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Earthquake Review


Good
The land-based counterpart to The Poseidon Adventure provides the same decay of civilization, the same mix of jaw-dropping special effects (remember, no CGI in these days) and cheese, and the same George Kennedy. With names like Heston, Roundtree, Bujold, and Greene (Lorne), the film has plenty of star power to manage its obvious plot: The Big One strikes L.A., and a handful of stories play out in the aftermath. Some are inspired (a group of office workers attempt to escape a crumbling high-rise) and some are absurd (Roundtree is a stunt motorcycle driver whose wooden track falls apart). The stories roughly interlock, but the impressive effects steal the show, not to be outdone by some amazing howlers, like the crudely animated blood that "splatters" on the screen when an elevator falls to its doom. Priceless. (The movie had four Oscar nominations, won one, and got a special achievement award for visual effects. On DVD, the sound is awesome.)

Touch Of Evil Review


Essential
God, I love Charlton Heston movies. He can always be relied on to give an, er, square-jawed performance. He's appropriately square-jawed here, with a pencil-thin moustache and a swaggering demeanor. Yes, sir. You want to make a compulsively watchable movie, you throw old Chuck a bone and cast him in the lead role.

On top of that, Touch of Evil makes him a Mexican! I love it! Charlton Heston plays a Mexican detective!

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The Omega Man Review


Good
There's an entire subgenre of science fiction flicks from the '70s which feature Charlton Heston in a futuristic setting. Nowadays, these films work mostly as camp or kitsch (with the possible exception of Planet of the Apes). Soylent Green is one of those movies I suspect few people haven't actually seen. Many know it from that hilarious Phil Hartman sketch on Saturday Night Live, where he plays a hambone Heston who continually flubs his line. It's pretty funny in the actual movie, too: Heston flails his arms and screams, "Soylent Green is people! It's peopppppllllleeeee!" All right, maybe you had to be there, but to me, that's pretty hilarious stuff.

Finally, we have The Omega Man, based on a popular Richard Matheson science fiction novel entitled I Am Legend. I'm surprised that this film hasn't become part of pop culture, since it features Heston as the last virile hero on the planet (involved in an interracial romance -- a bold political move at that time).

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Planet Of The Apes (1968) Review


Extraordinary
The monkey movie that started it all and the only memorable picture to come out of the laughable and sometimes unbearable saga of talking ape movies, Planet of the Apes still beats with a steady heart 30 years after its conception.

This memorable adaptation of the novel Monkey Planet, authored by Pierre Boulle (the same guy who wrote The Bridge on the River Kwai), was brought to life by the infamous producer Arthur Jacobs, who eventually oversaw the production duties for the entire Apes saga. No studio except Fox would touch the project with a ten-foot pole, despite the participation of Rod Serling, who co-authored the screenplay adaptation of Boulle's novel (and which led to 30 drafts), Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter (Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire), and the amazing ape makeup by first-timer John Chambers.

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Any Given Sunday Review


Very Good
Football is as engrained in our society's mores as deeply as war, family values, and politics -- at least that's what Oliver Stone would like you to believe. To back up this statement, Any Given Sunday analyzes the effects of a culture that elevates professional athletes and coaches to a plateau where they are immortalized as heroes of the common man. Stone's football fairytale is a culmination of every anecdote, highlight, or soundbite you've ever seen associated with the pigskin, wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing Christmas package, and sealed with a kiss from team owner Cameron Diaz. Stone aims to please, and he doesn't miss a single cliché of the revered and scrutinized American athlete.

At its core, Any Given Sunday is the story of Miami Sharks coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino - The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon) and his two quarterbacks, Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx - The Great White Hype, Booty Call) and Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid - The Big Easy, Innerspace). The quarterback is the most vital position in the game. He is the team spokesperson and field chief, and he serves as a crucial link between coaches, administration, and players. When legendary two-time Pantheon Cup (aka: Super Bowl) champion Cap Bowman ruptures a disk after a bone crushing hit, coach Tony is left with Willie Beamen (Foxx), an athletic, yet untested QB. His team has lost four straight and appears to be plummeting in a downward spiral with the playoffs right around the corner. He's got delusional team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) and sports analyst Jack Rose (John McGinley, doing his best Jim Rome impersonation) breathing down his neck because of his outdated coaching style, and a team of players he's losing control of.

