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December 09, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-09

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 9, 2002

ARTS

'Lilo' DVD a joy but no Disney classic

By Ryan Blay
Daily TV/New Media Editor
It's no "Lion King," much less a
"Snow White" or "Beauty & the
Beast," but Disney's summer 2002
cartoon, "Lilo & Stitch," is one of
the top grossing films of the year
thus far, yet still seems destined to
be forgotten in the Disney lineage.
Lilo is a mischievous girl living
with her older sister, Nani (voice of
Tia Carrere) after their parents die
(don't worry, we never see any acci-
dent). She likes to feed peanut butter
sandwiches to her fish and take pic-
tures of large people. But because of
her quirks, she doesn't get along
with girls her own age. While Nani
works a crappy waitressing job to
help, she decides to placate Lilo
with a dog. One problem with the
dog Lilo selects and names Stitch:

It's not really a dog.
Stitch (voice of writer/director
Chris Sanders), alias #626; is a
genetic experiment gone awry.
Super strong and brilliant, Stitch
can easily create a model of San
Francisco - then demolish it like
Godzilla. Stitch is created to
destroy. It escapes and crash lands
on Earth, where it eventually

becomes Lilo's pet.
Featuring several fine a
Elvis songs (including a
Wynonna cover of LILO &
"Burning Love" that D
works well), the music
is splendid. The film Picture/Sou
can get quite sappy, but Movie: **
most of it entertains.F
Kevin McDonald ("The Features: *
Kids in the Hall") Di
stands out as one of the
aliens sent to recapture Stitch while
protecting the delicacy of Earth's
ecosystem and their mosquitoes
(don't ask).
Being a Disney movie and not a
David Lynch film, it's pretty pre-
dictable. Ohana means family, fami-
ly means nobody gets left behind or
forgotten. That's the message.
Despite constant vigilance from
social worker Cobra Bubbles (Ving
Rhames in a scene-stealing role), the

)V
and
*
isn

girls are resolved to stay together.
The sound on the DVD is superb,
courtesy of THX. The extras are
plentiful - but not all are worth the
time. The most amusing feature is a
collection of previews in which
Stitch gets placed into four Disney
classics - "Beauty & the Beast,"
"The Lion King," "Aladdin" and
"The Little Mermaid." Definitely
check these out. Also
worth surfing through
are the "Young Voices
STITCH of Hawaii" featurette
7D featuring Hawaiian
kids brought in to sing
1 ***** along on one of the
clever songs of the
film, and a feature on
** the hula. Skip the
ney hideously out of place
A*Teens music video
and the "Build An Alien Experi-
ment" game, which is not even as
exciting as the "Beauty and the
Beast" trivia game.
"Lilo & Stitch" was one of the few
pleasures of the summer. Entertain-
ing without drowning in sap, Disney
found itself a hit. Unfortunately, Dis-
ney may take it overboard by making
a series and a direct-to-video movie
featuring Stitch, but that shouldn't
penalize this fun flick.

0

Leguizamo
has all the
signs of a
future OG -
Courtesy of
Universal
'Empire' falls at hands of clche

a

Courtesy of Disney
Hawaii? I was thinking about going there.

U g - - -

Clearance Sale!
R E A C T I U N-
KENNETH COLE
Sale includes STEVE?
boots and 4 ADD1
shoes
ihast S oes 619 E. Liberty
(arcoss from Border's Books)
662-0266

