FILM new releases
The Emperor's New Groove
(U) 78 mins
Disney have bUilt up a pattern With their animated flicks, alternating prestige titles (such as The Lion King, but also as far back as Sleeping Beauty) With less ambitious films. Sadly, this is reflected in the quality of New Groove, which falls into the latter category, seeming like a nifty idea not fully realised.
Emperor Kuzco is monarch of an unspecified South American land who is turned into a llama by hrs sly, scheming assistant Yzma (v0iced most appropriately by Eartha Kitt). Yzma’s intention was to bump the heir-less emperor off and take power, but when the potion misfires the llama emperor goes on the run. Befriended by a big-
FANTASY Dungeons And Dragons (12) 108 mins
Partly successful game adaptation
The received wisdom, from both fans and critics, on this sfx blockbuster inspired by the eponymous fantasy role-playing game is that it's come twenty years too late. Created in the 70s by E. Gary Gygax, the cult game that requued nothing more than strange-shaped dice and participants to exerCise their imaginations, peaked in popularity during the 80s, thereafter
32 THE “ST 15 Feb—l Mar 2001
Not one of Disney's best
boned, good-Willed llama herder, Pacha, the odd couple return to the palace to obtain an antidote for the metamorphosing potion While av0iding Yzma and her hapless henchman, Kronk.
DaVid Spade and John Goodman as Kuzco and Pacha, respectively, are a lively double act, with Goodman’s deep rich tones suiting the gentle giant Pacha perfectly. There are the occasional clever postmodern touches — Kuzco stopping the film reel to talk to the audience at one point is a goodie — but mostly this is prime old-school Disney stuff: no high moral standeint, it’s about fun. New Groove lacks the animated landscape innovations of Tarzan, nor does it enjoy the character development of Aladdin, which is why, ultimately, it is missing edge.
(Mark Robertson). as General release from Fri 76 Feb.
succumbing to the growth of computer gaming. Inspired by herOic fantasy fiction — everything from Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings to Robert E. Howard’s Conan The Barbarian — typical gaming seSSions would see assorted adventurers — elf magic users, dwarf fighters, halfling (hobbit) thieves — exploring subterranean caverns in search of magical treasures.
The film’s director and gamer, Courtney Solomon, remains reasonably faithful to the Spirit of the game With a story involving five young adventurers attempting to secure the powerful Rod of Savrille (which controls dragons) on behalf of Empress Savina (Thora Birch), who is about to be deposed by eVil wizard Profion (Jeremy Irons).
What made the game so compelling — it's improvised nature which raised it above its cliched fantasy oeuvre — is lost on film. Nevertheless, Dungeons And Dragons is likely to appeal to gaming enthusiasts. Genre website Fantastica Daily concedes, 'the plot does indeed include 'dungeons’ and ’dragons’ . . . some thought went into this movie.’ However, New York's Village Voice described the plot as ’at once laboriously exposrtory and defiantly incomprehensible', and the common consensus is that the sfx are only moderate and the acting ropey. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 16 Feb. Delayed certification by the British Board of Film Classification meant that Dungeons And Dragons was unable to be viewed prior to going to press.
Di imon:The Movie (P 88 mins w ~ it
Yet again the theory that kids animated mowes are a substitute for hallucmogens is proved eerily correct Sit back, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare for sensory overload To those not in the know, Digimons are not relatives of Pokemons but do indeed share some traits, namely being odd- Iooking and fighting when requested by pre-teen masters These monsters are created by the digital world, born Out of computers, and technology dominates far more than the usual comradeship themes found in kid’s films Essentially Digimon offers a beginner's guide in three parts. It explains how the little monsters came about, describes a preVious world-threatening adventure and finishes With the personal story of one boy and his Digimon gone rogue, All in glorious Japanese animation With loud rock music and a battle every fifteen minutes in case yOu're trying to get too deep into the plot/falling asleep/are fOur and have a very short attention span. Bang up to date, our heroes send their Digimons into the internet Where a Virus/digimon hybrid threatens the surVival of the world Wide web (Visually rendered as a fairground reminiscent of the scary pink elephant scenes in Dumbo). Adult brains are kept alive With asides like, ’Maybe we should call Bill Gates', and email account-holding, mobile phone- Wielding under 105 Will be in their element. (LOUISa Pearson) I General release from Fri 76 Feb,
Centre Stage (12)115 mins-
Akin to Pokemon
Rarely since Fame and F/ashdance, back in the early 805, has a film focused so speCifically on dance. In Centre Stage, director Nicholas Hytner sWitches the focus to ballet and a group of dancers desperately trying to get into the American Ballet College.
Jody (Amanda Schull), Eva (Zoe Saldana) and Maureen (Susan May Pratt), come from very different backgrounds but share a determination to be professional ballerinas. As you'd expect, things don't go to plan. Eva is told she has bad feet and the wrong body type, Maureen has a pushy mother and Eva can't stop shooting her mouth off.
Mix that in With a love triangle, boyfriends, bleeding toes and eating disorders and it could get quite interesting. But it doesn't.
The dull storylines are too cheesy to be taken seriously, are interrupted by exceedingly long dance scenes. The dancmg is incredible but the way it is filmed makes you feel as if you’ve been to the ballet but ended up in a restricted View seat. It could have had the impact of Fame, but this one won't make you want to buy a pair of Iegwarmers or dance on a car roof. (Jane Hamilton)
I Selected release from Fri 76 Feb.
DRAMA Liam (15) 88 mins ,.
Fame with ballet
Made by director Stephen Frears after High Fidelity and Fail Safe, Liam offers a child’s eye perspective on growing up in poverty in Catholic Liverpool in the l930s, by telling events from the Viewpomt of its seven-year-old title character (Anthony Borrows). The kids proud Dad (Ian Hart) works at the local dockyards, While his devout Mam (Claire Hackett) diligently looks after the house, and his elder Sister (Megan Burns) has a cleaning JOb With a wealthy JeWish family. But as young Liam prepares for his First Communion, Dad is made redundant and, With the help of the local blackshirts, seeks scapegoats for his misfortunes .
Despite some fine ensemble performances, this BBC production never qurte shakes off its television drama sensibility. Jimmy McGovern’s screenplay certainly loads the dramatic dice — not only does Liam have an angelically cute face, but he's given a stammer for extra pathos, whilst the Catholic Church is mercilessly and rather predictably caricatured for comic effect, most notably in the religious education scenes. The visual style is unremarkable, and the score obtrusive, yet it’s " commendable that a British film doesn't ignore the racral hatred that bedevilled the Depression era. (Tom Dawson)
I GFT, Glasgow from Fri 23 Feb,
Commendable if unremarkable