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OnVideo FEBRUARY Video Reviews

ALARMIST, THE
A home security systems salesman (David Arquette) finds success on his very first day on the job when he not only sells a complete home alarm system but he seduces his very first customer (Kate Capshaw). But things take a sinister turn when he discovers that his boss (Stanley Tucci) is breaking into homes to scare residents into buying systems, with devastating results. A wry and nastily funny thriller.

Director: Evan Dunsky. Stars: David Arquette, Stanley Tucci, Kate Capshaw, Mary McCormick. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $0.085 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/2, DVD: Day & Date.

2 stars go
back





Antz photo ANTZ
The folks at DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg's film company, came up with a wonderfully hip animated film their first time at bat with this computer-generated feature starring a stellar cast of voice talent (Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Jane Curtin, Jennifer Lopez, Danny Glover, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken). The story revolves around a neurotic and self-absorbed ant whose discontent with conformity leads to a subversion of the military-run nest. Tightly drawn characters and plotting make for an above-average adventure for kids and adults alike.

Director: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson. Stars: Voices of W Allen, Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, J Curtin, J Lopez, D Glover, S Stallone, S Stone, Walken. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 83 min.), Animated, 1998, Box office gross: $90.000 million, (DreamWorks), $26.99 SRP, Available: 2/9, DVD: No.

4 stars go
back





Vampires photo JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES
Violent modern day vampire saga about a contingent of mercenaries who hunt down bloodsucking nightstalkers with a religious fervor. When his Team Crow group of warriors is all but devastated by the legions of the undead, led by 600-year-old Master Vampire Valek, Jack Crow (James Wood in a typical scenery-chewing performance) enlists a prostitute (bitten by Vampire Valek) as a psychic link to hunt the ghouls down and prevent them from implementing a ritual that will give them omnipotent daylight power. Not for the queasy.

Director: John Carpenter. Stars: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Horror, 1998, Box office gross: $19.915 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/9, DVD: Day & Date.

2 stars go
back





LEGIONNAIRE
Jean-Claude Van Damme's box office cachet has plummeted in recent years, but that hasn't prevented him from making his trademark action movies. This direct-to-video big budget Van Damme starrer, though short on characterization and beset by a weak story line, has enough punch to satisfy most action-adventure fans. Here he plays a boxer in 1920s Marseilles who has to join the French Foreign Legion to avoid some nasty hoods who want to kill him for not throwing a fight; in Morocco he fights traitorous legionnaires as well as marauding tribesman in an all-out battle to the death. For Van Damme fans and those who get guilty pleasure from blood and guts films.

Director: Peter MacDonald. Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Berkoff, Jim Carter, Nicholas Farrell. CC, (MPAA rating: NR, 99 min.), Action-Adventure, 1998, (Sterling Home Entertainment), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/9, DVD: Day & Date.

3 stars go
back





MULAN Mulan photo
Disney's best animated musical since "The Lion King," "Mulan" clicks for all the right reasons: fine songs, luscious animation, luminous story and characters you can care about. Refreshingly, the heroine here (a Chinese girl who saves her kingdom from invading Huns) is more down to earth than most Disney caricatures of females, giving the girls in the audience someone to root for. Voices by Ming-Na Wen, B.D. Wong, Donny Osmond, Harvey Fierstein, Gedde Watanabe and Eddie Murphy (delightful as Mushu, an outcast stone dragon who comes to life to aid the girl).

Director: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft. Stars: Voices of Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, B.D. Wong, Donny Osmond, Harvey Fierstein, Gedde Watanabe. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 82 min.), Animated, 1998, Box office gross: $120.387 million, (Walt Disney), $26.99 SRP, Available: 2/2, DVD: no.

4 stars go
back





NEXT STOP WONDERLAND
Next Stop photo Tale of a man and a woman, both searching for meaning in their lives, whose paths constantly brush against each other. The woman's just been dumped by her Marxist boyfriend; the man is an ex-plumber working his way through a marine biology course. She's dating guys from a personal ad; he's dodging a love-starved fellow student. Their paths come closer and closer as the film moves along in fits and starts. For the romantically inclined. this "search-for-true-love" story will hit a resonant note. Stars Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant.

Director: Brad Anderson. Stars: Hope Davis, Alan Gelfant, Victor Argo, Jon Benjamin, Cara Buono. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 96 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $3.386 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/9, DVD: No.

