Films Review March

SWIM FAN (PG-13)

Standing pool side in his black Speedos, hair wet and water dripping down his chest, Jesse Bradford (Clockstoppers) looks like another in a long line of post-pubescent Calvin Kline underwear models.


He’s as cute as a button, and his character in “Swimfan,” Ben Cronin, is about as smart as one. You’d have to be pretty stupid, or naive, or both, not to see that the new girl in school, Madison Bell (Erika Christensen) is bad news. Not just bad news, really bad news. Obviously Ben and his friends have never seen “Fatal Attraction,” because if they had, they would recognize that Madison is more than just a pretty face, a hot bod, a sincere smile and a sexy demeanor. Please click on title for complete review. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

ALIAS BETTY (NR)

Gripping French thriller stars Sandrine Kiberlain as Betty, a best-selling writer working through the grief of losing her young son. Betty is so lost in her grief that she doesn’t realize that her crazy mother has kidnapped a young boy as a replacement for her loss. When the boy’s mother and friends enter the picture, things get wicked. Kiberlain is excellent as the young mother hiding her feelings inside her work, while Nicole Garcia is deliciously over-the-top as her mother who doesn’t understand the chain of events she has set into motion. Director Claude Miller, working loosely from the novel “The Tree of Hands” by Ruth Rendell, does an effective job of mixing pathos and spirited chaos, creating a genuine series of unexpected thrills. (Wellspring Home Video)

BELOW (R)

While not nearly as creepy as Michael Jackson, this World War II submarine ghost story has a way of working its way under your skin and delivering the occasional fright. When a US Submarine crew picks up the survivors of a torpedoed British hospital ship, they also pick up a ghostly presence intent on making the remainder of their journey as unnerving as possible. Filled with perfect, subdued performances, and a constant sense of dread, “Below” also features a smart screenplay (the original draft was written by Darren Aronofsky). Instead of haunted house cheap thrills, the film connects the dots with engaging characters, a constant sense of dread, and plenty of spooky atmosphere. (Dimension Home Video)

HIJACK’D (R)

Another crash and burn made-for-television thriller about a state-of-the-art commercial airliner that relies on satellite signals for navigation. That means the airliner doesn’t require flesh and blood pilots, much to the dismay of the passengers of the maiden voyage, who find themselves at the mercy of a mad former airline employee, who has hijacked the signal and plans to crash the plane. It’s up to a former Navy pilot to save the day, aided by a computer technician intent on recapturing the signal before the plane runs out of fuel and becomes a PR nightmare. (Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment)

I SPY (PG-13)

Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy pick up where television counterparts Robert Culp and Bill Cosby left off, and the result is a film that makes you wish for an “I Spy” marathon on TV Land. Directed by Betty Thomas (“The Grady Bunch Movie,” “The Beverly Hillbillies”) with the finesse of a falling anvil, the plot revolves around a stolen top secret plane and the government’s attempts to get it back before it falls in the hands of the enemy. The real enemy is the film’s script, a slapdash collection of bad jokes, by-the-numbers plotting, and very little opportunity for either leading man to display their goods. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)

INSPECTOR GADGET 2 (G)

Direct-to-video sequel is actually much better than you would expect, largely thanks to a plethora of special visual effects that perpetuate the cartoon-existence of the characters, and star French Stewart (Third Rock From The Sun), taking over for Matthew Broderick. All is well in Riverton City, but that changes when Inspector Gadget’s main nemesis, The Claw (Tony Martin) escapes from prison. Making matters worse, some of the Inspector’s gadgets are on the fritz, making him vulnerable to all sorts of mishaps. When he checks himself in for a tune-up, Gadget learns that he’s no longer the only man-made crime fighter on the force. Enter G2 (Elaine Hendrix), a female crime fighter who rivals Gadget on many levels. Gadget’s love-hate relationship with G2 is complicated by their desire to catch The Claw and end his reign of terror. Director Alex Zamm manages to keep up the frenzied pace of the original while adding lots of new twists to the formula. Lots of fun. (Walt Disney Home Video)

MALEVOLENT (NR)

Traditional crime drama stars Lou Diamond Phillips as a cop under investigation after a job-related shooting, whose only ally is an exotic dancer (Kari Wuhrer). On the run from an unjust system, Jack (Phillips) must stay one step ahead of his pursuers in order to clear his name and find the real killer. Yawn. (Dimension Home Video)

MOONLIGHT MILE (PG-13)

Writer-director Brad Silberling’s personal drama about loss and redemption stars an affecting Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Nast, a handsome young man engaged to be married. All that changes when tragedy strikes, bringing Joe closer to his ex-fiance’s family, father Ben (Dustin Hoffman) and mother JoJo (Susan Sarandon). Dutifully carrying on as the grieving fiancee and almost son-in-law, Joe has his work cut out for him, especially when he meets Bertie (Ellen Pomeo), a young woman who helps him understand that he can love again. Silberling draws on his own personal tragedy to create a film of great emotional highs, and has done a splendid job of casting the film to create a family that we can believe in, even when Joe doesn’t. Hoffman and Sarandon are outstanding as parents desperately trying to hold on to the memory of their daughter, even if it means forcing Joe to abandon his own plans. (Touchstone Home Video)

SASQUATCH (R)

The fur flies in this low budget yet effective monster movie about a rescue team who encounter a nasty version of Big Foot in the Pacific Northwest. When one of his corporate jets goes down and the passengers, including his daughter, end up missing, Harlan Knowles (Lance Henriksen) rustles up a group of trackers, scientists and assorted victims to learn what happened. Their search brings them face-to-face with a monster intent on making their stay extremely unpleasant. Creative camera work, some genuine bump-in-the-dark thrills, and absolutely no desire to be anything more than it is makes “Sasquatch” worth a look. (Columbia-Tristar Home Video)

SNIPER 2 (R)

The original star (Tom Berenger) of “Sniper” returns for this low-rent sequel that is basically more of the same, but without the same adrenaline rush. Tom Berenger is okay as Sergeant Thomas Beckett, a one-man killing machine who is coerced by the government to complete one final mission, eliminate a mad man in the Balkans with ethnic cleansing on his mind. Beckett is teamed up with a death row inmate (Bokeem Woodbine) to complete the mission, which he learns is actually a covert operation for something more sinister. Obviously the studio had a lot of faith in this effort. They premiered it on cable before sending it to video. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)

SOL GOODE (R)

Writer-director Danny Comden has lassoed a likeable cast for his coming-of-age story about a perpetual slacker forced to grow up and take responsibility for his life. Sol (Balthazar Getty) is one of those fast-talking guys who gets along on his good looks and charm, but all that ends when his life slowly begins to become unraveled. With the threat of real life encroaching on his seemingly fortunate existence, unemployed actor Sol learns some important life lessons, and even finds a woman worth the effort, but keeping her will require him to put away his past. The cast is filled with many recognizable faces, including Getty, Jamie Kennedy, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Cheri Oteri, Johnathon Schaech, and Robert Wagner. (Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment)



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