new releases

Menace (U) 132 mins 7i: a

The Fox fanfare strikes up. A caption on screen takes us to 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .' John Williams’s Star Wars theme fills the room. Ah, the years roll away and the inner child emerges from us all. Which is just as well, because George Lucas's long-awaited prequel to his space saga appears to be more directly aimed at a younger audience than the universally

appealing episodes IV, V and VI.

Four decades before Luke Skywalker sets eyes on Princess Leia, Jedi knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to the planet Naboo as ambassadors in a trade disagreement. They discover something more sinister, however - the bullying Trade Federation is fronting an invasion of the peaceful planet - and smuggle to safety Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) via a trip to Tatooine. There, amidst the spaceship junkyard dealers and extra-terrestrial gamblers, they come across slave boy Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) whom Jinn is convinced has Jedi reflexes. Further conspiracies are uncovered, leading to a climactic confrontation between the Jedis and their

Tin soldiers: the Droid army in Star Wars Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom

.. -s_. 9, . ;.

devil-faced Sith nemesis, Darth Maul (Ray Park).

On the surface, the plot structure isn’t a million light years away from the original Star Wars. Twenty-two

years ago, however, Lucas showed a surer hand in letting his story unfold. The opening half hour will leave all but the hardened fans confused and itching to get into the real thrills and spills, while the much- anticipated final fight sequence lacks power because Darth Maul - for all his iconic make-up - isn't allowed to stamp his villainous presence on the film with the same

weight as Darth Vader. A major irritant is the Jedis' alien

sidekick, Jar Jar Binks, who has clearly been thrown in for kids weaned on Disney movies and whose patter - like an blaxploitation street pimp doing Roberto Benigni's Oscar speech is at times unintelligible.

But then there are the splendid cityscapes. the awesome computer-generated Naboo battle scene, the imposing Senate room, the white-knuckle pod race. In visual terms, The Phantom Menace stands alone in the cinematic universe. At times you'd think there was more animation than live action on screen - and maybe it's this toning down of the human element that has left the film lacking soul. (Alan Morrison)

a General release from Thu 15 Jul. See feature.


Game off: Max Beesley and Neil Morrissey in The Match

The Match (15) 96 mins as: Films and sport have never been the most comfortable of bedfellows. Avoiding all the usual suspect cliches has always been the hardest pitfall to avoid. Examples such as Raging Bull, White Men Can’t Jump or Bull Durham are some of the very few successes unfortunately, Mick Davis’ The Match will not be joining them.

In a Highland village idyll called Inverdoune, Wullie Smith (Max Beesley)

carries the physical and emotional scars of a childhood tragedy. His only way to salvation seems to be through his childhood sweetheart Rosemary (Laura Fraser) who has returned home from the Big City. Or he can manage Benny's Bar football team to glory in their annual clash with Le Bistro, coached by the sleazy Gorgeous Gus (Richard E. Grant). Victory seems unlikely, with the past 99 matches being won by the latter. This time though, Benny’s very existence is at stake. The result of all

this is not exactly a tale of the unexpected.

Flaws, cliches and gaping holes drag The Match down and hamstring any potential for plausibility. The Roy Of The Rovers ending.js as telegraphed as sane of the Falkirk midfield's passing and if Wullie's Total Football Recall is so amazing, why ask him to name the eleven players who won the European Cup in 1967? He's a Celtic fan - that knowledge should be a matter of course, for heaven's sake.

And that perennial problem of accents is especially appalling here - hang your heads in shame Richard E. Grant, Neil Morrissey and Pierce Brosnan. Particular mention must go to Ms Samantha Fox, who has all of three words to say, with her delivery of ’in your dreams’ suggesting that she researched her role somewhere south oangadoon.

Only the watchable enough sparring between the two leads makes this nearly bearable. The only positive result to come from The Match could be the blowing of the final whistle on the sports film sub-genre. (Brian Donaldson) a The Match has been postponed until


new relases PM

10 Things I Hate About You (12) 98 mins it *‘rk

It could have been horrible. But this high school-set reworking of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew is not only faithful to its source, but is a funny, charming and enjoyable film in its own right. Of course, the battle of the sexes theme translates easily into a contemporary setting, and has been adapted on many previous occasions for just that purpose. In the wake of other successful updates of literary classics such as William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and the recent Cruel Intentions, the trend seems irresistible, and to date has followed a surprisingly high standard.

'In the '99 mix of ’Shrew, spiky teenager Kat (Julia Stiles) is off men, and hates the peer pressure-orientated society at her school. Younger sister Bianca loves both, and is keen to start dating but is forbidden by her wary father, save for the unlikely chance that Kat will date too. This, he feels, is his masterstroke to keep his daughters pure. But Pop reckons without the determined Cameron (Jospeh Gordon- Levitt), who is keen to take Bianca out, and so persuades the enigmatic Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to woo Kat. With the trap set, mutual suspicion and doubt soon turns into something else again, as the sharp-tongued girl and the mysterious boy are surprised by their feelings. Yet there are things each must find out about the other before they can live happily ever after.

The results are unexpected and the fireworks that follow change everyone's life forever. It may not change anyone else's, but it certainly provides an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Responsibility lies in the assured performances of Stiles, Ledger and Gordon-Levitt, and just as much from David Krumholtz - surely a middle-aged man trapped in a lumpy teenage body as Cameron‘s friend and mentor. Purists may be aghast at the hijacking of such a literary jewel, but films like this offer easy access to great stories and - most importantly - delivers consistent and insightful entertainment as well. (Anwar Brett)

a General release from Fri 9 Jul. Shrewd move: Julia Styles in 10 Things I Hate About You

8-22 Jul 1999 "I? [18121