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Review of the day for the week of October 12, 1998.

Monday:
Speed

Speed
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Don't make the mistake of watching Speed 2 before viewing the original, Speed, which is much better.

In Speed Sandra Bullock takes a frenzied bus ride she'll never forget. Jack, (Keanu Reeves) a conscientious cop jumps from a speeding car onto the bus to inform its startled passengers that there's a bomb on the bus. A criminal who apparently doesn't realize Jack isn't after him pulls a gun, and the bus driver gets shot. That's where Bullock jumps in to save the day - by grabbing the wheel and doing some really bad driving. As she confesses to Jack, "I had my license revoked for speeding.

As it turns out that may be a good thing, because if the bus goes below fifty miles per hour, the bomb will go off. Jack has to communicate by phone with the rest of the police force as well as the mad bomber (Dennis Hopper) while she screeches around corners. Before you know it, they're falling for each other (of course in the second movie, you find out that their relationship totally didn't work).

Speed provided nail-biting suspense, and great action scenes - although some of them just weren't believable. (The "flying" bus scene where the bus jumps a fifty foot gap was hardly believable, but tantalizing, nevertheless.) The acting by both Bullock and Reeves was skillful, plus Reeves is definitely nice to look at.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Stroker Ace

Stroker Ace
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Stroker Ace is a movie for fans of car racing, because that's all it's about.

Burt Reynolds stars as a race car driver who runs out of sponsors and has to resort to signing a contract with the "Chicken Pit" restaurant. The contract is roughly the size of a phone book, but he doesn't bother having a lawyer look at it before signing on the dotted line. What an idiot! Now he has to do embarrassing stunt after embarrassing stunt, although he does like one thing about the Chicken Pit: it's PR director, Pembrooke (Loni Anderson, apparently when she was still speaking to Burt). She's a naive Sunday school teacher who actually believes him when he tells her, "I know you don't drink so I brought you some non-alcoholic champagne."

Nothing else in this movie is believable either.

Although there are a few funny scenes, but I wouldn't watch this film a second time.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Antz

Antz
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Antz is a senseless cartoon that quickly became tiresome. The problem with cartoons is that you can't judge acting skills because you can only hear the voices - you can't see facial expressions, because they're computer animated. Not to mention that cartoons are so unrealistic.

In an ant colony, a worker ant known as "Z" falls for the beautiful Princess Bala and convinces his buddy, a soldier ant, to switch places with him. That way, he can see Princess Bala when the army marches past her. Unexpectedly, he is swept off to war -with the termite army, come on! - and is the only ant to survive. Brought back a war hero, he has a chance to kidnap Princess Bala and tow her off to Insectopia - more commonly known as a trash can. And on it goes...

I get so weary of hearing the line, "Fun for the whole family," in ads for G and PG rated movies such as "Antz". My translation: "Kids will probably like it and anyone over ten or so will hate it, but if they advertised that no one would let their kids talk them into seeing it so they have to lie and say the whole family will like it."

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
Dark Shadows - House of Horrors

Dark Shadows
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Dark Shadows is a spooky horror film set in England. The characters include a wealthy family living in an apparently haunted house. Right around the time that Barnabus, a distant relative, shows up, strange things start happening: people are attacked and bitten in the neck; some are murdered and drained of all their blood. Clearly, it's the work of a vampire. Now who could it be?

It's pretty evident from the beginning that Barnabus is to blame. But instead of someone catching him and, say staking him through the heart, or something equally effective, a helpful doctor decides she wants to cure him. Pretty soon, he can walk around in daylight, something he could never do before, and she thinks she may soon cure him completely of his thirst for blood. She also predictably falls in love with him, even though he plans to wed a young woman who reminds him of a long dead lover (he is evidently several centuries old).

As predictable and horror-movie typical as this film is, it proved quite entertaining. Vampire stories never get old, no matter how many ways you hear them. And some of the characters are interesting and likeable.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Life Stinks

Life Stinks
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I thought that Life Stinks sounded like a good movie because that's how I feel most of the time, and I figured any movie titled after my usual attitude had to be perfect.

Not so. Entertaining, perhaps, but not nearly as amusing as I expected. Mel Brooks is a disgustingly rich businessman who wants to buy some property in the slum area of town. Another businessman wants to purchase it as well claiming he was raised in this area and that Brooks couldn't survive for five minutes there. Brooks decides to make a bet with him: If he manages to spend thirty days in the slums without any cash, credit cards, or anything of value, he gets the property. If he can't survive, he leaves and his opponent gets the property.

Well it's obvious he's in for quite a culture shock. One minute he has hired help dashing around to answer his every whim; the next he's sleeping on the street and eating in shelters among the homeless.

There are some laughable scenes, but I wasn't particularly endeared to any of the characters. I must say the plot was pretty original, but not necessarily that inviting. Although the acting was favorable, the ending was too obvious.

My Rating = Two Stars

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