ARCHIVED REVIEWS (Ra-Rh)

Random Hearts
Rat Race
Ready to Rumble
Real Cancun, the
Real Women Have Curves
Recess: School's Out
Recruit, the
Red Dragon
Red Green's Duct Tape...
Red Planet
Reign of Fire
Reindeer Games
Remember the Titans
Replacements, the
Requiem for a Dream
Resident Evil
Return to Me
Return to Never Land

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Archived Video Reviews (Ra - Rh)
 

RANDOM HEARTS - C-
Starring:
Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles S. Dutton, Dennie Haysbert, Richard Jenkins, Bonnie Hunt, Peter Coyote
Directed by:
Sydney Pollack
Drama, 133
min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 1999)

Harrison Ford projected more rage and sorrow in three minutes of The Fugitive than he does during the entire 122 minute run of this stiff and emotionally distant romantic drama. Directed by Sydney Pollack with such a cold heart and flat stoicism that you would think he was still on the set of Eyes Wide Shut, the film casts Ford as an Internal Affairs sergeant who loses his wife in a plane crash only to learn that she was having an affair with the husband of a New Hampshire congresswoman (Kristin Scott Thomas). Deeply pained by their loss and misunderstanding, Ford and Scott Thomas' characters embark on a relationship of sorts, but the film never warms up enough to spark any hints of passion or longing. Worse, Pollack stuffs the film with so many long, reflective pauses that they practically make up half of the film's running time and the performances are disastrous, with Ford acting so wooden his lips barely even more and Scott Thomas so chilly she could instantly cool lava. Random Hearts? Try Frozen Hearts. (top) (back)

RAT RACE - B-
Starring:
Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Amy Smart
Directed by:
Jerry Zucker
Comedy, 112 min (PG) (Paramount, 2001)


It's a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world for the large ensemble cast of this giddy, hit-and-miss comedy that certainly won't win any awards, but is good for the occasional chuckle or guffaw. Directed with zany enthusiasm by The Naked Gun's Jerry Zucker, Rat Race cast John Cleese as a Vegas casino owner who bets on absolutely everything. His latest big-stakes effort involves eight strangers who are all given the key to a locker in New Mexico. There are no rules and the first person to the goal gets $2 million. The success of the various subplots all depends greatly on the performers and, though some come up short (Road Trip costars Breckin Meyer and Amy Smart are dull as a budding couple, Seth Green and Vince Vieluf are a little tiresome as dumb brothers), most are clearly in the right goofy spirit. Among the highlights are Jon Lovitz as a family man who winds up stealing Hitler's car, Rowan Atkinson as a narcoleptic Roberto Benigni-esque Italian and Cuba Gooding Jr. as a disgraced NFL referee who kidnaps a busload of Lucille Ball impersonators. One could quibble that a lot of the set pieces are dim and that character development here is nil but, hey, it made me laugh. In the case of Rat Race, that is all that really matters. (top) (back)

READY TO RUMBLE - C-
Starring:
David Arquette, Oliver Platt, Scott Caan, Joe Pantoliano, Rose McGowan, Bill Goldberg, Diamond Dallas Page, Martin Landau
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Comedy, 107 min (PG) (Warner Bros., 2000)

Since professional wrestling is already such a joke, is there really a need to satirize it? As this slack, relentlessly stupid comedy proves, the answer is a resounding "no." Dull Scott Caan and a painfully irritating David Arquette play a couple of losers who drive a septic tank and idolize Jimmy Kind (Oliver Platt), the undefeated champion of WCW Monday Nitro. When Jimmy is unknowingly set up for defeat, Arquette and Caan step into the ring to return their hero to his former glory. Not much happens during their little quest, leaving the audience with plenty of opportunities to question why the doughy Platt was cast as a wrestler and why costar Martin Landau keeps ruining our memories of Ed Wood with idiocy such as this. Ready to Rumble's biggest sin is that instead of mocking wrestling, it mocks its fans - exactly the audience that the film is supposed to appeal to. (top) (back)

THE REAL CANCUN - D+
Starring: Alan Taylor, Paul Malbry, Sarah Wilkins, Jeremy Jazwinski, Nicole Frilot, Roxanne Frilot, Snoop Doggy Dogg
Directed by: Rick DeOliveira
Documentary, 97 min (18A) (New Line, 2003)


