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Hannibal (R, 2001) ... Average: 3.25
(Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Francesca Neri, Giancarlo Giannini, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman)

B. Delaney
The theatrical representation of Thomas Harris's book was lacking to say the least. The studio seemed to pay to much attention to recreating the lurid imagery of Harris's words rather than developing the story. The book has much more detail worthy of Harris's reputation including "Silence of the Lambs" and "Red Dragon" (the prequel to SOTL).

In order to accurately communicate the abysmal sub-plots of "Hannibal", the movie would have to be 4 hours long. Thinking this, I bought the DVD. You can get a broader sense of meaning behind several of the scenes with the director's commentary and deleted scenes in the two-disc set. However, it still doesn't capture the true genius of the book.

I would barely recommend renting the DVD just for the sheer brilliance of Sir Anthony Hopkins but I would definitely suggest reading the Dr. Lector trilogy by Thomas Harris.
Chris Mal
Two words come to mind: Ewwww (which is good) and disappointing (obviously, bad).

The movie, as you know unless you've been living in a cave, is the sequel to one of my all-time favorite movies, "Silence of the Lambs."  It picks up a decade after the last movie left off.  Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins), tired of living his life of seclusion in Italy, decides to return to his former twisted life as a psychopath.  (Who can blame him?)

Why, oh why, did the writers feel the need to add the pathetic unnecessary unbelievably cheesy and pointless subplot of Clarise-against-the-world?  Such a novice B-movie fatal flaw!  The only reason I can fathom is that they didn't have enough plot to begin with, so they felt the need to add a bunch of ridiculous fluff.  Essentially, the entire movie is played out with Clarise being outcast by her fellow FBI agents who are apparently resentful of her being a good woman detective.  (The first scene of the movie in particular is so bad it was painful to sit through.)  C'mon, would "Silence of the Lambs" have needed such idiocy to make it work?  I don't think so.  This movie would have worked just fine and would have been 10 times better without all of that nonsense.

Secondly, did they forget what made "Silence of the Lambs" work so well?  The dialog between Hannibal Lechter and Clarise Starling (then played by Jody Foster) goes down in history as some of the most griping moments in film drama.  In "Hannibal", Lecter and Clarise (now played by Julianne Moore) don't even speak to each other until about 3/4 of the way into the movie, and even then they don't really have much to say to each other.
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
And once you've seen the movie, sit back and think about exactly what did Clarise accomplish during the movie?  90% of the movie was spent with her behind a desk looking at a computer and listening to recordings from her interviews with Hannibal during the original movie.  There was no moving from one clue to another as she did in SOTL - another thing that made SOTL such a great mystery-thriller.

I also didn't like the fact that the script was written with the bent that the audience was almost supposed to route for Hannibal not to get caught, and in the end for Clarise to save him from getting killed.  Hello?  This guy eats people.  He's supposed to be scary - very scary, at all times.  Writing the movie to make the audience want him to get away half the time is just dumb.

It seems the writers felt the reason SOTL was so popular was because of the graphic parts.  Although I will admit the "gross" parts of "Hannibal" were just about the only interesting parts of the movie, I couldn't help but feel like it was mostly just gratuitous.  After all, in SOTL, most of the gore was simply implied and not used to keep the audience interested.

Ummm...not sure I understood the deal with the killer pigs.

And, of course, the lack of Jody Foster was a shame, but not surprising now that I've seen the movie.  Clearly she knew what she was doing when she turned down this script.  Juilanne Moore was OK, but she's surely no Jody Foster.  One has to wonder why she would commit career suicide by playing the part that should have been played by one of the greatest actresses of the 90's.  The comparisons were inevitable and there was really no way for Moore to win that battle.

As a side note, my Dad pointed out that the disfigured guy played by Oldman really resembled Jim Carrey as Fire Marshall Bill!  Speaking of which - why did that guy peel off his face, anyway?I didn't get that either.  Hannibal gave him some drugs, but what kind of drug do you have to take to be able to cut off your face?  Seemed a little too far fetched to me, and just a weak reason to employ some good make-up artists.  (Although I admit the guy was pretty cool looking.)

Hopkins, as always, was wonderful.  The "gross parts" and any time Hopkins spoke were really the only things that made this movie worth anything.  Don't waste your money on tickets, wait for the rental.
 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (PG, 2001) ... Average: 4.0
(Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris, John Cleese, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane)

Beth Stout
Bob and I read 3 of the books and the kids read all four.  If you read the book, seeing it come to life was awesome.  They did a good job of keeping the book atmosphere "real" in the movie.  I thought it might be a little hard for someone who hasn't read or listened to the audio books to "get it".  I had to give 4.5 because my youngest daughter liked the book better.
Chris Malinowski
Since I think I'm the last living being who hasn't read the book, there's no need to explain the premise.  From what everyone is saying, the movie follows the book almost exactly.

