[Hanksgiving] Big (1988)

Director: Penny Marshall

Cast: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard

Screenplay: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg

104 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

 

Happy Hanksgiving to all, and a glorious Hanksgiving especially to you. What’s Hanksgiving you ask? Well, it’s the tradition of celebrating America’s favorite actor and performer on the last Thursday of November. That’s right, Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Toy Story 4) No one else was using the day, so why not right? This Hanksgiving, let’s talk Big. It’s weird, so let’s jump right in.

Josh is a young man in desperate need of a confidence boost. He likes a girl, and he’s working up the strength to go talk to her, but he finds that he’s just not big enough to make an impression. So when he comes across an old carnival fortune teller machine called Zoltar, he wishes he were big…and the wish comes true. Josh wakes up the next morning with a thirty-year old body, having magically grown bigger overnight. His mother doesn’t recognize or believe him, and the only person he can go to is buddy Billy, who helps set him up with a job working for the MacMillan Toy Company and living in low cost lodging in New York City until they can figure out how to make him normal again. Soon enough, Josh’s childlike knowledge of toys rockets him up the MacMillan Toy Company ladder, attracting the eyes of the beautiful but joyless Susan (Elizabeth Perkins, Sharp Objects, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) and angering the competitive and cruel Paul (John Heard, The Guardian, Home Alone), but is Josh ever going to get things back to normal, and if he can’t, how long can he keep the charade up?

We’ll start with the big things here. Tom Hanks plays adult Josh, and damn, he is phenomenal as a child living in a grown man’s body. He just gets it so perfectly, and Big is a tremendous showcase for Hanks’s comedic stylings. We all know Hanks now for his serious roles but we forget that he started as a comic actor in things like Bosom Buddies and Bachelor Party. We forget that Tom Hanks can literally do anything. For this film, I’ve read that scenes were performed by David Moscow, who plays younger Josh, first, and them mimicked by Hanks. It’s a brilliant idea that adds layers to a performance and it’s pretty damn easy to pull off.

The supporting cast is fine, from Perkins to Heard, and I should give special recognition to Robert Loggia (Independence Day, Scarface) as Mr. MacMillan, the head of the toy company that employs Josh. The way he connects with Josh on a personal level and sees him like a son is something truly special. We always look at Robert Loggia as a cranky old serious actor but he’s got some nice comedic timing, and it’s on display here.

Now, let’s cover the most batshit element of this movie: the script. Written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, Big’s screenplay is very good but it’s the kind of screenplay that I’m flat-out surprised that it ever got made. I know there were several filmmakers attached to this film over time until Penny Marshall (Awakenings, A League of Their Own) came onboard, and there were several actors poised to play Josh, but the fact that this movie happened is a shock all its own. There’s some very controversial stuff happening in this movie, particularly with the conflict/connection between adult Josh and Susan. I like the risks that the film takes in pursuing the true character choices that would be made, but these are script choices that would never happen today. Who would’ve thought that a movie like Big could actually made some risqué choices?

Big is a fabulous movie that maybe runs a little long near the end of its third act, but it’s fascinatingly put together with a star-making performance from Tom Hanks as he continued to dominate the field as a performer. It’s a not-always-comfortable but very funny look at the absurd situation seen through the guise of relatable and likable characters. This is one that I was very happy to revisit, and I would recommend the same for you. Happy Hanksgiving, and Thanks T. Hanks.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kyle’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2017

 

2017 is over, and as we hang for a moment on some of the best movies to come out of 2017, we must also take minute to recognize the stinkers. The real poopoo.

And there were a lot of stinkers. Here, today, I’ve put together my list of the ten films that I felt are the worst of the year. Keep in mind:

  • I didn’t see every bad movie in 2017. This is a list of the worst films I saw. I didn’t see The Emoji Movie. I just…I couldn’t.
  • This list includes films that were downright bad, but I also placed them on the list if they had wasted potential or were overall disappointing.

