ARCHIVED REVIEWS (Ta-Ti)
Tadpole
Tailor of Panama, the
Talented Mr. Ripley, the
Tape
Tao of Steve, the
Tarzan
Tears of the Sun
Texas Rangers
Third Miracle, the
Thirteen Days
Thirteen Ghosts
13th Warrior, the
Thomas Crown Affair, the
Three Kings
3000 Miles to Graceland
Three to Tango
Tigerland

Tigger Movie, the
Time Code
Time Machine, the
Titan A.E.
Titus

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Archived Video Reviews (Ta-Ti)
 

TADPOLE -
B-
Starring: Aaron Stanford, Sigourney Weaver, Bebe Neuwirth, John Ritter, Robert Iler, Ron Rifkin
Directed by: Guy Winick
Comedy, 78 min (14A) (Miramax, 2002)


If you took The Graduate, sliced off a few years, dropped the Simon and Garfunkel tunes, added a touch of Rushmore and shot the whole thing on digital video, you may have something along the lines of Tadpole, a precocious and slight, though appealingly small, romantic farce. Aaron Stanford plays Oscar Grubman, a hyper-sophisticated 15-year-old who quotes Voltaire and dismisses teen girls as lacking depth and has fallen for a much older woman: his own step-mother (Sigourney Weaver). This is hardly the stuff of big laughs, but things get comically complicated when, during a moment of weakness, Oscar falls into the arms of his step-mom's best friend Diane. As Diane, Bebe Neuwirth gives her best screen performance since her years as Lilith on Cheers, all savvy mischievousness and slinky comedy. Stanford, Weaver, John Ritter (as Oscar's dad) and The Soprano's Robert Iler (as Oscar's best friend) also perform admirably and director Gary Winick (The Tic Code) does his best to overcome the flat digital visuals with an appreciated sense of friendliness and good manners, even if it is occasionally difficult to buy into the premise (after all, this film would have taken a whole other turn if it had been about a teenage girl). (top) (back)

THE TAILOR OF PANAMA - B+
Starring:
Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis, Leonor Valera, Brendan Gleeson, Catherine McCormack, Harold Pinter
Directed by:
John Boorman
Suspense, 109 min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 2001)


An intelligent and darkly comic thriller, The Tailor of Panama draws a great number of pleasures simply from its casting. Based on the John le Carre novel of the same name, the film casts 007 himself, Pierce Brosnan, as a sort of nasty James Bond, the type of morally bankrupt spy who will go so far as to start an international war if it means he will profit in some way. Brosnan plays Andy Osnard, an amoral British intelligence agent who, posted to Panama, enlists the country's top tailor (the wonderful Geoffrey Rush) as an informant and rewards him based on the strength of his tales. Before long, the tailor finds himself knee deep in lies, with the stories and consequences growing wildly out of control and eventually threatening his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis), family, friends and the entire country. Throughout, Brosnan is slick as oil, Rush is dignified and believably over-his-head, and director John Boorman (The General) wisely focuses on the story's complex characters, cynical wit and steamy locale. Aimed at audiences with grown-up tastes, The Tailor of Panama isn't the typical spy flick - there are no nifty gadgets anywhere to be found - but it is packed with the delicious treacheries and expert counter maneuvers that mark all of the best entries in the genre. (top) (back)

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY - B+
Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport, James Rebhorn
Directed by: Anthony Minghella
Suspense, 138 min
(14A) (Paramount, 1999)

There are Oscar winners and nominees aplenty in this glossy, stylish and satisfyingly dark thriller from director Anthony Minghella. Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley casts golden boy Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, a manipulative enigma of a young man with particularly good skills at imitating people whose lives he wants to live, particularly those he loves and, if necessary, kills. It's hardly the type of role Damon fans are used to and casting him in such a perverse light was a chilling and highly effective choice. Minghella, in his first film since taking home an Oscar for The English Patient, wisely shapes the film with dreamy visuals and postcard-perfect backgrounds, none of which hint at the terror living underneath the surface. Just as importantly, he found a pitch-perfect supporting cast that includes the luminous Jude Law as a 1950s playboy living in Italy, Gwyneth Paltrow as his girlfriend and Cate Blanchett as an American heiress. (top) (back)

THE TAO OF STEVE - B
Starring:
Donal Logue, Greer Goodman, Kimo Willis, Nina Jaroslaw, Ayelet Kaznelson, David Aaron Baker
Directed by:
Jenniphr Goodman
Comedy, 90 min (14A) (Sony Pictures Classics
, 2000)

