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Reviews Written by
Robin Simmons (Palm Springs area, CA United States)

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Apostles Collection
Apostles Collection
Offered by stephensstuff
Price: CDN$ 49.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 46.61

3.0 out of 5 stars THE MEN WHO MARKETED CHRISTIANITY, March 24 2003
This review is from: Apostles Collection (DVD)
A two disc set from the History Channel, THE APOSTLES includes "The Story of the Twelve Apostles" and "The Stoy of Paul the Apostle." Narrated by Martin Sheen, it's hard to disassociate the material from his high-profile Catholic and political bias. That said, the material is an OK primer on Jerusalem under Roman rule 2000 years ago and the fascinating identity of the men who promulgated what was to become the Christian religion, now embraced by well over a quarter of the world's population. St. Paul's message was simple: The free gift of God's grace to a broken world that needs healing and that "all are one in Christ." Look around; it's still a volatile message.

Inside Islam
Inside Islam
DVD ~ Mark Hufnail
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 55.50
9 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ALLAH PR, March 24 2003
This review is from: Inside Islam (DVD)
After September 11, it's hard to reconcile the fear, hate and anti-Muslim bigotry with the seemingly beautiful religion of Mohammed as presented in INSIDE ISLAM.
Jews, Christian and Moslems -- the so called "People of the Book" -- share a common ancestry with Abraham (about 2500 BC). Not only that, but Jesus, Mary and even the angel Gabriel are prominently featured in the Quran.
In the Bible, God makes a promise of to Abraham's seed -- that both Isaac and Ishmael would become a great nation. They did, but a blood feud became religious and now, they still hate each other all under God's name.
Two thousand plus years after Abraham, Jesus said, "Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you." Maybe that's the only solution to a world engulfed in this very real spiritual war -- a blood-soaked jihad. An information war, if you will, that's increasingly over who God is and who's God rules -- the oil.

King of Kings (Widescreen) [Import]
King of Kings (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Jeffrey Hunter
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 49.54
14 used & new from CDN$ 3.92

3.0 out of 5 stars REBEL JESUS, March 24 2003
In 1960 during production, reporters mockingly referred to KING OF KINGS as "I Was A Teenage Jesus" -- a reference to its star, blue-eyed heart throb Jeffrey Hunter. According to scripture, Jesus never went more than 130 miles from his birthplace, never wrote a book, never led an army and never held office, yet He's impacted our culture, calendar and history more than anyone.
This nice-looking widescreen feature has the proverbial cast of thousands as well as Robert Ryan and Rip Torn. Miklos Rosa created the stirring, memorable score. An uncredited Orson Welles delivers the near poetic narration said to have been written by Ray Bradbury (also uncredited).
In King of Kings, Nicholas Ray -- who several years earlier directed "Rebel Without A Cause" -- honors a different kind of rebel -- one with a cosmic cause.

Jonah: Veggietales Movie [Import]
Jonah: Veggietales Movie [Import]
DVD ~ Phil Vischer
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 12.64
39 used & new from CDN$ 1.45

1.0 out of 5 stars INSIPID INSULT TO A GREAT ANCIENT TALE, March 24 2003
In northern Iraq, in the town of Mosul (much in the news of this writing) is the El Ahalaham mosque. About 50 feet under the mosque is a limestone sarcophagus that contains the mortal remains of a Jew, Jonah son of Amittai. Nearby are the vast, mud-covered, largely unexcavated ruins of ancient Ninevah, once the greatest city in the world and the capitol of the bloody Assyrian empire, the ruthless enemy of Israel and Judah.
The talking vegetable stars in the CGI animated JONAH: A VeggieTales Movie trivialize this story about apparently real events and people from 775 BC.
The real story has a reluctant prophet who i s compelled to deliver a final messaage to a wicked city: repent or be vaporized. Jonah hates the enemy so much he runs away. Maybe he knows God to be merciful and fears that the cruel regime in Ninevah will repent. Unfortunartely, you can't run away from God, so when strange curcumstances alow Jonah to be swallowed and and then spit up by a great fish, this astonishing story spreads throughout the land. Perhaps years later, when Jonah finally reaches Ninevah where the people worship a great man-fish god, they are ready to believe Jonah becuase he himself came out of a supernatutural fish-god and thus Jonah is trustworthy as God's spokesman. Why else would they even let Jonah in the gates?
And to Jonah's chagrin, God shows mercy to these bloodthirsty pagans.
Incidentally, around 765 BC, according to ancient records in the great library at Damascus, Ninevah became for a period of time monotheistic. Amazing, if you think about it.
An animated Jonah could be a great project. This version is simplistic and borderline stupid. An insult even to kids.
And someone please tell me, why talking vegetables?

Ben Hur
Ben Hur
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 15.69
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars SINCERE BUT SECOND RATE, March 24 2003
This review is from: Ben Hur (DVD)
The latest film version of BEN HUR is an animated retelling that emphasizes the novel's original subtitle: A Tale of the Christ.
Charlton Heston reprises his Oscar© winning 1959 film role as the voice of Ben (and also narrator).
Sadly, the animation is second rate and nowhere near the quality of "Prince of Egypt." The voice work is not particularly imaginative with the exception of Heston who is more emotional and worldly wise than the blandly drawn young hero. Still, there's an admirable bravery to the provocative enterprise; after all, it's about a Jew on the road to revenge who stumbles across a forgiving Christ. How radical is that?
Limited extras include brief statements from a somewhat haunted looking Heston who, oddly, speaks almost without emotion or expression.

