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On The Screen



In Species, Natasha Henstridge plays the result of a top secret experiment involving alien DNA.

HHHH:Excellent

HHH:Good

HH:Average

H:Poor

HH1/2 Casino

Casino is director Martin Scorsese's latest mob film. The setting is Las Vegas in the 1970s, when the mob was still in control of the casinos -- before they became too much trouble and were forced out of Vegas by the feds. The story follows three characters through the downfall: Ace (Robert DeNiro), a casino boss trying to run a respectable casino; Nicky (Joe Pesci), Ace's childhood friend and violent partner who's trying to organize Vegas street crime; and Ginger (Sharon Stone), Ace's troubled wife. Casino tries to follow closely the lives of each character, but this comes at a price: the movie is long (nearly three hours) and moves very slowly. The characters are fairly interesting but not enough to compensate. Casino is not nearly as good as Scorsese's last mob film, GoodFellas, which I can more confidently recommend. --David V. Rodriguez.Sony Cheri.

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. --Scott C. Deskin. Sony Harvard Square.

HHH1/2 Goldeneye

Goldeneye is an all-out fun ride. From the beginning to the end, it is a true Bond film, and it is just fun to watch. I was left wanting more. Bond fans should not despair; the film is definitely worth the long wait. The movie has action, suspense, and all the other aspects that make the Bond films so wonderful. There's a new Bond in town and his name is Pierce Brosnan. Remember it because it looks like he's going to be around for a while. --Daniel Ramirez. Sony Cheri.

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 Species

After years of attempting to establish contact with aliens, astronomers finaly receive a response: a sequence of DNA with instructions on how to combine it with our own. Government scientist Xavier Fitch, played by Oscar winning actor Ben Kingsley, supervises the genetic work and then studies the resulting little girl. But the child, named Sil, breaks out. Sil, after metamorphosing into a stunning 21-year old woman (Natasha Henstridge) with the ability to change into a hideous alien, begins wreaking havoc on Los Angeles. Kingsley rounds up a gang of monster chasers and follows Sil around the city to try to prevent her from procreating and giving birth to more aliens. Vaguely menacing fluff, but a decent way to kill a few hours. --Dan McGuire. LSC, Saturday.

HHH Toy Story

Toy Story, Disney's most innovative feature-length film to date, not only is a landmark in computer animation, but also manages to retain the action-packed plot line and light-hearted comedy that have given Disney a virtual stranglehold on children's films. But besides the fact that the film is practically one big special effect, its premise is also a lot of fun: the supporting characters of the film are such familiar toys as Mr. Potato Head, Etch-a-Sketch, Slinky, and those miniature green plastic army men that are packaged in buckets. The film stars a talking cowboy doll named Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and a "Space Ranger" named Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen). The villain is the bully who lives next door, a juvenile delinquent named Sid who thoroughly enjoys torturing his toys. Woody and Buzz ultimately become "lost toys" trapped in Sid's house with his hideous toy creations, and have to escape before Andy's family moves away without them. Toy Story is a lot of fun and the computer animation is, for lack of a better phrase, really cool. --Audrey Wu. Sony Copley Place.

HH 1/2 The Usual Suspects

This movie has all the ingredients of post-Reservoir Dogs film noir: primarily, a slick plot, trendy storytelling-in-retrospect, and ultimately doomed characters. A rogue's gallery of criminals is rounded up in New York city by the police, and this chance gathering leads them all into a brief, but lucrative, association to pull off an ingenious heist. Among them, Gabriel Byrne plays the tragically stoic leader Dean Keaton, a cop-turned-thief who's tried to go straight but can't fight fate, Kevin Spacey plays "Verbal" Kint, a talkative, unassuming con artist with a distinctive limp; and Stephen Baldwin is the token bad-ass. There is some good ensemble cast work here, including Chazz Palmintieri as a U.S. Customs Agent hot on the trail of the crime and Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father) as a mysterious contact of the dreaded faceless villain Keyser Sze. But there's something glossed-over about the film that doesn't feel quite right: It's as if writer Christopher McQuarrie and director Bryan Singer are trying to give the audience too much of a good thing, including a "trick" ending that feels more constructed than inspired. --SCD. LSC, Thursday.