All too often stuck in thankless supporting roles in films like The Patriot and Reindeer Games, Donal Logue gives a wonderful performance in this Sundance Film Festival favourite. The Canadian-born actor plays Dex, an obese part-time kindergarten teacher who has mastered a state of mind he calls "the tao of Steve" (modeled after actor Steve McQueen) that, despite his looks and lack of ambition, enables him to be something of a chick magnet. Directed with strong attention to dialogue by first-timer Jenniphr Goodman, with a screenplay cowritten by her sister Greer (who also stars as Dex's latest love interest), The Tao of Steve makes for a refreshingly offbeat romantic comedy that never pushes the laughs or compromises its characters. Still, as smart as the screenplay is, as well-chosen as the soundtrack is and as warm as the direction is, nothing in the film equals the appeal of Logue, who won a special acting award at Sundance and plays Dex with the perfect amount of charm and slacker intellect attitude. (top) (back)

TAPE - B+
Starring:
Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman
Directed by:
Richard Linklater
Drama, 83 min (14A) (Lions Gate, 2001)


The thought of spending 88 minutes with three characters in a hotel room hardly sound stimulating but, in the case of Richard Linklater's Tape, an adaptation of Stephen Belber's stage play, there is far more suspense in the compact setting than a handful of Domestic Disturbances. Ethan Hawke, in an exhilarating performance that outshines his Oscar-nominated work in Training Day, plays Vince, a small-town drug dealer, and Robert Sean Leonard, Hawke's Dead Poets Society costar, does equally superior work as Johnny, a fledging filmmaker. High school classmates reunited in Vince's hotel room, the two start discussing the past and it is clear that their memories are radically different, particularly with regards to Amy, the girlfriend Vince believes Johnny stole from him. Before long, things diverge from a jovial atmosphere to in-your-face tension, particularly when Amy (Uma Thurman), now an assistant district attorney, knocks on the door. As he has proved in films such as Slacker (1991), Before Sunrise (1995) and Waking Life, Linklater is a filmmaker in love with dialogue and, using a digital camera that rockets around the characters, he ensures that the heated discussion in Tape is at once prickly, affecting and seemingly spontaneous. (top) (back)

TARZAN - B+
Starring: Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Nigel Hawthorne, Brian Blessed, Rosie O'Donnell, Wayne Knight, Lance Henriksen
Directed by:
Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
Animated, 88
min (G) (Walt Disney, 1999)

Edgar Rice Burroughs' story of Tarzan and Jane has been the inspiration for 47 film adaptations (not to mention countless rip-offs), but with this animated Disney swing, the tale has finally came to life with more dizzying visuals, emotional payoff and striking physical acrobatics than likely even Burroughs could have imagined. Using a new background technique called Deep Canvas, the animators behind Tarzan thrillingly depict this man of the jungle (voiced by Ghost's Tony Goldwyn) as an outsider who zooms around trees and down branches like Tony Hawk in a loincloth. Refusing to simply let the action tell the story, veteran Disney directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima are smart in their use of Phil Collins' memorable music as background music instead of wasted filler and, despite the appearance of a cookie-cutter poacher villain, they find a real heart in Tarzan's story - that of a man searching for his past - and his relationship with city-girl Jane (brought to life by Minnie Driver as a delightful bundle of nerves). (top) (back)

TEARS OF THE SUN - C+
Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Fionnula Flanagan, Tom Skerritt, Eamonn Walker, Johnny Messner
Directed by:
Antoine Fuqua
Action, 121
min (14A) (Columbia, 2003)

There's little doubt that director Antoine Fuqua, who at one point made the botched thriller Bait (2000), has come to understand the specificity and skill required for dynamic action sequences. In Tears of the Sun, the bullets zip through foliage and bodies with as much exactitude and precision as one could hope for. Unlike in Fuqua's Training Day, however, the story here isn't worthy of the action. Tears of the Sun wants to be a thoughtful war movie set in present-day Africa, but it makes the mistake of focusing entirely on its heroes, paying almost no attention to location, politics or the background of the aggressors. As in the similar Hart's War (2002), Bruce Willis gives one of his smirk-free, "serious" performances here as a conflicted Navy SEAL who is assigned to drop into war-torn Nigeria and rescue an attractive white doctor (Monica Bellucci). The doc has different plans, though - she won't leave her patients behind - and soon Willis' conflicted character is escorting a group of survivors to the border. Without knowing the history of the political situation in the country, however, it is difficult to get fully involved in the drama or terror of Tears of the Sun, even as Fuqua doesn't shy away from the brutalities of ethnic cleansing. (top) (back)

