He's good when he's good and bad when he's bad. He's one of the kings of concept and special effects, and his movies are the most affecting when he's not trying to make them affecting.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) -- A pretty funny movie about Beatles fans.
Back to the Future (1985) -- If I'm in the room when this comes on TV, I am powerless to resist. Among all the big, fun, fast, funny movies, this is probably number one. Michael J. Fox is in his perfect role with Marty (even better than Alex P. Keaton), Christopher Lloyd ditto with Doc Brown, and of course my insane hero Crispin Glover as "Dad-Dad-Daddy-o." No matter how many times Doc is stuck on the clock tower with only a few seconds before Marty has to drive 88, I'm excited to see if he makes it. This movie has become part of my makeup as a human being. (See below for the sequel, Back to the Future Part II.)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) -- This is more than just a movie showing how neat it would be to see cartoons and humans interact (though that would have been enough: see Jurassic Park for an example of this with dinosaurs; oh, but don't see Cool World), it's also got a plot going so strong that almost makes you forget that technical premise. They set it in the perfect time because that's when theatrical cartoons were still huge, and this movie is only perfect because they managed to get most all the cartoon's owners to cooperate, allowing us to see Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, and Woody Woodpecker in a movie together for the first time. It's certainly a movie for animation buffs who knew about the business in those days, and all the more clever by spinning the idea as if they were real actors, not just drawings. Not only the old characters, of course, make the film, but also the new, especially Roger Rabbit himself. Throw in some film noir and a sexy Jessica Rabbit and there you go.
Back to the Future Part II (1989) -- Say what you will, I loved this one too. It took the images from the first movie and made it illuminate more simply by effective repetitions (something that was also done in the third movie). You like the first one more once you watch this one, thinking about Marty up in the rafters, etc. Some were off put by the constant jumping around and screwing up of time, but that was the fun part, and a logical extension of what you can do with a time machine rather than just staying put like the first movie. It may have lacked some of the heart, but this is a different movie, so those kinds of comparisons can only go so far. (See above for the predecessor, Back to the Future. See below for the sequel, Back to the Future Part III.)
Back to the Future Part III (1990) -- When we first learned that the third one would be set in the old west, I at first worried that it was getting too stupid, but I wasn't all that disappointed with the execution in the end. It's not as frantic and fast as the first two, and I'm ultimately not as interested in Doc's romance as I'm supposed to be, but there's enough humor, action, and fun to keep everything lively. (See above for the predecessor, Back to the Future Part II.)
Forrest Gump (1994) -- When I saw the previews for this movie, it looked like the most amazing thing that had ever been made: this white shiny thing with a skin-headed Tom Hanks skipping across time and experiencing a zillion different culturally-important moments of American history, saying something about chocolates that might have held the key to the universe. Then I saw the movie, and I was pretty amazed by it, since it was more or less what was described above. Then I saw it again and starting noticing things that just made the film seem stupid or filled with holes or at the very least significantly flawed. I realized that it was a sentimental story about a functionally retarded guy (Oscars always go to actors playing characters whose brains don't work quite right) who only had one real want (wants being those things which drive stories) which was Jenny, to whom he was more hopelessly devoted than Kevin to Winnie from The Wonder Years. This one want made me realize that all the dazzle around him was just that: around him, something he wasn't actively taking part in. This is the point of the movie, I know, but I'm not sure if that's a good point: that if you focus on some hopeless dream that you will have all kinds of interesting adventures and become successful, but you won't be aware of either the adventures or the success, and you won't obtain your dream after all. All that said, it's still a fun enough movie to watch if you don't treat it like the significant serious movie it seems to want to be.
Contact (1997) -- A surprisingly good movie about many different kinds of "contact," not just contact with space creatures. Zemeckis keeps the far-fetched story very realistic (thanks, in part, to Carl Sagan), even when he's doing his Forrest Gump tricks of throwing Bill Clinton footage into the mix. For a movie over two and a half hours long, this is surprising tight and often action-packed, even when dealing with concepts about God, family, sex, politics, jealousy, life, the universe, and everything. Jodie is "okay to go" in my favorite role of hers.
What Lies Beneath (2000) -- Some average piece of crap he threw together while making Castaway, I guess. It looks like every other movie that's supposed to be spooky.
Castaway (2000) -- This movie was at least a half hour too long. The front of the movie deals with Tom Hanks and his time-specific job (ha ha, get it? not that that joke is even put to much use in the movie), which I can handle as an establishment of who he is and that he digs his fiancÚ and all. Fine. But then when he's un-castaway, the movie spends at least another thirty minutes dealing with him and her. It's believable that she doesn't end up with him, but that could have been done just as effectively for me with the speech he makes to his friend (it would have taken a minute or two) rather than the already-long (and already-over) concerning itself with something we don't care about. It's called Castaway and we care about how a man survives on an island. That was in the interesting part of the movie, and the injected story only took away from what might have been a great simple realistic castaway movie. That part, I liked. With some creative remote controlling, it's a good movie.
Beowulf (2007) -- Though the motion-capture takes a little getting used to -- sometimes looking really good, sometimes (like in Robin Wright Penn's case) looking dead -- the movie is a pretty perfect adaptation of the poem. It (thankfully) keeps all the violence and gore that made the epic so fun to read, and it's clear that Roger Avery and Neil Gaiman know their stuff, not backing away from the nuances of the tale (the importance of the rise of Christianity, the pre-Freud Freudianness, the overall Old English feel, and more) and even adding their own interpretation (that Hrothgar was Grendel's father and Beowulf was the dragon's father) that works exceptionally well and ties the story together in a way that improves upon the original.
Copyright (c) Aug 2001 - Apr 2008 by Rusty Likes Movies