Saturday, May 31, 2003

A Video Review of "The Lathe of Heaven" (1980)

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This production based on the Ursula K. LeGuin novel and starring Bruce Davison (Willard, Six Degrees of Separation, X-Men), Kevin Conway (Black Knight, The Funhouse) and Margaret Avery (The Return of Superfly, The Color Purple) was brought to the small screen in the early days of public television. It remains legendary as one of PBS’ greatest dramatic accomplishments.


The story is that of George Orr (Davison), a man whose dreams come true. Whatever he dreams becomes reality. After a suicide attempt he comes under the capacity of Dr. Haber (Conway) who upon learning Orr’s secret uses it to change the world.

However george’s mind doesn’t play fair. Haber tries to end racism, everyone turns gray. He wants to stop overpopulation, a plague kills six billion people. He tries for peace on earth, aliens attack the moon. In each case Haber gets a bigger nicer office and eventually his own dream institute.

A brilliant novel and a brilliant film. It is a great production considering the budget constrictions of PBS at the time. The unique synthesized score is also of note.

Definitely catch this if you can.

Friday, May 30, 2003


A Video Review of "Free Enterprise"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This movie is so chockfull of geek cool if it had more cursing in it I would swear this was the work of the master Kevin Smith.

Free Enterprise is the story of a group of friends, who happen to be film geeks, comic geeks and Trekkies, approaching their mid-life crises. There also the added feature of William Shatner who apparently is making quite a career in films portraying himself. He’s very good at that and I’m only being 50% sarcastic.

Amongst offering his standard get-a-life advice and getting help for his own woman problems Shatner wants to do a rap musical version of "Julius Caesar." Don’t laugh. It’s funny but it’s true and it pays off. Wait for it. "No Tears for Caesar" by The Artist Formerly Known as Shatner is an experience that cannot be lived without.

The for the most part unknown cast also includes big name Eric McCormack whose role and performance here is so excellent and different from his work on "Will and Grace" that it’s a shame he’s been stereotyped there. Phil LaMarr is also in the film but as his geek work as the cartoon voices of superheroes Green Lantern and Static should cement it’s no surprise he took the part. Big surprise here is the return to work of "Too Close for Comfort" star Deborah Van Walkenberg who’s actually very good although decades older.

As I said this is a geek movie. It has references overflowing from its cleavage. I can’t imagine any ‘normal’ person walking in from the street and even understanding this masterpiece. Only a geek would get everything from "Star Trek," Logan’s Run and Basic Instinct to Fellini, scary 1980s new wave music and Mighty Isis action figures from Mego. It’s a geek’s paradise and it also has a good plot, good acting and is an altogether great movie. And only a geek could appreciate the wet dream-like fantasy of meeting a hot chick in a comics shop while fighting over a "Sandman" hardcover.

The only thing I didn’t like – the threesome – seems like it was put in just to say Ha! Geeks do have a sex life, and a full one for that matter. This is bothersome. As the geeks who made the movie and the geeks they made it for well know, everybody has sex, whether everybody else knows it or not. This seems a bit too much to press the point. Regardless I hated all two minutes of the threesome. And for all you perves with your finger on the pause button, it’s not even worth your time. It’s a plot point.

Do not miss the end credits. Extra points to the geek who gets every reference. They are the best credits this side of Airplane! and in some cases funnier than the film itself which is hilarious – don’t miss. I love this movie.

Rating: *****

***** Must see
**** Worth seeing
*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…
** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?
* A bullet would be quicker.

Thursday, May 29, 2003


A Film Review of "The Cell"

Copyright 2001 Glenn Walker

Virtual reality, cyberspace, inside the human mind, the imagination. In a sci-fi movie these are all excuses to get hot chicks in hot outfits. Mix in some hokey plot, a perverse serial killer and Jennifer Lopez, shake well and you have The Cell.

Jennifer Lopez plays a child psychologist who uses VR to enter the minds of her catatonic patients and help them. There’s your set up and the excuse for million dollar (well spent) special effects.

The concept: Vincent D’onoffrio in one of his more disturbing roles is a serial killer who likes to kill his female victims by timed remote control drowning. He goes comatose with a victim still out there, J-Lo has to enter his mind to find the girl. Detective Vince Vaughn comes along for the ride.

There’s your plot, much more difficult to explain than to understand. In the flick it flows much better. The VR scenes are both visually mind-blowing and disturbing. The evil mind of the serial killer contains such bizarre imagery if you aren’t completely under the spell of suspension of disbelief you might start thinking what kind of nutjob would come up with this twisted stuff.

And of course, the best part, a hot chick in hot outfits. Thank you, Jennifer Lopez.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


A Video Review of "Ed Gein" also known as "In the Light of the Moon"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The real Ed Gein was quite a piece of work. In late 1957 he was convicted of necrophilia, cannibalism and of course murder. He was perhaps America’s first famous serial killer. He was the inspiration for both Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and to a degree probably Tom Harris’ Hannibal Lector. Who knows, he probably inspired other real serial killers as well.

The film Ed Gein opens and closes with real footage of the real man, his arrest, his neighbors and his home. In some ways this verification that it really happened is more startling than what appears at first to be just another horror movie.

Of course most of the movie is speculation because for the time Gein spent in a mental hospital until his death in 1984 he said little and, unlike predecessors like Charles Manson, never talked to the press. As far as based on truth this film suffers from the same disease as Oliver Stone’s Nixon, no one was around to witness most of the scenes depicted.

