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January 13, 1998 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-13

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Gratzi restaurant at 326 S. Main presents a unique interpretation of
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" this evening through
Jan. 17. Featuring "Phantom" performances by nationally renowned
artists, Gratzi reclaims its theatrical heritage by presenting Webber's
musical in three segments - at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. There's no addition-
al charge, but make reservations to guarantee seating. 663-5555.

Tuesday
January 13, 1998

5

Bond blasts back in 'Tomorrow'

By Joshua Rich
Daily Arts Writer
Recently skimming through an anthology of
:film reviews, I came across Pauline Kael's com-
ents regarding director Roger Spottiswoode's
third movie, a 1983 jungle warfare thriller called
"Under Fire. "Everything is thought out and pre-
ared, but it isn't explicit, it isn't labored, and it
certainly isn't overcomposed," Kael wrote.

I am surprised, thus, that a
director of Spottiswoode's
notable skill and demeanor
would lend his talents to a
James Bond film, a project
that undoubtedly renders
insignificant the individual
efforts of its cast and crew in

Tomoi
Ai RE
At Briar

Theme" plays almost continuously throughout
this picture - more than in just about any other
- as if its creators wanted to keep reminding us
that this is a Bond film. They're wasting their
time: After a shaky start in 1995's "Goldeneye,"
Pierce Brosnan seems more comfortable in the
role this time around, spouting off familiar lines
like "Bond, James Bond" with conviction, rarely
looking like some hack who is just impersonating
Sean Connery.
V I E W The Bond formula's basic
elements, as established in
rrow Never "From Russia with Love"
DieS and "Goldfinger," are also
***I all here -- exotic locales,
rwood and Showcase beautiful women, witty and
evil rivals, stuffy British
bureaucrats and a few breathtaking action
sequences make this, unmistakably, a Bond flick.
(In the style of "Live and Let Die" and "A View
to a Kill," it even has a ridiculous title that sounds
very cool and means very little).
After stumbling through their past four Bond
installments, the film's producers vainly struggle
to have you believe that this is a "new" Bond (a
man for the '90s), yet everything remains basical-
ly the same. And that's just fine.
"Tomorrow Never Dies" takes Bond back to
the Orient, the site of "You Only Live Twice" and
"The Man with the Golden Gun," among others.
It is no surprise that after 18 films, self-referen-
tiality has started knocking. And why not? The
important characterizations (Bond, M, Q,

Moneypenny) and motifs of any James Bond
movie were established decades ago in other
movies. Reminding us of those acts just makes
everything more immediate.
As in "Goldeneye," the Cold War is still over
and Bond is still struggling to find an enemy lurk-
ing somewhere in the shadows of the world. So he
heads to Vietnam, where he rides across the
rooftops of cardboard shacks (on a BMW motor-
cycle, of course), and finds the villain (Jonathan
Pryce), a deranged media mogul whose dastardly
plan is to force a war between East and West so
that he may launch his new information empire
with big headlines. The superior Pryce is wasted
on his character, Elliot Carver, a cartoonish buf-
foon who would better fit in drooling alongside
Jack Nicholson and Adam West in some
"Batman" reunion flick. He is the movie's only
substantial casualty.
Enter the women. The affectless Teri Hatcher is
on screen long enough to take off her dress, gri-
mace a few times and get snuffed. More fortunate
is Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh, the first
primary Bond woman without white skin, as a
Chinese agent simultaneously tracking the suspi-
cious Carver. The ladies are nice set pieces, and
Yeoh even holds her own against a throng of mar-
tial arts baddies at one point, much to James'
chauvinistic surprise.
Our buddies back in London also make their
requisite appearances, at the appointed times. M,
in the form of Dame Judi Dench, sends Bond on
his mission at the beginning (thankfully less con-

rder to achieve - and, more importantly, main-
ain - the inherent style of the James Bond char-
acter.
By definition - and out of necessity - Bond
films certainly are thought out and prepared, but
they rely heavily on an explicitness, laboriousness
and overcomposition that is virtually unmatched
in contemporary cinema. After all, over more than
35 years Bond has become a pop phenomenon,
traversing some 18 films, showing no sign of let-
ting up. And Spottiswoode's "Tomorrow Never
Dies" while it does little to showcase its director's
ealents (as we shouldn't expect any Bond film to
be the product of an auteur, per se), ranks among
the best of the seriously campy lot.
Monty Norman's familiar "James Bond

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) never dies - but he'd be glad to blow your head clean off.

cerned with the fact that he is a misogynistic
"dinosaur," as she was so quick to point out in
"Goldeneye"). Soon thereafter, Moneypenny
(Samantha Bond) makes eyes at James, but still
has the guts to amusingly allude to his notorious
sexual dalliances - she must be a big
"Octopussy" fan.
Then, in the moment everybody anticipates,
82-year-old Desmond Llewelyn waltzes back on
screen for the 16th time as Q (surprisingly a little
more lively than he has seemed in recent years),

to present Bond with his gadgets: a special cellu-
lar telephone and a remote-controlled Beemer
that Bond can drive with his thumb.
Half-an-hour later, Bond finds himself
involved in the most exciting and inventive auto
chase in recent years, as he maneuvers his car
through a covered parking lot, eluding - and
killing - most of the bad guys, all by remote
control. "Tomorrow Never Dies" thereby suc-
ceeds, and the rest of the film is thrilling, hi-tech
set dressing.

