@ the movies

     Welcome to Verbosity's movie review column. This month we're going to take a look at two of the more popular films to hit theaters so far this year -- Scream and Star Wars: Special Edition.


     For all intents and purposes, the horror genre has been dead for years. Sure, there have been bright spots here and there, but overall effort and production has been lackluster. Persumably, Scream, Wes Craven's (Nightmare on Elm Street) latest stab, was supposed to pull horror movies out of their grave. Did it work? Yes and no.

     This movie tells the story of a town being terrorized by a mysterious killer, cloaked in a dime store fright mask and robe. At the center of the stalkings is Sidney (Neve Campbell), a good girl whose mother was murdered a mere year before the slayings begin. As the killer slashes his way through the student body of Woodsboro High, he works his way toward Sidney, plaguing her via cellular phone.

     Does this movie live up to its bed-wetting potential? Not really. Wes Craven, showing a good sense of humor about himself, chose to go to the "parody of the genre" route with the film. Throughout its course, there are plenty of jokes about the Nightmare films, and the entire plot hinges on horror movie trivia. All in all, the film isn't all that frightening at all; perhaps psychologically disturbing would be a better way of phrasing it.

     The acting in Scream was quite good, with excellent performances by Campbell, Skeet Ulrich (who plays Campbell's boyfriend, Billy), and Rose McGowan (as Campbell's best friend, Tatum). If you're looking for Drew Barrymore in the film, she's not there long. She turns in her performance in the first ten minutes, never to be seen again. Craven even manages to work Henry "The Fonz" Winkler into the film as a slightly demented principal at the high school. Probably the most standout role of the movie, however, is turned in by Matthew Lillard as Stuart. Always a little spastic, sometimes a little frightening, he acts almost as an analogy for the entire film.

     So, is this film worth your time? If your looking for an out-and-out scare-fest, you're liable to be disappointed. The immediate, "scary entrance" chills are there, but beyond that the movie is pretty tame. However, as an overall movie experience, Scream is hard to beat. It comes at you with a sense of humor that's hard to ignore, and enough horror movie stereotypes to keep you guessing as to the killer's identity up until the last few minutes of the film. Verbosity gives Scream:

out of a possible four.

Jess Morrissette

Star Wars: Special Edition

     I'm pretty sure we've all seen this in some shape, form, or fashion by now, right? Originally released in 1977, George Lucas' space opera was technologically cutting-edge and a break-through in the world of science fiction. Now, they've redone the special effects, added a few scenes, and put it back in the theatres. We should all be thrilled, right? Well, let's just say it's not 1977 anymore.

     The meat of this remake was supposed to be the enhanced special effects and the reinstatement of cut scenes from previous releases. Both were in there, but at times they were less than effective. For example, most of the enhanced special effects can be seen in the scenes on the desert planet of Tatooine and Mos Eisley spaceport. There are now a number of alien creatures roaming the plains and the streets that were not there before. Do these Gumpian inserts impact the story in any fashion? Yes -- they manage to detract from it! When the new footage is mixed with the old, it only serves to further show how dated the original footage was. Worse still, the cut scenes in the Special Edition basically consisted of the cut meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. This (along with its Boba Fett cameo) might have been really nice if the digitally-created Jabba had looked a little more like the one that later appears in Return of the Jedi. The Jabba we're introduced to is about half the size of the real Jabba, and the dialogue he's given fails to match the established character in any shape, form, or fashion. Although technologically impressive, this scene could just as well remained on the cutting-room floor.

Jabba      Probably the best part of the Special Edition was the digitally remastered sound effects. No matter what sort of booming entertainment center you have in your home, there's no comparison to the effect you'll get from Star Wars: Special Edition if you catch it in the theater. Also, the space scenes look greatly improved. X-Wings that were formerly models on a matted screen are now computer generated -- and far more plentiful. The strike on the Death Star no longer looks like Luke Skywalker and a few of his closest friends; it's now an all-out assault. Better still, the land speeder on Tatooine now lacks the carefully mirrored tires that made it so cheesy in the original cut of the movie.

     All in all, this movie is worth going to the theater to see, if for no other reason but it's Star Wars. However, if you've seen it before, don't expect to see an entirely new movie. The plot is still there, and it's starting to get a little old. Also, be prepared to see the inklings of incest between Luke and Leia -- it's not a pretty site. If you've never seen Star Wars before (and you're planning on crawling out from under your rock anytime soon), go ahead and spring the six bucks.

     So, if you're an experienced Star Wars viewer and already know that Darth Vader is Luke's father, I'd have to give this movie, due to its datedness:

out of four.

     However, if you haven't seen this movie before and don't know that Obi-Wan dies, you really should check it out. It's a classic, updates or no. Verbosity gives it:

out of a possible four.

Jess Morrissette

     Do you have a differing opinion on either of these movies or want to submit your own review of another movie? Send it to us and let us know.

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