Watching movies is a great way for you to improve your English, especially your listening and speaking skills. Movies are not usually created for English language learners - they are made for native English speakers. Therefore, the language is exactly how you hear it in real life - it is spoken quickly, with native accents and pronunciation and using many idioms and colloquial expressions.
Watching movies in English helps you in many ways. First, you improve your listening skills. You hear English being used in a very natural way. Some parts may be spoken too fast for you to understand, but it is a perfect way for you to get used to hearing native speakers talk to each other. You also hear informal English and slang words and phrases that you often do not find in books or dictionaries. Second, hearing natives speak also helps your speaking skills, especially your fluency. You hear how to link your words together and where to put intonation on certain words and sentences. Why not watch movies with your friends and speak about them afterwards? Or you could even find movie scripts online and act out scenes with your friends! You can then play the scene to check if your pronunciation was correct. Third, English pronunciation is extremely difficult and when you read words, it is hard to know how they should be said. Hearing native English speakers talk to each other helps you to hear how words are pronounced. If you are using English subtitles, you are also able to see how the words are written. Fourth, by watching English movies, you hear many new words and phrases, especially idioms and colloquial expressions. You may keep a notebook with you and write down any new words or phrases that you hear and you would like to remember or you do not understand. You can look up the meaning later or ask your English teacher or TOEFL instructor. Finally, in your English classes, you learn a lot of vocabulary and grammar, but you may not know how to use it in real life. Watching movies in English helps you understand how to use all the knowledge that you have learned in everyday situations.
Whatever your level of English is, you might be tempted to switch on subtitles. If so, use English subtitles so that you can read along while you are listening. Of course, if watching a film in English and reading English subtitles is too difficult, you should start by watching movies with subtitles in your language. Do not be afraid to replay parts of the movie that you do not understand, or turn subtitles on just for one important scene. If you have time, you can even watch the movie (or part of the movie) first with no subtitles, then with English subtitles, and if you still do not understand fully, you can watch it a final time with subtitles in your language. This will really help you practice your English listening skills.
Choosing a movie to watch that is suitable for your level of English can be difficult. Speak to your English teacher or TOEFL instructor for recommendations of good movies to watch for your level of English.
Director Robert Luketic adapts Ben Mezrich's best-seller BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE: THE INSIDE STORY OF SIX M.I.T. STUDENTS WHO TOOK VEGAS FOR MILLIONS to tell the true-life tale of six genius students who used their brains to beat considerable odds. Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) may be shy, but his wallflower reputation betrays his inner brilliance. As smart as Ben may be, however, if he can't pay his tuition he'll be kicked out of MIT. Fortunately, the answer to all of Ben's problems is right there in the cards. Recruited to join a team of extremely gifted students who have used their mastery of numbers to beat the odds at blackjack, Ben procures a fake identity in order to join the casino scammers and their brilliant leader - eccentric math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) - in some highly profitable weekend excursions to Las Vegas. Counting cards isn't illegal, and by using a complex series of signals, this team has cracked the code. Of course, it doesn't take long for Ben to become seduced by the glamorous Las Vegas lifestyle, and the attention afforded to him by his sexy teammate Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth) finds him pushing his luck to the absolute limits. Laurence Fishburne stars as Cole Williams, the Sin City security chief who catches on to the group and makes it his mission to expose their lucrative blackjack scam.
SIN CITY author Frank Miller's sweeping take on the historic Battle of Thermopylae comes to the screen courtesy of Dawn of the Dead director Zack Snyder. Gerard Butler stars as Spartan King Leonidas and Lena Headey plays Queen Gorgo. The massive army of the Persian Empire is sweeping across the globe, crushing every force that dares stand in its path. When a Persian envoy arrives in Sparta offering King Leonidas power over all of Greece if he will only bow to the will of the all powerful Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), the strong-willed leader assembles a small army comprised of his empire's best fighters and marches off to battle. Though they have virtually no hope of defeating Xerxes' intimidating battalion, Leonidas' men soldier on, intent on letting it be known they will bow to no man but their king. Meanwhile, back in Sparta, the loyal Queen Gorgo attempts to convince both the skeptical council and the devious Theron (Dominic West) to send more troops despite the fact that many view Leonidas' unsanctioned war march as a serious transgression. As Xerxes' fearsome "immortals" draw near, a few noble Greeks vow to assist the Spartans on the battlefield. When King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors fell to the overwhelming Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae, the fearless actions of the noble fighters inspired all of Greece to stand up against their Persian enemy and wage the battle that would ultimately give birth to the modern concept of democracy.
88 minutes (2007)
The film opens with a scene of an unknown assailant breaking into the home of two sisters. After one goes to sleep, the attacker subdues one of them using halothane and murders her after torturing her. After police questioning, the attacker, Jon Forster (Neal McDonough), is convicted by a jury after Gramm testifies against him in court. As Gramm leaves, Forster taunts him, saying "Tick tock." Nine years later, several similar torture murders with very similar modi operandi occur. Gramm is questioned but released. On the way to his class, he receives a threatening phone call telling him that he has 88 minutes to live. He reports the threat to Shelly (Amy Brenneman), his secretary, and brushes off the threat. He receives another call while teaching, and he becomes suspicious of the students. A dean, Carol (Deborah Kara Unger), enters the classroom and warns of a bomb threat, telling everyone to leave. Gramm finds written threats in the classroom. Gramm goes to the parking lot to see that his car has been vandalized with a similar threat. Later, one of his students, Lauren Douglas (Leelee Sobieski), is attacked by an unknown attacker. Gramm reports this to the police after questioning nearby people. Gramm later discovers through a tape that someone had accessed his secure files. With the help of his teaching assistant Kim (Alicia Witt), Gramm tries to notify authorities while trying to uncover Forster's past at the same time. Later, Carol tells Gramm to meet her at a location, giving Gramm a similar threat. Soon after, Kim calls Gramm with a similar threat. Before leaving, he manages to convince Agent Parks (William Forsythe) to make a rendezvous with him. Gramm arrives and finds that Lydia (who is actually Lauren under a pseudonym) had set this up and was working with Forster all this time. Carol has been hung over a balcony while Kim has been tied up. Lauren threatens Gramm with a gun and forces him to "confess" that he gave false details at the trial, but Parks arrives and shoots Lauren, causing both Carol and Lauren to fall. Gramm tries to save both but is unable to hold Lauren and haul up Carol, and chooses Carol over Lauren who falls to her death. However, he manages to save Carol with the help of Parks. When Forster calls, Gramm tells him that Lauren is dead and that Forster only has 12 hours to live.
A GOOD YEAR (2006)
Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is a 30-something aggressive financial banker in London, suddenly left without a sense of purpose after being fired. When his uncle Henry (Albert Finney) dies, Max inherits a vineyard estate in Provence in southeastern France. He fondly remembers the pleasant childhood moments spent at the vineyard and the prospects of returning there seem like a nice alternative to his present situation. With a generous loan from his former brother-in-law Charlie (Tom Hollander), Max, fed up with the cold, rainy England weather, sets out to Southern France. Upon his arrival, he is surprised to find the estate, Le Griffon, in a tragic condition. Max enlists the help of some of the eccentric locals and soon finds himself sitting back and enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer. He even begins to attract the attentions of two striking ladies, the local notary Nathalie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and the sensuous cafe owner Fanny (Marion Cotillard). His carefree life complicates instantly with the arrival of uncle Henry's long-lost daughter, Christie Roberts (Abbie Cornish), who claims to have the rights to the estate.
A PERFECT MURDER (1998)
A PERFECT MURDER is based on Frederick Knott's play DIAL M FOR MURDER, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954. Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) is a Wall Street hedge fund manager who has risen a long way to achieve his riches. His successful investments and speculations allow him to live an extravagant upper-class lifestyle with his beautiful and much younger wife, Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow). Unfortunately for Taylor, his investments are unraveling and he knows he is going to need his wife's personal fortune to maintain his status and lifestyle. Emily seems like a devoted, faithful wife, but in reality, she is having an affair with a penniless painter, avid (Viggo Mortensen), and is considering leaving her husband. Although she thinks herself safe, Steven knows everything about the affair, and has also been able to uncover the painter's dark past. He pays the artist a visit and confronts him with knowledge about the affair and the fact that Steven knows about the artist's prison time and past con games against rich women. He also sees the wedding ring that Emily left. All seems lost for the artist, until Steven makes him an offer. He is willing to pay $500,000 in cash for the death of his wife. Steven has already laid out a detailed plan, one which will supply him with a firm alibi and keep the murder from being traced to his wife's lover...
Based on the legend of the real-life daughter of the last Russian czar Nicolas II, Anastasia combines imaginative animation and lively songs to tell the story of a princess who escapes a horrible execution and mysteriously reappears after being thought dead. This animated movie is an enchanting fairy-tale packed with thrills, chills and romance. A young Russian princess Anastasia (voiced by Kirsten Dunst) is at a party, when Grigori Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd), the scary evil genius of the czar family, declares a curse on the Romanovs. Anya and her grandmother escape with the help of a young kitchen boy Dimitri (voiced by Glenn Walker), but Anya falls at the train station, hits her head, misses the train to Paris and loses her memory. Ten years later, a grown-up Anastasia (voiced by Meg Ryan) leaves the orphanage where she grew up, and goes to Saint Petersburg with her puppy friend Pooka. When a team of two young Russian swindlers, a grown-up Dimitri (voiced by John Cusack) and Vladimir (voiced by Kelsey Grammer), recruit spunky Anastasia in their plot to defraud the Dowager Empress Marie (voiced by Angela Lansbury) in Paris with a faux Romanov heir, little do they know that their carefully coached fake is the real thing. However, the resurgence of the long-lost Anastasia also attracts the attention of the undead Rasputin, who is stuck in limbo. His curse is unfulfilled and he won't be at peace until all the Romanovs are dead. With his hilarious sidekick, Bartok the Bat (voiced by Hank Azaria), he schemes to do in Anastasia since he knows that she is the last Romanov. Anastasia must battle the evil Rasputin, his albino companion Bartok and a host of ghostly minions in a headlong race to reach Paris and reclaim her rightful destiny... On her way to Paris, Anastasia is slowly falling in love with Dimitri... What is waiting for her in Paris?
Just how far should one man go to stay ahead of his competition? Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe), a Stanford graduate and an idealistic whiz at computer software design, and his several equally talented friends, including Teddy Chin (Yee Jee Tso), intend to launch a hi-tech start-up firm based on Milo's inventive ideas in convergence, in which he's helping to create new ways for different forms of digital technology to work in harmony. However, before Milo and his friends can get their company off the ground, Milo receives a very tempting offer from Gary Winston (Tim Robbins), a trailblazing genius in the digital world and a software magnate, pseudo-Bill Gates, the immensely wealthy head of a world-dominating Portland-based company called NURV (which stands for "Never Underestimate Radical Vision"). While Milo is sympathetic to Teddy's beliefs that computer technology should belong to the people and that open source software is the most promising future lies, Winston has long been Milo's role model in design and research, and Milo feels Winston's offer is too good to pass up. Thus, Milo takes the bait, leaving his friends behind. Arriving in Portland to a NURV-provided house and car, with his girlfriend Alice Poulson (Claire Forlani) in tow, Milo finds himself working on Winston's master plan called Synapse, a unique piece of software that will link the world's communication devices together. But Milo underestimates the ruthlessness of the leading-edge software industry, and it's not long before Milo begins to uncover disturbing evidence of Winston's unethical and brutal business tactics. When Winston's web of violence touches Milo's world, he joins forces with Lisa Calighan (Rachael Leigh Cook), a fellow NURV programmer, and sets out to tell the world of Winston's reprehensible means of dispatching anti-trust problems... But, whom can he trust in the high stakes world of computer technology? Though obviously influenced by the practices of a certain Pacific Northwest-based software empire (i.e., Microsoft) and its recognizable leader (i.e., William Henry Gates III), Howard Franklin's script is a snappy popcorn-muncher that manages to generate suspense even though it realizes its own excesses. Tim Robbins, as an evil geek, Gary Winston, surpasses himself.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001)
In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted as a result of runaway global warming and the subsequent raise of the ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching to the point of creating sophisticated companion robots called Mechas. One of the Mecha-producing companies builds David (Haley Joel Osment), an advanced prototype 11-year-old robot boy which is the first programmed to have real feelings, especially a never-ending love for his "mother", Monica Swinton (Frances O'Connor), who adopted him as a substitute for her real son, who remains in cryogenically frozen, stricken by an incurable disease. David is living happily with Monica and her husband, but when their real son returns home after a cure is discovered, his life changes dramatically. Suddenly, David finds himself in a strange and dangerous world full of petty and cruel human beings who had to create artificial love because they had lost the actual feelings of love themselves. Accompanied by a streetwise Mecha called Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) and his animatronic talking teddy bear called Teddy, David embarks on a spectacular quest to discover the startling secret of his own identity hoping to become a real boy so that he can win back the affection of the human mother who abandoned him. Like Pinocchio, whose story he overheard when Monica was reading it to her real son, he goes on a long journey hoping to find his "Blue Fairy", who once changed Pinocchio into a real boy and who can now make his own dreams come true too...
Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is a prim and proper Englishwoman who journeys to Australia in the years before World War II reached the country's shores. She is determined to have her estranged husband sell his cattle ranch to a monopoly-craving businessman named King Carney (Bryan Brown), but when she arrives, Lord Maitland Ashley is dead, and her plan to sell the ranch changes when she sees an employee named Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) cheating her husband's business and mistreating a young boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters) because he is of mixed race. Urged on by both pride and a sense of justice, Lady Ashley wants to drive her herd of cattle to Darwin so she can sell them to the troops, but she'll require the help of an independent cowboy named Drover (Hugh Jackman) to get them there. AUSTRALIA changes genres almost as much as Kidman's character changes from fantastic costume to fantastic costume (courtesy of Luhrman's wife and collaborator, Catherine Martin). The film begins as a fish-out-of-water comedy, then changes into a Western, then morphs into a romance, and it finishes as a World War II drama. But in this genre-bending epic, there's something for everyone, especially for fans of Jackman. The actor has rarely looked better, and there's plenty of opportunity for him to show that he can be an action star as well as a romantic lead in the mold of the Golden Age stars. The film itself harks back to classic Hollywood, at times resembling essentials such as GONE WITH THE WIND and THE AFRICAN QUEEN. And fans of THE WIZARD OF OZ will enjoy seeing how the beloved film works its way into AUSTRALIA's plot and score.
BICENTENNIAL MAN (1999)
If a robot spends enough time around humans, can he learn to become one of them? The Martin family purchases a domestic android as a servant and names him Andrew (Robin Williams). Andrew comes to know the man of the house as Sir (Sam Neill), his wife as Ma'am Wendy Crewson, and their daughter as Portia (Embeth Davidtz); before long, the Martins suspect that they do not have an ordinary robot on their hands. Andrew seems capable of expressing emotion and generating original thoughts, and the longer he stays with the Martins, the more strongly these human traits manifest themselves. Over the next 200 years, Andrew becomes less a machine and more a member of the family, until a mechanic (Oliver Platt) tells Andrew that he might be able to turn him into a human being. Based on a short story by renowned science fiction author Isaac Asimov (surprisingly, it's only the second Asimov story to be brought to the screen), BICENTENNIAL MAN was directed by Chris Columbus, who previously worked with Robin Williams on MRS. DOUBTFIRE.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an epic American love story, based on the short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx and adapted for the screen by the team of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men - a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy - who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Early one morning in Signal, Wyoming, Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet while lining up for employment with local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid). The world which Ennis and Jack have been born into is at once changing rapidly and yet scarcely evolving. Both young men seem certain of their set places in the heartland - obtaining steady work, marrying and raising a family - and yet hunger for something beyond what they can articulate. When Aguirre dispatches them to work as sheepherders up on the majestic Brokeback Mountain, they gravitate towards camaraderie and then a deeper intimacy. At summer's end, the two must come down from Brokeback and part ways. Remaining in Wyoming, Ennis weds his sweetheart Alma (Michelle Williams), with whom he will have two daughters as he ekes out a living. Jack, in Texas, catches the eye of a rodeo queen Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). Their courtship and marriage result in a son, as well as jobs in her father's business. Four years pass. One day, Alma brings Ennis a postcard from Jack, who is en route to visit Wyoming. Ennis waits expectantly for his friend, and when Jack at last arrives, in just one moment it is clear that the passage of time has only strengthened the men's attachment. In the years that follow, Ennis and Jack struggle to keep their secret bond alive. They meet up several times annually. Even when they are apart, they face the eternal questions of fidelity, commitment and trust. Ultimately, the one constant in their lives is a force of nature - love.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY (2003)
Whether or not a person believes in God, most people have thought they could make things better if they ran the world. Some would end world hunger, some would make world peace, and other would just fix the problems in their own lives. But few people would ever consider the burden and awesome responsibility of the universe's most absolute power. How would prayers be answered? How would you handle disasters and riots? What would you do if someone did not believe in you? Bruce Almighty presents a view of what would happen if a man's will were done. Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a field reporter for the local Eyewitness News TV station in Buffalo, New York, who lives a normal life with his sweet girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), who runs a day care center and adores Bruce. However, Bruce isn't satisfied. Tired of chasing cornball human interest stories, Bruce Nolan dreams of anchoring the evening news. Just when it seems he might get his big break, an ambitious rival beats him out. Bruce is incensed. He has an on-air meltdown, punctuated by a four-letter word not yet cleared for network television. On this worst day of Bruce's life, he's fired from the station, beaten up by a gang of toughs, and his car is vandalized. Furious, Bruce rails and rages against the Lord for his rotten luck - which is followed by a curious set of signs, one of which leads him to an old building called Omni Presents, Inc. There, Bruce meets a janitor who reveals himself to be who he really is - God! He's heard Bruce's complaints and now has an offer for the choleric newscaster - his job. By endowing Bruce with all his powers, God challenges him to take on the job and see if he can do any better! Of course, there are some conditions. Bruce can only have the "almighty" powers for 24 hours and only in the Buffalo area. Bruce can't tell anyone about the deal, and he's not able to affect people's free will. This doesn't stop Bruce, and he responds to his newfound powers with selfish, childlike zeal. Like a kid in a candy store, Bruce sets off making one hysterical, yet disastrous, decision after another. He increases the bust size of his live-in girlfriend and pulls the moon closer to the earth so he can have a more romantic evening with her, unaware that his actions cause a tidal wave in Japan. He parts traffic. He teaches his dog to use the toilet. He responds to the prayers of the world with a mass e-mail "yes" that creates millions of lottery winners, riots, and mayhem. He humiliates his enemies. He even gets his job back and elevates his career to a new level. Ultimately, Bruce proves he is only human, and cannot possibly fill God's shoes, although he has a great time trying.
BULLETPROOF MONK (2003)
What do you get if you cross The Matrix with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? You will get Bulletproof Monk, an entertaining action-comedy flick that is based on the cult comic book series. In 1943, the Buddhist Temple of Sublime Truth in Tibet is besieged by the Nazis seeking an ancient document, the Scroll of the Ultimate. Whoever deciphers its symbolism and reads the scroll in its entirety will gain unearthly powers and will be able to control the world, so the scroll must have a protector at all times to prevent some crazy dude with delusions of grandeur from finding it and exploiting it. After having escaped with the scroll, a mysterious Tibetan monk with no name (Yun-Fat Chow, a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star), a martial arts master, has traversed the globe to protect it for the last 60 years. Well, the time has come for our protagonist to pass the scroll on to another scrollkeeper. The problem is he's not yet sure who that other is. All he has are a few clues passed down to him when he originally received the scroll so long ago. The clues lead him to New York City where it appears his successor is Kar (Seann William Scott, an American Pie star), an apparently stereotypical streetwise punk pickpocket who only cares about himself but who turns out to be more than he appears to be at first. The monk, reluctantly, takes Kar under his wing to teach him a thing or two and Kar, reluctantly, accepts. Together, they must protect the scroll from Strucker (Karel Roden), a hidden mean-tempered Nazi officer who's been chasing the scroll for about as long as the monk has been protecting it. Now wheelchair bound, he is still desperate for eternal youth and hungry for world domination. He is helped by his granddaughter Nina (Victoria Smurfit). The Monk, Kar and a sexy Russian mob princess, a daughter of Ivan the Terrible, called Bad Girl (Jaime King) must struggle to face and fight the ultimate enemy. In Bulletproof Monk, this wonderful blend of fantasy, martial arts, action and comedy, the villains are villainous, the heroes are heroic, the action is cool, and the one-liners fly fast and furious. No doubt, you should give Bulletproof Monk a shot...
Talking cars rediscover the quirky originality of middle America in this inventive animated film from the folks at Pixar (TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO). Owen Wilson does the voice of arrogant rookie racecar Lightning McQueen, who winds up stranded in the small desert town of Radiator Springs on his way west to a big showdown. Sentenced to community service after literally tearing up the road in a high-speed chase, at first all Lightning can think of is getting back to the world of corporate sponsorship and merchandising tie-ins he loves so well. Eventually, however, the eccentric residents of Radiator Springs begin to grow on him, especially the attractive lady Porsche lawyer (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) and a rusty old tow-truck (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). There's also a hippie Volkswagen (voiced by George Carlin), a low-riding T-bird (voiced by Cheech Martin) and Paul Newman as the gruff, curmudgeonly Doc Hudson, the town judge who harbors his own checkered-flag past. The story may not be new, but Pixar's precision-engineered animation brilliantly illuminates the town and its surrounding cactus-studded vistas down to the minutest detail, and director/writer John Lasseter keeps the film's satiric wit and generous heart in perfect alignment. Adults in the audience should appreciate the film's celebration of old-school American eccentricity, and the kids will dig all the thunderous grit and high-octane wheel burning. Randy Newman composed the score; James Taylor sings one of the songs.
CATS & DOGS (2001)
How can you hate a movie that features ninja Siamese cats wreaking havoc with their kung fu prowess? That's one of the highlights in Cats & Dogs, an effects-laden family film that mystifies cat fanciers by casting dogs as the undisputed heroes in all-out warfare with nefarious felines. Hidden headquarters and high-tech gadgets are featured on both sides of this age-old battle. On the feline side, a power-mad white longhaired Persian cat named Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Sean Hayes) plots to sabotage the efforts of Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum) to discover a chemical formula that would give humans immunity to dog allergies, making dogs the clear favorites of humans over cats, their age-old enemies. On the canine side, stalwart shepherd Butch (voiced by Alec Baldwin) trains the mistakenly recruited a rookie beagle puppy agent named Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire) to foil Mr. Tinkles's scheme - a mission that begins when Mrs. Brody (Elizabeth Perkins) adopts Lou for her son Scott (Alexander Pollock). When Mr. Tinkles decides to kidnap the professor and his family and to reverse the formula, making all humans allergic to dogs, Butch and Lou must stop these nefarious plans. Using combinations of live animals, animatronic puppets, and digital wizardry, Cats & Dogs reveals an amusingly secretive world of talking felines and canines where cats parachute out of stealth planes in night-vision goggles and dogs operate hi-tech computer equipment, climaxing with a feline global-domination scheme involving mice sprayed with chemicals that will make all humans allergic to dogs. In one of the film's most stunning sequences, a Russian Blue mercenary kitten (voiced by Glenn Ficarra) attacks the Brody household with an arsenal of weapons including plastic explosives and bladed boomerangs. Goldblum and Perkins gamely play second fiddles to this menagerie of mayhem, and as madcap "realism" gives way to cartoonish fantasy, the movie escalates into utter chaos, burdened by lame jokes but highlighted by a furry supporting cast including a Saluki hound named Ivy (voiced by Susan Sarandon), a shaggy sheepdog called Sam (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan), and a Chinese hairless techno-geek named Peek (voiced by Joe Pantoliano).
CHAIN REACTION (1996)
In a University of Chicago alternate-fuel research lab, a team of scientists and technicians led by Paul Shannon (Morgan Freeman) have achieved an earth-shaking triumph. After years of tireless work, they have tapped a simple, yet almost infinitely powerful way to produce energy from water - cleanly, efficiently, abundantly - for a fuel-starved, pollution-weary world. What impact will this discovery have on us all? It is not an easy question since we all are living in the world addicted to petroleum... After the celebration of their success, student machinist Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves) accompanies his colleague, physicist Dr. Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz), to her home. When Eddie comes back to the research facility to get his motorcycle, he finds his mentor lying dead on the floor and the industrial warehouse that was home to their experiment is about to be blown by the uncontrolled chain reaction. Suddenly caught in a chain reaction of murder and high-tech espionage, the two colleagues are forced to go on the lam after being framed for the sabotage of their laboratory, the destruction of several city blocks in an industrial area and the death of a prominent scientist who was determined to give details of the discovery freely to all the nations of the world. A half-dozen of federal agencies including the FBI agents Ford and Doyle (Fred Ward and Kevin Dunn) and several bad guys from another research group, which is also searching for a way to produce cheap energy and which is unknown not only to Eddie and Lily but also to the rest of the world, are pursuing the couple across the country. In a dizzying chase across new frontiers of science and adventure, Eddie and Lily are trying to discover who is behind this far-reaching, shadowy and deadly conspiracy, to find the stolen invention, and hopefully to clear themselves of the false charges. But the couple has to be very careful, because one false move could be their last.
CITY OF ANGELS (1998)
What happens if an angel yearns for the most everyday mortal experiences: to taste a pear, to cry, to feel the touch of a hand... to fall in love? And what would an angel be willing to give up for those experiences? Conversely, what would make a rational mortal woman - a no-nonsense surgeon who firmly relies on her own earthly abilities - become drawn to a spiritual man whose very existence is almost impossible for her to accept? How would she have to change to understand him? Two souls, one mortal and one celestial, must struggle with their willingness - and finally, their need - to sacrifice everything familiar for the sake of love. This film got its start as an adaptation of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, the story of an angel who falls in love and wishes to become human. City of Angels is the story of Seth (Nicolas Cage), an angel who wanders Los Angeles invisible to humans. He shares his experiences with another angel, Cassiel (Andre Braugher). As the demise of an individual approaches, he spends time near them and becomes visible while acting as their traveling companion during their trip to the great hereafter. However, he finds his job difficult as he falls in love with Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan), a beautiful heart surgeon. While she believes that it is her job to save the lives of her patients, Seth believes it's simply their time to go... Intrigued by his presence and opinion, Maggie becomes interested in Seth, and soon his not-quite-mortal state seems a barrier rather than a gift. A choice must be made between celestial duty and earthly love. He meets Nathaniel Messinger (Dennis Franz), one of Maggie's patients. Messinger can see him because he was once an angel but gave his power up to become human. This inspires Seth to forego his immortality and to exist on earth with her as a feeling and mortal entity so that he can feel, smell and love Maggie.
