Originally created 09/25/98

Mini-reviews



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

RONIN (***, R) Five expert killers are assembled in Paris by the IRA to steal a briefcase. In their attempt to do so, they engage in bloodbaths and car chases all over France, in a film that's all surface and no plot. But it's an entertaining surface, and Robert De Niro has one of his best scenes as he stage-manages the removal of a bullet from his own side ("I once removed a guy's appendix with a grapefruit spoon").
Evans, Augusta Village, Masters, Aiken Mall and Regency Exchange.

URBAN LEGEND (R) Perhaps the most unpleasant and gratuitously violent movie to come down the pike in years, this campus-slasher movie is aggressively, oozingly bad. The plot, if you can call it that: Impossibly attractive young adults (neo-Brat Packers Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Jared Leto, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid) at New England's isolated Pendleton College discover their ranks shrinking rapidly at the hands of a murderer who uses old urban legends as a template for chaos. And -- quelle shock! -- the 25th anniversary of another legendary dormitory massacre in Stanley Hall is almost upon us. What's more, the 1973 murders were "covered up" -- by the simple process of hiding the 1973 bound volume of the student newspaper. Clearly a conspiracy at the highest levels.
Evans, Augusta Village, Masters, Aiken Mall and Regency Exchange.

Ongoing

AIR BUD 2: GOLDEN RECEIVER (* 1/2 , G) The continued adventures of the talented dog Buddy, who this time plays football as well as it played basketball, while its master, Josh (Kevin Zegers), resents his mom for dating a veterinarian. A pale shadow of the entertaining 1997 family movie.
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?
Evans and Aiken Mall.

BLADE (***, R) Wesley Snipes stars as a warrior in the front lines of man's final battle against vampires. Half-vampire himself, but kept human through a serum developed by his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), he rescues a blood specialist (N'Bushe Wright) from a vampire's grasp, and then tries to protect her and mankind from a reckless scheme by Frost (Stephen Dorff) to unleash the ancient vampire god.
Regency Exchange, Evans and Augusta Village.

EVER AFTER (***, PG) Drew Barrymore stars in the "true story of the little cinder girl," and we learn what really happened before the Brothers Grimm transmuted everything into the legend of Cinderella. Surprisingly engaging and entertaining, with Anjelica Huston as the wicked stepmother, Dougray Scott as Prince Henry of France and Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci, who is a sort of fairy godfather.
Augusta Village and Evans.

GONE WITH THE WIND (G) 1938 classic returns to big screen in a restored print.
Evans.

HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK (** 1/2 , R) Angela Bassett is a 40-year-old financial hotshot who goes on vacation in Jamaica and ends up in love with a 20-year-old. Will it work? The movie answers that question at great length, but unconvincingly, in a paperback romance that pretends to be about a smart woman but doesn't let her really think.
Aiken Mall, Augusta Village, Masters and Regency Exchange.

THE MASK OF ZORRO (***, PG-13) The mysterious masked fighter for justice foils the plans of the evil Don Rafael, who then kills Zorro's wife, imprisons Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) and raises his daughter (Catherine Zeta-Jones) as his own. Years pass, Don Rafael (Stuart Wilson) hatches a plan to seize control of California, and then a young bandit (Antonio Banderas) is trained by the old Zorro to take up the tradition of the mask, the whip and the sign of the Z.
Masters.

ONE TRUE THING (***, R) Renee Zellweger is a New York magazine writer who unwillingly returns home to nurse her sick mother (Meryl Streep) at the request of her big-shot father (William Hurt), a professor known as "Mr. American Literature." She's always admired her father and considered her mother obsessed with housework and domestic preoccupations. But during this visit her opinions will be challenged. Directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move), who quietly takes standard material and, with the help of good performances, deepens it.
Augusta Village and Evans.

THE PARENT TRAP (***, PG) Sunny, entertaining remake of the 1961 classic, with Lindsay Lohan seamless in a double performance as twins, separated at birth, who scheme to get their divorced parents back together. Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson use warmth and humor in creating a romance that is surprisingly touching. Escapist fun for kids; not too soppy for parents.
Evans and Aiken Mall.

ROUNDERS (***, R) Matt Damon and Edward Norton are best friends who inhabit the underground world of high-stakes poker in New York and Atlantic City. Damon is a mediocre law student but a gifted player, and Norton is a born con-man who tempts him into dangerous waters. The colorful cast includes John Malkovich as the poker genius of the Russian-American Mafia, and John Turturro as a pro player who grinds out a living.
Regency Exchange, Masters, Evans and Augusta Village.

RUSH HOUR (***, PG) When the daughter of the Chinese consul in Los Angeles is kidnapped, supercop Jackie Chan is flown in from Hong Kong. But the FBI doesn't want outside help, so they team him up with a loose cannon from the LAPD (Chris Tucker). There's nice comic chemistry between the two opposites, the usual breathtaking Chan stunts, and funny lines from Tucker, a gifted motormouth. A formula movie, but well done.
Augusta Village, Evans, Masters, Regency Exchange and Aiken Mall.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (****, R) Steven Spielberg's World War II epic stars Tom Hanks as an officer assigned to lead a group of men into battle and find Private Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers have already died in the war. The Army brass wants Ryan brought home to his mother as a publicity gesture. But Mr. Hanks and his men take a more realistic view of the war and of their duty, in a philosophical film about war that is told almost entirely in terms of action, not words.
Masters, Augusta Village, Aiken Mall, Regency Exchange and Evans.

SIMON BIRCH (***, PG) In small-town New Hampshire in 1964, two friends spend a momentous year. Simon (Ian Michael Smith) is a very bright, brash dwarf; Joe (Joseph Mazzello) is his best friend. Joe's mother (Ashley Judd) has never divulged who his father is; Simon's parents don't like him, so he adopts Judd as a parent. Two deaths bring the underlying issues to a head, in a film of such sunny sweetness it's impossible to be cynical about the melodrama. Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who wrote the Grumpy Old Men movies; recommended for children as well as adults.
Augusta Village.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (***, R) Explosively funny comedy by the Farrelly brothers (Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin), starring Cameron Diaz as a babe who is the subject of obsession by men -- especially her high school classmate Ben Stiller, who tracks her down 13 years later. The plot is just a clothesline for screwball sight gags.
Evans, Aiken Mall and Augusta Village.

WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE (**, R) Frankie Lymon was 13 when he had his big hit record and 25 when he died. Three women (Halle Berry, Vivica A. fox and Lela Rochon) fought in court over his estate, each one claiming to be his lawful widow. It's an interesting footnote to rock 'n' roll history, but the movie lacks a point of view.
Augusta Village, Aiken Mall, Regency Exchange

Budget theaters

THE AVENGERS (PG-13) Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes take on bad guy Sean Connery in this big screen version of the cult favorite 1960s television series.
Columbia Square.

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.
Mark Twin.

HALLOWEEN H20 (**, R) Jamie Lee Curtis' character changed her name and moved to California to hide from her mad slasher brother, we learn, and now 20 years have passed, but it's Halloween, and suddenly the lights all seem to go out. Not much fun, or very scary.
Mark Twin.

LETHAL WEAPON 4 (**, R) 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 Glover's daughter. Richard Donner orchestrates spectacular stunts and special effects, but the heart of the movie seems to be missing.
Columbia Square and Mark Twin.

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.
Columbia Square.

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.
Columbia Square.