Movie Reviews by the Jeremys...

Summer 1996

Reviews by Jeremy1 [Hubble]

Harriet the Spy
Independence Day

Reviews by Jeremy2 [Perkins]

Crow: City of Angels
Independence Day
From Dusk Till Dawn
Major Payne
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Official Site - Internet Movie Database

The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
Rating: Wait for the home video. . . but don't hold your breath.

I don't have much to say about this film. Where there is money to be made, anything is possible . . . even a film like this. The best thing about this film was the hype that proceeded it.

The content is fluff, and in between the death scenes and explosions (which constitute basically the entire film anyway) you wonder why they even bothered to write a plot. The plot basically followed that of the first film, except the first film sports Brandon Lee as 'the ghost with the most.' Vincent Perez does what needs to be done in the second (shooting people, and mumbling unintelligible sentence fragments), but he doesn't make it worth seeing.

Perhaps the makers of shoot 'um up films out in 'tinseltown' figure if they bash us over the head enough times with violence, killing, and crime that we won't notice that they've picked our pockets once again.

Rating: Wait for the home video . . . but don't hold your breath.

Official Site - Internet Movie Database
Emma (1996)
Rating: 10 out of 10

Emma is the best movie so far this year. I remember hearing people say that the movie Clueless was based on Jane Austen's Emma. Come on, it might have a little in common, but... Well, after seeing the film adaptation of Emma, I'm startled by the similarity. Emma is basically Clueless, set in the previous century, with everything better. The beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow should receive an Oscar nod for her outstanding performance. Her emotions, and facial expressions portrayed told the whole story, even without constant intrusion of dialogue. The sets and action were very well done, and the soundtrack is very fitting, and hummable. I was able to predict what would happen, but, with any book adaptation that's always the case. Other than that, the movie is absolutely flawless.
Internet Movie Database - Official
Alaska (1996)
Rating: 8 out of 10

This is easily the must visually stunning movie of the year. The opening shots of Alaskan scenery sent chills running down my spine. The breathtaking views of the landscape coupled with the excellent musical score make this a definite must see. Unfortunately the plot needs some work. It felt a lot like Twister: the plot seemed to get in the way of the goal of showing the almighty power of nature. The contrived conflict between the poachers and the polar bear subtracted rather than adding to the overall effect of the film. (But I guess it will help them gain the 'animal film' fans.) The end, however, did have some originality. I knew what was going to happen, but there were enough plot twists to keep it interesting.

Alaska is one of the years best action movies. It's loaded with great stunts. What it doesn't have is violence (the only person that gets shot is hit with a misfired tranquilizer), profanity (aside from a mild line by a poacher), or sex. It's just a powerful story of man vs. nature and man vs. himself. If they'd just patch up the plot, and improve the dialog, they'd have a great model for future action movies.

[Matilda logo]
Internet Movie Database - Official
Matilda (1996)
Rating: 10 out of 10

Hot of the heals of James and the Giant peach, here comes another adaptation of a Dahl masterpiece. The colors are bright, the music is light, and the story is oh so trite. This is a stylistic masterpiece that should set the blueprint for other Dahl movie adaptations.

Like Dahl's other stories, Matilda is an 'almost' real tale. Every place, every person, (even every carrot) is almost, but not quite 100%, real. The characters are all played up to one extreme or another. The principal is pure mean. The teacher is pure niceness. There is no character depth, and that's what makes it wonderful.

The MPAA gave it a rating of Rated PG for elements of exaggerated meanness and ridicule, and for some mild language. I must've missed the language, but the meanness, is exagerated to almost cartoonlike porpotions, making it entertaining instead of cruel. Matilda is easily the best comedy of the year

Official Site Internet Movie Database
Kazaam (1996)
Jeremy1's rating: 4 out of 10
Jeremy2's rating: Its a good thing this one is not 'still playing'

