This stunningly preposterous but super-exciting adventure yarn stars Chris O’Donnell and Robin Tunney as Peter and Annie Garrett, two mountain climbers who lost their dad during a climb; the haunted Peter has since retired and become a photographer whilst Annie has become an ace climber who’s been hired by the wealthy industrialist, Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton), to lead an expedition up K2, the world’s second-highest mountain (why didn’t they just do Mount Everest, the world’s first-highest mountain? Maybe the producers wanted to do that in the sequel that never happened). After the party gets stranded in a cavern, Peter is forced to come out of retirement and assemble a rescue team, which includes a Euro-hottie (Izabella Scorupco) and a veteran K2 expert who’s got a personal bone to pick with Vaughn (Scott Glenn). Not one damn thing rings true in this shamelessly over-the-top action flick that regularly throws even the laws of physics to the wind, but Martin Campbell, a veteran Bond director (GoldenEye before this; Casino Royale after), knows how to make even the most far-fetched nonsense into something almost unbearably suspenseful — you may not believe anything that’s happening in this film, but it’ll get your heart racing and your blood pumping.
“When the ultimate adventure becomes the ultimate nightmare.” Boy howdy, that’s for sure; you won’t want to even leave the house to shovel your driveway much less consider trying to climb a mountain after you watch this harrowing documentary. Touching the Void chronicles Joe Simpson’s and Simon Yates’ 1985 attempt to scale the previously unclimbed West Face of the Siula Grande, a 20,813-foot behemoth in the Peruvian Andes; they get up the mountain without much incident, but coming down, Simpson breaks his leg, which leads to the climbing partners becoming separated during a vicious storm. It’s some sort of bizarre miracle that these two managed to survive this mad endeavor; indeed, Simpson suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome upon returning to the mountain for this documentary. Touching the Void incorporates interviews with the real Simpson and Yates along with reenactment footage starring Brendan Mackey and Nicholas Aaron; Mackey’s performance as Simpson was included in the BBC1′s Top Five “Should Have Won An Oscar” feature this year, along with Ingrid Bergman (for Casablanca), Anthony Perkins (for Psycho), Ralph Fiennes (for Schindler’s List) and Jeff Bridges (for The Big Lebowski). That’s pretty impressive company, and we’re sure The Dude would approve.
“I’m talking about a place where the beer flows like wine. I’m talking about a place called As-pen.” The Farrelly Brothers‘ best film to date is still their first. Dumb & Dumber tells the oddly touching tale of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey), two well-meaning morons who stumble into a life of intrigue when Lloyd, a limousine driver, falls for one of his passengers (Lauren Holly), a femme fatale who leaves behind a mysterious briefcase that was meant for some thugs and not for the smitten idiot to pick up and try to return to her. The two friends journey to snow-covered Aspen, Colorado in search of Lloyd’s ladylove and end up foiling a major criminal conspiracy — by sheer dumb luck, of course. Not all of the sight gags and gross-out humor works (does every joke ever hit the bulls-eye in movies like this?), but the two leads are so likable that they could’ve kept an even lesser movie afloat with their good-natured tomfoolery and spot-on chemistry. Now that the Farrelly Brothers have gotten The Three Stooges out of their system, they’re looking to do a true sequel to Dumb & Dumber with Carrey and Daniels — and we really hope it happens.
For the love of God, kids, don’t do hallucinogenics and then go driving in the snowy woods! Also known as Lost Signal, Brian McNamara’s Dead of Winter (yeah, he probably put his name above the title ’cause that’s how horror maestro John Carpenter does it) follows the plight of Kevin (Al Santos) and Tiffany (Sandra McCoy), two kids who take LSD at a New Year’s party and then go and get themselves in a car accident that leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere; now, are the creeps stalking them just the products of their fevered, chemical-ravaged brains or are they ACTUALLY REAL? This is certainly a low budget outing, but one done with a respectable amount of finesse and style as McNamara takes full advantage of his snowy locale and lets an imaginative sound design fill in the gaps left by his limited production resources; meanwhile, the two leads aren’t the best actors in the world but their inherent sweetness and sense of innocence goes a long way in making us feel for them as they try to escape their nightmarish situation. Oh, and DON’T DO DRUGS, especially if it’s New Year’s.
A pretty mediocre thriller made all the more frustrating because it really should’ve been a great one, Eye See You (horrible title, that — even worse than the original title, D-Tox) stars Sylvester Stallone as a burned-out FBI agent who tries to commit suicide after his girlfriend is murdered by a serial killer he’d been tracking; his supervising officer (Charles S. Dutton) intervenes and sends him to a rehab program designed for law enforcement officers run by an ex-cop (Kris Kristofferson). Sly meets his fellow patients, all of whom are haunted by various personal demons and traumatic experiences — which makes pretty much everyone a suspect when someone starts picking them off one by one during a blizzard that leaves them stranded at the clinic (a former military base) with no outside communication. Directed by Jim Gillespie, who called the shots on I Know What You Did Last Summer, Eye See You has some good shocks and impressively chilly atmosphere but very little sense of suspense or tension, making for a disappointingly unengaging thriller. This cast — which also includes Tom Berenger, Courtney B. Vance, Robert Patrick, Dina Meyer, Sean Patrick Flanery, Stephen Lang, Robert Prosky and Polly Walker — definitely deserves better.