<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d16149408\x26blogName\x3dThe+Blogulator\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7090024357285529333', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

« Home | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next »

The Quest of 1996: The Single Finest Film of Our Generation?

Let us never speak of the year 1995 again. Not only am I hereby erasing it from the Quest, I am deleting it from my own personal history of the world/mankind. Two weeks ago, when I received feedback largely consisting of either "I have never seen any of these films" or "All these movies suck," I almost took this Quest and shoved it up my own you-know-what. To say nothing of the fact that I apparently remain the only person left on the planet who appreciates the glory that is the original Bad Boys (at least I know the Hot Fuzz peeps have my back on its sequel), I would rather we just focus on the winners for the years 1990-1994 thus far. They are: Home Alone, Point Break, The Mighty Ducks, Jurassic Park, and Speed. Two more films (one from 1996 and one determined from a Wild Card post) will join the ranks of these five films over the course of the next month and then finally, on November 10th, 2009, a mere two days before I am officially 20 years removed from the approximate start of my golden age of cinema enjoyment, we will decide together what is the Single Finest Film of Our Generation. But first, let's not forget the gem(s) of 1996...vote for your fave!

Independence Day: So like the fateful year of 1993 and Spielberg's dinosaur epic, there might not be much of a competition for the year of ID4. And while Jurassic Park managed to age 16 years in a respectable fashion based on its use of special effects and imagination/wonder-fueled storyline, I'd like to imagine that people are on the surface too harsh toward its brasher and somehow even less artful bastard cousin of a summer blockbuster, Independence Day. Yes, yes, neither Dean Devlin nor Roland Emmerich have shown any sort of growth or even twice-struck lightning with their ongoing dedication to the overblown disaster genre throughout their tenure in Hoyllweird (The Day After Tomorrow and soon now 2012), but forget that. Also forget that ostensibly, their original breakthrough feature was just a boisterous and jingoistic version of any alien invasion story from the past 100 years of science-fiction. What makes ID4 worth continued watching every July since its release (and into the future) are its stellar scene-chewing performances from Bill Pullman (this man's our president?), Will Smith (he punches the alien in the face!), Jeff Goldbum (stuttering was never funnier), Brent Spiner (Data!), Randy Quaid (now that we know the dude really is crazy, it makes it that much better), and many more. Put these people in high-ranking roles while squids take over the planet with tons of ridiculous explosions of famous cities and buildings and you've got me hooked for eternity.

Twister: But if there is one film that can beat out a creatures from space flick starring Bill Pullman as our hero, it's a tornado movie from the director of Speed starring Bill Paxton as our hero. This movie may have blindsided the American public even more so than Independence Day, what with its pedestrian cast of characters, plain American prairie setting, and obscenely absurd premise. These people chase storms. We accepted that. There are two groups of storm chasers that hate each other. We accepted that. Cary Elwes was our villain. We accepted that. Because he was corporate-sponsored and smiled like bad guys do, we rooted for Bill Paxton instead. Phillip Seymour Hoffman put cucumbers on his eyes, had a redhead mullet, and wore a sweatshirt around his waist, and still went on to win an Oscar for portraying one of the greatest American authors who ever lived. And then there's Helen Hunt. Quite possibly the most boring actress who has ever lived (maybe beaten out just by a hair by Andie MacDowell), Ms. Helen Hunt. With Paul Reiser's better half, Paxton, Hoffman, et al., we tread down debris-laden highway after highway, figuring out a way to lift computerized sensors into tornadoes so we can learn more about tunnels of wind. And by more, I of course mean nothing, because once they uncover the power of (spoiler alert!) aluminum cans, we are left only with swelling music, and a divorced pair of protagonists realizing that the power of weather can bring them back together again. And we accepted that.

Ransom: "Give me back my son!" Do you remember the trailer for this Mel Gibson kidnap melodrama that just featured him behind a desk spilling over with money, looking dead serious into the camera, explaining how much he hates his son's captor? It sent chills up my spine. It grabbed hold of me, and much like ID4 did for science-fiction to my poor misled brain, made me fall in lover all over again with the kidnapping drama subgenre. In middle school, I had obsessed over learning everything I could about the Lindbergh baby, and so it makes sense that when a big budget movie gains traction at the box office shortly thereafter (despite it having little to nothing to offer in terms of unique storytelling), that I would dive deep into its convoluted plot of double-crossings and high-class corruption. What's most remarkable about Ransom, however, may be the fact that it is a Ron Howard film. Ron, effing, Howard. The man responsible for some of my most disliked films of all time, including A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code. Even now, I can still look back and find joy in the thrilling (albeit overwrought) and relentless suspense of Gibson's bulging veins, Russo's yelping cries, and Gary Sinise's intensely creepy Gary-Siniseness. How Howard lost this joy of movie-making once the 90s ended is unbeknownst to me, but I wish he (and you) would reconsider the awesomeness of Ransom.

Broken Arrow: Okay, you probably haven't seen Broken Arrow. That, or you only remember it sucking. Fair enough. It's a terrible Christian Slater/John Travolta action movie about a missing warhead. And while Christian Slater and John Travolta, when in action movie mode, are two of my utmost guilty pleasures (I watched almost all the aired episodes of My Own Worst Enemy and I was psyched when I finally got to see the mediocre but serviceable remake of The Taking of Pelham 123), I have just one 90s character actor name for you: Delroy Lindo. This man needs work again. Take a look at his resume for that decade: Broken Arrow, Ransom, Get Shorty, Clockers, Congo, Crooklyn, Feeling Minnesota, and A Life Less Ordinary. He was the go-to guy for the tough but amiable, incisive but genial authority figure. This film, in my personal opinion, was his high point because not only does he have more speaking parts here than any of the other blockbusters he appeared in (sure, the Spike Lee movies are where he truly shined, but I didn't realize that until years later), but also because he embodied (along with Travolta and Slater) what makes 90s action movies so lovable: equal doses intensity and inanity. Broken Arrow may be no different than your run-of-the-mill explosion flick, but it does everything with such gusto that its simplicity brings out its perfection. Plus, Travolta gets a warhead in the gut that pushes him out a train in the final scene. It's so cool!

