Thursday, April 24, 2014

1993: The Best

Now for the really good stuff...

10. El Mariachi

Robert Rodriguez's debut film is a strong, no BS action movie about a guy who only wants to be a guitar player who gets caught up in a dangerous case of mistaken identity.  The usual Rodriguez touches are there for the most part: sparse, lean script told in a succinct manner, tightly edited and flashy action scenes, some nice camera work and just a touch of actual quality character work.  This is a hell of a debut for the man and his output would only get better.

9. Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg had a grand slam of a year with 1993.  Not only did he finally win some Oscar gold for Schindler's List, he also churned out the most successful and highly anticipated movie of the year.  Jurassic Park is a bright, thoroughly entertaining roller coaster of a movie with a nice cast of solid character actors (Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill are quite good, as is Richard Attenborough), a great John Williams score and some incredible dinosaur f/x courtesy of Stan Winston and ILM.  Granted, there are some flaws here and there.  The Attenborough character is a bit neutered from the Michael Crichton novel, as is some of the gore (which made it into the Roger Corman cash-in Carnosaur the same year) and the finale is a little anticlimactic but the film is still very strong.  Hell, the T-Rex attack alone makes it one of the best things ever made!  It's not quite the Jaws of the 90's, but it's fairly close.

8. Demolition Man

The other guy in 1993 who had a great one-two punch of a year was Sylvester Stallone.  I've spoken about both of his films from that year in detail but Demolition Man tops Cliffhanger just by sheer virtue of having a more clever screenplay, a better villain in Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock.  What can I say?  There wasn't a better girl-next-door type in the mid 90's than her.

7. Red Rock West

This one is sort of a cheat on my part as while I tend to put films in the year they got a U.S. release, this one didn't hit the theater stateside until 1994.  that being said, this is one of the better neo-noir films you will ever see with nice world from Nicolas Cage as a drifter and Dennis Hopper as the killer he impersonates and later has to deal with.  The plot is your basic setup with a guy coming into town and falling in with an untrustworthy woman who wants him to help her kill her husband.  The twist of the whole thing is that at first, Cage is hired by the husband to kill the wife.  It's a very clever, genuinely entertaining movie that manages to take a fairly standard story for the genre and give it a fresh feel.

6. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

While Batman Returns might be my favorite live action Batman film (with the 1989 flick a close second), this is probably the best overall interpretation of the character.  An extension of the awesome animated series that premiered in 1992, this finds The Dark Knight going up against a mysterious villain who is picking off mobsters and has a connection to his past.  Voice acting is superb with Kevin Conroy making both Bruce Wayne and Batman his own but the real gem is Mark Hamil as Joker.  Incredibly, Luke freaking Skywalker manages to not only outdo Heath Ledger, but Jack Nicholson as well!  The story itself is wonderfully basic and the action is outstanding, not to mention a little bloody at times.  It's a really terrific take on the character.

5. Groundhog Day

While Ghostbusters is probably the best movie Bill Murray has ever made, this one might sport his best performance.  The late, great Harold Ramis directed this brilliant little gem about a selfish jerk wad of a weatherman getting caught in a time loop while on location to cover Groundhog Day.  Murray is absolutely brilliant here giving a hilarious performance with a natural arc as he gradually figures out a way to get himself free from the loop.  It's a clever, fascinating comedy that is just a joy to watch.

4. The Fugitive

Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are fantastic in this adaptation of the 60's TV show.  Andrew Davis delivers the goods here with a great thriller with a stellar cast and some enjoyably tense moments.  The real joy of the film is Jones, though, who more or less made his career for life with his portrayal of U.S,. Marshal Sam Gerard.  He really takes over the movie and it's no shock he ended up getting a film all to himself five years later.  Just about everything works here from the usual Chicago locations Davis loves to the confident way the story unfolds.

That being said, if they had to make a sequel, it would have been hilarious if it had just been a straightforward legal drama where Ford sues the cojones off of the Chicago Police Department in the largest civil suit known to man.

3. Tombstone

Sporting an awesome cast, some fun action and a great blend of historical fact with embellishment, Tombstone is a smorgasbord of memorable lines, moments and performances.  I reviewed this one in detail a few months ago so let's just say its really, really good.

2. In the Line of Fire

The best Eastwood flick since the 80's is another great thriller in a year full of them.  Eastwood is great as a tormented Secret Service agent, John Malkovich is even better as the bad guy and Wolfgang Petersen directs the whole affair with a steady hand.

1. Army of Darkness

The third Evil Dead film manages to be the best of the year simply by doing exactly what a fun, unpretentious bit of entertainment should do.  Fast paced (though the longer version is better), funny and genially likable, it sports great KNB f/x and a fun Bruce Campbell performance that has become iconic.  Sam Raimi's stylistic flourishes are cranked up to eleven and the end result is a brisk, fantastic little action/horror film.

1993 was quite the eclectic year for film, as I think I've shown.  Great thrillers, some fun blockbusters and some equally good sleeper hits.  Pretty damn good considering the year that would follow.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.