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September 05, 1997 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-05

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10- The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 5, 1997

Bugging Out

w S.

Mira Sorvino kills bugs dead in lackluster 'Mimic

Even master thespians Giancarlo Giannini, Jeremy Northam and Charles S. Dutton
can't save "Mimic" from the depths of mediocrity.

Hul

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By Julia Shih
Daily Film Editor
No summer is complete without at
least one horror flick involving mutila-
tions, free-flowing flesh wounds and
demonic creatures
to wash out the
shiny, happy plasticR
taste left by all those
cheesy romantic I
comedies. As this
year's gore-fest
offering, "Mimic" At
stars mutated bugs
that exercise a great deal of graphic
vengeance on unsuspecting humans.
How original.
Even with a talented cast headed by
Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam,
combined with the latest special-effects
technology, "Mimic" valiantly strug-
gles like a desperate rat caught in an
unrelenting glue trap before finally
sputtering to a grand but unimpressive
death.
The film's havoc-wreakers come into
existence when entomologist Susan
Taylor (Mira Sorvino) uses mutated
DNA to create a strain of insects in
order to save children who are dying
from a virus carried by cockroaches.
These bugs are designed to froth
through their rear-ends until their secre-
tions kill all cockroaches. Brilliantly,
the virus is wiped out and these life-
saving insects, which are engineered to
die within six months, are long forgot-
ten.
But just like in Michael Crichton's
novel, "Jurassic Park," nature takes over
and these man-made monsters find a
way to reproduce and rapidly evolve.
Sorvino's character later gives a wobbly
and outrageous explanation as to how
these insects could have possibly man-
aged this, but meanwhile, the bugs end
up turning into creatures that look just
like men wearing "funny shoes" and

LEVIEW
Mimic
Briarwood and Showcase

York's
system.
Dire
Guillermo
Toro d
amazing
creating
aesthetic

trenchcoats when viewed in the
And so begins the scream-m
(or, more likely, a groan-mara
Taylor and her husband (North
tie these creatures in the bowels

r I

edark.
narathon
thon) as
am) bat-
of New
subway
ct o r
o Del
Des an
job at
a very
film.

movie's silliness.
The true highlight of "Mimic" is the
special effects, which should please all
special-effects buffs. The scenes involv-
ing attacks of the creatures on humans
are visually impressive a though, con-
sidering that the script calls for every
single character in the film to have a
death wish, the attacks soon develop
into the cinematic equivalent of a bro-
ken record.
The first attack is the most notable
and amazing display of sci-fi technolo-
gy, involving Sorvino's first encounter
with an evolved creature while giving
audiences their first look at the huge
insects.
As for the actors, Sorvino shows an
incredibly limited range of emotions,
but is refreshing as a beautiful intellect
as opposed to the beautiful ditz she
played in "Romy and Michele's High
School Reunion."
Jeremy Northam proves to be a
charming leading man, though not quite

as charming as when he played the dia-
bolical killer opposite Sandra aullock.
in "The Net." His role in "Mimic" does,
not allow him to fully display his tal-
ents, as he is more or less -impotent'
throughout the movie until -the end,
when he suddenly gains superhuman,
abilities. -
Charles Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini,
and Josh Brolin also turn in sohd per-
formances as dutiful sidekicks.
For all the blood, guts attd shi
that Del Toro throws at us, "Mimic",
succeeds more in sickening'than -in
thrilling. The film shows pot'enltial in,
following along the lines of the
creepy, crawly blockbuster:
"Arachnophobia," but it bombs -like
yet another forgettable half-baked sci-4
fi dud.
The best thing to do wouklbe to.
throw this one to the Mystery Scie
Theater 3000 boys, and pray that the
people behind this one have-enough.
sense not to make a sequel.

