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Review of the day for the week of April 12, 1999.

Monday:
The Matrix

The Matrix
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The Matrix is an engaging, if somewhat confusing and far-fetched, sci-fi film.

Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a computer genius who spends much of his time committing computer crimes. When he is sucked into a massive save-the-world type operation, he soon learns that there is more to things than he realizes. The world he has always known is a phony system of very realistic computer programming; in the real world, machines use humans as "batteries". That is, machines run the world, sucking up energy from human beings, who have fake "lives" fed into their brains.

Sound disconcerting? It is at first, but it gets better as the movie progresses. I also thought that some of the scenes were just screaming Alien rip-off. For example, in one scene, Reeve has an electronic bugging device inserted through his abdomen, and later pulled out; does that remind you of anything? Or how about when he hibernates in a huge nest of sticky looking, egg-like contraptions filled with slime?

Although the first hour was a slower than necessary, once the action got began The Matrix was an exciting movie. I loved the special effects in the elaborate action scenes. Reeves was terrific in his role and the other actors were excellent as well.

Come to think of it, The Matrix would have been even better if the crazy plot had been eliminated and the whole movie had been spent with everyone shooting at each other.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Out of Towners

Out of Towners
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Out of Towners is a droll, farcical comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin.

They are a middle-aged couple whose youngest child, a grown-up son, has just moved out. Meanwhile, their oldest daughter decides to drop out of medical school to become an actress in New York - after they've shelled out $50,000 in tuition! No wonder Martin gets mad at her.

To complicate matters, Martin has recently lost his job, but hasn't told Hawn. When they fly to New York City for his new job interview, she still doesn't know.

Even before they arrive, things begin to go wrong. Their place is detoured to another city and doesn't reach New York until hours later; after being mugged (in a hilarious scene) by a robber claiming to be Broadway playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber, of all people, they finally make it to their hotel. (You'd think they'd be smart enough not to fall for such a ridiculous ploy, but it is wonderfully funny.) At that point, their only credit card is rejected, as their daughter has gone on a major spending spree. The hotel's cross- dressing manager (John Cleese) unceremoniously kicks them out until they have money.

Although I thought the premise and plot of the film seemed just a little weak, the terrific cast and nonstop comedy kept it moving at a quick pace - and kept me thoroughly entertained. This movie doesn't offer any profound insights, but hey, it's a comedy, it's light, it's fun - I loved it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Twin Dragons

Twin Dragons
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Twin Dragons is a terrific combination of action and comedy.

Jackie Chan stars in dual roles as John Ma and Boomer, twins separated at birth. John is a famous concert pianist; Boomer is a tough street fighter - whose martial art skills are frequently and amazingly apparent - but he remains in constant trouble with criminals, and is always fighting for his life.

When John and Boomer accidentally wind up in the same city, at the same hotel, much confusion ensues. Everyone - including their girlfriends, enemies, and coworkers- mistakes them for each other. This results in much hilarious comedy. Worse yet, they seem to have a strange, psychic-type mental link. When Boomer takes a boat ride, John feels like he's on a boat; when John plays the piano, Boomer's fingers move.

I loved this funny, fast-paced film. Chan is terrific, and so are the other actors. The one minor flaw in this film is the silly, psychic link John and Boomer share - it sort of detracted from the film's credibility. Still, Twin Dragons is wonderfully laughable, and agreeable.

My Rating = Three Stars

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