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The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Galaxy Quest" and "Fantasia 2000"

Quick Flicks

!B! "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
!B! "Galaxy Quest"
!B! "Fantasia 2000"

"The Talented Mr. Ripley" - Part creepy psychological drama and part tantalizing travelogue, "Mr. Ripley" stars Matt Damon as the talented Tom of the title, a burgeoning sociopath with deep-seated feelings of inferiority and an uncanny knack for impersonating others. It's this latter talent that sends Tom to Italy's Amalfi coast, supposedly trying to help an industrialist father get his playboy son back to America. But when Ripley meets Dickie Greenleaf (played with charming insouciance by Jude Law), things take a sinister turn. Here is the lifestyle Tom has always coveted, and he soon falls under Dickie's spell. Even Dickie's girlfriend, Marge (pleasantly, if not memorably played by Gwyneth Paltrow), tries to warn Tom, explaining that Dickie has a short attention span.

Tom experiences this hurtful reality when an old crony shows up to claim center stage in Dickie's life. Played with drop-dead upper-class snobbishness by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Freddie is almost scarier than Damon's Tom. As Tom finds himself cast aside for yet another old friend, his obsession with Dickie takes a sinister turn. It is during this latter part of the plot that Cate Blanchett comes on the screen, out-acting the movie's stars. Blanchett is terrific as a naive socialite with the grave misfortune of falling for the newly reconfigured Tom.

Although it runs longer than necessary, this intelligent thriller more than kept me intrigued. Until writer/director Anthony Minghella's ending, that is, which seems nothing more than a stab at contemporary political correctness that severely undermines the tenuous credibility of all that went before.

"Galaxy Quest" — Just when you thought they'd sucked all the fun out of the "Star Trek" franchise, here comes this hilarious sci-fi sendup. But wait, although "Galaxy Quest" starts out as a clever spoof of the cult TV classic, it ultimately turns into the show.

Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman are actors whose careers are destined to be forever tied to their roles in a hit sci-fi TV show. Their legion of fans keep them busy at ribbon-cuttings and memorabilia shows. But one day, Allen (doing a terrific Shatner impersonation) finds his Hollywood Hills home invaded by some serious fans. Thermians from Klatu Nebula, they mistakenly believe these actors are really space heroes and have come seeking their help in an intergalactic battle.

Quicker than one can say "Beam me up, Scotty," the cast is transported to the bridge of the Thermians spaceship. Cleverly written to appeal to more than just sci-fi action lovers, "Galaxy Quest" is a fun trek.

"Fantasia 2000" — Nearly six decades after Walt Disney released the original, here comes its sequel. But what a sequel! No doubt the great innovator would have approved of this marriage of animation with the big, big screen IMAX format.

Although 40 minutes shorter than the original "Fantasia," "2000" is 40 minutes longer than the usual IMAX feature, thanks to some technical advances born from this Disney/IMAX collaboration. So once again, Disney's bold experiment in sight and sound is breaking new ground.

And just like the original, its intended audience is unclear. The presence of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, coupled with the film's awkward living "liner notes" from celebrities attempting to explain what we're about to see, seems to indicate a youthful skew. (Note: the little ones will be bored senseless.) However, the sophisticated and often scary animation indicates an appeal to a more mature audience. (Note: Expect some snoring as many will find the multichannel sound far too relaxing.)

I wish I could say that each of the film's eight musical segments was a winner — but I can't. However, the "whole" IMAX/Disney animation experience makes "Fantasia 2000" hard to beat.

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