Tuesday, March 1, 2016

1994 Capsule Reviews

Pulp Fiction
rating: *****
review: Quentin Tarantino's ambitious tour de force leaves us with Samuel L. Jackson's iconic performance as the philosophic hitman Jules, but John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis are eager contenders in the mix.

The Shawshank Redemption
rating: *****
review: Often dismissed by critics as a chick flick for guys, it's also Stephen King at his most elegiac and may in fact by his best lasting contribution to the culture, and had, like Pulp Fiction, an iconic performance in Morgan Freeman's narrator, which has rightly influenced the course of his career as a vocal institution.

Forrest Gump
rating: *****
review: Often skewered for having beaten the above two for the Best Picture Oscar, few observers tend to analyze exactly what it accomplishes as a film, delivering a textbook portrait of America as it evolves over the course of Gump's lifetime.  In a lot of ways, does exactly what Oliver Stone was attempting for years, but with the benefit of Tom Hanks in the lead.

Star Trek Generations
rating: ****
review: Given the thankless task of inventing the modern obsession with inclusive mythology by having Captain Kirk and his Next Generation counterpart Picard meet, plus usher in Picard's movie adventures after what some fans saw as the premature end of his TV run...See how much rode on this one?  Yet it succeeds by subverting all expectations, uniquely winking at the whole concept's origins as a Western analogy when it has the two leads share a horse riding sequence, and sends Kirk off in an old-fashioned showdown.  It also sets up the Next Generation movie dynamic between Picard and Data, a more concise answer to Kirk and Spock that more wisely crescendos with one of them dying rather than begin with it...

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
rating: ****
review: Jim Carrey finally finds his breakout vehicle and ushers in the modern comedic id.

Wyatt Earp
rating: ****
review: The uncelebrated end to Kevin Costner's incredible hot streak sees him tackle one last cultural touchstone, the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with a game Dennis Quaid turning in an equally overlooked career performance as Doc Holliday.

The Mask
rating: ****
review: Hollywood very quickly realized what it had in Jim Carrey, and had this even more outrageous movie waiting in the wings.

The Santa Clause
rating: ****
review: Tim Allen, for a brief period, topped the box office, TV ratings, and the bestsellers charts simultaneously, something he absolutely earned with his spoof on the male ego.  Here he subverts it by becoming Santa.

rating: ***
review: Fans kind of ruined everything by embracing the later, mediocre TV version, but the franchise kicked off in fine fashion.

Natural Born Killers
rating: ***
review: Oliver Stone switches gears and does his best version of Quentin Tarantino (aided by a Quentin Tarantino script) in this livid portrait of tabloid television. 

Legends of the Fall
rating: ***
review: Tries gamely to make Brad Pitt a kind of mythic American.

rating: ***
review: Mel Gibson does his best James Garner, who comes along for the ride!  This was just before Hollywood knew what to do with Gibson on a permanent basis.  And of course now...

The Lion King
rating: ***
review: This was Disney's big creative statement after the big success of its creative comeback.  Rightly has an earnest following, but it's also missing that central spark and ends up being kind of the movie that happens around it, the supporting cast of any other effort.

Street Fighter
rating: **
review: A game adaptation of a fighter video game, which ends up working better as Mortal Kombat.

True Lies
rating: **
review: Arnold Schwarzenegger does a fun little movie that's the rare combination of his comedy and action efforts.

Dumb and Dumber
rating: **
review: At this point, Jim Carrey could do no wrong in the eyes of the public.  Except this really is, basically, dumb.

rating: **
review: On the opposite side of the Quentin Tarantino phenomenon, the outsider who improbably made it into Hollywood, is Kevin Smith.  I'll never understand this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment