ORBzine Movie Reviews May 2002



The film starts as a typical cliched teenage-superhero-in-High School story, like Smallville . Peter Parker [Tobey Maguire - Pleasantville ] is a nerd who lusts after unattainable Mary-Jane [ Kirsten Dunst ]. After getting bitten by a spider he retires to his room, and excitedly admires his near-naked self in the mirror. He discovers his palms are very hairy and he can shoot long strings of sticky fluid from his appendage. Strangely his eyesight actually improves, so he becomes attractive by ditching his glasses.

After High School graduation we move on to the familiar old story of how Parker decided to become a vigilante. He uses his superhuman abilities to beat up people weaker than he is because he feels guilty about a decision he made which had unforseeable consequences.

The third part of the film concerns Spidey's conflict with a supervillain, the Green Goblin [Willem Dafoe - Shadow Of The Vampire ].

Sam Raimi does a reasonable job, but the film is more mainstream than his best works and the over-reliance on CGI SPFX weakens the movie. Fans of Xena: Warrior Princess will note that Ted Raimi and Lucy Lawless both get brief cameos.

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  • Dog Soldiers

    The movie starts in the Scottish Highlands. A couple of hikers pitch their tent for the night, and come to the kind of fate you would expect. They probably never saw Blair Witch Project ...

    The main section of the film concerns a squad of soldiers on a training exercise in the Scottish Highlands. They are led by Sergeant Sean Pertwee [ Event Horizon ], but the real central protagonist is his Corporal.

    The problem with the film is that it is a strange mix of realism and fantasy. The squad banter like real squaddies, but the military procedures they carry out are pure Hollywood. They are up against a unit known as Special Forces [for some reason never actually referred to as the S.A.S.], led by the stereotypical slimy politician type. The so-called Special Forces have nothing in common with the real S.A.S. - in fact, the squaddies are all thirty-ish career soldiers and therefore far closer to the real S.A.S. than their fictional counterparts!

    The film mixes brutal realism with tongue-in-cheek humour. This is an unhappy mix, and the result is something too cheesy to be horror and too gruesome to be a dark comedy. For example, one character gets vividly disembowelled but in the next scene he is running around!

    Audiences love the film's humour, but in this reviewer's opinion a far superior werewolf movie is Ginger Snaps .

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  • Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clones

    The movie starts with an assassination attempt on Amidala [ Natalie Portman ], now a Senator instead of a Queen. Yes, her two terms as Teenage Beauty Queen are over and she now follows in the footsteps of Senator Palpatine. Hmm.

    The Jedi Council assign Anakin [Hayden Christianson] and Obi-Wan [Ewan McGregor] to guard Amidala and discover who is behind the plot. Anakin and Amidala secretly begin an illicit romance, while Obi-Wan uncovers hints of a conspiracy ...

    All this builds up to an incredible climax. Though the film slows a bit in the middle, there are lots of swashbuckling lightsaber fights. The final battle is incredible, and we finally get to see Mace Windu and Yoda kick ass!

    George Lucas certainly seems to have learned from the mistakes he made in Phantom Menace . Jar-Jar only has a couple of scenes, though the role he plays in the overall story arc is something to watch for. We get a good set of villains, including a familiar-looking bounty hunter Jango Fett [Temuera Morrison - Barb Wire, FDTD 3: Hangman's Daughter ] and rogue Jedi Count Dooku [Christopher Lee - Dracula ].

    The result is somewhat superior to Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi , but does not approach the level of Star Wars IV: A New Hope . The use of CGI SPFX for most of the backdrops is as irritating here as in LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring , and the mass-combat scenes have far too much going on. The scenes with human actors are less than perfect, too. The dialogue is terrible, and the actors' performances are lacklustre to say the least. Christiansen is dreadful, and even Temuera Morrison manages to lose the underlying air of menace he gave off in every film he's ever been in. He appears harmless, physically unimposing, shorter than even Obi-Wan. It makes you wonder exactly what Princess Leia meant when she asked Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?.

  • Star Wars I: Phantom Menace
  • Star Wars IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi
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