignant moments. More importantly, it contains a timely message that speaks out against discrimination and emphasizes the importance of respect for all people and the environment. At less than ninety minutes in length, Pocahontas is successful in delivering to its audiences a brief diversion of animated fun.
-Audrey Wu. Sony Copley Place.
HH1/2 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
Not as bad as one might think, parts of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie are actually decent. The main problem with the film is that it's about the Power Rangers. The Rangers are merely faceless teens, distinguished only by color, who like to kick evil's butt. While this may be enough for some, distinguished audiences seeking character development on the scale of the Transformers will be disappointed. There are, however, good parts to the film, such as Bulk and Skull, who provide comic relief, and a very humorous villain in Ivan Ooze. Filmmakers even change major features of the film, such as new zords for the Rangers. Such changes, however, compare neither in magnitude nor in quality to those in Transformers : The Movie. These qualities, however, do not nullify the vile nature of the Rangers themselves. Tommy, the new leader of the Power Rangers, is definitely no Optimus Prime. In fact, he's not even a Rodimus Prime.
-Robert Wagner. Sony Copley Place.