Alright, let’s get this over with…

 

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

The Mummy

The Mummy isn’t an absolutely terrible movie. My biggest frustration is that it has wasted potential and puts the cart before the horse. This movie isn’t a mummy movie. It’s like one of those prequel comic books that studios release before their actual movie. It suffers from being too much world-building when it should just be a good movie. Leave the world-building for post-credits scenes for now. It’s not a bad thing to use the Marvel model. But instead, they threw a bunch of shit at the wall to see what stuck. The other problem? This isn’t a horror film. It’s an action film. If you are doing a Dark Universe, make it scary or at least unnerving. This is a Tom Cruise vehicle that drives right off the cliff. And I’m pissed, because the Dark Universe can work.

 

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde’s action set pieces are some of the best I’ve seen all year. The problem is when the action starts. Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is underdeveloped, it has too many villains (and not a single one compelling in the slightest), it’s twist is underserved, and the framing device is far more interesting than the story it is framing. The style works and the music choices make for a fun time, but when the spy plot doesn’t earn its reveals, it’s a big waste from start to finish, and this director and cast deserve a whole lot better than this.

 

  1. Rings

-I saw Rings early last year, and you know, there are some good scenes. Like 1% of the movie. The rest is convoluted boring dreck that isn’t scary, doesn’t update the mythology, and worst it all, doesn’t make any damn sense! Three opening scenes and none of them really work. A twist-ish of an ending that wasn’t interesting (and it was in the trailer). The plot points are clichés taken from better films and Samara isn’t compelling. It also ran on forever. Forever. Forever…Rings was, from beginning to end, a terrible movie, one that should’ve stayed unreleased.

 

  1. Snatched

-The cardinal sin of Snatched is that it’s just plain unfunny. I recall giggling slightly at the film’s final joke, and that gleefulness may have just been my knowledge that the film was coming to a close. I love Goldie Hawn but she gets overshadowed by the far less funny Amy Schumer. Overall, I waited for Snatched to get good. I waited a long time. But the movie was so strung together by a dull plot and unlikable characters that my waiting didn’t get me anywhere. Snatched is disappointingly unfunny.

 

  1. Rough Night

-Not only is Rough Night unfunny, it is a shell of a better plotline. We’ve seen this played out before in films like The Hangover and Very Bad Things, but those movies were funny. Rough Night is a rough watch because the story sets itself up for comedy that never shows up. Scarlett Johansson is woefully miscast and it almost feels like she is aware of that as she constantly appears bored. The rest of the cast play flat friend archetypes. Rough Night never seems to work and some of the comedy is so bad it feels cringe-worthy at times. It just doesn’t work.

 

  1. Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker learns nothing from its predecessor. It is supposed to be this erotic masterpiece of passion and sensuality, and it is so boring. The chemistry is virtually nonexistent, the plot has been done better in soap operas, and the ending. Dear God, the ending is so bad. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, as the rest of the film was nothing to be happy about, but I felt as though James Foley on board as director was at least a good sign. Foley gets nothing to do with a shit screenplay from Niall Leonard based on a shit book from E.L. James. Garbage.

 

  1. Sleepless

Even Jamie Foxx couldn’t keep his mouth shut about how bad Sleepless is. For the sheer number of solid actors in this film, the movie is just…awful. I can’t blame you if you have no idea that Sleepless was even a movie in 2017, but it was, and I suffered through it so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome. Maybe the film would be even marginally likable if at least one character were marginally likable. Dirty cops, broken families, and a flat villain. I always say that you don’t need to have likable characters if they are at least interesting. Well, guess what? No one is that interesting here either. Skip it.

 

  1. The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man wastes Doug Jones. That’s just about the worst thing you can do. Doug Jones is magnificent, and when The Bye Bye Man is actually oscreen, he is pretty menacing, but a cliché, boring, laughably bad screenplay is the building block for your horror film, you are set up for failure. The first scene in the film is somewhat compelling, and then you put the pieces together, and then you hate it. Lastly, who the hell came up with this title? What a stupid creature name! Ugh.

 

  1. Rock Dog

-I remember nothing of Rock Dog. Good for me, bad for the film. Seriously, I recall thinking to myself the whole time that this was a shitty knockoff of Kubo and the Two Strings, and I sat there for far too long as the film sputtered and died in front of me. I have nothing more to say.