TEXAS RANGERS - D+
Starring:
James Van Der Beek, Dylan McDermott, Ashton Kutcher, Randy Travis, Usher Raymond, Robert Patrick, Alfred Molina
Directed by: Steve Miner
Action, 92 min (14A) (Miramax, 2001)


It would be easy to dismiss Texas Rangers as a rip-off of the light-as-a-tumbleweed American Outlaws, but that would be unfair. After all, Texas Rangers was filmed in Alberta in 1998, long before American Outlaws saw the light of day, left to simply gather dust for years before finally getting a minimal theatrical release. Considering the film's miscast young actors, shoddy direction by Steve Miner (Halloween: H20) and haphazard editing, it's easy to see why Miramax was hardly pushing it onto busy screens. Dawson's Creek's James Van Der Beek and That '70s Shows' Ashton Kutcher are completely off-target here as young bucks who sign on for bandit-fighting duty in 1875, with Kutcher in particular lending the film an undeniable "Dude, Where's My Horse?" tone. Also lassoed into all this shoot-'em-up nonsense are The Practice's Dylan McDermott (as the Ranger captain), R&B star Usher Raymond, Randy Travis, Rachael Leigh Cook and every cliché under the Western sun. Considering its often comic mood, stereotype villains, unfocused battle scenes and hunks n' horses market appeal, it is obvious nobody expected Texas Rangers to be another Wild Bunch, but is it too much to ask for even another Young Guns? (top) (back)

THE THIRD MIRACLE - B-
Starring: Ed Harris, Anne Heche, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Michael Rispoli, Charles Haid, Jean-Louise Roux, Ken James, Caterine Scorsone
Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
Drama, 118
min (14A) (Sony Pictures Classics, 1999)

Ed Harris gives a focused and forceful performance in this religious drama as Reverand Frank Shore, a Catholic priest part Jason Miller in The Exorcist, part Gabriel Byrne in Stigmata and all coiled intensity. Recently, Frank's been having a crisis of faith - questioning God, the church and who he is - and this makes him both the right man and the wrong man for his job, that of a church-appointed investigator who looks into alleged "miracles" to determine their authenticity. Frank's latest case involves a recently deceased laywoman who apparently made the statue at her church cry healing blood. When director Agnieszka Holland (Antonia's Line) concentrates on Frank's inner turmoil and the mystery surrounding the statue, The Third Miracle is a potent and involving little picture. It's just too bad the impact of the film is weakened by the hokey courtroom theatrics and a distracting romance between Frank and the dead woman's daughter (Anne Heche). (top) (back)

THIRTEEN DAYS - B+
Starring:
Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Dylan Baker, Tim Kelleher, Michael Fairman, Bill Smitrovich, Ed Lauter
Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Drama, 147
min (PG) (New Line, 2000)

It's difficult to make history exciting, particularly when it comes to a situation that everyone knows the outcome to. As a result, this excellent political drama about the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis stands not only as a thrilling history lesson (even if some of the facts have been smudged), but also as a sturdy triumph for director Roger Donaldson. Set during the two weeks in 1962 when it looked as though war could erupt between the US and Russia with a even a single false move, Thirteen Days takes us inside the tension-filled White House, where President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) is doing his best to keep a lid on the situation. In structure and execution, Thirteen Days is basically a boardroom drama packed with scenes of men sitting around talking, but Donaldson brings an astonishing sense of detail and dramatic urgency to the story. And while Kevin Costner overdoes the Boston accent as Kennedy advisor Kenny O'Donnell, Greenwood's performance - stuffed with humanity and intelligence - is superlative in every way. (top) (back)

THIRTEEN GHOSTS - C-
Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth, Matthew Lillard, Embeth Davidtz, Rah Digga, Alec Roberts
Directed by: Steve Beck
Horror, 91
min (18A) (Warner Bros., 2001)

