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The Independent Culture
Elizabeth (15)

PolyGram, rental HHH

Shekhar Kapur's lavish picture examines the metamorphosis of Elizabeth I from jolly teenager to sexless stateswoman and charts her struggle to hold on to the royal title. Visually, the picture is a sumptuous delight, with the unwieldy costumes rustling like knives being sharpened. Elizabeth's political development is deftly portrayed, though her romantic entanglements are less convincing. Kapur's cinematic language also lacks subtlety - sinister figures move in slow motion while saintly characters are bathed in sunshine. Despite these faults, Elizabeth remains a cut above the average costume romp.

Snake Eyes (15)

Buena Vista, rental HH

Brian de Palma's thriller also lacks subtlety in the symbolism department. Nicolas Cage plays Rick Santoro, a bent detective who is overwhelmed by his conscience. The action is set in an Atlantic City casino where the heavyweight boxing championships are due to take place. As the knock- out blow is landed, the Secretary of State, conveniently sat behind Santoro, takes a bullet between the eyes. The plot thickens as two stilettoed women are seen teetering away from the scene of the crime. More perplexing still is the disappearance of the 14,000 spectators-turned-witnesses.

The General (15)

Warner, retail HHHH

John Boorman's biopic of Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) follows the fortunes of the Dublin gang leader from childhood in the Hollyfield slums to his execution in the suburbs. The black-and-white photography lends a touch of warmth to Dublin's cobbled streets, but this is soon expunged as we watch Cahill nail a colleague's hand to a snooker table. One minute he's a cold-blooded thug, the next a charismatic law-breaker who would probably rather die than upset his mum. While Boorman's relentless mythologising of his hero is ethically questionable, as a gangland yarn, this film can't be faulted.

Deep Impact (12)

CIC, retail HH

The first few minutes of Deep Impact might lead you to believe that Hollywood has once again displayed prophetic insight into the US president's extra-curricular activities. Tea Leoni's ambitious reporter learns of a White House cover-up revolving around a woman know as Ellie. But she soon discovers that Ellie is in fact "ELE" - an Extinction Level Event. Apparently a rock the size of Manhattan is hurtling towards the Earth and a space shuttle crew have been sent to blow it up. As Tea Leoni analyses the coming apocalypse, Americans hit the highways as if a national holiday has been declared.