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Predictably, 'Cliffhanger' Has Thrills and Chills

June 17, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section. and

In "Cliffhanger," a mountain rescuer (Sylvester Stallone) fails to save a friend and, in attempting to redeem himself, falls into the clutches of a sadistic band of big-time thieves in the snowy peaks. (Rated R)

Most kids who managed to find their way into this film--ostensibly restricted to kids over 16 or those accompanied by their parents--were already connoisseurs of action thrillers. Judging the movie by the number and type of explosions, falls, bloody beatings, shootings and near escapes, most gave it an unquestioned thumbs up.

David, 11, thought it was better even than "Die Hard 2."

Melissa, 8, liked it even better than "Rambo."

Raymond, 13, said he especially liked the first five minutes, which included half a dozen shooting deaths, one plane explosion, a dramatic falling death and a crash landing. Not only were those scenes , the movie was "exciting all the way" to the end.

There were moments, however, that made older guys cringe and gasp. What did the younger kids think about the scenes when people were stabbed by stalactites, kicked like soccer balls, or shot in the head for a "sacrifice"? Was any of it it too strong for them?

"No," David said. "That's what kids like!"

Joel, 14, liked "when he started fighting and the guy started kicking him like he was playing soccer and how he got the shotgun with one hand and just shot him."

"I'm used to (violence)," said Chris, 10, who came with his sister and parents--all devotees of action thrillers. "I liked it a lot," he said. "Especially when Sylvester Stallone falls off the cliff. That was cool."

But for some, this thriller wasn't thrilling enough.

Said Calvin, 16: "I saw other kinds of action movies that are better. Like 'Die Hard.' There was more action in it. More scary action. More explosives. If it's an action movie, I think it should be more violent." Still, he called this one "pretty cool."

The kids were unfazed by details that didn't add up: for instance, when Stallone falls into a glacial stream, nearly drowns, and minutes later is dry, dressed and ready for more action.

David, however, wondered if anyone could really hold his breath for as long as Sly did.

The ending was also lacking, he thought. "I always think the ending should be longer and show what happens after that. They just rescued them and showed them waiting to be rescued." What he wanted to know was what happened to the characters and what they were doing, say, two years later.

But could our hearts really stand a "Cliffhanger 2"?

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