Quick Movie Review: Jurassic Park

jurassic park

1993’s Jurassic Park was groundbreaking on so many levels. It features special effects that, 22 years later, have me saying, “Wow! That’s incredible!” At that time, filmmaking was really reaching a pinnacle in realistic effects. Animatronics and puppetry are way more believalbe than strictly computer generated imagery. And since Hollywood went in the direction of CGI rather than the former, many films have lost their authenticity. There’s a reason why the original Star Wars trilogy has fans’ hearts more than the prequel trilogy–the movies feel more real. It creates a world more believable.

And with the unprecedented effects going into this movie, we really do see the height of that technology used onscreen. The genuineness exceeds that of most current sci-fi action films.

Steven Spielberg and his team create a world so realistic that we forget it doesn’t exist. This is a pure adventure film and a real rush. It’s anything but cliche, and the characters don’t make annoying decisions trying to survive the dinosaurs.

The only thing that may be missing from this film is really solid character development. We get interesting scenarios that question certain characters’ morals. But the written-in subplots in order to show depth, for the most part, feel like they’re just written-in.

But we have a film that we can’t really complain about. We’ll sacrifice a little depth for a story and script that are so gripping that the film doesn’t feel the least bit dated over 2 decades later. Now THAT is incredible!

Twizard Rating: 100

Quick Movie Review: Army of Darkness (1993)

In Army of Darkness, I found myself laughing more and wanting it to end less than the previous two films. But much like Evil Dead II, the comedy lacks character and individuality. There are different types of comedy–all sorts–but these films aren’t quite sure of which type they are. I’d say the closest it comes to is satire. However, it doesn’t satirize the aspects that it should be half the time. And although the humor is more apparent and deliberate in this movie, I still wasn’t laughing out loud as much as I wanted to.

Overall, this film is actually enjoyable for me, compared to the other two which are more eye rolling than anything else. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the tone is a little less intermittent. I love how Ash finally becomes the hero that we’ve wanted him to be since the very beginning. He is cooler than ever and chock full of great one-liners. But with that said, I still can’t seem to get attached to his character as much as I want to.

As it’s not so much a horror as it is an action-comedy, Army of Darkness should still please fans of the first two films.

Twizard Rating: 67

Quick Movie Review: Born Yesterday (1993)

Melanie Griffith, as Billie Dawn, executes the role with such integrity. So convincing as she makes the film hers. But as a film, it just doesn’t fit in well with the era. It feels as though they lifted a 1950 film and forced it to fit into 1993. They tried making a non-90s film but didn’t pull out all the stops–or any stops, really. It just felt unexplainably awkward during most scenes.
 
However, the film wasn’t intrinsically bad. It was actually quite enjoyable. The characters are likable, the themes are sincere, and the dialogue is snappy. 
 
A lot of the time it even overcomes its sloppy direction and confused narrative, but those faults are never forgotten about and a few times distracting. The setup is on the border of boring and the tone is intermittent. It also never fully commits to any of its antagonists, and even slips up a couple of times with Don Johnson’s character, Paul. 
 
Born Yesterday is one of those films that is enjoyable and possibly forgettable at the same time. It means well, but could have been a better remake. And although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, I wouldn’t be against watching it again.
 
Twizard Rating: 73

Quick Movie Review: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Homeward Bound is a great movie about our love for our pets. It’s simple and to the point without becoming over-saturated with subplots and fluff. Although it’s a remake of the 1963 film, The Incredible Journey, the story still proves to be original after all these years. 
 
There’s not a whole lot to criticize here. I guess it’s somewhat annoying (if you pay attention) that the kid’s mom didn’t have any opinions or backbone whatsoever as she let her new husband (their stepdad) to call all the shots. After all, the film was about his growth as a character, but she just seemed to never have any emotion either way about what was happening with him and the kids. In general though, I didn’t have to be too nitpicky at all. Maybe just a little more emotion coming from Chance and Shadow when they think that Sassy dies.
 