The Ring (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
The Ring (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Offered by Rarewaves-US
Price: CDN$ 8.48
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

A dark dimension is explored in the surprise hit THE RING (DreamWorks remake of the much superior Japanese RINGU (also available in DVD from DreamWorks). Thes plot -- very urban legendy, non-sensical, non-linear and non-logical -- is about a whispered tale regarding a nightmarish video that kills the viewer seven days after watching it. When four teenagers die after seeing such a tape, a reporter -- a terrific Naomi Watts -- tracks it down and, uh oh, watches it. Now she has only a week to unravel the mystery and maybe, just maybe, figure out a way to stay alive. Whew! You will be afraid of your VCR.

Disney's Tuck Everlasting (Sous-titres français)
Disney's Tuck Everlasting (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Alexis Bledel
Price: CDN$ 14.99
28 used & new from CDN$ 8.43

3.0 out of 5 stars CELEBRATE LIFE'S MAGIC, March 12 2003
Eternal forces that seduce with life and death rewards have always been a staple of film stories.
TUCK EVERLASTING is beautiful to look at and has already been hailed as a classic, although not a box office success.
Loosely adapted from Natalie Babbitt's book, this fable about the Tuck family who have been blessed -- and cursed -- with everlasting life after drinking from a fountain of youth. The fine cast includes Sissy Spacek, William Hurt and Ben Kingsley. A teen romance plot, not in the book, finesses the idea that life is a magical gift and every moment counts. Amen.

Stargate (Ultimate Edition/ Director's Cut) [Import]
Stargate (Ultimate Edition/ Director's Cut) [Import]
DVD ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 7.88
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.78

3.0 out of 5 stars ALIENS ANSWER ANCIENT MYSTERIES?, March 12 2003
STARGATE - Ultimate Edition is the third version on DVD of this visually striking and sometimes hokey tale about an ancient artifact that can zap explorers to a distant Mars-like world. It's a little misleading to call this the "Ultimate Edition) as it merely transfers the director's cut of the film from the previous "Special Edition" (but now in anamorphic and not letterbox widescreen) which includes nine additional minutes cut from the theatrical and subsequent first DVD version. Got that straight? Cool extras abound, however.
There's a spooky documentary in which Erich Von Daniken discusses his "Chariots of the God's" theory of extra-terrestrial visitations in ancient times. The sound on the feature has been remixed in a thunderous 6.1 DTS ES track. There are commentaries and a nice 23 minute making-of featurette.

Man Who Fell to Earth, Th [Import]
Man Who Fell to Earth, Th [Import]
DVD ~ David Bowie
Offered by WonderBook-USA
Price: CDN$ 99.02
11 used & new from CDN$ 58.88

4.0 out of 5 stars ILLEGAL ALIEN?, March 12 2003
A thin, pale, androgynous David Bowie is THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH -- Special Edition (Anchor Bay), a two-disc set of Nicolas Roeg's film.
Previously available on DVD, this widescreen (enhanced for 16x9 TVs) edition looks sharper, the clean DTS surround sound is THX approved and there's a new, interesting 24 minute featurette, "Watching the Alien."
Slow moving and beautifully photographed, this movie adaptation is faithful in theme to Walter Tevis's novel. An alien being, disguised as a human, comes to earth to seek a way to save his home planet from turning into an arid wasteland. He funds this project by designing inventions worth gazillions and becomes bigger than Bill Gates. Unfortunately, he also becomes contaminated by our earthly ways and sinks into a mystical malaise of depression and alcohol. A sweet and chirpy Candy Clark lures him into an affair that, strangely, doesn't help.
This hypnotic and provocative film long ago achieved cult status. More than anything, it's a visual meditation about an outsider, stymied by material success, who is on a journey back to a home that cannot in fact be reached. (Hey, who can't relate to that?)
Fully restored and uncensored (there's full frontal nudity), this new digital transfer is from original materials. Recommended.

Faraway, So Close (Bilingual) [Import]
Faraway, So Close (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Otto Sander
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 117.51
10 used & new from CDN$ 79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars SEEKING MEANING, March 3 2003
More than sex, food or survival, we are creatures driven to find meaning in our lives (or so it's said by those who claim to know such things). A recent film that taps into that mindset, with success, is now available in a fine digital edition.
FAR AWAY, SO CLOSE is a subtle, almost ephemeral film that dares to tackle the profound question of why we humans have such a hard time experiencing, explaining and understanding the spiritual as ultimate reality (the rest is merely phenomena).
This superb companion piece to Wim Wenders much praised 1987 "Wings of Desire" works best with the least amount of foreknowledge.
Let go and consider the wonder, beauty and truth that we are indeed spiritual beings having a human experience.
Highest recommendation.

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