Monday, January 14, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 71



New films provide holiday cheer

By Heather L. Nicholson
Daily Cougar Staff

Tinseltown followed a trend in December with two true-life stories, two film remakes and one film based on another book series.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, A Beautiful Mind, Ocean's 11, Vanilla Sky and Ali served up 11.6 hours of drama, á la action,
stories stuffed with imagination and warm vanilla sky for desert.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Will Smith (middle) dedicated his heart, soul and sex life to starring in the lead role of the film Ali, based on the life of Muhammad Ali.
Unfortunately, Smith was the only silver lining of the lengthy and wearisome movie.

Anyone looking to escape the time warp of family gatherings was sure to find solace in the comfort of the local movie theater. With a string of
some of the longest-running movies since Gone with the Wind and a star-studded lineup, the holidays were a little easier to bear this year.

Ring around the movie

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring is currently holding the No. 1 spot in the box office and has been since its release last month.

Similar to the adaptation of the Harry Potter book series, Lord of the Rings is also a trilogy of fantasy/ adventure by another initial-using British
author, J.R.R. Tolkien.

The movie's 178-minute running time is well worth the aching muscles, bursting bladder and funky popcorn breath. The special effects are
phenomenal and the imagination that has been put into this film is just as commendable.

The different characters are straight out of a child's dreams and nightmares. The film is complete with fairies, demons, trolls, wizards and, of
course, hobbits. Lord of the Rings will delight all audiences and close its three hours with an ending that screams sequel.

A beautiful film

Russell Crowe's latest film, A Beautiful Mind, depicts the true-life story of John Forbes Nash Jr. The main character is a Nobel Prize winner
struggling with paranoid schizophrenia.

Moviegoers will be refreshed to see Crowe playing a non-glamorous character. The majority of the movie features Crowe as an average,
unattractive math geek who makes one wonder how he was ever named "Sexiest Man" by People magazine.

Ocean's Academy

Am I at the Oscars or are we watching Ocean's 11? With a cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Julia
Roberts, one could have trouble differentiating between the two.

However, to preserve the integrity of the original 1960s Ocean's 11 with Rat Pack superstars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and
Peter Lawford, nothing less than today's superstars would do it justice. The comedic crime story is pleasantly surprising.

All the ingredients are included to make one hell of a flick: suspense, romance, comedy, a plan that is sure to fail, money, clothes, cool gadgets
that high-tech robbers use and a setting in Las Vegas.

Vanilla twist

Another star-studded film remake is Vanilla Sky. This dramatic thriller was first released as a Spanish film in 1997 called Abre los Ojos (Open
Your Eyes) that also starred Penélope Cruz.

As the director and writer of this film, Cameron Crowe has wowed audiences again. The director of such contemporary classics as Jerry
Maguire and Almost Famous wrote a great adaptation of the original, and the plot twist is sure to blow you away.

Finally, Cameron Diaz plays a role that shows her the way we all know she really is: as a psychotic and needy girlfriend. It is also amusing to
watch Cruise and Cruz's budding romance, which this movie sparked.

Honorable mentions are Jason Lee and Kurt Russell. Lee is also in Almost Famous, but is mainly recognized for his performances for
cult-movie director Kevin Smith. Kurt Russell's comeback proves that retirement isn't always permanent.

Stung like a bee

The most disappointing movie of the holiday season was Ali, starring Will Smith.

This biographic drama depicts boxing legend Muhammad Ali's most turbulent years. Long-winded scenes and never-ending jogs through
Africa make this movie's 158 minutes hard to endure.

The film could have ended 58 minutes earlier and I would have liked it more for ending my suffering. If you've seen Ali's most memorable fights,
press conferences and interviews, then you've seen the better bulk of the film.

Smith's performance, however, is realistic and worthy. He did for Ali what Denzel Washington did for Spike Lee's Malcolm X. Smith was so
intent on being the boxing legend that he buffed up with Ali's old trainer and, according to, withheld from having sex for an entire

If that's not commitment, I don't know what is.

DVDs on the way

A few new releases and a handful of re-releases lead this week's DVD distribution list.

Just about most of you college guys can appreciate the release of American Pie 2 on DVD. The "collector's edition" features all your favorite
extras, including trailers, outtakes and audio commentary from director James B. Rogers.

So welcome Jim, Oz, Finch, Kevin, Stifler and the rest of the gang back to your DVD shelf in this hilarious sequel to the 1999 teen classic.

Another big release this week is Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- The Complete First Season. Following the trends of The Sopranos and The
Simpsons, Warner Brothers is releasing the show's entire first season for the benefit of its loyal fans.

The show stars the beautiful Sarah Michelle Gellar, and this box set includes 12 episodes on three discs, complete with a photo gallery and
interviews with the cast and crew. Buffy fans won't be disappointed.

Being released for the first time on DVD is the 1982 eye candy classic Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition), starring Jeff Bridges and
Bruce Boxleitner.

Directed by Steven Lisberger, the film's DVD release is backed by a strong fan base that has made this Disney production a cult classic. The
DVD set includes two discs and contains deleted scenes, an all-new "making of" feature and director audio commentary, among other special

Other releases this week include Tombstone, the musical Newsies, Sabrina, a re-release of Dirty Dancing, the Oscar-winning foreign flick
Life Is Beautiful and a three-disc box set containing the classic Roots miniseries.

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