Top 10 Movies of 1997

Number 10.  –  The Game

I hate to say it, but this movie is only good for a single watch and there is no re-watchability after seeing the movie. That’s because the suspense is so intense that the result of the movie feels underwhelming. However, this movie still is a must see if you are in need of suspense because this is one of David Fincher’s most best efforts for what he was given. The plot is one of the most intense, mind bending, and incredible plots ever told, you cannot miss one minute or else you will be totally lost, what a beautifully made script. The cast is incredible, Michael Duglas is a one of a kind actor in almost all his films, and he plays his part so well that I felt like I was becoming more insane with the game as he is. The score was amazing, it was at every right moment and it made the films intense moments a lot better. The cinematography is also great, very nicely done. The game is not just another David Fincher film, its a intense and great thriller that toys with your mind, and it migh be in the ranks mind bending films such as Inception, Memento, or Zodiac (another Fincher film), and The Game is truly one of a kind.

Number 9.  –  Hercules

Now I know a lot of people are indifferent to this movie and either really love this movie or really hate it. Me personally I love it. For a couple reasons, first the villain, Hades is my favorite Disney villain ever and one of my alll time favorite villains, and that is mainly due to how James Woods plays him. He doesn’t sound evil, I always thought he sounded like a lawyer or agent which I find kind of interesting. Next the animation, this film has probably the most colorful and interesting animation I’ve seen in a Disney film, which is understandable seeing how the animation was lead and handled by Gerald Scarfe who did the animation for Pink Floyd’s the Wall and he does a fantastic job at doing this animation, my favorite being his design of the Hydra in the film. Also I really do enjoy the music and comedy in the film for as weird as the musical choice of Gospel is for a movie about ancient greece.

Number 8.  –  The Fifth Element

Subtlety is most definitely not the order of the day in Luc Besson’s high camp space opera, and it’s scattershot approach does mean there are a few things about it I don’t appreciate. The soundtrack is occasionally horrendous, Jean Paul Gaultier’s insistence (as usual) on dressing half the male cast up as the off Broadway chapter of the Erasure fan club, and most of all, Chris Tucker who is so irritating it makes my teeth hurt. What makes the film work is it’s sense of humour which permeates the entire proceedings and it’s breakneck pace that means it never dwells too long on any particular aspect of the story. There are some great action sequences, cool Gilliam-esque production design, and loads of funny moments, mostly supplied by Gary Oldman who steals every scene he is in as a kind of psychotic southern sci fi version of Terry-Thomas. Silly, tongue in cheek and hugely entertaining. It’s the weirdest, coolest futuristic movie I’ve ever seen. The story is pretty cool and Gary Oldman is especially cool as the arch-villain. It’s rare to find a sci-fi movie like this anymore. Bruce Willis is of course the go-to action king of films.

Number 7.  – Liar Liar

This is one of the reasons why I missed over-the-top Jim Carrey of the the 1990’s, he had such unstoppable energy, unpredictable, and wild comedic acting that makes it worth watching again and again! That’s why Liar Liar symbolizes and embodies what Jim Carrey is capable of. The concept of this movie is that Jim Carrey is a lawyer that always constantly lies and breaks promises until he is incapable of lying from his son’s birthday wish. Who wouldn’t like for their birthday wish to come true? Not just kids, of course. In this movie a kid’s wish does come true, with funny consequences for his father. Throughout the movie, Jim Carrey struggles to so damn hard to be able to lie again but his body and words keeps him from doing so and it’s so ridiculous to see him to go so far to make a lie to protect himself and go his own way, only to realize that telling the truth is what he really needs in his life. This movie is hilarious, made at the height of Carrey’s popularity. If you’re a fan of his or just love comedy, you should see this movie because you’ll have a laugh of a life time.

