Posts Tagged ‘2000’

Cast Away (2000)

In this day and age, it seems that we have become too connected. We can communicate instantly with people all over the world, and we live and die by the whims of the clock. As a result, we often lose sight of what it is to really live. Chuck Noland is about to rediscover his own humanity, courtesy of Federal Express.

Cast Away is a drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, a remote island, a volleyball, and Helen Hunt.

Chuck Noland is a time obsessed systems analyst, in charge of improving the efficiency of Federal Express hubs all over the world. Although he is in a long-term relationship with the love of his life, Kelly Frears, whom he plans to marry, his demanding hours often interfere with his social life. When Christmas with relative is cut short by a Fed Ex emergency in Malaysia, Chuck leaves Kelly with a wrapped ring box, telling her not to open it until he returns on New Year’s Eve. However, it appears fate has other plans for him, when his plane crashes somewhere in the Pacific Ocean while trying to navigate through a violent storm. He is saved by the inflatable raft, but the emergency transmitter breaks off. Clinging to the raft, he floats all night and eventually washes up on the shore of an uninhabited island. Good news: Now Chuck has all the free time he could ever want. Bad news: He has nothing else but the clothes on his back, the contents of a few Fed Ex packages that wash on shore, and whatever else the island has to offer. Chuck must embark on a journey that mirrors the development of the earliest humans in order to survive, and in the process he learns what is truly important in life…

Tom Hanks is a great actor. There are very few people who can carry the bulk of a movie like this essentially on their own, and Hanks nails it. Add to this the directing chops of Robert Zemeckis, and you have the formula of a dramatic example of minimalism done right. The first half hour sets up the character of Chuck Noland, a tightly-wound corporate analyst who hardly has time to breathe, let alone develop a social life. While he lives by the clock and demands nothing short of the best from the employees he oversees, he does lend some sympathy to the character, so that he comes off as efficient and analytical rather than an obnoxious bureaucrat (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play an unsympathetic role in his life. Then the plane crash tears away everything he thought was important, and he is forced to learn how to survive with virtually no knowledge. Basically, he’s rediscovering what it is to be human, but at the same time he is determined not to forget what it is to be Chuck Noland.

Of course, the huge chunk of movie that takes place on the island is at once maddeningly quiet and terrifyingly loud. It lacks the usual noises of civilization (and a musical soundtrack), but possesses unexpected noises of virgin wilderness. It is not only the setting for Chuck’s personal journey but also a character in itself. It offers no advice, only the barest essential things he needs. He has no companionship save for a volleyball, with whom he has one-sided conversations to stave off loneliness. The plot is boiled and distilled and concentrated down to one thing – Chuck trying to survive. There is no antagonist except for the trials of scraping out his own existence, and you will either find it engaging or boring as hell, depending on your opinion of Hanks’ skill in this movie. Personally, I am in the former camp, and any actor or director that can make you cry for a volleyball deserves any awards he gets.

If you’re a fan of Tom Hanks and you’re in the mood for a modern-day take on Robinson Crusoe, absolutely check out Cast Away. You will soon find yourself journeying alongside Chuck into the heart of his own humanity, brought to you by Fed Ex.

The 6th Day (2000)

05/04/2011 1 comment

What is more badass than Arnold Schwarzenegger as a military guy? Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ex-military family guy. What’s more badass than a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it once? A movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it twice. The real question, though, is whether or not a movie with two Arnolds in it can still pull off a deep philosophical discussion of the implications of human cloning and still be badass. Let’s find out.

The 6th Day is a sci fi thriller film directed by Roger Spottiswoode, in a near-future where animal cloning is commonplace but human cloning has been outlawed. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Rapaport, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, and Robert Duvall.

