NEW FILMS FRIDAY

CHARACTER - Winner of this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this Dutch drama (based on the novel of the same name) tells the story of a young lawyer accused of killing his estranged father. In Dutch, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section on Page W4. R (violence, gore, nudity, profanity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY - Romantic comedy from Chinese director Peter Chan ("He's a Woman, She's a Man"), set amid the most turbulent decade in Hong Kong's history. Maggie Cheung ("Irma Vep") stars. In Cantonese and Mandarin, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section On Page W4. Not rated, probable PG (profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Tower.)

THE HORSE WHISPERER - Robert Redford's long-anticipated adaptation of the Nicholas Evans bestseller, delayed by production and weather woes, stars Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas ("The English Patient") in the tale of a romance between a horse trainer and the mother of an injured girl. Reviewed on the front cover of this section. PG-13 (profanity, violence, gore). (Broadway, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Reel, South Towne, Villa.)

QUEST FOR CAMELOT - Based on the fantasy novel "The King's Damosel," this animated musical/adventure follows the daughter of a slain knight and a blind warrior, who try to recover King Arthur's mystical sword, Excalibur. Voice talents include Pierce Bronsan, Don Rickles, Jane Seymour and Sir John Gielgud. Reviewed in this section on Page W5. G (animated violence). (Century, Creekside, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Anastasia"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.)

NEW FILMS WEDNESDAY

GODZILLA - The giant "star" of many Japanese monster movies is updated by the "Independence Day" team in this much-anticipated thriller. Matthew Broderick stars as a scientist desperately trying to find a way to stop the behemoth, which is heading for Manhattan. To be reviewed when it opens next week. PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Gateway, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Men in Black"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.)

RE-RELEASES

GREASE - * * * - John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are a mismatched high school couple in this energetic (and raunchy) 1978 adaptation of the stage hit about life in the '50s, with terrific dance numbers and amusing songs. Stockard Channing steals the show as bad-girl Rizzo. All three leads are far too old to play adolescents, and the ending sends a questionable message, but it's still a lot of fun. This 20th-anniversary re-issue features digitally remastered sound. PG (profanity, vulgarity). (Redwood, with "Deep Impact.") (June 20, 1978) - Chris Hicks

M - * * * * - Credited as one of the movies that help create the film noir genre, this creepy, atmospheric 1931 German thriller stars Peter Lorre (in his first starring role) as a child murderer who becomes the target of a citywide manhunt. Also memorable for director Fritz Lang's use of music (Grieg's Peer Gynt suite) to heighten tension. This 1997 restored version includes 10 additional minutes of footage. In German, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable PG (violence). (Tower, starting Monday.)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

PLAN 10 FROM OUTER SPACE - * * - This broad sci-fi spoof of Mormons and Utah culture, which features a one-eyed, beehive-head aliens from outer space and a rap/rock version of a Mormon hymn, was written and directed by local filmmaker Trent Harris ("Rubin and Ed"). There are some chuckle-worthy elements, but there are also a lot of dead spots. (Playing with the short "Attack of the Giant Brine Shrimp.") Not rated, probable PG-13 (sex, profanity, nudity, vulgarity, violence). (Salt Lake Art Center, Friday only, 8 p.m.) (Feb. 24, 1995) - C.H.

TAXI DRIVER - * * 1/2 - It's still shocking and it still drags in places, but this is the movie that made director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro stars after its initial release in 1976, a controversial exploration of the title character's descent into madness and violence. The film's most famous line ("You talkin' to me?") has become part of the lexicon, and Scorsese's visual imagery has been copied by a myriad other movies. Prints for the 1976 anniversary re-release feature enhanced stereo sound and enriched color. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Brewvies.) (April 26, 1996) - C.H.

