Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1990: Honorable Mentions

While not quite as superficial as 1989, there's a fair amount of fluff to be found in 1990.  Much of which we will see in the honorable mentions section.  Let's get a move on, it's a long road we got ahead of us.

I get a real kick out of this underrated comedy.  Tom Hanks stars as a very depressed man who is diagnosed with a fatal brain disorder and takes an offer to go to an island and jump into a volcano.  He finds love in the form of Meg Ryan (who plays three different characters) and it all turns out to be an oddball con job.  Hanks is very funny here as is Ryan and I enjoy the strange eccentricity of the film.  For instance, the island natives are obsessed with an orange flavored soda and are led by Abe Vigoda.  That's just bizarre genius.

Also good is Quick Change, Bill Murray's directing debut.  Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid pull off a clever bank robbery but are stymied in their escape when it turns out that getting out of New York is more difficult than humanly possible.  The three leads are quite good with Murray of course being funny while Davis delivers some nice deadpan humor and Quaid gets progressively more hysterical.  Jason Robards is also fun as the cop trying to nab them.  The real fun of the movie is just how mundane the obstacles to the escape are, from simple roadblocks to a strict bus driver. It's a real gem.

It was a good year for Stephen King as he had three film adaptations and TV miniseries come out.  Misery is the best of the lot.  Based on his 1987 novel, it tells the creepy tale of a writer, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who is rescued from a car wreck by an unstable woman named Annie (Kathy Bates) who ends up holding him captive after she learns he's ending her favorite book series.  Caan and Bates are great here as is Richard Farnsworth who has a small role as a cop.  Rob Reiner does a fine job directing things and the end result is one of the best King adaptations.

The third Back to the Future film eschews the wild time travel antics of the second film and settles for being a fun western comedy.  Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are fun as usual, there are some good bits of humor and the train finale is also quite good.  I also like the romance Lloyd has with a teacher played by Mary Steenburgen.  It gives him a little more to do which is nice.  Back to the Future Part III is a fun, likable way to end the series.

I've always admired this one, a fun adaptation of the comics character with a wildly colorful production design and equally colorful characters.  Warren Beatty is fine as the title character but the real entertainment comes from Al Pacino as main villain Big Boy Caprice.  To say Pacino goes over the top is to make a drastic understatement as he lays into every scene he's in and wolfs it down with gleeful abandon.  It's an amazing comic performance and he probably should have won the Oscar for this, rather than Scent of a Woman.  Granted you could say that about most of his 70's roles but still.  Dick Tracy may not the the best comics to film adaptation ever, but it sure as hell is fun to look at.

The best of the few Tom Clancy adaptations released (Clear and Present Danger made my top ten in 1994 because there wasn't much else I could put in), The Hunt for Red October is an interesting though sort of slow in places thriller with Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan and Sean Connery as the Russian sub captain who is trying to defect.  It's got a great cast, good story and some nice tense moments though sometimes the pacing is a little off.  Still, damn good movie.

As I've noted elsewhere on the blog, I'm a pretty big fan of Shakespeare and this version of Hamlet is pretty damn great.  Mel Gibson makes for a good Hamlet, Glenn Close is fine as his mother (though the closeness in age does make me chuckle a little) and the rest of the cast is solid.  It's a very well constructed adaptation of the play.

Michael Caine is fantastic in this very dark comedy about a successful but unhappy man who wants to get rid of his boss who screwed him out of a promotion and his wife who is making his home life miserable.  Through a series of events, he finds that he's simply getting away with murder... literally and the end result is a wickedly entertaining thriller.  It's a very underrated movie.

Even though it more or less hits the same notes the first one did, Predator 2 is pretty damn good.  Set in Los Angeles, this time it's Danny Glover going up against the beast with a bunch of Joel Silver regulars and Gary Busey on hand to be menaced, chopped up and mangled.  The film starts off slow but the finale makes it all worthwhile as Glover goes one on one with the monsters.  It's not a classic by any means, but it's worth the effort.

He might have made a fortune with the Spider-Man films but my favorite Sam Raimi superhero flick is Darkman.  Liam Neeson plays the title character, a scientist horrifically burned in an explosion caused by villain Larry Drake that kills off his ability to feel pain but enhances his strength.  Doesn't do anything to change the fact that he's got a face like a prolapsed rectum but what can you do.  Neeson makes for a fine action hero (which would pay off years later with his current success); Raimi's directorial flair in in full force and Larry Drake is fun as a slimy bad guy.  It's quite simply pure entertainment.

Coming soon: The Worst of 1990

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About Me

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