It is the year 2015. Cloning technology is sufficiently advanced that animal cloning is commonplace (leading to the recovery of a number of endangered species and a virtual end to world hunger), every child has grown up with a cloned Re-pet (a genetic copy of a pet that has died), and cloned human organs for transplant are becoming mainstream. However, the cloning of a complete human is forbidden by “6th Day” laws, named for the creation story in the Book of Genesis which states that God created man on the 6th day. Cloning is still a highly divisive issue, however, with cloning protestors appearing regularly outside Replacement Technologies, a firm that specilizes in cloning. Ex-military family man and charter pilot Adam Gibson has his doubts about the moral implications of cloning, but he has other things to worry about right now: It is his birthday, and he has been hired as transportation for Michael Drucker, the CEO of Replacement Technologies, who is headed on a ski trip. On his way to pick up Drucker, Gibson is informed that his daughters beloved dog has died, and his wife instructs him to have the dog cloned as a Re-pet. Gibson’s buddy Morgan offers to take his place on the charter so Gibson can get the Re-pet, and the two part ways. Then things start getting really complicated. Gibson returns home after running a few errands to find that, um… he’s already home. He barely has time to digest the presence of this doppelganger before he learns that people want to kill him, and for good reason – he has been illegally cloned. Since the existence of two Adam Gibsons could have serious consequences for Replacement Technologies, one of them has to go. Unfortunately for them, they don’t realize that this is Arnold Goddamn Schwarzenegger, and clone or not, they’re both going to be very difficult to kill…

This is one of those movies that flew in under my radar. When it was in theaters, I saw maybe one or two ads for it, and then nothing. I found it again after it came out on home video, and decided to give it a shot. It was… enjoyable. While it was not your typical Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it had thrills and chases and explosions and, of course, Arnold being a badass dad. Twice. However, despite its early lip service to the moral and philosophical implications of mainstream cloning processes, such as whether a cloned pet is still the same pet, and a related brief existential crisis regarding whether the cloned Adam is still fundamentally Adam, ultimately The 6th Day remains an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie through and through, with all that implies. He’s a badass. People try to kill him. He outwits them. Shit gets blown up. The only thing about this movie that does not fit into the mold of a typical Arnold movie is the fact that both Adams genuinely love the family of Adam 1.0, which sets up a Papa Wolf sequence of truly epic proportions, wherein both Adams become Badass Dad squared.

The supporting cast was decent, but the mooks bordered on self-parody at times, due to the fact that since they could be brought back in a matter of hours through the miracle of cloning. The head villain didn’t seem to think he was evil,though after a few scenes of dialogue the actual amount of altruism in his project (very low) became clear. Amongst the hero, Arnold was… Arnold. He is a badass with a family and an existential crisis. That makes Arnold upset, and when Arnold gets upset Arnold breaks things. Adam’s buddy Morgan is a loser with a holographic programmable porn star for a girlfriend (raise your hand if you know someone who would have a virtual pornstar housemate given sufficiently advanced technology). Meanwhile, Adam’s wife and daughter are wonderfully believeable given the movie’s setting, like his wife winning an argument by simply not acknowledging her husband’s protests, and his daughter wanting the Latest Cool Thing that all of her friends has (though why any sane parent would buy one of those creepy-ass Sim-Pals for their child boggles the mind).

In the end, The 6th Day is an enjoyable sci fi thriller with slightly more depth than your average Arnold movie, but not quite enough to rise above the brand of being an Arnold movie. If you like hard(ish) sci fi paired with thrilling chase scenes, check this one out. If you want a deep discussion on the meaning of life and death in a world where cloning is commonplace, try something by Philip K. Dick.

Miss Congeniality (2000)

There are times when an undercover operation requires only the best individual for the role – someone with the training and expertise to not only solve the case but also successfully masquerade as a given role, leaving no hint in the minds of others that they are the real deal. Occasionally this work is glamorous. Frequently it’s not. And sometimes you just have to go with whatever you have at hand. Meet Gracie Hart. She’s so going to kick your ass when she’s done being a beauty queen.

Miss Congeniality is a police comedy film directed by Donald Petrie and starring Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candance Bergen, and William Shatner.

