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2002 Films on Disc  Stuart J. Kobak ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Trigger Effect/B-, B+

US/1996/Color/Widescreen 1.77:1/Stereo Surround/95 minutes/Directed by David Koepp/Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue/Universal/24 Chaps/CLV/THX/$39.98

Behavior under extreme situations is a traditional movie set-up. Dump a few people into a pressure cooker and see how fast the top blows off. David Koepp, the writer who vaulted to instant success with screenplays for Jurassic Park and The Paper, gets his chance to see his vision to the end in his directing debut, The Trigger Effect. Considering the level of professionalism reflected in the film, Koepp will no doubt spend equal time behind the camera and in front of the keyboard.

Koepp displays a fine feel for filmmaking in the opening scenes of The Trigger Effect. The sense of menace is pervasive through the use of camera perspective and fine cutting. I can think of four or five scenes when I waited for a violent explosion, only to be lead through another door of the screenplay. Once the heart of the action is revealed, The Trigger Effect fails to maintain the intensity that the spare opening scenes generated.

The film makes it’s dark turn when a power outage blacks out a chunk of Southern California. There is requisite looting, security questions, guns and food at a premium. In the midst of the madness, young marrieds Matthew and Annie are under the gun when their baby runs a high fever and Matthew has to enter the urban jungle to secure medication. He finds the city in confusion with the basest elements taking control.

After surviving that crisis, their small pot boils over when good buddy Joe arrives to share the black-out, gun in hand. Joe’s the wild card. He adds a dram unwanted tension. With Joe in the equation, both Matthew and Annie add up to a different sum. Before you can count to ten, there’s murder in the neighborhood and the Trigger Effect takes an unexpected turn into a road movie.

Guns continue to play a big part in Koepp’s tension filled screenplay, and though he travels from claustrophobic house and neighborhood onto the open road, he still manages to maintain the tension, though his attempts to link the chain of the screenplay seamlessly are not wholly successful.

Kyle MacLachlan and Elisabeth Shue are appealing as the husband and wife finding their way through an unexpected crisis. MacLachlan displays a bit more fire and emotion than screen audiences are used to from him, and it’s a welcome side of the actor. Shue, proving herself a consistently fine actress and important screen presence is not given enough material to work her special magic. Dermot Mulroney as Joe is given a tougher job trying to make the third man in a convincing portrait. Mulroney usually assays the easygoing screen charmer, but the edge Koepp expects from his never seems convincing. Perhaps it’s a fault of the screenplay, since there is no reason to believe that Matthew or Annie would find Joe attractive as a friend.

Watching The Trigger Effect is like visiting a restaurant that has lots of promise. You can sense the adventure of the chef, the use of the finest ingredients, but his dishes don’t quite come perfectly together . Excellent photography and editing help define the Koepp style. Given his skill as a writer, there’s every reason to expect a more polished film meal next time out.

The Trigger Effect is a fine looking laserdisc. Dark scenes are transferred with excellent detail and lighting effects are consistently accurate. The source material is fine-grained and the pressing adds virtually no additional video noise. Sound is handled in top notch fashion as well. James Newton Howard’s score, while overly dramatic, is cleanly recorded for maximum impact. Surround information adds to some of the eeriest scenes.


