Summer movies so far...

X2 - Better than X1, that's for sure.  More money (on the screen), more
story, and more characters.  Plus the always appealing Brian Cox as the
villain.  Fans of the comic book will have a high time identifying the
fringe mutants-- Colossus, Siryn, etc.-- appearing near the beginning.
The story could tighter (a pot o' molten metal still bubbling after all
these years?) and, conversely, the direction could be looser.  Or, ra-
ther, less restrained.  Returning director Bryan Singer never lets any-
one cut loose, not even everyone's favorite berserker Wolverine.  Too
bloodless.  Loosely adapted from the excellent graphic novel "God Loves,
Man Kills."

FINDING NEMO - An ocean's worth of sumptuous visuals, a family-friendly
story that isn't cloying, and Ellen DeGeneres' best performance ever.
Funny turtles, too.  Not nearly the amount of wit of other Pixar pleas-
ers, though.  Sole sore thumb:  Albert Brooks, whose angst-ridden line
readings throw a wet blanket over the entire movie.  Flush him down the
toilet...  [ Rest of review space devoted to plugging my book.  The up-
date:  same has sold out at the publisher.  All 900 copies.  Reprinting
in the works.  600 additional copies due in 8 to 12 weeks.  See for the latest.  Book talk coming in October.
On subject of research.  Cameron Village library.  More details coming. ]

THE MATRIX RELOADED - Imminently watchable, this "first half" movie has
one great action sequence involving crunched cars, weaving motorcycles,
and wire-assisted actors leaping atop speeding semis.  The rest of the
action is hit or miss, based on how well you believe the CG effects.
Neater is a glimpse of Zion and a gray-metal mise-en-scene that recalls
James Cameron's TERMINATOR future.  Fun, too, is some philosophical
mumbo-jumbo and a dude at the end who looks like Sigmund Freud.  The
not-so-fun includes extraneous scenes featuring tertiary characters,
select dialogue even *more* super-serious than the first film, and a
dust-caked, dreadlocked bacchanalia resembling an outtake for BENEATH
THE PLANET OF THE APES.  Who thought that was a good idea?

HULK - The most expensive family drama ever is really just the SFX-in-
fused story of two failed parent-adult child relationships.  Not that
anyone's seeing this for the psychobabble alone.  The green man doesn't
arrive until about halfway into the two-and-a-quarter-hour film and his
scenes don't disappoint.  Er, don't *fully* disappoint, if you're a su-
perhero fan just thrilled to see a live-action (if computer-generated)
character tossing tanks around for a change.  Too bad the leads are so
boring.  Talky flick, too.  At least Nick Notle livens things up.  He's
a hoot, as is a late reference to the Bill Bixby / Lou Ferrigno televi-
sion series.

TERMINATOR 3 - James Cameron doesn't return with a script too hideous
to recount here.  (The plot contrivances are the worst...)  Decent ac-
tion, however, including some vehicular fun involving a 150-ton (or
abouts) wheeled crane.  Lotsa cold-blooded killing, too, which is al-
ways nice.   Arnie looks great, 'cept for an inflated waist which is
partially visible at the beginning.  The Terminatrix is a cutie, too.
At least the deadpan's great.  Talk to the hand.  Wish the script were
better.  Or different.  Makes the admittedly bloated TERMINATOR 2 look
tighter than ever.

O'Neill comic book features only five characters: an opium-recovering
Allan Quartermain, a British empire-hating Captain Nemo, a girl's
school, uh, violating Invisible Man, a murderous Mr. Hyde, and a per-
petual scarf-wearing Mina Harker, sans vampire powers.  The five (or
six, counting Mr. Hyde's alter-ego) are recruited by a Mr. Bond, work-
ing for a mysterious "M" in Victorian England.  The comic book, avail-
able in trade paperback at most bookstores, is one of the best I be-
lieve I've ever read. (See:
7160/league1.html)  Haven't seen the movie, which I hear is terrible.

Copyright 2003 by Michael J. Legeros


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