It’s great how the filmmakers brought such depth and emotion to these animal characters and then juxtaposed it with the development of the stepdad’s character. It was young learning from old at the animals’ level, but old learning from young at the humans’ level. Very smart. 
 
But overall, your liking of this film will come down to whether or not you enjoyed it yourself.
 
Twizard Rating: 95

Quick Movie Review: Beethoven’s 2nd (1993)

I actually really enjoy this movie. Despite the fact that the script is pretty terrible and has tons of holes–way more than the first–the villains motives are way clearer and logical, and this followup has some nice overlaying themes.

Love is in the air in Beethoven’s 2nd and there are hints of it all over this film and in all sorts of different ways. Ryce is torn between two guys, Beethoven finds a misses and has puppies, Missy’s owner is going through a divorce, and Mr. and Mrs. Newton’s love endures through all of their financial difficulties. 

But just like the first film, there is no character depth and even less development and growth. There is no threatening drama within the family besides the fact that the kids are hiding puppies. But that gets resolved swiftly within the first half of the movie. The pacing moves nicely through this film and the balance between the main plot and the subplots were smoother and less uneven than its predecessor. 

My favorite parts of this film besides the puppies were the scenes filmed in Glacier National Park. The scenery is beautiful and lush. And the scenes at the fair are going to be loved by any kid watching this film. 

Although the script poses tons of questions in this silly and unrealistic movie, Beethoven’s 2nd is entertaining and laughably enjoyable. Toss in Chris Penn and it ups the ante. I would definitely watch this again. 

Twizard Rating: 81

Quick Movie Review: Heart and Souls (1993)

I think I have found my first lost gem of 1993. This film was simply amazing. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic in this movie, which perfectly balances genuine laughs with emotional tears. It makes you cry without ever being depressing. It may be too sappy for some, but I think that most will be very entertained. It’s so much fun that you don’t want it to end.
 
Heart and Souls provides us with a unique twist on a familiar story. It’s anything but formulaic as there are two 2nd acts and a new climax is reached each time one of the ghosts “concludes” their life. All of this followed by one big ending that you don’t really see coming. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t come without some predictability, but it never nears annoyance. Initially I thought that the 1st act was a little rushed and didn’t give enough background to the characters, but as the movie progressed I saw how the filmmakers utilized the rest of the movie to develop the characters and give them depth. And perhaps they wanted to keep it light and felt that if they were too developed early on that the audience would become too upset when they all die in the bus accident 10 minutes into the movie. I also applaud the script for not overly explaining things for the audience. It kept it very free-flowing.
 
There are some great comedy scenes here too. It’s a silly movie and it even comedically acknowledges the fact that it waited so long to have Thomas (Downey Jr.) help the ghosts out with their unfinished business. And Thomas (as Harrison) belting out the National Anthem before an audience waiting for B.B. King to come on stage is a classic scene. 
 
Ron Underwood’s direction is on point, and Shaiman’s sweeping score fits perfectly with the tone of this movie.
 
My only criticism is that it didn’t address the fact that Thomas was still mad at the ghosts for leaving him when he was a child. His resentment was never clearly resolved with his invisible friends. But this is a minor complaint compared to how much joy this movie has brought to me.
 
People will either love it or hate it. It may have been forgotten about since 1993 but I think if people started watching it now, they’d realize that this is a nice treasure waiting to be rediscovered. It holds up well and should be considered a classic by today’s standards.
 
Twizard Rating: 96

Quick Movie Review: Addams Family Values (1993)

With a less convoluted script and funnier circumstances, Addams Family Values can move beyond one liners and bring the family and their weirdness into the real world. It brings the tone and feel that everyone loved from the first one and creates a more compelling story around it.

We get to see a little more depth here too as we look further into Gomez and Fester’s relationship, explore Fester’s deep rooted issues, and we watch Wednesday fall in love. This is huge for the Addam’s family, who come across as what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of people.

