In the not-too-distant future, life on planet earth is perfect. World peace has finally been achieved. There is no more war, hunger, disease, or environmental disaster, and humans live in contented harmony with each other. Sounds pretty cool, no? So what’s the problem?
Good witches, bad witches, good witches who become bad witches; it’s all in a day’s work for the Wizard of Oz. The story of how the Wizard of Oz first arrived in Oz and became the great and powerful Wizard of Oz is chronicled in Oz the Great and Powerful. This prequel to The Wizard of Oz pays reverent homage to the original classic film in many ways but most noticeably by mimicking its famous prologue. Just like when Dorothy leaves Kansas and her monochromatic world magically morphs to glorious, exhilarating Technicolor, so it goes for the Wizard as well. After a 20-minute black-and-white prologue cropped in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Oz’s balloon arrives somewhere over the rainbow, the image bursts into vibrant color, and the aspect ratio expands to a full 2.40:1.
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 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.
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.
I was a senior in high school when Top Gun came out in 1986. After that, every guy in my class, including myself, wanted to be Tom Cruise. He just epitomized coolness in a way that transcended even his iconic turn in Risky Business. Our Navy recruitment officer was extremely happy that year because enlistment was at an all-time high. No, they didn’t ensnare me, thankfully. My admiration for Mr. Cruise and this film went only as far as the box office and not swabbing decks on some aircraft carrier. But I remember we drove an extra 20 miles out of our way to see Top Gun at a brand-new theater that was the first in the state equipped for THX sound. And it made all the difference.
In early November 1979, a mob of hostile Iranian extremists stormed the U.S. embassy and took 52 American hostages and held them captive for 444 days. Seconds before the Iranians seized control of the embassy, six American officials managed to escape and find refuge at the residence of a Canadian ambassador. When the absence of the six Americans is discovered, an intense search for them ensues. Once found, they will almost certainly be executed publicly as spies.
A tenacious woman is in the forefront of the greatest manhunt in history. Jessica Chastain is Maya, a lead member of a CIA think tank assigned with the task of tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal both won Academy Awards for their work on The Hurt Locker. Now they’ve taken another stab at the turmoil in the Middle East with Zero Dark Thirty. The title refers to the military designation of half an hour past midnight, when it’s dark enough that no one can see you coming.
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.
Making a living during the Great Depression carried with it certain necessities. For three orphaned brothers living in the backwoods of rural Virginia in the early 1930s, making moonshine and selling it to the locals was a very profitable but dangerous business. The fundamental rule of mob warfare applied there, too: If you want to live to enjoy the spoils, you have to have the balls and the will to do what the other guy won’t.