Ed Gein is ably played by the creepy Steve Railsback who also coincidentally played Charles Manson in the TV mini-series "Helter Skelter." Gein’s domineering mother is portrayed by horror veteran Carrie Snodgress (Silent Night, Deadly Night, The Fury).

It is slow at points but very involving. It is a matter knowing what’s coming and not knowing what’s coming, a kind of a twisted suspense as demented as the film’s subject. There are some disturbing images recreated by prop folks as far as Gein’s house, furnishings and ultimately Gein’s hallucinations and the murder scenes themselves. The horror is more in the truth than on the screen.

See it at your own risk. Gein may be the inspiration for today’s serial killers but he was also one of the worst as well as the first.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003


A Video Review of "The Kid Stays in the Picture"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Robert Evans is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Without him such classic films as The Godfather, Rosemary’s Baby and Love Story would never have been made. He ran Paramount Studios. He has been involved with some of the world’s most beautiful and famous (and not so beautiful and famous) women. The scandals of his life have been tragic and the talk of the town. He also created such dogs as Popeye and the remakes of The Saint and The Out-of-Towners. He is the inspiration for the Robert Vaughn character in S.O.B. and the Dustin Hoffman character in Wag the Dog. His personal exploits are mythic and his life has been immortalized in The Kid Stays in the Picture.

Unfortunately he is also the lord of bullshit. You can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. It seems like maybe he was still using the cocaine that led to his downfall when he wrote the book this film was based on. We are always treated to Robert Evans’ take, always his opinion, always his mix of myth and truth. The Robert Evans quote that opens the film states his philosophy on lying that it serves everyone differently. How true.

We start at the beginning following Evans’ career from his discovery by Norma Shearer at a Beverly Hills swimming pool to star as her late husband Irving Thalberg in 1957’s The Man with a Thousand Faces with James Cagney to his tragic downfall with the failure of The Cotton Club in 1984 surrounded by lurid cocaine and murder scandals regarding the death of filmmaker and drug dealer Roy Radin.

The details in between include his proving himself to Daryl Zanuck that he could play the bullfighter in The Sun Also Rises from which the documentary’s title is taken; Zanuck’s quote. We also see him get Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra divorced to finish Rosemary’s Baby, him bagging both Ali MacGraw and Love Story to save Paramount Studios, him battle endlessly with Francis Ford Coppola over The Godfather, the triumph of Chinatown and the failure of The Cotton Club.

The Kid Stays in the Picture is worth sitting through if only to hear Evans’ humiliating voiceover imitation of Mia Farrow. A fun drinking game can be made of how many times he says, "How could I have been so fucking dumb?" Hmmph. Easily. Did I mention he was the lord of bullshit?

No matter what was really true or really false kudos have to be granted to directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen because they have created a documentary so compelling you forget you’re watching a documentary. The graphics, clips and fades are extraordinary, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Bravo for making a masterpiece out of lies.

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Monday, May 26, 2003


A Video Review of "Donnie Darko"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Jake Gyllenhaal is most often confused with Tobey Maguire. He was even up for the role of Spider-Man which Maguire ably snagged. He’s done some eclectic films in the past from Bubble Boy to The Good Girl. Eclectic is where he parallels Maguire. Maguire’s early film choices were quirky as well and this is why I believe big things are in store for Jake Gyllenhaal.

Jake plays the title role of a disturbed young man haunted by his delusions which started when a jet engine fell into his bedroom, no really. Also featured here are the always amazing Drew Barrymore as a put upon but well meaning English teacher and the interestingly cast Patrick Swayze as a motivational speaker whose psychobabble has infected a local school district. The science teacher Noah Wyle is as good here as he is as Dr. Carter on "ER." Capable but good.

Set in 1988 it has a wonderful 1980s new wave soundtrack. The principal standout is a quiet mellow version of Tears For Fears' "Mad World" at the end of the film. Powerful.

Donnie Darko is a tale of a disturbed young man who begins to follow the directions of a six-foot rabbit named ‘Frank.’ Now just back off before you begin to make any comparisons to the classic Jimmy Stewart film Harvey. This is a whole different animal. Frank gives young Donnie orders of a sociopathic nature getting him into more trouble than your usual high schooler.

This dark story descends from there into a spiraling vortex of delusion and science fiction. It keeps you guessing from one moment to the next as to what is really going on until the shock ending. Very disturbing, enthralling and must see.

Sunday, May 25, 2003


A Video Review of "Enough"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Enough. Haven’t we had enough of this type of movie? I mean, we’ve seen this before, right? Husband beats wife, wife gets even. The Burning Bed and Sleeping with the Enemy did this before but Enough is a step up.

* Spoiler Warnings *

The movie is constructed well, the vignettes labeled with chapter titles in a way we don’t see anymore in feature films (well outside of Kevin Smith, that is). It does well to disguise how episodic Enough really is. This is a good thing, turning your disadvantages into advantages.

For the first hour we are sailed through an almost never-ending catalog of places and characters but as I said we don’t mind with the structure of this film. Like the villain of the piece, Enough is built like an action thriller even though it may or may not be.