Weak 'Firestorm' blows itself out

Return to sender: 'Postal' shoots blanks

y Matthew Barrett
aily Arts Writer
Would you pay money to watch Bruce Willis play football
for the Oakland Raiders? Of course not. So why would any-
one get the idea that former football player Howie Long
would make a good lead for an action movie is beyond me.
But they did, and the result is the dreadful and weakly devel-
oped "Firestorm."
Howie Long stars as smokejumper Jesse. A smokejumper
is one who jumps into the heart of fires when it is no longer
possible to access them from the ground.
The character is really nothing more than a rough and
lough guy with a soft spot hidden somewhere in his heart. He
can punch, jumpkick and fight bad guys with the best, yet
when he sees a little girl inside a burning house he sees no
option other than risking his life to save her.
The main nemesis of Jesse is Shaye (William Forsythe), a
prisoner who breaks free while fighting a forest fire in the
wilderness. Forsythe tries'to play the part of cool, smooth
intimidator, someone who could bring the world to its knees
with a single glance. It doesn't work.
The character is supposed to be the smart mastermind
:hind a prison break, but he never comes off as anything but
'nidiot.
Shaye somehow stole and hid 37 million dollars before he
went to jail and has promised part of it to people who help
him make the escape work. The fellow prisoners with whom
he surrounds himself are no better, as they accept all the lame
answers that Shaye gives them for their questions about the
money.
The plot involves the prison break, the taking hostage of
Jennifer (Suzy Amis) and the inevitable conflict between
Jesse and the prisoners.
The story isn't very well developed, and by the end it's
iaterialized as nothing more than a
few people chasing each other around R E
in a forest of burning trees. The dia-
logue is awful. Usually a few funny
one liners can be counted on during an
action movie, but there really aren't
any here.
The cat and mouse game that At Briar,
develops between Jesse and Shaye is
never allowed to take off or become anything new or cre-
ative. By the end, things have boiled down to Jesse wanting
stop Shaye because it's the right thing to do and Shaye
wanting to kill Jennifer because she knows his planned
route of escape.
"Firestorm" has one big plot twist, but it comes out of
nowhere and there really weren't any clues leading up to it.

Postal
Ripcord
Windows '95 CD-ROM
The first glance at the box of the CD-ROM game
"Postal" says it all. The title is stamped in big, bold red let-
tering with simulated bullet holes surrounding it. This is a
shame in and of itself. The men and women that sort and
deliver the mail around the United States certainly receive a
bad rap, even after the rash of incidents that have taken
place in the last 10 years. Our postal workers do a fine job.
Fans of gaming expect creativity and innovation from
creators each and every time. Does a game have network-
ing capabilities? Are there multiple options available? Are
there many characters to choose from? From what point of
view does the game take place? All of these things are
important, and for "Postal," it fails in several categories.
On the bright side, the idea behind "Postal" is a good

one. "Postal" literally attacks you from a third-person
point-of-view unlike popular first-person games such as
"Quake," "Doom," "Duke Nukem" and "Marathon." It's
unfortunate that "Postal" doesn't improve on them-- the
graphics are extremely choppy and detached.
The singular purpose of the game is to kill as many peo-
ple as possible. As the player wanders through the various
settings, he faces many people out to do him in. They have
inordinate amounts of firepower, complete with rocket
launchers, machine guns, and flamethrowers. Since the
world is out to get the main character, he has to eliminate
everyone else before they get him. There's even the option
of executing your enemies while they writhe in pain
screaming. How original.
Ripcord Productions fails and fails miserably in its
attempt to profit off of all the hoopla in the news about
crazy postal workers. There really aren't any redeeming
features, and in an age of rising creativity within gaming
"Postal" is a huge flop.

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"Let's get out of here, kid! Terry Bradshaw's 'Home Team' is
on in 10 minutest," yells Howie Long in "Firestorm."
Unfortunately, the twist is gone about as quickly as it came
when the suspicious character is knocked off.
The makers of the movie would have been much better off
if they took the twist and fleshed it out in order to give the
viewer a more compelling and interesting moviegoing expe-
rience.
First-time director Dean Semler has a
few clever shots throughout the movie, but
/I E W they are few and far between. One such
Firestorm sequence involves Jesse emerging from the
water and throwing an ax with two hands at
* the enemy. The surroundings are very dark
and there is a great deal of fire in the back-
ood and showcase ground, which helps make the shot look
even better. Too bad that the scene was in
every advertisement or preview for the movie.
"Firestorm" is a horrendous movie with weak dialogue,
direction, and acting. The villain isn't scary or the least bit
intimidating, which makes it all the harder to care about the
dull and boring hero. There isn't anything memorable about
the picture, but it does provide a good example of why ath-
letes should stick to sports.

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