Years before the recent reality TV glut of countless variations on Survivor, The Bachelor and Big Brother, there was MTV's The Real World, an expose on the ups and downs experienced when a group of shallow twentysomethings were thrown into a house with cameras tracking their every move. With The Real Cancun, World producers hit the big time and the big screen, but the film suggests not only that the series doesn't deserve the feature-length treatment - if any reality series does, it is The Amazing Race - but that the "brains" behind this series seem to think that their target audience is a bunch of morons who want nothing more than to watch a bunch of other morons participate in mindless sex, drinking and partying (thankfully, the film tanked, suggesting that they thought wrong). More pointlessly prolonged than a Bachelor rose ceremony, more explicit than Fear Factor, more painful than a series of failed American Idol auditions and more stereotyped than the fake Japanese game show Bonzai, The Real Cancun is an insult to everyone involved. Only one character here shows any development - nerdy Adam makes an almost overnight shift from non-drinker to body shot enthusiast - but it seems to be strictly for the cameras. (top) (back)

REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES - B
Starring:
America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Oliv, Brian Sites, George Lopez, Soledad St. Hilaine, Lourdes Perez, Jorge Cervera Jr.
Directed by: Patricia Cardoso
Drama, 86 min (PG) (HBO, 2002)


Even the most vocal opponents of My Big Fat Greek Wedding have to admit that there is one potential positive outcome to come from that film's big fat success: there's a much stronger chance now that smaller, family-oriented ethnic pictures like Real Women Have Curves will get the big-screen release that they deserve (of course, there's also the chance of more shrill, stereotype-driven ethnic comedies, but that's another matter). Real Women Have Curves is a likeable and winning comedy that could have easily fallen victim to its many Dr. Phil-approved themes (be comfortable in your own skin, appreciate where you came from, etc.) but instead draws from its many fine performances for a generous and charming look at the Mexican community of east Los Angeles. Newcomer America Ferrera is a real find as Ana Garcia, a curvaceous Latin teen and recent high school graduate whose aspirations of going to university are restricted by an overbearing mother (Chuck & Buck's Lupe Ontiveros) who wants Ana to stay at home and help provide for the family. It's a familiar working-class film situation, but first-time director Patricia Cardoso draws significant depth and heart from Ferrera and Ontiveros' skillful performances. (top) (back)

RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT - B-
Starring: Andrew Lawrence, Dabney Coleman, James Woods, Ashley Johnson, Courtland Mead, Jason Davis, Rickey D'Shon Collins
Directed by: Chuck Sheetz
Animated, 84 min
(G) (Walt Disney, 2001)

In the growing trend of children's TV series-turned-animated features, Recess: School's Out fits somewhere in the middle. This pleasant and mildly diverting effort is not as witty or well conceived as Rugrats in Paris, but also not as overly frantic as The Rugrats Movie or as flatly executed as Doug's 1st Movie. Based on characters from Disney's Recess, a popular TV cartoon that's been on the air since 1997, School's Out focuses on six 10-year-old friends who, led by the feisty T.J. Detweiler (voiced by Andy Lawrence), decide to bypass various summer camps in exchange for trying to stop a maniacal rogue teacher (James Woods) from altering the orbit of the moon and doing away with summer vacation, a.k.a. the ultimate recess. It's all suitably ridiculous, well meaning and agreeable enough for the little ones, many of whom will find great amusement in running gags such as the group of kindergarteners who are basically paste-eating savages. For parents, inside jokes and multigenerational pleasures are minimal, meaning that there is little in this weightless endeavor to keep them entertained, with one notable exception: an homage to the style and sound of "Green Tamborine" courtesy of none other than Robert Goulet. (top) (back)

THE RECRUIT - B-
Starring:
Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht, Kenneth Mitchell
Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Suspense, 115 min (14A) (Touchstone, 2003)


In 1987, director Roger Donaldson made the taut and terrific Washington thriller No Way Out starring Kevin Costner, Sean Young and Gene Hackman. With The Recruit, Donaldson returns to similar territory - it's a thriller set in the internal workings of the CIA - and though it never reaches the heights of the earlier effort, The Recruit is still a relatively efficient diversion, marked by skilled performances, a smooth pace and crisp direction. Hollywood It Boy Colin Farrell (Phone Booth) stars as James Clayton, a brilliant MIT grad who is secretly recruited by the CIA and subjected to education at The Farm, a top-secret training facility. Before long, James' head instructor (Al Pacino) has him working on a covert insider operation involving a rookie colleague (The Sum of All Fears' Bridget Moynahan) and the intrigue of it all keeps one interested, even if the supposedly surprising ending reveals that the screenplay is more contrived - and less clever - than it thinks it is. Sporting an obvious toupee, Pacino has a grizzled authority here (that is, until he gets the chance to participate in one of his usual overcooked tirades), and Farrell and Moynahan establish a sizzling degree of chemistry whenever they aren't snooping each other out. (top) (back)

