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Steve Steckel

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4 reviews in total 
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This film brings you in, heart and soul, 30 October 2000

Often, when hearing people speak of epics, one will catch the phrase "Well, it's no Lawrence of Arabia". Such talk is not given lightly, and with good reason: simply put, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most visually beautiful movies ever created. It gives the viewer a glimpse into filmmaking as it was meant to be: full of vast, stunning landscapes, wonderful costumes, etc.

One example must be given to illustrate the exact magnitude of beauty this film provides: a shot of a man, in the endless vista of the desert, walking on foot as the sun threatens to rise. And finally, with painstaking care, the audience is treated to the shot of the sun cresting the horizon. Filmed on the wider 70mm film, it is scenes such as this that transport the viewer, immersing them in the time and culture the movie portrays.

David Lean treats the material with such respect, it's as if he is afraid it might break. As as result, he creates a masterpiece of many disjointed pieces, combined to form a seamless treasure. He draws forth from Peter O'Toole a performance that is nothing short of brilliant; he sets up shots of such complexity, with thousands of extras, so effortlessly that they appear to have really happened; and he portrays the life of a man so vividly, the audience begins to feel that they, too, knew him.

A word of advice, then, for the first-time viewer: you will be in awe, you will be given a treat, and you will get caught up in Lean's vision; you must, however, be willing to give your all as an audience, for the film is long and paced much slower than movies today. It is the way films were meant to be; for a brief time, we the viewers were privy to such perfection, and for that we must be grateful.

Die Hard (1988)
Simply put, the one that started it all, 25 October 2000

What is it about this movie...

When looked at individually, each component of the film is well done: the acting, the directing, the script, the music, etc. When combined, however, these separate parts come together to form a piece of cinematic wonder. While this may sound melodramatic, in reality it is not. Why do we watch Die Hard over and over, so many years later, even though we know exactly what will happen? Why do we get that familiar clenching of the gut everytime John McClane picks up a gun? In essence, this is because, while it may not be new, it is nonetheless always exciting.

This is not so much a review of Die Hard as it is a lavishing of praise. With that one movie, the filmmakers achieved what so many have struggled to do since: they made the quintessential action movie, and in doing so they changed the audience's level of acceptance as to what a great movie really is. The attention to detail is remarkable, and evident in every scene. Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman are not so much acting as they are living their roles, so much so that it almost feels as if, years later, they are still locked into their battle, each testing the others' resolve.

This film will forever remain as a testament to what can be accomplished by paying strict attention to detail. Because of that dedication to the film, we as the audience are left with a finely crafted piece of work, where every scene resonates with an ambience that can only be described as a "perfect fit", where no word or movement is given needlessly, and where we see a true hero act in a remarkable situation (and believe everything we see along the way). I for one will continue to watch this film every time it pops up on cable, for in doing so I know, without a doubt, that I am in for a great ride.

169 out of 188 people found the following review useful:
The most careful attention to detail, 25 October 2000

What makes this film so wonderful to watch is not simply the acting, or the terror it instills, or even the plot itself. It is the way in which the writer/director M. Night Shyamalan takes his vision from the page, and carefully crafts a tale that completely absorbs the viewer. As a result, we are treated to a wealth of emotion: fear, sadness, joy, confusion, and humor, each one a compliment to the other.

Haley Joel Osment delivers, plain and simple. By now, so much has been said about the young actor that any more would be repetition. Needless to say, his portrayal of Cole Sear is remarkable. His ability to communicate, through a simple look or gesture, the depths to which his character's soul has been thrust is what truly carries the film. He succeeds at this task beautifully, convincing us while never going over the top; indeed, by the time Cole utters his now-famous line, you not only believe him, you are chilled by the fact that Osment the actor may actually believe it himself.

Bruce Willis turns in a stellar performance, complimenting his young co-star while never overshadowing him. It is a tribute to his respect of the material in so much as he fine tunes his delivery to seem reserved, yet not too toned down.

The Sixth Sense is more than simply a wondrous two hours. It has, in effect, created a new genre of filmmaking... the film is neither drama, nor horror, nor action. Rather, it is a seamless blending of all three, a film that encompasses the best aspects of each genre, without being limited by the worst. Hollywood has taken notice of this, and one can only expect a series of poor imitations to follow. But at least they'll always have The Sixth Sense to guide the way.

Wyatt Earp (1994)
56 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
An excellent script, beautifully visualized, 6 January 2000

As epics go, this film ranks high on my list. I attribute this mainly to the screenplay, which is compelling, visual, and rich. The film follows the life of Wyatt Earp, from his boyhood, through the fight at the O.K. Corrall, and beyond.

Unlike other adaptations of the same subject (namely, Kurt Russell's Earp in 'Tombstone'), this film deals with the famous gunfight as merely a step in Earp's life. Rather, the film focuses on the man behind the legend. To do this, it looks at Earp's life in two stages: his life before, and after, a major transition.

Contrary to what some may think, Kevin Costner does a very good job portraying the lawman. His character experiences a wealth of emotion, but the script is so well written that Costner does not need to stretch himself to portray Earp effectively.

The film comes together so well because of an excellent musical score, visually stunning cinematography, and strong acting by the supporting characters. It draws the viewer in, so much so that you do not feel you are watching a film, but are experiencing a moment in history. The direction by Kasdan is quite low-key, allowing the viewer to be drawn into the story, rather than simply showing it to us.

I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys epic stories, wonderful acting (particularly Dennis Quaid, although Tom Sizemore and Michael Madsen are excellent as well), and visually compelling shots. Do not let the length dissuade you: Kasdan's film is well worth the three hours.