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) was born with a gift or a curse to see demons and angels walking this earth disguised as humans. Demons and angels cannot make a person do anything, but they can whisper in your ear and give you an urge to do it. As a child, John could not understand what he was seeing, and he had enough of this life and wanted to leave this cruel world by killing himself. Unfortunately for John, he is saved from death, and now must atone for his act. John is given extraordinary powers, and becomes a guardian on earth. Whenever a demon breaks the rules, John exorcises them and sends them back to Hell. John is known by the police for working in the supernatural field of the occult, and Los Angeles police detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) wants his help in her investigation. Angela has discovered that spirits are walking the earth, and she believes they had some connection to the suicide of her twin sister. Angela becomes aware that John can see these spirits, and she wants to see them too. John reluctantly grants her wish. John and Angela must deal with representatives of both Heaven and Hell to save humanity.
DEMOLITION MAN (1993)
In 1996, blonde-haired psychopathic urban terrorist Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who is so nasty he even kills sometimes just because he feels cranky, is imprisoned in ice for the protection of society. Phoenix is captured by his arch-nemesis, one of the LAPD's most notorious cops, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), known as "the demolition man", who also suffers the same fate after Phoenix frames him for the deaths of a busload of innocent bystanders. While in deep freeze John's brain is filled with a love of knitting while Simon gains knowledge in computers, weapons and fighting techniques. In 2032, Phoenix mysteriously escapes cryoprison during a routine parole hearing. He finds himself in the renamed city of San Angeles, a futuristically utopian megalopolis of the politically correct stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, where red meat, salt, sugar, smoking and sex have all been outlawed. Arnold Schwarzenegger was (at one time) President of the United States, and Taco Bell is the sole survivor of the Franchise Wars. The megalopolis is governed by benevolent dictator Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne) and his Associate Bob (Glenn Shadix). It is Dr. Cocteau who ordered to defrost Simon for parole and arranged his escape to have him murder Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), the leader of a group of underground rebels. But Cocteau bites off more than he can chew when the melted down Simon proceeds to go on a crime spree on the now violence-free populace of San Angeles. The police force of the future is incapable of apprehending Simon after he escapes since the worst threat the police have to deal with is bad language. Thus, the police department is forced to release John from the cryogenic prison to recapture the one-man wrecking crew on the loose in this sterile paradise. In the process, Spartan discovers the corruption beneath San Angeles' pristine surface and the opposition led by Edgar Friendly. Through non-stop jokes and action, Spartan shows the docile, futuristic police force, including Chief George Earle (Bob Gunton), Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) and Alfredo Garcia (Benjamin Bratt), that the old ways are sometimes the best ways.
EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014)
An alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again...and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Vrataski take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy!
In the future, after World War III has decimated much of the Earth's population, a new nation known as Libria rises up. Believing human emotions and their expression were to blame for the failings of past societies, books, music records, motion pictures, decorated interiors paintings and other cultural artifacts that might promote varied moods and emotions are being eliminated. Any feeling, such as desire, happiness, awe, love, passion, anger, fury, fear, confusion and hope, is strictly forbidden and is considered a crime punishable by death. Each citizen is required to take Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion. However, there are those who, while hiding underground, rebel against the system by refraining from taking the drug and keeping works of art. The mysterious leader of the nation known as the Father (Sean Pertwee) is assisted by elite government secret service members known as the Grammaton clerics, who are trained like Samurai mastering a fighting art called the Gun-Kata, a fast and furious combination of Western fire-power with Eastern discipline of the body. Clerics track down and destroy "sense offenders", or those who resist the rules by not taking their pills, and find and crush sentimental, sensual, and artistic relics from a bygone era. Cleric John Preston (Christian Bale) is one of the best top ranking government agents. After letting his wife be arrested for a series of sense offenses and after killing his former partner Partridge (Sean Bean) for the same reason, Preston becomes intrigued by his victims and that which they die to cherish. One day, Preston accidentally fails to take his doze of Prozium, and for the first time begins experiencing emotions himself. Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, begins to have doubts about the policy he is enforcing. He becomes aware of the underground and he finds himself becoming infatuated with one of their number, Mary O'Brian (Emily Watson), a doomed sense offender. After falling in love with Mary, Preston understands that he, cleric, is the very person who is capable of changing the warped reality by overthrowing the existing regime. To do that, he should depose DuPont (Angus MacFadyen), the sinister controller of Libria who serves as the mysterious Father's mouthpiece, and his new partner, cleric Brandt (Taye Diggs), an intuitive but hardcore government man determined at all costs to keep the system working.
EX MACHINA (2015)
Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a week at the private estate of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), his firm's brilliant CEO. When he arrives, Caleb learns that he has been chosen to be the human component in a Turing test to determine the capabilities and consciousness of Ava (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot. However, it soon becomes evident that Ava is far more self-aware and deceptive than either man imagined.
FINDING NEMO (2003)
Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a more-than-slightly paranoid clown fish who is extremely devoted to his young son, Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould), the only survivor after a hungry shark swallowed up Nemo's mother and her other offspring. It's not Marlin's nature to explore unfamiliar waters, but when he and Nemo are accidentally separated near the Great Barrier Reef en route to Nemo's first day of fish school, Marlin gathers his courage and sets out to find his son. What Marlin doesn't know, however, is that while Nemo was looking at a boat passing on the surface, he was fishnapped by a scuba diver. As Marlin searches for his son, his journey leads him beyond the Great Barrier Reef into deeper and darker waters, where he meets Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a forgetful yet optimistic regal blue tang, and a number of not-so-friendly - and often very hungry - aquatic creatures. Meanwhile, little Nemo finds himself trapped in an aquarium in the dentist's office in Sydney, Australia, along with other underwater captives, including Gill (voiced by Willem Dafoe), the group's scarred Moorish idol leader. As Nemo works with his new friends on a plan to escape their tank, Marlin and Dory swim closer, but they'll need more than just fins to get into the dentist's office... Like other Pixar films, Finding Nemo features a story with heart - this time, a father-and-son tale - and thoroughly charming leads - in this case, Marlin, Nemo, and Dory. And, of course, there's an army of fascinating supporting characters, including Bruce (voiced by Barry Humphries), a great white shark on a no-fish diet; Crush (voiced by Andrew Stanton), a mellow surfer-dude sea turtle; Peach (voiced by Allison Janney), a stuck-to-the-aquarium starfish; and Nigel (voiced by Geoffrey Rush), a bold pelican. However, what truly distinguishes Finding Nemo from its animated cousins is its stunning depiction of aquatic life, from the colorful creatures on a coral reef to a blue whale in the open ocean. By combining the aesthetic of a National Geographic marine life documentary with clever jokes and Hitchcock references, Finding Nemo succeeds in its bid to up the ante for animated movies yet again.
GARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain. To evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with four disparate misfits: gun-toting Rocket Raccoon, treelike-humanoid Groot, enigmatic Gamora, and vengeance-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when he discovers the orb's true power and the cosmic threat it poses, Quill must rally his ragtag group to save the universe.
Maximus Decimus Meridias (Russell Crowe) is a well-loved and trusted victorious general in the Roman army, as well as a close friend to Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris). In the winter of 180 A.D., Marcus Aurelius' twelve-year campaign against the barbarian tribes in Germania is drawing to an end. The ailing emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), so that rule might pass from the Caesars back to the people and the Senate. Marcus' neglected and power-hungry son, Commodus, learns of the plan, murders Marcus Aurelius, and plans to execute Maximus in order to secure his claim to the throne. Escaping an execution ordered by Commodus, Maximus hurries back to his home in Spain, too late to save his wife and son from the same order. Taken into slavery and trained as a gladiator by Proximo (Oliver Reed), Maximus lives only that he might someday take his revenge and fulfill the dying wish of his emperor. The time soon comes when Proximo's troupe is called to Rome to participate in a marathon of gladiator games held at the behest of the new emperor, Commodus. Once in Rome, Maximus wastes no time in making his presence known, and is soon involved in a plot to overthrow the emperor with his former-love Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), Commodus' sister, after whom he lusts, and also the widowed mother of Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark), heir to the empire after his uncle, and democratic-minded senator, Gracchus (Derek Jacobi). The movie's plot represents a whirlwind of faux-Shakespearean machinations of death, betrayal, power plays, and secret identities making it one of the best of its kind, thus, resurrecting interest in historical adventures. Needless to say, Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen and the rest of the cast have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least.
A brilliant and respected criminal psychologist and psychiatrist at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women built in the impressive Gothic style, Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) treats the dangerously insane including a charismatic yet deranged patient, Chloe Sava (Penelope Cruz), who sees strange things and believes it is the work of the devil. Miranda is an expert at knowing what is rational, what is logical, what is sane... One of the other staff psychiatrists, Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) seems interested in her, but she has recently wed her boss, Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). One night, after taking a swim in the prison pool, she drives home during a thunderstorm and is forced to take a detour. The figure of a ghostly girl appears in the middle of the road and Miranda, in order to avoid driving into her, veers her car and drives into a tree. Miranda tries to help the girl, who looks like she has been the victim of something horrible, but then the girl bursts into flames. The next thing Miranda knows she wakes up a prisoner in her own institution where she is told by Pete that she has been accused of brutally murdering her husband with an axe three days earlier. Miranda has no memory of the murder she's apparently committed. The only thing she remembers is a cryptic encounter with a mysterious young girl. Chloe explains to Miranda that once you are declared to be officially insane anything you say will automatically be considered to be the ravings of a lunatic. The doctor's behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Her claims of innocence are seen by her friends, colleagues and former patients as the beginnings of a deep descent into madness. As Miranda struggles to reclaim her sanity she soon realizes she's become the pawn of a vengeful devilish spirit. Now she must quickly determine if she is being led farther from her sanity or closer to the truth. Director Mathieu Kassovitz and screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez are developing a sense of supernatural mystery and schizophrenic terror that literally extends to the end of the film where the final scene provides another piece of what is really an unfinished puzzle.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
Once again, for the forth year in a row, the wise-cracking TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is forced to cover the Groundhog Day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, an assignment he truly despises. But this year something truly bizarre happens after he finishes the report. When he wakes up at 6 AM the next morning, ready to leave, he discovers that it's February 2 all over again. At first, Phil takes the "repeat" days to deal in funny, or cruel, ways with others he knows he will meet. He knows everything will be wiped clean and he can start fresh the next day. No one but he will remember what happened the prior day. After a while, he gets depressed at the thought of being sentenced to an eternity of living the same day, so he tries to kill himself. He jumps off a building, takes a bath with a toaster, drives a car off a cliff, gets into the path of a truck... He succeeds each time, however when 6 AM comes the next day, he's back in his bed, Groundhog Day again, and his daily cycle starts again. And eventually he decides to go ahead and try to make good use of his situation. So he takes on new hobbies. He becomes expert at ice sculpture, medicine, piano-playing, poetry, and a number of others. He comes to know all the people in town, not only their names but also intimate details of their lives. The movie never hints at how many times he relives the same day. However, to gain all the proficiencies he did, it must have been several hundred. Perhaps even in the thousands. As he becomes more and more charming, he decides to try and seduce his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell). Each day he gets a bit farther, only to show off as the real jerk that he is, then is slapped and snubbed. But each day, since he is the only one who remembers, he gets a bit further. However, he is destined to never get the girl, unless he really changes. In the last 1/4 of the movie, he has become a truly changed man. He helps people because it is the right thing to do. He is humble about his successes, and it is this change that ultimately attracts the woman of his dreams, and which gets him out of the seemingly endless cycle of replaying Groundhog Day. And that, in a nutshell, is what the movie is all about. In a unique way - the replay of a day - it is a commentary on the need to be true and pure in our intentions to be able to get out of our rut and make any meaningful contribution to this world.
HOLLOW MAN (2000)
From Paul Verhoeven, the director of ROBOCOP, BASIC INSTINCT, TOTAL RECALL, and STARSHIP TROOPERS, comes this extraordinary suspense-filled thriller, full of special effects and technical tricks. Dr. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a brilliant, and stereotypically bad-boy arrogant and egotistical scientist who heads up a double-secret government team funded by the Pentagon experimenting with and, finally, succeeding in turning life-forms invisible through the use of a "quantum phase shift". How do we know he's a bad boy? Because he (a) wears a leather overcoat, (b) compares himself to God, (c) drives a sports car, and (d) spies on his comely next-door neighbor while eating Twinkies. After experimenting on a menagerie of lab animals, Caine finally cracks the code that will turn the invisible gorillas, dogs, and so on, back into their visible forms. He volunteers to be the first human subject when his test gorilla is brought back successfully. Caine is indeed rendered invisible, organ by organ, vein by vein. Turning invisible, however, appears to have side-effects, feeding on Caine's already fragile psyche. When the invisibility reversal doesn't go through as planned and Caine is stuck to being invisible, he starts doing stupid things such as spying on his female coworkers in the bathroom and molesting his female neighbor. Soon, Caine is thoroughly psychotic turning into a killing spree. His colleagues, including his ex-girlfriend Linda McKay (Elisabeth Sue) and his ex-girlfriend's current lover Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin) must stop the invisible man before it is too late...
Twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station in the 1930s, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy.
I, ROBOT (2004)
In the year 2035, in Chicago where robots are ubiquitous shuffling around the city doing menial work and running errands, homicide detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) is something of a misfit. He wears retro clothes, he likes to drive his futuristic car manually, and he bears a grudge against robots due to an unfortunate incident in his past - even though all robots are hardwired with a set of three laws preventing them from causing, or even allowing, humans to come to harm. Called upon to investigate the mysterious suicide of scientist Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), a pioneer of the robotic world who invented the Three Laws of Robotics, Spooner deduces that Lanning didn't kill himself but was, in fact, murdered by a robot. Lanning worked for the US Robotics headquarters, where he constructed friendly robots designed to help humans with mundane tasks. As Spooner digs deeper, his investigations lead him to a new type of robot, NS-5 that Lanning was working on before his death, and one of these new robots, Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk), a unique and uniquely temperamental robot with an identity crisis, an unknown purpose, and a head full of dreams - becomes the prime suspect in the case. While doing his investigation, Spooner meets an ally and a romantic interest in robot psychiatrist Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), who agrees to help him even though she believes that a robot cannot possibly commit a crime. Suddenly, all new robots but Sonny amass across the city, working on the assumption that they need to control humanity in order to safeguard its future. As Del comes under increasing attack from robots that are supposed to protect him, it becomes clear that Sonny holds the key to the salvation - or destruction - of humankind. While wrapping science fiction in a detective plot full of fast-moving chases, die-hard action and a fearsome arsenal of special effects, the movie has an important message that technologies built to help mankind could also provide its downfall.
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. His skill has made him a hot commodity in the world of corporate espionage but has also cost him everything he loves. Cobb gets a chance at redemption when he is offered a seemingly impossible task: Plant an idea in someone's mind. If he succeeds, it will be the perfect crime, but a dangerous enemy anticipates Cobb's every move.
In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth's population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind's new home.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)
This 2008 movie update of Jules Verne's classic sci-fi / fantasy novel uses the 1864 tale as a template, with its hero, scientist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), referring to his missing brother's notes on the novel. His nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) in tow, Anderson travels to Iceland to investigate his sibling's theories, enlisting a fellow scientist's daughter, Hannah (Anita Briem), as a guide. Soon the trio's Icelandic mountain trek descends into a cave and, then deeper still to, naturally, the center of the earth, where dinosaurs and other strange prehistoric creatures still dwell. After many dangerous encounters with the native flora and fauna, Trevor, Sean, and Hannah must find a way back to the surface or face being stranded miles below the earth's crust. Directed by Eric Brevig, a veteran Hollywood visual effects supervisor (MEN IN BLACK, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW), JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH clearly delights in unveiling eye-catching CGI creatures and landscapes. Presented in some theaters in 3D format, the film features lunging beasts and vertigo-inducing visions, which are effective even in 2D, while Fraser, working in the same amiable vein as the MUMMY movies, provides a human focus amidst the special effects. For fans of the ever-likable Fraser and/or the JOURNEY story, there is plenty to enjoy in this effects-heavy adventure film.
What if a board game actually had the power to make fantasy turn into reality? JUMANJI tries to answer that question as four people, in different times no less, must carry out a game of Jumanji, a game about the perils and dangers of the African jungle, a magical game that, when played, has real-life consequences. These consequences include slithering vines, mischievous monkeys, stampeding elephants and rhinos, giant spiders, monsoons, and human hunters. Young Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) living in Brantford, New Hampshire, discovered the ornate Jumanji board in 1969, when he was just twelve. When he sits down to play it for the first time with his reluctant friend Sarah Whittle (Laura Bell-Bundy), very strange things immediately begin to happen. After Alan rolls a certain number on the dice, the game shows a quote saying "In the jungle you must wait, till the dice roll 5 or 8", and he is literally sucked into the jungle realm of Jumanji, disappearing before Sarah's startled eyes. Because Sarah is too frightened to finish the game, Alan remains trapped in the rainforests of Jumanji for 26 years until two new children, orphan siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) Shepherd, sit down to play the game in the attic of Alan's childhood home. When the children roll the designated number that will free Alan, he pops back into a 38 year-old survivor (Robin Williams) of the all-too-real and all-too-deadly world of Jumanji. If Alan, Judy and Peter can find the now adult Sarah (Bonnie Hunt), they have a chance to finish the game - or risk that their house, neighborhood and hometown be taken over by the elephants, crocodiles, spiders and other denizens of the fascinating, seemingly unstoppable force called Jumanji... forever. The story is essentially about how Alan Parrish and his new compatriots finally manage to win the game in the nick of time. JUMANJI is just one of those pictures that will make you smile, maybe shed a tear here or there, laugh, and say, "How did they do that?"
After a mugging incident at New York's Grand Central Station, Prot (Kevin Spacey), a mysterious man who politely tells the police that the light on their planet is too bright for him - much brighter than back home on the distant planet K-PAX, is turned over to the Psychiatric Institute of Manhattan and, one month later, becomes the patient of Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges), an eminently logical and pragmatic psychiatrist. Powell has treated plenty of delusionals in his career, and figures it's only a matter of time before he cracks Prot's veneer and gets him to talk about what's really going on. Prot says he's on a fact-finding mission, and patiently explains how his experiences on earth contrast with life on K-PAX. He finds much to like here, but says he will go home before the summer ends. As the days before his announced departure race by, all the patients on the ward vie to go with him. His descriptions of life on a planet 1,000 light years away awaken a sense of possibility among them. The patients may feel good, but not Dr. Powell. He is haunted by dark fears for Prot, and is determined to use every tool at his disposal to discover this man's truth before it's too late. But as medication and other tools fail him, Powell begins to doubt things he has accepted as true his entire life. It gets worse when the hospital's doctors find that Prot possesses the baffling ability to see ultraviolet light and a group of skeptical astronomers are confounded by the things Prot seems to know. Powell gets more involved with his patient, who seems to have a remarkable calming effect on the metal health of the other residents of his ward. Powell starts to notice that Prot really helps his patience in ways he himself never could. At first convinced that Prot is a delusional who can be treated, Powell begins to wonder if Prot could somehow be the real thing. He tries to fight it, but the sense that he must at least admit the possibility grows every day. As the date of Prot's "departure" grows nearer, Powell becomes increasingly concerned that a psychiatric breakthrough must occur by then. And as he continues his efforts to penetrate Prot's shell, he gradually sees how impenetrable he has allowed his own veneer to become - and how little time any man might have to discover who he really is. More than a science-fiction tale, K-PAX is a reflection on the way we live our lives, the things we think we know, and the connection of one human being to another.
KUNG FU PANDA (2008)
A clumsy panda bear becomes an unlikely kung fu hero when a treacherous enemy spreads chaos throughout the countryside in this animated martial arts adventure featuring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan. On the surface, Po (voiced by Jack Black) may look like just another portly panda bear, but beneath his fur he bears the mark of the chosen one. By day, Po works faithfully in his family's noodle shop, but by night he dreams of becoming a true master of the martial arts. Now an ancient prophecy has come to pass, and Po realizes that he is the only one who can save his people from certain destruction. With time running short and malevolent snow leopard Tai Lung (voiced by Ian McShane) closing in, Furious Five legends Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), Crane (voiced by David Cross), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), and their wise sensei, Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), all draw on their vast knowledge of fighting skills in order to transform a lumbering panda bear into a lethal fighting machine. Now, if the noble Po can master the martial arts and somehow transform his greatest weaknesses into his greatest strengths, he will fulfill his destiny as the hero who saved his people during their darkest hour.
LIAR LIAR (1997)
Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is a smooth-talking lawyer who will do anything, including telling lies, to win court cases. On the night of his son's fifth birthday, he is busy sleeping with his boss instead of being at the party as he has promised. As his son Max (Justin Cooper) blows out the candles on his cake, he makes a wish that for only one day, his dad would be able to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The wish miraculously comes true... Fletcher is handling a divorce case where the prenuptial agreement states that as a result of the wife's infidelity, she is entitled to nothing. He was planning to manipulate the truth in order to win but the inability to lie renders this impossible. Fletcher's biggest asset has suddenly become his biggest liability. At the same time, Fletcher's ex-wife, Audrey (Maura Tierney), is planning to move to the other side of the US with her boyfriend, taking Max with her. In court, Fletcher realizes that his client was a minor when she got married, making the prenup void so she wins half the marital assets. He speeds off to the airport to catch his son, but Max is already on the plane which is on the runway preparing to take off. Hijacking a set of mobile stairs, he keeps the plane on the ground breaking both legs and being thrown in jail. A year later, the guest list at Max's 6th birthday party is select - just his parents. He blows out the candles, plunging the room into darkness. When Max turns the light on, Fletcher and Audrey are kissing. The film ends as it pans out from the house where Fletcher is chasing Max trying to tickle him.
LIFE OF PI (2012)
After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels' teenage son, Pi (Suraj Sharma), as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.
MAID IN MANHATTAN (2002)
Can a wealthy Republican politician find happiness with a chambermaid from the Bronx? One man is about to find out, though he hardly realizes it at first, in this romantic comedy from director Wayne Wang, who updates the familiar Cinderella story in this charming romantic comedy. Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is a beautiful young woman and a single mother born and bred in the boroughs of New York City, who is getting some help from her mother Veronica (Priscilla Lopez). She divides her time between her gifted but under-confident son Ty (Tyler Garcia Posey) and her housekeeping duties at the exclusive Beresford Hotel in Manhattan where the guests are demanding and perfection is expected. The staff is all very close and like a family. They even push Marisa into trying out for the available assistant manager job, something that seemed unattainable by a maid. One day, while cleaning the room of noted socialite Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson), another maid spies a beautiful Dolce $5,000 gown and dares Marisa to try it on; against her better judgment, she does, and while all dolled up, she bumps into Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), a boyish, affluent and handsome heir to a political dynasty, a well-known N.Y. assemblyman and a senatorial candidate. Immediately charmed, Chris asks Marisa to join him for a walk in Central Park, assuming she's the blue-blooded Caroline. Marisa manages to join Chris for the afternoon, with Ty in tow, and Chris finds himself quite taken with Marisa's beauty and down-to-earth personality, as well as Ty's precocious interest in politics. Chris later calls Caroline's room to set up a lunch date, but soon discovers the stuffy Ms. Lane is not the woman he met before. Marisa is also attracted to Chris, but while her friends encourage her to pursue a romance, Veronica believes her daughter is asking for trouble by trying to win a man so far out of her social strata. Chris makes numerous attempts to locate her, despite the comedic fact she is often right under his nose. When Marisa's true identity is revealed, the two find that they are worlds apart, even though the distance separating them is just a subway ride between Manhattan and the Bronx. While the movie is always lighthearted and fun, it does not shy away from foregrounding race and class issues, devoting much screen time to Marissa's coworkers and their struggles to survive.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005)
Arthur Golden's blockbuster bestseller, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, has been brilliantly brought to the big screen by Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall (CHICAGO). The film opens in a remote Japanese fishing village in 1929, where two sisters, Chiyo and Satsu, are sold by their troubled father to people who place Chiyo in a classy geisha house known as an okiya in Gion and Satsu in a much more vulgar and dangerous district. Chiyo becomes a maid to Hatsumomo, a cold, controlling, and calculating geisha who is instantly jealous of Chiyo's unusual, beautiful eyes and childish innocence. Chiyo is befriended by Pumpkin, another maid at the okiya, but the two are soon driven apart. Chiyo is shown compassion by the Chairman and another, more successful geisha, Mameha, who takes her under her wing as her "little sister," furthering the battle between Chiyo, now called Sayuri, and Hatsumomo. As Sayuri is trained in the art of being a geisha, learning how to walk, talk, dance, and serve (up to a point) in order to please and honor her distinguished male clients, World War II looms on the horizon, threatening to upend Japan and its old ways. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is a lush, sweeping historical and romantic epic, featuring gorgeous period costumes, primarily the exquisite kimono worn by the geisha. Ziyi Zhang (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) is outstanding as Sayuri, who stands up to the oppressive Hatsumomo (the effervescent Gong Li), while Michelle Yeoh, who starred with Zhang in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, is splendid as the wise and elegant Mameha. Ken Watanabe (THE LAST SAMURAI), Koji Yakusho (SHALL WE DANCE?), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (ELEKTRA) are among the men who take an interest in Sayuri, who is continually faced with difficult choices that will shape her destiny, just as Japan's destiny is changing shape with the coming of the West.
Mindhunters is slang for the real life FBI Investigative Support Unit (ISU). The ISU is a FBI special force unit that has assisted state and local police in cracking some of the United States' most serious and celebrated serial murder cases. Mindhunters specialize in understanding and profiling the chemistry and mechanical workings of the brain in these serial criminals. Inspired by Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers (published in America in 1940 first as And Then There Were None, later as Ten Little Indians), the story crescendos in suspense as a group of brand new profilers realize that a terrible evil has entered their circle - and there may be no way out alive. Jake Harris (Val Kilmer), head of the Practical Applications Unit, which administers practical problem exercises to new FBI agent trainees and provides safety and survival training to law enforcement officers and FBI agents, sends a group of seven new FBI agent trainees, future psychological profilers, to Crime Town on Oniega, a small isolated island located 50 miles off the coast of North Carolina in the ultimate test of their crime-solving savvy. The island has been used for years to practice warfare. The group of FBI trainees includes J. D. Reston (Christian Slater), Sara Moore (Kathryn Morris), Bobby Whitman (Eion Bailey), Vince Sherman (Clifton Collins Jr.), Lucas Harper (Jonny Lee Miller), Rafe Perry (Will Kemp) and Nicole Willis (Patricia Velasquez). Gabe Jensen (James Todd Smith aka LL Cool J), a seasoned Philadelphia homicide detective, joins the group right before their departure to observe, not to participate. When a simulated FBI training exercise turns shockingly real, with one of the agents meeting an unexpected demise from a booby trap, the profilers realize this is more than a final exam - it's a battle for their lives. Hiding within a group is a psychopathic serial killer. Completely isolated, the recruits have no choice but to use their knowledge and skills to both solve the heinous mystery of who the culprit, this ruthless predator, may be and stay alive. But how can they trust one another when each of them is compelled by his or her secret past to probe the criminal mind, when each possesses the skills, the motives and the means to be the murderer? No one is above suspicion, or the perils of overwhelming fear, as they use everything in their power to uncover the killer's identity and end the relentless hunt before, one by one, they all fall prey to the killer's ingenious plan.
