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Review of the day for the week of December 28, 1998.

Monday:
Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection
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Star Trek: Insurrection is a fantastic, fascinating film. (Maybe the Star Wars people should take a lesson from the Star Trek movies.)

Data, the android, has a large part. On a mission to observe the people of a far-off planet, he is shot and begins malfunctioning; Captain Picard's (Patrick Stewart) crew rushes in and saves him. Soon, they discover that there is something fishy about the Federation members with whom Data was working. So, they all return to the planet and discover that it is the fountain of youth - everyone who stays there for even a short period of time begins looking younger and younger. (No wonder the evil aliens from the Federation want this planet!)

In one subplot, Picard falls for a three-hundred-year-old woman from the planet (she looks about forty years old). Picard, who didn't have a love interest in the past two movies, is a great romantic lead. (I think Stewart is great-looking, even with no hair. If only he was twenty years younger, he'd be the perfect actor!)

I loved Star Trek: Insurrection. This movie has action and sci-fi elements, romance, humor, a detailed plot, and a terrific cast of actors. Of course, I'm a Star Trek fan to begin with, but I think even non-trekkies should enjoy it.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Stepmom

Stepmom
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Stepmom is a terrific movie, but should have been marketed a little differently. Although the previews make it out to be an outrageous comedy, which it is, Stepmom is also a intensely sad drama.

Julia Roberts is the stepmother, or will be, when she and her somewhat older fiance (wonderfully portrayed by Ed Harris) tie the knot. Needless to say, his kids hate her. Susan Sarandon plays their mother, who is madly jealous of Roberts. Soon, it becomes a who's-the-best-mommy war. Sarandon and Roberts both end up acting like children, and their antics are most hilarious. (My favorite scene is where Roberts helps her stepdaughter Anna get even with Anna's ex-boyfriend.)

However, we soon learn that Sarandon has cancer, and, later, that she is dying. Although still engaging in bitter arguments with her ex, she finally makes peace with him. And, as I expected would happen, peace occurs between "mom" and "stepmom" at the end.

All the actors give incredible performances , and I was thoroughly entertained, even if it was a little obvious how Stepmom would end. My only other gripe is there were a few too many drippy "I love you's", but I suppose that's forgivable in a tearjerker-type movie. Although at first I thought Stepmom definitely seemed like a chick flick, I now think I was wrong. My dad loved it, and the man sitting behind me, who knew I was a movie critic, loved it so much that he practically ordered me to give it my highest rating. His exact words were, "You have to give this movie a four!" I agreed about ninety-nine point nine percent.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Wednesday:
You've Got Mail

You've Got Mail
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You've Got Mail is truly a romantic comedy for the nineties. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks play Internet pals who fall in love while exchanging email.

What they don't know is that in real life, Joe Fox's (Hanks) new super-bookstore is in direct competition with Kathleen Kelly's (Ryan) little children's book store. While having a much-publicized store-war, they email every day. (They are careful to avoid personal details about their lives, which explains why they never suspect anything.) At first, both are involved with other people (who don't know about the online romance, of course!) However, it is quite apparent that they're both with the wrong person.

While I knew how this typical plot was going to end from the previews, there was enough lively comedy and facial emotions (especially on Hanks!) to keep the movie rolling. Although Ryan and Hanks were both excellent in the previous Sleepless in Seattle movie, I preferred them in You've Got Mail. If you liked Sleepless in Seattle, you're sure to love You've Got Mail!

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Prince of Egypt

Prince of Egypt
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When does a movie reach the over-hyped, "I'm sick of it and it hasn't even opened yet" point? The Prince of Egypt reached that point about three weeks before it opened. By that time I had received a total of seven Prince of Egypt CD's, and seven accompanying press kits. They sent me all three soundtracks - yes, this movie actually had to have THREE soundtracks - plus their snippet versions, and a compilation from the first three albums.

Also, I've seen countless previews and commercials for products related to the movie. Prince of Egypt is by far the most overly publicized film of the year - perhaps the decade!

But quantity of marketing does not equal quality of the film. Although Prince of Egypt wasn't quite as dull as I'd feared, I was still bored. It tells the story of Moses, who spent most of his life as a prince of Egypt. As a young man, however, he learns he was really a Hebrew, adopted as an infant by the Pharoah. So, he wanders off into the desert, where he sees the burning bush and realizes that it is his duty to deliver his people from slavery. He returns to the Pharaoh and asks that the Hebrews be freed.

In one of my numerous press kits, I found a quote from Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the filmmakers from Prince of Egypt. He states, "I hope... that today's animation can be something more than movies for children." If he is implying that Prince of Egypt should be interesting for people of all ages, maybe he'd better watch this movie again. On the other hand, a movie theatre employee that I spoke with said she thought that little kids would be "bored silly" in this film because it's so serious. In that case, everyone who watches Prince of Egypt loses.

My Rating = One Star

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Friday:
The Mighty

The Mighty
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The Mighty is a well-done drama starring Sharon Stone (who'd have thought she could act?)

Stone plays the mother of a crippled boy who calls himself Freak. He befriends a learning-disabled boy named Kevin and they go on "quests", pretending to be "Knights of the Round Table". The way Freak puts it is, "I need legs, and you need a brain."

Their quests include outsmarting the school bullies, returning a woman's stolen purse, and proving themselves as knights. Meanwhile, Kevin is haunted by his past (his father went to jail for murder and has recently been paroled, placing Kevin in possible danger). Also, we learn later on in the story that Freak is dying.

I liked the artistic way that ordinary scenes were depicted in two ways: as they actually happened, and then with old-fashioned knights and horses showing how things looked to the characters. First you see... Freak fending off the bullies with a trash can lid, then you see him waving an armored shield around, and then it's just a trash can lid again. This gives you a lot of insight into the characters.

My Rating = Three Stars

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