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Sunday, Sept 24
72. Dungeons & Dragons. (2000) God, where to start? Well, this is pretty bad. First, the dragons are too cartoonish. They should've just ripped off Lord of the Rings. Second, most of the CGI doesn't work because it's boring and a hundred more shots sweeping around a fake looking city or castle ain't going to change that. Third, replace the entire cast because they suck; especially the misplaced Wayans brother. Did you want this to be a comedy? Then hire the entire Wayans family!! But if you wanted to do this D&D license justice (and serious) you should've gotten a cast and effects team who knew the material and could make it work similar to LotR and Dragonslayer (or at least Beastmaster and Conan). All those films are fun for similar and different reasons. There ain't no fun here. This is crap. Irons' definately pops some vessels in his brain! There! Are you happy? He shortened his lifespan for this shit. :mad: 3/10
Excellent mystery thriller, very intriguing throughout. Tense and exciting. Good performances throughout. Bujold is particularly good. Fine sets. The direction is very skillful and Michael crichton does an excellent job hooking the audience on the story.
Rated PG: Brief nudity, mild violence, tense scenes

Running Time: 1 hr., 53 min.

When you're selecting reading material for an extended stay in the hospital, make sure you do not bring anything by Robin Cook. As a former medical professional, Cook found his niche in the specialized genre of the Medical Thriller. In fact, he may have even been the genre's creator. In his books, heinous crimes are committed upon the helpless patients strapped to surgical tables and ambulance gurneys, often by the hospital personnel themselves. Once you've finished a Cook novel, you'll never look at your nurse the same again.

Based on one of Cook's earlier efforts, the film Coma is about Dr. Susan Wheeler (Genevieve Bujold), physician at a major hospital, whose life is thrown into upheaval when one of her best friends comes in for surgery and fails to revive after the procedure. She remains in an inexplicable coma, and Wheeler wants to find out why.

When a second patient suffers a similar fate, Wheeler becomes convinced that something is not right. An unauthorized look into the hospital records reveals that a total of a dozen such cases have occurred within the past year, a failure rate that is suspiciously high.

But Wheeler is hampered at all turns. Her boyfriend Dr. Mark Bellows (Michael Douglas) thinks her claims of a sinister plot are irrational; the head of anaesthesiology (Rip Torn) rankles at her insinuation that his department may be to blame; and her supervisor Dr. Harris (Richard Widmark) threatens her with dismissal if she persists in violating hospital policy to solve the puzzle.

I had originally intended to spell out more of the plot, but that would deflate the suspense and fun of watching it unfold. In short, Wheeler is determined to find out why so many comas are occurring at the hospital, and her quest becomes increasingly harrowing.

Cook's novel is brought to the screen by Michael Crichton, whose own novels are excellent tales of suspense and often nail-biting terror - even though they all end with the usual violent explosion that destroys whatever the problem was.

My wife, who has read Coma, informs me that Crichton's script adaptation is reasonably faithful, cutting or combining characters only to keep the film from sprawling out over an entire evening. To convey the many technical medical concepts present in the book, Crichton inserts medical interns into the scenes, so that doctors find themselves explaining everything out loud, and thus subtly making sure the viewing audience doesn't get lost in all the terminology.

I write a full thirty years after the film was released in theaters, and it does have a somewhat dated feeling. But it still holds up, thanks to Crichton's skilled directing. If you can look past the film stock quality, hairstyles, and a slightly slower pace to the storytelling, you'll find a film as gripping as anything being produced today.

French-Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold (Dead Ringers) brings a nice combination of vulnerability and resolution to her role. She is not brashly unstoppable, but neither is she spineless in her efforts to unearth the truth. Her accent takes a little getting used to, but it is not a major hurdle we must leap to enjoy her story.

I had forgotten that Michael Douglas (The China Syndrome) was once a young man, but there he is. I think he's gotten better with age, but he plays his role acceptably here. In a twist probably inspired by the feminism of the 1970's, he finds himself with the role of "nagging wife" that so many Hollywood actresses normally end up in - not a lot to do except alternately encourage and rebuke the Main Character.

The film is peopled with names that have grown to become stars, including Rip Torn (Men in Black), Tom Selleck (Three Men and a Baby), and Ed Harris (The Truman Show). Not that any of their performances blew me away; it was just a kick to see these now-prominent actors in their formative stages. Torn and Harris in particular are so young here I didn't recognize either of them at first glance.

In watching a thriller of any type, we expect to be drawn to the edges of our seats, and Coma generally succeeds. There are at least three suspenseful set pieces, the most famous of which is Wheeler's escape from the Jefferson Institute, the medical auxiliary that cares for the hospital's coma victims. Crichton's envisioning of Cook's futuristic tale produces the film's classic image: Bodies in tranquil repose, suspended several feet off the floor and bathed in eerie shades of light. And the Institute's administrator, Mrs. Emerson (Elizabeth Ashley), doesn't lighten the mood any, with her impersonation of a Stepford wife working as a nurse.

Overall, the film's only weaknesses are due to its age. Portions of the acting, lighting, editing, and music are slightly less polished than if the film were made today. But then, if the film were made today, the producers would also want to put in language, sex, and gore that really wouldn't enhance the story one bit, nor make it more suspenseful.

I've never heard anyone describe Coma as a "classic," but as one of the first Medical Thrillers on film, it is well worth the viewing. Grab the popcorn and turn down the lights. Just don't let the nurse take you into surgery afterwards.
explicit in describing a silent reality which is not pursued, but procedures are quite similar to those used by governments and criminal organizations all over the world. This is a morning alarm in terms of emotions, to make you feel the panic of this crime that is a fact for certainty.
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