MINORITY REPORT (2002)
In the year 2054, when dreams can be recreated through computers, computer monitors and displays are transformed into holograms, and identification is done through eye-scanning, the so-called "National Precrime Initiative" is working around the U.S. with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and its director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow). Its purpose is to use the precognitive potential of three genetically altered humans to prevent murders. When the 3 precogs, who only work together, floating connected in a tank of fluid, have a vision, the names of the victim and the perpetrator as well as video imagery of the crime and the exact time it will happen, are given out to the special cops who then try to prevent the crime from happening. But there is a political dilemma: If someone is arrested before he commits a murder, can the person be accused of the murder, which - because of the arrest - never took place? The project of pre-crime, at the time being in a state of trial run, is going to be voted about in the near future. If people accept it, the crime rate is going to drop drastically, but it never will be known if there might not be too many people imprisoned, some or even all of them innocent. Since John Anderton (Tom Cruise) lost his young son to a crime six years ago and his wife left him short afterwards, he has combined taking up drugs to forget about his loss with his work as chief detective of the precog unit at the Washington D.C. Precrime Division. One day, his own name arrives in the "perpetrator" chute, and the precogs predict that he will kill a man he never knew in less than 36 hours. John takes off, his trust in the system diminishing rapidly. His own colleagues and the federal detective Denny Witwer (Colin Farrell) after him, John follows a very small trace that might hold the key to his innocence, a strange unsolved yet predicted murder and a so-called "minority report", a documentation of one of the rare events in which a female precog called Agatha (Samantha Morton) sees something different than the other two...
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013)
Ever since he was a kid monster, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) has dreamed of becoming a Scarer. To make his dream a reality, he enrolls at Monsters University. During his first semester, he meets Sulley (John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. Sulley and Mike engage in a fierce rivalry that ultimately gets them both kicked out of MU's elite Scare Program. To make things right, Mike and Sulley - along with a bunch of misfit monsters - will have to learn to work together.
MR. & MRS. SMITH (2005)
Named after a 1941 Alfred Hitchcock film, MR. & MRS. SMITH is really its own ball of flaming wax, with enough sizzling chemistry between stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to blow up a small building. He shows he is equally adept in comedy and action, and she manages to set new screen standards of bad-ass sexiness. It's impossible to dislike this pair, or a movie that makes being married seem like such insane fun. Pitt and Jolie play extremely skilled professional assassins who have managed to stay married for five years without ever realizing each other's profession because they work for rival agencies and the work is top secret. When their paths eventually cross on a high-level hit, one of the most lethal battles of the sexes in the history of cinema is officially on. Thanks to a genuinely witty script, the issue isn't who will win, but whether the couple will realize they are meant for each other before it's too late. Director Doug Liman was obviously the right choice for the material, having proved his ability to fuse engaging romance with knuckle-biting action in 2002's THE BOURNE IDENTITY. The comedy is sophisticated and witty, the action is visceral and intense, and there is plenty of satisfying eye candy. Another plus is Vince Vaughn as a fast-talking fellow hit man who lives with his mother. The cinematography is by Bozan Bajelli (the genius behind Abel Ferrara's best mid-1980s work) who imbues each environment, whether it's the Smith's house, or the urban streets - with its own evocative color scheme and feel.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (2006)
Ben Stiller plays Larry Daley, a down-on-his-luck divorced father in this family-friendly tale directed by Shawn Levy (JUST MARRIED, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN). Larry is a kind-hearted dreamer who always knew that he was destined for greatness, he just never quite knew how. He has a lot of ideas and dreams, but none of them has come to fruition. In an attempt to prove his stability to his ex-wife (Kim Raver) and his son, Nicky (Jake Cherry), Larry accepts a job as a night guard at New York's Museum of Natural History. But the elderly night guards who hire him (played by entertainment legends Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, and Bill Cobbs) fail to mention one crucial detail: when the museum is closed, everything inside comes to life. From Attila the Hun to miniature Roman soldiers, African mammals to Neanderthal men, and Egyptian mummies to dinosaur skeletons, the museum teems with lively activity. Now it's Larry's job to control the mayhem and show his son that he is, indeed, a great man after all. There might be a moral to this story, which is based on the book of the same name by Milan Trenc, but the screenplay and action remain light and breezy. Stiller is perfect as Larry, particularly in scenes with a sneaky monkey who repeatedly gets the better of him. Brief appearances by Anne Meara (Stiller's real-life mother) and Paul Rudd add to the fun. Carla Gugino plays a museum docent, Ricky Gervais portrays the incomprehensible museum director, and Robin Williams moonlights as a wax figure of Teddy Roosevelt that comes to life. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan are particularly amusing as a bickering miniature cowboy and a Roman soldier.
Adapted from a mind-bending sci-fi thriller by Philip K. Dick, the slick and riveting PAYCHECK is directed by John Woo (THE KILLER, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II)- the king of artful gunfighting flicks- who shows off his agility here with flat-out, white-knuckle cinematic entertainment. Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a high-paid engineer who works on hush-hush computer inventions and technology for shady companies. Later, his memory is wiped clean, so he has no recollection of his work. His so-called friend Rethrick (Aaron Eckhardt, the master of smarmy mean-spiritedness, as in IN THE COMPANY OF MEN) offers him enough money to retire by working on a project at Rethrick's company, Allcom. When Jennings emerges three years later, sans memory, he tries to collect his paycheck. At the bank, he's handed a manila envelope filled with cryptic items he doesn't recognize, and told he voluntarily forfeited his entire paycheck. He also has a stunning girlfriend named Dr. Rachel Porter (Uma Thurman) who is likewise ensnared in the conspiracy. Jennings must somehow piece together the clues he left for himself, and find out why everyone is out to kill him. As usual, Dick's story is the basis for a killer script that travels from point A to Z with gripping immediacy. The clues left for Jennings are amusing writerly devices, intricately pieced together. Woo clearly enjoyed choreographing the wild gunfighting and chase sequences (slo-mo bullets aplenty), sending Affleck and Thurman on the run with a BMW motorcycle.
PLANET OF THE APES (2001)
In remaking this classic sci-fi horror film, director Tim Burton takes on a whopping challenge and succeeds. Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) is part of a space station crew that, in the year 2029, is conducting experiments in training genetically engineered chimps to perform complex away missions. When Leo's chimp disappears into a worm hole, Leo unadvisedly goes after him, ending up in a parallel world in which the monkeys are the keepers and humans are traded and caged like animals. It's a horrifying place, and the whole atmosphere, colored by Burton's direction and Rick Baker's incredible special effects makeup, is charged with terror. Leo becomes a heroic figure in the eyes of his defeated human brethren, and he puts his trust - and his hope for escape - in Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), a forward-thinking ape who believes in human rights. But Leo has formidable opponents in Thade (Tim Roth) and Attar (Michael Clark Duncan), two power-hungry, testosterone-charged apes who wish to rid the planet of humans altogether. This excellent rendition of PLANET OF THE APES is more than just a remake: it includes intense physicality on the part of the actors, complex mythology lacing the story, chilling philosophical realizations, and an amazing cameo by original APES star Charlton Heston. The combination of those complex parts makes for a riveting viewing experience.
With astounding animation, inspirational messages, and endearing characters, Pixar Animation Studios (THE INCREDIBLES, CARS) and Walt Disney Pictures have whipped up something special with RATATOUILLE. A scrawny rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) finds his dreams of culinary superstardom stirring up sizable controversy in the kitchen of a fine French restaurant in director Brad Bird's madcap computer-animated comedy. It's hard being a rat with culinary aspirations, but Remy is convinced he has what it takes to break the stereotypes and follow in the footsteps of star chef Auguste Gusteau (voiced by Brad Garrett). As fate would have it, Remy is currently situated in the sewers directly beneath Gusteau's elegant restaurant. Soon Remy teams up with a young chef with little talent named Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano). Together they are able to create some fabulous dishes, but they live in fear that someone will discover their secret and object strenuously to a rat being in a kitchen. When Remy's passion for cooking turns the haughty world of French cuisine upside down, the rat who would be king of the kitchen learns important lessons about life, friends, and family while questioning whether he should pursue his culinary calling or simply go back underground and return to his life as a sewer rat. The positioning of a city-dwelling rodent with a distinct palate and the aptitude to concoct mouthwatering dishes in one of Paris's finest eateries is the winning ingredient in RATATOUILLE's inspirational presentation. And Remy's brave conviction to break away from the pack and risk his life for what he loves and believes in gives the film a positive and heartwarming message for all ages.
SEVEN POUNDS (2008)
From the director of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and starring two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith comes the stirring and emotionally suspenseful tale of a man with a haunting secret who sets out to redeem himself by drastically changing the lives of seven total strangers. Once his plan is set in motion, nothing can alter it. Or so he thinks. But what Ben Thomas never expects is that he will fall in love with one of the strangers - and that it is she who will start to change him. A gripping mystery and surprising love story, SEVEN POUNDS asks provocative questions about life and death, regret and forgiveness, strangers and friendship, love and redemption - and pursues the connections that tie human fates together in surprising ways. It begins with a list of seven names: Ben Thomas, Holly Apelgren, Connie Tepos, George Ristuccia, Nicholas Adams, Ezra Turner and Emily Posa. The only thing they share in common are that each has reached a turning point and is in dire need of help, from financial to spiritual to medical - and unbeknownst to them, Ben has carefully chosen each to be part of his plan of redemption. But it is Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a lively cardiac patient, who throws a wrench into the works as she does the one thing Ben thought impossible - grows close to him - and turns his view of the world and what is possible inside out.
SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997)
Epic pictures, well-drawn characters, a colorful production design, and a moving story about war, peace, love and hate; these are the elements of Seven Years In Tibet, a grandiose expedition into the realms of the Himalayas, the story of a man whose life and self have been completely changed by the seven years he spends in one of the world's most beautiful, politically unstable regions. Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) is one of the most famous alpine explorers during the time of the Third Reich. In 1939, the celebrated Austrian is forced to be a hero for the Nazi propaganda and makes his way to the Himalayas as part of an expedition to climb Mt. Nanga Parbat (8,131.3 m) in northwestern Kashmir, leaving behind his pregnant wife. While he and his expedition attempt the mountain, World War II breaks out, and Harrer and his teammates are captured by the British, interred in a prisoner-of-war camp in Northern India. After four years and a huge number of unsuccessful escape attempts, he and his companions manage to trick the guards and escape to freedom. Hunted as they are by prison guards, only two of them survive, Harrer and his former expedition leader Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis). They are as opposite as they could possibly be, yet the two of them manage to make it to the border of Tibet by foot, where they are safe from the British authorities. Sneaking into the forbidden city of Lhasa - the capital and the commercial and spiritual center of Tibet situated about 3,660 m above sea level where no foreigners are allowed, and home of the Dalai Lama - they find themselves the first non-Tibetans tolerated within the city walls. While Peter befriends and marries a local tailor Pema Lhaki (Lhakpa Tsamchoe), Harrer is lonely. He thinks constantly about the son he has never met, and aches to be a father. In desperate need for a friend, the young Dalai Lama (Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk), fills this gap in Harrer's life. While the curious and thirsty for knowledge Dalai Lama learns about the outside world and matters far from his religious education, Harrer learns what it means to become a leader to his people. For Harrer, this friendship becomes a process of self-discovery and enlightenment, in which he learns and adapts the peaceful and balanced 3,000-year-old Tibetan culture. Starting out as a stubborn, arrogant, self-centered egomaniac NAZI, Harrer becomes a selfless humanitarian by the time he leaves Tibet, seven years later.
Set in a strange, colorful land populated by fairy tale characters, Shrek is a hilarious comedy that will win over audiences of children and adults alike. Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is a lonely, green, smelly ogre who hides his feelings behind an aggressive demeanor. He lives in isolation in his own cozy little swamp and is not receptive to visitors, and fends off the occasional party of torch-wielding villagers with ease. Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow) is a vertically-challenged, power-hungry ruler who wishes to marry a princess so he can become a prince. Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) is held in a castle by a fire-breathing dragon waiting for her prince to save her. When Lord Farquaad turns Shrek's swamp into a relocation camp for dozens of banished fairy-tale characters (including the Three Blind Mice, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Robin Hood, the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, the Three Bears) Shrek's quiet, introverted life is ruined. Joined by a talkative donkey named Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) who brays some of the funniest (and some of the dumbest) lines in the film, Shrek makes his way to Farquaad's faraway realm called Duloc, where the midget lord makes Shrek an offer: He will rid Shrek's land of the unwanted visitors if Shrek goes on a simple quest to free Princess Fiona from her remote, dragon-guarded castle and convince her to marry Farquaad. On their quest, Shrek and Donkey run into a number of bizarre situations, and Shrek finds himself realizing that he isn't quite the fearsome monster he has always made himself out to be. Shrek accomplishes this task, but also falls in love with the princess. Princess Fiona shares the same feelings, but has a secret of her own. Miscommunications play upon their insecurities, which drives Princess Fiona into the arms of Lord Farquaad... Reinventing the traditional fairy tale adventure, Shrek features gorgeous computer animation, a unique sense of humor, and compelling characters - especially Eddie Murphy's lovable Donkey, Shrek's faithful steed and friend.