Number 6.  – The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The original Jurassic Park was so revolutionary and there was no way any other movie from the series could ever match up to its legacy. I never hated The Lost World: Jurassic Park because though it is indeed a fun ride, the very essence of the original’s atmosphere remains present in its sequel. The look, the tone, the special effects, they look just as great as the last movie. If you think that this film is garbage, well did you even read The Lost World book that it’s based on? It’s a complete waste of time, so watch the movie instead. One aspect that the sequel improves upon are the characters. Although far from spectacular, they posses a lot more charisma and a bit more layers than the first batch. Ian Malcolm, who was regulated to the sidelines in the original, is given center stage and the film is all the better for it, especially given Jeff Goldblum’s more dynamic portrayal. Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn also give decent supporting performances but Pete Postlethwaite steals the show as the thrill-seeking hunter Roland Tembo (also has probably the most fascinating character arc out of all the cast). Even the dinosaurs are given more characterization than the first, especially the velociraptors and the T-rexes. It’s also a plus that the dialogue and banter yield a bit more emotional meat outside of just providing clunky exposition. As far as plot goes, it does lack some originality (it’s pretty much Spielberg’s big budget remake of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”) along with containing a few plot contrivances and ridiculous moments (Ex. velociraptor killed by gymnastics). Although to be fair, it’s not like the first movie was lacking in ridiculous moments either. The closing San Diego sequence, while thrilling, did feel overall tacked on. Almost as if Spielberg desperately wanted to make a mini-Kaiju movie in the vein of Godzilla and he saw this flick as his only chance to do so. Ironically, the sequence ended up being a much better and more faithful representation of Godzilla movies than the crap-storm Roland Emmerich version that came out a year later. It’s far from a masterpiece or a significant highlight in Speilberg’s long and prestigious career, but it’s a nice guilt-free slice of action/adventure fun nonetheless.

Number 5.  – Starship Troopers

Highly underrated sci-fi adventure, that delivers some of the coolest and most exciting battle sequences ever made for the big screen. Just the fact that I’ve seen it about ten times by now should speak for how much I love it. What makes it so special and outstanding is that, unlike most other films within the genre, it actually has some genuine intelligence to it. Okay, so it’s not Oscar-material script-wise, but it’s got such an incredibly cool and exhilarating story, while cleverly satiring political propaganda films (like those produced by the Nazis during WWII). So don’t mistake this for just another dumb action movie, because although it may look like one on the surface, this film has lot to say about war and the violence that comes with it. Furthermore, it’s got some truly awesome special effects, which still look great and really spectacular by today’s refined standards. Be sure to watch it on Blu-ray for the best possible viewing experience. Because as much of a visual treat as this movie is, it truly deserves to be seen in high-definition. An all-around amazing rollercoaster ride, that gets nothing less than my highest recommendation!

Number 4.  –  Con Air

The reason why I’m a fan of cheesy movies is because they take risks, make scenes that artsy films wouldn’t dare, and the idea of such ridiculousness is entertaining at best. If the cheesy flick is boring and tries to hard to be taken seriously then it’s out of my radar. Con Air embodies my purpose of watching cheesy films.  This film’s reaction and criticism seem to be based purely on taste. Let’s look at the nitty gritty: we have a stellar cast, great use of explosions, and Nicolas Cage with a hillbilly haircut and an offputting Alabama accent. In review, yeah, these things can make for the most horrifying of action blockbusters, and yet it still was really enjoyable, and kept me hooked. Malkovich, leaving his comfort zone to play a psychotic killer, with facial hair to boot, is the perfect criminal villain, in that he doesn’t overwhelm the plot, keeping the focus on other characters. Standouts include Danny Trejo as a serial rapist, John Cusack as the US Marshal hunting down the plane while no one will listen to him (i.e. Quincy ME) and Steve Buscemi as the obviously creepy mass murderer. Through some of the more unnecessary sequences of fire and violence, there is also the great character of Cameron Poe (Cage) who quips with killers, ninja fights a gang of Colombians, and tries to save his diabetic best friend, and a female guard, all the time trying to see his daughter for the first time. Good storyline for the genre, and decent acting by all those involved.