YOUNG MASTER - * * 1/2 - The martial arts film that rocketed Jackie Chan to stardom in his homeland, the 1980 action-adventure (which he also directed) stars Chan as a disgraced student sent to find one of his former classmates. A lot of dopey humor, but worthwhile for the unbelievable 20-minute fight sequence that closes the movie. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable PG-13 (violence, nudity, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Tower, through Sunday.)

CONTINUING FILMS

ANASTASIA - * * * - Fox Animation Studios' first movie is this funny but at-times inconsistent (in terms of animation) musical-comedy about the sole survivor of Russia's imperial family, based on the 1956 film. Great performances by the "voice" actors - Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lloyd - definitely help. G (animated violence and gore). (Redwood, with "Quest for Camelot.") (Nov. 21, 1997)

THE APOSTLE - * * * 1/2 - Robert Duvall's long-overdue third film as a director is this drama about a disgraced preacher (Duvall) who rediscovers his faith when he's forced to flee Texas after viciously beating another man. Religion and faith usually aren't portrayed nearly as sympathetically and intelligently as they are here, and all the performances are very strong. PG-13 (profanity, violence, racial epithets). (Carmike 12.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

AS GOOD AS IT GETS - * * * 1/2 - Alternately dramatic and brutally funny, this comedy from writer/director James Brooks ("I'll Do Anything") wouldn't fly if not for the stellar performance by Oscar winner Jack Nicholson as a tactless romance novelist. Greg Kinnear is surprisingly subtle as a gay artist, but Oscar winner Helen Hunt is miscast as Nicholson's romantic foil. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, nudity, violence, racial epithets). (Brewvies, Kaysville; Redwood, with "Titanic"; Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

BARNEY'S GREAT ADVENTURE: THE MOVIE - * * 1/2 - Childless adults will find many reasons to run and hide and older kids will scoff, but this musical/comedy based on the PBS television show is a charming celebration of imagination. It helps that the movie gives the naysayers a voice. Featuring original songs written by Broadway composer Jerry Herman ("Hello Dolly," "Mame"). G. (Midvalley, Sandy 9.) (April 3, 1998) - Robert Philpot, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

THE BIG HIT - * * - Hong Kong cinema meets Tarantino-style black comedy in this dazzling looking but crude and brainless action thriller from John Woo protege Kirk Wong. Mark Wahlberg tries his best as a hit man framed for kidnapping his employer's goddaughter, but he's hampered by the goofball scripting. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore, nudity, attempted rape). (Cinemas 5; Redwood, with "Black Dog"; South Towne.) (April 24, 1998)

THE BIG ONE - * * * 1/2 - America's "corporate avenger," filmmaker Michael Moore ("Roger & Me"), strikes again with this funny and insightful documentary about corporate downsizing, made during a cross-country tour to promote his best-selling book "Downsize This!" Random Threats from an Unarmed American." Soem audiences may be turned off by the one-sided reporting, but the controversial finale involving Nike CEO Phil Knight makes it all worth it. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Exclusive, Holladay.) (May 8, 1998)

BLACK DOG - * - Try to imagine "Smokey and the Bandit" played for thrills and you might get an impression of what this silly action picture is all about. And pity poor Patrick Swayze, who's out-acted by musician Randy Travis, as the two play truckers duped into becoming illegal gunrunners. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "The Big Hit"; Sandy 9.) (May 3, 1998)

THE BORROWERS - * * 1/2 - Marred by some tasteless and vulgar jokes, this big-screen version of Mary Norton's beloved children books - about a clan of very, very tiny people trying to thwart an evil developer (John Goodman) - has some dazzling visuals and a brisk pace. But in the process, some of the charm is lost. PG (violence, vulgarity, mild profanity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

CITY OF ANGELS - * * * - Loosely based on the 1987 art-house film "Wings of Desire," this romantic drama/fantasy stars Nicolas Cage as an angel who's torn between duty and the love of a heart surgeon (Meg Ryan). The story's fine until things take a turn towards weepy melodrama. Fine performance from Cage and Ryan, as well as co-stars Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher, though. PG-13 (profanity, violence, sex, nudity, hospital gore, vulgarity). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Neil Simon's The Odd Couple II"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (April 10, 1998)