SHREK 2 (2004)
In this meet-the-parents sequel to the romantic fairy tale in which two ogres fall in love, Shrek 2 brings the loveable green menace (voiced by Mike Meyers) back to the big screen for a second round of mischief. This time around, in addition to the voices of Cameron Diaz (as Shrek's sweetheart Fiona) and Eddie Murphy (as their companion Donkey), Julie Andrews and John Cleese chime in as Fiona's parents, Queen Lillian and King Harold. Surprising newcomer Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) - a sword fighting cat and ogre slayer - joins the crew. Last but certainly not least, the conniving duo of vain Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and his power-hungry mom, the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), spice up the action. The film picks up right where the first movie ended... After returning from their honeymoon and watching "home movies", Shrek and Fiona learn that Fiona's parents have heard their daughter has married her true love and wish to meet the husband and invite him to their kingdom, called Far Far Away, a Disneyfied medieval version of Hollywood. When Fiona insists that her new husband Shrek visit her parents, the newlyweds travel to Far Far Away where everything goes wrong. The King and Queen are outraged to see their daughter, now an ogress, married to a 350-kg ugly ogre with horrible hygiene instead of Prince Charming as it has been prophesied. While Fiona tries to calm them, Shrek sets out to find a solution. He finds it, in the form of a Happily Ever After potion, which only complicates matters, drawing all parties into a confused exchange of magic and spells, all for the sake of true love. With shimmering animation giving Shrek 2 near-3-D visuals, the witty scripting and eclectic pop music soundtrack keep the film hopping along with an upbeat pace. "Holding Out for a Hero" performed by Frou Frou, and "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas are the most raucous of the film's many great songs, though more subtle numbers such as "Accidentally in Love" performed by Counting Crows and "Little Drop of Poison" by Tom Waits certainly enrich some key scenes of this enjoyable family film.
SHREK THE THIRD (2007)
Shrek and Fiona's (voiced by Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz, respectively) fairy-tale wedding has gone off without a hitch, yet just as the beaming newlyweds prepare to enjoy their blissful "happily ever after," the sudden death of King Harold (voiced by John Cleese) finds everyone's favorite ornery ogre being reluctantly fitted for the royal crown. Troubled to learn that not only will he be compelled to rule Far Far Away, but that he and Fiona are also expecting a little ogre, Shrek determines to track down his new bride's rebellious cousin, Artie (voiced by Justin Timberlake) - the one true heir to the throne - in order to focus on fatherhood without the added distraction of having to preside over the kingdom. As Shrek sets out with faithful companions Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) to locate the medieval high-school slacker and bring him back to become the reigning sovereign of Far Far Away, handsome snake Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett) slithers back to the castle in the company of the dreaded Captain Hook (voiced by Ian McShane) to stage a diabolically timed coup and assume control of the throne. Now, as Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots do their best to wrangle up the feisty Artie, Fiona must enlist the aid of fighting princesses Snow White (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sleeping Beauty (voiced by Cheri Oteri), Rapunzel (voiced by Maya Rudolph), and Cinderella (voiced by Amy Sedaris) to barricade the castle and fend off Prince Charming's invading army of fairy-tale villains until her beloved husband can return with the cavalry to save the day.
When James Bond's (Daniel Craig) latest assignment goes terribly wrong, it leads to a calamitous turn of events: undercover agents around the world are exposed, and MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Judi Dench) to relocate the agency. With MI6 now compromised inside and out, M turns to the one man she can trust: Bond. Aided only by a field agent (Naomie Harris), Bond takes to the shadows and follows a trail to Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M's past who wants to settle an old score.
A cryptic message from the past leads James Bond (Daniel Craig) to Mexico City and Rome, where he meets the beautiful widow (Monica Bellucci) of an infamous criminal. After infiltrating a secret meeting, 007 uncovers the existence of the sinister organization Spectre. Needing the help of the daughter of an old nemesis, he embarks on a mission to find her. As Bond ventures toward the heart of Spectre, he discovers a chilling connection between himself and the enemy (Christoph Waltz) he seeks.
THE 13TH FLOOR (1999)
In the movie, computer scientists Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) have created a virtual reality simulation of 1937 Los Angeles complete with sentient agents that act out the people from that time. Fuller is able to "jack in" to that world and interact with the agents just as he would in his world. Hannon has discovered something extremely important. He is about to tell the discovery to his colleague Douglas Hall but knowing that someone is after him, the old man decides to leave a letter in his computer-generated parallel world. Fuller is murdered in our "real" world the same night, and Hall becomes the chief murder suspect. Douglas discovers a bloody shirt in his bathroom and he cannot recall what he was doing the night Fuller was murdered. He logs into the system in order to investigate the mysterious circumstances and to find the letter that he believes would explain everything. To make matters worse, one of the sentient agents in the simulation, a bartender named Whitney (Vincent D'Onofrio), discovers that he is not "real" and proceeds to find a way to "escape" to the real world... Moreover, Hall cannot explain a sudden appearance of Jane Fuller (Gretchen Mol), who claims to be Hannon Fuller's daughter. He is even more confused when he meets Jane at a supermarket where she works as a cashier under the name of Natasha Molinaro... The movie is filled with atmosphere that leaves you wondering what is real and what is not. You will find yourself trying to guess the plot twists, but with little success as they will unfold. Although resembling The Matrix, this excellent movie is richer in substance than the latter. It leaves you with a thought provoking afterthought about our own existence.
THE 6TH DAY (2000)
Imagine a world free of incurable diseases... a world where animals are no longer threatened by extinction, world hunger has been eradicated, supermarkets are filled with genetically-engineered food and medical laboratories are stocked with cloned human organs waiting to be transplanted... a world so advanced that the family pet can be cloned and even tailored to match the decor of your home, or a virtual girlfriend can be designed to your exact specifications... a remarkable world in which the one thing that has eluded man since the beginning of time is finally within his reach - immortality. However, in this wonderful world of massive cloning, a law called the 6th Day Law prohibits cloning of human beings and if a human is cloned, the clone must be destroyed. In this not-too-distant future, Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) works as a helicopter pilot for Double X Charter with his partner and friend Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport). The two men shuttle show boarders and other extreme sport-goers to exotic locales. On his birthday Adam comes home to discover an identical version of himself - an illegal human clone - celebrating with his family and friends. The next thing he knows, a squad of "clone-friendly" killers is after him in order to get rid of the "evidence" of their cloning activities, funded by Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), a powerful businessman and the head of the evil genetics corporation who hopes to make billions from human cloning in collaboration with his medical expert, Dr. Griffin Weir (Robert Duvall). Of course, nobody believes Adam when he says there's an impostor living his life, and soon he has to take matters into his own hands while being chased by bad guys who won't stay dead thanks to the magic of cloning and syncorders, instant memory download devices. Trying to find out what is going on and challenged by moral and scientific arguments, Gibson unites with his clone and the two men start their battle against the assassins for their lives, their humanity, and their freedom. The 6th Day is an intriguing sci-fi thriller, combining scientific fact and fiction with everything viewers could want from a Schwarzenegger movie: terrific special effects and an action-packed story, with two Arnolds for twice the fun.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (2002)
In this highly entertaining, beautifully photographed rekindling of the classic French novel of the same name written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844, director Kevin Reynolds choreographs a fantastic adventure replete with breathtaking scenery, fiery swashbuckling battles, lavish costumes, and, above all else, sweet revenge. In 19th-century Marseilles, Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel), a guileless and honest, optimistic but uneducated young man, is a dashing sailor. He cherishes his friendship with the son of a count, Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce), is deeply in love with his beautiful fiancée, Mercédès (Dagmara Dominczyk) he plans to marry, and is about to become captain of the Pharaon, a three-masted ship belonged to the firm of Morrel & Son. Young Dantès is so innocent and naive that it is positively shocking when Mondego turns on him, accusing him of treason, and having him sentenced to life in the dreary dungeon of the infamous island prison of Château d'If. Years of isolation and torture nearly defeat the revenge-thirsty Dantès, but with the help of invaluable lessons from Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), another inmate, his luck slowly changes. An incredible prison break frees Dantès from his 13-year unfair imprisonment. He escapes from Château d'If with trouble in mind and revenge in his heart. Battles with pirates lead to hunts for Spada's immense treasure hidden in the caves of the Island of Monte Cristo, and soon Dantès is living in Marseille as the transformed, newly rich, mysterious, self-proclaimed Count of Monte Cristo, always accompanied by his valet, Jacopo (Luiz Guzman). Installed in a ritzy château, he slowly unfurls his excruciatingly careful plans to exact his revenge on Mondego and all those who ever wronged him. With cunning ruthlessness, he cleverly insinuates himself into the French nobility and systematically destroys the men who manipulated, betrayed and enslaved him - treacherous and jealous Mondego, now the Count of Morcerf, who falsely accused him and stole his fiancée, villainous chief magistrate Gérard de Villefort (James Frain) who put him into prison thereby protecting his own interests, envious and devious Danglars (Albie Woodington), the ex-first mate of the Pharaon who felt usurped by Edmond Dantès and duly plotted his downfall. What will he do when his mission is over?
THE DA VINCI CODE (2006)
Dan Brown's controversial best-selling novel about a powerful secret that's been kept under wraps for thousands of years comes to the screen in this suspense thriller from director Ron Howard. The stately silence of Paris' Louvre museum is broken when one of the gallery's leading curators is found dead on the grounds, with strange symbols carved into his body and left around the spot where he died. Hoping to learn the significance of the symbols, police bring in Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a gifted cryptographer who is also the victim's granddaughter. Needing help, Sophie calls on Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a leading symbologist from the United States. As Sophie and Robert dig deeper into the case, they discover the victim's involvement in the Priory of Sion, a secret society whose members have been privy to forbidden knowledge dating back to the birth of Christianity. In their search, Sophie and Robert happen upon evidence that could lead to the final resting place of the Holy Grail, while members of the priory and an underground Catholic society known as Opus Dei give chase, determined to prevent them from sharing their greatest secrets with the world. Also starring Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, and Alfred Molina, THE DA VINCI CODE was shot on location in France and the United Kingdom; the Louvre allowed the producers to film at the famous museum, but scenes taking place at Westminster Abbey had to filmed elsewhere when church officials declined permission.
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)
A remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name (based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates), THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL follows astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) as she is unceremoniously plucked from her everyday life with her stepson (Jaden Smith), and whisked away to consult the government on a top-secret matter. That matter happens to be the arrival of a massive glowing sphere in Central Park, accompanied by a towering robot-like protector dubbed Gort and an alien ambassador named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), who takes up human form to communicate with the people of Earth. When Klaatu finds himself faced with hawkish, uncompromising officials, he goes on the run with Benson and her son as the fate of the world gradually becomes clear. Directed by Scott Derrickson (THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE), this reimagining of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is fairly reverent to the original film, while adding a number of 21st-century elements, most notably a darker tone embodied by a more threatening Gort and the chilly, contemplative Klaatu, who is portrayed with pitch-perfect remove by Reeves. While the film - and the fate of humanity - rests on Reeves's shoulders, the cast is impressively filled out by Connelly and Smith, along with Kathy Bates, John Cleese, and familiar TV actors Jon Hamm (MAD MEN) and Kyle Chandler (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS). Derrickson also tempers excellent special effects with a bleak color palette and plenty of existential turmoil, making this EARTH a thoughtful and fascinatingly moody blockbuster.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006)
A drastic improvement on Lauren Weisberger's bestselling novel, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA showcases Meryl Streep's knack for combining humor and sadness. While likely inspired by notorious Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Streep's Miranda Priestly (head of Runway magazine) is entirely her own creation. Sporting silvery hair, a vast collection of fur coats, an encyclopedic knowledge of all things fashionable, and a killer smile, Miranda is full of wicked charm. With her mature beauty and commanding presence, Miranda is as fascinating to watch as she is intimidating to the constant rotation of assistants thrown her way. When bookish Northwestern grad Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) interviews to become Miranda's newest lackey, Miranda hires her not for her lackluster wardrobe but for her intellect. Inside the pristine Runway offices, Andy suffers through a never-ending list of impossible tasks, and is the subject of constant harassment by Miranda's jealous first assistant (Emily Blunt). But to the dismay of her boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) and close friends, Andy slowly finds herself seduced by the glamorous world of fashion, and by Miranda herself. While Andy's transformation comes largely in the form of new designer clothing, the makeover is mental as well. What starts out as a firm belief in fashion's vapidity and in Miranda's heartlessness gradually fades into the suspicion that the boss from hell might just be hiding a soul. While the book villainized its title character, the film gives new depths to her wrath. As Andy trades her undergrad wardrobe for one packed with Prada and Chanel (with help from Stanley Tucci in a brilliant role), viewers are able to savor the work of costume designer Patricia Field. Together with director David Frankel (who also worked on SEX AND THE CITY), Field creates a world of fashion so wonderfully extreme it would be hard for anyone to resist.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997)
Ancient curses, all-powerful monsters, shape-changing assassins, scantily-clad stewardesses, laser battles, huge explosions, a perfect woman, a malcontent hero - what more can you ask of a big-budget science fiction movie? Luc Besson's high-octane movie incorporates presidents, rock stars, and cab drivers into its peculiar plot, traversing worlds and encountering some pretty wild aliens. The fifth element is part of a weapon that is used in conjunction with the four other elements (Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water) against an evil force that threatens Earth every 5,000 years. The weapon was created by a race of aliens, the Mondoshawan, who safeguard its presence on earth in Egypt. But when they fear the impending arrival of World War I, the Mondoshawan take away the sacred stones representing the four elements to be returned when the evil force next arrives near planet earth during the course of its 5,000-year cycle, approximately 250 years later in the year 2259. In the year 2259, as the Mondoshawan return to complete their mission, their ship is shot down through the orders of an agent of the evil force, Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman). However, the Mondoshawan, wise in their ways, did not trust humans and the ship supposedly containing the stones turns out to be a decoy. Meanwhile, the good guys on Earth are able to salvage a few cells from the destroyed ship and reconstruct, using the genetic information in the cells, the entire organism representing the cells. The reconstructed organism turns out to be a perfect human female, with the short name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). In fright, she busts out of the regeneration chamber and runs into Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a New York City cabbie who had been a highly decorated fighter pilot. Leeloo's mission is to find a priest, Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), who carries with him the tradition of activating the fifth element against the evil force. President Lindberg (Tom Lister Jr.), who was earlier made aware of this information, enlists Dallas' aid to retrieve the four stones from the Diva Plava Laguna (Maiwenn Le Besco). Along with the aid of DJ Ruby Rhod (played hilariously by Chris Tucker), Leeloo and Dallas confront Zorg and the evil force for control of the elements...
