Director Robert Zemeckis makes his dramatic return to live-action feature films with Flight after a decade-long foray into performance-capture animated films like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol. His last live-action film before this was Cast Away with Tom Hanks in 2000, which either coincidentally or ironically also featured a crashing jetliner.
Oliver Stone practically had to sell his soul to get Platoon made at a time when no movie studio wanted to revisit the Vietnam War. After that film won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1986, however, it kicked open the floodgates, and suddenly movie theaters everywhere were inundated with Vietnam War films like Hamburger Hill, Casualties of War, and Full Metal Jacket, and all paled in comparison with Platoon. With Full Metal Jacket, legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick examines the ritualistic dehumanization of the American Marine through rigorous boot camp training and transformation into a remorseless killing machine.
When American radio announcer Herbert Morrison stood watching the Hindenburg disaster unfold before his eyes, he tearfully exclaimed, “Oh, the humanity!” I coincidentally had the exact same thought while watching Ghost in the Shell again for the first time in 20 years—but for a much different reason. I saw this film when it first came out, and I remember having a difficult time identifying with it. I finally figured out why: There’s no humanity in it.
In the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, the titular children are lost in the woods and find a house made of candy. Starving, they devour the architecture with little regard for the occupant inside. The wicked witch who lives there lures them in and tries to eat them for supper. Any homeowner would sympathize. But they overpower the old crone and throw her into her own oven and burn her to death.
Life isn’t easy when you’re the bastard child of Zeus, father of all Gods, and your name happens to be Hercules. In ancient Greece, it was commonplace for the Gods to descend from Mount Olympus to fornicate with humans and leave mortal offspring in their wake. But Zeus’ infidelity incurred the vengeful wrath of his wife, Hera, who wanted to destroy his illegitimate progeny. When killing Hercules proved problematic, she instead did the next best thing and drove him to madness and the murder of his own wife and children. Remorse then prompted him to undertake his twelve impossible labors to purge himself of his crime.
It’s been nearly 200 years since Mary Shelley and her poet friends got together in a mansion in Lake Geneva and challenged each other to write the best ghost story. The fruits of those labors wrought a significantly chilling parable about a mad scientist who foolishly reanimates a deceased man stitched together with spare body parts from other corpses. At a time when science was exploring new territories and pushing boundaries, Frankenstein was conceived as a terrifying morality tale about the dangers of playing God. Rumor has it Shelley dreamt up her classic gothic horror tale in the midst of a whirlwind binge of hedonistic orgies and hallucinogenic substances. Think Jane Austen meets The Wolf of Wall Street.
In the opening scene of Identity Thief, financial analyst Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) receives a phone call from the Fraud Protection Department at Indenti-Vault Credit Monitoring Service. A woman named Janine informs him that someone has tried to steal his identity. Fortunately, they prevented it in time, but to circumvent future problems, she offers him a free total protection plan that will safeguard his credit against theft or fraud.
In May 1977, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were vacationing in Hawaii together. Spielberg already had the biggest box-office hit of all time under his belt: a little film called Jaws; and Lucas was hiding out from what he was certain would be a monumental disaster: a pet project of his called Star Wars. After Star Wars exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and then some, Spielberg and Lucas sat and mused about future projects. Spielberg expressed a boyish desire to direct a James Bond adventure. Lucas replied, “I’ve got that beat.”
In the opening scene, Apple Computer Company founder and CEO Steve Jobs enters a room filled with devoted employees like a rock star to thunderous applause. He is the undisputed master of the universe, and everyone knows it. But how did he get here? In the mid 1970s, the notion of a personal home computer was as realistic and practical as flying to the moon on a vacuum cleaner.
The grand experiment of converting iconic films to 3D for theatrical release and home video market resolutely continues in the hopes of attracting wide audience appeal—recent examples include Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Titanic, and Top Gun. And now we have Jurassic Park. Titanic was the only one that managed to coax me back into a theater, but settling in to watch Jurassic Park at home with my 3D glasses on, I had a peculiar sensation I hadn’t felt in ages—the electric thrill of seeing it for the first time. Having seen it so many times in so many different formats, the experience has almost become passé. But this time, it was suddenly 1993 again and I was actually excited to see this film.