RED DRAGON - C+
Starring:
Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary Louise Parker
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Drama, 124 min (14A) (Universal, 2002)


The problem with Red Dragon - the third film to feature Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter and the prequel to Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Hannibal (2001) - isn't that Michael Mann already turned Thomas Harris' novel into the 1986's thrilling Manhunter (though it certainly doesn't help). What is most unfortunate is that Red Dragon comes saddled with the history of the excellence of Silence and the over-the-top grotesqueness of Hannibal, resulting in far too many scenes that feel cannibalized from the earlier pictures and a performance from Hopkins so familiar and self-aware that Hannibal seems to have become a parody of his earlier self. Actually, Lecter is something of a minor character here, a locked up madman who - in a storyline already well utilized in Silence - assists an FBI agent in tracking down a psychopath murderer. The agent here is played by Edward Norton and the family-torturing killer is Ralph Fiennes and both actors give solid, thoughtful performances (as does Emily Watson as Fiennes' blind girlfriend). Ultimately, however, the cat-and-mouse tension never even comes close to approaching anything in Silence. Since everything here has been done better before, why bother with Dragon? (top) (back)

RED GREEN'S DUCT TAPE FOREVER - C-
Starring:
Steve Smith, Patrick McKenna, Richard Fitzpatrick, Daren Frost, Melissa DiMarco, Bob Bainborough, Graham Greene
Directed by:
Eric Till
Comedy, 98 min
(PG) (TVA Films, 2002)


If you aren't a frequent visitor to Possum Lodge, chances are that you won't get much out of Red Green's Duct Tape Forever, a feature spin-off of the 11 years-and-going CBC series The Red Green Show. After all, for better or for worse (mostly worse), Duct Tape Forever is little more than the extended adventures of backwoods handyman Red Green (played by comedian Steve Smith) and his inept duct tape-loving buddies (many of whom are so inane, you'd think they would have difficulties remembering how to stand up). Trouble hits Possum Lodge when a business shark (Richard Fitzpatrick) vows to take over its land unless Green can come up with $10,000, so it is off to a duct tape competition in which third prize is exactly $10,000 (Who else but Canadians would only aspire to place third?). There's not much here as far as plot goes, but there is too much of Red's nephew Harold (Patrick McKenna), an Ernest-meets-Urkel dork that, despite the versatile McKenna, remains one-dimensional and irritating in large doses. With direction by Eric Till (TV's Fraggle Rock) that is about as smooth as sandpaper and a comic energy that fizzes in and out like a faulty light bulb, it is clear that Red Green's Duct Tape Forever simply doesn't stick.
(top) (back)


RED PLANET - C
Starring:
Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore, Benjamin Bratt, Terence Stamp, Simon Baker
Directed by:
Antony Hoffman
Suspense, 106 min (PG) (Warner Bros., 2000)

Mission to Mars meets Pitch Black for this solemn space adventure that, to put it in its own sci-fi terms, fails to engage. Set in 2050, the film casts Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss and Tom Sizemore as members of the first manned mission to the third planet from the Sun. But then something goes wrong - something always goes wrong - leaving many of them stranded on what they foolishly believe is an uninhabited sphere of rock. Coming so closely on the heels of Mission to Mars, one can't help but compare the two films and, thankfully, Red Planet doesn't resort to the religious hooey of the earlier film. It does, however, feature the same dry-as-moon-dust dialogue and far-too-serious tone. Worse, nothing really happens for the bulk of the picture, with many scenes composed of little more than a group of clunky spacesuits wandering aimlessly over red-tinged rocks. Red Planet may aspire to be a throwback to the space-exploration films of the 1950s, but even B-movies need to sustain one's attention. (top) (back)

REIGN OF FIRE -
C+
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler, Alexander Siddig, Alice Krige, Terence Maynard
Directed by: Rob Bowman
Action, 102 min (14A) (Touchstone, 2002)