3 stars go
back





PRACTICAL MAGIC
Two hot female leads strut their stuff in this fantasy tale about a pair of witchy sisters -- modern day sorceresses who try to peacefully co-exist with normal folk -- who nevertheless resort to white magic when things don't quite go their way. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as the siblings whose lives are overshadowed by the family curse: any man who falls in love with the witches is doomed to die. The pair struggle to make their way: one eventually vows to "give up" magic, the other pursues a series of bad affairs. Unfortunately, there's not enough on- screen chemistry to make the magic really work.

Director: Griffin Dunne. Stars: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min.), Fantasy, 1998, Box office gross: $42.262 million, (Warner), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/16, DVD: Day & Date.

3 stars go
back





RONIN
Ronin photo Intelligent actioner about ex-Cold War operatives, kind of modern-day Ronins -- samurai without masters -- who are hired by a mysterious employer in France to recover, at all costs, a well-guarded suitcase, killing anyone who gets in their way. The world-weary warriors -- led by Robert De Niro and Jean Reno -- have no idea what's in the suitcase, and it matters little as the story intricately plots their preparations, the snatch and the terrible aftermath of their actions, all keenly directed by John Frankenheimer, who again shows his skillful hand ("The Manchurian Candidate," The French Connection II") at mystery and suspense. Plenty of plot twists and turns peppered with great action sequences (all amazingly done sans special effects).

Director: John Frankenheimer. Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Jonathan Pryce, Sean Bean. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 122 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $41.486 million, (MGM), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/23, DVD: Day & Date.

4 stars go
back





ROUNDERS
Rounders photo Story of a rounder (serious card player) whose new life as a law student goes astray when he comes to the aid of a friend and returns to gambling. Matt Damon stars as the legal eagle whose past creeps up on him, Edward Norton as his friend Worm, and John Malkovich as a Russian gambler out to clean their clocks. Though there's scams galore, complicated rounds of Texas Hold 'Em and life-savings riding on every hand, the film ends up being a bit too predictable. For Damon fans only.

Director: John Dahl. Stars: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Martin Landau, Famke Janssen. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 121 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $22.905 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/9, DVD: No.

3 stars go
back





SHOOTING FISH
This delightful comedy about two likeable con artists in London, on the verge of retiring after their last big score, starts out slow but rewards patient viewers with plenty of laughs and good feelings. Dan Futterman and Stuart Townsend play the young scammers, raised in orphanages, saving to buy the mansion they've both dreamed about all their lives. Kate Beckinsale plays a young medical student they've hired to help pull-off an elaborate computer con. When they get involved with her romantically, things begin to go awry: a side venture back fires and they end up in jail. When Beckinsale is enlisted to help them out, she gets the pair involved in a scam of her own -- to raise cash for a good cause. While not quite "The Sting," there's enough deceptions, fast talk and character interactions to keep you involved till the end. A pleasant departure from the spate of recent -- and violent -- caper films.

Director: Stefan Schwartz. Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 93 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $0.254 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/2, DVD: No.

3 stars go
back





SNAKE EYES
A corrupt Atlantic City detective gets embroiled in investigating the assassination of the U.S. Secretary of Defense at a boxing match, with 14,000 screaming fans as potential suspects. Nicolas Cage stars as shady cop who seals off the casino in the hopes of piecing together pieces of the murder puzzle and tracking down a mysterious woman who may have links to the killer. Director Brian De Palma weaves a thrilling tale of truth and deception. Co-stars Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino, John Heard.

Director: Brian De Palma. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino, Joan Heard. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $55.104 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/16, DVD: No.

4 stars go
back





Mary photo THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
The Farrelly Bros.' smash summer hit about a nerdy, angst-driven man (Ben Stiller), still suffering from his high school crush on a girl named Mary (Cameron Diaz), who tracks her down 13 years later, only to have the detective (Matt Dillon) he hired and a host of others get in his way. Full of slapstick comedy bits, bathroom humor and veiled sex jokes, "Mary" grabbed America's dumb funny bone and went for the gold. Co-stars Chris Elliott.

Director: Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Stars: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliott, Markie Post, Keith David. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 119 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $180.000 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/2, DVD: No.

4 stars go
back





Urban Legend
photo URBAN LEGEND
A demented killer murders college students in quaint New England college town, basing his deeds on well-know urban legends -- those macabre folk tales that make the rounds of campouts, sleepovers and slumber parties (such as the killer hiding in the back seat of a car). One student takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the dastardly deeds, uncovering a gruesome past that may result in her own demise. Typical teen killer flick.

Director: Jamie Blanks. Stars: Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Jared Leto. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Horror, 1998, Box office gross: $36.494 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 2/23, DVD: Day & Date.

2 stars go
back






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January 15, 1999