It’s worse than that, you’re dead Jim, dead Jim, dead Jim. Or are you? The List reviews the new films opening this fortnight and wonders if the Final Frontier has really been reached.
I Black Beauty (PG) The thought of giving the most famous horse in children’s literature a voice — and particularly that of Alan Cumming — might sound rather twee to some. but Caroline Thomson‘s past record contains some of the most intelligent children‘s films in recent years. In her scripts for The Secret Garden. [fr/ward St'issor/rurtcls and The Nightmare Before Christmas. she tapped into the dark current through which kids often view the world. Here. tnaking her directorial debut. she keeps close to the spirit of the novel. setting the pace at a gallop. and intriguing adults as well as younger viewers. See preview.
I Heavenly Creatures (18) In 1952. New Zealand was shocked by the murder of Honora Parker. What made matters worse and fuelled tabloid media frenzy was that the gory deed was carried out by the woman‘s teenage daughter and her schoolfriend. Despite director Peter Jackson‘s back catalogue in slapstick gore — Bruinrleml, Burl Taste —
. Heavenly (.‘I'eutures does not dyell on the more lurid details of the crime. Instead. the imaginative fantasy worlds of the girls. their surprisingly close friendship and the growing divisions between child and parent are examined in a sympathetic light. Sec prev1ew.
I Leon ( 18) When his neighbour‘s family is wiped out by crooked cops on a bungled drugs bust. ice cool hitman Leon finds himself looking after the sole survivor — twelve- year-old Mathilde. Luc Besson‘s first film in English is. nevertheless. a French ﬁlm in terms of style. editing and its boldness in story and theme. Jean Reno and Nathalie Portman are excellent; as the number one bad guy. Gary
()ldman is way over the top. But it‘s good to see that Besson. who occasionally is guilty of all-ster-no-content filmmaking. has at last found a balance between the visuals and the emotional development of his characters. See feature.
I la Heine Margot (18) Forced to marry the Protestant Henri de Navarre (Daniel Auteuil) in order to calm France’s religious wars. the Catholic Marguerite de Valois (Isabelle Adjani). is thrown into a world of persecution. injustice and hatred. Only six days later. however. the St Bartholomew‘s Day Massacre occurs. guided by the hand of the viciously scheming Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi) and leaving thousands of Protestants dead. Perhaps a tad gory for the costume drama crowd. its a subtitled spectacle that is remarkable in its scope. See preview.
I Totally F""ed Up (18) ‘Lifestyles of the bored
RUDYABD KIPLING’S THE JHNELE 8.09!
t I i . t
The Jungle Book: ‘Tarzan meets Indiana Jones' Disney’s new live action adaptation of Kipling’s well-loved stories may well
of the 1967 animated version, but it more than makes up for it by being one of the best matinee-style action movies for kids in recent years. Unlike those other big screen adaptations of famous novels that trumpet the 1 author’s name in the title - trying to convince us that this is the most faithful version — Stephen Sommers’s film doesn’t have Kipling’s talking bears or panthers. Instead, it’s more
. the buffoon; leading the hunt for the
lack the appealing animal characters ! man who can bring with him an appeal
like a cross between an early Tarzan movie and an Indiana Jones adventure.
Separated at an early age from his Indian father, a guide for the British Army in India, young Mowgli (Jason Scott Lee) is brought up in the wild by a group of friendly animals. Soon he learns the secrets of the jungle, including the location of a mythical monkey city filled with treasure. Several years later, now all rippling muscle and Ioincloth, Mowgli again comes into contact with his former childhood friend Kitty (lena Headey) and her mustachioed father (Sam Heill). But greed leads some caddish British soldiers to mutiny, kidnap Kitty and force Mowgli to take them to the hidden city.