Reign of Fire may be about a post-apocalyptic future in which dragons have overrun the planet, but the one creature on the screen most worth watching isn't a computer-generated, fire-breathing lizard. No, what really grabs you by the throat is the sight of a buff, bald and clearly not taking anything seriously Matthew McConaughey, all grunt, spit and attitude as a trigger-happy American biker/soldier/dragon slayer intent on destroying the beasts that have flame-broiled the Earth. Also on board is Christian Bale, adding some sensitivity to the mix as a the leader of a dwindling band of survivors hiding in an old Scottish castle, but director Rob Bowman (1998's X-Files: Fight the Future) is unable to use his actors to disguise the sheer boneheadedness of the screenplay, which actually goes so far as to suggest that there is only one male dragon in a planet consumed by them and that taking down this one dragon will actually solve the mammoth problem facing humanity. Such ludicrousness would have been forgivable if Reign of Fire had provided some awesome monster effects but, unfortunately, the lizards on display are merely adequate. (top) (back)

REINDEER GAMES - C+
Starring:
Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron, James Frain, Dennis Farina, Donal Logue, Danny Trejo, Clarence Williams III
Directed by:
John Frankenheimer
Action, 104 min (14A) (Dimension, 2000)

Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron sizzle in this snow-covered thriller that wavers between entertainingly dumb and just plain dumb. Affleck plays a car thief who, upon his release from prison, assumes the identity of his murdered cellmate in order to hook up with the man’s beautiful prison penpal (Theron). Problem is, Affleck didn’t count on Theron’s criminal brother (an over-the-top Gary Sinise) becoming part of the equation and kidnapping him as part of an elaborate burglary scheme. On its own terms, Reindeer Games does have its enjoyable moments, thanks primarily to Affleck, whose performances get increasingly authoritative over time (check out Boiler Room for a strong indication of his talents), and veteran action director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin). Unfortunately, both are stuck with an inane screenplay by Ehren Kruger that struggles to keep the momentum going and features more unbelievable twists than either Kruger’s Arlington Road or Scream 3. (top) (back)

REMEMBER THE TITANS
- B-
Starring:
Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Ethan Suplee, Nicole Ari Parker, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue
Directed by:
Boaz Yakin
Drama, 114 min
(PG)
(Buena Vista, 2000)

A true-life story fraught with complex issues gets simplified into sports movie themes with this well-meaning and likable, if far too sanitized, football flick. Denzel Washington gives his usual solid performance as Herman Boone, the newly appointed head coach of a recently integrated Virginia high school in 1971. Facing racism from every angle, Boone refuses to let it get the better of him or his football players, treating all of them with the same authority and striving to make them resolve their differences and act like a team. Directed by Boaz Yakin (A Price Above Rubies), Remember the Titans is self-consciously inspirational and is far too pat when it comes to capturing racial strife, often racing past the personal turmoil for scenes of uplifting harmonization. For all the film's clichés and melodrama, however, this is still an entertaining picture, a film with its heart in the right place that aspires for much more than the typical sports film by acknowledging issues that can't easily be resolved on the playing field. (top) (back)

THE REPLACEMENTS - C
Starring:
Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, Rhys Ifans, Ace Yonamine, John Madden
Directed by:
Howard Deutch
Comedy, 118
min (14A) (Warner Bros., 2000)

Strikebreaking is the stuff of heroes in this formulaic football comedy that - labour relation-issues aside - comes across as one of those ragtag kids sports movies (Little Giants, The Mighty Ducks, etc) recast with grown-ups. Leading the grown-ups is Keanu Reeves, playing a former All American quarterback who gets a second shot at glory when the NFL players go on strike for more money (the strikers are portrayed, rather unfairly, as a bunch of whiney millionaires). Aside from Reeves, coach Gene Hackman assembles a group of oddballs for his replacement team, among them a violent SWAT officer (Jon Favreau), a Welsh soccer player (Rhys Ifans) and a sumo wrestler (Ace Yonamine). Although there are some funny moments in The Replacements, much of the movie is simply a string of clichés, defining its characters only by their quirks and fumbling what could have been a sweet romance between Reeves and the head cheerleader (Brooke Langton). (top) (back)

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM - B
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Keith David, Louise Lasser, Christopher McDonald, Sean Gullette
Directed by:
Darren Aronofsky
Drama, 102 min (18A) (Artisan, 2000)


It's certainly not easy for a film to match the likes of Natural Born Killers or A Clockwork Orange when it comes to its power to disturb, but this kinetic, relentless and absorbing drama does just that. Directed with a great understanding of cinematic technique by Darren Aronofsky (Pi), Requiem follows three young junkies (Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans) and a diet-pill obsessed widow (the superb, Oscar-nominated Ellen Burstyn) as they all spiral downward, victims of addiction and the personal pain that brought them there. Much like Trainspotting's Danny Boyle, Aronofsky's greatest talents come into focus here during the addiction scenes - wild montages of split screens, fish-eye lenses, repetition and slow-motion that leaves one feeling at once amazed, frustrated, enthralled and anxious. Occasionally, one gets the feeling that Requiem would have been a superior picture had Aronofsky exchanged some style for story, but the film remains a harrowing experience nonetheless. (top) (back)

