It's enough to make you want to cry

  • 2004-01-08
  • By Laimons Juris G
Tears of the Sun. This film tries to get away with murder, but from its very first Hollywood B-movie step it starts off on the wrong foot. The beginning part of this really weird drama has an aura of artificiality about it. Unfortunately, even the energetic, fast-paced second half can't shake that feeling.

Lt. Waters (Bruce Willis) is a Navy S.E.A.L. sent into war-torn Nigeria with his crackshot team to rescue four American missionaries. All of them refuse to leave until Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) says: "Yes, if you save my people, too." The tough Waters says, "Well, O.K. let's go." Then, when the rescue helicopters arrive, the lieutenant only wants to save Bellucci. Suddenly Waters changes his mind (again) and decides to save the good doc's locals after all, risking a court martial in the process - oh brother!
Well, needless to say, none of this phony hocus-pocus is believable. There is some terrific soundtrack music but this action flick lacks simple logic and credibility. If you are a true die-hard Willis fan then this is right up your four-letter-word alley.
** 1/2

In America. Johnny (Paddy Considine) and Sarah (Samantha Morton) along with their two young daughters Christy and Ariel (real-life sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger) arrive at the Canadian-U.S. border posing as tourists. But in this case they are simply a part of the new wave of contemporary Europeans looking for a better life. Back in the 1950s this reviewer's parents were also hopeful immigrants, seeking a new start in the U.S.A.. The only difference in this distinctive film is that the family depicted here happens to be Irish instead of Latvian and illegal instead of refugees arriving on a quota system.
The family finally finds an apartment in a dilapidated building in New York City. It's the only place that will take kids. Drug addicts, hookers and an angry, screaming artist named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou) inhabit the old brownstone.
The entire cast of little known performers is a marvel to behold, each actor is sympathetic and sincere. Hounsou is especially noteworthy for his dynamic, shiver-down-your-spine performance. It is nice to see a return to drama and storytelling in many of the new movies being made today. Partly based on autobiographical facts, director Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "The Boxer") has put together a sympathetic and believable tearjerker.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The most anticipated sequel in the history of filmmaking is a fitting conclusion to this brilliant and exciting trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's much-loved classic. Attempting to carry out his mission, Hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his friend Sam (Sean Astin) are being led into a trap by Gollum - the computer-generated Putin look-alike - who wants the evil ring of power ("My precious") for himself. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the others are preparing to battle the Orcs. They must create a diversion so that Frodo can get to Mordor's Mount Doom and destroy the ring.
You can almost feel the tension in the air as the epic fantasy unfolds. As in the first two parts, the ensemble acting is superb. However, it is Astin who practically steals this movie away from the rest of the talented cast. His moving and sensitive portrayal of Frodo's sidekick and shoulder to lean on will simply melt your heart. Director Peter Jackson filmed all three installments simultaneously in his native New Zealand and delivers an unforgettable entertainment experience. You cannot afford to miss this spectacular finale.

***** Excellent. Don't miss it!
**** Very good. See it!
*** Good. It's up to you.
** Average. Nothing special.
* Waste of time. Forget it.