The Natural (Barry Levinson) - Robert Redford's career in major league baseball is cut short before it begins, but 15 years later, he's back on track, for one final season... While the story-line is cliched and entirely predictable, Levinson turns it into something more like Arthurian legend, a comparison explicitly mentioned at one point. A hero, wielding his "sword" (a bat carved from a lightning-blasted tree), must battle dark forces and encounter both good and evil women -- Glenn Close is the Guinevere archetype and Kim Basinger plays Morgan Le Fay, while Michael Madsen and Joe Don Baker fill out the supporting cast nicely. Redford is irredeemably nice, yet stays just this side of sickly, by sheer force of heroism, as the season works its way toward the inevitable one-game play-off. Even though you know exactly what's going to happen, Levinson weaves his tale with a great deal of skill, so it's still immensely satisfying. B+

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