RESIDENT EVIL - C+
Starring:
Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon, Liz May Brice
Directed by:
Paul W.S. Anderson
Horror, 101 min (18A) (Columbia Tristar, 2002)

Zombie movies have come a long way since George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968), but that's not to say that they've gotten any better, almost always focusing more on attitude and visual flash than fleshy paranoia. In this blood-splattered adaptation of the Resident Evil video game series, Dawn of the Dead-meets-Ghosts of Mars-meets-2001 with the story of an underground corporation that gets overrun with the walking-dead when a lethal virus is released and the building's security system feels the need to kill everyone on the premises. Unfortunately, there's a SWAT team and an amnesiac in a tiny red dress (Milla Jovovich) moving in to investigate and they have no idea what to expect. Once inside, it is a crazy dash to escape the madness and the all-action approach of writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (who also worked the joystick with 1995's Mortal Kombat) is hit-and-miss, with some sequences that work (dig those zombie doggies) and others that don't (the climatic monster is strictly second-rate CG). The actors here are all reduced to playing ciphers, with The Fast and the Furious' Michelle Rodriguez all one-note snarls and only Jovovich slightly rising above the material with a mighty effective look of enragement. (top) (back)

RETURN TO ME - B-
Starring: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Bonnie Hunt, James Belushi, Carroll O'Connor, David Alan Grier, Robert Loggia, Joely Richardson
Directed by: Bonnie Hunt
Comedy, 116 min (PG) (MGM, 2000)

David Duchovny’s exquisitely deadpan sense of humour – so often hidden beneath X-Files scowls – gets a full workout in this light and frothy romantic comedy. Written and directed by Bonnie Hunt, who often favors supporting roles in films like Jerry Maguire and Jumanji, Return to Me casts Duchovny as Bob, an architect whose wife dies in a car accident, and Minnie Driver as Grace, a waitress who receives Bob’s wife’s heart after the crash. Fate eventually brings these two souls together and their romance is infused with all of the trepidation and giggles one would expect from a teenage crush. It’s too bad, however, that the central story is all too often stymied by contrivance and that it peters out long before the hackneyed conclusion. In supporting roles, Carroll O’Connor is a mite too leprechaunish as Grace’s grandfather, but Hunt gives a typically witty performance as Grace’s best friend and James Belushi is ideal as Hunt’s beer-drinking, macho husband. (top) (back)

RETURN TO NEVER LAND- C
Voices:
Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Roger Rees, Spencer Breslin
Directed by:
Ian Harrowell
Animated, 72 min (G) (Walt Disney, 2002)

Return to Never Land may be one of the few Disney animated sequels that received a theatrical release, but that doesn't mean that this follow-up to 1953's Peter Pan deserves to stand alongside Toy Story 2, Fantasia 2000 or even The Rescuers Down Under. Fact is, even the most mediocre of big-screen Disney releases (like, say, Atlantis) have a sense of detail and depth, but Return to Never Land - originally intended to go direct-to-video - lacks more than a dash of pixie dust. Essentially an unnecessary footnote to the original film, Return sees Wendy all grown up and her daughter, Jane, so caught up in the seriousness of the war that she never allows her childhood imagination to break free. All that changes when Captain Hook kidnaps Jane and she becomes the first official "Lost Girl" in order to learn to fly and make her way home. Though one could do a lot worse for young viewers, the magic of the first film is virtually missing this go around, with the trite storyline and songs doing little to advance the sense of fantasy. Considering the scope of the war in England, Peter seems oddly insensitive and Hook is reduced to a joke, with his nemesis here - an eyeball-bobbing sea monster - coming across as a poor man's ticking crocodile. (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  

Looking for more? Visit Recent Video Releases, Recommended Releases or the following Archived Video sections: Aa-Am, An-Az, Ba-Be, Bf-Bn, Bo-Bz, Ca-Ch, Ci-Cz, Da-Dn, Do-Dz, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ma-Mn, Mo-Mz, N, O, P-Q, Ra-Rh, Ri-Rz, Sa-Sg, Sh-Sl, Sm-Ss, St-Sz, Ta-Ti, Tj-Tz, U-V, W, X-Z