Originally created 07/10/98

Movie mini-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 at www.augustachronicle.com/movies. 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

LETHAL WEAPON 4 (**, R) A grand action series is finally running out of inspiration. The first and second parts were magical, the third was OK, but the fourth time around conviction and urgency seem to be missing. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover co-star as wisecracking cops who talk themselves into danger, and Joe Pesci and Rene Russo are back in continuing roles; Chris Rock is new, as a cop who's secretly married to Mr. Glover's daughter. Richard Donner orchestrates spectacular stunts and special effects, but the heart of the movie seems to be missing.Masters, Augusta Village, Aiken Mall, Evans and Regency.

MADELINE (***, PG) A quietly charming version of the Bemelmans children's classics about 12 little girls in two straight lines, who live in an old house in Paris that is covered with vines. Newcomer Hatty Jones is focused and determined as Madeline, who survives an appendectomy and a fall into the Seine. Frances McDormand is Miss Clavel, who runs the school, and Nigel Hawthorne is Lord Covington, who wants to sell it. Not a steamroller, but a graceful film that actually expects kids to listen and pick up on the droll character humor.Augusta Village, Aiken Mall, Evans and Regency.

SMALL SOLDIERS (*** 1/2, PG-13) Inspired special effects and animation, seamlessly blended with live action -- but who is the movie for? As toys go to war, the bad guys are so violent and mean-spirited, and the action so graphic, that smaller kids might be terrified. Technically superb, but confused in its intentions, it's like two movies for the price of one: a cute one with goofy toy figures, and a scary one with ugly ones. The nice movie would have been enough.Masters, Augusta Village and Evans.

Opens Wednesday

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (R) This romantic comedy by the Farrelly Brothers (Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin) is not your ordinary love story. Ted Stroehmann can't stop thinking about Mary, his date to the senior prom years ago, so he hires private eye Pat Healy to track her down. But when Healy finds Mary, he falls in love with her and the competition for her affection follows. Press materials call it 'When Harry Stalked Sally.' Starring Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon.

Masters, Evans and Augusta Village.

Ongoing

A PERFECT MURDER (***, R) Michael Douglas is a greedy investor; Gwyneth Paltrow is his cheating wife; Viggo Mortensen is a lusty young artist; and when the markets melt down there's a $100 million trust fund at stake. Another example of the Fatal Basic Genre, about sex between bad people who live in good houses.

Augusta Village and Evans.

ARMAGEDDON (*, PG-13) When an asteroid the size of Texas threatens Earth, Bruce Willis leads a crew of oil drillers turned astronauts into space to nuke the chunk of rock. Can they prevent doomsday?

Masters, Augusta Village, Evans and Aiken Mall.

DEEP IMPACT (PG-13) Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell and Morgan Freeman enact three parallel stories that unfold as a comet hurtles toward Earth. Mimi Leder directs.

Regency.

DOCTOR DOLITTLE (***, PG-13) Eddie Murphy plays a famous doctor who regains a childhood gift of being able to talk with the animals. Basically Mr. Murphy is the straight man and the laughs belong to the animals, especially Rocky the guinea pig, with a voice by Chris Rock. Lots of barnyard humor and gross-out physical stuff, but nothing harmful.

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

HAV PLENTY (1/2 *, R) A "true story" set among affluent blacks and told by writer-director Christopher Scott Cherot. He stars as a homeless writer who spends New Year's Eve with a friend and her family in Washington, D.C., and wards off energetic sexual advances from the friend, her best friend and her newlywed sister. Strained small talk punctuates awkward encounters, in an amateurish film that seems more like a first draft than a finished work.

Regency.

HOPE FLOATS (**, PG-13) Sandra Bullock learns on a talk show that her husband is cheating on her with her best friend. Devastated, she flees with her daughter to her Texas hometown, where her mother (Gena Rowlands) tries to fix her up with an old boyfriend (Harry Connick Jr.). Sentiment alternates with melodrama in a movie that opens with weirdness and then zeroes in on conventionality.

Aiken Mall, Augusta Village and Evans.

MULAN (*** 1/2, G) The new Disney animated picture is different in both story and style. It's a tale of a medieval Chinese teen-age girl who disguises herself as a boy to fight in her father's place against the Huns. An exciting story, inspired comic relief by Eddie Murphy (as the voice of a scrawny dragon), and animated art that blends the Disney tradition with classical Asian drawings and modern Japanese anime. Fun for adults as well as children.

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

OUT OF SIGHT (*** 1/2, R) Rich comic chemistry between bank robber George Clooney and federal marshal Jennifer Lopez, in a crime movie whose plot is second to the human comedy. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, it reflects the master's deep comic ease. Filled with memorable supporting performances by Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina and Albert Brooks.

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

SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS (**1/2, PG-13) Harrison Ford and Anne Heche are pleasant together in a featherweight comedy that crash-lands them on a Pacific island with predictable romantic results.

Masters, Augusta Village and Evans.

THE TRUMAN SHOW (****, PG) Jim Carrey gives a likable, effective performance as a man who doesn't realize his life is constantly being televised and earning hit ratings. The movie is comic and unexpectedly poignant, encouraging us to ask basic questions about how technology is shaping our lives, simply because it can.

Aiken Mall, Augusta Village and Evans.

THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE (***, PG-13) It works. But I don't understand how. The continuation of the cult TV hit stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Mulder and Scully, who find themselves in the middle of a vast cover-up of Aliens Among Us. Much is explained about the aliens, but in such murky terms that by the end you don't understand exactly what has happened. But the atmosphere is effective, the movie looks good, and there are action scenes involving bizarre, original settings.

Augusta Village, Evans and Regency Mall.

Budget theaters

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.

Columbia Square and Mark Twin.

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).

Columbia Square.

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. With William Hurt and Mimi Rogers as the parents of the Robinson family, marooned in space with villain Gary Oldman, pilot Matt LeBlanc and the three Robinson kids. If this movie fell into a black hole, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Columbia Square.

PAULIE: A PARROT'S TALE (PG) This parrot can do more than talk -- he can understand what he's saying. Gena Rowlands and Buddy Hackett are among the human cast.

Columbia Square.

QUEST FOR CAMELOT (**, G) A young girl's father dies protecting King Arthur, and 10 years later, after Excalibur is stolen by an evil knight, the girl goes on a quest to find it. The animation isn't vivid; the characters aren't very interesting; and the songs are routine.

Columbia Square.

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.

Mark Twin.

Kid's movies

THE BORROWERS (G)

Regency, 10 a.m. and noon Tuesday and Wednesday.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER (G)

Evans, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

POWER RANGERS (PG)

Evans, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday.