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there's a good , and timely , story trapped deep within the excess of murder in the first , a new movie about the abuses of our prison system .
with a country wrapped up in feverish debate over the crime issue and the rights of the accused and the incarcerated in jeopardy , this expose would offer something rare to recent american movies--a point of view .
but director marc rocco makes it clear from the beginning that pretentious , often nauseating , camera movements and slick , mtv- style lighting and editing are far more important .
there's not a moment in the picture where he surrenders technique for pure storytelling .
and everything suffers .
christian slater and kevin bacon star as defense attorney and alcatraz inmate , respectively .
after spending an unprecedented amount of time in an isolated cell for attempting to escape , bacon murders another prisoner and faces trial .
his young lawyer ( slater ) is fresh out of law school but determined to " put alcatraz on trial " for the abuses of it warden ( gary oldman ) .
the result is the usual courtroom theatrics- imagine a stanley kramer production shot by hyperactive film school students .
there's very little to praise here outside of kevin bacon's earnest overacting and the appropriate story .
there's a lot of overacting from everyone--you know you're in trouble right away when r . lee ermey ( the drill sergeant in full metal jacket ) is cast as a judge , the center of reason and moderation .
slater has never been convincing and certainly isn't here and oldman is on a bad streak of hammy performances .
but the worst feeling you get while watching murder in the first is that the man behind the camera could care less about telling a good story .
there are long exchanges of dialogue where the camera is not even moving near the characters , let alone with them .
how frustrating it must be for actors to work under these conditions .
if there's anything that has alway distinguished american films over the rest of the world , it is our ability to tell a good story .
have we forgotten ?
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