Monday, May 26, 2014

1994: The Best

And the quality returns...

10. The Mask

Of the three films Jim Carrey made in 1994, this one is the best.  A lighter and softer version of the rather dark comic book character Dark Horse Comics put out, Carrey plays a lovable loser who finds a mysterious mask that turns him into a green-faced maniac who can do anything.  Carrey is funny as hell here and the special effects are quite good.

9. Clear and Present Danger

Harrison Ford during this period could generally be counted on to deliver an entertaining summer action movie and Clear and Present Danger, his second film as Jack Ryan after Patriot Games is just that.  Based on the Tom Clancy novel, this is a complex (maybe a little too much for its own good) political thriller with some good performances by Ford and Willem Dafoe as a CIA agent; one or two nice action beats and healthy sense of humor that makes the film flow quite nicely.  It's not a perfect movie by any means but it's certainly a good one.

8. Wes Craven's New Nightmare

The seventh Nightmare on Elm Street film is an interesting departure from the norm, positing that Freddy Krueger is actually an ancient evil spirit Wes Craven managed to trap with the making of the first film.  A good number of actors from the first film, both behind and in front of the camera personnel, play themselves which gives the film a nicely weird vibe.  This plays much like a trial run for 1996's Scream and on that level, it's a quite the effective little chiller.  Robert Englund is good as always as Freddy (he gets to play him really dark and evil here) but I get a kick out of him playing a fictionalized version of himself.  I may prefer the original and third and fourth films, but this one is a solid entry in the series.

7. Street Fighter

Ordinarily this would have been on either the guilty pleasure or worst list but thanks to Raul Julia and his awesome final performance, it gets a spot on the big list.  Yes, the movie is stupid as hell and the other performances are sort of just there but overall, it's just a damn fun ride to go on.  The action is pretty solid as well.

6. The Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King novella is quite simply one of the best films of all time.  Brilliantly written and directed, it tells the stirring tale of a wrongfully accused man somehow surviving a horrible stint in prison.  Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are superb in their roles as is the rest of the cast and the pacing is such that you don't even notice the film's running time of 142 minutes.  Just a wonderful piece of cinema.

5. Ed Wood

Tim Burton's biopic on director Ed Wood is one of the more enjoyable, affectionate films I've seen.  Sporting a great cast highlighted by a good Johnny Depp performance as Wood and a stellar job by Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, the film is funny, warm and touching in some parts.  It's a very good movie about a legendary (for most of the wrong reasons) director.

4. Speed

This is easily one of the better "Die Hard on a..." type films, right behind Under Siege.  Keanu Reeves is a solid action hero (as I said in my full review, it helps when you tell him to just be stoic); Dennis Hopper is a great villain and Sandra Bullock makes for a fun, adorable sidekick.  The stunts are fantastic (pre-cgi as well), the music is good and it just barely misses being the best action movie of the year.

3. Maverick

I get a real kick out of this frankly hilarious film based on the James Garner TV series.  Richard Donner directs with his usual competence and the cast, especially Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner (he plays a lawman) do quite well, delivering the laughs.  It's not anything deep, just a good time.

2. True Lies

James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger always make a good pairing and True Lies is yet another good collaboration between the two.  Maybe the best American remake of a French movie (you could write a pretty good book about that, actually), this is both a terrific action movie along the lines of a James Bond film and also an amusing domestic comedy as Arnold's super spy tries to juggle a terrorist threat along with his wife's possible infidelity.  The fact that it works so damn well is a testament to all involved.

1. Pulp Fiction

A little predictable as far as best lists go, but Quentin Tarantino's brilliant second film still stands as one of his best.  Great cast, great script, some clever storytelling and an overall aura of cool make this one simply the best of the year.

That's it for 1994.  A very good year.

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About Me

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