The tough thing about a movie like this is you know going in that the husband is an asshole. It kind of takes all the suspense away. You can’t even bring yourself to like the character even when he’s the nicest sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. That said, Billy Campbell is properly evil as the abusive husband. He is as diabolic as any super-villain or world conqueror in a different genre of movie.

It doesn’t matter what Jennifer Lopez is in or what she’s doing, the camera loves her. Even here where we’re led to believe she’s ‘not that attractive’ it’s a tough suspension of disbelief call. It’s always nice to see Juliette Lewis in a part where she’s not mental. She’s rational, wrong-minded in some cases, but rational. Fred Ward is, well, he’s always Fred Ward, and he’s good for what little screen time he has.

The real surprise here is Noah Wyle of "ER" fame. He exudes that same Dr. John Carter charm we see every week and we get the impression that maybe he’s a one note actor. He turns out to be as evil and manipulative as his buddy Billy Campbell. It’s a great performance.

In the last twenty minutes or so after some belief-stretching Batman and James Bond-ian preparation and training J-Lo tries to get even with her husband. I have to stop at this point and wonder how much the writer, the director and even J-Lo wanted this to be a superhero movie. Hmmm…

Other than the obvious anti-domestic abuse and woman empowerment statements there’s also another lesson being taught here. Money and power can get you anything. Between the evil Billy Campbell and the good Fred Ward money is able to buy technology, training, surveillance and even police. Scary but true.

Whatever this movie wants to be or pretends to be one thing stands true – it’s good. Check it out. It’s worth it.

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Saturday, May 24, 2003


A Film Review of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This was a very fast movie or at least it seemed like it went by fast. This is a good thing. To me, one of the signs of a bad movie is when you start looking at your watch.

As opposed to the first installment Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, there seems to be quite a bit omitted from the book but it should also be noted that the first book is the shortest and they all get longer from there. I’m sure no one wants to see movies longer than three hours.

There’s no set up for this one. If you’ve seen the first film you know what’s up so here they just jump in and go for it. You know the players, you know the score, hold on for the ride.

The tone is darker and the story is more energetic. The flying car is exciting, the kids are settled into their roles and Voldemort is more menacing if not as horrific as in the first film. The special effects are top notch which again is no surprise. You can feel the spiders as they approach on the screen.

As stated before the child actors have grown into their parts. The viewers no longer think of them as the actors playing Harry, Ron and Hermione but actually as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Kenneth Branaugh is exactly as I imagined Gilderoy Lockhart to be. Richard Harris is Dumbledore, it’s a shame he won’t be in the next films.

Darker, yes, more exciting, yes, even more anticipation for the next one, yes. Bring it on. A year is too long to wait.

Previously published at Comic Widows

Friday, May 23, 2003


A Video Review of "House on Haunted Hill" (1999)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

William Castle, the director of the original House on Haunted Hill was a marketing if not film genius. All of his movies were gimmicked. From special ghost glasses to insurance papers to nurses in the lobby to the granddaddy of them all – wiring seats for electric shock for The Tingler, he was the man. Sadly this remake of one of his lesser classics would have fared better with a gimmick or two.

It has a simple plot, very hard to wreck even in the context of a remake. Guests are invited to a haunted house and offered money if they can survive the night. The house then of course proceeds to wipe them all out in nasty but rating-sensitive ways.

The casting is interesting. Geoffrey Rush, Peter Gallagher, Famke Jansen and Taye Diggs all play one note characters which is especially bad for Rush who is capable of so much more. The casting of "Saturday Night Live" veteran Chris Kattan was very disturbing for me. Besides the point that I have never found any of his antics funny it was hard to take him seriously here when I could not erase images of his SNL ‘monkey boy’ act from my mind. And it’s nice to see Lisa Loeb doing anything at all.

There are numerous nods in this flick to other William Castle masterpieces probably due to the fact his daughter co-produced the new version. Unlike that other haunted house remake The Haunting out the same year which turned out to more art film than horror film House on Haunted Hill is much more accessible, geared to a younger crowd and even has a sense of humor along with its original horror intent.

The new House on Haunted Hill isn’t the original classic and it’s not the best at what it does but it is definitely worth a look.

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Office Killer


A Video Review of "Office Killer"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

It’s like an evil twin to Haiku Tunnel or Office Space in that it’s just as hilarious as those films but in retrospect I think it’s supposed to be a horror movie. Whatever. It actually works as both.

Carol Kane (Simka of "Taxi") plays Dorine, a mousy proofreader who has been downsized and then accidentally electrocutes the office computer guy (David Thornton who distractingly looks just like Jimmy Fallon’s similar character from "Saturday Night Live"). Once she gets a taste of killing she proceeds to off the rest of the office staff.

When not absorbed in her work and job Dorine takes care of her ailing mother. Her performance here is disturbingly close to that of Bruce Davison’s in the classic Willard or Scott Jacoby’s in Bad Ronald. Carol Kane is highly underrated.

Molly Ringwold (always a pleasure to see she’s still doing movies), Michael Imperioli (nice to see him outside "The Sopranos") and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Rene Russo’s perennial stunt double) round out an impressive cast.

Now I’m sure anyone who works or has worked in Cubicle Hell is cheering Dorine on. Me too. It’s a delicious road to murder and wish fulfillment. See it but try not to live it… unless you’re sure you won’t get caught.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


A Film Review of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace"

Copyright 2001 Glenn Walker

George Lucas doesn’t need any money. He has more money than any of us paeans could spend in our entire lifetimes. He doesn’t have ex-wives or gambling debts or any drug habits. So money is not a motivation. Why did he make this movie?