If House on Haunted Hill (1999) wasn't enough of an indication, Thirteen Ghosts certainly proves it: gimmicky mid-century William Castle horror flicks simply don't work when updated with new actors and fancy special effects (not that the originals have really stood the test of time either). Dandy character actor Tony Shalhoub (Big Night) wastes his time as a widower who, along with his children (Shannon Elizabeth, Alec Roberts), recently inherited the extravagant home of his eccentric uncle (fallen Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham). Problem is, the building isn't a house so much as a machine "powered by the dead" (in other words, the 12 ghosts locked in the basement) and the family gets trapped within, accompanied by a manic psychic (Matthew Lillard) and a spirit specialist (Embeth Davidtz). Thankfully, there are some visual treats to be found in the ornate, glass-walled contraption (thus bringing it a couple of steps above the dreary House on Haunted Hill), but director Steve Beck never understands the horror associated with the unseen, instead shoving our faces in the ghosts and gore, and the threadbare story is tedious at best. The scary thing is trying to remember the last haunted house film that actually had real spooks. (top) (back)

THE 13TH WARRIOR - D+
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhol, Vladimir Kulich, Omar Sharif, Anders T. Anderson, Richard Bremner
Directed by: John McTiernan
Action, 103 min
(14A) (Touchstone, 1999)

It's never a good sign when director John McTiernan - he who unleashed 1993's Last Action Hero on the world - disowns a picture, and even worse when said picture sits on a shelf for over a year before its release. As it turns out, The 13th Warrior is just as bad as one would expect considering the picture's shoddy past, a mindless exercise in repetitive medieval action so inane it makes the WWF look complex in comparison. Antonio Banderas plays Ibn, a Persian emissary and man of endless miracles who, after learning to speak fluent Norse in only one night, decides to join a band of Vikings in destroying what they believe to be some sort of mythological beast. Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Jurassic Park's Michael Crichton, The 13th Warrior was reported reedited by the author after conflicts with Tiernan and the strains of after-the-fact editing are apparent, with the characters rarely even given names, let alone personalities, and the numbing battle scenes ultimately extending into one long gruesome slog. (top) (back)

THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR - C+
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Denis Leary, Ben Gazzara, Faye Dunaway, Esther Canadas, Frankie Faison
Directed by: John McTiernan
Drama, 113 min
(14A) (MGM, 1999)

Everything about this remake of the 1968 Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway hit of the same name is cool - the characters, the clothes, the locations, the actors and, unfortunately, the film itself, a supposedly all-consuming romance that barely works up the energy to proceed from one scene to the next. Directed by the generally action-oriented John McTiernan (Die Hard) with a slow pace that only highlights the flimsy screenplay, The Thomas Crown Affair casts Pierce Brosnan as Crown, a millionaire who acts a thief for the sheer thrill of it and Rene Russo as an insurance agent/bounty hunter who is on Crown's tail and has no qualms with using seduction as a tool to get what she wants. The two leads look great together, but their chemistry is lacking, with Russo failing to realize that she is far more attractive and appealing when she isn't trying so hard and Brosnan instilling his character with far too much smugness (of course, since Crown is so perfect he makes James Bond look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, who can blame him?). Without a compelling human element, this Affair is too cool to generate any heat. (top) (back)

THREE KINGS - B+
Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Mykelti Williamson, Cliff Curtis
Directed by: David O. Russell
Action, 110
min (18A) (Warner Bros., 1999)

Few war movies have aspired to work on so many levels - and pulled it off so smoothly - as this subversive and hugely entertaining picture from writer-director David O. Russell. Russell, who previously made a name for himself with the smart comedies Spanking the Monkey (1994) and Flirting With Disaster (1996), turns war films on their head with Three Kings, effectively combining engaging action, rowdy black comedy and stinging political comedy into an exhilarating whole. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze star as a group of American soldiers stationed in Kuwait during the Gulf War who go on a treasure hunt after they stumble upon a map indicating where the Iraqis hid the gold they stole from Kuwait. What begins as a get-rich-quick adventure soon gives way to an experience as sly, profound and intelligent as it is involving. Russell's picture provides an undeniably good time but, at its core, it is based on nothing less than life, mortality and politics. (top) (back)

3000 MILES TO GRACELAND - D+
Starring: Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Courteney Cox, Christian Slater, David Arquette, Bokeem Woodbine, Howie Long, Kevin Pollak, Jon Lovitz
Directed by:
Demian Lictenstein
Action, 125
min (18A) (Warner Bros., 2001)