Gracie Hart is a rough and tumble tomboy who grew up depending on her fists rather than her looks and charm to negotiate diplomatic situations. Currently, she is the FBI’s leading undercover agent, though most of her roles tend towards being that random woman in the corner that nobody pays attention to. However, when a terroriss known only as the Citizen threatens the 75th annual Miss United States Pageant, the FBI needs to send somebody undercover as one of the pageant contestants – and to everyone’s surprise, Gracie appears to be the perfect candidate… except for the minor problems of her being about as feminine as Dolph Lundgren. The task of girlifying her falls to the long-suffering coach Victor Melling, who has to teach her how to look, walk, dress, and act like a beauty contestant in an insanely short period of time, while Gracie is tasked with making friends amongst her fellow contestants and figuring out who might want to blow up a beauty pageant and why. Naturally, hilarity ensues on all sides.

On the surface, this movie is a fun little action comedy starring Sandra Bullock as a frazzled brunette, Benjamin “Law and Order” Bratt as her love interest, Candace Bergen as an arrogant bitch pageant coordinator, and Michael Caine as an ambiguously gay beauty pageant coach. This is the closest thing to a chick flick I own, and the makeover story is a hilarious comedy of errors as Gracie tries like hell to “get it”. (Incidentally, I can relate – that shit is complicated) Then I did some digging and found that the movie actually works on two levels. The title is a snarky commentary on the tomboyish, argumentative, rough-and-tumble protagonist, which most people probably get right away. However, I looked into what the Miss Congeniality award actually meant, and discovered something kind of interesting. Gracie Hart hits every single point during the movie. Miss Congeniality is not expected to be a strong contestant, he is expected to make friends and help out her fellow contestants, paying more attention to others than to herself, and to help other contestants avoid disaster. Nice genius bonus, movie.

Miss Congenality‘s cast works well together, their respective personalities bounding off each other in natural and hilarious ways, mainly in the scenes with Gracie socializing with her fellow contestants and trying to overcome her natural FBI instincts and learn what the hell being a girl is all about. The romantic sideplot with Eric is understated and probably mainly due to Bullock and Bratt dating at the time (IIRC), but her rebelling against Victor’s lessons ultimately allows her to adopt her own take on beauty queen-ness without sacrificing her personality and becoming a Barbie Doll. In all, funny moments interspersed with the terrorist subplot made this an effective action-comedy without sacrificing either the action or the comedy.

If you like tight action-comedies built around personality clashes and potential disasters (both of the blowing up kind and the wardrobe malfunction kind), check out Miss Congeniality. It’s a surprisingly clever little comedy about finding a balance between who you are and who you need to be.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

She had no legal education. She’s spent the last six years raising children. Nobody wanted to take her seriously. And she was about to bring a major corporation to its knees.

Erin Brockovich is a biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh about the Hinkley groundwater contamination lawsuit spearheaded by Ms. Brockovich against Pacific Gas & Electric. It stars Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, and Aaron Eckhart.

Erin Brockovich had always had to fight for what she believed in. After two divorces left her raising three kids, she needed a job and decent childcare – all simple things. When another driver runs a red light and plows into her car, she hopes that she might finally get a break, but when she loses her personal injury lawsuit against the doctor driving the other car, she asks her attorney, Ed Masry, to give her a job as compensation for what he had said was a slam dunk case. He gives her work as a file clerk, but when she investigates the inclusion of medical records in a pro bono real estate case involving PG&E, her instincts start telling her that things simply do not add up. When she digs further, she discovers a systematic cover-up of the use of toxic hexavalent chromium, which has leached into the groundwater in Hinckley and has been poisoning the residents for decades, causing numerous health problems. Well, Erin is not going to let this stand just because PG&E has billions at their disposal, and one major corporation is about to learn what happens when you get on the bad side of a tenacious spitfire.

Erin Brockovich’s story is an inspirational one. With no formal legal education, three kids, and the persistence of a pitbull, this woman posed an unexpected threat to the comfortable apathy demonstrated by a huge power company. Everyone knows what it’s like to butt heads with a huge, faceless corporation who would rather stonewall you into going away than address your concerns, whether those concerns be a billing problem or something more serious. Thoughout this film I found myself rooting for her as fate conspired to push her down, and she just got right back up and pushed back harder. There was no stopping her, even when nobody else believed in her. The best part is that, with a few artistic variations, her story is absolutely true. Not only did she kick PG&E in the nuts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, but she has gone on to helm Brockovich Research & Consulting, a consulting firm.

