22 July 2011

Andy's Friday Five: 1995

Looking back through My Life in Movies has returned, and with a vengeance! July will be full of fresh, all-new installments every Friday, so be on the lookout, ladies and gents.

Previous Entries:
1990 | 2000

Judging by the list of films I have below, '95 was apparently one hell of a great year. I'm really having trouble coming up with even halfway decent lists from 1991 to '94, so either movies really sucked in the early nineties or I just really need to exposure myself to more of these 'older' films. Now that aside, 1995 has lots of everything: The year Pixar made it big with a superb animated movie. The year a Japanese monster icon famously died (for a short period of time, granted) and its imitator raised above its masters ashes. The year two movies that are the third in their respective series make my list. The year where I begin valuing fun over well-made. Above all, 1995 was the year I began falling in love with movies. Sure, I wasn't in love in love, but the seeds for what this is right now were being planted.

Films I Really Ought to See
Apollo 13 (I know, I know, I am a absolutely horrible person)
Dracula: Dead and Loving It

Films Worth a Lovefest

Braveheart - Mel Gibson and bloody revenge, what on this beautiful earth is there not to love?

Godzilla vs. Destroyoah - Highly publicized by Toho Co. Ltd as the last Godzilla movie (for a undetermined retirement period) where the titular monster star will certainly die. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but a deteriorating and pissed off King of the Monsters makes for some fine entertainment.

Jumanji - In the last Friday Five, I confessed that 2000's HOLLOW MAN freaked the shit out of me. Well, feel free to make fun of me again. JUMANJI freaked the shit out of me in the opening scene. Board games, I was not a fan of after this, believe you me.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie - It was right in the thick of RANGER-frenzy, and I got to meet a man dressed up in authentic White Ranger gear, how could this movie not be on the list?

Waterworld - Receives a lot of hate, and appropriately so, but turns out, I loved it. Saw it within the last year, and I was pleasantly surprised by the super funness of the film. Lots of creativity, lots of money, lots of ambition, and lots of what-coulda-been.

Judge Dredd - Just caught this on the Syfy Channel a few months ago. I could not stop watching. I now own it on DVD. So friggin' awesome. Bad, but awesome. See, judging (hehe) from selections like this, my choice of favorites can't be too highly regarded...

Andy's Favorite Five of 1995

5. Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe
I'm a huge monster movie fan, and Shusuke Kaneko's re-imagining of the giant flying turtle after its 1980 disaster is about as perfect a monster movie as we could have hoped back then. Brilliantly, Kaneko outdoes himself in 1999 with GAMERA III, perhaps truly the greatest giant monster movie ever made. But that's in the future. Concerning the here and now, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE is absolutely brilliant. A clever story that successfully ties science fiction, fantasy, and reality together to make it all seem in the realm of believability [if you wanna know how, rent the movie!]. The greatest accomplishment of Kaneko's first Gamera movie is the special effects. Toho's Godzilla series is, at this point, winding out with lots of sparks and explosions, but very little in the way of genuine creativity in regards to photographing the monster mayhem and pushing the limits of CGI. GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE does this. We have some splendid digital work with Gamera facing the onslaught of missiles from the Japanese Self Defense Force, and some gorgeous composition work in the climax as Gamera faces his opponent in Tokyo. Overall, if one is looking to get into the giant monster genre, I'd highly recommend starting here. [Image Source]

4. Toy Story
By this point I'm five years old, and the majority of my toys are Batman and JURASSIC PARK stuff. While I was compiling this list, I had the funny notion of the scenario of TOY STORY happening with said action figures: the growly Keaton/Kilmer Batman annoyed with his inability to communicate with the T-Rex (which awesomely had a chunk of its 'skin' ripped open, revealing its bones), or Batman's Batmobile broken down and the Caped Crusader using poor ol' Rexie to catch the bad guys (had plenty of Two-Face toys, so thus, he shall be the villain). The point is, next to the splendid, game-changing digital animation from Pixar that made them a force to be reckoned with, TOY STORY is something special beyond words. Even for adults, I bet it sparks imagination (and nostalgia), makes us become kids again where anything is possible. This is a rare type of film that achieves so much. The script is top notch, the jokes hilarious, the toy characters so completely and utterly real, and most of all, watching TOY STORY all these years later, I become a kid again who wants to play with his action figures.

3. Mallrats
Kevin Smith's second film isn't nearly as strong as his breakout CLERKS, but y'know, it actually is pretty entertaining, and doesn't deserve the vile rep it's been given. Like any comedy, there are high points and low points, but the overall product is a success as long as I had fun and was entertained the entire time. MALLRATS is, therefore, a success. For being Smith's first time using real and seasoned(ish) actors, they have less of a presence than the majority of his non-actors in CLERKS, ironically enough. The jokes continue to gravitate towards the nerdy culture, which is much appreciated, and Smith's ability to create great characters is still very much right there on the screen. Tight dialogue, entertaining movie, geek bits, engaging characters. What's not to love, exactly?

2. Die Hard with a Vengeance
I can live without DIE HARD 2. It was okay, nothing grand, nothing memorable. Enter DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. Wow, complete 360 wrap around here. Loved it. Loads of fun. John McClane a this John McClaneiest. I bloody love this guy, and he absolutely owns this movie. Doesn't mean I shouldn't credit Sam Jackson delivering a surprisingly funny performance as John's forced sidekick Zeus, or Jeremy Irons for being the perfect sounding villain next to Darth Vader (don't shoot me, folks). This third installment has some zaney action sequences that are just great - I rewatch the whole ZOOM! through Central Park and subsequent train sequence quite often. There's the perfect blend of comedy and action here, and that's not a easy balance to maintain, yet VENGEANCE does it with style. Hell, when I'm flipping through FX and by happenstance this flick's on, depending what I'm doing at that specific time, I'll sit back, relax, and watch me some VENGEANCE. Amazingly, 12 years later, that same sense of fun and crazy action sequences were replicated for LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, but that's for another Friday Five...

1. Batman Forever
Love it or (more probable) hate it, BATMAN FOREVER solidified my love for everything Batman. It was my first cinematic exposure to the Caped Crusader after devoting my time to THE ANIMATED SERIES on Kids WB. Batman Fever was all the rag, sirs and misses. At this time in my life, BATMAN FOREVER had it all: there were hints of that edgy darkness, and greater still, a preview of the insane childish venue its predecessor would become. For a five year old, having a Batman movie that (sorta) served both venues was great. I enjoyed the fun, child-oriented aspect of the film, and the wider audience could appreciate the few and far between moments that made it seem like Schumacher and Co. were genuinely trying to craft a damn good Batman movie here. Years later, looking back at FOREVER, I still enjoy it, and I find myself picking this one out of the four 'original' titles more often than the others. I dig what Kilmer did with Bruce Wayne, I dig the action pieces and the Batman design, and hell, I even really love what Tommy Lee Jones did with Two-Face. I don't so much dig Jim Carrey as The Riddler, but it's something I can get past. Granted, not a favorite for everyone, but BATMAN FOREVER is my cup of tea.

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