Movie reviews - 2004-05-27

  • 2004-05-27
This issue:- To Kill a King- The Day After Tomorrow- Ghosts of the Abyss

Movie reviews

To Kill a King
Director: Mike Barker
The year is 1645, and England is wrecked by civil war. King Charles I has been overthrown by General Thomas Fairfax (Dougray Scott) and his deputy, Oliver Cromwell (Tim Roth). The film follows the love/hate relationship between these two brothers in arms. The first is divided between his loyalty to his king and his strong conviction that change is needed. The other is overcome by mad delusions of grandeur. Here, the fighting doesn't take place on the battlefield, but inside castle walls between politically scheming minds. This is a tale of how lust for power corrupts men, and a fascinating depiction of just how big a crime it was to bring down the king, God's representative on earth. The knife-sharp performances and an intelligent script make this a solid piece of film-craftsmanship. III 1/2
Julie Vinten

After the English civil wars of the mid-1600s Oliver Cromwell (Tim Roth) beheaded the reigning king, Charles I, while taking control of England, Ireland and Scotland as the leader of a military dictatorship. Cromwell's place in history is controversial, the subject of heated debate among historians even today. Sir Thomas Fairfax (Dougray Scott) had a sensitive nature. He was a popular general in the Parliamentarian ("Roundhead") army. He did not approve of the appalling execution of the English king, which shocked the world. It's unfortunate that some good performances are wasted in this confusing, irrelevant movie. Rupert Everett is almost unrecognizable as he steals every scene as the doomed king. One question will keep rambling through your head - why in the world was this motion picture ever made? I 3/4
Laimons Juris G

The Day After Tomorrow
Director: Roland Emmerich

Special effects have become a good deal better since Emmerich made "Independence Day" but "The Day After Tomorrow" is still quite similar to that movie. This time around, though, it's not aliens, but the results of global warming which threaten to eliminate the world with the arrival of a new ice age. The movie's core elements are foolish heroism, sickeningly trivial dialogue and basically all the disaster-movie cliches in the book. Yes, this movie is a criticism of U.S. environmental politics, but it hardly helps when the story is paper-thin and none of the characters is truly involving. The special effects and production design are undoubtedly remarkable, and perhaps everything else could have been forgiven if the movie was excessively entertaining. But it isn't. II 1/2
Julie Vinten

Who would have guessed that a story about climate change could be so engaging? If this reviewer's memory serves him correctly, it appears that a film without explicit sex, gun-blazing violence or four-letter words can actually be entertaining. It's a well-known fact that the world has been consuming fossil fuels at an accelerated rate. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influences the average global temperature through the greenhouse effect. "The Day After Tomorrow" demonstrates quite believably what could happen because of man's carelessness. The actors wade through their cornpone lines with aplomb, but the real stars of this spectacle of worldwide disaster are the overwhelming special effects. Leave your brain at the door, sit back and enjoy the new Ice Age happen in front of your eyes. IIII
Laimons Juris G

Ghosts of the Abyss
Director: James Cameron

The story of the magnificent Titanic, which sank in 1912 and caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people, is an exceptional, tragic and amazingly true story. It is also a much better story than this somewhat forgettable documentary about it. After his giant feature "Titanic," James Cameron set out to further investigate the ship's remains. The documentary doesn't provide much exiting new information since the feature, but the 3-D effect makes it stand out from other sub- aqua docs. The ship's former grandeur can truly be felt when seeing it so close-up. The doc is a little too easygoing when the boys are ecstatically showing off their super-cool deep-sea shooting equipment. In some places you wonder if this is about the Titanic or about Elwood, Cameron's awesome ROV. II
Julie Vinten

Director James Cameron made a bundle from his over-rated "Titanic" seven years ago. Apparently he is still hopelessly obsessed with the ill-fated luxury liner. However, this time around Cameron devotes a sluggish 70 minutes, plus millions of dollars' worth of space-age technology, to show the sunken ship at the bottom of the north Atlantic Ocean. Once again we are invited to relive the harsh facts of the ship's tragic demise. Narrated by Bill Paxton, "Ghosts of the Abyss" is a meandering documentary originally shot in IMAX 3-D. There are no wraparound screens in the Baltics, so you can only watch it with special glasses. The first 25 minutes are fun indeed, but the movie rapidly sinks into lethargic monotony. Great for a quick snooze, just don't snore too loudly. II
Laimons Juris G