Recently, my parents went away on vacation, leaving me a house all to myself! Well, to me and my sister, but it was really to myself because my sister spent all her time at her boyfriend’s place. Not wanting to squander an opportunity like this, I went over to the local video store, and took advantage of their 7 movies for 7 days for $7.99 deal! Since I’m currently having a slow news week, I thought I’d devote this column to reviews of those 7 movies! The 7 movies consisted of classics I’d always wanted to see, and classics I wanted to re-acquaint myself with. So, let’s get to those reviews! (Reviews are presented in the order I watched the films)
The Shawshank Redemption – I already raved about this in a previous column. Tim Robbins plays a man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Morgan Freeman plays a fellow lifer who befriends Andy (Tim Robbins’ character). Andy proceeds to show everyone that the old saying is true: “Stone walls do not a prison make.” He proceeds to keep a sense of hope about himself, even when things are at their worst. It’s a simple tale, about how hope can help people survive the worst of circumstances. It shows the power of determination, as Andy sends a letter once a week to the state governor, asking for improvements to the prison library. He even attempts to reach out to the brutal guards and the sadistic, Bible-thumping warden. But, all throughout his living Hell, hope survives. And he manages to pass it along to others. In my first year of university, someone on my floor told me that if I loved film, I had to see this movie. I finally did, and man is it good! It has a great ending (I won’t spoil it), so all’s I have to say is go rent it. And if you’ve already seen it, see it again. It’s that good.
Masters of the Universe – The live-action He-Man movie!! Things are grim on Eternia. Skeletor has finally taken control of Castle Greyskull. He-Man, Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Gwildor stage an attempt to break into the castle and free it, but Skeletor ambushes them! Using Gwildor’s cosmic key, they are able to escape. . .to Earth. There, they ally themselves with two teenagers, as they evade Skeletor’s forces and attempt to get back to Eternia to prevent Skeletor from becoming the new Sorcerer of Greyskull. This movie epitomizes my childhood every bit as much as Transformers: The Movie. He-Man was one of the heros I wanted the most to be like. Plus, this movie is also good to see a before-they-were-famous Courtney Cox (Monica on Friends) and Robert Duncan McNeil (Paris on Star Trek: Voyager). They play the two teenagers. Actually, besides Paris being in it, there is one other cool Star Trek reference: all the make-up F/X were done by Michael Westmore. If you look at Skeletor long enough, he looks kind of like a Cardassian. The F/X were done by the same folks who did the F/X for Ghostbusters. Oh, and I’ve got to get the score! Skeletor’s theme is either one of the best forgotten villain themes, or it is the most shameful rip-off of the Imperial March I’ve ever heard. But it is really cool! Just like this film.
The Abyss – James Cameron’s first big epic about the ocean. An experimental undersea oil platform is used by the Navy to rescue a sunken nuclear submarine. On the edge of one the deepest trenches in the ocean, tensions run high between the oil drillers and the Navy SEALs, but tensions increase even more when they discover an other-worldly presence in the trench. The drillers greet it with a friendly curiosity, but the SEALs want to blow it out of the water. This film is notable as being the film that brought computer animation to the forefront of F/X technology. Plus, it seems to have become one of James Cameron’s forgotten classics. Rumor has it that, during filming, James Cameron spent so much time underwater, that he had to go through a decompression tank at the end of everyday. In this tank, he’d hang upside down to relieve his helmet’s pressure on his shoulders, and watch the footage he filmed for that day! It’s truly a cool film. All of the undersea shots were filmed in a nuclear reactor’s cooling pond. Don’t worry, the reactor hadn’t been installed yet. If you haven’t seen this film, you must. It rocks. (And, in case you need reminding, James Cameron is the guy who brought us the Terminator movies and Titanic.)
