NEW FILMS FRIDAY

> FALLEN ANGELS - A sort-of sequel to the 1994 art-house hit "Chungking Express" (it even picks up one storyline cut from that film), this dark comedy-thriller from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai follows several disaffected twentysomethings, including a hitman looking to get out of the business. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section on Page W5. Not rated, probable R (violence, gore, vulgarity, sex, profanity, nude artwork, racial epithets). (Tower, starting Saturday.)

HAV PLENTY - Talented newcomer Christopher Scott Cherot produced, wrote, edited, directed and stars in this screwball romantic comedy about an impoverished writer who spends New Year's Eve with the snooty woman he's loved since college. A selection of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Reviewed in this section on Page W4. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (South Towne, Trolley Corners.)

MULAN - The latest Disney animated offering is this musical adventure about a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a warrior to save her ailing father's life, and to earn his respect. Voice talents include Ming Na-Wen, Eddie Murphy, Harvey Fierstein and George Takei. Jeff Vice interviews producer Pam Coats on page W1; reviewed in this section on Page W3. G (animated violence). (Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "My Giant"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley Square, Villa.)

THE X-FILES - Based on the hit television series, this science-fiction thriller actually picks up the story from the season-ending cliffhanger of a month ago, as FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) try to undercover a massive government conspiracy involving alien parasites that are being spread as a virus. Reviewed in this section on Page W3. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, brief nudity, racial epithets). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Scream 2"; Reel, Sandy 9.)

CONTINUING FILMS

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. (Valley Fair.) (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, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 24, 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). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (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, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

CAN'T HARDLY WAIT - * * - At-times bright but more often annoying, modern-day revision of "American Graffiti." Ethan Embry (from "That Thing You Do!") is good as a shy high-school graduate trying to summon the courage to tell the class knockout (Jennifer Love Hewitt, from "I Know What You Did Last Summer") how he feels about her before he leaves town. But too often the film settles for cheap humor. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, violence, sex, racial epithets). (Carmike 12, Century, Crossroads, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Godzilla"; Sandy 9, Trolley North.) (June 12, 1998)

CITY OF ANGELS - * * 1/2 - 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 performances from Cage and Ryan, as well as co-stars Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher, though. PG-13 (profanity, violence, sex, nudity, hospital gore, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Midvalley.) (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, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "The Truman Show"; Sandy 9.) (May 8, 1998)

DIRTY WORK - turkey - Leaden, taste-deprived attempted comedy about a couple of losers (including former "Saturday Night Live" star Norm Macdonald, who co-wrote the script) whose contribution to American capitalism is a revenge-for-hire business. Far too often, the supposedly funny business happens offscreen. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley North.) (June 14, 1998) - Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times News Service

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS - * 1/2 - Imagine trying to spend two hours in Las Vegas with "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson and you might get an idea of what this drug-culture comedy, based on the infamous novel, is like. Painfully unfunny, though director Terry Gilliam's warped visual style and Johnny Depp's spot-on Thompson impression are momentarily diverting. R (profanity, drug use, vulgarity, violence, nudity, gore, racial epithets). (Brewvies.) (May 22, 1998)

GODZILLA - * * - Despite the awesome computer graphics-created title character, which rampages through Manhattan rather than Tokyo this time, this sci-fi/thriller from the "Independence Day" filmmaking team is a too-transparent ripoff of the "Jurassic Park" movies. Kids will probably love it, but adults may find themselves wanting better-developed characters and situations. A few thrills and a couple of chuckles, but on whole pretty disappointing. PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Century, Cottonwood, Gateway, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Can't Hardly Wait"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley Square.) (May 20, 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). (Brewvies, Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

HOPE FLOATS - * * - Not the change of pace Sandra Bullock might have anticipated, this disappointingly downbeat drama stars Bullock as a single mother who discovers love and acceptance when she is forced to move back to her small Texas hometown. Frankly, she tries too hard to charm her way through this uneven mess. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity) (Broadway, Carmike 12, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley; Redwood, with "A Perfect Murder"; Sandy 9.) (May 29, 1998)

