Originally created 04/24/98

Movie reviews and listings

Theaters, ratings

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.

Just out

THE BIG HIT (*, R) Hollywood retread of the Hong Kong comic-action genre, with Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bokeem Woodbine and Antonio Sabato Jr. as hit men who survive firefights, explosions, falls from great heights, etc., in a series of episodes that exist to support special effects. Elliott Gould and Lainie Kazan inexplicably turn up in the middle to play Jewish parent caricatures. Augusta Village, Masters, Evans, Aiken Mall and Regency Mall.

SCREAM 2 (***, R) This is a re-release of the sequel to the horror film in which all of the characters had seen other horror films and knew the cliches. Bloodier than the first film, but witty, with a self-mocking screenplay that has the characters debating the success of movie sequels, while once again a slasher in a ghost mask stalks victims. Evans, Aiken Mall and Regency Mall.

TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY (PG) Casper Van Dien and Jane March star in Carl Schenkel's update on Edgar Rice Burroughs' popular jungle tale. Augusta Village, Masters, Evans and Regency Mall.


AS GOOD AS IT GETS (***, PG-13) Jack Nicholson plays a grumpy misanthrope who insults everyone around him, including a patient waitress (Helen Hunt) and a gay neighbor (Greg 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, Aiken Mall and Augusta Village.

BARNEY'S GREAT ADVENTURE (*** for children, parents, bring a Walkman, G) Barney, the purple dinosaur who is a PBS phenomenon, stars in his own movie, which is frankly aimed at preschoolers and will be pretty slow going for anyone older than 7. That's OK; how many movies are there that a 3-year-old really understands? Evans.

CITY OF ANGELS (***, PG-13) The best of the recent Hollywood angel movies, with Nicolas Cage as an angel, solemnly regarding humanity, and Meg Ryan as a heart surgeon who, in a moment of despair, can actually see him. They fall in love. Inspired by Wim Wenders' 1988 film Wings of Desire, but broader and more obvious, with more plot and less spirituality. Evans, Masters, Regency, Aiken Mall and Augusta Village.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (***, R) Matt Damon is effective 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 (Robin Williams), a Harvard student who loves him (Minnie Driver) and his old neighborhood buddy (Ben Affleck). Mark Twin.

GREASE (***, PG) Revived as 1970s nostalgia, this is worth seeing for the John Travolta performance, but it is just an average musical, pleasant and upbeat and plastic. The characters look a decade too old for high school, and there's no sense of urgency in their manufactured romantic crisis. The movie doesn't identify, but condescends. Mark Twin.

LOST IN SPACE (* 1/2 , PG-13) Dim-witted shoot-'em-up based on the old TV series. It has cheesy special effects, a muddy visual look and characters who don't represent an original or interesting idea among them. If this movie fell into a black hole, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Augusta Village, Masters, Aiken Mall, Evans and Regency.

MAJOR LEAGUE 3: BACK TO THE MINORS (PG) The series' third delivery finds pitcher Scott Bakula reviving a sad-sack Triple A baseball team. Masters, Evans and Regency.

MERCURY RISING (**, R) A 9-year-old autistic boy (Miko Hughes) deciphers the most sophisticated cipher system ever known. He looks at a word game in a puzzle magazine, and while the sound track emits quasi-computeristic beeping noises, he figures out the code concealed there and calls the secret phone number. Bruce Willis plays an FBI agent who tries to protect him from less benevolent federal agents out to kill the child. Sentient audiences will have at least two problems with the plot: Modern encryption cannot be intuitively deciphered without a key; and if a 9-year-old boy can break your code, you kill the programmers, not the child. Augusta Village, Evans and Regency.

OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION (PG-13) A pregnant woman (Jennifer Aniston) wants to raise her child with her gay best friend rather than the baby's father. Wendy Wasserstein's script is based on Stephen McCauley's novel. Augusta Village, Masters and Evans.

ODD COUPLE 2 (* 1/2 , PG-13) Felix and Oscar meet up again after many years when they discover that their children are engaged to be married. They team up for a flight to Los Angeles and a drive during which they get lost, their car goes over a cliff, and they meet the usual assortment of colorful road movie characters. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau struggle gamely with the characters they created in the 1968 movie, but the Neil Simon dialogue is mechanical and the plot is contrived and unconvincing. Evans, Aiken Mall and Augusta Village.

PAULIE: A PARROT'S TALE (PG) This parrot can do more than talk -- he can understand what he's saying. The human cast includes Gena Rowlands and Buddy Hackett. Augusta Village, Aiken Mall and Evans.

PLAYER'S CLUB (***, R) A young college student hopes to make easy money by stripping in a "gentleman's club" and finds herself drawn into a harrowing mix of crime, sex and danger. Written and directed by rapper Ice Cube, this is a gritty black version of Showgirls, with a convincing performance by Lisa Raye and colorful, well-written supporting characters. Augusta Village, Regency and Aiken Mall.

SPECIES 2 (R) Astronaut Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) returns home from Mars a hero and a carrier of a deadly strain of alien DNA that's trying to take over his body. The hope for humanity is Eve (Natasha Henstridge) a half-human, half-alien clone of the lethal alien from the first Species. Evans, Masters, Regency, Aiken Mall and Augusta Village.

TITANIC (****, PG-13) 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. Masters, Evans and Augusta Village.

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. Augusta Village.

Budget theaters

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. Columbia Square.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (****, R) A rich, textured, confident film noir based on the best seller by James Ellroy, 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). Columbia Square.

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (** 1/2 , PG-13) Leonardo DiCaprio 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. Columbia Square.

MOUSE HUNT (PG) Kind of like Home Alone 3, but with a mechanical mouse creating the mayhem. 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. Mark Twin.

PRIMARY COLORS (****, R) The movie resonates with its parallels to the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but it's a lot more than a disguised expose. It's a superb film -- funny, insightful and very wise about the realities of political life. Columbia Square.


Aiken Mall, 300 Eastgate Drive, 641-0000.

Augusta Village, Bobby Jones Expressway at Wrightsboro Road, 860-4990.

Columbia Square Cinemas, 4020 Washington Road, 863-3366.

Evans 12 Cinemas, Belair Road at Washington Road, 869-1269.

Masters 7 Cinemas, 2824 Washington Road, 736-4444.

Regency Exchange 8, 2870 Regency Blvd., 790-7460.

Mark Twin Cinemas, 124 Newberry St. S.W., Aiken, (803) 641-4758.


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