Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
Charming, Romantic, and Touching
I saw this film several times as a child growing up in the '70s, and it has always stuck with me. It's the kind of fantastic and innocent romance that just doesn't get made very often in Hollywood anymore, more charming for being unapologetically sentimental about love and the supernatural. I wish this film would be shown in a theatre so that I could take a first date to it!
Carver's Gate (1996)
Ambitious...for a TV movie.
You know the definition of a Popcorn Movie. It's a movie that you know you shouldn't take seriously. It's little more than an excuse to sit in front of the screen together with your friends and have a laugh.
If that's the approach you take to watching Carver's Gate, you might not be disappointed. The props are obviously smoke machines, black light, and rubber masks. The characters are decidedly one-dimensional. And the inspirations for the plot are something less than inspirational, even for 1995. And yet, there's something about this movie that makes you want to like it.
That something is Michael Pere. Pere has the most important (though not all) qualities of a leading man: a handsome face, a resonating voice, and an ability to appear cool in the most ridiculous situations. If James Bond were an American, Pere might be the next Timothy Dalton.
But, alas, this movie was made for television, and like so many other attempts at TV-movie greatness, this one has but a single attraction. (Take William Hurt in the SciFi Channel's take on Dune, for example.)
The rest is a throwaway story about a virtual-reality video game called Afterlife that makes its players feel as though they really are in another world, fighting demons and ghosts and whatnot. Inevitably, some people become addicted to the game, and a policeman of sorts (Pere's Carver) is needed to bring them back out.
The monsters are so real indeed that some of them cross over into the physical world, don rubber masks, and start attacking everyday folks, who inhabit a dark, misty environment not unlike dozens of others in the annals of sci-fi. (Picture Blade Runner on a made-for-TV budget.)
Throughout it all, Pere remains the focal point of our attention and hope for better entertainment. He is cool, collected, and cute, and if your company happens to be a gaggle of teenage girls, you might have a squealing good time. Otherwise, just turn down the lights and turn your mind off for ninety minutes' worth of dumb, low-budget fun.
Dark Star (1974)
Delightful Sci-Fi Cheese
Highly recommended for a geek party. What do I mean by that? If you have, or are working on, a science or engineering degree and are a fan of both sci-fi and goofy comedies, then get four friends together, buy a case of beer, and stay up late watching this low-budget masterpiece. It's so stupid and pointless, you'll almost miss how funny and clever it is. The earliest feature-length effort of director John Carpenter ("Halloween") and writer Dan O'Bannon ("Alien"). Perhaps most noteworthy for what it predicts about those two budding careers, it also gives us the lasting contributions of a beachball-shaped alien pet and a talking bomb that can only be defused by phenomenological argument. Quirky, classic stuff.
Barney's Great Adventure (1998)
Adds Something to the Barney Genre
One of the beautiful things about childhood is that cynicism has not yet crept into our view of the world. Children have no frame of reference for new experiences, and so they appreciate those experiences as wonderful and react to them with delight.
The preceding paragraph explains why your children love Barney, and why you hate it. There is no need to belabor the point. The important question is, what makes this Barney movie different from a typical Barney television episode?
Difference number one: The replacement of children who can't act with children who can. Granted, they don't have much of a script to work with, but work with it they do, giving a modicum of life to characters that are essentially, like all characters in Barney stories, cardboard.
Difference number two: An injection of...get ready...production values! Have you watched Barney on television lately? Or ever? Did you notice the missed cues, poor timing, blown lines, and incessant hamming? Did you ever wonder if the director was familiar with the term "retake"? Fear not, because Barney's Great Adventure gives you an edited script, rudimentary choreography, and even one or two in-jokes for the benefit of Mom and Dad (something Sesame Street and Bear in the Big Blue House always seem to get right instinctively).
But the important question is, does it matter? And the answer is a resounding "no." My three-year-old sat enraptured throughout the movie, as your three-year-old will, hardly taking time to breathe or blink. When it was over, she wanted to watch it again. She cried when I said three times in two days was enough. Just like she has done with every other Barney video we have ever rented or owned.
Is Barney's Great Adventure a good movie? No. Is it passable? I guess so. Should you rent it for your child? Of course. Just pop it in the VCR and go cook a nice dinner for your family. I guarantee you won't be interrupted.
It's what the fans have been wishing for.
George Lucas's rustiness after a 20-year directing hiatus was evident in the clunky pacing and unnaturally stilted performances of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Now, with the benefit of recent experience and the writing assistance of Jonathan Hales, Lucas has directed another masterpiece in his mythical space opera. While Phantom Menace was almost childlike in its giddiness, Attack of the Clones begins to delve into Anakin Skywalker's dark motives for turning to the dark side. This is the perversely riveting spectacle that die-hard fans have awaited for 25 years, and it foretells a descent into darkness in Episode III that should be unmatched by any of the other films in the series.
Episode II also reintroduces a few of the elements that made the original trilogy so much fun. R2D2 and C3PO are once again a comic team after their miscalculated demotion to throwaways in Episode I. Young Obi-Wan Kenobi, now played by Ewan MacGregor as though he were channeling the spirit of Sir Alec Guinness himself, shows us the adventures we always imagined he must have had as a young, eager Jedi Knight. And Yoda reveals a never-before-seen facet of himself that elicits cheers and squeals of delight from the audience.
Most critics, even those who enjoyed this installment, bemoan the dialog. Do not fear. If your ear has grown accustomed to Lucas's penchant for theatrical speech, more akin to the 19th-century stage than the 21st-century street, then you will find no surprises here. Even Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala has shed her stubborn monotone of Episode I to show that, when delivered with a little feeling, even Lucas's starched verbiage can convey the appropriate emotions. You won't be moved, but your ears won't be ringing, either.
For sheer originality, nothing will surpass the thrill of the original Star Wars trilogy. But George Lucas has managed to give us the next best thing: a film that stokes our nostalgia for the originals while adding to their mystique.
The Thirteenth Floor (1999)
Thoughtful Sci-Fi in the Vain of Gattaca
The Thirteenth Floor is a thoughtful and engaging film that asks its audience to think about the difference between reality and virtual reality. The Matrix asks similar questions in an action format appealing to a wider audience, but the Thirteenth Floor exceeds the Matrix in two respects. First, it uses a thoughtful approach that establishes its characters as more than 2-D, comic-book type heroes and villains. Second, it builds longer and with more subtlety, so that the payoff comes much later.
And a delightful payoff it is. Imagine the Matrix with less action fluff, real human relationships, and a plot twist reminiscent of the Sixth Sense. Fans of thought-provoking science fiction in the vain of Gattaca will enjoy the Thirteenth Floor just as well.