The cast are undoubtedly having fun: as the army doctor, John Cleese plays
treasure, Cary Elwes plays the pantomime English bounder; as the befuddled captain, Sam Heill is happy to play up the caricature, and in the , role of Mowgli, Jason Scott lee proves that he is a brilliantly physical leading
beyond mere looks. He’s been Eskimo (Map Of The Human Heart), Chinese (Dragon), Polynesian (Hapa Hui) and now Indian. As far as Hollywood is concerned, ethnicity means versatility. (Alan Morrison)
The Jungle Book (PG) (Stephen Sommers, US, 1994) Jason Scott lee, lena Headey, Sam Heill. 112 mins. From Fri 17. General release.
and disenfranchised' reads
one of the captions in Gregg Araki‘s latest. a film far more entertaining and competent than The Living End. The group of LA teenagers at the heart of this fragmented film are a post-punk gay crowd. not hi-energy queens or disco trannies — Araki is quite clear about his rejection of
mainstream gay cinema.
And so what we have is. in fact. a film that addresses the problems of Generation X more closely and succinctly than the rest of America‘s slacker output. Araki's idiosyncratic mix of video realism and drama- documentary perfectly suits his subject. giving a new, freer voice to sidelined sexuality — and also a sense that audiences and those on screen are channel-surfing through life. See preview.
Going where no other Star Trek motion i picture has gone before - but not so boldly, given the increasing corpulence of Captain James T. Kirk
and the success of the new television series - Generations contrives to send Kirk off to meet his maker within the first five minutes. Yes, Kirk is dead. But will he return to save the day in the last reel?
As the next step in the long march that Star Trek has become, Generations comes complete with its own internal agenda. Each inanity uttered, each impossibility overcome and each lumpenly conceived plot development is a maze of self- reference, imbued with significances gathered over almost 30 years.
And as such, Star Trek Generations is a fair enough Trekkie movie. The out i with the old/in with the new i changeover from Kirk to Picard is smartly done. There are amusing surprises. The special effects are stunning. Recent technological I
Star Trek Generations: ‘a maze of self-reference'
' new Starship Enterprise’s equipment. .' Contemporary preoccupations with
innovations are well reflected in the
such issues as the media, refugees and drug-induced utopias are adroitly and wittin spun into the plot.
Strip away that background, however, and you find a film that really is no more than sub-standard sci-fi hokum. A mad scientist (Malcolm McDowell). intent on destroying a galaxy so he
can find a pathway back into his own 3 personal nirvana is confounded by a 3 Back To The Future-style twist, for heaven sake! Get real: this is the 1990s and such tosh does not wash. Where previous movies commented on seriously big issues, Generations’ only whiff of commentary comes through its frankly naff take on family values. (Thom Dibdin)
Star Trek Generations (PG) (David Carson, US, 1994) Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Malcolm McDowell. 117 mins. From Fri 10. General release.
Fluffy pups. cute kittens. horses. lion cubs. even killer whales — you can't go wrong with an animal star to keep the children smiling. oohing and aahing. This time it‘s the turn of a seal (played by a sea lion. it has to be said) to be the main source of laughter and tears.
Based on a true story and set during the early 60s in a small fishing town in Maine. Andre tells of the bonding between an orphaned seal and Toni (Tina Majorino). the seven-year-old tomboy daughter of harbour master Harry Whitney (Keith Carradine). The Whitney household is a veritable menagerie of stray animals and birds. all of which have in some way suffered from man‘s casual cruelty to other species. and it’s here that Toni — unpopular at school. dismissed by her pain-in-the-backside siblings — finds her real friends. But Andre is himself under threat. either from the fishermen who blame the drop in their catches on the seal population or from the government watchdogs who want to take him to the 'safety‘ ofan aquarium.
The film. directed by Australian George Miller who made The Man From .S‘nuwv River. contains the necessary elements — a chubby-checked cutesy. an intelligent animal. a likeable dad whose head is half in the clouds. The plot moves too swiftly between individual episodes. but it does balance its comedy and action nicely. In fact. given that Andre saves Harry from an unexploded mine and later rescues Toni from capsizing in a storm. he's more in the Rin Tin Tin/Champion The Wonder Horse/Skippy The Bush Kangaroo class. ensuring that there will always be a flippered hero around to save the day. (Alan Morrison)
Andre (U) (George Miller. US. I994) 'linn Mujurhm. Keir/r Currm/ine. (‘lte/xetl Field. 94 mins. From Fri /7. (It'llel'rt/ l'(‘/(’(I.\‘(’.
The List Ill-23 Feb l‘)‘)5 21