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Showing posts from June, 2013

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #309: Transformers

I have mixed feelings about Michael Bay. On the one hand he directed one of the best action movies of the 90s, “The Rock,” which paired Nicolas Cage with Sean Connery kicking ass on Alcatraz. Then for the entire decade of the 2000s, he gave us the Transformers trilogy, which is made up of poorly edited explosions, vapid human characters, lame jokes, and plots that made less sense that poorly translated assembly instructions from IKEA. Yet these movies have made billions of dollars around the world and have their dedicated fan base, so that is probably why the first movie made it into Empire magazine’s list of great movies at number 309.
The only reason why I went to see “Transformers” in 2007 is because it was the summer time and in the summer I really like to see explosions, gun fights and car chases on the big screen. Mr. Bay, that’s your queue. Unfortunately I was taking my summer break from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec City where it can be very difficult to find American …

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #319: Midnight Run

Buddy comedies are the result of a good equation. You need two vastly different characters who have to work together, (most of the time against their will), good dialogue and great onscreen chemistry. In the 1980s and 1990s the prime example was Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as two cops in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, but “Midnight Run” (1988) by Martin Brest achieves the formula just as well, not with cops but with a bounty hunter and his prey. Robert De Niro plays the tough bounty hunter while Charles Grodin is the embezzler he must bring from New York to Los Angeles. That is of course if they survive the trip and each other.
I first started watching this movie at a birthday party in Santiago, Chile, back in the mid-90s. I don’t know whose idea that was but it was a weird choice because people started walking out of the room pretty soon. I guess it was a bit too much of a grown up movie for a bunch of ten-year-olds, but I kept it in mind and over the years I rediscovered by reading i…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #319: The Lion King

Disney’s “The Lion King” (1994), directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, is two spots ahead of “Aladdin” on Empire Magazine greatest movies list. It makes sense since it has once again all the elements of the classic Disney animated movies: great hand-drawn animation, themes of good versus evil, comedy sidekicks, cute animals, musical numbers and father issues. The story line in “The Lion King” actually tries to be a bit deeper by borrowing elements from “Hamlet.” If you are going to have a Shakespearean villain, you might as well have him voiced by Jeremy Irons.
Since Disney has always been keen to market its product on every platform as soon as possible, the first I saw of this movie was in an illustrated book before the movie itself even came out. Then after watching the actual movie of course my brother and I ended up renting the game for Super Nintendo and my parents bought the soundtrack on audio cassette. These marketing guys really know their thing. Since I was the age of the…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #320: Braveheart

The name Mel Gibson has meant various things over the past 30 years. At one point it meant up and coming actor from Australia, then it meant American action star, and as of 2013 it means anti-Semitic actor with a messy personal life seeking a comeback. However in 1995 Gibson surprised everyone by directing an old school Hollywood epic in the vein of “Ben-Hur” and “Spartacus” showing he had more than one ace up his sleeve. It’s too bad his career took a nosedive in the mid 2000s, because “Braveheart” showed he could have become a great director.
I got my first taste of this Gibson epic while living in Lima, Peru in the mid-90s. My brother and I were flipping channels when we got to the battle scenes at Sterling. You know the one, where the Scots defy the English by lifting their kilts. I don’t remember if we saw the whole thing through, but my brother liked it enough to put it on his Christmas list. Since this was back in the VHS era and the movie is 177 minutes long it came in a two-t…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #322: Aladdin

Before DreamWorks and Pixar slowly entered the animated movie market, Walt Disney Pictures dominated children’s movie nights. “Aladdin” (1992) features old-school hand drawn animation depicting a roguish hero trying to get the princess. It was also one of the first movies to have a major movie star voicing one of the characters. Whereas today you have guys like Tom Hanks, Mike Myers and Billy Chrystal voicing the main characters in animated movies, “Aladdin” was the first time Robin Williams voiced an animated character, something he would repeat in “”Fern Gully,” “Aladdin and the King of Thieves,” and “Robots.” It makes perfect sense since the man is practically half-cartoon.
The first time I saw this movie I did not understand all of the cultural references Williams was throwing out since I saw a French dubbed version in theatres, which lost some of the cultural references. It was in Québec and I didn’t speak English yet back then. However by the time I got the VHS tape (remember tho…