DEEP IMPACT - * * - Possibly the dullest disaster film ever made, this all-talk-and-no-action flick wastes an all-star cast - including Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman and Elijah Wood, who try to survive when scientists discover that a huge comet is on a collision course with the Earth. Not worth sticking around for the 10 minutes worth of destruction, frankly. PG-13 (profanity, violence). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Grease"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (May 8, 1998)

GOOD WILL HUNTING - * * * 1/2 - Well-acted, though also profane and vulgar, comedy-drama about a troubled 20-something mathematics genius (Matt Damon) who must undergo therapy (from Oscar winner Robin Williams, playing a down-on-his-luck college professor) as part of his parole. Damon and co-star Ben Affleck also wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, nude paintings, racial epithets). (Midvalley, Trolley Corners.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

HE GOT GAME - * * * - It wouldn't be a Spike Lee film if it weren't too long and extremely self indulgent, but the writer/director's latest features strong performances from Denzel Washington, as a prisoner who is temporarily paroled, and Ray Allen (from the NBA Milwaukee Bucks), playing his estranged son, a talented high school basketball player. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity, racial epithets, violence, drug use). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Sandy 9.) (May 1, 1998)

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL - * * * - Good-looking and glitzy, but sometimes confusing and very violent crime thriller, based on James Ellroy's novel, about detectives in 1950s Los Angeles investigating murders and a conspiracy that involves crooked cops and prostitutes who look like famous starlets. The cast, which includes Oscar winner Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, certainly helps. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, rape, drug use, racial epithets). (Sugar House.) (Sept. 19, 1997)

LES MISERABLES - * * * - This dramatic, not musical, adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel suffers from choppy pacing (due to studio-mandated cuts) and a lack of necessary melodrama. Still, the performances by Liam Neeson and "Shine's" Geoffrey Rush, as longtime antagonists Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, are superb, as is Uma Thurman, playing the doomed Fantine. PG-13 (violence, gore, partial nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Midvalley, Sandy 9, Trolley North.) (May 1, 1998)

LOST IN SPACE - * * 1/2 - Neither as good nor as bad as you might think, this big-screen version of the cult '60s television series, a science-fiction take on "Swiss Family Robinson," is decent if unexceptional eye-candy. However, things bog down in the second half, with a time-travel storyline that makes no sense. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Midvalley, Olympus, Sandy 9.) (April 3, 1998)

LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND - * * * - Great performances by British character actor John Hurt and TV star Jason Priestley as well as some odd humorous touches highlight this comedy/drama about a reclusive, technophobic novelist (Hurt) who becomes so obsessed with an B-movie actor/teen idol (Priestley) that he flies to America to be near him. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity, violence). (Carmike 12.) (March 27, 1998)

MAJOR LEAGUE: BACK TO THE MINORS - * * - Not as bad as you might think, but certainly not as funny as the original, the third installment of the "Major League" series stars Scott Bakula as a former big leaguer who's given a chance to manage a minor-league team. Watch for authentic Salt Lake Buzz uniforms, even though the movie wasn't filmed or set in Utah. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Kaysville, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 19, 1998)

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK - * * - Who says two Leonardo DiCaprios are better than one? The "Titanic" star is downright awful playing twin brothers - one the evil King of France and the other a sweet-natured prisoner - in this dimwitted adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel. Still, the dream casting of actors playing the Four Musketeers (Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons) almost saves things. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, sex, nudity, profanity). (Midvalley, Olympus, South Towne.) (March 13, 1998)

MEET THE DEEDLES - turkey - In the "grand" tradition of the "Bill and Ted" movies comes this awful and unfunny Disney comedy (filmed partly in Park City), which follows two surfer-dude brothers who try to prove themselves to their millionaire father and wind up trying to save Yellowstone National Park from a deranged former park ranger (Dennis Hopper). PG (vulgarity, violence, bikini babes, sex). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 27, 1998)