[Hubble] Also check out the Perkins review
With Kazaam, Shaquile O'Neal goes on a super ego trip. The movies premise puts an interesting twist in the old Aladin story. The setting is today, and the genie's lamp, after ending up in a scrap-metal heap, is now a boom-box. Unfortunately, that's a about the only bit of originality. The plot has a 14 year old kid with a horrible life suddenly stumble on to the lamp. The kid's life is horrible. He doesn't know his dad. His mom is getting remarried. It's a typical Hollywood cliche, and everyone behaves exactly how you'd expect them to behave. Then the Aladin plot kicks in: Boy finds genie. At first, boy doesn't beleive in genie. He thinkgs he's a loon. Eventually kid is persuaded to beleive and tries to use genie to get his parents togethor. Genie can't do that, but can do a few other tricks. Bad guy tries to get genie. Eventually boy makes wish, bad guy disappears, and genie becomes free

If you're in the Aladdin mood, check out Disney's version. Robin Williams did a great job. The Shaq doesn't. He tries to steal the show. He has all the special effects. He gets to beat up the bad guys, he even becomes a big rap star. Unfortunatelly, with all this, he didn't find any time to act. His lines come slow and forced. He had some potentially funny lines, but his delivery was so inept that they came out tedious instead of humourous. He was at his best when the special effects wizards were working, allowing him to roll the bad guy into a ball and slam dunk him. Unfortunately, there weren't nearly enough special effects to save this movie. The soundtrack is filled with a lot of rap, along with some interesting orchestral work (which alas, isn't available on CD.) If you're a super Shaq fan, you're obligated to check this one out. If your just a normal person try Harriet the Spy or Independence Day.

[Perkins] - Also check out the Hubble review.

I'll keep this one short. Boy comes from broken home, doesn't have a friend in the world. Boy finds genie in a bottle. Boy thinks genie is a joke. Genie convinces boy that he's for real, and boy, after weilding genie's 'awesome powers,' (let's face it, how awesome can a genie that lives in a boombox be?) asks genie to make grant him a family agian. Genie can't do that. Genie gets caught by someone with 'EVIL' ways. Genie at last moment saves boy, father repents, and genie is free. HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY! That's it. Oh, and Shaq - stick with basketball. RATING: ITS A GOOD THING THIS ONE IS NOT 'STILL PLAYING'

Official Site - Internet Movie Database

Harriet the Spy (1996)
Rating: 9 out of 10

Harriet wants to be a writer, thus she takes on the role of "Spy" and spies on other people to get ideas for her stories. She is meticulous with details, and has everything written down. This backfires greatly when the other kids get hold of her 'private' notebook, and find what she has written about them. Finally, at the end, she makes peace with them, and becomes editor of the 6th grade paper.

Based on the 60s children book of the same name, Harriet the Spy has successfully been moved to the 90s with a Nickelodeon flair. The bright colors, quick pans, and pacing music give this film work wonders. The style would work wonders for any movie. Luckily, underneath the stylistic masterpiece, lies an excellent movie, faithful to the original novel.

In the background, it holds a simple 'coming of age' subplot. Harriet, now 11, must come to grips with the departure of her lifelong nanny and confidant. At first, her whole world seems to collapse with Golly's departure. Harriet takes time to learn to trust in her parents. When Golly finally reemerges at the end, it is only to give some words of advice and encouragement so that Harriet can make it on her own. In parting she tells Harriet that she "never goes back, she only goes forward." With this encouragement, Harriet tries to make amends to her friends. Unfortunately, she finds it to be much harder than she thought. Her friends still hold grudges against her, and she can't get the courage to make up. (Hey, it's not easy to apologize.) Later she finally comes up with the guts and plan in class to take over as editor of the newsletter. (It is, ironically, the boy who never talks, that nominates her.) Finally, after becoming editor, she is able to express on paper all that she has learned. She also takes the opportunity to publicly retract the negative comments that got her in so much trouble in the first place

Harriet's world had slowly come apart, piece by piece. She gets caught one day spying. Remembering that "spies never get caught" she feels down. She decides to abandon the spying for a day, and join the gang in the park. Unfortunately, while enjoy these escapades, she drops her private notebook, and suddenly everyone knows what she has written about them. Some things written in private appear to be the basic truth, but in the wrong hands they can be totally destructive. Only in the end does she realize the usefulness of 'little lies' (finding the good in people even though you don't agree with it 100%) Even her best friends turn away when they find read the negative comments that she has written about them. Suddenly the whole class has turned in to spy chasers. Harriet can't focus in school, and thus her teacher and parents soon join in the pursuit. She even runs in to a cop on one of her spy runs. Suddenly the whole world is after her. even going to the extent of banning her from 'spying'.