Other than the infamous Moulin Rouge (notably the absolute worst film ever made), this is the worst movie of the year 2001. This is a year rife with cheap productions, schlocky horror movies, teen sex comedies and stuffy independent films – all the crap that usually sucks – and this, the opening chapter of the most acclaimed sci-fi movie franchise of all time, takes the suck award by a light year.

That is not to say that all of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is all bad. There are bits that are impressive. The opening sequence is amazing and shows us what real Jedis can do as opposed to the self-taught like Luke Skywalker. Jedis should not be messed with – they are cool. With this fact checked at the start it’s just sad that the flick goes downhill from here.

The matte paintings of the exotic locales are impressive as is the wonderful pod race both taking advantage of the financial miracle that is the CGI of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic. The problem is if I wanted this alone I could have bought a picture or a video game.

The cast is serviceable. No one shines but nor do they embarrass themselves. With the effort that Lucas supposedly put forth in the casting process one might think we’d get better actors or at least better performances from the actors we got. All involved are capable of much better though.

The major problem with a prequel is that your audience knows where you’re going. There are no surprises. At that point it’s the job of the director to create surprises… the problem here is that the surprises are pulled out of his ass. Star Wars was made in 1976 and supposedly George Lucas has had the concept since 1969. So why does Episode 1 feel like it was written over a drunken weekend last month? Lucas ignores continuity established in the Star Wars trilogy and even on occasion seems to make stuff up. Hello??

The story is see through from the beginning. Anyone who didn’t know where this mess was going immediately probably also didn’t know Amidala and Padme were the same person. Don’t get me started on Annigan Skywalker. No father? So he’s the messiah? Hmmm, so who do you think is going to win the pod race? The evil cheating racer or the messiah? Groan. And I never want to hear the word ‘midichlorians’ again!

And speaking of cheating, what Jedi voluntarily participates in lying, stealing and gambling? Aren’t these supposed to be the good guys?? Why didn’t Darth Vader recognize R2D2 and C3PO in the original movie? He did, after all, create C3PO. It all just makes my head hurt.

Alien voices. I have to wonder if Lucas is a closet racist when confronted with the alien voices. With such a creative mind and unlimited technology at his disposal why do the aliens sound like bad 1930s impressions of Fu Manchu and Steppin Fetchit?? What is that about?

I have come to the conclusion that the real ‘phantom menace’ here is George Lucas himself. He is too greedy for his own good in doing more Star Wars movies when no script exists superior enough to match what has gone before and has no respect for his fans. For some sick reason he has seen fit to sabotage his own creation.

All I know for sure is that if I ever run into George Lucas on the street, I’m going to punch him in the mouth and demand my eight bucks back.

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Tuesday, May 20, 2003


A Film Review of "The Matrix Reloaded"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Those incapable of the simple task of suspension of disbelief will hate the sequel to The Matrix and The Matrix itself as well for that matter. That also goes for those of you who fancy yourselves film fanatics –you know who you are. You know that Cool Hand Luke and The Day the Earth Stood Still are both allegories about Jesus, you know that Dinosaur is really The Ten Commandments and Barb Wire is really Casablanca. You write reviews while you’re still watching the movie. You – you are not going to like anything about any of The Matrix Reloaded. My advice to you is to relax, watch the movie and enjoy the ride. You’ll live longer and be happier.

It’s also a middle part of a trilogy. The Matrix Reloaded is The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future Part 2 for a new generation. Don’t expect a resolution this time around – it’s to be concluded. If you get pissed off at these type of endings – be pre-warned.

This is a fun movie. It is an okay action flick and an okay sci-fi flick but what makes this movie is the style. Plot, acting and pacing aside The Matrix Reloaded is 80% style and that style is sooo cool. It succeeds in what it set out to do – just be cool.

The Matrix Reloaded is eye candy in a whole new universe of eye candy. As much as the original film raised the bar for special effects, the sequel doubles the ante. The action sequences will leave you breathless. Neo’s fight against the multiple Agent Smiths in the park is what fight scenes in the Batman films should have been all along. The freeway chase scene that culminates in a fight atop a moving truck is so intense it’s unlikely to be duplicated or improved any time soon. As I said, breathless.

It does what a sequel should. Bigger, better, more more more. We get more character development, we meet new characters and explore more of the established universe, we get more of what made the original good (in this case the action) but turned up a notch or two and we get explanation of what has happened so far and why. The Matrix Reloaded delivers all required and more. We see the city of Zion, the relationship between Trinity and Neo and we get an idea of Neo’s powers as The One.

The sequel to The Matrix is not perfect however. The dialogue is stiff and slow at points. The acting sometimes is just as wooden. The clothes worn by the residents of Zion is strangely reminiscent of "Battlestar Galactica" or Logan’s Run, it’s a difficult comparison that distracts more than decorates. The council concept too reminds one of "Galactica" where it should perhaps bring to mind the Jedi Council of Star Wars. Regardless the bad is overwhelmed by the good in this film.

The Matrix Reloaded also did something for me that I respect from sequels. I hate superhero movies (no non-sequitor, folks, make no mistake this is a superhero movie) that spend half the movie setting up and telling the origin of the hero. Damn it, give me a ten second throwaway line of dialogue for an origin or set-up and then get to the action and the story. That’s the way they did it in the good old days of the movie serials. Here’s the hero, just accept it and get over it and get on with it.