Movie ImageMaking a movie out of Harry Potter was treading on some dangerous ground for two reasons.  First, you are resigned to a HUGE amount of special effects so you're automatically walking the fine line of having the special effects become too noticeable, distracting - or worse, hokey.  And, secondly, you're assuming a cast of almost all pre-teen actors in which case you assume the risk of some sub par acting.  All-in-all, though, they did reasonably well.

The book has gotten critical acclaim for its cleverness - a rare cleverness that is appealing to children and at the same time a must-read for adults as well.  My guess is that most people will find that the movie, unlike the book, appeals more to children than adults.  That's not to say it wasn't entertaining, I just don't think the movie will hit all audiences as much as the book has.

The special affects, costumes and make-up were impressive, and I can only imagine the hours of planning and fine-tuning that must've gone into them.  (The vividly-creepy Goblins at the bank were totally cool, by the way.)

All of the kids in the movie are likeable and relatively natural.  Daniel Radcliffe pulls off Harry Potter well, yet it's his two side-kicks - Rupert Grint who plays Harry's pal Ron, and Emma Watson who plays Hermoine - who make the strongest impression.  Grint's facial expressions alone are classic, and Watson knows how to sell her lines as the bossy teacher's pet.

The movie at 2 hours and 32 minutes was a little long for me, but I'm sure it made no difference to anyone who has read the book - which, again, is everyone except me.  Regardless, it's an enchanting tale filled with scary beasts, tense situations and clever twists.
 

Hidalgo (PG-13, 2004) ... Average: 3.5
(Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Zuleikha Robinson, Louise Lombard, Said Taghmaoui)

Kirsten Cheskey
Hidalgo is an interesting movie.  Really, it is.  We spent the entire movie trying to figure out if the creators wanted it to be an 'Indiana Jones' adventure movie, a ' Dances With Wolves' epic or if they were heading down the 'Spirit' path.  It was good.  Probably the best part of the movie was Viggo Mortensen.  At least for me he was. 

At one part he was holding a pendant in his hand and I thought, "Hey, that's exactly how he held Arwen's Evenstar in LOTR."

And at another,  he was chanting some Native American thing and I thought, "Ooh, if I close my eyes... it's like Aragorn chanting something Elven."

Towards the end I was thinking, "Hmmm, I think I'd rather be watching Lord of the Rings." 

But, I admit, that happens during lots of movies. 

So all in all a good movie.  Not great. 

Oh... and the horse was a fine actor.  Omar Sharif can't hold a candle to him.
 

High Fidelity (R, 2000) ... Average: 4.0
(John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Tim Robbins, Catherine Zeta-Jones)

Rob Epler
Changing the book's setting from London to Chicago doesn't hurt this flick at all.  John Cusack is great here (as usual), as is Jack Black, whom I saw here for the first time.  As the title suggests, music is a big part of these characters' lives, so there's lots of great music on the soundtrack.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the movie is better than the book (as I would with "About a Boy"), but it's at least as good, despite the differences.  I think if I were Nick Hornby, I'd be very satisfied by what Hollywood has done with my books (so far, anyway).  Not a lot of writers can say that!
Mike Capilo
He can tell you his top five records of all time...but not why he can't keep a girlfriend.  (Again, I got this from the Blockbuster box.)  I'm too tired to critique the movie.  It's funny and you should see it.
 

Holes (PG, 2003) ... Average: 3.75
(Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, Rick Fox, Khleo Thomas, Jon Voight, Henry Winkler)

Mike Capilo
Great movie.  Perfect for families and those who abhor cursing.  This flick will surprise you.  I recommend seeing it.  Not much cinematic excitement will be missed if you wait for the video.
Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
OK, I know, I know.  Books are books, and movies are movies.  I'm not supposed to compare the two, because they're totally different media.  It's tough not to do it, though, when I've actually read the book AND seen the movie, and I remember all too well how the main protagonist of book and movie, preteen loser Stanley Yelnats, was overweight in the book. By the time of the movie, however, he had mysteriously lost weight, and become a slightly nerdy but pleasant-faced child actor (Shia LaBeouf).  I can almost hear the morons in the focus group saying, "Yeah, but we don't want no fat kid to be heroic, no can do," and the annoying managers of the big Hollywood filmmaking concern (Disney, in this case) shrugging their shoulders and concluding, "Well, that's settled, we'll have a thin Stanley."  This is exactly the kind of cheese that makes Hollywood so insufferable at its worst, and gives critics like me constant fodder!

OK, now that that's all off my chest: Except for the issue mentioned above, and some overly formulaic elements, this is actually a very good adaptation of Louis Sachar's novel about a youth detention camp in the desert, where the boys do nothing but dig holes. The child acting is mostly believable (and yes, that includes LaBeouf), and Tim Blake Nelson (from Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?) and Jon Voight aren't too bad as the two overseers, even if they don't get much past the clichés.  Best of all, the Disney cinematographers do an astonishing job re- creating the desert heat, the drudgery of the work, and the mysterious past of the camp, which is seen in flashbacks.  It seems like there is no such thing as a Disney movie that is less than perfect technically, and (except for the poisonous lizards that make frequent guest appearances, and look way too much like computer animation) that is as true of this movie as of any other.  The overly-formulaic stuff does need to be mentioned, namely that there's too much music (although some of the music is used to good effect in the workaday scenes), too many of the story's big surprises are telegraphed way in advance, and there are one too many flashbacks.  I had a good enough time, and the effect was moving enough, to make me look the other way when it comes to that stuff--but I'm still smarting about the focus group BS, dammit!
 

