Best Sound

[7.5] It’s formulaic, overblown and downright preposterous at times, but it’s also everything moviegoers want in a summer action movie. Speed has a tight, rapid-fire script, awesome sound design, a remarkably kinetic score, and surprisingly good acting for a movie of its type. Sandra Bullock gives a sweet, naturalistic performance as a woman stuck driving a bus full of passengers that will explode if it …

[8.0] Oliver Stone’s Platoon was one of the first major motion pictures to deal with the Vietnam war. Charlie Sheen stars as an infantry volunteer who finds himself in a moral quandry, torn between two sergeants of differing philosophies. Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe give solid, Oscar-nominated performances as the two sergeants, but it’s the director’s voice that comes through most strikingly in Platoon. As …

[8.0] After finishing The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson tackled a remake of his favorite film, King Kong. Jackson’s remake is largely faithful to the 1933 original, while generously expanding the storyline and embellishing some of the characters. Jackson protracts the opening act more than necessary, but his interpretation of Skull Island is amazing. It’s this middle portion of the movie that delivers the …

[7.0] Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Near Dark) won the Oscar for directing this suspense thriller about three soldiers who disarm bombs in Iraq. The movie also won Best Picture, maybe just because nothing better came out during the year (except the REAL best picture, District 9, but I digress). It’s far from groundbreaking and surprisingly predictable — but it’s a brisk, entertaining flick that hits …

[7.5] Close-knit friends from a mining community share a harrowing experience during their tour of duty in Vietnam. Michael Cimino’s three-hour long film focuses primarily on the aftermath of the ordeal, now one of the most famous scenes in movie history, a deadly game of Russian roulette forced upon prisoners at a POW camp. Robert DeNiro plays the most level-headed friend, who tries to help …

[7.5] Sidney Poitier plays a black Northern detective who reluctantly aides a white Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) in solving a murder case. The mystery itself is a bit thin, but it’s bolstered by good performances from the leads and a commendable handling of volatile subject matter. (Though the film takes place in Mississippi, the film’s crew decided to shoot no further south than Tennessee for …

[7.0] In colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness has an ongoing affair with a big game hunter. On one hand, Sydney Pollacks’ Oscar-winning best picture is long and subdued. But on the other hand, it does a great job transporting you to another time and place. The wildlife, cinematography, and music score (another fine work from John Barry) will whisk you away whether you want whisked or …

[5.0] Earthquake is one of many disaster films that came out in the early ’70s — the kind where a rag-tag team of waning celebrities band together to get thrown around for a couple of hours. In this one, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner headline as a married couple on the outs. She’s a pill popper and he’s seeing a young widow (Genevieve Bujold) on …

[4.0] Alan J. Pakula (Sophie’s Choice, The Pelican Brief) directs the big-screen story of how Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein cracked the Watergate scandal that lead to President Nixon’s resignation. I love Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman enough to get through any movie, but this is not a cinematic story. Every other scene is a phone conversation. And the nature of Woodward …

[8.5] Dreams are a notoriously difficult thing on which to base a movie. In dreams there are no rules, no parameters — and in movies about dreams, writers and filmmakers are often all too eager to take advantage of our suspension of disbelief — because in dreams, hey? Who the hell’s to say what could or could not happen, especially if the contrivance pushes the …

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