March '05

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All Reviews by Jason Aaron

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Much to the chagrin of conservative Christians everywhere, this film does not answer the lingering question of SpongeBob’s sexuality. But then again who gives a rat’s ass?

The cartoon show that’s a hit with both kids and adults makes a seamless transition to the big screen, providing plenty of laughs all around. There are some big league actors contributing voices, including Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson and Jeffrey Tambor, and David Hasselhoff makes a cameo in his Baywatch get-up, but thankfully filmmakers don’t stray too far from the simple, quirky humor that got them here. (PG) Rating: 4

Heat (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Originally shot as a TV movie in the 1980s when director Michael Mann was best known as the creator of the hit show Miami Vice, Heat was remade in 1995 with an all-star cast, including Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer. The result was one of the greatest heist films in movie history.

Pacino is the cop and De Niro the thief in this LA crime epic, and the brilliant scene where the two men finally come face to face (in a coffee shop, like a couple of joes talking shop) is one of the most important scenes of the last ten years, in particular because it’s the only time the two legendary actors have shared the screen. Heat also boasts a 15-minute bank job getaway that ranks as one of the cinema’s ten greatest shoot-outs.

This new two-disc Special Edition, which features Behind the Scenes documentaries, a commentary track by Mann and deleted scenes, is a dramatic improvement over the film's original, lackluster DVD release. (R) Rating: 5

Raging Bull

At last, the best film of the 1980s makes its way to DVD and boy was it worth the wait. Director Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is the gorgeously gritty, black and white portrait of tormented boxer Jake La Motta.

Robert De Niro’s unforgettable performance as the brutal La Motta won the actor great acclaim, a place in movie lore (after he gained 60 pounds for the film’s finale) and an Oscar for best actor.

This new two-disc DVD Collector’s Set truly does justice to a movie that ranks among the cinematic elite. There’s an all-new, four-part Behind the Scenes documentary that features interviews with all the major players as well as a feature that compares archival footage of La Motta in the ring to the film’s meticulous recreations. There are also four separate commentary tracks featuring Scorcese, his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker, screenwriter Paul Schrader and even La Motta himself. This is definitely the early favorite for DVD of the year. (R) Rating: 5

The Grudge

Why have a movie set in Japan where all the main characters are American? In this case, it was apparently the only way producers could persuade Japanese director Takashi Shimizu to remake his horror film Ju-On. The results didn’t warrant the effort.

While the 96-minuteThe Grudge can be boiled down to a pretty spooky trailer, as a film it’s nothing more than an uneven sequence of PG-13 creepiness, unlikely to scare anyone for very long. Sarah Michelle Gellar was more convincing as a butt-kicking vampire slayer than as the terrified nurse she plays here, one who stumbles upon a cursed house in Tokyo where the ghosts of murder victims (and their cat) are knocking off anyone foolish enough to enter their domain.

The story is convoluted and the scares come few and far between, making The Grudge a forgettable failure. (PG-13) Rating: 1



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