 

  1. Before I Fall

Before I Fall might be one of the funniest movies of the year. That being said, the comedy comes from all the serious parts of the film, and the moments meant to bring lightheartedness to the film are ugh-worthy. This poorly-plotted and simple take on the Groundhog Day/Edge of Tomorrow model is so melodramatic that I couldn’t sit still in my theater seat. I wanted so desperately for the film to be over. No one is likeable/no one is interesting.

 

  1. The Abduction of Jennifer Grayson

-The way this little indie portrays Stockholm Syndrome borders on the offensive, and that’s coming from a guy who is never offended. This shockingly stupid film stars James Duval of Independence Day fame. Oh, you don’t recognize his name? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I watched The Abduction of Jennifer Grayson before going on a long trip out of town, and the trip felt like it took up less of my time than this movie. When you tuck yourself in at night, be thankful that you haven’t seen this pile of shit.

 

  1. All Eyez on Me

-Well, more proof that just because you look the part doesn’t mean you can act the part. All Eyez on Me runs over the two-hour mark but it feels like a Tupac miniseries that someone scrunched into a film and then dropped a deuce on. There is nothing to say of merit to this movie. Yes, Tupac uses an iPhone in this 90s-set biopic. Yes, Jada Pinkett Smith called out the film’s historical inaccuracy. Yes, it has cars from the 2000s in it. Beyond all the issues with the film from a technical aspect, I was flat-out bored from beginning to end here, and there’s not a single piece of this movie that would make it commendable. It’s the worst film of 2017.

 

 

So there it is. These are the worst films of 2017. I’m glad that’s over.

Is there something missing here? What did you think was the worst film of 2017? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Eric Christian Olsen

Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy

121 mins. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity.

 

I’d been looking forward to Battle of the Sexes ever since I heard that Emma Stone (The Help, The Croods) would be playing Billie Jean King and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher, Despicable Me 3) would be playing Bobby Riggs. The two performers worked so well together for their limited time in Crazy Stupid Love. In fact, Emma Stone also appeared in Birdman with Andrea Riseborough  and Superbad with Martha MacIsaac. She’s built quite the incredibly portfolio, but is Battle of the Sexes up to snuff?

Battle of the Sexes is more about Billie Jean King than her opponent. It covers her strained relationship with husband Larry (Austin Stowell, Whiplash, Colossal), her secret relationship with lover Marilyn (Riseborough) and her fight against Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman, Independence Day, The Equalizer) over women’s rights in professional tennis. But when she finds herself head-to-head with the showboating Riggs, a man who is about to lose his wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas, Chasing Mavericks) due to his lies and gambling addiction, she finds herself fighting for more than just bragging rights in this film from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks).

Battle of the Sexes is a classic character study and a great showcase for numerous incredible performances, led by Stone and Carell. Emma Stone disappears into her role, proving that she is one of the best actresses working in the business today. Her role as King isn’t imitation or caricature but rather a true interpretation by one artist of another. Steve Carell too is tough to spot in the charismatic Riggs, a feat for the performer who could’ve turned to other comedic performances to channel. Instead, his humor is met with a nuanced characterization of a man who understands what he is doing wrong yet cannot stop himself. It’s like he is watching a car accident, unable to turn away.

The screenplay comes from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, Everest) and, for the most part, it is quite strong. I found the film dragging a bit in the second act, which could’ve been fixed easily in the editing bay or with a tightening of the script.

The director duo husband and wife that is Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have delivered a film that feels like a documentary. The style and tone is something that could’ve come straight out of 1973. An event like this could very easily have turned satirical or lampoonish, and the filmmakers ride the line very well.

Battle of the Sexes is Emma Stone’s movie, and that’s a really good thing. In fact, this could be the best she’s ever been. That doesn’t excuse her costar Carell from an amazing turn as the showboating aging tennis star, but it just proves the acting caliber of the stars. If you get the chance, check out Battle of the Sexes while it’s still in theaters. This is one to watch come awards season.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror 3] Psycho II (1983)

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Director: Richard Franklin

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia

Screenplay: Tom Holland

113 mins. Rated R.

