CQ, The Crocodile Hunter, Dark Days, Eight Legged Freaks, Halloween, K:19, Reign of Fire and Stuart Little 2

* CQ -- Writer/director Roman Coppola follows in his famous father's filmmaking footsteps with this sly movie-within-a-movie comedy inspired by Roger Vadim's 1967 film Barbarella. In 1969 Paris, an

Jul 18, 2002 at 2:06 pm

* CQ — Writer/director Roman Coppola follows in his famous father's filmmaking footsteps with this sly movie-within-a-movie comedy inspired by Roger Vadim's 1967 film Barbarella. In 1969 Paris, an American film editor (Jeremy Davies) is hired to complete a troubled sci-fi movie, Dragonfly. His stewardess girlfriend (Elodie Bouchez) rants against his lack of commitment to their relationship. It appears that the sexy lead actress in the film (Angela Lindvall) is occupying his thoughts. Like all films that attempt to try something original, not everything about CQ clicks. Bouchez is given little chance to do more than fill her Air France uniform. Gerard Depardieu's comic bravado is given short shrift by a too small role. The editor's own film, a first-person documentary rant, slackens the pace of his sci-fi movie adventures. Yet, CQ delivers more creative laughs and witty dialogue than a handful of show biz send-ups. Davies is perfectly droll as the starstruck editor.

Giancarlo Giannini brings the film a manic boost as Dragonfly's producer. CQ's real star is Dragonfly itself. Coppola has created a campy sci-fi adventure so funny that you never want it to stop. — Steve Ramos (Rated R.)
CityBeat grade: B

THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE — Director John Stainton's lazy, action comedy has no interest in engaging beginnings, exciting middles or satisfying endings. Content with re-creating "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's TV documentaries, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course barely qualifies as a feature film. Writers Stainton and Holly Goldberg Sloan create a lulling plot involving Irwin, his wife Terri, a missing spy satellite and a pair of CIA agents who want the satellite back. Irwin possesses big-screen worthy charisma. His slapstick tussles with snakes, lizards and crocodiles provide the film's few laughs. Still, Irwin's good-ol' boy humor fades quickly without a story to support his aw-shucks personality. Irwin's aimless shenanigans are too moronic for adult audiences. More importantly, the slapstick gags are too infrequent to hold a child's attention. I didn't think I would ever says this, but the awful Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course makes fellow Aussie Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan's comedies look somewhat entertaining. — SR (Rated PG.)
CityBeat grade: F

DARK DAYS — For his 1999 movie, documentary filmmaker Marc Singer spent five years filming the impoverished residents of New York City's underground shantytown. These refuges from society draw electricity from power lines and water from city pipes to create a makeshift community. But their home is threatened when AMTRAK threatens to evict them from the space. Dark Days is the third film in the Cincinnati Film Society's The Forgotten Society series, a selection of films inspired by the Cincinnati Art Museum's Weegee exhibit, the screenings take place at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Tickets are $5 for the general public. Ticket cost for CAM, CFS members and college students with a valid ID card is $4. Cincinnati CityBeat is the media sponsor for all CFS programs. — SR (Unrated.) CityBeat grade: A

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS — The only surprise worth mentioning about director Ellory Elkayem's clumsy homage to B-horror movies is how a movie filled with giant spiders fails to pack one credible scare or one loud laugh. Eight Legged Freaks boasts the goofball talents of David Arquette and he twitches admirably as an Arizona mine owner battling mutated spiders. I like the way Arquette mumbles his dialogue and stumbles his way through scenes. Still, Arquette's slackerish persona fails to hold Eight Legged Freaks afloat. Two scenes hint at the film's pulpy potential. Early in the film, a group of boys use their motocross bikes to escape from some jumping spiders. Near the film's climax, the spiders attack the townspeople who have gathered in an abandoned shopping mall. Like many of today's would-be blockbusters, Eight Legged Freaks has too many visual effects engineers and not enough screenwriters. — SR (Rated PG-13.) CityBeat grade: D

