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Dazed And Confused Review


Extraordinary
This film started a number of careers, and it's definitely a classic and a high moment in the career of director Richard Linklater (also known for Slacker, the disappointing Before Sunrise, and the new Waking Life).

It is an entertaining fictionalization of high school graduation weekend of the senior class of 1976 in Linklater's former home city of Austin, Texas. Jocks, rednecks, cheerleaders, stoners, frosh, and the other high school demographic groups are all lovingly and respectfully rendered on Linklater's canvas. Though I didn't graduate until the mid-'80s, I'm pretty sure that the amount of pot smoking is this film is not exaggerated. And as evidence of the director's commitment to brutal realism, Foghat's "Slow Ride" is heard not once, not twice, but three times before the end of the movie. Rock on.

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The Scorpion King Review


Unbearable
The Rock: One name symbolizes everything that can be defined as the stereotypical American male. Why? He's a gruff, tough-as-nails, merciless, and sexually magnetic savior of the free world. And he's huge on TV. And sure enough, The Scorpion King - the latest installment in the mind-numbing, insanely profitable Mummy series - is pure trash. Starring the aforementioned WWF superstar, The Scorpion King is filmmaking at its worst.

The Scorpion King ably rehashes the plots of the variety of other, better films including Gladiator, the Indiana Jones series, Flash Gordon, Beastmaster, and even The Goonies. Set 5,000 years ago, a warlord named Memnon (Steven Brand), acting on crazed Napoleonic urges, ravages the land and bends its people into totalitarian rule. With the aid of a seer who foretells the future, Memnon stands invincible against all aggressors.

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Dark Blue Review


Grim
Call it L.A. Confidential lite. In Ron Shelton's derivative new police corruption drama - adapted from a story by Confidential scribe James Ellroy - Kurt Russell stars as Sgt. Eldon Perry Jr., a self-professed gunslinger who sees himself as a noble warrior charged with cleaning up his beloved city's streets. A member of the LAPD's elite Special Investigations Squad, he's the kind of guy who freely expounds on the depravity of L.A.'s lower classes with a barrage of bigoted epithets, and feels no pangs of conscience when gunning down unarmed suspects in back alleys. According to Perry's tunnel vision logic, a criminal is a criminal, and worrying about the vague, inconsequential differences between each one is not only a waste of time, but a disservice to the community he's trying to save.

Unfortunately for Perry, it's April 1992, and not a very good time to be an arrogant, white LAPD officer. The Rodney King trial has set L.A. on the precipice of Armageddon, and the verdict - to be announced imminently - has become the focal point for a metropolis simmering with class and racial tension. Perry, however, has more pressing matters to worry about. His partner, a wet-behind-the-ears rookie named Bobby Keough (played with baby-faced blankness by ex-Felicity hunk Scott Speedman), has screwed up an arrest, and Perry - always looking to back up a fellow brother in blue - has killed the defenseless perp (with Keough's gun) rather than letting him escape. The film begins with both officers knee-deep into lying their way through an eight-hour inquiry, since Perry has decided that his incompetent protégé should take the heat for the killing anyway. As far as Perry is concerned, one's first shooting inquiry is a right of passage - a baptism into an immoral system that's primarily sworn to protect and serve its own members.

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Down To Earth Review


Terrible
There are times when a remake feels more like a ripoff. The Chris Rock comedy Down to Earth is a perfect example. Based on... no, xeroxed from 1978's Heaven Can Wait, it's a string of dull fish-out-of-water scenes held together by someone else's script.

The "someone else", in this case, are Elaine May and Warren Beatty, screenwriters of that earlier romantic comedy, which itself was a remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan. But Beatty and May crafted a fresh story with a modern update and some sex appeal, while paying homage to the old version. Down to Earth is just a much weaker version of the same movie.

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The Mummy Returns Review


Terrible
That darn mummy!

Stab him, burn him, unravel him (or whatever Brendan Fraser & Co. did to him in the original; I can't even remember)... he still keeps coming back!

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The Mummy Review


Unbearable
Normally, when a movie is really bad, the best part of watching the film is watching the previews. When watching The Mummy, Stephen Sommers "not-quite-a-remake-but-really-is" of the 1921 version, I didn't even get that satisfaction. I think one of the previews was good, but not good enough for me to remember its title. I remember that Jan de Bont is coming out with a new chic horror film called The Haunting or something equally cheesy, which looks to be worse than his last one. I also remember seeing a preview for a new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that didn't even dare put his name on it after him having been in the double-trouble combination of Eraser and Jingle all the Way.