THE HAUNTED MANSION (2003)
On the day of their anniversary, workaholic real estate agent Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) and his wife and business partner Sara (Marsha Thomason) receive a strange phone call from a man called Ramsley (Terence Stamp). In an ominous monotone he requests that Sara come to the remote Gracey Manor that is for sale. Shrouded in fog and mystery, the mansion was once a stately antebellum palace that hosted New Orleans' wealthiest. Jim decides to turn it into an opportunity to check out a possible gold-mine in real estate, but to please Sara, he claims it is a "family trip", bringing their two kids along. Once there, Ramsley the butler insists that they stay, for a torrential storm suddenly floods the roads. When the doors slam shut, the family must solve the mystery of the mansion before they can leave together again. The Evers are introduced to Master Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), the brooding and eccentric owner of the mansion, who seems strangely obsessed with Sara. Jim goes off to talk to Gracey about selling, but ends up in a secret passage instead. The kids follow a floating ball to the attic, where they see a painting of a woman who looks just like Sara! Jim and the kids eventually discover the mansion's dark secret from Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly), a talking head floating in a crystal ball. She tells them that Sara is in danger having some unexpected connection to its haunted past and to save her, they must "lead the ghosts to the light". After some spooky adventures and surprises in the haunted house, the family manages to save the manor and Sara while learning a valuable lesson about togetherness. Although this spooky, CGI effect-packed Disney film, which is based on the famous Disney World attraction, is full of ghosts and skeletons, in general the movie is harmless kid stuff that is bursting with cheerful color, noise, bloodless shocks and refreshingly bathroom-free humor. Watching the movie with its scary music, waltzing ghosts, changing portraits or singing busts is like visiting one of the most popular Disney World rides.
THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided into 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) when she, along with her male counterpart, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), is pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she is ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
THE ILLUSIONIST (2006)
In a world where nothing is as it appears, an illusionist and a police inspector face off in a challenge of wills that attempts to determine where reality ends and magic begins... all the while blurring the line between power and corruption, love and devotion, vigilance and mania and ultimately, life and death. A supernatural mystery that combines romance, politics and magic, THE ILLUSIONIST is written and directed by Neil Burger - who received acclaim and award recognition for his debut feature, 2002's INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN - and is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser's short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist." The film stars Academy Award nominees Edward Norton (FIGHT CLUB, AMERICAN HISTORY X) and Paul Giamatti (CINDERELLA MAN, SIDEWAYS) as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits. Norton plays a mysterious stage magician, Eisenheim, who bends nature's laws to his will in front of awestruck crowds in early 1900s Vienna. Giamatti co-stars as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, a man committed to uphold the law and for whom magic holds no place in his ordered world. Jessica Biel (ELIZABETHTOWN) shares the screen as the beautiful and enigmatic Sophie von Teschen, who finds her future inexorably altered when she encounters the man called Eisenheim, and Eisenheim comes dangerously close to unlocking the dark secret of the monarchy that she holds. When Eisenheim begins to perform his astounding illusions in Vienna, word quickly spreads of his otherworldly powers... even reaching the ears of one of Europe's most powerful and pragmatic men, Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell, DARK CITY). Certain that the illusionist is nothing more than an accomplished fraud, Leopold attends one of Eisenheim's shows, convinced that he can debunk him during the performance. But when the Prince's beautiful fiancée and companion, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods-and a dormant love affair is rekindled. With Eisenheim and Leopold vying for Sophie's affection, it quickly becomes apparent that both will go to any length to claim and keep her love. As the clandestine romance continues, Uhl is charged by Leopold to intensify his efforts to expose Eisenheim, even while the magician gains a devoted and vocal public following. With Uhl doggedly searching for the reasons and the man behind the trickery, Eisenheim prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet.
THE ISLAND (2005)
Blockbuster action director Michael Bay (ARMAGEDDON, PEARL HARBOR) delivers a striking look at a strange world of the future in this sci-fi action drama. Midway through the 21st century, Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) lives in a confined indoor community after ongoing abuse of the Earth has rendered most of the planet uninhabitable. One of the only places in the outside world still capable of sustaining life is an idyllic island where citizens are chosen to live through a lottery. Or at least that's what Lincoln and his fellow citizens are taught to believe; the truth is that Lincoln, like everyone he knows, is actually a clone who is kept under wraps to provide needed organs when the person who supplied his or her DNA falls ill. When he becomes aware that his existence is a fraud, Lincoln escapes to the outside world with a fellow clone, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), though the powers that be are determined to see that no one gets away alive. Rounding out the main cast of THE ISLAND are Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (IN AMERICA, GLADIATOR) as the leader of the security team pursuing Lincoln and Jordan; Sean Bean (NATIONAL TREASURE, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) as the head of the Institute; Steve Buscemi (GHOST WORLD, ARMAGEDDON) as a man who befriends Lincoln despite working for the institute; and Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (THE GREEN MILE, ARMAGEDDON) as another resident who is elated and envied when he is selected to go to "The Island."
THE ITALIAN JOB (2003)
The plan was flawless. The job was executed perfectly. The escape was clean. The only threat mastermind thief Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) never saw coming was from a member of his own crew. After pulling off an amazing gold bullion heist of 35 million U.S. dollars in bars of gold from a heavily guarded palazzo in Venice, Italy, Charlie and his gang - inside man Steve (Edward Norton), computer geek Lyle, or Napster (Seth Green), adrenaline junky wheelman Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), explosives expert Left Ear (Mos Def) and veteran safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) - can't believe it when one of them turns out to be a double-crosser who performs a heist of his own, killing John Bridger and running off with the gold, thinking that Charlie and his mates are all deceased. Now the job isn't about the payoff, it's about payback! Charlie and his cronies follow the backstabber to Los Angeles, California, one year later. They are joined by Stella Bridger (Charlize Theron), a beautiful nerves-of-steel safecracker who wants to inflict her vengeance on the killer of her father. After doing some reconnaissance work, the team fashions an "Italian Job" and elaborates a smart and devious plan to re-steal the gold and get their revenge on the traitor by tapping into Los Angeles' traffic control system, manipulating signals and creating one of the biggest traffic jams in the history of the city! A contemporary Americanized update of Peter Collinson's 1969 British classic, THE ITALIAN JOB features the ever-popular Mini Coopers in state-of-the-art chase scenes down Hollywood's Walk of Fame, through the Metro Rail tunnels and down narrow escape routes only Mini Cooper sports cars can go. Full of twists, turns and exciting stunts with armored cars, motorcycles and helicopters, this action-packed thrill-ride takes audiences on wild curves they'll never see coming.
THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)
In this reimagining of the classic collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, director Jon Favreau uses visually stunning CGI to create the community of animals surrounding Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a human boy adopted by a pack of wolves. The appearance of a villainous tiger named Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) forces Mowgli's guardian, the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), to shepherd the child to safety in the "man village." Along the way, the boy meets an affable, lazy bear named Baloo (Bill Murray), as well as a snake with hypnotic powers (Scarlett Johansson) and an orangutan (Christopher Walken) who wants to harness the power of fire. Lupita Nyong'o, Giancarlo Esposito, and Garry Shandling also lend their voices to this adventure tale.
THE MARTIAN (2015)
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney's safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.
THE MASK (1994)
Hyperactive mayhem results when a mild-mannered bank officer discovers an ancient mask that transforms him into a zany prankster with superhuman powers in this special-effects-intensive comedy. Wildly improvisational Jim Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, a decent-hearted but socially awkward guy who works as a new accounts clerk at a bank managed by a spoilt brat. He is too nice for his own good and is a pushover when it comes to confrontations. Just before Stanley decides to end his boring existence, he finds a strange wooden mask. After Stanley puts on the mask (supposedly containing the imprisoned [by Odin] spirit of Loki, the Norse night god of mischief), the spineless accountant transforms into the Mask, a wild romantic green-skinned, zoot-suited ball of fire. The Mask possesses the courage to do the wild, fun things that Stanley fears. Ipkiss robs the bank he works at, and goes on to woo blond bombshell Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz), a torchy singer at the swanky nightclub Coco Bongo, with the help of the mask's powers. Too bad Tina's caught up with Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene), a brutal villainous mobster, who has ambitions of his own, resents her affection for Ipkiss' alter-ego and decides to get rid of the Mask. Meanwhile, the Mask isn't too popular with the cops either, since he robbed the bank and destroyed the floor of his apartment lobby to get even with his nagging landlady. So he becomes a target of both the cops and the gangsters. To make things works, Dorian gets a hold of the mask and becomes even more evil and ruthless. All's well in the end when Ipkiss regains the mask (thanks to his dog Milo) and sets things right - and, of course, Dorian's moll now is in love with Ipkiss since he was the only guy who didn't treat her like a plaything, and she accepts him even though he gets rid of the mask in the end. In addition to Carrey's extraordinary inimitable antics, the film makes effective use of digital visual effects that bestow the Mask with superhuman speed, insane flexibility, and popping eyes out of a Tex Avery cartoon. The film delivered enough laughs to become a surprise hit and, along with the same year's Dumb and Dumber, establish Carrey's status as a comedy superstar.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (2006)
The rousing, true-life story of a single dad who went from living on the streets to owning his own brokerage firm is brought to the big screen by superstar Will Smith, appearing for the first time opposite his real-life son Jaden Smith. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a bright and talented but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a family man struggling to make ends meet. Despite his valiant attempts to help keep the family afloat, the mother (Thandie Newton) of his five-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) is buckling under the constant strain of financial pressure. No longer able to cope, she reluctantly decides to leave. Chris, now a single father, continues doggedly to pursue a better-paying job using every sales skill he knows. He lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, and although there is no salary, he accepts, hopeful he will end the program with a job and a promising future. Without a financial cushion, Chris and his son are soon evicted from their apartment and forced to sleep in shelters, bus stations, bathrooms, or wherever they can find refuge for the night. Despite his troubles, Chris continues to honor his commitment as a loving and caring father, using the affection and trust his son has placed in him as an impetus to overcome the obstacles he faces.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
In 1946, a banker named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of a double murder, even though he stubbornly proclaims his innocence. He's sentenced to a life term at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine, where another lifer, Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), picks him as the new recruit most likely to crack under the pressure. The ugly realities of prison life are quickly introduced to Andy: a corrupt warden (Bob Gunton), sadistic guards led by Capt. Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown), and inmates who are little better than animals, willing to use rape or beatings to insure their dominance. But Andy does not crack: he has the hope of the truly innocent, which (together with his smarts) allow him to prevail behind bars. He uses his banking skills to win favor with the warden and the guards, doing the books for Norton's illegal business schemes and keeping an eye on the investments of most of the prison staff. In exchange, he is able to improve the prison library and bring some dignity and respect back to many of the inmates, including Red. This beautifully crafted movie features touching and sincere performances from the entire cast, with an uplifting message about humanity's indomitable spirit and the redemptive value of hope. Based on the novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King, Frank Darabont's intriguing adaptation, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, is easily one of the finest films of the 1990s.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (2007)
After eighteen seasons, four hundred episodes, and innumerable awards and honors (including a Peabody, 23 Emmys and a designation from Time magazine as the "best television show of the twentieth century"), the most popular animated family on the small screen makes the leap into theaters as Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta), Marge (voiced by Julie Kavner), Lisa (voiced by Yeardley Smith), Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright), and Maggie (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) embark on their first-ever feature-length adventure. And it's a good thing, too, because it takes a wide screen to fully capture Homer Simpson's epic stupidity. In the eagerly-awaited film based on the hit television series, Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he himself created. It all begins with Homer, his new pet pig, and a leaky silo full of droppings - a combination that triggers a disaster the likes of which Springfield has never experienced. As Marge is outraged by Homer's monumental blunder, a vengeful mob descends on the Simpson household. The family makes a narrow escape, but is soon divided by both location and conflict. The Springfield citizenry has every reason to be out for Simpson blood. The calamity triggered by Homer has drawn the attention of U.S. President Arnold Schwarzenegger (voiced by Harry Shearer) and Environmental Protection Agency head Russ Cargill (voiced by Albert Brooks). "You know sir," Cargill tells the president, "when you made me head of the EPA, you were applauded for appointing one of the most successful men in America to the least successful agency in government. And why did I take the job? Because I'm a rich man who wanted to give something back. Not the money, but something." That "something" is a devil's plan to contain the disaster. As the fates of Springfield and the world hang in the balance, Homer embarks on a personal odyssey of redemption - seeking forgiveness from Marge, the reunion of his splintered family, and the salvation of his hometown.
