Michael Brody
Former Contributor

WRITTEN BY Michael Brody

Bad Boys (1995)

After a pair of overproduced duds that include the back-to-back Tony Scott eye-burners Beverly Hills Cop II and Days of Thunder, the uber-producing team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer make a welcome return to the kind of no-holds-barred, go-for-the-throat thrill ride that established them as action experts extraordinaire in the mid-1980s. Setting aside any pretensions, Bad Boys is what it is. Viewers can either understand that or direct themselves to a more ambitious action blockbuster. Like the standard action films of the early 90’s, Bad Boys has no problem with being a super-slick, super-fast cops-and-drug lords movie that viewers will probably forget by the time they exit the theater.

Bad Boys II

There must have been two hundred and forty shots in the first one hundred and twenty seconds of Bad Boys II. That amounts to two shots per second. Makes no sense, does it? Well, neither does Bad Boys II. The last time a director and his stars waited eight years to re-team for a sequel to a buddy cop sleeper was Another 48 Hrs. As we always learn the hard way, history does repeat itself. While this sequel is ten times more kinetic than the original, it is also an empty-headed bubble of testosterone that explodes in the viewer’s face, potentially scarring them for the duration of the film.

Stuart Little 2

You have to admire a film like Stuart Little 2 which opens on a sunny New York City day and plays “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” over images of perfectly green trees in Central Park and a clear blue sky. In these hardened times, this positive image should remind viewers across the country that this is still a beautiful city, gorgeous day or otherwise. While I would not go so far as to call this film beautiful itself, it is a sweet crowd-pleaser for even the above-12 crowd.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Not even the $90 million budget could get me to say that you should run out and see it. But if you are looking for a passable summer distraction, walk instead.

Adaptation

Being John Malkovich, Director Spike Jonze's inventive and offbeat tale, was about entering the mind of one of the most curious actors working today. When it was released in 1999, audiences and critics agreed that it was one of the cleverest films of the year. I was among them. As much as I enjoyed the film, I felt that the level of praise was taken too far. It was fresh, no doubt, but hardly on my “Top 10” list of the year. Adaptation will be.

Thirteen

Is there anyone in the world who has not already figured out that growing into a teenager is a difficult, confused, seemingly never-ending process? The minds behind Thirteen must believe that there are. Either that, or they are directing this film at the minority of parents who need to know the truth about what kids do when no is looking. In that case, the film should at least be commended for its earnestness, if not its content.

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Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

Psyche-stalker Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is back, again, for the sixth (and supposedly last) time in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, a film that so conclusively promises to be the last entry in the popular Nightmare on Elm Street series that the title tries to prove it twice. Maybe they’re serious this time. Just so long as this doesn’t end up being a so-called “Final Chapter;” the type that cinematic cousin Jason Voorhees (of Friday The 13th infamy) pulled in 1984, only to return eleven months later in the cleverly titled New Beginning. There is no pretense here to show Freddy outlandishly resurrected once again (like the flaming dog urine that brought him back in Nightmare 4). This being part six of the franchise, we know that he did not actually die at the end of the previous film, so there is no reason to pretend that he did. At this point, our interest is not how he comes back one last time, but how he goes out for good.

Requiem for a Dream

Everyone needs a fix. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or television, everyone is hooked on something. In Requiem for a Dream, we learn what happens when your addiction deludes you, and that some addictions are metaphors for others. The only substances that are ever deemed immoral are those that are illegal. In this film, we are told that it makes no difference whether society has deemed it morally reprehensible or not, if you rely on an inanimate substance as a way of life (sex being the exception), then you are doing no better than a casual drug user.

S.W.A.T.

S.W.A.T. is a by-the-book history lesson on every cop movie made in the last fifteen years. It’s the “been there, done that” movie of the summer, and it’s also the worst. It may stand out because it’s not a sequel or based on a comic book, but that hardly makes it original. The only appeal about this is the simple plot. Samuel L. Jackson, looking bored and completely ditching his “bad motha” characteristics, plays Sgt. “Hondo” Harrelson, the leader of a Los Angeles S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) division, who puts together a new squad of recruits to transport an arrested drug kingpin (Olivier Martinez) into federal custody. When the kingpin offers $100 million to any one who sets him free, the plan goes awry and causes a series of downtown street wars. This may not be great as pretenses go, but it sure sounds good.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

After taking Manhattan in Friday The 13th Part VIII, hockey-masked horror legend Jason Voorhees returns for the supposedly last time to take a different kind of vacation in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Following the blood path from Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, the film tries to prove that this is the true end of the series twice in the title. Jason already wrote his first Final Chapter in 1984, yet the title still leaves the opening for another sequel. Jason Goes to Hell, but it doesn’t say anything about him staying there.

