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The Baltimore Sun

'The Cave,' 'Dirty Deeds,' 'Matando Cabos'

Times Staff Writers

Diverting rather than outright scary, "The Cave" is nonetheless a furiously paced sci-fi horror adventure featuring virtuoso cinematography and editing that give the film visual panache. Cole Hauser heads a team of cave explorer/deep sea divers who investigate a vast and treacherous cavern in Romania, full of immense, eerily beautiful chambers, impossibly narrow passages, steep cliffs, rushing rapids and waterfalls. This is the awesome realm of the unknown, and danger lurks everywhere, especially from ever-evolving micro-ecologies, which have actually been discovered in caves in Romania and elsewhere.

Consequently, there is a kernel of scientific basis for the unexpected, albeit exaggerated, challenges awaiting Hauser's team. Directed with admirable energy and clarity by Bruce Hunt and crisply acted, "The Cave" is a polished and ambitious production, and its makers don't lose sight of their primary goal to generate thrills and chills. It's increasingly hard to work up a fright on the screen these days, but even if "The Cave" doesn't exactly terrify, it's fun and looks great.

"The Cave," rated PG-13 for intense creature violence. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. In general release.

--Kevin Thomas

These 'Deeds' are hardly imaginative Recycling is alive but not well in the outmoded teen comedy "Dirty Deeds," with a result that is more toxic than intoxicating. Employing such staples of the genre as actors years older than the characters they play, moronic authority figures and Scatology 101 jokes, the film strings them together in a nearly laugh-free environment, rehashing such totally '80s fare as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Risky Business" and "The Last American Virgin."

TV heartthrob Milo Ventimiglia ("The Gilmore Girls") stars as Zach, a too-cool-for-school senior who takes on West Valley High's notorious Dirty Deeds — 10 pranks passed down through the ages that must be completed in a 12-hour period the night before the big homecoming rally. Aided and abetted by the super-serious valedictorian (Lacey Chabert), her freshman brother (Wes Robinson) and a homeless man (Todd Zeile), Zach does battle with the school's star quarterback, Dan (Matthew Carey), and a Neanderthal named Riplock (Alex Solowitz). Written by Jon Land and Jonathan Thies and directed by sitcom veteran David Kendall, the first project by former baseball player Zeile's Green Diamond Entertainment proves that independent filmmakers are every bit as capable of turning out mindless and soulless product as the film-by-committee studios.

"Dirty Deeds," rated PG-13 for crude humor, sexual content, language, teen partying/drug references and some violence. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. In general release.

--Kevin Crust

What gets killed is the comedy The most depressing aspect of "Matando Cabos" (Killing Cabos), a grimly unfunny and stupefyingly inept comedy, is that it has found an American distributor when so many high-caliber Spanish-language films never reach U.S. theaters. A nasty steel tycoon, Oscar Cabos (Pedro Armendáriz), is targeted for kidnapping by Botcha (Raúl Méndez), the son of Cabos' childhood friend Nacho (Pedro Altamirano), who has toiled for decades as one of Cabos' badly treated janitors, and Botcha's pal Nico (Gustavo Sánchez Parra). But just before the planned snatch, Cabos slips and falls in his office and is knocked out cold. Nacho comes upon the unconscious Cabos and exchanges clothes with him.

Complications ensue, but director Alejandro Lozano, who wrote the film's convoluted script with Dalton and the single-named Kristoff, takes it in all the wrong directions. What is most repellent about the picture is that its numerous moments of extreme violence and brutality, intended to be funny, are instead nauseating.

"Matando Cabos," R for pervasive violence and language, some strong sexuality and drug use. In Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. In general release.

--Kevin Thomas

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