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION — Director Rick Rosenthal manages only one good scare in this uncreative follow-up to 1998's Halloween: H2O. Part of the problem is that screenwriters Larry Brand and Sean Hood offer nothing original to the long-running horror series. In Halloween: Resurrection, the latest batch of slasher mayhem, bogeyman Michael Myers returns to terrorize a group of teen-agers who win the chance to spend the night in Myers' childhood home and be part of a live Internet broadcast. The film's use of shaky video footage comes from The Blair Witch Project. Its plot about surviving a night in a cursed house borrows heavily from Thir13en Ghosts. Yet, Halloween: Resurrection pales in comparison to either film. Halloween veteran Jamie Lee Curtis makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film, which means she fares better than the remaining cast members. — SR (Rated R.)
CityBeat grade: F

K19: THE WIDOWMAKER — There are the gung-ho heroes Harrison Ford has built a career portraying. Then, there is someone complex and somber like Soviet nuclear submarine Captain Aleksei Vostrikov. Director Kathryn Bigelow gives her compelling Cold War story, K-19: the Widowmaker a boost by allowing Ford to step away from his All-American persona. Ford's K-19 performance relies on more than just his believable Russian accent. The soul of Bigelow's military thriller revolves around Vostrikov's tendency to put the glory of Mother Russia above the safety of his own crew. Liam Neeson gives ample support as Vostrikov's kindhearted executive officer. Together, Ford and Neeson make as engaging a pair of leads as you're likely to find in a summertime action movie. K-19 comes to dramatic life after Vostrikov's submarine faces the possibility of a nuclear meltdown while on patrol. An accident could jump-start a nuclear war. Bigelow emphasizes human drama over action pyrotechnics, and K-19 is a better film for it. With Ford and Neeson at the helm, Bigelow understands that there's no need for flashy effects. — SR (Rated PG-13.)
CityBeat grade: B

REIGN OF FIRE — Let sleeping dragons lie. Reign of Fire takes place in the not-so-distant future (2020) in the English countryside, an ideal setting for this medieval/post-apocalyptic fusion. The sci-fi/fantasy premise promises a low-rent summer escape along the lines of Dungeons & Dragons meets Mad Max, but it lacks the necessary B-movie energy and humor for a truly campy ride. Christian Bale and Gerard Butler are the dour British local heroes protecting a ragtag group of survivors from rampaging dragons. Their lone, spirited act is a re-enactment of the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader lightsaber battle that shows the power of pop mythology. The best and brightest of the American cheese comes from Matthew McConaughey, a military leader and self-styled dragonslayer. Think Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now or Patton with abs and tattoos to die for. McConaughey chews up the film's comic book storytelling, but you never get the sense that he's hungry for action. Neither are the dragons. There's no real fire in their bellies. Thanks to Bowman's (The X-Files) lack of action ingenuity, Reign of Fire claims few suspenseful sparks. — tt clinkscales (Rated PG-13.)
CityBeat grade: D

STUART LITTLE 2 — The meeting of humans and a mischievous mouse named Stuart Little (voice of Michael J. Fox) is as eye-popping as ever in director Rob Minkoff's sequel to his 1999 family adventure. What's missing is a solid enough story to connect the action sequences and special effects. Stuart drives a miniature sports car to school, flies a toy airplane and plays soccer with the big kids. In-between, the plucky house mouse befriends an injured bird named Margalo (voice of Melanie Griffith) and battles a vicious falcon (voice of James Woods). Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis provide flesh-and-blood support as Stuart's worrisome, human parents. Stuart Little 2 is a busy movie, intent on holding the attention of its child audiences. Still, it's clear that Minkoff has substituted action effects for the fairytale-like whimsy found in E.B. White's classic Stuart Little stories. Some tweaks are expected when a children's story is adapted to film, but Stuart Little 2 possesses even less heart than his first screen adventure. — SR (Rated PG.)
CityBeat grade: C