Freddy Vs. Jason

If the idea of pairing Nightmare on Elm Street dream-marauder Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) with Friday the 13th maggot tank Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) means nothing to you, then Freddy Vs. Jason will also mean nothing to you. If, however, you have envisioned two of modern cinema’s most feared creations in a “Smackdown” style one-on-one, then this film should have some appeal.

Unfaithful

The surface of Unfaithful is much like that of a multi-tiered wedding cake. Beneath the handsome exterior lies an “Entenmanns” treat worth no more than $5. This is to say that while the film has the appearance of a deep examination of infidelity, it is merely a well-packaged trifle. Diane Lane plays Connie Sumner, a happily married suburbanite with her loving husband, Edward (Richard Gere), a precious young son, and a beautiful home in upstate New York. While in the city shopping for her son’s birthday party, Connie meets Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez), a handsome book dealer who resides in New York’s swanky Soho. She soon becomes obsessed with the young man and eventually pursues an affair.

Hudson Hawk

James Bond. Indiana Jones. Adored by women and admired by men. And now, with Bond losing his license to kill, and Jones having embarked on his last crusade, the world awaits a new kind of hero. Not one who carries the emotional baggage of Batman, or a nearly unstoppable alien such as Superman, but a real man, with real flaws. Ladies and gentleman, Hudson Hawk.

Jeepers Creepers

In an effort to showcase a creature more monstrous than he, writer and director (not to mention convicted child molester) Victor Salva has found one of the vilest beasts to ever leap through the screen. And no, even though he has made a film about a monster, Jeepers Creepers is not an autobiography. It is a modern horror film that wisely skimps on any cheeky post-modern in-jokes to create one of the most terrifying straight shockers since A Nightmare on Elm Street. Mixing the claustrophobic and freak-show visuals of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the on-and-off-road terror of Steven Spielberg’s classic TV-movie Duel, Salva has darted past his reputation to deliver an exercise in pure horror.

Ghost Ship

I remember an episode of “The Simpsons” that questioned the originality of today’s television shows. When Marge Simpson was asked if she had any original concepts herself, she simply replied “How about Ghost Mutt?” Given the simplicity (and stupidity) of the name, I’m surprised anyone actually believed titling a horror film Ghost Ship was a smart idea, unless that was going to be the only real problem. No, the film has much wrong with it. It’s a soggy, cliché-bound epic-horror yarn that ends up being even dumber than its title; the name is a clue of the idiocy that lies ahead.

The Last Castle

In the opening of The Last Castle, the viewer is given the definition of what a castle is, and how a prison can be very much like one, only that a castle is meant to keep people out, and a prison is meant to keep people in. This is one of the ideas featured in the film, and sadly, one of the few that actually gets its point across.

Jeepers Creepers 2

em>Jeepers Creepers 2 adheres to the significant rule of establishing a story viewers will be compelled to follow within the first ten minutes with one of the most intense openings in recent memory. It shows a young boy out in a luscious cornfield with his father (played by Ray Wise), fastening a row of scarecrows. As the boy moves to prop up the last scarecrow, the hay-doll leaps to life and snatches the boy away. The action then shifts a few miles to a school bus carrying a high school basketball team, cheerleaders, and their coaches that is disabled on a lonely road by the Creeper, an ancient winged beast who is given only 23 days every 23rd spring to “eat.” The Creeper snatches his prey into the sky, one unsuspecting victim at a time.

Weekend at Bernie's

Millionaire executive Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) is much like the mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent in that they both hold big secrets that everyone else should be able to figure out. The difference, though, is that Clark Kent is Superman, and Bernie Lomax is, well, dead. Just as no one has ever figured out that Superman is Clark Kent minus the glasses, no one in Weekend at Bernie’s notices that the silent, still, Bernie is no longer among the living. The premise for Weekend at Bernie’s, an amusing situation comedy from, improbably, the director of First Blood, is so ridiculous it can only make you smile…or shake your head in disappointment. Either way, a film like this may gain a certain type of infamy not so much for being terrible but for being one big joke. Only towards the end, the joke starts to wear thin.

The Transporter

In The Transporter, Jason Statham plays Frank Martin, an ex-marine now working as a mercenary courier for shady businessmen somewhere in Paris. When Frank is given an assignment, he follows a strict set of rules and one is never to open a package. The viewer is put in the same situation as Frank and told not to ask any questions about this film. If they simply accept it everything will go smoothly. In defiance, I asked questions. Questions like "Is there a plot?” and "Was the dialogue meant to be this stupid?" I couldn't help but ask because the movie's in-your-face absurdity is hard to miss. The Transporter wants you to forget about the importance of a storyline and characterization but never gives you any reason to. It seemed like the lazily concocted plot gambits and mundane dialogue were there only as a reminder of why a good script is helpful.

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