The Matrix is a serial and the sequel picks up the action immediately, no explanations for the latecomers – get with the program (pun intended) and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it is. As Keanu Reeves in his former role as Theodore Logan Esq. might have said himself, "Whoa!"

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Sunday, May 18, 2003


A Video Review of "28 Days"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Where the hell is this movie going? It's all over the damn place.

It starts out with a hilarious scene of a drunken Sandra Bullock (The Net, Miss Congeniality) doing a great Foster Brooks imitation and ruining her sister's wedding. I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. This is followed up by her intro into rehab which she hates and takes it out on everyone including the audience. Now we hate her too.

At this point we are asked to have sympathy for this pathetic whiny bitch we have been made to hate. Nope, I assure you, that ain't gonna happen. Aw, she has to scrub toilets, I'm thinking that's not a bad enough punishment for what she's put me through for the last half-hour.

When the movie turns into a romance (?Yeah, where the hell is this piece of crap going?) later on, you really couldn't care less. I hate her. I hate this movie. I certainly am not going to root for her to get the guy of her dreams (Lord of the Rings' Viggo Mortenson) now.

After that, who knows and who cares. I've seen this mess three times and fallen asleep every time. That should tell you something. Run right out and buy this tape so you have it around for your next bout of insomnia. Warning, you will have to put up with at least an hour of this directionless drivel.

I can really only recommend this (other than as a sleeping pill) for the opening scene and Steve Buscemi who does his usual Steve Buscemi best. Otherwise, miss this.

The above previously published at Project: Popcorn

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me at

Saturday, May 17, 2003

The Good Girl


A Film Review of The Good Girl

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly says "A comedy of winning delicacy and heart." Andrew Johnston of Us Weekly says "A fantastic performance from Jennifer Anniston with range and depth." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says "Sly, comic and touching." All I want to know is... WHAT MOVIE DID THEY SEE????

All I have to say is screenwriter Mike White is a genius. He managed to screw me out of eight dollars, get me into a theatre playing a Jennifer Anniston movie and make me sit there for 93 agonizing minutes. This is easily the worst movie I have seen this year. It almost makes Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace palatable. Ten minutes in I was screaming "Good God, will it ever end?!"

The multi-talented (Can you smell what the Rock is cooking? Yes! That's right, it's sarcasm!) Jennifer Anniston plays a white trash retail cashier who cheats on her no good pothead husband (John C. Reilly of Gangs of New York and The Perfect Storm) with a sociopathic young writer (Jake Gyllenhaal of Donnie Darko and the equally brilliant Bubble Boy) who also works with her.

Jennifer Anniston's idea of depth is staring off into space for moments at a time. Who said being married to Brad Pitt hasn't taught her anything about acting. I would say Jake Gyllenhaal was good if he didn't play the same character in every movie he's in. The one or two actual funny lines that Zooey Deschanel utters over the store loudspeakers are not worth the hell of sitting through this piece of crap but she has the charisma to maybe make something of herself.

Toward the end of this merciless marathon I prayed for someone to come out of the darkness with an axe a la Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl and kill them all. Probably the only good thing about this experience was that I didn't have to sit through previews of Blue Crush and Swimfan. Now, wait a minute... that might have been an improvement. Rating: *

***** Must see

**** Worth seeing

*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…

** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?

* A bullet would be quicker.

The above previously published at Project: Popcorn

Friday, May 16, 2003

The Rookie (2002)


A Film Review of "The Rookie" (2002)

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

What was the last G-rated movie that wasn’t Disney or animated? I’m thinking we have to go back to 1976 or 1977 with Grizzly Adams or Wilderness Family. Well, here we go again, but surprise, this was good – remarkably good. I’m no baseball fan and certainly no Dennis Quaid fan. I wouldn’t want him to fall into a wood chipper like say Robin Williams or Billy Crystal but neither am I his cheerleader. He does admirably as Jim Morris, an excellent performance surrounded by excellent performances.

The old folks in the town, the kids on Quaid’s baseball team and especially his wife, father and son are all played by wonderful supporting folk. The stand out however is Trevor Morgan who plays the young Jim Morris and was previously seen in The Sixth Sense and had a recurring role on "ER." This kid is going places.

This one is of course another based on a true story but untainted by the hand of Ron Howard so I think it’s probably pretty accurate. It blends the triumph of Rocky with the magic of The Natural and a twist of Field of Dreams thrown in for good measure. It runs a bit long but you really don’t feel it because it has a good flow. I’d see this one again, in all its good natured inoffensive G-rated glory.

The above previously published at Project: Popcorn

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Thing (1951)


A Video Review of The Thing from Another World (1951)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Up until the crazed John Carpenter 1982 remake this sci-fi classic was known as The Thing. It was changed to its original full title to differentiate from its much different modern counterpart. That is to see there’s nothing wrong with the John Carpenter version, it’s just different. Comparing the two would be like comparing Humphrey Bogart’s Desperate Hours with Mickey Rourke’s. It will only make your head explode.

This original Thing based on the award-winning short story "Who Goes There?" by sci-fi writer John W. Campbell Jr. is as I said a classic. Credited as being directed by producer Howard Hawkes’ assistant Christian Nyby it is generally believed to have really been directed by Hawkes. After all in the 1950s no real director would have anything to do with trash like science fiction. The skill of the direction is a dead giveaway.

