Wing Commander IV

CD-ROM for Mac* or PC
D: Chris Roberts; with Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson, John Rhys-Davies, Jason Bernard, Robert Rusler, Malcolm McDowell.
Origin Systems

First, the "movie" part of this humongous six-disc interactive adventure: The sets are incredible, the Dolby Surround sound is first rate, and the visuals pass somewhere beyond Deep Space Nine; in short, this thing starts off looking like a $50 million Hollywood blockbuster. Then comes the "game" part during which you fly around and shoot stuff. I'll admit I've never been much good at flight-simulation-type games, but neither I nor any of several friends with me could get the hang of hitting anything, and pretty soon the effort of going through uninspiring "missions" to see where the slow-moving plot was going to take us next became a chore and we went downstairs to watch Deep Space Nine instead. -- Ken Lieck


Mighty Aphrodite

D: Woody Allen; with Helena Bonham Carter, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rapaport, Jimmy McQuaid, F. Murray Abraham, Claire Bloom, Olympia Dukakis.
VHS Home Video
Waterloo Video, 1016 W. Sixth

In his latest movie, a romantic comedy, Woody plays a New York sports writer who sets out to find the true mother of his adopted son. As the title suggests, the gods have an interest in his quest, and apparently a sense of humor as well, since unsolicited comic appraisal flows freely from those age-old commentators, the Greek chorus. Even though Allen seems sluggish at the start, he gets his timing back and appears more his old self by the middle of the film. And as if to compensate for the failure of some of the chorus' humor, Mira Sorvino's performance as Linda, the callgirl/wannabe-actress with whom Allen develops an unlikely friendship, is a delight. Yet, overall, it's hard to imagine that what the director had in mind for Mighty Aphrodite was the Blazing Saddles effect. Or is Woody just becoming Mel Brooks? -- Jen Scoville


Cinemania '96

CD-ROM for Mac* or Windows
Microsoft Home

Film aficionados will rejoice with Cinemania '96, the multimedia interactive guide which hosts over 20,000 reviews from renowned critics Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, and Pauline Kael; an ample supply of all-encompassing articles on the nuts and bolts of the movie industry; and filmographies, bios, and recommendations from the editors whose plethora of finely tuned categories include such labels as "Pure Testosterone" or "Critters in Peril." In addition to the goldmine of textual reference available, you can access a media gallery equipped with movie clips, portraits, stills, dialogue, and music. If you still crave more bytes to chew, an additional feature includes information for accessing their website to download info about new releases and updates. Suggested memory is 8MB RAM on at least a System 7 Macintosh. However, running certain lengthy movie clips caused frequent interruptions and system freezes despite following Cinemania'stips on how to allocate efficient memory usage. -- Stephany Baskin


Organized Crime and Triad Bureau

D: Kirk Wong; with Danny Lee, Anthony Wong, Cecilia Yip.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th

Made in between the big-budget star vehicle Crime Story (with Jackie Chan) and the intense, slightly campy thriller Rock and Roll Cop, Organized Crime and Triad Bureau is the most personal of director Kirk Wong's "Cops and Robbers Trilogy" -- a film that pays as much attention to its characterization as it does to its gritty action sequences. Tai Sing Video, long the leading import source for Hong Kong movies, has bravely chosen Wong's fine, underrated film as their first release aimed specifically at the Western market. This version is a considerable improvement over their previous Chinese release, which saw this 91-minute feature inexplicably spread out over two tapes and lacking the crisp, bright-yellow subtitles that are found here. The movie is also available as a laserdisc. -- Joey O'Bryan


What Happened Was...

D: Tom Noonan; with Karen Sillas, Tom Noonan.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th

You know that clumsy feeling you get when you meet someone you like and don't know what to say? This picture punishes you with that awkwardness until you get fidgety and bite down all your nails. In a slow crescendo from embarrassing conversation to social disaster, two neurotic office mates get to know each other over wine and microwaved scallops. When the seemingly shallow Jackie reads Michael a "children's book" she's been writing, both characters crack open like a couple of overripe melons, spilling their rotten insecurities all over each other. Winner of the 1994 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, What Happened Was... is a painful exploration of two lonely hearts. -- Kayte VanScoy

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