Pivkw y
UNIVERSITY OF
3241 Baxter

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From the creepy
and amazing opening montage to his
consistently incredible use of the cam-
era, Del Toro sets an apprehensive tone
from the very beginning that has audi-
ences filled with feelings of electric
excitement.
His emphasis of close confinements
and playing with viewers' fears is some-
thing common in most movies of this
genre, but Del Toro does it in a highly
stylized manner. But for all his talent
and skills, there isn't much he can do
with a storyline and dialogue that
appear to have been added as an after-
thought to complement the film's spe-
cial effects.
Cheesy lines and a lack of plot are
the things that kill this movie. The lines
are reminiscent of classic B horror
films and don't really serve a purpose,
while the only semblance of a plot is
what occurs while the film crew takes a
breather in between creating fantastic
monster attacks.
Even feeblekattempts at giving the
main protagonists some depth (a dra-
matic scene that involves a pregnancy
test and revelations that the Taylors are
desperately trying to have a baby) seem
totally out of place and ridiculous. One
intimate scene that involves the couple
silently conveying their love for each
other through an anointing of slime
should have audiences laughing at the

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Mira Sorvino struggles to find her way while avoiding the clutches of giant cock-
roaches in Guillermo Del Toro's half-baked "Mimic."

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Jazzy, historical 'Harlem' proves career
renaissance for former television scribe

Harlem
By Len Riley
Doubleday
During the 1920s and 1930s in
America, the Depression brought the
country and it's citizens to its knees.
But while the nation struggled, Harlem
was at its peak. Len Riley's riveting
novel, "Harlem" is the compelling story
of a close-knit family in the heart of the
Harlem Renaissance.
"Harlem" unfolds like a soap opera,
with Riley providing breathtaking

exposition. As the personal stories of
the characters unfold, history is inter-
twined with the fiction through cameos
by key Renaissance figures such as
Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway
and Bill "Bojangles"
Robinson.
Geneva is a p (
beautiful, ambi-
tious and ruthless-
ly manipulative
girl from a poor
family in the South,
who through deception,
changes herself into a com-
pletely different person. By claiming to

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be from a wealthy black family, she mar-.
ries aristocratic Lester Noble, her.
wealthy boss. 4 Y
Meanwhile, fueled by Geneva'sdecep-
tive letters of the good
life in, Harlemx
Geneva's
Virginia
% ., Lamb
.. .,is, . C
vinced to
move- to
Harlem with her
family. But they never
expected the kind of treatmntet they
receive upon their arrival. Unbelpownst
to them, not only has Geneva lied: about
her past causing her to deny any ties with
this poor, Southern family, but.feneva,
once lover to Virginia's husband-Adam,
will do anything to get him back. Gen
slams the door in their face, foroing
family to sleep in the city parks.while
wondering how their next meal will
come, as Geneva plots to tak, Adam
away from Virginia.
Riley weaves the story, pf . the
Lamberts with elements of histQry and
life during the Renaissance. From the
stock market crash to jazz bands and
bootleggers, Riley recreates t
Renaissance by painting a vivid a
awe-inspiring picture full of color and
personality.
Through Adam, we are introduced to
the dark underworld of bootleggers a4
conflicts with organized crime:-brough
Adam's beautiful sister Billie,.w meet
up with the artists of the timeapd their
unique world. Billie, who lateriQn finds
success as a showgirl at the,fare,d
Cotton Club, dances to the live rwsic of
legpnd Duke Ellington and shares4
moment in the spotlight with BojangI
Robinson.
As each character explores life band
changes in the novel, some are torn apart
and some are brought closer-.tgether.
Riley keeps the novel evenly-paced andJ
compelling from each page to the next,
Born and raised in Harlem, Riley-is a
former advertising vice-pfesident
turned TV writer. His writing .predits
include "Good Times," T
Jeffersons,'" and "Benson.' Despite hid
acclaim as a sitcom writer,.lie has
proven his skill at dramatic writing, a
shown by this masterpiece.
"Harlem" is a beautifully written book
that is at times incredibly lyrical, .nd
often pulsates with the same level 'of
evitement and enerov a the nightlife it

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