By Stephanie Kapera
Daily Arts Writer
"Empire" is not only the title of Franc
Reyes's debut filmmaking attempt; it is
also the name of a special blend of
heroin that dealer Vic Rosa (John
Leguizamo) peddles on the gritty streets
of the South Bronx. Vic is a slick dude
who says "Yo dawg" more times in one
scene than Eminem does in all of "8
Mile," and his goods could not have
been more aptly named. With his rivals
Tito and Jose selling heroin with dope-
ass names like "Dancing Queen" and
"Severe," Vic's stuff is a not-so-subtle
symbol of his inner desire to escape
the gangsta scene and
make it as a legit busi-
nessman. Did anyone say
American Dream?
In a shoddy and ulti-
mately formulaic attempt EM
to make room for Latinos At Shov
in the Italian-dominated' Qual
vault of gangster Un
moviedom, Reyes - Uni
who also wrote the film
- gives us Vic's character mostly via
voice-overs, ala "Goodfellas." Vic tells
us that it's all about money. Reyes tries
to make the criminal likeable through a
series of recognizably redeeming fac-
tors: His girlfriend is a serious student
getting her B.A., he pines away for his
dead brother who was "the man" when
he was alive and his ultimate decision to
get off the streets happens when one of
his crew members accidentally shoots
the young son of one of his rivals, Tito
(Fat Joe). All of this is well and good,
except that it's fantastically uninterest-
ing. Logistics questions abound, includ-

ing the obvious obliteration of any
suggestion that Vic does, or has ever
done, heroin. How many drug dealers
never test their own product? Appar-
ently the real good guys are totally
clean. Yeah right.
Vic's chance to get off the streets
happens when he meets Jack (Peter
Sarsgaard), an investment banker who
seems eager to turn Vic's drug money
into a legit stash of cash. Why this
unlikely union occurs is never
explained, and it does seem highly
unlikely. But if it's good for the plot,
hey, why explain it? Ultimately, through
a series of murders and betrayals, Vic
finds himself alone in his flashy new

rJD IRTHOUGHT

*
PIRE
wcase and
ity 16
versal

SoHo loft, pining away
for the old days. So are
we. Because a film like
"Empire" that wants
so badly to crack into a
genre where films like
"Scarface" and "Carli-
to's Way" have set the
standards for quality -
had better have some-
thing unique to bring to

an energetic performance as fast-talker
Rosa, and if he didn't have so many bad
lines} to spout out, this film might be a
good vehicle to propel him from side-
kick to leading man. The rest of the
actors (perhaps the oddest collection of
people to ever come together for one
movie - everyone from Isabella
Rosellini to Fat Joe to Denise Richards
are in it) are convincing, if a little gener-
ic, in their roles. Only Sarsgaard seems
miscast. He plays villainous Jack more
like a ,timid fan of Broadway musicals
than a powerful Wall Street stud.
"Empire," with its attempted depic-
tion of a culturally specific world, begs
comparison with another recent and
similarly ambitious film at the box
office, Curtis Hanson's "8 Mile." Both
films feature a young male - a minori-
ty to his surroundings - who tries to
rise up in the ranks of American society,
yet Eminem's authenticity carries "8
Mile" to places where "Empire" just
doesn't go. Scenes in "8 Mile," like the
rapper's graphic quickie with Brittany
Murphy, are artistic because they show
us something new - in this case, we
see the entire sexual experience of two
new lovers, from beginning to end.
The scenes where Eminem raps, too,
are innovative, in that, Rabbit's pas-
sion is an honest and believable force.
"Empire" aspires to, but in no way
attains, this sort of cultural clarity.
Although the ending hints at an inter-
esting moral ambiguity, the film ulti-
mately resists that ending in favor of a
pat, cut-and-dry closure that only fur-
thers our sense that this "Empire" has
already crumbled. It is not an unlik-
able film, but ultimately, an entirely
forgettable one.

6

U
0

IRAQ EMBARGO
People living in northern Iraq,
though encumbered by the
embargo, do not suffer as do
those living under the control
of Saddam Hussein. They have
plenty of medicine, meat, and
dairy products.
rAR( ULLIE & ' AtyoRs
WNW.GARYLILLJ!XCM

dinner. What Reyes comes up with
falls somewhere in between Taco Bell
and Chi-Chi's.
Stale plot lines and overused cliches
aside, it can't be denied that "Empire"
has artistic ambitions. With a flavorful
soundtrack by Ruben.Blades, a lively
depiction of Manhattan (although it is
livelier when we're in the "old neigh-
borhood" than the chic world of invest-
ment banking) and several good shoot
'em up scenes (one shot in slow-motion
is especially entertaining), the movie is
not visually ugpJ,*sant. The acting isn't
entirely bad either. Leguizamo turns in

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SPI "SePRIZE WHEEL for the
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