So, when the movie was as bad as the previews, I was not a happy camper.

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Michael Review


Weak
I have a theory about Michael. Take Groundhog Day, substitute William Hurt for Bill Murray. Substitute Travolta as an angel for the groundhog. Take out all the time travel stuff. Oh, and take out the funny stuff. Same movie.

Hard Target Review


Terrible
Hard target my ass.

Of all of the dumb action flicks that I have seen, Hard Target is perhaps the easiest target of all to hit. It sits there, a bloated animal on the silver screen, waiting for some nasty critic to take pen to paper and kick it until it stops moving... and I suppose that job would fall upon yours truly.

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The Jackal Review


Weak
If you can get past Diane Venora's laughable turn as a Russian agent (isn't that why we have Lena Olin?), you might find enough guilty pleasure in the cacophonous remake The Jackal to have a good time. Bruce Willis chews even more scenery as the villain than Richard Gere does as his Irish nemesis. Together they end up with quite an impressive body count -- watch especially for an early performance from the always entertaining Jack Black.

Tombstone Review


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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The Hunted Review


Grim
Director William Friedkin has a great track record for examining his characters' inner turmoil as they battle the forces of good and evil. Friedkin is best known for pitting a mother, a detective, and a priest against the devil inside the little body of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. But some of Friedkin's best work can be seen in the action thriller The French Connection, where he transcends the raw power of the action film genre into something highly sophisticated and thought provoking. Thematically, The Hunted is comparable to Connection. However, those expecting Friedkin to deliver another quality action picture like Connection will be sorely disappointed.

The film opens during the war in Kosovo as highly trained hand-to-hand combat assassin (or "tracker") Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) carries out his military assignment to murder a high-ranking official. He receives a silver star for his valor, but he is scarred and haunted by the widespread images of genocide. Like Rambo, his adjustment to civilian life is difficult as he finds himself unable to turn off his instinctual killing machine. He ends up hunting the forest outside Portland, Oregon looking for and killing in cold blood anyone betraying the credo of PETA.

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The Gift (2000) Review


Grim
Maybe Paramount held back on giving The Gift a wide release during the Christmas season to avoid too many reviewers saying, "This Gift is a holiday lump of coal..." or something like that. If so, good call.

The latest from Sam Raimi (For Love of the Game) is a muddled thriller, filled with tired clichés and some of the worst casting in years. Raimi, along with screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, try so hard to create a "serious" psychic chiller that the film is practically drained of any excitement.

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A Simple Plan Review


OK
I'll come right out and say it. Fargo was a better movie. The camera angles, landscaping, and feel you get from the story all represent 1996's Fargo. The two movies have many similarities. The heroine is naïve, yet capable and pregnant. The town they live in is small, covered with snow, and everybody knows your name. The initial murder in the film snowballs into more. Everyone wants the money for themselves (that happens to be a kidnapping ransom). I could go on but I don't want to bore you.

Bill Paxton stars as Hank Mitchell, a normal every day kind of guy. Hank, his moronic brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob's friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) find a crashed plane filled with 4.4 million dollars one day and decide to keep it. Well, kind of. Hank is the smartest of the three and he thinks it would be a good idea to keep the money until the plane is found, then disperse it among themselves. Here come the murders.

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Mallrats Review


Weak
Well, the long-awaited Mallrats is here at last, and sadly, the perfect twentysomething romantic comedy has still yet to be made. Writer/director Kevin Smith follows up his hilarious first film, Clerks, with this, the second in his so-called New Jersey Trilogy. It's second not only in sequence, but a distant also-ran in quality, too.

Mallrats tells the story of two mostly-losers, T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee), who manage to lose and regain their respective girlfriends, Brandi (Claire Forlani) and Rene (Shannen Doherty), in one long day at the mall. Along the way, the pair has a series of big adventures with cops and security guards, a game show organized by Brandi's dad (Michael Rooker), comic book creator Stan Lee, and the returning characters of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself). Where all this was supposed to go, I'm not too sure. But I think it was supposed to be about relationships, and I think it was supposed to be funny.

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Dazed And Confused Review


Extraordinary
This film started a number of careers, and it's definitely a classic and a high moment in the career of director Richard Linklater (also known for Slacker, the disappointing Before Sunrise, and the new Waking Life).

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James Jacks

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