"The Scorpion King" -- Far back in ancient Egypt, "thousands of years before the pyramids," there lived a mighty warrior named Mathayus, last of the Akadians, professional assassins "trained for generations in the deadly art," and it's up to him to stop the evil, power-mad conquerer Memnon, who wants to rule Egypt today -- tomorrow, the world. Methayus, who's so tough he pulls an arrow out of his own back and shoots one of the bad guys with it, is played by The Rock, a muscular megastar on the pro wrestling circuit resembling a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in this predictable but fast-paced sword and sand saga. He's physically right for such a role with the proper fighting skills, which is all that's needed most of the time. (Rock's character is the hero in this prequel to "The Mummy Returns" in which he was an out-sized villain.) The action is virtually non-stop, with lots of battles and bodies but very little blood, some of the action like some of the dialogue rather cartoonish, another salute to the old-time movie serial that never took itself too seriously either. Steven Brand is the dastardly Memnon and Kelly Hu is his scantily-clad sorceress who helped plan his battles until she learned to roll with The Rock. 2002. 94 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of action violence and some sensuality).
"Enigma" -- A suspenseful, intelligent British thriller about a fiendishly clever code, a doomed love affair, betrayal and winning a war. Hidden away at the isolated countryside retreat called Bletchley Park, in the midst of World War II, British mathematicians and cryptologists are working against the clock to break a second time the supposedly unbreakable Enigma Code, which was cracked earlier but now has been changed. The Nazis use it to secretly direct their submarines in the North Atlantic and the change comes just as a series of Allied convoys are headed into harm's way. Tom Jerricho (Dougray Scott), a decoding genius, is rushed back to duty only a month after suffering a breakdown brought on, not by codes, but by a beguiling blonde named Claire (Safferon Burrows) who threw him over. Once back, Tom finds Claire is missing and suspected of passing along secrets to the Germans, runs into a snoopy secret service agent (Jeremy Northam) and gets chummy with Claire's ex-roommate Hester (Kate Winslet) as he wades through a series of mysteries in addition to finding a way back into the virtually impenetrable shell of Enigma. 2001. 117 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (sex scene, language).
"Spring Forward" -- Director Tim Gilroy's modest, subtle, intimate and quite rewarding debut film tells of two men with nothing in common who forge a remarkable friendship. It's the story of Murph (Ned Beatty), the wise old-timer, content to run out the clock, and Paul (Liev Schreiber), the beginner, an ex-con looking with considerable pessimism for his place in the sun. Essentially a two-character drama, the movie charts what becomes a father-son relationship between Murph and Paul, co-workers for the parks and recreation department of an idyllic Connecticut community. Paul, on his first day, is besieged by personal demons and ready to quit. But Murph does something few have done for Paul: He offers a helping hand. Over the course of time, both gain something important from the other. Beatty and Schreiber are splendid, so natural you forget they're acting. 2000. 112 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated R (language and some drug content).
"Big Fat Liar" -- Jason Shepherd (Frankie Munoz) is a sharp 14-year-old who lies about almost everything. So, naturally no one believes him when he claims a sleazy Hollywood producer stole his class paper and turned it into a hit movie. This time, though, it's the truth. So, Jason and girlfriend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) take off for the Coast to confront the creep (Paul Giamatti), who brashly refuses to straighten things out back home, setting the stage for a round of humiliating practical jokes that has him literally turning blue. Despite its goofiness and obvious target audience, it's overall a rather entertaining family flick. 2001. 87 minutes. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Rated PG (language).
Among the October headliners: "The Sum of All Fears" (Oct. 29), the fast-paced terrorist tale based on a Tom Clancy novel starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman; the thriller "Insomnia" with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank, and the live-action/animated "Scooby Doo," on the 15th. Adam Sadler's "Mr. Deeds" debuts on Oct. 22nd... Mike Meyers' wacky "Goldmember" is due Dec. 3...
New on DVD: "The Thin Man" was filmed in just two weeks back in 1934 and unexpectedly became a favorite for the ages. Buoyed by the inspired casting of William Powell and Myrna Loy as sophisticated, witty Nick and Nora Charles and based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, it was a perfect blend of comedy and mystery and spawned five sequels and a lot of imitators. Now making its debut on DVD from Warner, "The Thin Man" is as hefty as ever, still fresh, still funny, and Powell and Loy are yet to be topped...
"Monsters, Inc." made a monstrous entry into the home video world. Thney-Pixar animated hit became the fastest-selling DVD of all time with seven million copies in its first seven days on the video market, according to Variety. Another four million videocassettes were sold that first week. Video Business estimates that translates to $179 million in revenue, putting it on track to earn more on video than it did during its lucrative theatrical run.
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