A group of bottle-blonde, blue-eyed cadets are dispatched from their futuristic "homeland" to grapple with hordes of mucus-oozing, brain- sucking arachnids hell-bent on universal domination. At the start, Starship Troopers appears to be gearing up for an essay on intergalactic fascism, though further inspection reveals it to be a space-age sitcom, as director Paul Verhoeven devotes unwarranted time to the parental troubles and entangled love lives of his teenage protagonists. The satire lies in the fact that we should end up rooting for a bunch of sugar-coated fascists as they wipe out several different species of insects. Perhaps the director didn't count on the fact that we can't wait to see them all turned to mulch.
Kundun (12) Buena Vista, rental HH
After the moralising of Seven Years in Tibet, Martin Scorsese's rendering of the early life of the 14th Dalai Llama provides mercifully light relief - too light, in fact. This stylishly shot picture, with a soundtrack by Philip Glass, is Buddhism made easy. A group of passing monks spend a night in a remote village and alight on a horribly precocious two-year- old as their spiritual leader. As we watch him grow, his developing spirituality can be measured by the force of the golden hue that surrounds him. And in case we don't quite comprehend the threat posed by the Chinese, Mao Zedong is portrayed as the kind of villain James Bond sneers at. Aesthetically stunning, but intellectually lacking.
Afterglow (15) Columbia, rental HH
The marriage of Julie Christie and the gnarled Nick Nolte is fashioned by painful memories and extramarital affairs. While Nolte (absurdly denominated "Lucky Mann") seduces Lara Flynn Boyle, Christie meets Boyle's husband, Johnny Lee Miller. While the overflow of sexual innuendo is enough to make Are You Being Served? look like serious drama - one scene sees Nolte lying under the sink with a giant wrench between his legs entreating a buxom housewife to "make me wet" - the script leaves a lot to be desired. The point of this film completely eluded me, but more perplexing is how any housewife, no matter how frustrated, could find Nolte's horribly wizened features remotely attractive.
The General (15) Warner, rental 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, as if we have just been dropped into an 18th-century musical, 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 and utterly paranoid 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.Reuse content