Twenty-two years after playing Elvis in a memorable TV movie and 38 years after starring opposite Presley in It Happened at the World's Fair (1963), it is nice to see Kurt Russell slip back into the King's duds for this Tarantino-influenced road movie. Unfortunately, that is easily the only pleasure to be gleaned from 3000 Miles to Graceland, a violent, overcooked and completely misguided hunk of trash noisily directed and co-written by video veteran Demian Lichtenstein. Following in the trails of the Santa bank robbers in Reindeer Games, 3000 Miles tells the story of a group of ex-cons who decide to rob a Las Vegas casino during Elvis week dressed up as the King himself. As could be expected, though, everything goes tragically wrong, particularly when the group's ringleader (Kevin Costner) gets greedy and his ex-cellmate (Kurt Russell) can't seem to shake the attentions of a sexy single mom (Courteney Cox). As the film's villain, Costner is rote and unbelievable, a far cry from the complex convict he played in A Perfect World, and Cox overacts as if there is no tomorrow, doing her best to drag Russell down with her. All in all, 3000 Miles stands as an exercise in pointless overkill. If Elvis were dead, he'd be rolling in his grave. (top) (back)

THREE TO TANGO - C
Starring: Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, Dylan McDermott, Oliver Platt, Cylk Cozart, John C. McGinley, Bob Balaban
Directed by: Damon Santostefano
Comedy, 98
min (14A) (Warner Bros., 1999)

In this tepid romantic comedy about a straight architect (Matthew Perry) who is hired to look after his boss' mistress (Neve Campbell) after the rich man (Dylan McDermott) makes the mistake of thinking he is gay, Perry gives exactly the same slyly sarcastic performance found week after week on TV's Friends. Considering how effective Perry's approach is in both vehicles, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing is the rest of Three to Tango, including an awkward McDermott, who simply looks ill at ease whenever he tries comedy, and a performance from Campbell that's all chirps and giggles and not believable for a second. Thinly written and directed, Three to Tango tries really hard to cover all the bases, often reaching levels of pure preposterousness in the pursuit of making Perry's dilemma more problematic than it is and culminating with a false "not that there's anything wrong with that" climax. Rent the similarly themed Happy, Texas instead. (top) (back)

TIGERLAND - B+
Starring:
Colin Ferrell, Matt Davis, Clifton Collins Jr., Tom Guiry, Russell Richardson, Cole Hauser, Shea Whigham, Afemo Omilami
Directed by:
Joel Schumacher
Drama, 101
min (18A) (20th Century Fox, 2000)

Anyone who thought director Joel Schumacher's career had flatlined with hooey like Batman and Robin, 8mm and Flawless had better take a look at this gripping and powerful Vietnam drama - the best entry in the genre since 1986's Platoon. Newcomer Colin Ferrell, who's like an Italian version of Russell Crowe, leads the no-name cast as Bozz, a rebellious, quick-thinking draftee who is skilled enough to be a first-class soldier but wants nothing to do with the war. In telling Bozz's story, Schumacher wisely steps away from the visual opulence that has marked much of his career and instead adopts a stirring, handheld camera approach that removes all pretense and finds intimate drama in his story about a group of Army grunts in the final stages of infantry training before heading to war. It certainly helps that Schumacher found such a treasure in Ferrell, a wonderfully charismatic and unpredictable performer who, based on this stunning calling card, will no doubt find a bright future in Hollywood. (top) (back)

THE TIGGER MOVIE - C+
Starring the voices of: Jim Cummings, Nikita Hopkins, Ken Sansom, John Fiedler, Peter Cullen   
Directed by:
Jun Falkenstein
Family, 70
min (G) (Walt Disney, 2000)

Taking his cue from Gonzo in Muppets From Space, everyone’s favorite bouncing tiger/ vaudeville comedian, Tigger, goes on an existential journey to find himself in this surprisingly uninteresting and dispensable animated feature. Drawn with an old-fashioned sensibility that seems curiously out of place in the days of Buzz, Flick, Aladdin and Tarzan, The Tigger Movie all too often comes across as a made-on-the-cheap animated flick that accidentally stumbled into theatres instead of heading directly to video. Any attempts at appealing to parents with pop-culture in-jokes clash with the film’s small-scale story and, though children will no doubt enjoy the film, chances are that this will have more to do with a long-standing love of the characters than with anything memorable about the picture. Of note – if only for historical reasons – is the fact that this is the first Disney title since 1971's Bedknobs and Broomsticks to feature songs by former studio mainstays Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. (top) (back)

