Films Review May

ADVENTURES OF ICABOD & MR. TOAD (G)

Even though it’s two central stories, “The Wind in the Willows” and “Th Legend of Sleepy Hollow” have been released as short subjects on video, this is the first time that Walt Disney’s 11th Animated Masterpiece “The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad” has been released as a feature.


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Through the magic of Disney animation, these two fabulous stories come remarkably to life, with bold colors, exciting characters, and wonderful vocal talents (Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone). This new video is a special 50th Anniversary Edition, and retails for $22.99. (Walt Disney)

BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER TO THE RESCUE (G)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Every kid’s favorite singing and talking appliance returns for more fun and song in this new animated feature, the third in the series. The plot is more topical than in previous editions. The Brave Little Toaster and his pals Lampy, Radio, Kirby and Blanky must save the animals at a college research lab from being sold by an evil assistant to an experimentation lab. Everything and everyone seem happy in the lab of Master Rob, who is learning to become a veterinarian. Everyone’s happiness is interrupted when Mack, Rob’s dastardly assistant, sees opportunity and tries to act on it. However, he didn’t count on the Brave Little Toaster and his friends to turn up the heat. Colorful animation and pleasing songs will make this a winner with kids. Available at sell-through for $22.99. (Walt Disney)

GLORIA (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Sharon Stone is fine, but there’s not much else to recommend director Sidney Lumet’s remake of John Cassavette’s original. Stone picks up where Gena Rowlands (Oscar-nominated) left off, playing the tough moll of a mobster (Jeremy Northam). Fresh out of prison after a three year stint (she took the fall for her boyfriend), Gloria (Stone) returns to New York in search of a future. Instead, she finds herself trapped by her previous life and circumstance. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she’s forced to care for a six-year-old boy (Jean-Luke Figueroa) whose family has been killed by her mobster friends. Since the boy knows too much, both he and Gloria become targets, and are forced to turn to the mean streets of New York in order to survive. It’s not a frame by frame remake, but there is not much new here to distinguish it from Cassavette’s stunning original. (Columbia-TriStar)

OPPOSITE CORNERS (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)There’s not much to recommend this tiresome tale of an amateur boxer whose home life is filled with more right hooks than in the ring. Billy Warlock plays Bryant, who actually has a shot at the Golden Gloves. Unfortunately, Bryant’s father is a Mafia kingpin who has other plans for his son. This conflict brings about the usual dose of cliches and low-rent theatrics as Bryant tries to control his own life. Cathy Moriarty co-stars as his mother, who desperately wants her son to be happy. The only thing that is not painful to watch in this direct-to-video film is the boxing matches. (Paramount)

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)War is indeed hell. It’s not pretty. It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be horrendous, gritty, and ultimately, numbing. There’s no method to its madness. In one small insignificant way, it’s like making movies. Lots of action followed by long periods of boredom and silence. Having visited the theater of World War II three times before, director Steven Spielberg returns with a vengeance, skillfully creating a film that’s tough to take but essential on every front. Spielberg’s fascination with World War II brought us the comical “1941,” the under-appreciated “Empire of the Sun,” and the Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List.” With each effort, Spielberg has shown growth. “Saving Private Ryan” is his most accomplished film to date, an unnerving look at war that never flinches. Click here for complete review. (Dreamworks)

STAR TREK: INSURRECTION (PG)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Even though it didn’t set the box office on fire, “Insurrection” is a great film. It was exactly what I expected from a “Star Trek” film, especially one featuring the Next Generation cast. While “First Contact” remains my favorite “Next Generation” big screen effort, “Insurrection” reminded me of an old “Star Trek” episode, so in effect you get the best of both worlds. The crew of the Enterprise, led by Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart, always a delight) find themselves having to betray the Prime Directive (no Starfleet expedition may interfere with the natural development of other civilizations). That means the Enterprise is helpless when the Federation decides to remove the peace loving people of the planet Ba’Ku so they can take advantage of its natural fountain of youth. In true “Star Trek” fashion, Picard and the crew (including a hyper Data) defy the Federation in an attempt to save the Ba’Ku people. Like “Star Trek: The Voyage Home,” the emphasis here is on the people, although there is a healthy dose of outer space thrills and spills. There’s also romance in the air for several crew members, a welcome addition that helps make these people more human. Director Jonathan Frakes (who also stars as Number One) does a wonderful job of making all of this matter. (Paramount)

THEORY OF FLIGHT (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Helena Bonham Carter is absolutely brilliant in this touching romantic drama with enough humor and heart to go around. Carter plays Jane, a woman severely crippled by Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kenneth Branagh co-stars as Richard, an artist sentenced to community service. His charge is Jane, who strikes a deal with him to find someone to have sex with her before she dies. Director Paul Greengrass does an excellent job of tackling a tricky subject, and injecting it with humor and humanity so that you never feel like the characters are being exploited. It’s delightful to watch two pros like Carter and Branagh on the screen together, and they bring their characters to life with depth and meaning. Even when the film strays, it’s still interesting and satisfying. (New Line)

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:

ARRIVAL II, THE (R/Artisan)

BABYLON 5 PROMOTION (NR/Warner)

ELVIS IS ALIVE! (NR/Victory Multimedia)

JOHNNY 2.0 (NR/York Entertainment)

KNOCKING ON DEATH’S DOOR (R/New Horizons)

LAST TO SURRENDER (NR/Avalanche)

SHEPHERD (R/New Horizons)



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