Showing posts from June, 2010

Film Faves: 2004

Welcome to yet another edition of Film Faves.  Every edition features a complete and unabashedly biased countdown of my favorites in film.  Instead of a top ten list, I avoid the inevitable honorable mentions and count down a list of twelve of my favorites of any given topic.  Take this as not a serious "best-of" list as much as an insight into what it is I really love when I'm not trying to be objectively critical.

I'm continuing my travels back in time with the year 2004.  While the years 2008 and 2009 were really great years in film, I contend that 2004 was the best year in film of the last decade.  Hopefully, after reading this post you'll understand why. 

Let's do a rundown of the year.  The highest grossing films of that year were Shrek 2 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanMillion Dollar Baby, The Aviator, and Ray all took the top honors at the Oscars.  And, if memory serves, 2004 boasts the most entries in my Best of the Decade list, altho…

Remember That Movie: What Dreams May Come

I’ve wanted to watch this movie for over a year now. I remember when I saw this at the age of 17 or 18 my young romantic self was moved to tears by the film with the titter-worthy title. I’ve wanted to revisit this earnest Robin Williams vehicle first because I haven’t seen it in over ten years, but most recently because I’ve wondered how well it’s held up. Is What Dreams May Come a genuinely moving spectacle or a saccharine piece of tripe?

In case you don’t remember, What Dreams May Come stars Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Max von Sydow and is based on a novel by Richard Mattheson (its title originates from a line of dialogue in Hamlet). The story is about a recently deceased husband and father traveling through heaven and hell to reach his soul mate.

The movie starts off lovely. A young couple meets, falls in love, laughs a lot, sprays each other with water, has kids, and makes out while their kids spray each other with water. It’s all down hill from the…

Toy Story 3 Continues Pixar Legacy

Over the past decade, we’ve gotten a new Pixar film almost every year. This year, Pixar broke its toys out of its abundant box of ideas for Toy Story 3, their second sequel to date. Sequels pop up every year like babies in a day care; some are more difficult than others, but every once in a while there’s one that’s really special. Pixar has really avoided doing that and seems to have pushed out one genius idea after another.

It’s been eleven years since the last Toy Story movie. Is Toy Story 3 another brilliant, story-driven idea or a sign that the studio with the lamp as bright as their ideas is finally going dim?

Andy has grown up and is packing up for college. Woody, Buzz, and, well, some of the gang are still hanging around just in case Andy ever needs them. After a mishap, the toys end up at a day care center. But this day care turns out to be a prison camp ruled by a cuddly bear with a plush-embraced iron grip. Realizing this is not the way a toy should live out its plastic days…

The A-Team: Couldn't Come Up With A Better Plan, Huh?

I remember when I was a kid in the eighties, TV was a place for pure escapism and you’d be hard-pressed to find a series that took anything as seriously as programming today. There were shows about a teenager with a PhD, a group of senior citizens that were feistier than a cheerleading squad, and a scientist that could level a private army with just a rope, gum, and a radio. Then there was The A-Team, an action-adventure series about four distinct personalities working together to help others while running from The Man. It was iconic. Mr. T alone became one of the biggest icons of the decade with his tough attitude and heart as gold as the heap of chains around his neck.

Ever since the success of the Mission: Impossible movies an A-Team movie has circulated the stacks of brand-name remakes on studio executives’ desks. At times, it looked like it would never get made. Once filming finally began last year, it became clear that this film was either going to be really awesome fun or a med…

3D: A Cash-In Trend or The Future of Cinema?

This year, audiences are faced with a full-fledged onslaught of movies with a 3D option. This is a form of entertainment that’s asking to take more out of audience’s wallets during a time when pockets are lighter. It seems sensible to examine as many aspects of this new craze as possible, to make the average moviegoer more informed about what they’re being asked to hand over more money for by examining this latest phenomenon’s rise from obscurity, the different methods and possible intentions behind 3D releases, and general responses on the 3D format by the critical and film community.

Let’s start at the beginning.

As many already know, 3D was first introduced to theaters in the 1950s and was mostly applied to cheesy science fiction movies. It soon faded away from pop consciousness as little more than a novelty, which is where it stayed, only making appearances in the occasional horror flick or IMAX documentary. In recent years, 3D has been creeping back into the theaters. Roughly fi…

Remember That Movie: Sister Act

While thumbing through my parents’ DVD collection one day, I came across this comedy from 1992. I remember the movie was a fun, feel-good comedy when I was 12 or 13. I wondered if today it played more like a silly (read lame) high-concept “Whoopi is a nun? High-larious!” piece of disposable entertainment. Thankfully, it turned out to be a fun, feel-good comedy that’s light on its feet, doesn’t take itself seriously, but has held up well over time.

In case you don’t remember, Sister Act stars Whoopi Goldberg as a casino girl-group singer. Everything about her is second-rate: she sings one-hit wonder medleys of sixties girl groups in Reno and is mistress to Harvey Keitel’s mob boss. With plans to break up her dead-end affair, Whoopi accidentally walks in as Keitel’s driver is shot in the head by his boss. Goldberg runs to the police and is put in hiding while waiting to testify. Naturally, she is hidden as a nun of a church in San Francisco. Whoopi doesn’t exactly fit in until she is as…

Prince of Persia: King of Its Genre

Video game movies have an established history of suck. In fact, whenever a new video game movie comes to theaters the question becomes less about how good a movie it will be, like with any other film, and more about if it’s going to be as bad as the others. This may seem unfair, but it isn’t entirely unjustified. If one were to look through the catalogue of video game movies, they’d find the bar of excellence has stopped with Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil.

So, now Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time comes to theaters based on a well-respected adventure game with exciting action stunts and acrobatics. For the first time, video game fans ask is it decent? The answer: yes.

Prince of Persia follows Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young man who was adopted by a Persian king when he was a boy. All grown up, tragedy suddenly strikes when a gift instantly kills the king and Dastan is quickly blamed. Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), who was expected to marry Dastan’s eldest brothe…