Hotel Rwanda (PG-13, 2005) ... Average: 5.0
(Don Cheadle, Djimon Hounsou, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Sophie Okonedo)

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Before the horrible genocide in the east African country of Rwanda in 1994, Paul Rusesabagina was a quiet, hardworking man who managed a Belgian-owned luxury downtown hotel in the capital.  He was a member of the majority ethnic group, the Hutu, and he could have easily escaped the plunder and slaughter that other Hutus perpetrated on their ethnic rivals, the Tutsis. Instead, he used his hotel, his connections to the wealthy and powerful, and every trick in the book--bribery, persuasion, and just plain bluff--to save the lives of several hundred Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He and his hotel thus became an island of hope and decency in a time of ruthless and senseless murder, and he earned the right to be called the Schindler of Rwanda, with one important difference–unlike Schindler, Rusesabagina’s own life was put directly in danger because of his efforts to help others.

"Powerful" and "moving" seem like inadequate words to describe the movie that tells his story; this is a movie that grips you and never lets you go, nor does it let you forget what happened.  Outstanding acting makes all this possible. Sophie Okonedo is amazing as Rusesabagina's Tutsi wife, as is Nick Nolte as a UN commander who saw too clearly what was coming and how the world would handle it.

The real heart and soul of the film, however, is Don Cheadle, who has the role of a lifetime as Rusesabagina.

This is a movie that needs the widest possible audience, partly because part of its earnings will be donated for Rwandan refugee aid. That said, if you do see it, be prepared for unsettling and occasionally graphic scenes of brutality and destruction, including some that are very tough for parents like ourselves to watch. That isn’t to say that these scenes are unwarranted; in fact, they are far more warranted than much of the violence in most modern movies.
 

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (PG-13, 2003) ... Average: 2.25
(Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Adam Goldberg, Thomas Lennon, Michael Michele, Robert Klein)

Sara (Gaughan) Austin
I think that Chris Mal is just a teensy bit too critical of this movie. I found it to be fun, chick-ish fluff.  Worth a rental, for sure.  Oh, and did I mention the scene where Matthew McConnaughey changes his shirt? Not going to win the Oscar, but not that bad, Chris!
Chris Mal
Well there's 2 hours of my life I can never get back.  I stayed up really late after watching this trash because I felt I had just wasted time where I could have done something productive.  That seemed to work, although now I'm really tired and wished I had just gone to bed.

It's all really quite unfair because Bev got to sleep DURING the movie.  She was out like a light by the 60 minute milestone.

Matthew McConaughey plays a ladies' man who rarely keeps a girl around for more than a few days before he's on to the next one.  He's also a high profile creator of ads for an agency working with the world's leading diamond supplier.  Uh, OK.  His rival bitchy co-worker bets him that he can't make a random girl fall in love with him in 10 days.  Their boss decides that whoever wins this stupid bet will get the diamond account.  Uhhhhh, yeah.

Meanwhile, the girl that they pick for him is Kate Hudson.  And, of course, she as an aspiring political writer who works for a woman's magazine.  Uh, yeah.  She is, coincidentally, writing a column about what NOT to do when dating called "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."  And she's going to make it a real experiment by dating a random guy and then try things to make him dump her within 10 days.  Hardy-har-har.  The plot thickens!

There's really no need to explain what happens, you can see where this is going from lightyears away.

It's billed as a comedy, but...the movie has been over for almost 12 hours and I'm still waiting to laugh.  It is also billed as romance.  It's a click-flick, and it wasn't even good as a good chick-flick.  It was just....for lack of a more eloquent word - dumb.  Learn from my mistakes - don't waste your time with this one.
 

Hurricane, The (R, 1999) ... Average: 4.5
(Denzel Washington, Vi Reon Shannon, John Hannah)

Chris Mal
This is an incredible TRUE story about a Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, a middleweight boxer in the '60's, who was wrongfully accused, arrested and sentenced to THREE life terms for a murder of three people in a New Jersey bar.

If you think about it, it's difficult to tell a TRUE story very well since you have to tell it knowing that most people already know the ending.  But there are no dull moments in this movie.  Denzel Washington gives a tremendous performance, and the meshing of what initially appears to be two different stories running in parallel is captivating, touching and invigorating.  Without giving away part of the story, how all of the characters in this story come together is nothing short of amazing.  This is a MUST-SEE MOVIE.  GO SEE IT NOW before it leaves the theaters!