Movie Reviews

by Christopher Null

Grosse Pointe Blank - Volcano - Breakdown

Christopher Null is a long-established writer and media critic based in Austin, Texas. He was first published at the age of 11, completed his first novel at the age 19, and his first screenplay, Fringe, at 23. Chris has also written 2 other novels and just completed September Drift, his second full-length screenplay. In addition to writing, Null Set Productions (the film production company he began with his brother) produced its first offering, a live-action short film entitled Pressurecooker, this August. The company hopes to begin shooting Fringe in early 1997. Now 25, Chris has been covering the world of film and the cinema for almost 3 years. He is internationally syndicated as a writer (now in 5 countries and 4 different languages) and is also Contributing Editor for Film for Mike's Feedback magazine, an Austin, Texas monthly. Now, Chris's reviews and articles reach over 850,000 readers (that's four times the readership of Austin's daily newspaper).

Grosse Pointe Blank
3 stars - Average, Hits and Misses

John Cusack returns to film after a string of disappointments (CITY HALL, MONEY FOR NOTHING) with... yet another disappointment! GROSSE POINTE BLANK is full of possibilities (a great hook, a sharp cast, and a wry cynicism that is shamefully lacking from film these days) but comes up short on all sides. As Martin Blank, Cusack had the chance to portray a hitman coming to terms with his own mortality on the eve of his high school reunion. And while he performs with characteristic charm and sly sarcasm, as do his compatriots (including Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, and the object of his affection Minnie Driver), it's the blown opportunities for hit-it-home funniness that really make the whole experience somewhat lackluster. Apart from that, GROSSE POINTE BLANK is really a poorly made movie on a technical level. Editing, cinematography, and continuity are all just plain bad, and together they give the impression of an amateurish rush job, despite the fact that the film is already dated (taking place in 1996). Let's hope Romy and Michele have more to offer next week...

More info about Grosse Point Blank at the Internet Movie Database

3 1/2 stars - Average, Hits and Misses, Almost Good

O, there's nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together! That's the poorly masked theme ("They all look the same!") behind VOLCANO, the first really big disaster movie we've seen since, gosh, mid-February. It least this VOLCANO doesn't blow -- figuratively speaking -- like DANTE'S PEAK did, and that's mainly because it's so much more fun to watch Los Angeles be decimated by unceasing lava flow instead of a puny Pacific Northwest village. Co-stars Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones prove more than able at evading not only the encroaching magma, but also the horde of bad actors that follow them throughout the movie. And while the film is full of creeping cheese, complete with death-defying leaps to safety, slow motion shots, and kitschy one-liners, I shock myself even by saying that, for the most part, it feels *real.* They even thought to include Dennis Woodruff's infamous car, the cheesiest of Hollywood landmarks, floating along in a river of fire. Where else would they think of that!? I really do love L.A...

More info about Anaconda at the Internet Movie Database

3 stars - Average, Hits and Misses

It's Rednecks 1, Yuppies 0! At least it is for most of BREAKDOWN, a film that pits hapless Massachusettsans against wily Arizonans in a battle of automotive might on America's highways. If you've seen THE VANISHING (either one), you've essentially seen BREAKDOWN. In this incarnation, Kurt Russell finds his wife (my nemesis Kathleen Quinlan) abducted by the brilliantly evil J.T. Walsh and gang, and a cruel conspiracy is revealed that is designed to separate the happy couple from the fortunes that -- it turns out -- they don't really have. The film has a few interesting twists (that I won't spoil), but the movie's main flaws are its over-reliance on wild coincidences to advance the plot and a pace that is overwhelmingly slow until the very end. With that said, BREAKDOWN gets a big so-so... but if I were driving, I would've just left Quinlan at the truck stop.

More info about Anaconda at the Internet Movie Database

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