Originally created 11/14/97

Video watch

Here is a list of what's new in video stores this weekend and a partial schedule of what's coming on video. Release dates are subject to change.

JUST OUT: Face/Off, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Gone Fishin'.

TUESDAY: Free Willy 3: The Rescue, Trial and Error, Love! Valour! Compassion!, A Chef in Love, Prefontaine.

NOV. 25: Men in Black.

DEC. 2: George of the Jungle.

DEC. 9: My Best Friend's Wedding, Con Air.

DEC. 16: Cosi, How To Be a Player.

DEC. 23: Chasing Amy, Air Bud.

Video reviews

Here are reviews from Roger Ebert and other critics of some recent video releases:

FACE/OFF (***, R) The spectacular action sequences by John Woo are sensational, but the twist is in the ingenious plot: FBI agent John Travolta has his face removed and surgically replaced by the face of terrorist Nicolas Cage. Then Mr. Cage is able to force a doctor to attach Mr. Travolta's face to his head. That means the bad guy and the good guy have traded identities, and are hiding out behind each other's faces.

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (**, PG-13) Steven Spielberg creates amazingly convincing dinosaurs, plunges them into the middle of 360-degree action, and then wastes them on a tired and witless action plot.

ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (***, R) Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow co-star as high-school classmates who are still confidants 10 years later, and still hurting from the wounds of high school. They decide to go back to their 10th reunion, posing as the inventors of Post-It Notes, and run into the same three snotty girls who made their lives miserable, as well as the cute kid who ignored them and the nerd who has a crush on Romy. Funny and sly, with engaging comic performances.

ADDICTED TO LOVE (**, R) Well-acted but imbecilic sitcom about an astronomer (Matthew Broderick) who follows his girl (Kelly Preston) to New York City, where she has moved in with a French chef (Tcheky Karyo). Mr. Broderick spies on them, using a clever arrangement of mirrors and lenses, and is eventually joined by the chef's jilted ex-lover (Meg Ryan). They play tricks to try to drive the two new lovebirds apart, but of course the movie's outcome is preordained.

FIFTH ELEMENT (***, PG-13) One of the great goofy movies, a feast for the eyes if not for the brain. Bruce Willis stars as a 23rd-century cab driver who teams up with a beautiful and powerful alien (Milla Jovovich) to save the world from an influx of evil that occurs every 5,000 years. Spectacular special effects and wondrous visuals redeem a messy plot.

JINGLE ALL THE WAY (** 1/2, PG) Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a desperate dad searching for a sold-out superhero action figure on Christmas Eve. It's live-action cartoon mayhem, full of explosions, crashes, testy reindeer and jokes at the expense of mail carriers.

AUSTIN POWERS (***, PG-13) Mike Myers, from Wayne's World, is very funny as a James Bond clone who was frozen in the 1960s and thawed out in 1997 to do battle with his old enemy, Dr. Evil (also played by Mr. Myers). Both men are hopelessly out-of-date in the 1990s, as Mr. Myers finds when he tries to seduce a modern British agent played by Elizabeth Hurley. Part of the fun is spotting the movie's encyclopedic references to 1960s movies.

BATMAN AND ROBIN (**, PG-13) George Clooney takes over the Batman role, but once again the character remains elusive, and the movie is mostly about the villains: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, who can survive only at zero degrees, and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, a botanist who becomes a plant and declares war on animals. They're good, and the movie is wonderful to look at, but slow at times, and some of the action sequences are too elaborate to follow.

WILD AMERICA (**, PG) Reputedly the true story of the teenage years of the Stouffer brothers, who grew up to be TV naturalists. But one adventure after another -- in an alligator swamp, on a bombing range, in a cave of restless bears -- seems wildly unlikely. Might be entertaining to little kids, but the movie flies in the face of logic.

BREAKDOWN (***, R) Kurt Russell stars in the taut, skillful and surgically effective story of a man who finds himself trapped in a surrealistic nightmare. When his wife disappears in the middle of the desert, he goes on a crusade to discover what happened to her. Good performances by Kathleen Quinlan as the wife and J.T. Walsh as a truck driver.

GROSSE POINTE BLANK (** 1/2, R) John Cusack stars as a professional hit man who finds himself assigned to perform an assassination while simultaneously attending his 10th high school reunion in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Not a thriller but a quirky comedy, and the plot matches him up again with Minnie Driver, the local disc jockey whom he loved in high school but stood up at the senior prom. Dan Aykroyd is his rival, who wants to start a hit man's union.

DOUBLE TEAM (**, R) JeanClaude Van Damme and the Chicago Bulls' Dennis Rodman costar in an action thriller with Mickey Rourke as a villain who kidnaps Mr. Van Damme's newborn son and places him in the Roman Colosseum, surrounded by land mines and a prowling tiger. Mr. Van Damme is a counter-terrorist operative, Mr. Rodman is a weird Antwerp club person and arms dealer, and the non-stop action is directed by Hong Kong stunt specialist Tsui Hark.

NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN (*** 1/2, R) A complex, fascinating movie from Sidney Lumet about crime and morality in New York City, where a young assistant D.A. (Andy Garcia) is assigned the case after his father (Ian Holm) is wounded in a shootout with a cop-killing drug dealer. Ron Liebman gives a wonderful performance, just this side of parody, as the D.A., and Richard Dreyfuss is a defense attorney with deeper motives.

ANACONDA (*** 1/2, PG-13) A superior action thriller, with a world-class villain by Jon Voight and a worthy co-star: the anaconda, which can grow to 40 feet in length and likes to regurgitate its prey so it can dine again.


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