A military base in the Arctic staffed with a cast that will become stereotype for sci-fi and horror soon enough is plagued by a giant killer carrot that lives on blood. Trust me, it’s much cooler than it sounds. We have the military man, the scientist, the reporter, and the woman, covering all the bases. Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer and Margaret Sheridan are excellent, as is James Arness in an early role as the title monster.

This movie is from a wonderful school of sci-fi horror films, like the original The Haunting and Curse of the Demon where the less you show the better. The thrust of this one isn’t to jump out at you or gross you out it’s the paranoia of who can you trust. The Thing could be anybody, could be anywhere, what happens next? Very Cold War, very cool.

And of course, always remember… "Watch the skies."

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Wedding Singer


A Video Review of The Wedding Singer

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This one has got so many things that should make me hate it. It's got karaoke, it's a sappy love story and most of all it's got Adam Sandler - the kiss of death. But, I do kinda like it, if only for Drew Barrymore.

I think I might actually even pay to see Ms. Barrymore read the phone book in a muumuu. Even though Adam Sandler is in this, it is better than the phone book muumuu thing.

I love 1980s music, not enough to listen to radio stations that program eighties music (sorry, there's only so many times a sane mind can hear "Hey Mickey" and "Safety Dance" in one day before going on a shooting spree) but I did grow up in the time so it holds a warm spot in my heart.

Sandler doesn't use any stupid voices or act mentally retarded and is tolerable as The Wedding Singer who falls for a waitress (the irrepressible Drew) about to get married. Everything works out for the best (duh) and we get a lovely cameo by Billy Idol (my god, that must be one hell of a painting he's got in his attic) who helps Sandler court Drew and a whole lot of eighties music. This soundtrack is like a K-Tel album from hell.

Christine Taylor (Marcia of The Brady Bunch) is sexy as ever and Steve Buscemi (as always) steals the movie by being the Steve Buscemi-est. And don't miss the old lady doing karaoke of "Rappers Delight." Get the DVD, corny as it sounds, the DVD has karaoke and it's funny.

Come for the music, stay for the Drew, you won't regret it.

The above previously published at Project: Popcorn

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
or the Internet Movie Database at

Contact me here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003


A Video Review of "Tarantula" (1955)

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This sci-fi classic starring Hollywood great John Agar is about what all 1950s sci-fi flicks are about. Cold war scientists’ experiment goes awry and mankind suffers. This time it’s a giant tarantula terrorizing a southwest desert town. What sets this apart from other movies of its kind is its sound. The sound of the spider itself. This is the creepiest spookiest sound I have ever heard. I have no idea if spiders really sound like that but it still gives me chills. When this classic comes on late night TV and that sound starts – the lights come on.

Monday, May 12, 2003


A Video Review of "Startup.Com"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

From start to finish we watch Tom and Kaleil build their dotcom business It’s an absorbing documentary about the rise and fall of the dotcom industry from the inside. We see high school best friends with a great idea climb the ladder of success and then fall apart as bitter rivals. It’s a lot better than it sounds and wonderful ‘character’ study painted in reality TV colors. Between the subtleties of their multiple relationships to the intricacies of their business dealings we live vicariously through Tom and Kaleil. Don’t miss.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Special Report: Journey to Mars


A Review of "Special Report: Journey to Mars"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I looove stunts like this. I love Orson Welles’ "War of the Worlds" broadcast and have listened to numerous times. I even like the contemporary version NPR did using traffic reporters from a few years back.

When I ran a video store I took great delight in putting in a tape called Special Bulletin which was produced by NBC in the early 1980s. Special Bulletin told the story in nearly real time with real commercials interspersed of terrorists nuking Charleston, South Carolina. I thought it was a blast that we’d always get a handful of customers glued to the TV monitor thinking it was real.

So this is my kind of thing, that’s why I loved Special Report: Journey to Mars as well. Structured like CNN broadcasts of recent wars and other events we are live witness to the first manned mars landing in the year 2005. Of course they play down the time frame in case someone comes in in the middle and get sucked in.

It’s very easy to get sucked in. The drama is high as we find that the mission has been sabotaged by terrorists who want money spent on problems here on earth rather than the billions it took to get to Mars. The attack is both biological and technological as the mission’s captain is struck down by an infection and the ship’s navigation systems affected by a computer virus.

The effect of a real news broadcast is only ruined by the casting of Judge Reinhold and Alfre Woodard as journalists but otherwise it is an excellent illusion. I wish there were more shows like this. It runs on HBO from time to time. Catch it if you can.



A Film Review of Scooby-Doo

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Being a comics fan there is a terror that I know only too well. It is the fear that a work from one genre (usually comics, but sometimes in this case a TV cartoon) will be brought to the big screen and altered in such a way to destroy it or make it unrecognizable. Ask any comics fan what they thought of Batman and Robin or Superman III and you might get some grasp of this terror. Hollywood hates comics and cartoons, that’s just the way it is.

Scooby-Doo is the exception. Its opening scene is the cartoon series. It’s as if the characters were lifted from Hanna-Barbera land and made flesh and blood – it is beautiful. And then the unthinkable happens. They evolve. The Scooby Gang grows up, they are changed by circumstances, they become three-dimensional. This is a win/win situation. The fans get the folks they’ve already fallen in love with and new movie people get real fleshed-out (pun intended) characters.

