Films Review July

THE TIME MACHINE (PG-13)

How ironic that a film dealing with a man who literally has nothing but time on his hand end up feeling abridged. That’s just one of the problems with the update of H.G. Wells “The Time Machine,” a grin and bear it remake of George Pal’s far superior 1960 film.


Time has been extremely good to Pal’s vision of Welles’ classic novel about class distinction in turn of the century London. Sure, some of the special and make-up effects seem corny by today’s standards, but the film remains rousing Saturday afternoon entertainment. You can’t say the same thing for director Simon Wells reworking of his great-grandfather’s novel. Trapped within the confines of John Logan’s miscalculated screenplay, Wells has created a film that’s just a ghost of the original. Using state of the art digital effects, Wells bombards us with one dazzling display of computer keystroke after another. After awhile, the luster wears off and all you’re left with is a film that’s both mindless and mind numbing. Please click title for complete review. (DreamWorks)

DAGON (NR)

Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond) returns to the works of H. P. Lovecraft to tell this sordid tale of a couple who wash up on a small Spanish fishing village, only to learn that the inhabitants are hiding a dark, ancient secret. You rarely watch a Gordon film for it’s superior acting, and that’s true of “Dagon.” The cast comes second to Gordon’s eerie vision, which features fish-like people and lots of gratuitous gore. Fans of the director won’t mind the low budget or foreign locale. They’ll be pleased with the constant sense of foreboding, and some really sick make-up effects, including ripping off a man’s face and scalp. Don’t eat before you watch this one. (Lion’s Gate)

DEAD HEAT (R)

Run-of-the-mill mobster drama stars Keifer Sutherland as a retired Boston police officer whose attempt to help his seedy step-brother Ray (Anthony LaPaglia) make a killing on a long shot at the race track. What begins as a favor spirals out of control when a local mobster takes control of the horse and threatens Pally (Sutherland) and Ray’s investment. Director Mark Malone stretches his limited budget well, but the film still has that been there, done that feel. (Lion’s Gate)

HELL’S GATE (R)

Crafty little thriller starring the alluring Patsy Kensit as a violent mental patient who relies on her psychiatrist (a neutral Patrick Muldoon) to maintain what little sanity she has left. So when the shrink takes his family on vacation, she breaks out of the institution and follows him. Oh yeah, she believes that doctor dearest is the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, and she one of his mistresses. What’s a loyal mistress to do? Pay homage to your lover, leave a trail of dead bodies, and kidnap his wife and daughter (Amy Locane, animated) to teach him a lesson. This direct-to-video thriller delivers the goods, from an out there performance by Kensit, who makes Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” look like a bunny lover. (Artisan)

KUNG POW: ENTER THE FIST (PG-13)

Director Bob Odekerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) attempts a Woody Allen with this silly spoof of “Kung-Fu” films. Like Allen’s “What’s Up Tiger Lily?,” in which Allen re-cut and dubbed a Chinese spy film into a hilarious spoof of the genre, Odekerk cuts new footage of himself into a 1970s Hong Kong action film, and the results are often embarrassing. There are some funny moments in the film, but not enough to cover the stench of the stinkers, which come at you faster than Louie Anderson in a Krispy Creme store. Odekerk plays the Chosen One, whose Kung-Fu skills help him avenge the death of his parents. His journey pits the Chosen One against numerous enemies, including a high kicking cow. You’ll laugh, but then you’ll feel guilty you did. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

TARZAN AND JANE (G)

Kids won’t mind that Disney mined their Saturday morning cartoon series “The Legend of Tarzan” to put together these three tales where Jane looks back on her first year with Tarzan. Like the similar, and extremely popular direct-to-video sequel “Cinderella II,” “Tarzan and Jane” uses new animation to bridge together the three stories, and there’s enough colorful animation, close calls, jungle adventure and laughs to keep kids coming back for more. Available for sell-through at $24.99 video, $29.99 DVD. (Walt Disney)

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:

CON EXPRESS (R/Artisan)

JACKED-UP (R/Artisan)



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