Ealasaid/ September 4, 1998/ Movie Reviews and Features, Writing

Originally written for The Occidental.

Heads up, film fans! Buena Vista Pictures has a few more movies coming out in the next year that they want you to know about. Here are the ones I didn’t tell you about last week, along with my predictions about them…

Will Smith is back as another cocky young guy who swept into a world he didn’t know existed in Enemy of the State. Think Men in Black without the aliens or UFO in-jokes. Robert Dean (Smith) is framed for murder by a corrupt intelligence official (Voight) attempting to commit the perfect crime and conceal a political coverup that makes Watergate look like kindergarten. Dean’s only hope is Brill (Hackman), a former conspirator. Enemy‘s preview is full of snappy specials, brilliant actors (Gabriel Byrne, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, etc.), and some chuckles, and hints at a good thriller flick. My prediction: a good, tight film for conspiracy buffs.

A Civil Action stars John Travolta as a small-time, confident personal-injury lawyer who takes on an apparently straightforward case involving the possible tainting of a community’s water source. As the case unfolds, however, it becomes clear that it is anything but straightforward. This looks like a tight film, has a top-notch supporting cast (Robert Duvall, Dan Hedaya, John Lithgow, William H. Macy) and has a lot of potential to be a great courtroom drama. My prediction: if it isn’t too pompous and contrived (which is a possibility), it could be fabulous. It certainly has some great black humor (at one point, Duvall exclaims, “the truth? I thought we were talking about a court of law!”), which is generally a good sign.

Monster fans need not despair that Godzilla is leaving the theaters — Mighty Joe Young is looking to fill the gap. Joe is a 15-foot gorilla, raised by a 21-year-old orphan, Jill (Charlize Theron of The Devil’s Advocate) and discovered by zoologist Gregg O’Hara. When Gregg and Jill rescue Joe from poachers by moving him to a California animal preserve, he is beset by two problems: a poacher from his past who wants to steal him for the endangered species black market, and his dislike of captivity. Finally, Joe escapes, and makes his way across a large city with both heroes and villains trying to recapture him. My prediction: harmless fluff. Realism is definitely not something one should look for here, but for lovers of big animals and mayhem, it’s a dream come true.

Come back next week to see me take on Simon Birch.