MERCURY RISING - * 1/2 - Call this by-the-numbers Bruce Willis thriller "Who's Trying to Kill Gilbert Grape?" In it, he plays an outcast FBI agent hired to protect a 9-year-old autistic savant who has accidentally cracked a top-secret governmental military code. Not nearly exciting enough, and the plot is so ludicrous it's laughable. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Midvalley.) (April 3, 1998)

MOUSE HUNT - * * - Good-looking but not nearly funny enough, this live-action cartoon pits Nathan Lane and British character actor Lee Evans against a pesky rodent (a real-life mouse, aided by computer-generated effects) for possession of a multi-million-dollar mansion. Too mean-spirited and far too vulgar for a "children's" film. PG (violence, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Sugar House.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

MR. NICE GUY - * * - Action star Jackie Chan's newest, a martial-arts comedy about a TV chef accidentally dragged into a turf war between a motorcycle gang and a drug lord, almost lives up to its advertised promise of having "more action than the last three Jackie Chan films combined." But its plot is too thin, the acting is abominable and the ending is pretty dull, frankly. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity, nude artwork). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 20, 1998)

MRS. DALLOWAY - * * * - Muddled adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel about the title character, a woman (Vanessa Redgrave) who spends a day remembering the defining moments in her life. Redgrave's radiant performance helps the film glide over some rough spots. Natascha McElhone ("Surviving Picasso") is also quite good as a younger version of the character. PG (violence, brief nudity, profanity). (Exclusive, Trolley Square.) (May 8, 1998)

NEIL SIMON'S THE ODD COUPLE II - * * - Call this badly thought-out sequel, which brings neat freak Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) and slob Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) back together for the wedding of the children, "The Grumpy Old Odd Couple." Matthau actually brings some life to the weak script, but Lemmon is annoying and the duo's road adventures are pretty lame. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Avalon, Cinemas 5; Redwood, with "City of Angels.") (April 10, 1998)

THE NEWTON BOYS - * * * - Star power helps bail out this uneven but factually based drama from writer/director Richard Linklater ("Before Sunrise") about four brothers (Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich and Vincent D'Onofrio) who became the most successful bank robbers in U.S. history. Well-placed humor doesn't hurt either. PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore, torture, brief nudity). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 27, 1998)

THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION - * * 1/2 - Not the romantic comedy the ads make it appear to be, this uneven comedy/drama stars Jennifer Aniston as a pregnant crisis counselor who asks her gay roommate (Paul Rudd) to raise the child with her and winds up falling for him. A stellar supporting cast (including Alan Alda and Nigel Hawthorne) helps elevate the material. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, drug use). (Carmike 12, Century, Holladay, Midvalley, Sandy 9.) (April 17, 1998)

PALMETTO - * * - A talented cast (including Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue and Gina Gershon) has some fun for an hour with this extremely uneven, blackly comic thriller, about a former journalist and ex-con who gets involved in the kidnapping of a teenage heiress. Things go seriously awry in the second half, with some horrible plotting, however. R (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity, gore, brief partial nudity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 20, 1998)

PAULIE - * * * - Here's the year's most pleasant surprise to date: a charming kids comedy about the title character, a parrot who learns to speak and comprehend the human language and who yearns to be reunited with his original owner. A great cast of human co-stars (Tony Shalhoub, Gena Rowlands and Cheech Marin) certainly doesn't hurt. Jay Mohr, from "Jerry Maguire," lends his voice to the character. PG (profanity). (Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne.) (April 17, 1998)

THE PLAYERS CLUB - Rapper/actor Ice Cube makes his writing and directing debut with this comedy-drama about a struggling single mother (newcomer Lisaraye) who takes a job as a dancer in a thriving "gentlemen's club." Co-stars include Ice Cube and Jamie Foxx. R (profanity, nudity, sex, violence, vulgarity). (Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Corners.)

