Originally created 03/13/98

Mini movie reviews



Movies are listed with theater location for today through Thursday. For an online guide to movies in the Aiken-Augusta area, check out movies@ugusta. The service provides movie times, locations and reviews as well as maps and door-to-door directions to theaters. There's also information about restaurants, bookstores, nightclubs and other nearby businesses. See augustachronicle.com/features.

Just out

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (**,1/2 , PG-13)

Leonardo DiCaprio, in his first film since Titanic, plays a dual role: The arrogant young Louis XIV, and his twin brother, kept in an iron mask to disguise his identity. The Three Musketeers (Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu) come out of retirement to right the wrong, but the fourth (Gabriel Byrne) still serves the king. With Anne Parillaud (from La Femme Nikita) as the Queen Mother, who has more secrets than the twins. Slow-starting, confusing to begin with, eventually a good swashbuckling yarn.

Evans, Masters, Augusta Village and Regency.

Oscar nominees

THE APOSTLE (****, PG-13)

Robert Duvall earned a Best Actor nomination for this movie. He writes, directs and stars as a Pentecostal preacher who commits a crime and seeks redemption. Not a conventional story but a series of revelations, the film makes his character real and unforgettable. With Farrah Fawcett, Billy Bob Thornton and Miranda Richardson.

Augusta Village and Aiken Mall.

AS GOOD AS IT GETS (***, PG-13)

Nominations include Best Picture, Jack Nicholson for Best Actor, Helen Hunt for Best Actress and Greg Kinnear for Best Supporting Actor. Mr. Nicholson plays a grumpy misanthrope who insults everyone around him, including a patient waitress (Ms. Hunt) and a gay neighbor (Mr. Kinnear). Then he's forced to care for the neighbor's dog, and his developing affection for the mutt unlocks a capacity for tenderness.

Evans and Augusta Village.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (***, R)

Matt Damon (nominated for Best Actor) is effective in this Best Picture nominee as a Boston janitor who is also a natural mathematical genius. A professor (Stellan Skarsgard) spots his talent and tries to help him. So does a counselor (Best Supporting Actor nominee Robin Williams), a Harvard student who loves him (Best Supporting Actree nominee Minnie Driver) and his old neighborhood buddy (Ben Affleck). Gus Van Sant earned a Best Director nomination for his work.

Masters, Evans, Augusta Village and Aiken Mall.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (****, R) --

This Best Picture nominee also earned nominations for Kim Basinger for Best Supporting Actress and for Curtis Hanson for Best Director. It's set in Los Angeles in 1953 and seen through the lives of three cops: one media-savvy (Kevin Spacey), one ready to compromise (Russell Crowe), one a straight arrow (Guy Pearce).

Augusta Village, Regency Mall and Evans.

TITANIC (****, PG-13)

The story of the sinking ship garnered the most nominations, including Best Picture, Kate Winslet for Best Actress, Gloria Stuart for Best Supporting Actress and James Cameron for Best Director. This 194-minute, $200 million film of the tragic voyage is in the tradition of the great Hollywood epics. It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted and spellbinding.

Regency, Masters, Evans and Augusta Village.

WINGS OF THE DOVE (***1/2 , R)

A complex, surprisingly tender adaptation of the Henry James novel. Best Actress nominee Helena Bonham Carter stars as Kate Croy, who loves a poor journalist (Linus Roache) but cannot marry him without money. She meets a rich, dying American orphan named Milly Theale (Alison Elliott), who is also attracted to the journalist. Kate's plan: Her lover will marry the American, after which she will die and he will inherit her money and marry Kate. A bold plan, complicated by the fact that all three of the major characters genuinely care for one another, and so everyone's true motives are ambiguous and unspoken.

Aiken Mall.

Ongoing

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (***, R)

Jeff Bridges plays The Dude, "the laziest man in Los Angeles County," who lives only to go bowling, until he is mistaken for a millionaire with the same name. Enlisted in the millionaire's ransom scheme, he uses his bowling buddies (John Goodman and Steve Buscemi) in a revenge scheme that introduces many weird characters.

Evans, Masters and Aiken Mall.

THE BORROWERS (***, PG) --

A charming, whimsical family adventure about little people who live in the walls of big people's houses and support themselves by "borrowing" the necessities of life. John Goodman is the evil lawyer who wants to evict the borrowers and their host family of "beings," and Jim Broadbent is the tiny dad. The action sequences are fun without being too gruesome.

Mark Twin and Evans.

CAUGHT UP (**, R)

Tons of plot and lots of visual gizmos sink a story that's too complicated for its own good. Bokeem Woodbine stars as an ex-con wrapped in a labyrinth of deceit and double-crossing; Cynda Williams is the Tarot-reading woman who leads and misleads him. With Snoop Doggy Dog and LL Cool J.

