Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 1 - September, 1995

By John E. Johnson, Jr.


  ***** Extraordinary
  **** Good
  *** Acceptable
  ** Mediocre
  * Poor


"Immortal Beloved", Columbia Pictures, 1994, Color, Filmed in Panavision, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, 2 Hr, Rated R; Gary Oldman, Isabella Rossellini; The tragic personal life of Beethoven is unfolded in this story of a quest to find the woman to whom he has left his estate. Even deafness would not deter the expression of his genius. If you liked "Amadeus", you will like this film too. The musical score is predominately Beethoven's own works, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Georg Solti.

Video Quality:
Audio: (It would have received 5 stars, but the rear surround was underutilized)
Violence: some (the reason for Beethoven's deafness)
Sex: partial nudity, rape scene
Language: the "s" word


"Darkman II", Universal Pictures, 1994, Color, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.70:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 33 min, Rated R; A campy (but not as much as "Batman") film about a man scarred by his enemy, and has found a way to hide his identity with cultured skin. Sequel to "Darkman". This time he gets the bad guy permanently (or does he?)

Video Quality:
Audio: (high pitched sounds are somewhat harsh). Good use of
surround. Subwoofer useful.
Photography: (hard to follow some of the action sequences)
Violence: heavy duty
Sex: no
Language: the "f" and "s" words


"In the Mouth of Madness", NewLine Cinema, 1995, Color, Filmed in Panavision, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, AC-3 encoded, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated R; Sam Neill, Charlton Heston; The line between nightmares and reality disappears in this psychological drama focusing on people who could use a good exorcist. Churches, snarling dogs, upside down crucifixes, doors that open and slam shut by themselves, swinging axes covered with blood - all the makings of horror fiction gone berserk.

Video Quality: (good use of wide aspect ratio)
Audio: (your subwoofer will get a workout, but use of surround is only fair)
Photography: (too much use of night scenes)
Violence: plenty
Sex: no
Language: the "f" and "s" words


"I.Q.", Paramount, 1994, Color, Matted to wide screen, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated PG; Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan, Walter Matthau; This is a mildly amusing romantic comedy about how Albert Einstein (Matthau) might have served as cupid for his niece (Ryan), who is already engaged to a boring professor, and a garage mechanic (Robbins). It's a cute idea, but the possibilities for more comedy are entirely missing. About the best line is where Einstein is trying to convince his niece that many geniuses came from out of nowhere, and tells her that Isaac Newton started out as an insurance salesman.

Video Quality:
Audio: (harshness, not very much use of surround channel)
Photography: (cropped from 35mm spherical rather than shot anamorphic to begin with; too tight, would have been better at 1.85:1; video tape will probably look better than wide screen laserdisc)
Violence: none
Sex: not really
Language: suitable for choir practice


"Just Cause", Warner Brothers, 1995, Color, Filmed in Panavision, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.37:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 42 min, Rated R; Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburn, Kate Capshaw; Connery plays a Harvard law professor who is summoned to Florida by a man on death row claiming to be innocent of murdering a little girl. The plot is pat, plodding, and, so far, a pale reminiscence of "Silence of the Lambs". I was about to give it an entertainment rating of 3 stars at the end of the re-trial, thinking that the film was about to conclude, and then I realized that there were still about 20 minutes to go. Dynamite finale! - voila, 4 stars.

Video Quality:
Audio: (I hope your subwoofer goes deep)
Violence: graphic
Sex: no
Language: "f" and "s" words

Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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