SCREAM 2 - * * - There are some very funny comedic moments in this sequel to 1996's surprise hit slasher/comedy, which picks up the story two years later and brings back surviving stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox). But the killings this time around are more gruesome and not nearly as clever as screenwriter Kevin Williamson intended. Still, the film-within-a-film parody of the first movie almost makes things worth it. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Redwood, with Species II"; Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997)

SLIDING DOORS - * * - A lack of chemistry between the leads seriously hampers this uneven comedy/fantasy, a variation on "It's a Wonderful Life," which follows what happens when a young woman (Gwyneth Paltrow, sporting a bad British accent) misses a London subway train, as well as what happens when she makes it to the train station on time. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, sex, brief partial nudity, violence). (Holladay, South Towne, Trolley Square.) (April 24, 1998)

THE SPANISH PRISONER - * * - Proof that playwrights don't necessarily make good filmmakers, this low-key thriller from David Mamet ("Oleanna") features clever plotting and decent pacing, but irritatingly robotic acting that robs it of life. Campbell Scott is at his most wooden, playing a young businessman unsure of whom to trust after he invents a revolutionary business strategy. PG (violence, profanity, gore, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (May 8, 1998)

SPECIES II - Actually worse than the original, 1995' surprise hit, this sickening but at times laughable science-fiction/thriller reunites cast members Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge and Marg Helgenberger, as they try to track down a murderous astronaut "infected" with alien DNA. R (gore, violence, sex, nudity, profanity, attempted rape, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5; Redwood, with "Scream 2.") (April 12, 1998)

SUICIDE KINGS - A group of would-be gangsters (including Henry Thomas, Sean Patrick Flanery and Jay Mohr) kidnap a notorious Mafia boss (Christopher Walken) and incur the wrath of his bodyguard (Denis Leary) in this black comedy/thriller. R (violence, profanity). (Holladay.)

TITANIC - * * * - Too long by at least 45 minutes, director James Cameron's romance/adventure epic - set aboard the ill-fated passenger ship - is also more passionate and thrilling than most of what we've seen lately. Things are helped enormously by stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, playing doomed lovers, and the fact that almost all of the reported $200 million budget seems to have gone to the dazzling historical recreations. Winner of 11 Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, violence, nudity, vulgarity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "As Good as It Gets"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

TWILIGHT - * * 1/2 - Even a dream cast of veteran actors (Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman and James Garner) can't conceal the obvious flaws of writer/director Robert Benton's latest, a surprisingly crass but still lively mystery-drama set in Hollywood. Newman's terrific as a broken-down private investigator trying to solve a murder/blackmail plot, though. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, gore, sex). (Sugar House.) (March 6, 1998)

TWO GIRLS AND A GUY - * 1/2 - Featuring one of the worst film performances in recent history (from newcomer Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of the late Natalie Wood), this wildly over-the-top black comedy about two women (Wagner and Heather Graham) who confront their "shared" boyfriend (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn't score with any of the points it tries to make. R (profanity, sex, vulgarity, violence, gore). (Brewvies.) (April 24, 1998)

U.S. MARSHALS - * * - There are some exciting stunts in this spinoff of the 1993 hit "The Fugitive," but they're obvious retreads of action sequences from the first film (as well as "Con Air" and others) and the plot's not up to snuff. Also, Tommy Lee Jones does a fine job reprising his role, even though Wesley Snipes isn't nearly interesting enough as the subject of his hunt. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Murray, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 6, 1998)

THE WEDDING SINGER - * * 1/2 - Surprising chemistry from stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore helps save this silly but sweet romantic comedy, set in the mid-'80s, about a struggling musician and wedding entertainer who falls in love with a waitress who's engaged to be married. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, partial nudity). (Cinemas 5, Olympus, South Towne.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

*****

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Past movie reviews and capsules by Jeff Vice and Chris Hicks are available online. Search for MOVIES.