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)
This third feature by M. Night Shyamalan sets itself up as a thriller, poised on the brink of delivering monstrous scares, but gradually evolves into more of a psychological drama with supernatural undertones. Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is about to celebrate with his wife (Olivia Williams) an award he just received, when he is shot in the stomach by one of his former patients, Vincent Gray (Donnie Wahlberg), who immediately takes his own life). Crowe blames himself for failing the patient, and his career takes a downward turn as he alienates his wife. He soon finds a chance to make amends when he run across a small 9-year old boy, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), who displays the same psychiatric symptoms his former patient did. This time, Crowe is determined to set things right. Having failed his loved ones and himself, he is not about to give up on Cole. Cole's mom (Toni Collette) is at her wit's end with what to do about her son's increasing problems. Crowe is the boy's only hope. Crowe meets with the boy and begins his therapy. But the boy's problems may be too much even for Crowe to handle: Cole seems to see ghosts of dead people who don't know they're dead and who want him to do things for them as a form of closure. Confused by his paranormal powers, Cole is too young to understand his purpose and too terrified to tell anyone about his torment. Most of the film is about the interplay between Cole and Crowe, and how they both win each other's trust in order to solve their individual problems. The way The Sixth Sense is presented is what makes it so cool, and this is completely non-obvious when watching the film for the first time. And it's a credit to the film makers that they do pull off a scenario where the audience is forced to look back and think about the film again. You may be able to shake off the sentimentality of The Sixth Sense, but its craftsmanship and atmosphere will stay with you for days.
THE TIME MACHINE (2002)
Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is an absent-minded 26-year-old New York professor of Applied Mechanics and Engineering, scientist and inventor preoccupied with what passes for technology at the turn of the 20th century, in 1895. The one thing that can distract him from his calculations is his love for Emma (Sienna Guillory), his bride-to-be. When tragedy strikes and he loses Emma, Alexander starts building secretly the time-traveling machine to change the present by changing the past. Four years later, the machine is finished and he makes an attempt to change the past to bring Emma back. When that fails to alter fate, he leaps forward in time, first in 2030, seeking answers about the nature of time. Along the way, he is aided by the Fifth Avenue Public Library information unit, Vox (Orlando Jones), a compendium of all human knowledge, a third-generation, fusion-powered photonic from the 21st century with verbal and visual link capabilities connected to every database on the planet. Eventually, Alexander lands 800,000 years in the future, in 802701, in a dystopian world where humanity has divided up into two races, the docile Eloi, who are calm and fun-loving creatures, and the ferocious Morlocks, hideous underground monsters who come out at night to kidnap the Eloi. There Alexander befriends two of the Eloi, beautiful Mara and her younger brother Kalen (Samantha and Omero Mumba) and attempts to help them resist almost certain death at the hands of the Morlocks controlled by the Uber-Morlock (Jeremy Irons). Ultimately, Alexander makes a shocking discovery about the true nature of the Eloi and Morlocks and decides that the only way to change the future is to alter the present. This remake of the 1960 movie, based upon the 1895 classic sci-fi adventure novel by Herbert Wells, is directed by Simon Wells, the great-grandson of the author. Like Pearce's character, this version of the novel is fascinated with technology and uses a daunting array of special effects. The Time Machine is an engaging spectacle that's anchored by Pearce and enhanced by the commanding appearance of Jeremy Irons.
TOOTSIE is one of the most charming movies born of the 1980s. Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is a New York actor whose stubborn opinions on how he should play roles have earned him a reputation as "difficult". He is able to give succinct advice when teaching his fellow actors, but he can't seem to land a job himself. During a hilarious argument with his frustrated agent George Fields (Sydney Pollack), he is told that no-one will hire him. All Michael wants to do is raise enough money to put on a play written by his roommate Jeff Slater (Bill Murray). As part of his proactive teaching methods, Michael takes his friend Sandy (Teri Garr) to try out for a part in a soap opera. In fact, he is better at being a confident woman than she is. When she doesn't get the part, Michael sees an opportunity to get work without the Dorsey stigma getting in the way. He transforms himself into Dorothy Michaels, sweet-talking southern gal, with a stern and sometimes frightening forceful manner! Dorothy's strong will wins a part in Southwest General, a wonderfully cheesy daytime soap where she/he meets co-stars Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange) and John Van Horn (George Gaynes). It is here that she is nicknamed Tootsie by the show's chauvinistic director Ron Carlisle (Dabney Coleman). Dorothy's cattle-prod assertiveness increases her popularity with the hoards of female fans and the show's ratings skyrocket. Complications arise as Dorothy starts to spend time with Julie and falls in love with her, but Julie's father Les (Charles Durning) also has his eye on the strong-willed southern belle, and Dorothy is caught in the middle! Watch out for the terrific montage at Les' farmhouse where the old romantic gazes at Dorothy whilst she falls for Julie! Soon the pressure is too much, hopping from one identity to another is giving our harried actor an identity crisis, and so Tootsie needs to come out of the closet...
TRUE LIES (1994)
Secret intelligence agent Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who has a tendency to be a bit reckless, is a busy man; when he's not saving the world from terrorists, he's under cover as a boring computer salesman, juggling the everyday needs of his mousy wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), a legal secretary, who has no idea about her husband's real occupation, and his daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku). While Harry and his partner Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) work to stop a gang of international terrorists from getting their hands on missing nuclear weapons, Helen, feeling neglected, begins a covert affair with Simon (Bill Paxton), a sleazy used car salesman pretending to be a spy to attract women. When Harry suspects his wife of cheating on him, he decides to use his secret agent powers to find out what is happening and to give Helen a lesson in spy games. He uses his resources to have his wife's phone tapped, have her followed, have her captured, have her interrogated, and have her coerced into becoming a spy, all as an elaborate way to get her back... The lesson backfires when the couple is kidnapped by an organization called the Crimson Jihad and stuck in the middle of an international terrorist crisis. Helen then discovers that Harry is a secret agent by night, working for a shadowy group called the Omega Sector, and that Harry and his partner Albert are trying to find four nuclear warheads that have disappeared from one of the former Soviet republics. Borrowing liberally from the French 1991 French spy comedy film LA TOTALE (The Jackpot), this is an action picture, domestic comedy, and political thriller rolled into a crowd-pleasing ball of entertainment. Director James Cameron topped his previous spectaculars with this action-comedy extravaganza (the most expensive movie ever made before Titanic), featuring amazing stunts and special effects. Actual Harrier jets were hired from the U.S. Air Force for their sequence, while production dangled from a skyscraper over the streets of Miami for the amazing climax. The shots taken with the planes are very well done as are the bomb explosions, machine gun fire, and the horse / motorcycle chase. You also get the added bonus of a semi-nude Jamie Lee, looking incredible, doing a dirty dance for her hubby. Cameron has wisely abandoned a serious approach and this ends up being more of a comedy than anything else.
TWILIGHT is an action-packed, modern-day love story between a teenage girl and a vampire. When Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) reluctantly moved to the perpetually overcast town of Forks, WA, and set out to carve a niche for herself, she assumed it would be one similar to the low-profile social position she held back in Phoenix. First on the list of surprises was the unfamiliar attention from the male population of her new high school; second, the attention from one male in particular: Edward Cullen, Vampire (Robert Pattinson). Before long, the unlikely soul mates find themselves in a passionate relationship with a variety of significant setbacks, including Edward's special-needs diet (he doesn't eat humans, but Bella's scent inspires a nearly impossible to harness bloodlust) and the human girl's mortality. Though things proceed relatively smoothly at first (Edward even introduces Bella to his adoptive vampire family), a visiting vampire clan consisting of James (Cam Gigandet), Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), and Laurent (Edi Gathegi) catches Bella's unique scent and threatens the young couple's budding, if dangerous, happiness. James, known for his powerful tracking ability, becomes obsessed with making Bella his next victim. Fearing for Bella's safety and that of her loved ones, the Cullens must combine their collective talents in order to stop the highly predatory James before his goal is accomplished.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a Philadelphia security guard working at Temple University's football stadium, is thinking of moving to New York. His marriage with Audrey (Robin Wright Penn) is on the verge of failing and the distance between him and his young son Joseph (Spencer Treat Jamison) increases. One day when he's coming home from a job interview, his train derails outside Philadelphia. David miraculously survives the catastrophic train crash. Not only is he the sole survivor out of 132 passengers, he also is completely unharmed without a single scratch on him. A little later, David is contacted by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who runs a comic book art gallery and suffers from an incurable medical condition called osteogensis imperfecta that makes his bones very easy to break. Elijah has been a comic book fan all his life, and has developed a theory that comic books are the primary conduit of modern mythology, i.e. they are the remains of an ancient system of storytelling, and the superheroes and villains they tell about are based on real people. Elijah, being incredibly breakable himself, believes that David is one of these people, that he is an unbreakable superhero. David has hardly ever been injured or sick. He has enormous strength, plus an uncanny ability to tell if someone is about to or has done something bad. The two of them seem to be linked by a curve, but sitting on opposite ends. David does not accept this theory at once, but eventually other odd coincidences force him to at least test this nutcase's ideas... and the test results are everything that Elijah expects. In the end, David accepts that there is, in fact, some part of him driven to seek out and oppose true evildoers - those who kill with pleasure - and in a dramatic sequence fights his first battle as a vigilante. But after all, David's fate is not only to find his real place in the world. It also is about proving Elijah's theory of his own existence, for if there is the superhero in the world, there should be the villain nearby to counterbalance. Weaving a strange and exotic good-versus-evil tale of two protagonists who lead opposite lives in the physical realm, the unbreakable David and the radically breakable Elijah, this mind-shattering thriller with supernatural overtones makes deft use of cinematography and dripping suspense to leave its audience perched on the edge of curiosity.
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)
Based on a metaphysical 1978 novel by science fiction and horror author Richard Matheson, this romantic fantasy-drama won an Oscar for its expensive and impressive visual vistas depicting an imaginative afterlife. Robin Williams stars as Chris Nielsen, a doctor who has suffered with his artist wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) through the devastating loss of their children, Marie and Ian, who were killed in a car accident. Although Annie's all-consuming depression nearly destroyed their marriage, the couple rebuilt their relationship and are now living out a comfortable middle age. Stopping one night to help a motorist in a wreck, Chris is struck by a car and killed. At first confused about where he is, Chris meets Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a spiritual guide who helps him to realize he's passed away and that he must move on to the next world. After trying with only limited success to communicate with the devastated Annie, Chris moves on and discovers an afterlife that can become whatever one envisions, where even his pet dog awaits him. What Chris envisions as paradise are the paintings of his wife, and he happily takes up residence there, awaiting the far-off day when Annie will eventually join him. He also meets his children, although they have chosen different appearances than the ones they had in life. Then tragedy strikes when Annie, inconsolable, commits suicide and goes to Hell. Although it is rarely done, Chris insists on traveling there, risking his eternal soul to save the woman he loves. Accompanied part of the way by Albert and a wizened guide called The Tracker (Max von Sydow), Chris finally reaches Annie in Hell, and must convince her of the truth in order to release her from her dark prison.
YES MAN (2008)
Jim Carrey returns to hilarious form with this romantic comedy in the same vein as the Carrey classic LIAR LIAR. After a few stints in more serious features like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and THE NUMBER 23, Carrey seems right at home playing Carl, a divorcé who starts out the film depressed and withdrawn, scared of taking a risk. Pressured by his best friend, Peter (Bradley Cooper), to get his act together or be stuck with a lonely life, Carl attends a New Age self-help seminar intended to change "no men" like Carl into "yes men" willing to meet life's challenges with gusto. Carl is reluctant at first, but finds the seminar to be ultimately life-changing when he's coerced into giving the "say yes" attitude a try. As the first opportunity to say yes presents itself, Carl hesitantly utters the three-letter word, setting the stage for a domino effect of good rewards, and giving Carrey a platform to show off his comic chops. But over time Carl realizes that saying yes to everything indiscriminately can reap results as complicated and messy as his life had become when saying "no" was his norm. The always-quirky Zooey Deschanel adds her signature charm as Carl's love interest, Allison. An unlikely match at first glance, the pair actually develop great chemistry as the story progresses, the actors playing off each other's different styles of humor. Rhys Darby also shines as Carl's loveable but clueless boss, and THAT 70s SHOW's Danny Masterson appears as another one of Carl's friends. While YES MAN marks no major departure from Carrey's previous work, the sweet crowd pleaser manages to showcase two sides of its leading man.
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it is a melting pot where animals from every environment live together - a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals is not so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios' ZOOTOPIA is a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (TANGLED, BOLT) and Rich Moore (WRECK-IT RALPH, THE SIMPSONS) and co-directed by Jared Bush (PENN ZERO: PART-TIME HERO).