Augusta Village and Regency.

DARK CITY (****, R)

A great visionary achievement, it builds to an apocalyptic showdown between the Strangers, an alien race, and Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), a human who shares their power. But it's not routine sci-fi action. The plot contains fundamental surprises, and the other characters (William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly) are more and less than they seem. It's a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects -- and imagination.

Evans, Masters and Aiken Mall.

HUSH (**, PG-13)

Gwyneth Paltrow falls in love with the heir (Johnathon Schaech) to a legendary horse farm, and after she gets pregnant they move there, into the domain of his possessive, controlling mother (Jessica Lange). She's a horse-breeder who wants to breed a grandson, and Paltrow is treated more like an expendable brood mare than a daughter-in-law. The events in the big finale are as implausible as they are laughable, and the final confrontation is not only wildly artificial but probably medically impossible.

Evans, Masters, Regency and Aiken Mall.

KRIPPENDORF'S TRIBE (**, PG-13)

Richard Dreyfuss stars as an anthropologist who has spent his university's money and produced no results -- so he fakes the discovery of a lost tribe by faking home movies in his back yard with his kids. Some very funny moments, but the movie doesn't quite achieve liftoff.

Evans, Augusta Village and Regency.

SENSELESS (** 1/2 , R)

Marlon Wayans stars as a college student who tests a secret potion that magnifies the five senses. His life is transformed: he's a star goalie, champion lover and honor student. Then he takes a double dose and everything goes wrong.

Regency, Augusta Village and Aiken Mall.

SPHERE (* 1/2 , PG-13) --

A giant spacecraft is found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, and a team is assembled to descend and study it. The team includes psychologist Dustin Hoffman, mathematician Samuel Jackson and biologist Sharon Stone, with Peter Coyote in command of the Navy's undersea habitat. Alas, the more the plot reveals, the more we realize how little there is.

Regency and Evans.

TWILIGHT (**, R)

Seasoned actors create interesting characters who are set adrift in an absurd plot. Paul Newman plays an ex-cop, hired by two old friends who are movie stars (Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon) to do a job that seems to lead to a long-ago crime. James Garner is another ex-cop, avuncular and sinister.

Augusta Village and Evans.

U.S. MARSHALS (**1/2 , PG-13)

Tommy Lee Jones is back in the role that won him an Oscar for The Fugitive. As Marshal Sam Gerard, he pursues another innocent man wrongly accused. Wesley Snipes is the fugitive, in a chase that includes a spectacular plane crash, a pursuit through a swamp, a cat-and-mouse game in a cemetery, an aerial stunt that would make Batman proud, and action in Chicago, New York and points south.

Augusta Village, Evans, Masters, Regency and Aiken Mall.

THE WEDDING SINGER (*, PG-13) --

At least in the 1930s they knew this plot was goofy. In the dumbed-down 1990s we have to sit through the same inane material played sincerely. Adam Sandler plays a wedding singer who falls in love with a waitress (Drew Barrymore), although they're both involved with other people who are wrong for them. They avoid happiness for most of the movie, although not as successfully as we do.

Augusta Village, Masters, Aiken Mall and Evans.

Budget theaters

BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (*1/2 , PG-13)

The Blues Brothers are back. Did anyone miss them? Actually, just one of the Blues Brothers -- Dan Aykroyd -- is back in Blues Brothers 2000. The title could refer to the year in which you'll stop regretting the money you spent on this mishmash.

Mark Twin.

FALLEN (** 1/2 , R)

Denzel Washington stars in a supernatural thriller that takes place in an ordinary, realistic world, which makes the scares more effective because they can come from anywhere. The cast also includes John Goodman and Donald Sutherland. The literate script by Nicholas Kazan makes the characters convincing, but at the end the surprises are too mechanical and inevitable.

Columbia Square.

FLUBBER (*, PG-13)

Robin Williams stars in a retread of the 1961 comedy about an absent-minded professor who invents flying rubber and saves his bankrupt college while marrying its president (Marcia Gay Harden). He has a cute electronic sidekick named Weebo who all but steals the show. Slow, dumb and flat.

Columbia Square and Mark Twin.

HOME ALONE 3 (PG) Latest installation in successful slapstick series.

Columbia Square.

MR. MAGOO (half-*, PG) Magoo (Leslie Nielsen) witnesses a theft and is mistaken for the thief, while mistaking everything else in sight, in an amazingly bad movie without a laugh in it.

Columbia Square.

THE RAINMAKER (***, R) One of the richest of the John Grisham stories, with Matt Damon as a young lawyer who opens a storefront office with a hustling paralegal (Danny DeVito) and finds himself juggling tricky cases -- one involving wife-beating, another a dishonest insurance company. The movie has an undercurrent of disenchantment with the law, which is expressed both seriously and with a surprising amount of humor.

Columbia Square.