One small mishap always seems to snowball in to many. She becomes overwhelmed. Suddenly, the carnal nature pops out and she begins to seek revenge. That always seems like the answer. She gradually pulls a prank on each of the classmates that have been taunting her. Her last classmate to taunt was her old best-friend, Sport. While posting embarrassing flyers around the school about him, she captures his saddened glance. However, she has already hardened herself to evil, and keeps going. It is only after being alone that she can finally overcome the hardness, and she begins to break down. Revenge seems so sweet until you start to feel the other person's suffering. However, it is only through the help of her parents, her ex-nanny, and even a psychiatrist that she can finally overcome the anger, and regain friendship.

During her down period she thought you could either be a spy or have friends, but not both. Now she finally realizes that you can do both, but there have to be sacrifices. You can't dig out the deepest dirt about people and expect them to remain your friends. Besides, as she begins to learn at the end, what seems to be the 'dirty truth' may be totally false. The man that she thought was steeling food from the grocer was actually, with the full approval of the grocer, giving the food to starving children. Only from her initial view, Harriet was unable to see the children. Sport's dad, who seemed to be just a slacker, finally published a major book. She realize that he had actually been working very hard, but was unable to see immediate results. Even the cat man, was able to obtain new kittens after being stripped of his cats. She learns that our view of the world has a major impact on how we live. When she feels down, she is able to note everything negative that happens. When she regains her strength with a positive outlook, she sees all the great things everyone is doing. The most difficult part, however, is jumping from the negative to positive mode. This movie did an excellent job in showing this transition. Instead of giving a candy-coated easy fix, the transition was gradual, only with lots of help and hard work.

The movie is very well acted. Any fan of Nickelodeon or the Harriet the Spy will definitely enjoy it. Alas, like in most kids movies, the adults received top billing (even the "cat woman" who only appeared briefly) The ensemble cast of kids produced stellar performances, though settled for lesser credit. The movie, much like last years A Little Princess focuses on the internal trials of a little girl, and has no sex, no violence, and almost no action. Pretty much a recipe for a box-office flop. (Luckily, the producers, seeming to realize this are able to but together a first class movie, without worrying about standard Hollywood 'trash'.)

Before the movie was a Nickelodeon animated short - "Arnold". A little nerd finally overcomes the naysayers and hits the baseball - directly to the big bully's head. After coming to, the bully decides to beat him up. The girl (who is secretly in love with Arnold, but outwardly hates him) convinces him to change the time to the next day so Arnold has more time to suffer. Finally, the way Arnold tries to 'beat' the bully is showing that he is 'strange'. After seeing this dance, the bully refuses to beat him up, and instead invites him to join the club of different kids. However, to have the promised fight, he orders two kids to beat each other up. (They promptly oblige)

Things are not always as they seem. Often the most difficult challenge can prove to be the best opportunity for advancement. Arnold met the challenge of the bully with creativity, and soon found himself a large group of friends. The bully, after all, really didn't want to beat him up. He was just going through the motions. After finding something even greater than violence, there was no need to fight. (However, to quell the others' thirst for blood, they needed the 'dummy' fight.) Fights are a totally irrelevant method of problem solving. The mind is where the power lies.

Official Site - Internet Movie Database

Independence Day (1996)
Jeremy1's Rating: 9 out of 10
Jeremy2's Rating: Go and see if still playing

[Hubble] - Also check out the Perkins review
With all the hype, this movie was destined to be hit whether it was good or bad. Luckily, they did a great job. They successfully integrated first rate special effects, a good plot, and very human characters in this action hit. On July 2, alien spacecraft are seen approaching the earth. The people react individually. As would be expected, the vast majority are going bezerk. However, some people find it a great time to party. (Unfortunately, the party comes to an abrupt end when LA is leveled. The young president, facing a dwindling approval rating, tries to stay calm in the face of disaster. Meanwhile, a cable repairman (with advanced MIT degress), isolates the alien signal that had been interfering with satelite transmition. He realizes that it is a countdown, and with this realization, rushes off to Washington to try to alert his ex-wife and the president. (Luckily, his ex-wife happens to have her cellular phone number listed, and he is able to contact her.) They all fly out of Washington right as the city is being destroyed.