 

Who would ever believe that a sequel to Psycho, twenty years later, would actually be successful? Psycho II was just that, earning roughly $34 million at the box office. It spawned two further sequels and a slew of other media properties. Crazy. Today, after years of avoiding it, I looked at Psycho II.

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Twenty-two years after the unspeakable crimes he committed, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, The Trial, Crimes of Passion) has been released from the mental institution against the wishes of Lila Loomis (Vera Miles, The Searchers, The Initiation), sister of his victim Marion Crane, who amassed 743 signatures to keep him locked up. Once Norman gets comfortable, he takes on a job at a nearby diner where he meets Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly, The Big Chill, Body Snatchers), a nice young woman who quickly becomes friends with Norman. But as things in Norman’s life start to look better, trouble starts, and bodies pile up, and all eyes are on Norman. Is he responsible? Or is something far more sinister happening?

This sequel appears in many ways to be heading down the same path as the original Alfred Hitchcock classic, but then director Richard Franklin (Road Games, Cloak & Dagger) and screenwriter Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Thinner) throw in some genuinely intriguing twists and turns that kept me guessing the entire runtime. Not every plot point plays out the way it should, but overall, Psycho II does offers some shocks and surprises as a worthwhile sequel.

The film is further elevated by standout performances from Vera Miles’ return as Lila Loomis and franchise newcomer Robert Loggia (Scarface, Independence Day) as Norman’s doctor Bill Raymond, who does his best to transition Norman to the real world, however difficult the task becomes.

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Now, I felt that the last half of the film gets a little too convoluted in trying to play mind games with the audience, and I’m still not sure I walked away with all the answers, but maybe that’s the idea. It just didn’t work as well as it could have. Psycho II is still the kind of sequel that further develops its characters and provides an interesting if somewhat similar and easy plot. I actually enjoyed it. There you have it.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

[Freedom Films] Rocky (1976)

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Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone

119 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Picture
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Director
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burt Young)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Song “Gonna Fly Now”

iMDB Top 250: #213 (as of 1/18/2016)

 

Today, on Independence Day, we look back on American Films about America. We will be taking some time to look at Rocky, the 1976 Best Picture winner, in this limited series of reviews during major American holidays. Rocky is the first sports film to win Best Picture. It also holds the distinction of being the Best Picture with the most sequels, six as of this year’s upcoming spin-off Creed. In 1975, Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables, Grudge Match) had less than $200 in his bank and not enough money to feed his dog. He believed in his screenplay and vision so much so that when the script was purchased, he gambled his career on the bet that he could perform. When casting Apollo Creed, Carl Weathers (Predator, The Comebacks) was hired when he made a crack about Stallone’s inability to act. Ironically, Weathers didn’t receive an acting nomination but Stallone did.

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Rocky Balboa (Stallone), also known as The Italian Stallion, is a southpaw boxer who hasn’t had luck in life. He boxes when he can, but in order to make ends meet, he has to hustle for a loan shark. He can’t seem to get closer to the woman he cares for, Adrian (Talia Shire, The Godfather: Part II, Palo Alto), and his closest friend is a drunk named Paulie (Burt Young, Once Upon a Time in America, Rob the Mob), who happens to be Adrian’s brother. But when Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion of the world, needs a gimmick for his upcoming New Year’s Day fight, he calls upon the little guy, The Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa himself. Now, with the help of aging manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith, Grumpier Old Men, Santa Claus), Rocky is going to try and take on the biggest boxer in the business and seize his chance at being a somebody in this film from director John G. Avildsen (The Karate Kid, 8 Seconds).

Rocky is a great sports film, one of the greatest ever. Director Avildsen gives his greatest work as a filmmaker here, ably controlling several variable factors to make a compelling character piece. I think what makes it such a strong and moving film is the likable underdog in Rocky, written and played well by Stallone, and the focus on creating interesting characters first and foremost and keeping the focus on them over the actual sports moments. It’s just like how the best war films are about great characters experiencing war. Stallone and Avildsen worked well together to fix issues as they came up, with Stallone writing scenes like the one where Rocky points out the mistake on his shorts the night before the fight or him calling out the oversized robe. These scenes were added due to production errors but because of the partnerships, you’d never notice. Well, I guess now you would.