The story concerns the Mystery Inc. crew (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and his CGI rendered talking pooch Scooby-Doo) reuniting to investigate a haunted theme park that seems to be brainwashing the youth of America. It pretty much could have been lifted right out of the cartoon and yet fits perfectly in the movie context. The cast is perfect especially Linda Cardellini as Velma when she trades in the bulky sweater for a low cut shirt.

There are lots of nods to the cartoon like references to Shaggy’s possible drug use, Fred’s strange fashion sense, Daphne always getting captured and Fred and Velma’s questionable sexuality. All in all this was a lot of fun and really, what more can you ask of in a movie? Go see it, you’ll enjoy it.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

The Glass House


A Video Review of The Glass House

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Remember all those ABC movies of the week from the early to mid-1970s? You know, stuff like Trilogy of Terror and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? Or how about all those cautionary tales with teens babysitting for psychos, nannies who steal families and young girls who hitchhike with serial rapists? Wow, the 1970s were great, weren’t they? Sarcasm mode off.

The Glass House is a throwback to those movies of the week, but that’s not a bad thing. It is the story of two children orphaned in a sudden car accident and taken in by old family friends. *Spoiler Warning* As it turns out the whole thing was a scam to get money. The new foster parents are as evil as any that might be found in an ABC movie of the week.

LeeLee Sobrieski is amazing here as she is in most flicks. The only problem I have with her is one that can’t really be helped. She is such a dead ringer for Helen Hunt that it’s distracting. I wonder if they’re related? The brother is played by Trevor Morgan who did such a great job in The Rookie and The Sixth Sense.

The suspense is real and despite plot comparisons much more real than your average Lifetime Network flick or Afterschool Special. See it. An underrated thriller for all.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Regarding Henry

A Video Review of Regarding Henry

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Harrison Ford is one of the best living actors today. Everything he appears in bears a certain standard of quality and his skill as an actor is always top notch. Such is the case with Regarding Henry.

Unlike other actors in similar roles; Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hulce in Dominick and Eugene, Sean Penn in I Am Sam, Adam Sandler in all his films; there’s an unwelcome urge to laugh at the mentally challenged. Here, with Harrison Ford, that doesn’t happen. Here you can only marvel at his performance.

Ford stars as Henry Turner, an evil lawyer (is there any other kind?), who is shot in the head and goes into a coma. Upon awakening and rehabilitation he becomes a new man, a kinder, gentler and much better husband and father. We watch him confront his past and his sins and make a new start.

Annette Bening as Henry’s wife and Mikki Allen as his daughter hand in equally excellent turns. Bill Nunn as Bradley the physical therapist gives the performance of his life and makes you wonder why we haven’t seen the like since.

This is an excellent film that should not be missed.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Eyes Wide Shut


A Video Review of Eyes Wide Shut

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

It is so sad that this Stanley Kubrick’s last film. While his style is apparent throughout – the story, what there is of it, is pitiful.

I also feel like a voyeur watching Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman touching and loving each other so intimately. It’s possible that I wouldn’t feel this way had I not known they were married in real life. That fact lends a rather disturbing edge to the film.

Nicole gives such a stunning performance that it makes Moulin Rouge (the worst film ever made) seem like a step up. Husband Tom has never been so wooden and deadly dull. Two other actors might have made something better of this.

We also get to see so damned much of Cruise and Kidman (yeah, I’m complaining about nudity, I can’t believe it but I am) that you get sick of it. It’s like the kid who gets caught smoking and as punishment is forced to smoke an entire carton. I don’t want to see Tom or Nicole nude ever again.

The film is also long, freakishly long. There are long sequences without music that make Meet Joe Black seem like a cartoon short. The silences are deafening in their length. These scenes might actually be part of Kubrick’s secret plan to make us feel like we’re eavesdropping, if so, it works only too well.

What this film has to say about relationships between men and women and trust and fidelity may be entirely viable but it’s defeated by the choice of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles.

Again, it is such a shame this is the master Stanley Kubrick’s final film. And especially that he couldn’t hire a composer who decided to practice the scales rather than write a score.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


A Video Review of "Brother"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

When it comes to Japanese gangster cinema Beat Takashi is The Man. As a director he is a masterful genius, as an actor he is invincible. He strides through this movie like Clint Eastwood through a 1960s Italian western – no one can touch him.

In Brother he comes to America and ruthlessly takes over territories and kills competition making friends and enemies as he goes along. This movie takes all the action of Hong Kong, all the attitude of gangsta rap, all the violence of American Mafia flicks and all the clever cool of the Britmob pics and mashes it together into a fine wine of cinema.

It’s "Stranger in a Strange Land" meets Goodfellas. Very violent, visually exciting, excellent cool. See it.

Warning - the above trailer is very violent and may be inappropriate for most audiences. It's also very indicative of what you'll see in the flick itself.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

X2: X-Men United


A Film Review of X2: X-Men United

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Being the real comics geek that I am it’s not hard to find things to like about the second X-Men film. What amazes me is how accessible it apparently is to non-comics folks.

