Movie Reviews from the Balcony

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Movie Reviews from the Balcony


Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Each week the Browser fatures some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free, interactive sounds and action.

Online 'At the Movies'

Hollywood's best and worst have been scrutinized on air by famed Chicago film critics Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper over the past 20 years in various permutations of the syndicated television show "At the Movies."

Buena Vista Entertainment is giving movie lovers a chance to revisit more than 5,000 reviews streamed online in a new section of the Ebert & Roeper site (http://bventertainment. go.com/tv/buena vista/ebertand roeper/).

Called the Balcony Archive, the area provides immediate links to reviews of films currently in theaters and newly arrived on DVD plus some online exclusives that encompass everything from a report on next year's sequel to "Batman Begins" to Peter Bogdanovich helping Mr. Ebert predict the winners of the 2000 Oscar race.

A helpful search engine with results by title, actor and director is the only way to access the good stuff, meaning some classic reviews and confrontations between the critics.

Visitors will be able to find a hilarious review of " Battlefield Earth," hear about the problems with "Rambo III" and watch a spirited fight over the merits of "Full Metal Jacket."

Each review runs with text entries along the side, presenting a synopsis, cast and crew credits, a trailer and a way to buy the film on DVD.

It also is fun to watch guest critics, including Jay Leno, Kevin Smith and Harold Ramis, interact with Mr. Roeper while Mr. Ebert recovers from a recent illness.

Although the site has enormous promise, every time I tried to use it, either because of its popularity or a poorly designed interface, numerous reviews either stuttered, stopped or lost sound no matter how fast the connection or computer system.

The new clips seem to work fine, but clips from the 1980s and early 1990s - containing some of the classic confrontations between Mr. Siskel and Mr. Ebert - are spotty at best.

Still, the popular critics' look at cinema makes wading through the problems worth the effort as the site is a great resource for the amateur film historian as well as the average movie lover.

B-movie redux

Classic, B-grade horror and exploitation films from the past get a fresh look with help from veteran director Joe Dante and his new cyber-project, Trailers From Hell (www.trailers fromhell.com).

The famed promotional preview segments shown in theaters before the main event are used to deliver a slick resource for fans of oddball flicks from the 1950s to 1970s, including legends such as "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," "The Vampire Lovers" and "Monsters From Mars. …

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