Now we know it is an all out alien attack. Missiles are no use against these guys. Even a nuclear missile fails. Their shields are too tough. However, while engaged in a 'shoot-out' chase, Wil Smith's plane crashed close to an alien ship. Smith promptly enters and gives the alien a pleasant 'welcome to earth,' then wraps him up to take back to Area 51 in Nevada. Throughout, Smith plays the quasi-tough guy rouge, who masks all his fear in a bunch of smart remarks, adding humor throughout the movie. During the initial phase, the movie flashes snapshots of all types of people, including a drunk crop-duster who claims to have been abducted by aliens.

The characters are all very human. None of the main characters are true loners. They all have families, and these familiar relations play a key role in their lives. The president really looks saddened when his wife's death becomes imminent. He faces the situation alongside his young daughter just as any human being would. The movie effectively slips from action to drama. It helps to truly involve us all in the film. These guys aren't strange Hollywood types. They are really people like the rest of us. It makes a great statement for the importance of family. Smith finally does what "he should have done long before" and gets married right before going up in the alien craft. However, even the expert pilot doesn't fly it right on the first try.

The special effects throughout are well done. Seeing people running from flying debris appears very similar to Twister. What sets apart ID4 is that even though the situation is much further removed from reality, the people are real. They are not just vehicles for special effects. (In fact the movie keeps you going so well, that you don't even notice the special effects.) This is a definite must see. ID4 succeeds as a drama, an action adventure, and even a comedy. (And of course, the special effects and soundtrack are excellent.) Like Star Wars, a largely no-name crew has put together an epic masterpiece.

[Perkins] - Also check out the Hubble review

An interesting plot, and an interesting set of characters make this film definately a good find. Of course, with all of the hype surrounding ID4, whether it flopped or not really made no difference. It did not flop, but was different than you'd expect. It was billed as action - these terrible aliens leave us with nothing but a countdown, and then start disintegrating our fair country. Its terrible! Its graphic! And it STRIKES US IN THE HEART, RIGHT AT THE VERY BEING OF OUR PATRIOTISM! . . . But about half way through the film, its like the makers said, 'hey, let's have some fun with this one!' The fun starts with Will Smith 'welcoming the alien to earth.' (He gets one of theirs to crash into the wall of 'a ravine.') Will provides the raw comedy along with Quaid (a drunken, alien abducted coot, who eventually sacrafies himself to 'get revenge' at his abductors), and Jeff Goldbloom, with his brand of dry humor and sardonic wit, adds yet another dimension to this film. This is a 'fun film.' Its neither what you would expect from a 'war/shoot um up' film, nor what you'd expect from a comedy. Its a combo meal off the summer blockbuster take-out list. And its fun! This one has my vote, kids! RATING: GO AND SEE, IF STILL PLAYING!

Internet Movie Database - Official Miramax Site

From Dusk Till Dawn (1995)
Rating: See it if there's nothing else on the new release shelf of interest.

Recently I rented the film FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, and I found that, despite all of the hype you might have heard about Clooney's (ER) debute on the big screen, I'm glad that I waited for the video. Don't get me wrong, Cloney is a fine actor, and he played the part of the strangely sane, and calm, always under control brother of a pair of outlaw brothers very convincingly. (I rather like his tatoo as well.) Yes, overall Clooney was did come through in this somehow akward role of taking lives instead of saving them.

Even his half-crazed, psycho-delusional, perverted, homocidal brother (played by Quentin Tarantino) was convincing. . . for a director in actors clothing (not that Tarantino hasn't does his share of small parts). Yes, I would have to give thumbs up to the big Q as well.

I would even go so far as to say that Harvey Keitel, the doubting priest with a southern accent, and Juliette Lewis, his daughter, have thier moments in the film that make it tolerable. And, let us not forget Cheech, cast in a triple role.