Before the credits had run at the end of the film my wife spoke up to say she liked it – rare when it comes to comics-related stuff (she gets enough of that stuff from me). My friend Marni said she liked Nightcrawler so much she wanted to hug him. Two young girls behind us in the theatre discussed the original film before the previews started. One hadn’t seen it so her friend described it to her. "It’s so complicated, you don’t understand what’s going on, there’s too many characters… but it was sooo cool. You just gotta see it!" They were suitably impressed afterwards as well.

My amazement comes from that none of these folks are comics people. X-Men somehow works in the mainstream against all odds. It is actually a good movie. Unlike the first film which was (hell, it had to be) a lot of set up and had to introduce a dozen or so characters plus the whole mutant concept and premise for the X-Men the sequel had room to move, to expand, to explore.

X2: X-Men United focuses on one storyline and a specific group of characters. It keeps it light and tight. Rather than being overwhelmed by too much information you can sit back and marvel at what you’re seeing. This is much better than the original.

Magneto and Mystique are suitably evil and strictly out for themselves even as they work together with their sworn enemies the X-Men. The tales of Wolverine and Rogue continue to evolve as we get deeper focus on minor characters from the first film Iceman and Pyro. The movies, like the comic books, establish a soap opera like continuity that made the comics so successful.

Anyone who hasn’t taken the dive and seen this movie or its predecessor I urge you to immediately. Don’t be put off by the geek factor. Don’t think you’ll turn into a comics freak or worse yet a Trekkie. You’ll just enjoy the flick like everyone else. It’s accessible, it’s entertaining and it’s amazing.

Monday, May 05, 2003

My First Poetry Event

A Review of My First Poetry Event

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I’m not a poetry guy. Yeah, I’ve written poetry, yeah, I’ve read it and yeah, I’ve got plentiful friends who do this stuff. But it’s not me.

After numerous (far too many to count) invitations to poetry events and poetry slams I broke down and went. It was local, it was promoted on my writers group ( and it was being organized by good friend Linda of Blatant promotion mode off. Also having been ill and down and out for quite some time I wanted to see some good friends I had neglected for some time.

Poetry makes me think of two things: puppies and rainbows, and shock and politics. Knowing my darker inclinations one might guess which one I enjoy more. I was hoping it would more the latter than the former.

The venue, Port City Java in Deptford New Jersey, is quite nice in comparison to a lot of coffee shops I’ve been in. It has the familiar stuff; the coffee bar, the pastries, the tables and such. It also has a gift shop with candles and chocolate – and in the back where the event was to take place, a large open room adorned by the wonderful art of So Young whose oil and acrylic mastery of young ladies and flowers is amazing.

I arrived late and was greeted by dear friends; Sharona, Jim, Lisa and Linda, who coincidentally make up the local vocal center of Writer Circle. Checking out the rest of the folks there I was relieved to find no aging beatniks snapping their fingers. Cliched I know but it was a fear. These were normal people interested in sharing creativity – exactly the reason I was there.

Linda, Sharona and Jim all did wonderful readings as did a young man named Steve Paul who was truly amazing. I hope to see more of his work. Having had such a good time this past Sunday I believe I’ll be attending on a weekly basis. It was a lot less painful than I thought it would be – it was actually very cool.

Battlefield Earth


A Video Review of Battlefield Earth

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

I hated this the first time I saw it. Now I like it a lot.

It’s very retro – like the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers movie serials of the 1930s. You have very clearly drawn lines of good and evil. You have a hero Johnny (Barry Pepper of The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan) to root for and a villain Terl (John Travolta whose heart and soul went into this project) to hiss and boo.

It’s great action but typical sci-fi cliché (not unlike the thousand-plus page book it’s based on). Against all odds it is enjoyable. It smacks of old movie serial in the same way the original Star Wars trilogy does.

The reason I didn’t like this film initially was probably all the backstage crap. Yes, it’s based on the aforementioned book by L. Ron Hubbard and yes, it is chockful of Scientology philosophy and yes, most of the cast are Scientologists but. But you have to put that aside when you watch. It turns up the enjoyability factor quite a few notches if you do.

The cast is very convincing and the effects top notch. They even succeed in realizing the considerable size difference between the humans and their alien foes the Psychlos. Forrest Whitaker is particularly good.

John Travolta is over the top as the villainous Terl. It should be noted he had this project on tap for so long that at one point he was slated to play young Johnny, now he’s too old.

Forget the Scientology angle and give this one another shot. It’s very good.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Armitage III

A Video Review of "Armitage III: The Polymatrix"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This is typical anime; cyberpunk, robots, chicks with big eyes and blood and guts. What sets Armitage III apart from the rest is the Americanization of the flick. It’s not just dubbed, it’s dubbed by star voices. Rather than the regular crew of folks who always dub these things this one has employed the celebrity vocal skills of Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls and "Saved by the Bell") and Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys and "24").

The problem with celebrity dubbing is that sometimes a voice is too familiar. Sutherland’s character is black-haired so I had a problem associating the voice with the character with his voice. I had similar difficulties with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Alec Baldwin.

The only thing that takes you out of the flick is the disproportion of the leads. Sutherland is portrayed very realistically while Berkley is your typical petite scantily clad anime babe with big eyes. It may be the style but it becomes most irritating after awhile.

The story involves a serial killer offing robot women on Mars with Sutherland and Berkley as the officers investigating. Even with the cyberpunk and ultraviolent anime trappings this has the distinct feel of an American buddy cop movie. Good story, great characters and involving story, all around a well done piece.