TIME CODE - B+
Starring:
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Salma Hayek, Stellan Skarsgard, Saffron Burrows, Leslie Mann, Holly Hunter, Julian Sands, Kyle MacLachlan

Directed by: Mike Figgis
Drama, 97
min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 2000)

It's not often one encounters a picture that actually changes the way you watch a film, but Time Code does just that. Shot on digital video in four simultaneous, uninterrupted takes, all of which are shown in quadrants on the screen, Time Code is a revolutionary film that you practically channel surf to watch. At any given moment, four completely different things may be happening and, though director Mike Figgis cues you to a certain area of the screen by varying the volume, it's up to the viewer to watch whatever he or she wishes. Set in Hollywood, Time Code is like Short Cuts without the cuts, following a group of seemingly unrelated characters - a lesbian (Jeanne Tripplehorn), an actress (Salma Hayek), a distraught wife (Saffron Burrows), a movie studio exec (Stellen Skarsgard) - as they wind into each others lives. Sure, the many improvised performances have their weak points and, yes, it can get confusing, but this undeniably engrossing picture is an experience all to itself. (top) (back)

THE TIME MACHINE -
C+
Starring: Guy Pearce, Mark Addy, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Philip Bosco, Orlando Jones, Omero Mumba, Sienna Guillory
Directed by: Simon Wells
Action, 96 min (14A) (DreamWorks, 2002)


It comes as little surprise that, when it came time to film this update of the H.G. Wells 1895 sci-fi classic, the filmmakers (including director Simon Wells, great-grandson of H.G.) updated the story to fit this century, complete with romantic motivation and Mummy-style monsters. In doing so, however, they all but sucked the story dry of its cautionary elements and class struggle background, leaving behind only a slight plot and Planet of the Apes-level adventure. Memento's Guy Pearce plays Alexander Hartdegen, a Victorian inventor who, after the death of his fiancée (Sienna Guillory), devises a contraption to go back in time and try to stop her murder. Once he realizes this cannot be done, he travels to various versions of New York City for an answer, eventually arriving in the year 802701 AD, a time when the human race has split into the peaceful Eloi (including singer Samantha Mumba) and the subterranean Morlocks, lead by Jeremy Irons at his Dungeons & Dragons worst. Wells (who received uncredited support from The Mexican's Gore Verbinski) never really establishes much dramatic urgency and, though the fast-forwarding through time sequences are nifty, the Morlocks look like they just stepped off The Island of Dr. Moreau. (top) (back)

TITAN A.E. - C
Starring the voices of:
Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Tone-Loc, Jim Breuer
Directed by:
Don Bluth and Gary Goldman
Action, 95 min (PG) (
20th Century Fox, 2000)

At one point in Titan A.E., there's a jaw-dropping sequence involving two spacecrafts playing a game of cat and mouse inside a field of giant ice crystals. Brought to life with crisp computer graphics and visuals that look amazingly tactile, the sequence has more oomph and invention than the rest of Titan A.E. combined. For although this sci-fi animated picture clearly wants to move animation forward with its rock soundtrack, big explosions, frequent use of CGI graphics and preteen-targeted screenplay, the film remains dismayingly stuck in the past. Set 15 years after the destruction of Earth, it tells a bland, all-too-familiar story about a young man (voiced by Matt Damon) destined to save the human race. Along the way, he encounters all the expected comic sidekicks, sub-Star Trek action, and characters taken straight out of a routine Star Wars rip-off, with very little of it having even a touch of inspiration. (top) (back)

TITUS - B
Starring:
Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming, Colm Feore, James Frain, Angus Macfadyen, Matthew Rhys, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Directed by: Julie Taymor
Drama, 162
min (18A) (Fox Searchlight, 1999)

Stage director Julie Taymor's bold interpretation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is gimmicky yet fascinating, a half-crazed retelling propelled by demented visuals, full-force performances and lots of gore. Anthony Hopkins headlines the cast as the titular Roman general, a great military man unprepared for the miseries - rape, torture, murder, deceit, dismemberment - that are about to destroy his family thanks to a vengeful Goth Queen (a full-bodied and up-front Jessica Lange). Considering all the punk dementia contained in the story (Shakespeare was only in his late 20s when he wrote it), it's not surprising that Taylor often takes things soaring over the top by indulging in overblown characterizations and imposing visuals. It's a testament to Taylor's strength as an artist, however, that she keeps it all strangely transfixing, rarely giving your eyes or ears a rest. (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  

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