But, I cannot begin to fathom what exactly director Robert Rodriguez (EL MARIACHI, and, DESPERADO, an over-bugeted version of El Mariachi) had in mind when he shot approximately half the film before the group even got to Mexico, let alone saw a vampire. I realize that we need to see that the two brothers are 'bad a**es,' but we can easily gather that from the opening minutes of the film (the bro's shooting up a liquor store). This was billed as a 'Vampire film,' not 'A Western Psychopathic Adventure.'

And, even though we spend most of the first half of the film with the two brothers, we dont even know them well enough to care if they become bloody mary's. They remain flat, which almost constitutes the inane ending to the film - its almost as if Rodriguez says, 'okay boys, we need to end this one,' and he does.

The acting in this film was cast and played well enough, but the plot was shakey at best and often tried covering up the big pile of crudd it had left bhind it on the floor with lines like, 'They're a different kind of vampire . . .' Robert Rodriguez, next time you decide to make 'DESPERADO with vampires in it,' don't bill it as a 'vampire film,' bill it as 'DESPERARO with vampires.'



I rented twister the other night, and despite the mixed commentary I'd heard on the film about corny graphics, and middle of the road acting, I was quite impressed. This film is an intense thriller, and one truly for those interested in the particularly forceful effects of nature. It is not, however, a romantic film, as it in some 'twisted' ways tries to be. I suppose making a film just on tornadoes would be a documentary, wouldn't it? Anyhow, despite some rather corny attempts at a soap-opera-like love affair/devorce papers thing, the film rates high due to amazing graphics and suspence (although you knew it wouldn't make much of a movie if they didn't accomplish their task). What it boils down to is Hellen Hunt. She a godess in this film, and she does credit to the word actress. I suppose I would be lying if said I didn't originally rent the film for the purpose of seeing an athoritative, tightly-clothed, fully animated Hellen Hunt. Guys, I promise you, you won't be let down, the lady is a classy actor as well as oh so hot!

rating - c'mon, pick it up!


On the few occasions that I do get the chance to get out and do something like watch a film at a theater, its nice when occasionally I get my $6 worth out of the deal. So often films now serve one purpose only, and that is to make money. It nice when once in a while one [a film] entertains as well as actually restoring merit to the film making genre. Sleepers is such a film. With an excellent cast of characters from DiNero to Pitt, to Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Bacon, this film brings forth a flurry of emotions from the veiwer. Well acted characters are what this film was dependent on to succeed, and what acting the film did get! Every actor in this film, although the leading role belonged to no one actor in particular, played their parts to perfection. If it sounds like I'm singing the praises of the actors, I am. The subject matter of the film was such that if the boys' home gaurds weren't perverted enough (including Kevin Bacon), or if father Bobby (Robert DiNero) wasn't identifiable enough in some aspects of the life's of the audience, or it Mikey (Brad Pitt) wasn't as composed with a certain air of desperation in him, than the film would have failed miserably.

The film succeeded and it also forces the audience think, as any quality film should do. It forces the audience to weigh murder againstseveral months of sexual, phyiscal and metal abuse of little boys. The subject matter is heavy, and, in the end, after father Bobby gives everything he is up for his boys, we feel justice has been served . . . yet only for a time.

I felt a certain catharsis (simply put, cleansing of emotions) after veiwing this film, something I haven't felt in the movie theater for years. Its nice to know that there are still 'a few good films' out there.

rating: hey, **** (four stars)

Major Payne

I had my doubts about any of the Wayans brothers after "Don't Get Caught Drinkin Your Drunkin Juice in the Southern Isles of Something or Other" (or something like that????!!!), but this film is everthing but a Major Payne to watch. As well as throwing a somewhat twisted moral (although a moral nonetheless) into the mix of film pack with 'turds' of hillarious humor, Major Payne is surprisingly fun to watch. Watching a band of 'turds' grow up to a team under the 'guidence' of a killing machien, is a funny thing, especially when it involves a rather interesting version of 'The Little Engine That Could.' Damein Wayans sacrafices the high ideals of the military that we all hold (yeah right) fro the sake of humor. And boy does the sacrafice pay off big.

rating - pick it up!

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Last updated Februrary 8, 1997-