FANTASY/SCI Fl SKY (15) 86min «0

The most expensive anime film ever to come out of South Korea uses the increasingly popular technique of having 20 animated characters played against 30 CGI background and then throws in some live-action miniatures to up the wow factor. It looks great and in the opening seguence the doomed city of Ecoban is introduced to much fanfare. It's 2142 and Ecoban houses two classes the haves and have-hots. The minority are lucky enough to live inside the main city, a type of genetic city-organism. which thrives on pollutants. Living outside amongst the underclass in the urban


nightmare caused by a nuclear winter is Shua. He has a dream of seeing the blue sky and wants to put an end to pollution by destroying Ecoban. Standing in his way is his ex-girlfriend Jay who is now a top dog in the security services. The set up is great. but Sky Blue unravels so slowly (even in this shortened and dubbed international version). over-elaborating the visuals. that it constantly borders on tedium. (Kaleem Aftab)

I UGC, Renfrew Street, Glasgow and UGC. Edinburgh from Fri 22 Jul.

Fantastic Four was always one of the more old-fashioned comic books, reeking of a bygone era of heroes, daring-do and the space race. But following the massive blockbuster and critical acclaim of fellow Marvel adaptations, can it cut it along with the grit of X-men, the serious psychological study of Hulk or the action spectacular of Spider-Man? The main problem standing in its way is that the aforementioned films were treated as serious subject matter, however fantastical the source

material, with visionary individuals taking the directorial helm (Bryan Singer,

Ang Lee and Sam Raimi respectively). Here we get Tim Story who, so far, has brought us the cinematic excuses that were Barbershop and the US

remake of Taxi.

A trip into space to study a cosmic radiation storm leaves our hapless adventurers’ bodies ravaged, leading to a new breed of celebrity hero. The elastic Mr Fantastic (loan Gruffudd), Invisible Girl (Jessica Alba), the Human

Torch (Chris Evans) and, of course, fan favourite the Thing (Michael Chiklis),

a walking slab of rock. As always they’re battling their nemesis, and one of comicdoms greatest ever villains, Dr Doom (Julian McMahon).

This is a family action romp, in many ways capturing the spirit of the comics, packed with wise cracks and glossy (sometimes hokey) FX. Alba and Evans add the cliched good looks and fluff, while McMahon endeavours to be menacing but is more smarmy pantomime villain than true threat. Chiklis attempts to add a dash of acting weight but you just can’t get past his really rather rubbery orange suit. Still, you can’t help but smile when he finally gets to utter the immortal line: ‘lt’s clobberin’ time.’ The kids will probably enjoy it but you’ll be left cold by its brash, blasé

emptiness. (Henry Northmore)

I General release from Fri 22 Jul. Previews from Thu 27 Jul.


' SILVER CITY ' (15) 128min 0000

John Sayles' detective story-cum- political satire benefits from a superb turn from the always reliable Chris Cooper as a dimwit. corrupt politician running for the governorship of Colorado. Sputtering gammy folksy wisdom to the press and the public along the campaign trail, Cooper's Dickie Pilager is a pitch-perfect parody of that old outlaw holed up in the Whitehouse. And in little Dickie's campaign guru. Richard Dreyfuss'

hawk-eyed Chuck Raven, and his financial backer, Kris Kristofferson's

dollar-eyed Wes Benteen. Sayles has quite astuter sketched in the kind of criminal cartel that dangles Dubya from his puppet strings.

The portrait of Pilager and his masters is painted in broad strokes, through the investigation by Danny Huston's ex-journalist Danny O'Brien

into the death of a Mexican migrant worker. Along the way, and with a little help from Tim Roth‘s savvy political

. journalist-activist. O‘Brien gets mixed

up with Pilager's wayward sister Maddy (Darryl Hannah) and reacquaints himself with his ex, Nora Allardyce (Maria Bello). Various other characters Ralph ‘Pa Walton‘ Waite's

blacklisted mine employee. James

Gammon's not entirely neutral Sheriff Skaggs. Luis Saguar's violent illegal immigrant trafficker turn up en route to the truth to hinder or help O'Brien. These are. by and large. ciphers used

' by Sayles to steer the narrative

towards its not particularly surprising conclusion. All the better. then, that

there's a fine thread of pathos running . through the film, in the sunset

romance between O'Brien and Allardyce. their formerly crusading newshounds just about hanging onto a desire to do the right thing in a world that has long since stopped caring. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 22 Jul.

See profile in listings.


The vogue for Hollywood adaptations

of recent Asia extreme flicks continues with this Americanisation of Hideo

Nakata‘s Dark Water. The fact that the

original was not great has deterred no one and this has the added intrigue of being the first English language film to

be directed by Brazilian Walter Salles : (The Motorcycle Diaries).

Unfortunately, Salles comes up short.

In trying to keep within the spirit of the - original he does not use the Hollywood

budget to pile on the special effects a la The Grudge or to move the film in a

new direction as Nakata did with the

English language The Ring 2.

Events may have been moved to Roosevelt Island in New York. but the basic premise of a single woman. Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly). young daughter in tow. moving into a wet apartment building with a dingy lift remains. In his search to add some meat to the wafer thin plot Salles

. beefs up Dahlia's backstory. She is ; going though a messy divorce with Kyle (Dougray Scott) and employs the

services of an agitated lawyer (Tim Roth).

The fatal flaw that this shares with the original is the best part of the film being in the initial plot-revealing 20 minutes. From here. it fails to build on the tension. That is until everything has

seemingly been resolved and for no

good reason there is a tagged-on finale in which more things happen in five minutes than in the rest of the movie. (Kaleem Aftab)

I General release from Fri 22 Jul. See interview with Koji Suzuki, the author

of Dark Water, page 22 of the

Edinburgh Festival Guide.

(PG) 94min 0


As it opens with a montage of gags I set to Vangelis' theme from Chariots of Fire. hopes are raised that the latest Will Ferrell vehicle might be an irreverent sports comedy. But Kicking and Screaming is just a bland spoiler designed to take the wind out of Richard Linklater‘s forthcoming The Bad News Bears remake.

A subdued Ferrell plays Phil Weston. vitamin store owner and son of Buck Weston (Robert Duvall). king of sporting goods and coach of the Cardinals. the local kids' soccer team. Phil's own son, Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) is currently warming the Cardinals' bench on Saturdays, and Buck offers ‘tough love' by trading his own grandson to league minnows the Tigers on a free transfer. Seeking revenge. Phil realises that coaching the Tigers could earn him the respect

. of both father and son. He even hires

legendary coach Mike Ditka (playing himself) in an attempt to out-psyche his dad.

‘You're one wisecrack away from being thrown out of the game.‘ warns

21 Jul—4 Aug 2005 THE LIST 4s