THE HORSE WHISPERER - * * * * - A case of the movie actually being better than the book, Robert Redford's long-anticipated adaptation of the Nicholas Evans best-seller stars Redford as a horse trainer who helps heal a wounded animal, as well as its young rider and her mother (Kristin Scott Thomas, from "The English Patient"). Wonderfully low-key, with superb photography that makes great use of the beautiful Montana scenery. PG-13 (profanity, violence, gore). (Broadway, Cottonwood, Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Six Days, Seven Nights"; South Towne.) (May 15, 1998)

HUSH - * - This dull thriller about an evil mother-in-law (Jessica Lange) has more problems than just a bad title (though several others, including "Kilronan," were rejected). Lange and co-star Gwyneth Paltrow are hammy and wooden, respectively, and the script's unintentionally hilarious. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, gore, nudity, sex). (Sugar House.) (March 6, 1998)

THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO - * * * - Though it loses steam about midway through and suffers from a seeming lack of genuine warmth, independent filmmaker Whit Stillman's latest is a wry and witty comedy about the romantic foibles of two young book company "readers" (Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny) who patronize one of New York's trendiest nightspots during the early '80s. R (vulgarity, profanity, drug use, violence, nudity, sex, brief gore). (Holladay.) (June 12, 1998)

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). (Kaysville, Trolley North.) (May 1, 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). (Cinemas 5, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 13, 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's 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). (Sugar House.) (April 3, 1998)

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). (Valley Fair.) (March 20, 1998)

MY GIANT - * * - There's yet another smug turn by Billy Crystal in this unfunny comedy, which stars Crystal as a third-rate talent agent who accidentally discovers a new star, a 7-foot-plus, Shakespeare-quoting monastery caretaker (Gheorghe Muresan, from the NBA Washington Wizards), while in Europe. Things are also marred by a vulgar vomiting gag. PG (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Kaysville; Redwood, with "Mulan.") (April 10, 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). (Cinemas 5, Sugar House.) (April 10, 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). (Sugar House.) (April 17, 1998)

A PERFECT MURDER - * 1/2 - Terrible miscasting and an even worse script sinks this slickly directed but disappointing thriller, inspired by the stageplay and film "Dial M for Murder" and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the young wife of a millionaire industrialist (Michael Douglas) who is trying to kill her. R (violence, gore, profanity, sex, partial nudity). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Hope Floats"; Sandy 9.) (June 5, 1998)

QUEST FOR CAMELOT - * * - Flat animation and unmemorable songs are just several of the many problems facing this dull animated musical, a feminist revision of the King Arthur legends that's based on a famous fantasy novel. In it, the daughter of a slain knight and a blind warrior, who try to recover King Arthur's mystical sword, Excalibur. Deadly dull. G (animated violence). (Midvalley, Olympus, South Towne, Trolley North.) (May 15, 1998)

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 "The X-Files"; Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997)

SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS - * * - You can't blame either of the stars (Harrison Ford and Anne Heche) for this disappointing romantic adventure, which pairs them as a gruff cargo pilot and an acerbic New York who find danger and romance when they're stranded on a deserted island. Both of them try, but they're undone by awful scripting and plotting. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, partial nudity, brief gore). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "The Horse Whisperer"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (June 12, 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). (Trolley Square.) (May 8, 1998)

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). (Avalon, Midvalley.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

THE TRUMAN SHOW - * * * * - One of those rare instances of the hype being justified, this thoughtful and subtle black comedy/suspense-thriller stars comic actor Jim Carrey (in his "breakthrough" role) as a man unaware that his "life" is being staged as part of a 24-hour-a-day documentary television show. Kudos also to Peter Weir ("Dead Poets Society"), whose skillful direction forces Carrey to act. PG (profanity, violence). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Neil Simon's The Odd Couple II"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (June 5, 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). (Kaysville, 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, Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

WILD THINGS - * - You can purposely make your movies trashy but you can't make audiences watch them! This blackly comic mystery/thriller about two high school students (Neve Campbell and Denise Richards) who falsely accuse their school counselor (Matt Dillon) of rape, tries to be Grade-A cheese but is spoiled by atrocious acting and lurid plotting. Bill Murray is a hoot as a shyster lawyer, however. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, sex, drug use, gore). (Sugar House.) (March 20, 1998)

*****

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