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Laser Disc Ratings

12 Monkeys Special/A-,B+ 

12 Monkeys/ B+,B

1941 SE/ C-, B-

a la Mode/B+,B+

A Pure Formality/C,B

After the Fox/C+,B


Albino Aligator/C+,B



American President/ B+, B+


Apocalypse Now/A-,A-

Apollo 13 SpecialA,A

Apollo 13//A,A



Bad and the Beautiful, The/A,B+


Bend of the River/ B, B+

Belle Epoque/B+,A-

Bhagdad Cafe/B,B

Big Country/ B, C

Big Deal on Madonna Street/B,B

Big Picture, The/B,B

Big Trees, The/C+,C+

Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars/B+,A

Blood and Wine/B,B

Blue Kite/B+,B


Bordello of Blood/C-,A-



Brazil Special Edition/B+,A-

Bride Came COD/B-,B

Bringing Up Baby/A,B

Brute Force/B+,B+


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/B,A-

Call Nothside 777/B+,C+

Camille Claudel/ A, B+

Canterville Ghost/C+,C+

Caro Diario/A-,A-
Captain from Castile/B,B+

Casino/ C+, B


Cause for Alarm/C,B-

Celestial Clockwork/B+,B-

China Moon/B+,A

Christmas in July/A,B+

Christopher Columbus(1949)/C,C

Come and Get It/B,B+


Courage Under Fire/B,A


Crimson Tide/A-,A

Crossing Guard, The/B,B+

Cutthroat Island/C, A

Dante's Peak/B-/B


Dead Man Walking/C+,B+

Dead Man/C+,A-

Dead Presidents Special/ B+,A

Dersu Uzala/B+,B


Diary of Ann Frank/ A-,B

Dodes'ka-den/ B+, B+

Double Happiness/ B+,B+



Earrings of Madame de.../ B+, B+

Enemy Below/ B, B

Englishman Who Went..../C,B

English Patient/B+,A


Escape from LA/B-,A

Everybody's Fine/C+,C+

Executive Decision/B+,A

Eye for an Eye/B,B+


Family Thing/B,B+
Farewell My Concubine/A-,A

Far Country/ B-, C+

Field of Dreams Special/A-,B+

Field of Dreams/ A-, B

Fierce Creatures/B-,B+

Fires on the Plain/B+,B


First Knight/ C-, B+

First Wives Club/C+,B+

For Whom the Bell Tolls/B-,B+
French Kiss/B-,B+

Frankie Starlight/B+,B


Free Willy 2/B-,B+

Funny Bones/A,A

Get Shorty/ A, A

Goldeneye/ B, A

Ghost Story/B,B

Great Escape(MGM)/A-,B-

Great Expectations/A,B+

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan/B+,C

Grosse Point Blank/A-,A-

Grumpier Old Men/B-,B+

Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, The/B,C-

Happy Gilmore/ B-, A-

Hard Boiled/B-,B+

Hard Eight/B,C+

Harriet the Spy/B,A

Haunting, The/A,B+

Head Above Water/D+,B


Heaven and Earth/B+,A-

Helen of Troy/C+,B+

Henry V/A,B


Hoop Dreams/A,A

Horseman on the Roof/B-,B

Innocent, The/ C, C

Innocents, The/ A, A-

Interrupted Melody/C+,C

Into the West/A,B+

Inventing the Abbots/B-,B+


Jean de Florette/ A-, B-

Jumanji/ B+, B+

Kansas City/D+,C+





La Dolce Vita/ A, B

Last Dance/B,B+

Last Man Standing/C,B

Last Supper, The/B-,B+

League of Gentlemen/B,B

Leave Her to Heaven/B+,B+

Les Miserables/ B, B+

Liar,Liar Special/B+,A


List of Adrien Messinger/B,B+

Lonely are the Brave/A-,A-
Lord of Illusions/B,A-

Love Jones/B,A-

Mi Familia/A-,A-

Miracle of Morgan's Creek/B,B-


Mission Impossible/C+,B+

Mona Lisa/B+,B+


Mulholland Falls/C+,B

Muriel's Wedding/ B, B+

My Name is Nobody/C,C

Mystery of Rampo/ A-, B

Natural Born Killers/B,B+


Net, The/ C, B+


Nothing Sacred/B,C

Old Man and the Sea/B,B


Peeping Tom/A-,A-
Raw Deal/B+,B
Red Firecracker,Green Firecracker/B+,A


Richard III/A,A


River Wild/B+,A-

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion/B,B

Room at the Top/A-,B



Seven SE/ B+, A

Shawshank Redemption/A-,A

Shining Through/C+,B

Silence of the Lambs/A,A
Sling Blade/A,B+


Something to Talk About/ B-, B+

Spartacus Special Edition/A,A


Star Trek: First Contact/C+,A-

Stars Fell on Henrietta/ C+,B+

Stealing Beauty/B,B

Strange Days/ C+, B+


Sudden Death/ B, A-

Sullivan's Travels/B+,B

Surviving Picasso/C,B+


That Old Feeling/B-,A-

That Thing You Do/B,C+

They Drive By Night/B,B

Thieves(Les Voleurs)/B,B

Things You Do in Denver When You're Dead/D+,B+

This Sporting Life/A-,B+

Timemaster/ D, C

Tom and Viv/B-,B-

Tortilla Flat/B+,B


Trees Lounge/B-,B-

Trigger Effect/B-,B+

Two Bits/C,B


Umbrellas of Cherbourg/B+,B


Usual Suspects/ B-,C+

Valdez is Coming/C+,B-

Vengeance Valley/B,C+


Virtuosity/ C+, A

Wait Until Dark/B,B-

Walk in the Clouds, A/ A-,


Waterworld/ B+, B

White Man's Burden/ B, B+

White Squall/ B,A

Whole Wide World/B,B

Wicked City/ B, C+

Wild Bill/ C+, B

Window to Paris/ B,B

Wonderful,Horrible World Life..../B+,B

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 Films on Disc 1999  Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.