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Review of the day for the week of April 19, 1998.

Monday:
Halloween: H20

Halloween: H20
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Halloween: H20 is no Scream. Its plot is loosely constructed, and the best thing I can say about this film is that at least moviegoers see a fair amount of bloodshed for their money.

Michelle Williams plays Molly, the girlfriend of John Tate (Josh Hartnett), whose mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the rather famous Laurie Strode. Her brother killed her sister and several of her friends (in earlier movies) and she has now changed her name to Keri Tate. Apparently the producers tried to improve upon this Halloween movie by adding a lot of psychological junk about her fragile emotional state, etc. It didn't work.

What happens isn't surprising. Brother dearest comes after Keri and her family on Halloween, and kills anyone else who happens to get in his way. What annoyed me was the fact that Keri keeps missing opportunities to finish him off. The only explanation is that she knew she had to stretch out the chase scene for another half-hour so that moviegoers wouldn't feel cheated. That didn't work either. I just felt like smacking some sense into her. I actually found myself snapping at the movie screen, "He isn't dead you idiot, stab him again!"

That was when I remembered that I was in a movie theatre with a bunch of other people, so I shut up. But no one gave me any funny looks, so I suspect everyone else was feeling exactly the same way.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Problem Child

Problem Child
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Junior is a "problem child". He drives the nuns at the orphanage crazy. He is pen pals with a jailed convict. And two unsuspecting idiots adopt him.

That would be John (John Ritter) and Florence. John really wants to be a dad. Florence really wants to be invited to kids' birthday parties and become popular with all the other parents in their neighborhood. At first she is against adoption - as she puts it, "I don't wear second hand clothes, and I don't want a second-hand kid" - but John talks her into it. And so they adopt Junior, the child from hell.

John takes Junior camping with some friends. Junior baits a live bear to the campfire, just when John's friend is dressing up in a bear suit to scare everyone. Guess what happens.

Junior is invited to a little girl's birthday party, which he promptly wrecks. And then, just when you think nothing else can go wrong - his convict friend shows up!

Junior's new parents are almost as amusing as he is. John is almost pathetically nice - and a bit naive, at least at first. Florence is so self centered that she really deserves what the little brat dishes out. And John's crooked politician father is a big joke himself. Problem Child is not the best comedy ever, but it is entertaining dumb fun.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes
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Although Nicholas Cage does an admirable acting job in the movie Snake Eyes (sorry, it doesn't measure up to his previous movies Faceoff or City of Angels), it kept my attention.

Cage plays Rick Santoro, an Atlantic City cop who is into gambling, cheating on his wife, and slacking on his job. In contrast, his good friend Major Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise- who was excellent in his supporting role) takes his job very seriously. Unfortunately, Dunne slacks off during a wrestling match - and wouldn't you know it -that's when the Governor gets shot. Consumed with guilt - or so he seems- Dunne panics. Fortunately, he's got his buddy Santoro, a first class liar, to help him out.

But when Santoro investigates, trying to find a woman that he overheard having a suspicious conversation with the Governor right before the shooting started, the plot becomes twisted. In fact, it became downright confusing in a few scenes, but at least it wasn't boring!

The ending was surprising - I honestly didn't see it coming. Snake Eyes may not be as thrilling as Faceoff, as touching as City of Angels or as funny as Trapped in Paradise but it's certainly worth viewing.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Salem's Lot

Salem's Lot
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For a movie based on a Stephen King novel, Salem's Lot was something of a disappointment. I didn't dislike this film; I was just expecting it to be a bit less...clichéd.

A writer returns to his hometown of Salem to research his next book (the subject of which we learn little about for most of the movie). He starts a romance with a woman he meets and visits his old drama teacher, who inspired him to become a writer.

But then, the strange happenings of all horror movies begins. Several local children disappear, and one is murdered in his hospital room after initially being attacked by a vampire. Of course all eyes point to the new storeowner, who often wears black and calls for some strange night deliveries.

The vampire attack scenes look so terribly familiar. The vampire opens his mouth, looks menacing, makes a hissing sound, and sinks his fangs into his victim's neck. The camera freezes on this shot for effect - unsuccessfully.

It's really too bad that King let the producers turn this excellent story into so much cheesy horror trivia. Still, Salem's Lot is worth renting - just don't expect the same amount of entertainment you'd get reading the book.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
The Avengers

The Avengers
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The Avengers is a surreal mess that someone with much cash for special effects tried to pass off as a movie.

Why did Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes, both talented serious actors, choose this film anyway? Fiennes was so excellent in The English Patient that it seems rather ridiculous for him to have taken such a silly, pointless role. Ditto for Thurman.

The two portray John Steed and Emma Peel, a couple heroes out to stop a scientific genius madman from controlling the world's weather. (As if anyone could do that.) Although they do some nice action stunts, it fails to give the movie any momentum. The elaborate special effects not only fail to cover up the lack of plot, but they really accentuate it! And the psychedelic swirling pattern that opened the movie, with the acting credits and theme song, gave me eyestrain before the film itself started!

Essentially, this movie says nothing. Steed and Peel raise their eyebrows and speak in cool, controlled British accents; such characters usually have at least one or two loud, uncharacteristically loose-tongued scenes. However, Steed and Peel never vary, making for quite a boring old time.

My Rating = Two Stars

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