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Reviews for the week of March 27, 2000.

Monday:
Erin Brockovitch

Erin Brockovitch
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Erin Brockovich is a fantastic movie with Julia Roberts portraying the title character - a struggling, twice-divorced single mother of three that is desperate for a job. After a car accident leaves her a victim with medical bills, she sues the other driver who is in the wrong - and loses. Still unable to find work, Erin convinces her lawyer (Albert Finney) to give her a job.

Erin soon stumbles onto some medical records in a real estate file and becomes intrigued with the case. She discovers that contaminated water may have caused serious illness to more than six hundred residents and former residents of the small town of Hinkley, California. Erin starts snooping around and soon convinces her lawyer to sue the Pacific Gas & Electric Company for contaminating Hinkley's water supply.

Meanwhile, Erin gets involved with her neighbor, a Harley Davidson biker. Their relationship lacks chemistry (he's no Richard Gere) but does add interest to the story.

Erin's sassy attitude and rather unprofessional style of attire (short, tight and revealing clothes that remind you of Roberts' prostitute character in Pretty Woman) don't always win her any points with the boss, however, they do lend the movie great comic relief.

Audio VersionThe cast is excellent, Roberts and Finney are believable, likable characters and I highly recommend Erin Brockovich.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Friday:
Mission to Mars

Mission to Mars
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When I first saw the previews for Mission to Mars last year, it looked like a superb movie. Then, I found out it was rated PG - and no offense, but PG rated movies are rarely thrilling.

I have highly enjoyed some PG movies, but they weren't sci-fi/action thrillers; they were dramas or comedies, such as Music of the Heart or Galaxy Quest. (Those types of movies don't require a lot of explosions, blood, and gore to be interesting, as they have something called a plot.)

For a movie with no virtually no swearing, violence, explosions or other loud, noisy special effects, Mission to Mars is fairly engaging.

Certainly the cast is talented; Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins are especially skilled actors. Sinise, Robbins, and several others are NASA crew members stationed in space. From there, four astronauts jet off to Mars, where three of them are suddenly killed. (They send sonar waves into a mountain, and a huge dust storm surges up, killing the three astronauts. The reason why is a mystery.) Sinise, Robbins and his wife, and Jerry O'Connell, are the astronauts sent to rescue the last guy left on Mars (if he hasn't died too).

Complications hinder their flight, and one member of the rescue party is killed during descent to Mars. Once the remaining three arrive, they find the sole survivor (Don Cheadle) of Mars' mysterious wind storm. He theorizes that "something" (meaning some form of alien life) is inside the mountain. (This mountain, in fact, turns out to be a giant metal face. Go figure.)

The end of the movie essentially explains nothing; the last scene leaves you wondering what happens next. Maybe the scriptwriters were so confident Mission to Mars would be a hit that they left it open for a sequel. Or maybe they just ran out of creative ideas for the plot. Either way, I found the inconclusive end very annoying.

Here's something interesting, which can be interpreted several ways. The minute Sinise's character shows up at the pre-blastoff-to-Mars party, I figured out half the plot - and his background. I immediately guessed that Sinise's wife (also an astronaut) had died, he had withdrawn from the mission, and he was going to end up on Mars anyway, working out some personal issues. (That's before this all gets explained in the dialogue.) Either the plot is amazingly predictable, Sinise is one great actor, or I have seen so many movies I can figure them out instantly.

My Rating = Two Stars

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