Dreamworks, VHS & DVD HH
Next to the quite fabulous Finding Nemo, this underwater offering from Dreamworks is a damp squib. Transplanting a story of mobster lore to the bottom of the ocean, it follows the fortunes of Oscar, voiced by Will Smith, a fast-talking fish who works at the whale wash but longs for a better life. Meanwhile a gentle shark named Lenny (Jack Black) risks the wrath of his mafioso father (Robert De Niro) as he refuses to take over the family business. Both visually, and in terms of narrative, Shark Tale is a pretty bland affair. The fish puns just keep on coming while the product placement is quite shameless, even by Hollywood standards.
Man On Fire (18)
Fox, VHS & DVD HHH
Set in Mexico City, Tony Scott's super-slick revenge movie casts Denzel Washington as John Creasy, the booze-addled government assassin-turned-bodyguard who is assigned to watch over Pita (Dakota Fanning), the cute young daughter of a Mexican businessman and his American wife. Over the course of several months, Pita manages to wean Creasy off the whisky while he gives her swimming lessons. The scene is set, then, for her inevitable kidnapping, after which our hero goes on the rampage, vowing to kill all who were involved. It's sentimental, sadistic and at least an hour too long, though you can't help but be sucked in by it.
Anything Else (15)
Dreamworks, VHS & DVD HH
The one small mercy in this otherwise inferior comedy from Woody Allen is that he didn't cast himself as the romantic lead. However his stand-in, American Pie's Jason Biggs, has little more to give than an impersonation of Allen's youthful self. Biggs plays New York comedy writer Jerry Falk, who is tortured by his neurotic girlfriend (Christina Ricci) and has Allen as his self-appointed mentor - a rather dislikeable character who makes wisecracks about the Holocaust and claims to have spent time in a straitjacket at the Bellevue Asylum. There are, as ever, some good one-liners, though the film has an unsettlingly misogynistic undercurrent and the characters are tiresomely familiar.
The Grudge (15)
Universal, VHS & DVD H
An English-language re-make of the Japanese chiller Ju-On, Takashi Shimizu's vapid picture is set in an apparently cursed house in Tokyo and sees an exchange nurse, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, being habitually freaked out by pallid spectres and the sound of distant rattling. Even with its glossy production and all-American cast, this is creaky in the extreme, and not in the scary sense. The story, told in a series of flashbacks, is confusing while the characters are thinly drawn. Shimizu seems to be operating under the misguided assumption that if he delivers enough shocks, we won't notice the absence of logic and suspense.
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