Daylight: Sylvester Stallone and a bunch of whining commoner commuters get trapped in a tunnel when terrorists (I think?) blow it up at both ends! The gimmick is so lame that it somehow works. I specifically remember going into this movie thinking that Sylvester Stallone was kinda lame and I never liked any of those Rocky movies, but the second that they all realized they were running out of air, I was hooked. It was exactly like a short story I would have written for an English class, except its script (probably) had a better grasp on how to avoid comma splices. It was the kind of lame adventure plot that, yes, only appealed to the kind of kid who constantly imagined what it would be like to get stuck in random places and have to lead a group out of the rubble to safety, and that's probably about it. It's definitely the least memorable film of the five listed above, and that's saying something, because Broken Arrow and the impact Delroy Lindo had on me as an adolescent was just discussed in the paragraph above. But regardless, it's something of a curio in my collection VHS tapes in that it's a cookie cutter novelty that still reignites the desire for narrative creation that I will always associate with it in my mind. And yes, just like the rules of the Quest, it makes me want to watch it again.

Labels: , ,

  1. Blogger Unspar! | 8:25 AM |  

    Independence Day.

    But I have seen Broken Arrow, and I remember actually enjoying it. Unfortunately, that's all I remember about it. (Other than the definition of "Broken Arrow," which referred to a lost or stolen warhead.) I have no idea what happens in it.

    I also saw Daylight and enjoyed it. There's just something about non-memorable films that still gets me.

    You know, Chris, 1995 was the only year we've disagreed on so far. I'm pretty sure we're long-lost twins.

  2. Blogger qualler | 9:47 AM |  

    I'm gonna be a little bold here and vote for Ransom.

    Sure, ID4 was good and all, explosions, but even 13-year-old me recognized that it was just a touch too long and the re-watch value is not quite as strong as my Jurassic Park and Home Alone. And I think I saw Ransom in the theaters and it was wicked intense, bulging veins and all. Well done, Ron Howard.

  3. Blogger Christine | 11:28 AM |  

    Call me boring, but: ID4

  4. Blogger Sean | 11:54 AM |  

    I don't know what's scarier-that it's actually happening or that they have a name for it. -John Cusack. Broken Arrow, I think.
    Ransom had a nice morlock monologue.

    I go with independence day because Chris got to use his favorite word in the paragraph. Jingoistic.

  5. Blogger P. Arty | 2:50 PM |  

    Yeah, really there's no competition here. Independence Day.

  6. Blogger DoktorPeace | 4:18 PM |  

    Twister is one of the first movies I remember disappointing me. Helen Hunt, coupled with my burgeoning manhood, probably decided that.

    Independence Day.

  7. Blogger chris | 4:51 PM |  

    Let me get this straight. You people have seen BROKEN ARROW, but not BAD BOYS?!?!?

    Holy guacamole.

    P.S. You may be right, Ben, and Sean, nice try, but that's actually my number two. I prefer "nozzle".

  8. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:22 PM |  

    My favorite is "wanderlust."

    Saw Bad Boys II in theaters (being the Hot Fuzz fanboy I am). Haven't gotten around to the first, though, despite it being one of the most frequently OnDemand movies this year.

  9. Blogger Lane | 7:39 PM |  

    Chris~please do not beat yourself up about 95, it was not a good year oh well. However, I feel like I am always in the wrong here, because I vote Twister. I seriously loved that movie, I saw it 4 times in the theater. But now that I think about it, my dad a huge weather nerd, would tell me all the bad science involved in that movie and I would just sit there and say ok dad, all the while totally loving the pop cans saving the day-ok I am rest my case...

  10. Blogger Sean | 7:50 PM |  

    I tried to see Twister in theatres but it was sold out. Instead I saw a Jean Claude Van Damme movie: The Quest.

    It was dreadful and I laughed at it a whole lot. It may have been the first time I laughed at a crappy action movie in theatres as a young lad.

  11. Blogger Papa Thor | 10:32 PM |  

    Independence Day was mostly noteworthy for setting the record for most violations of the laws of Physics per minute in a recorded medium, although the Glenn Beck show has come close.
    Also, I just went to a geek conference and Twister was listed as a noteworthy accomplishment in the history of computer generated movies.
    On the other hand, I kind of shed a little tear when Randy Quaid flew his plane into that big ship, especially since his brother (spoiler alert!) would be too chicken to go help those guys at the Alamo. That scene made me want to just hold Brigitte and never let her go. Plus using computers to defeat technology is a good moral. So I vote for Independence Day.

  12. Blogger Jess | 9:33 AM |  

    This is a conundrum. I haven't seen any of these except the 1st half of Independence Day. However, on principle, I cannot vote for any film featuring Bill "Stupidfacenaddumbvoiceican'tactbutsomehowi'mstillineverythingprobablybecauseblandisbetterthannothingandwedon'twanttodistracttoomuchfromaliens" Pullman.

  13. Blogger Lady Amy | 10:22 AM |  

    Definitely Independence Day

  14. Blogger Brigitte | 10:30 AM |  

    I'm gonna have to say Twister. I LOVED that movie.

  15. Anonymous .molly. | 8:01 PM |  

    Independence Day!

leave a response