VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International   |   Oct. 24, 2002 at 10:18 AM
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What's new in the world of home entertainment...


"The Sum of all Fears" -- Tom Clancy's stirring action thriller about terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, a fearsome and very timely scenario one year after the Sept. 11 attacks, tells of a black market bomb in the hands of a fanatic who wants to trigger a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. At the center of everything and seemingly the only one who figures out what's going on is the Clancy hero, CIA analyst Jack Ryan,(with Ben Affleck taking over the Harrison Ford role). Ryan and his boss (Morgan Freeman) are busily trying to evaluate the new Russian president as to his potential war plans while the real threat to America is being smuggled in from elsewhere, headed for a packed football stadium where the president is a guest. The story is complicated and Ryan's talents seem exaggerated at times but it's an entertaining, suspenseful tale with some realistic special effects, especially the horrendous disaster sequence. 2002. 119 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (violence, disaster images and brief strong language).

"Gangster No. 1" -- A tough, gritty British film about the rise and fall of a sadistic, homicidal maniac whose cunning and unrivaled brutality make him No. 1 in the London underworld. Malcolm McDowell plays the mobster kingpin in middle age, at the pinnacle of his power, while Paul Bethany is flat out scary as the lean, mean younger version 30 years earlier. As the older No. 1 awaits a dreaded confrontation, he recalls the early days as henchman to a flashy mob boss called the Butcher of Mayfair (David Thewlis) and how, when the time came, he seized control, trampling everyone in his way, on his meteoric rise to the top. It's a brutal, disturbing film though much of the brutality, such as the particularly savage attack on a rival gang leader, is left to the imagination. Good performances and vivid images make for solid adult fare. 2000. 103 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated R (brutal violence, language, brief drug use, nudity).

"Eight-Legged Freaks" -- Just in time for Halloween, or for anyone just needing a big-bug fix, comes this spooky tale of giant spiders taking over a small Arizona desert town. A barrel containing toxic waste falls into a stream, contaminating it and its resident grasshoppers, which happen to be the food of choice for a bunch of exotic spiders being raised nearby. Soon one of the creepy crawlers, bigger and bolder, gets out of its cage and jumps its owner whose flailing about knocks over the other cages, loosing all of the souped-up spiders upon the unsuspecting townsfolk. Some creep, some leap, all looking real, all looking for a meal. David Arquette stars as a prodigal son who comes home about the time the enlarged critters get there, Kari Wuhrer is the cute sheriff and Scott Terra is her young son, the only one who really knows how to stem the "arac" attack. 2002. 99 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated PG-13 (sci-fi violence, brief sexuality and language).

"Lucky Break" -- An engaging British prison comedy about a group of convicts putting on a show as a cover for a planned escape. Directed by Peter ("The Full Monty") Cattaneo, the film spotlights two longtime friends, Jimmy (James Nesbitt) and Rudy (Lennie James), a couple of notably inept crooks who land in prison after badly bungling a bank job. Jimmy immediately starts looking for a way out and finds the key to his plan in the warden (Christopher Plummer), a music lover writing his own musical about his hero, Lord Nelson. Jimmy's now a music lover, too, and jumps at the chance to stage the warden's show, especially since the stage is in an escape-easy area. Olivia Williams co-stars as a behind-the-bars love interest. Funny with some serious overtones, overall a pleasant diversion. 2002. 109 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (brief strong language and some sexual references.)


Coming up: "Spider-Man" and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"... Jennifer Lopez's "Enough" has moved out in front in the video rental derby this week, with "The Scorpion King," "Monsters Inc." and "Scooby-Doo" not far back... Among the many movies out there for spooking up Halloween, "The Exorcist" still would be our choice for scariest of the scary... For your future book, the year's top sleeper hit, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," finally has a video date: Feb. 11...

New on DVD: Some new disc dandies saluting yesterday's favorites. For starters, there's the 50th anniversary edition of "High Noon," the landmark 1952 Western starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, with a commentary by Cooper's daughter, Maria Cooper-Janes. Fans of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara can check out new releases of "The Quiet Man" (1952) and "Rio Grande" (1950), both with commentary by O'Hara...

For James Bond followers, a new box gift set with seven Bond adventures (and four 007s), including "Dr. No," "Goldfinger," "The Man With the Golden Gun," "The Spy who Loved Me," "A License to Kill," "Golden Eye" and "Tomorrow Never Dies." Also new, the 1967 British Bond spoof "Casino Royale," directed by John Huston and three others with a huge cast topped by David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, William Holden and Deborah Kerr...

The 1950s, with widespread anxiety over UFO's and aliens , were fertile ground for sci-fi movies such as Howard Hawks' "The Thing" (last line: "Keep watching the skies"), "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "The War of the Worlds." Now making its DVD bow is "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (1956), a familiar story of alien invasion but handled well with splendid special effects from Harry Harryhausen allowing it to rise above its B-movie origins...

The Elvis Presley estate has won an injunction in the California Federal Appeals Court barring further sale of the eight-DVD collection "The Definitive Elvis," released this summer by Passport Video. According to Billboard, a judge ruled that significant portions infringed on copyrighted performances and made unauthorized use of some of its songs, including "Jailhouse Rock" and "Loving You."

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