However, the script didn’t come without a few flaws. Questions like, why would it take Debbie so many tries to kill Fester if she just killed all of her ex-husbands with an axe–why didn’t she try the axe with him? And if electrocuting Fester didn’t work the first time, then why did she try it again at the end for her ultimate murder attempt? And I know this is nitpicky, but why didn’t Wednesday and Pugsley just stop putting the VHS tapes into the VCR when they were being “tortured” on punishment at the summer camp, instead of continuing to watch more and more?

But all that aside, this film is highly enjoyable, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny. There aren’t a lot of movies in the history of cinema that can parallel the type of humor presented throughout the Addams Family duology, which makes these films all the more unique and important.

Twizard Rating: 90

Quick Movie Review: The Secret Garden (1993)

I could vaguely remember the details of this film from my childhood, and it was one that I had wanted to revisit for awhile. So, the second film that I’ve picked for our 1993 journey was The Secret Garden.

The tones given off in this movie are magical within themselves and the landscapes are beautiful. Although it’s pinned as a family film, it’s not necessarily great for all kids. Many may want something a little more fast paced and dumbed down. Although the pacing is a little slow, it’s alright because you like joining the kids for their adventures in the garden. I see it as making the film more of an experience than it stretching the script too thin. At times you could want a little bit more mysticism and enchantment, but it might be the point not to make the magic blatantly obvious. The characters all develop wonderfully because of this garden, whose magic you don’t see in the stereotypical ways. 

I love how it brings us back to the wonderment that we all have as a child. Where magic still exists–no matter how tangible the results. There’s magic in the wonder itself. They realize that what they’ve really found wasn’t just a garden, but themselves.

Twizard Rating: 93

Quick Movie Review: Hocus Pocus (1993)

What this movie really has going for it is that it’s strangely enjoyable. Maybe I’m just a sucker for dated kids movies about Halloween, but I could definitely watch this one again. It’s a great kids film and all of the technical mistakes will go over most of their heads.

With that said, the script was porous. Such as, why did the cat only talk when he needed to? There were tons of times were the kids needed to convince the adults that all of this witch stuff was happening and Thackery (the cat) just bit his tongue (no pun intended). And why didn’t they all surround themselves with the salt at the end. Also, the whole concept of keeping their ears covered was barely explored and the consequences weren’t very consistent throughout the film, and only seemed to be present in order to conveniently fabricate some tension. But that seemed to be a theme throughout this movie–falsely creating a sense that we need to worry. At times our expected emotions are rushed to too quickly (e.g. when they think Thackery is dead the first time after being run over, Dani is crying immediately without any build up). But why would they keep hurrying to get to these emotions, while on the other hand continuing to drag the rest of the script paper thin?

However, this is a fun and silly movie that can be enjoyed with a big group of friends. And it’s probably best enjoyed at Halloween time with like spirits are in the air (pun totally intended). 

Twizard Rating: 78

This Year In Film: 1993

Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won their 3rd consecutive NBA championship, Whitney Houston decided that she will always love us, Home Improvement was the #1 sitcom in the country, and Nickelodeon was actually good. The year was 1993 and it gave us a lot in terms of popular culture, but what it may have gifted us more than anything else was great movies.

Inspired by an article by the Huffington Post, I decided to not only watch the best films from 1993, but EVERY MAJOR FILM from 1993. Those who know me know that I love extreme (and ridiculous), yet possible, goals. (I once watched every wide release film IN THEATERS for a whole year). I’m not sure how long this will take, but I aim to watch at least one every other day. This means that I should wrap up in around 6 months,since there are less than 100 films on my list. Of course I will be writing about all of them and will compile a list of the best and worst of the year. The order that I watch them in is not determined by anything in particular besides what I feel like watching in the moment. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun juxtaposing today’s 2014 movies with classics from over 20 years ago.

Wish me luck! And I encourage you to do the same with a year of your choice.