We also get great work from Shire, Young, and especially Meredith, who gives a performance that only seems cliché because of how many films copied it later. I even really loved Weathers as Creed even if he didn’t get the nomination.

The terrific score from Bill Conti is the stuff of legend, a piece of musical brilliance imitated but rarely met. The Academy Award Nominee song “Gonna Fly Now”, also known as the Rocky Theme, stands with it as a franchise signature.

Rocky suffers from some uneven cinematography not counting the fight scenes, which are top notch.

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So is Rocky the best film in the series? Yeah, I suppose so, but I do enjoy watching it in conjunction with the sequel, Rocky II. In fact, I love the Rocky series in general, with the notable exception of Paulie dating a robot in Rocky IV (still a great film, but I mean…c’mon…). Rocky is, from a technical sense, a great film with an ending that challenges the conventions of most other similar films. See this one, and love it.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

William Fichtner Joins Independence Day 2! Interest Level Ascends!

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William Fichtner, known for his character acting in films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Dark Knight, has apparently joined the cast of the upcoming Independence Day 2.

Deadline has reported that Fichtner has joined the sequel to Independence Day in a possible leading role and may even be involved in two more installments of the franchise.

The news of the addition of William Fichtner follows the recent announcement of Sela Ward as the current President of the United States.

Personally, I’m excited to see how Fichtner’s character ties in the with the story that we will see for Independence Day 2. I’m less interested about the inclusion of Ward, but I’m more curious about this film in Emmerich’s future than I am about the bastardization of the Stargate franchise.

Fichtner has proven he can work with crazy roles in crazy films, and I like the idea of him playing a military man here, though I still don’t know if he would be a hero or some kind of villain, though track records would place him in the cruel jerk position like the role that James Rebhorn held in the original film.

What do you think about Fichtner joining Roland Emmerich’s upcoming sequel? What’s your favorite William Fichtner role and why?

[Happy 20th Birthday!] While You Were Sleeping (1995)

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Director: Jon Turtletaub

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Jack Warden

Screenplay: Daniel G. Sullivan, Fredric LeBow

103 mins. Rated PG for some language.

 

Well, While You Were Sleeping is 20 years old. Has it aged? Yeah, kind of.

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Lucy (Sandra Bullock, Gravity, The Heat) is a ticket collector who is in love with a man she’s never met. His name is Peter (Peter Gallagher, TV’s Covert Affairs, American Beauty), and that’s about all she knows. When Peter falls onto the train tracks and goes comatose, Lucy accidentally gets into a situation where Peter’s entire family thinks she is his fiancé. As Lucy’s story gets deeper and deeper, she gets closer and closer to Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman, Independence Day, The Equalizer), but how will she right the ship?

Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure, Last Vegas) has directed some diverse films. While You Were Sleeping is pretty odd itself. The film was rewritten from a time when Lucy was a man in love with a woman who goes comatose. How sexist is it when a man can’t do it but a woman can? Good question, but I digress.

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Sandra Bullock does fine work as female Lucy here, and it aided by a quirky cast of family members like Peter Boyle (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond, Taxi Driver) and Jack Warden (12 Angry Men, All the President’s Men) who help to keep the film lighthearted so you don’t realize that Lucy is a glorified stalker. The movie is cutesy enough and actually kind of works even if you do take time to think about it. It mostly comes undone by the end, but for a while, I think While You Were Sleeping is a film that could be enjoyed by both sexes on movie night.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Independence Day (1996)

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Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Maragert Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein

Screenplay: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich

145 mins. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi destruction and violence.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound

In the annals of film history, it would be a tough time attempting to find a movie that depicts the destruction of all mankind better than Independence Day from director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, White House Down).

On July 2nd, the world discovers that we are not alone in the universe as massive spaceships make their way to every major city. Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith, Men in Black, Focus) has to cancel his 4th of July plans and head back to base. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Lost Highway, The Equalizer) has to deal with the floods of looting and scared citizens while also trying to reunite with the First Lady (Mary McDonnell, TV’s Major Crimes, Donnie Darko). David (Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park, Mortdecai) has figured out a pattern in the signals of the alien ships, and thinks he is seeing a countdown to something big. As the world is cripple in fear of the alien menace, mankind is about to re-earn their independence.