Bambi – Disney’s animated classic! A young deer growing up in the woods. Somewhere in there, his mother gets shot. This film establishes one of the most critical parts of the classic Disney formula: Thumper is definitely the first true comic sidekick. This would make a great double-bill with The Lion King. Many a movie critic pointed out the similarities between the two. What struck me this time was the character of Bambi’s father: the prince of the forest. At first you think that he’s some kind of dead-beat dad. You know, running off to be the prince instead of raising his son. But, as you get further into the film, he becomes more like Bambi’s guardian angle. It is he who first saves Bambi from the hunter. After the mother’s death, it is implied that he stepped in and became a father. When Bambi is all grown up, and about to be consumed by the forest fire, his father once again comes to save him. And, at the end, Bambi becomes the new prince, taking his place in the circle of life. You can’t tell me that that end does not smack of The Lion King. Even in the imagery, with Bambi looking over the forest from a hill that looks a lot like Pride Rock. Still, one of Disney’s greats. And I hear it’s coming to DVD in time for Christmas! Definitely one to get, you DVD people.
The Quick and the Dead – A western! I’m still wondering why I rented it. Probably because it’s from Sam Raimi (the Evil Dead movies). Sharon Stone plays a mysterious woman who enters the annual quick draw contest in the town of Redemption. Seems that the town’s boss (played by Gene Hackman), and champion of the contest, killed her father, and she’s out for revenge. Along the way, she befriends the Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio), the local gun shop owner who claims to be Hackman’s son, and Cort (Russell Crowe), a former henchman of Hackman’s who has given up his career to become a man of God, but is forced to compete. I don’t watch westerns that much, but this one is OK. Raimi’s definitely has a style that comes across in his films. Not bad, but not great. A good way to kill an afternoon. Oh, and as with most Raimi films, keep your eyes peeled for the cameo by Bruce Campbell.
Sabrina – Ahh, romance. Sabrina (Julia Ormand) is the daughter of a chauffeur. Her father works for the Laramie Corporation, which is run by the eldest son Linus (Harrison Ford). The younger brother David (Greg Kinnear) is somewhat of a womanizer. When Sabrina returns from a year in Paris, she has become quite the babe, and David is ready to dump his fiancee for her. Since David dumping his fiancee could screw up an upcoming merger, Linus decides to romance Sabrina away from David. But, it’s not long until Linus honestly falls in love with her. Just a sweet, old-fashioned romantic comedy, where everyone ends up with who they’re supposed to in the end. It’s a great date movie, so I recommend you rent it if you want to get snugly with someone special some night. Oh, and one little thing I couldn’t get over: the emblem of the Laramie Corporation looks a lot like the emblem of LexCorp. on the Superman cartoon. Really! Check it out when you see this film.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – The classic Steven Spielberg film! A young boy, currently in the throes of his parents’ divorce, befriends an alien who is stranded on Earth. Together, they become fast friends, and work on getting the little guy home. This film was the one that got Spielberg his first Best Director nomination at the Oscars. And who can resist? It’s just a sweet, heart-warming tale about a boy growing up. I remember seeing Spielberg in an interview, who said that this is the film he wants next generations to remember out of his work. Actually this was the exact dialogue: Interviewer>> Which of your films do want next generations to remember the most? Spielberg>> E.T. . . .And Schindler’s List. One of the main reasons I wanted to see this was because of E.T.’s cameo in Star Wars Episode I. Watching this film, I couldn’t get over all the Star Wars references in it! When Elliot first meets E.T., one of the first things he does is show E.T. his Star Wars action figures. When the government comes in to take E.T. away, they are all wearing clean suits and breathing like Darth Vader. Oh, but this is my favorite one that I read about on the Internet and had to confirm. During the Halloween scene, E.T. is staring at all the kids in their costumes. He stares for the longest time at this kid in a Yoda costume. While he’s staring at this Yoda-kid, composer John Williams (who wrote the music for E.T. and the Star Wars films) plays Yoda’s Theme in the background. You have to listen for it, but it’s really cool! Just like this whole film. Rent it, and be a kid again.
And that was my week of movies on the couch! By the time this is published, my parents will be home, and I will once again have to share the TV. But, be assured, as soon as I’m home alone again (or finally out on my own, whichever comes first), I will do this again! Until then, enjoy the movie!