Saw an unspeakably dreadful movie yesterday. The lead actor can't act his way out of biodegradable Hefty bag. He spends most of the film shouting, and is completely unconvincing as a real person. The film is touted as "science fiction" but is full of logical fallacies and absurd predictions. Some of the characters fly around with Flash Gordon rocket belts, emitting blue flames, which inexplicably don't set their pants on fire or cook their asses like rump roasts. The main character has his eyes surgically removed and replaced to avoid retinal-scan IDs, and then uses the old eyes (twice!) to get back into his former place of employment--a police facility that is supposedly hunting him relentlessly. Wouldn't the first thing they do be to (optically) "change the locks"? The psychic "precognitives" floating in an indoor swimming pool keep sinking underwater for long periods of time--no explanation is given why they don't drown. When one of them is removed from the pool after years of floating she has enough muscle tone and stamina to walk around the city for hours (assisted by the lead actor, but c'mon). When the precogs envision a future murder, a Rube Goldberg contraption carves a wooden ball on a lathe and sends it spiralling around a Plexiglas habittrail, zooming around curves and then coming right at the viewer: this serves no purpose except to be "cinematic": as if the viewers are all big babies who have to have objects dangled over their cribs to hold their attention.

More crap: The film envisions we'll have superconducting or MagLev transportation in place by 2054, with cars crawling down the sides of buildings and feeding into Hot Wheels-track spaghetti-bowls. This is a vision worthy of pulp "scientifiction" of the 1930s, which William Gibson brilliantly parodied in his short story "The Gernsback Continuum." When are we going to get past this model? The scenes of the lead actor jumping from hovercar to hovercar are completely fake. The chase/fight scene in the robot car factory is a swipe from the clocktower-battle in Hayao Miyazake's anime Castle of Cagliostro, a far superior film. There's some supposedly "noir-ish" stuff involving a Hannibal Lecter-like doctor and his "decadent" German nurse--an ethnic parody worthy of Mel Brooks. When the lead actor solves a precrime using projected images from the psychics, he "conducts" the pictures on a widescreen monitor with a virtual data-glove, like a symphony conductor waving a baton--this is pretentious and laughable and almost unbearable to watch. The movie borrows from dozens of better films but it's hollow at the core. The director hasn't made a good movie since the one with Dennis Weaver being chased by a Mack truck, and the lead actor has never made, and will never make, a good movie. Please don't go!

- tom moody 6-26-2002 8:31 pm

Them's fightin' words. Tom Cruise is a very good actor. He was great in Legend, Magnolia and that's right, Eyes Wide Shut to name a few.
(And mark my words, history will be very kind to Kubrik's brilliant last picture)
- steve 6-27-2002 12:17 am

As for Speilberg, kudos for bringing those images of the holocaust to the American cineplex. Yeah, Night And Fog is more powerful, and without the classic Speilbergian tear-jerk surprise ending manipulations but it never has and never will be playing at malls across the country.
- steve 6-27-2002 12:26 am

I respectfully disagree about SS. It's true that Schindler brought the holocaust to the cineplex, but only because cineplexes didn't exist in 1961 when Judgment at Nuremberg, a Hollywood movie with A-list actors and actual holocaust footage, played in theaters everywhere. SS's version was manipulative throughout: like that scene where all the naked people head fearfully into the showers and surprise--water comes out! Talk about cheap. In Empire of the Sun, based on JG Ballard's unrelentingly bleak book about a young British boy growing up in a Japanese concentration camp, SS adds a character of a little Japanese boy that befriends the protagonist. See, in the midst of the suffering of war, the infinite wisdom and generosity of children! In the book that same "friend" is the rotting corpse of a Japanese pilot. In the horrible ET, there's a lengthy bike chase ending with the alien using telekinetic powers to launch the protagonist's bike into the sky. Hell, if he had those powers, why have a bike chase? Because it's "real cinematic." I did like Duel, though.
- tom moody 6-27-2002 1:26 am

Thirty years and millions of witnesses had passed between Judgment At Nurenberg and Shindlers List.
I would never argue that Speilberg isn't prone to sappy romance, manipulation and hamfistedness.
- steve 6-27-2002 1:44 am

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