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Independence Day is one of those movies that seems perfect when at first glance, but after multiple viewings, the plot-holes become more apparent. There are severe issues with this plot, but the film is still a culty pleasure (see what I did there?).

The performances from our stars (Smith, Pullman, Goldblum) are all serviceable to keep the hype up throughout the action set pieces. The only issue with the characters portrayed is that they aren’t written to experience catharsis. Their “catharsis” is only due to the impending death of the human race. Goldblum’s David is my personal favorite as the man who has tremendous potential but chooses to waste it. His character represents an interesting dilemma: should a man use his full potential even if he likes things the way they are? Hmmm. James Rebhorn (Scent of a Woman, The Game) also turns in some fine work as Albert Nimzki, who has specific thoughts and secrets which make President Whitmore’s decisions all the more difficult.

The cinematography focuses a lot on spectacle. It is meant to show us just how screwed we are, and it works well enough.

The score is another important piece of this puzzle, something haunting and rhythmic while empowering the American ideals of freedom and military superiority.

There are some great uses of miniature work in Independence Day. Some of the explosions do seem extremely dated, but the grandiose visual effects were well worth the Oscar win.

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Independence Day is returning to the big screens soon with a sequel (perhaps two). As far as the first film goes, Independence Day is a lot of fun. Not a particularly great film, but a classic nonetheless.

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Roland Emmerich’s 2012, click here.

[Oscar Madness] Jurassic Park (1993)

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Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson

Screenplay: Michael Crichton, David Koepp

127 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Visual Effects

 

I’m going to tell you a story now. When I was a young child, I was positively blown away by Jurassic Park. I just always wanted to watch it. Unfortunately for me, I was absolutely terrified of the film. I never got past the famous T-Rex sequence without running out of the room as fast as possible. Finally, when my next-door neighbor volunteered to babysit me one night, he made me a promise: We were getting through Jurassic Park tonight. And we did. And it remains one of the most thrilling examples of perfect filmmaking even now, 22 years later.

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, TV’s Peaky Blinders, The Hunt for Red October) and his colleague Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, The Fault in Our Stars, Wild) have just been hired by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough, The Great Escape, Elizabeth) to look into his newest project, an amusement park on the island of Isla Nublar. They are joined by Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day, Mortdecai), an observer of the Chaos Theory, as the three discover that Jurassic Park is filled with genetically cloned dinosaurs. When the island’s security defenses go down, the dinosaurs are unleashed, and the scientists must find a way off the island before chaos takes them out.

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First of all, I want to discuss the screenplay from Michael Crichton and David Koepp. I love the original novel and this adaptation is pretty damn close in the overall scope and the tone conveyed. There are a few changes and a few scenes omitted in the name of time, but the script is pretty great for both an adaptation and a film in general.

The list of performers, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough are so perfectly cast that it amazes me. Add in veteran character actors Bob Peck (The Black Velvet Gown, Slipstream), Martin Ferrero (Heat, Air Bud 3), and Wayne Knight (TV’s The Exes, Space Jam), and you have some genuinely perfectly cast players.

Director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) had so much invested in this project, and so much faith in it at the same time. It is refreshing to find a director that cares so much about a project. His care for pushing the visual effects envelope while maintaining his style and flair for the suspense and the fantastic.

The look and sound of the dinosaurs literally created the modern view of dinosaurs in film. The incredible sound work (the noises of the velociraptor hatching were created by cracking an ice cream cone and the squishing of a cantaloupe and pineapple) is what earns this film the realism that Spielberg so desperately wanted.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the famous scene in which the T-Rex’s movement causes a water ripple in a glass. The sound originally came to Steven Spielberg while listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. His production team eventually, after many, many failures, created the effect with a guitar string placed underneath the fake dashboard.

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Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park stands as one of the most groundbreaking and equally effective films of its or any generation. The film still looks gorgeous and has stood the test of time. The special effects haven’t even aged all that much. My hope is that Jurassic World is even partially as good as this one.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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