The American tradition of the spring break was invented to give hard-working college students a much-needed reprieve from their rigorous course studies and a means to blow off some steam in a reasonably safe environment. At what point then did it become a callow justification to take complete leave of your senses and shamelessly plunge headlong into a sexually hedonistic, drug-induced crime spree? Oh, well. You’re only young once, I guess.
Victor Hugo’s epic novel Les Misérables has seen numerous film adaptations over the years, but this most recent version is the first fully dramatized film adaptation of the celebrated stage musical that has been the toast of London, Broadway, and the rest of the known universe for decades. In the Tony Award–winning stage musical, the plot’s diverse narrative skillfully weaves its way over many years and multitudinous character evolvement through beautiful orchestrations and powerfully emotional songs. In this new film version, however, the story bounces along frenetically from song to song in one hectic rush to get to the ending coda before audience members start fidgeting or exceed their three hours of complimentary theater parking with validation. Heaven forbid.
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.
Watching R.I.P.D., you might experience a profound sense of déjà vu. You may find yourself saying, “Hey, I’ve seen this before, only it was called Men in Black and it had Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in it.” The RIPD is a secret special service branch of the afterlife whose primary task is to track down and terminate other “deados” who hide out in the real world and refuse to cross over. Yes, apparently it’s possible to kill someone who’s already dead.
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 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.
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.
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.