Three Boring Movies

Three boring movies opened in Triangle theaters last weekend. Sigh.
Perhaps a movie's greatest failure is the failure to entertain-- that
single, extraordinary misstep that can never be recovered.  For once the
audience is asleep, the only sound left in the theater is the surround-
sound wail of a fat lady singing somewhere in the distance...


The dopey title credits are a warning not to take things too seriously,
and, sure enough, in the very first scene of this Roger Donaldson (NO
WAY OUT) sci-fi feature, covert government scientist (is there any other
kind?) Ben Kingsley botches an attempt to gas a little girl.  She es-
capes from the lab because somebody left a door open, and, more impor-
tantly, because she's a little monster who was grown from a DNA sequence
received via intergalactic e-mail.  Faster than you can say "what the
hell were you thinking, Hugh?," Little Miss Dangerous makes it away from
the compound, hops a train to L.A. (where else?), and transforms into a
sexy adult terror (Natasha Henstridge) overnight.

Meanwhile, Ghandi is recruiting a team of experts that includes a
sociologist, a biologist, an empath (!), and a "specialist." (The latter
is played by Michael Madsen, not Sylvester Stallone.) They're a fun lot,
and though they don't have a lick of common sense between them, they
bring a unique flavor to a film that's already way too derivative to
begin with.  (Think THE FUGITIVE meets ALIEN.) Of course, said novelty
quickly wears thin as each character grows more stupid the longer they
stay on-screen.

Prolonged exposure to this movie apparently affects human brain cells.

Grade: C


This one fares better, a bit better, because it's more coherent. Three
writers are credited with this retooling of the Arthurian legend that
plays like a pitch from a Hollywood power-lunch.  Connery as Arthur!
Ormand as Guinevere!  Gere as Lancelot!  Though quite the tidy affair
under the assured hand of director Jerry Zucker (GHOST), the film is
really as uninspired as the title.  (FIRST KNIGHT?  First in what??)
Most of the mythology has been jettisoned in favor of a chaste love
story with action sequences.  Excalibur?  Merlin?  African swallows??
Forget it. This is a polite Camelot where the dashing hero, Lancelot, is
an existential wanderer who's better with a sword and a horse than ye
olde English accent.  Think of Eroll Flynn as Roy Rogers.

Grade: C


Then there's SMOKE, which unites director Wayne Wang (THE JOY LUCK
CLUB), author Paul Auster ("The Music of Chance"), and a handful of
characters at a Brooklyn cigar shop.  We meet three at the beginning:
store owner Auggie Wrenn (Harvey Keitel), writer/customer Paul Benjamin
(William Hurt), and teen lifesaver Rashid (newcomer Harold Perrineau).
There are other characters, played by other cast members including
Forest Whitaker, Stockard Channing, and Ashley Judd, all of whom lead
interconnected lives with interconnected meanings, and none of which I
paid much attention to while asleep.  The film finally shows a pulse at
the beginning of the second hour, when Ashley Judd makes her appearance
as Wrenn's crackhead daughter.  And that's just about the time that my
date and I decided to leave.  What a drag.

Grade: W/O

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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