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January 06, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-06

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Tuesday
January 6,200
arts.michigandaily. com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

WRTS

5A

Don't cash Affleck's 'Paycheck'

By Justin Weiner
Daily Arts Writer

I tried desperately to come up
with something nice to say about
"Paycheck," director John Woo's
("Face/Off") latest action movie,
but the best I can say is this: It's not
"Gigli." To be fair, however, the
mere presence of star Ben Affleck is
not all that condemns "Paycheck."
One should regard "Paycheck" sepa-
rately, as a failure of not only
Affleck, but
almost everyone
associated with Paycheck
the film. At Quality 16 and
The premise Showcase
has potential. Paramount
Affleck plays
Michael Jennings, a reverse engi-
neer who takes commercial products
and redesigns them for rival firms.
For reasons that are never made
clear, Jennings must have all memo-
ry of his work erased after each con-
tract-job is completed. Hired to do a
mysterious assignment with a 10-
figure payoff, Jennings is shocked
to find afterward that he gave up his
mega-payday for an envelope with
19 ordinary items.
The concept of Jennings trying to
piece together his past seems inter-
esting, but "Paycheck" quickly man-
gles its only chance at success. The
plot unravels too quickly, and any
aura of mystery is lost early in the
film. Jennings' romance with his co-

'ourdesy
I've already said I'm sorry for "Gigli." Can't you paparazzi chase Jacko?

Courtesy of Sony

My watch says 3:30. Time for the early-bird at Old Country Buffet.

WHAT GIVES?
NICHOLSON AND KEATON GROW OLD ON AND OFF SCREEN

worker Rachel (Uma Thurman) is a
useless waste of time, adding little
to the film's plot.
Neither Affleck nor Thurman
make a decent effort to act in "Pay-
check." Uma can be excused in this
case. Saddled with lines like, "Do
you believe in second chances?" and
confined to an unnecessary role, she
never really has a chance.
Affleck cannot be so easily par-
doned. He takes the role of a smart,
athletic hero and portrays the char-
acter as himself. To say he is not
believable in his role is an under-
statement. One sees Ben Affleck,
not Michael Jennings, fighting evil
corporations and FBI agents. It

would have been far more practical
and believable for the writers to call
Affleck's character Ben and replace
Uma Thurman with Jennifer Lopez.
Of course, the plot and acting of
this film should not matter. This is a
John Woo film, and one does not
expect story or character develop-
ment. Chases, fights and explosions
have always been the hallmarks of
Woo's movies because of his ability
to stylize such violence. "Paycheck"
contains all of these elements, but
the trademark style is replaced by
cheesy effects and gimmicks that
belong in a made-for-television
movie. Even fans of John Woo will
be left disappointed.

By Mary Hillemeler
Daily Arts Writer
MOVI E REVI EW * *
At the outset of Nancy Meyers' "Something's Gotta
Give" I was unsure of what to expect from this unlikely
pairing of the writer/director from "What Women Want"
and "The Parent Trap" remake and Jack Nicholson.
Would this be simply a stale romantic tug-of-war com-

plete with sugar-coated ending? Or
could Meyers utilize her charming
pair of romantic leads (Diane Keaton
costars), take comedic risks and cre-
ate something fresh?
With flashes of comic ingenuity,
the finished product is well polished,
but also takes several notable mis-
steps. Meyers presents a slightly
smug look at two aging workaholics

Something's
Gotta Give
At Madstone,
Quality 16 and
Showcase
Sony
who find, through

the weekend. A question quickly answered when the
boyfriend, Harry (Nicholson), gets too excited by the
beautiful young daughter (Amanda Peet) and promptly
has a heart attack.
A series of not-so-unexpected events later finds our two
heroes all alone in his gorgeous (and impossibly lavish)
beach house in the Hamptons with nothing to do but listen
to French music, instant message each other between bed-
rooms and, of course, fall in love. The charm here cannot
lie in plot anticipation, but instead in the generous
exchanges between Nicholson and Keaton who never
begrudge each other a chance to shine.
An honest approach to the humor of real-life situa-
tions is the film's biggest strength. Who can deny the
humor of Diane Keaton halting in the throes of passion
to take Jack Nicholson's blood pressure? Another
delightfully absurd moment finds a heartbroken Keaton
mourning with expertly-timed wails for seemingly hours
on end to hilarious effect.
The pairing of these two characters in the first place,
however, is potentially problematic. Audiences may deem
Harry's heartless bachelor unworthy of Erica's motherly
career woman. Mucking things up even further is a virtual
puppy dog of a doctor (Keanu Reeves) who falls head over
heels for her and appears more than worthy of her affec-
tions. In addition, a relentless run time and beyond-cliche,
finale leave behind a slightly sour taste.
Nonetheless, the chemistry between the two star's is
terrific and such sore spots cannot keep Keaton and
Nicholson's work from succeeding on the surface at
least. The film fares quite well as a smart and amusing
look at unlikely love complete with a romantic's dream
soundtrack and several first-rate performances.

trial and error and several dreamy walks on the beach,
that they are meant to be. Unfortunately, quick wit and
the actors' graceful willingness to humiliate themselves
do not manage to completely overshadow minor plot
issues and at least 20 minutes of drag time.
Keaton, as the smart and spirited playwright Erica
Barry, proves she's still got that awkward charm she per-
fected nearly 30 years ago in "Annie Hall" When she
calls the police on an underwear-clad intruder only to
learn that he is dating her daughter, her hopeless
attempts at saving face are endearing. Further chaos
ensues when Barry's .sister (Frances McDormand,
"Fargo") can't see why the whole crew shouldn't stay for

