|TITLE & REVIEW||VIDEOS|
The Legend of Sleepy HollowTim Burton 's new masterpiece is worthy of its blockbuster budget, with a full-scale 1799 village, wonderfully OTT CGI SPFX and a great cast [mostly Brits, though the leads - Johny Depp and Christina Ricci - are Americans]. The movie was apparently filmed in the UK, and has been described as the homage to Hammer House of Horror films that the UK film industry never got round to making. Indeed, Burton's work makes one wonder what the hell is wrong with the British Film industry! The UK has a surplus of talented actors, and during the 1980s British facilities [Elstree and Pinewood to name but a few] were well sought-after. So why can't UK film producers make movies like this???
At a time that Hollywood seems to be moving away from slasher-trash horror [parodies like Scream against rubbish like ISKWYDLS ] and towards a more sinister kind of horror [ Blair Witch and Sixth Sense ] that Burton chose to move back to the 1960s. He's updated the Hammer films from tomato ketchup to great CGI SPFX, and produced something that is very gory for a 15-rated film. This reviewer would think twice about watching an 18-rated version!
Depp plays a NYPD constable [the London Metropolitan police was only created around 1830, IIRC - was the NYPD operating so early?] who wants to invent forenzic science. He is extremely intelligent, and deeply troubled [a Garth Ennis-style lousy childhood] and there is absolutely no reason he would become a police officer. Even if the NYPD existed back then.
Depp's character is also extremely squeamish and almost cowardly - a very refreshing break from the square-jawed hero types personified by Caspar Van Dien. Yes, Mr Starship Troopers is back - and well-cast, too, as Ricci's macho beau.
It is notable that Christopher Walken only appears in 2 scenes, and has no lines - but he steals the show!
The story, written by Seven scribe Andrew Kevin Walker is well-paced, and if one can keep suspension of disbelief [NYPD forenzic scientist Johnny Sissorhands???] then the show is quite enjoyable. However, there are moments of extreme cliche. The climax is a typical car[-less] chase with lots of big explosions. The town's windmill, for example, must have been packed with barrels of petrol or something. But that's the Americans for you.
StigmataLike Gabriel Byrne's other 1999 religious/supernatural thriller, End of Days , this movie starts with the assumption that the Roman Catholic Church is THE source of true knowledge about Christ. Of course, they both share the assumption that Christianity is true, so this means little. However, as the film progresses it lays open certain wounds in the Church's side ...
Byrne's character is both a Priest and a Scientist. He travels to a small church in Brazil to investigate a statue of the Virgin Mary that has wept tears of blood since the death of the village priest. The dead priest's rosary beads are stolen and sold to an American tourist, who sends them to her daughter [ Patricia Arquette ] in Pittsburgh. Arquette starts to suffer the Stigmata, the wounds suffered by Christ on the cross, and Byrne is sent to investigate.
Arquette's character is possessed by the dead priest, and starts to scribe a previously unknown document - a Gospel written in Aramaic, believed to be the work of Jesus BarJoseph Christ himself. However, such a document would undermine whatever authority the RC church claims to have, and thus Byrne's boss [Johnathan Pryce] wants to destroy the evidence ...
Beyond the possession scene that rips off Exorcist and Ghostbusters , this is a surprisingly good film. The evil priests angle is handled a hell of a lot better than in End of Days . This film is potentially more controversial than the disappointing Dogma , and goes far further in debunking Roman Catholic-type Christian superstition. Although there has been no reported censorship of it, and it was indeed partly filmed in the Vatican, it is worth noting that while Bone Collector and Sleepy Hollow [both of which feature numerous gruesome murders] are rated 15 while Stigmata is rated 18!
Bicentennial ManThis reviewer has read a number of Isaac Asimov books, though not The Positronic Man [the collaboration with Robert Silverberg that this film was based on], and after watching the film adaption he has no intention of doing so.
This film can be split into two halves, although not evenly over the 2 centuries.
The first half of the film sees Robin Williams [ Jumanji ] in a robot suit, owned by Sam Neill and family. However, Williams shows signs of sentient and sapient behaviour - a true A.I.! Neill helps Williams develop his intellect, and Williams raises the family's children. His favourite is little Miss, who grows up to be Embeth Davidtz [Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness]. This casting is part of the film's problem; she's a young Madeline Stowe, and thus cannot be taken for any age under about thirty. The elder sister canoodles with her biker BF while Davidtz gets married; are we to believe that a 30-something woman acts like a teenager, or instead that a 30-looking teenager gets married?
The second half of the film introduces robotic Williams to scientist Oliver Platt, who helps him develop prosthetics. The robotic features are replaced with Williams' own face. You see, Williams wants to be human. Not original - not to anyone who's ever seen Star Trek: The Next Generation - but it works within the story. He has fallen in love with the grandaughter of little Miss, again played by Ms Davidtz.
Platt is excellent, but the one outstanding character in the entire piece is the scientist's female robot assistant, Galatea.
Inspector GadgetThis is very similar to Bone Collector in several respects. The hero is destroyed from the neck down, and can only solve crime with the aid of a female assistant who he develops a romantic relationship. Also shared is the disturbing implication that community policing [the kitty rescue patrol] is not real policing.
Matthew Broderick [ Godzilla ] is his usual pretty-boy self, but in an interesting move he has to play the more interesting Evil Gadget.
Joely Fisher [ Carrie Fisher 's younger sister] has 2 roles - as Gadget's love interest Brenda [the doctor who re-built him] and the villain's robotic love-slave built in her image, Robo-Brenda. It is notable that though one character is a genius and the other a bimbo, Fisher's breasts are equally prominent when playing both.
Apparently Rupert Everett, the villain of the piece, has become extremely hot property in the USA after this film was released. On examination of his tongue-in-cheek performance there is no apparent explanation for this.
Return to the Millennium 2000 Special Page.
Return to the ORBzine Homepage.
© Speculator 2000-5