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.
If it weren’t for the 2012 presidential election and the recent public shaming of Anthony Weiner and David Petraeus, we might have a difficult time finding any credibility in the outrageous humor of The Campaign. Scandals, corruption, lies, and character assassination: It isn’t just for breakfast anymore. It’s become part of our daily diet. Just watch CNN, for Pete’s sake.
One magical night, a lonely young boy named John makes a special wish that his teddy bear will come to life and be his best friend. And on that special night, the fates decide to grant him his wish. The next morning, John introduces Teddy to his absolutely freaked-out parents. Flash-forward 25 years, and John has grown up into a strapping young man who looks astonishingly like Mark Wahlberg. Best friend, Teddy, now just called plain Ted, has grown up, too, but only in maturity…or lack thereof. John and Ted now spend their afternoons getting high in front of the tube and talking trash about women.
There’s an old expression: “God is in the details.” This was never truer for a film than Ridley Scott’s visceral dystopian masterpiece Blade Runner. It’s not uncommon for a motion picture to be released in more than one version or cut for the public’s delectation. Many times, a filmmaker’s original vision is compromised in favor of releasing a more commercially marketable product by the studio putting up the money. As a result, director’s cuts, extended cuts, and special editions are much more prevalent now in the digital age and home video market. Few films, however, have seen as many versions or received as much scrutiny as Blade Runner.
Alfred Hitchcock was a supremely gifted and innovative filmmaker and master of suspense…and a bit of a psycho in his own right, according to recent biographies on him. His films are the benchmark standard that nearly every suspense thriller since has taken its cues from. And in 1954, Hitchcock shot Dial M for Murder in the 3D format at a time when the novelty of 3D films was waning.