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On the Screen

Eddie Murphy plays Maximillian, the worlds's last-surviving vampire, in the sometimes funny but disappointing Vampire in Brooklyn.





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. Somerville Theater.

HHH Get Shorty

John Travolta continues his astonishing career comeback, proving that there is life after Pulp Fiction. In this tongue-in-cheek adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, Travolta plays Chili Palmer, a Miami loanshark on assignment in Hollywood to track down people who skipped payment of their debts: In particular, he meets Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), an independent filmmaker who pitches an idea for a screenplay which Chili thinks has some promise -- enough for Chili to consider producing Harry's film. In the process, Chili becomes involved with Harry's actress-girlfriend (Rene Russo), fends off the predatory advances of Harry's drug-dealing investor (Delroy Lindo), and woos the elusive, but diminuitive, star for the film (Danny DeVito). The story may be slow compared to the slam-bang approach of Pulp Fiction, but the acting and dialogue are rich in dark, subtle comic undertones. The ending is too neat and the production values are a little too slick, but Travolta's cool on-screen demeanor is a treat to watch. --SD. Sony Cheri.

H1/2 Powder

Most likely created by some sort of mythic, the film Powder is indeed strange. Powder is the story of the wacky, wild adventures of an albino and completely hairless teenager who has the power to use an extraordinary amount of his brain capacity. Title character Powder (Sean Patrick Flannery) scores completely off the scale on a school IQ test and can recite any page of any book he's ever read. Due to his mother's having been struck by lightning during her pregnancy, Powder also has a mysterious biomagnetic ability that affects electronic instruments around him and enables him to manipulate things electrically and magnetically. Of course, he's also telepathic. It is on the whole a poorly constructed and clichd film that ends up with an awkward message. With clich after clich and an abundance of predictable scenes, it's a wonder anyone could think this movie was worth making. --Rob Wagner. Sony Copley Place.

HH Seven

The latest entry in the genre of psychological thrillers, Seven offers viewers the gimmick of a serial killer who masterminds his murders based on the seven deadly sins. Morgan Freeman is the archetypal police detective on the verge of retiring, and Brad Pitt plays his young, idealistic counterpart. Together, they must join forces to outsmart the criminal. The film is filled with darkness, and it employs this effect to represent the moralistic undercurrents of the movie. However, this theme fades to a mere afterthought in the wake of a murky plot, incomprehensible dialogue, and a predictable conclusion. Director David Fincher (Alien3) does little to distinguish the film from being a clone of films like The Silence of the Lambs. --Benjamin Self. Sony Cinema 57.

HH Vampire in Brooklyn

Eddie Murphy's latest vehicle as a ruthless member of the Nosferatu in Coming to America-mode mainly falls flat. Once again, the locale is New York City, and Murphy's character, Maximillian, searches for Rita Veder (Angela Bassett), an NYPD detective unaware of the couple's unique blood bond. As part of his quest, he takes on a sidekick (Kadeem Hardison) to be his loyal ghoul. Though the supporting performances are fine, both Murphy and director Wes Craven seem unsure how to deal with the material -- as a humorous horror film or a violent comedy. In particular, Murphy's attempt to mimic former cohort Arsenio Hall (as a preacher from Coming to America) is woefully unsuccessful. If Murphy wants to break out of his box office slump, he's got to be more original than this. --Daniel Ramirez. Sony Cinema 57.