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Tombstone Review


Very Good
If Kurt Russell's handlebar mustache doesn't give you the willies, you need a bigger TV.

The definitive populist telling of the Wyatt Earp story, Tombstone has more fun with the story than traditionalist versions like Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp, with a younger, more crowd-pleasing cast -- Thomas Haden Church plays a bad guy; Jason Priestley is a deputy. And it's got more factual holes than the Clanton gang ended up with -- all in the name of serving up Good Clean Fun.

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In The Mouth Of Madness Review


Good
Curious recursive horror movie, in which mild-mannered Sam Neill is sent to investigate the disappearance of a massively famous horror author (Jürgen Prochnow). Turns out Prochnow's Sutter Cane is living in his own horrific imagination, and anyone that visits his town finds himself living there too. And Cane's world of hell is set to move on out to the rest of the world when his latest book (and movie) come out. Neill is effective but sidekick Julie Carmen (who?) comes off as the poor man's Talia Shire. Overall this is a relatively original riff on the genre, and worth checking out for horror fans looking for a bit of a new spin.

The Big Country Review


Very Good
The Big Country is a Big Movie, long, majestic, and filled with Shakespearean overtones. This William Wyler western has never found classic status, but it's a worthwhile and very well-made production. Charlton Heston steals the show as the ranch foreman to a wealthy landowner feuding with his neighbors; Gregory Peck makes a minimal impression as a sea captain who arrives on the scene to marry the ranch owner's daughter -- only to get caught up in the squabble. Burl Ives (yes, Burl Ives) won an Oscar for playing the neighbor, Rufus. This one's been lost to time for the most part, but Wyler fans will eat it up.

Bowling For Columbine Review


OK

Point for point, I agree with just about everything mordant muckraker Michael Moore has to say in his gun violence documentary "Bowling for Columbine," but pardon me if I shoot the messenger (ooh, the horrible pun!) for his propagandist approach to the subject that comes close to crippling his credibility.

Inspired in part by the 1999 school shootings in Colorado that lend the film its title (teenage gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went bowling before school the day they killed 12 classmates and a teacher), this film is a potent and sometimes profound bully-pulpit examination of the extent of our nation's propensity for violence, and a quest for the problem's roots. In the tradition of his General Motors-haranguing sardonic-umentary "Roger and Me," Moore travels the U.S. and Canada interviewing city officials, riding along on training missions with the Michigan militia, and opening an account at a small-town bank where free checking also comes with a free firearm (no fooling).

The man has a talent for giving his interviewees just enough rope to hang themselves, like James Nichols -- the borderline-psychotic brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols -- does when he gladly volunteers that "it's an American responsibility to be armed." Soon thereafter he jokingly puts a loaded gun to his head before launching into a conspiracy diatribe that almost has him foaming at the mouth.

Continue reading: Bowling For Columbine Review

Cats & Dogs Review


OK

Why do so many boy-and-his-dog type kiddie movies have a scene at the end in which it looks as if hero hound has died, only to have the critter spring back to life after half the kids in the audience have started crying?

Do moviemakers get some kind of twisted kick out of messing with the wee ones' heads?

No doubt it doesn't do any permanent damage, but this complaint occurred to me during just such a scene at the end of "Cats and Dogs," a fairly formulaic CGI-enhanced live-action adventure of slowly diminishing fun about a secret, millennia-long feline-canine war to take over the world.

Continue reading: Cats & Dogs Review

Charlton Heston

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Charlton Heston Movies

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Planet of the Apes (1968) Movie Review

Planet of the Apes (1968) Movie Review

The monkey movie that started it all and the only memorable picture to come out...

Any Given Sunday Movie Review

Any Given Sunday Movie Review

Football is as engrained in our society's mores as deeply as war, family values, and...

Tombstone Movie Review

Tombstone Movie Review

If Kurt Russell's handlebar mustache doesn't give you the willies, you need a bigger TV.The...

Ben-Hur Movie Review

Ben-Hur Movie Review

To hell with Gladiator.Scratch that. Ben-Hur is no stupid gladiator movie. As the title...

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