Number 3.  –  Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights is a spectacular drama film about the rise of fictional porn actor Dirk Diggler during the golden age of porn in the 1970’s. Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted a unique drama film with style. There is a tremendous ensemble of gifted actors here, and even the now washed out actors ( John C Reilly, Burt Reynolds) shine here. Boogie Nights definitely captures the feel of the 1970’s porn boom. Anderson has tremendous talent, and his directing abilities help to create something truly unique on screen. Anderson knows how to use this impressive cast of actors and all of them deliver great performances. Boogie Nights overall is a one of a kind drama film, and one of the best drama films of the 90’s. Paul Thomas Anderson’s second feature film is an impressive work and it’s a more polished film than Anderson’s first film. Boogie Nights is Anderson’s best film, and he would later direct the equally impressive There Will Be Blood. However this film stands alone as an in your face type of movie because it touches on a sensitive non Hollywood friendly issue: Porn. Anderson’s film is terrific and it rips across the screen and considering it’s subject matter, it’s able to be a smart, well written film without being too incorrect for a mainstream audience. Boogie Night is a film that tells the story of the porn industry, the good times and the bad, and as a major Hollywood production, it’s very interesting to see a film like this bring to light a subject that usually isn’t your typical idea for a film. This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film, and Boogie Nights cemented his name as a top notch director. A very enjoyable, yet at times disturbing ride.

Number 2.  –  Chasing Amy

I was left speechless that such a movie has ever been so mature towards the subject matter of the lifestyles these people chose in their sex lives. While Mallrats was a totally cartoony comedy, this is a day-and-night difference of being as real and as human as possible. I really felt a deep connection towards all the characters in this film and it was actually a convincing and very interesting relationship between Holden and Alyssa as it delivered some of the most well acted roles ever seen in a romantic film. It showed at getting into a relationship changes everything, the two people falling in love, the performance at work, and even your friends who look at you differently these were great messages towards romance in general. Bar-none, this is the beginning of Kevin Smith’s success in budget as it had a budget of $250,000 and it came back to an over $12,000,000 at the box office. Just like Clerks, Chasing Amy is filled with explicit dialog as it really is conversations and words that ordinary people would actually say. If you’re coming in to see Chasing Amy expecting to laugh hard, be prepared to be disappointed as it is Kevin Smith’s most serious film, but if you’re coming in hoping that this movie is as intelligent and as emotional as Clerks was, you’re in for a real treat! I’m still having a hard time deciding whether Clerk or Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith’s best movie but being that this movie does take risks that has never been done before (in terms of the content it brings) it was indeed some of the best romantic movies I’ve ever seen!

Number 1.  –  Princess Mononoke

No doubt, this is my favorite Miyazaki film because out of all the environmental messages he’s ever told, not only it’s his best one, but also this is the best environmental movies I’ve ever seen because it’s not preachy on the subject matter. Instead this film explores to both sides on man vs. nature like no other due to having enough time and opportunity of showing their good and evil. It’s so amazing that this rivalry between the wondrous forest and Iron Town to be this complex that it needed a prince named Ashitaka who can save both of them from destroying each other, even though he only came to cure the curse killing him that he carries from a demon-boar. Everything was at stake here because Ashitaka’s curse was killing him instantly, the citizens of Iron Town can’t live in the great forest because it’s too dangerous, the creatures want to protect its forest from the deforestation from the humans, and San (the protector of the forest) is doing everything she can to keep the creatures safe from the human and save the forest that she so loves. The reason why Princess Mononoke is one of my favorites (other than it avoid all the environmental preachy-ness) is that it has an environmental message that doesn’t talk down on either side, which this film successfully made the audience route for both sides of the conflict because they both struggles to survive and neither side is truly good or truly evil. This was the most expensive Japanese film ever created and the budget of this film just made the production value so epic. I still find this a landmark in the world of animation because they did scenes that I as an animation buff have never seen before. And to add a cherry on top is that it had one of the best English dubs I’ve ever seen translated from a Japanese animated film. So dense is the story and so large the ensemble of characters that it is sometimes difficult to decipher what exactly is going on. Then again, being forced to coast on the back of the dazzling and innovative hand-drawn visuals is hardly a chore. There’s nothing I can say or make any suggestions to make this film any better because this film just nailed perfection for me. As really fairytale-like this movie is, it’s very believable. I’ve seen this movie countless times and I don’t recall spotting a single flaw in this film. Every single second of watching Princess Mononoke always pulls me into the film because of the stellar animation quality and the fantastic fantasy story that never been this great.
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