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Emperor's New GrooveThis is a wonderful film-length animation that works on two levels, for children and for adults. It starts with an excellent Tom Jones song, but unlike most Disney cartoons it is not a musical.
The protagonist [voiced by Tim Allen] is the self-centred Emperor of a South American Pre-Columbian civilisation. He manages to annoy almost everyone, including a harmless lama-herder [voiced by John Goodman] whose house he intends to destroy and replace with a winter palace. The Emperor then sacks his Grand Vizieress [voiced by Eartha Kitt ], who in return tries to poison him. Instead he is turned into a lama ...
The rest of the film consists of the Emperor-lama and the farmer getting to the palace while avoiding Ms Kitt and her henchman. On the journey the Emperor learns the moral of the story, which is ... well, I don't remember. Something sugary and smaltzy, I think.
Watcher, TheOh god no, not ANOTHER serial killer film, I hear you cry. But don't panic, this one isn't as bad as you might suspect. The cliches are there all right, but the script is surprisingly good. Not great, but still pretty good.
James Spader plays a former Los Angeles FBI agent who quit and moved to Chicago because of a serial killer case he worked on. He sees a psychiatrist [ Marisa Tomei ] twice a week, and self-medicates with multiple perscription drugs. But his life gets worse - he discovers the serial killer [Keanu Reeves - Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure ] has followed him!
Yes, the setup is familiar. The detective has a personal vendetta against the killer, and Ms Tomei is blatantly set up for an important role in the climax. However, there are some interesting aspects to the script. The killer's Modus Operandi is to stalk his victim, then send a photo of her to the detective. The victim will be killed that evening at 9pm exactly. This results in a race against time as the FBI and police try desperately to trace the women before they are murdered. At one point this descends to the cliched car chase scene, but this builds the excitement, rather than disappointing the viewer.
James Spader acquits himself well as the tortured, guilt-wracked Fed. Keanu Reeves is in relatively few scenes, which is a good thing. His part was badly written and badly miscast, and he is typically himself in it. Marisa Tomei only has a couple of scenes, but she is still attractive eye-candy so this reviewer will not complain.
The director does show a certain flair, but only in a couple of scenes. Specifically, certain scenes with Reeves seem inspired by The Crow - which indicates how good this film would have been if the director had followed that line of thought. On the other hand, shots from the killer's point of view are filmed in some kind of grainy medium that seems to imply that the killer's perception of reality is skewed. However, while the film hints at potential for greatness it is at best only above average.
Gift, TheKeanu Reeves is evil. Well, we all knew that once he did films other than Bill & Ted and purported to be an actor and a movie star instead of ... well, whatever he really is. Anyhow, hot on the heels of his role as a serial killer in The Watcher comes this movie, where he plays a wife-beating redneck.
Cate Blanchett is a widowed psychic who reads peoples' fortunes for a living. She has visions of events before they happen, including the deaths of people she knows or has met. Her life is disrupted by the disappearance of slutty spoilt rich-girl Katie Holmes , who actually disrobes for the part. That alone is worth the price of admission - which is a good thing, because the plot isn't.
Reeves is in the frame, but there are lots of other suspects too.
Compared to director Sam Raimi 's other films this is surprisingly mainstream.
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