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Reviews for the week of August 2, 1999.

Wednesday:
The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project
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The Blair Witch Project is a real shocker, not because it's so scary - it isn't even close to being scary, and I've heard from countless sources that this is the scariest movie ever. (The day I saw the film, I first had lunch at a restaurant, where the waiter took it upon himself to inform me that his friends in California had seen Blair Witch, and they were still having nightmares.) And then there are all the rave reviews touting Blair Witch as "terrifying", etc.

Granted, although I don't scare easily, I anticipated the The Blair Witch Project to be thrilling, or suspenseful, or something to that effect. I believe the only reason Blair Witch was rated R is because of the liberal use of strong language - it certainly isn't disturbing, or even violent. (You never actually see anyone get murdered, because everything is implied.)

Three students decide to do a documentary on the Blair Witch, a sleepy little town's favorite legend. Reports on the Blair Witch vary highly: Some say she killed many children in the 1940's; others say she's some sort of half-woman, half werewolf-like creature; still others say the Blair Witch was a man who killed seven children in his basement.

The three students head off into the woods with a camera, in search of - who else?- the Blair Witch. At first they don't find much, aside from a few strange stick figures hanging from the trees. Later, however, they get lost in the woods, and something (I guess you're supposed to think it's the Blair Witch) starts haunting and hunting them.

If you're stupid enough to believe that this is a real documentary, which of course it isn't, despite many reports to that effect, this movie would be disturbing. It could also be frightening if you have a very vivid imagination - because the screaming sounds and other weird noises leave it all to your imagination.

One thing that bothers me is that you never actually see the Blair Witch, nor does she ever do anything really "witchy", aside from leaving strange little stick figures lying around. This depiction of witchcraft is very vague and completely ridiculous. And, it really serves no purpose. After all, you don't need supernatural powers to be a murderer.

Another thing that irked me was the way the end just leaves you hanging - no explanation, no conclusion, nothing. I couldn't help feel a little cheated, and think The Blair Witch Project has been seriously over-hyped by the media and filmgoers.

Yet despite its flaws Blair Witch was interesting for a while, probably because it's so different from what you normally see in movies. (For example, the photography is amateur, which does make the film look more realistic, although still not believable.) But it never even came close to being ghastly, gruesome, fear-inspiring, or whatever other adjectives over-enthusiastic critics and fans have used to describe it.

Nightmares? Give me a break.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Runaway Bride

Runaway Bride
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Most capable actors Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are teamed up again in Runaway Bride, and are undeniably excellent.

This time, Gere is Ike, a columnist for USA Today (I wonder how much they paid to get their paper used in this film?). Roberts is Maggie, one of Ike's subjects. With some slightly altered information gleaned from a drunk he meets in a bar, Ike refers to Maggie as a "man-eater". True, she has ditched several guys at the altar, but Ike shows poor journalistic skill in not getting the facts straight. Fired for this oversight, he heads to Maggie's small town to get the "real story", in a desperate attempt to also get his job back.

As you might guess, Maggie and Ike eventually get romantic, although at first she hates his guts (understandably).

Some scenes were highly reminiscent of Pretty Woman, and appeared almost an altered version. For example, in one scene Maggie goes shopping for a wedding dress, is insulted by the store clerk, and Ike steps in to help. Remind you of the Pretty Woman scene where Roberts' hooker character goes shopping in Beverly Hills?

Although the ending was obvious, it didn't keep Runaway Bride from being entertaining. While this is a wonderfully amusing romantic comedy, I also thought Runaway Bride took an interesting look inside a writer's mind with Ike. It's a shame he wasn't more realistic - what big time columnist would be stupid enough to print something based on hearsay? Still, I enjoyed Runaway Bride, and highly recommend it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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