'Prince' returns
Scrowning effort
By Charles Paradis
Daily Arts Writer
V E
Are you tired of boring combat? Tired of having to reload
after you die? Well, fret no more. UbiSoft has the game for
you. With the latest installment of your favorite Middle East-
ern nobleman, "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time," Ubisoft
finally gives gainers what they want: an easy way to take
back a mistake without having to reload. However, offering a
complete package of enjoyable gameplay and scenic envi-
rons, the game's greatness is not contin- _
gent on this unique temporal Prince of
manipulation.
Armed with a magical dagger, aptly Persia:
named the Sands of Time, our intrepid Sands of
prince can stop, slow, accelerate and Time
even move back in time. Replete with GameCube, PS2
this dagger and his trusty scimitar, the and XBox
prince sets out to destroy, via acrobat- UbiSoft
ic combat worthy of the best Holly-
wood wire fight scene, the sand creatures that have
overrun the kingdom.
On their way to righting the wrong you unwittingly
committed upon releasing the Sands of Time in the first
place, players battle with hordes of mindless, zom-
biesque sand creatures. With a handy magical dagger,
you smite these foes and take back the-sands, which can
then manipulate time. You're joined in your quest by
Farah, the daughter of the maharaja from whom you
stole the dagger.

Keetah ml pharos, aja nilo.

Cult favorites hit DVD in new box sets

The somewhat simple story takes place in a wonderful
world of soft lighting and picturesque settings. The
prince's ability to run on walls, flip gracefully over ene-
mies and trek through magnificently rendered environ-
ments make "Sands" one of the most aesthetically
pleasing games in recent memory. The game reaches a
near-cinematic beauty as you navigate treacherous traps,
solve various puzzles and duel deadly foes.
The only downside is its short length. While the first
time through may take you 10 to 12 hours to safely plot
a course through the palace, choosing to play it a sec-
ond time will probably only take you slightly longer
than half that time. Despite the relatively short length,
the wonderful combat and creative acrobatics, which set
the bar for the upcoming Tecmo release "Ninja Gaiden,"
make "Sands" a worthwhile purchase for any
action/adventure fan. And for those who want a little
more out of their games, the developer has even cleverly
hidden a playable port of the original version of "Prince
of Persia" within "Sands of Time." Play "Prince of Per-
sia: Sands of Time" and enjoy an updated classic of this
storied franchise.

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
Few series capture the imagination
and attention of viewers quite like
"Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" did in its

seven years on the
air. The brain
behind the cult
phenomenon, Joss
Whedon, has
crafted a unique
style of story-
telling, evident in
not only "Buffy,"
but also his sci-fi
western hybrid
"Firefly." Com-
bining action,

Buffy:
Season 5.
FOX
Firefly: The
Complete
Series
FOX

other creatures of the night. However,
the strength of "Buffy" is in its charac-
terization and dialogue. The release on
DVD of season five, the final season
that aired on the WB, shows the series
at its best. Season five featured seminal
episodes like "The Body" and "The
Gift" that show the emotional core that
is found beneath the action and comedy
that take center stage.
With "Firefly," Whedon attempted to
create a western set in outer space. Uti-
lizing the same type of comedic wit
that prevailed in both "Buffy" and its
spin-off, "Angel," "Firefly" takes a dif-
ferent approach to the conventions of
its genres. It's the story of a smuggling
ship, "Serenity," piloted by a captain
(Nathan Fillion, "Buffy") searching for
a true sense of purpose amidst outer
space. "Firefly" started strong out of
the gate, and with the addition of a few
more seasons to fully find its footing, it
could have been a truly remarkable
show. FOX never gave the series a
chance, airing its pilot episode at the
end of its run and showing all of the
episodes out of order.

Both DVD sets feature clear transfers
of both the video and sound, but
"Buffy: Season Five" is given a
fullscreen presentation even though a
widescreen transfer exists. In regards to
extras, both sets have ample featurettes
and commentaries, with "Firefly" con-
taining a few more documentaries about
the making of the show. For TV on
DVD sets, the extras more than suffice.
For the uninitiated, "Buffy" is a
show that truly deserves to be seen, but
because of the continuity, season five
should be saved until after the four pre-
vious seasons have been viewed. Even
if that warning is not heeded, the fifth
season of "Buffy" is one of the best in
the series, showing what made the
show so great.
"Firefly" is the first opportunity for
the episodes to be seen in the proper
order, including an unaired episode, as
well as being a perfect chance for fans
who missed the original airings to
catch this unjustly-cancelled gem.
"Buffy: Season 5": ****1
"Firefly: The Complete Series": ****i

WHAT WAS THE BEST
FILM RELEASED THIS
DECEMBER?
14 3%
The Last Samurai
Big Fish
Peter Pan
Cold Mountain714
The Lord of the
Rings: Return of
the King
VOTE IN THE NEXT POLL AT
AR?3.MICHIGANDAILYCOM

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humor and science-fiction, Whedon's
series stand out among the uninspired
competition on the air.
While the theatrical version of
"Buffy" was less than stellar, the televi-
sion spin-off created a vivid mythology
in Sunnydale filled with vampires and

University Musical Society
Winter Half-Price Student Ticket Sale

Saturday, January 10
10 am- 1pm
&*. a. I

For one day only at the beginning of each semester, UMS offers
HALF-PRICE TICKETS to students. This extremely popular event draws
hundreds of students every year - last year, students saved over
$118,738 onUMSTickets. Some perfomances have a limited number
of tickets available, so get there early!

G

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