Julia Roberts fares well as Brockovich here, not letting people push her around just because they had all the money. Amusingly, they actually toned down her mode of dress for the movie, making me wonder what the real Erin wore that was more provocative than the see-through blouse and black bra she wears to the office in one scene. While it stretched credulity that a woman with three young children would have a figure like that, some women are just blessed. Albert Finney holds his own as her slightly put-upon boss Ed Masry, trying to explain the way things are and being bewildered at first by her refusal to just accept them. Eventually the two of them meet in the middle as he starts to see the merit in her case and she starts to learn how to use the system to the benefit of the people of Hinckley. Aaron Eckhart adds an unexpected bit of flavor as Brockovich’s next door neighbor/love interest George, only a couple years before he would become a major actor in films like Paycheck and The Core, and overall the entire cast just works well together.

If you want to watch an inspirational underdog story, a true-life legal drama, or just a movie what prominently features Julia Roberts’ cleavage, try Erin Brockovich. You will be cheering her on every step of the way.

Pitch Black (2000)

Man has always been afraid of the dark. From the days when we lived in caves and had to learn to run from or hunt down every scary thing that presented themselves, the dark has a special place in the human lizard-brain as something to fear because of what you can’t see – the horrible nasty things that might be hiding therein, able to see you while you fumble around blindly. Fortunately, we have daytime as a respite from the unknown scary shit. But what if this wasn’t the case – and what if there was something worse with you?

Pitch Black is a science fiction horror film directed by David Twohy and written by Ken and Jim Wheat. It stars Vin “The Fast and the Furious” Diesel, Radha “Phone Booth” Mitchell, Claudia “Farscape” Black, Cole “Good Will Hunting” Hauser, Keith “They Live” David, and Lewis “The Shiralee” Fitz-Gerald.

When the transport ship Hunter-Grautzner passes through the tail of a comet while on autopilot, debris ruptures the hull and kills some of the crew, including the captain. The remaining crew is awakened, and docking pilot Carolyn Fry (Mitchell) crash-lands on a nearby moon, despite nearly dumping the passenger compartment. While many survive, the ship is completely trashed, leaving them stuck on what appears to be a dead, arid desert world, illuminated constantly by three suns. Amongst the passengers is one Richard B. Riddick (Diesel, in his breakout role), a dangerous criminal, who escapes in the crash. While he is running loose, another passenger is killed in a nearby cave, leading the bounty hunter William J. Johns (Hauser) to naturally blame Riddick when he recaptures the latter. A group of the survivors make their way to a nearby geological research station for supplies, and finds water and a spaceship they could use to get escape, though the latter lacks power cells. Everything seems to be going almost fine, until the passengers discover a rather nasty but light-sensitive species living in the caves under the moon’s surface. Good news: Since the moon is in constant sunlight, the dark-loving beasties can’t come out to menace our intrepid heroes. Bad news: In a few days, the moon is going to experience a triple eclipse. That’s right – all three suns will be obscured, a month-long event that occurs every 22 years, which means that, hey, the monsters can come out to play, which rather gruesomely explains what happened to the conspicuously absent research team. Of all the stupid sucky timing…

As the surviving passengers race to get supplies back to the ship, the eclipse begins, and the monsters emerge from the caves and attack. Riddick reveals that he had illegal surgery performed on his eyes while he was locked up in a prison called Butcher Bay to give him perfect night vision – necessary for survival, as the place was basically a deep dark hole – leaving the rest of the passengers dependent upon him to guide them to safety. Johns, however, is still hell-bent on turning in Riddick for the bounty on his head, and the lines between hero, anti-hero, and pure monster become blurred as the shadows close in on all of them…

Pitch Black pretty much flew in under the radar on its original release, and I didn’t even known much about it when I rented it. I hadn’t heard of any of the actors in it, least of all Vin Diesel (who has become a major star). I was overall pleased, though, when I watched it. The overarching plot was simple, focusing almost entirely on their arrival on the moon (apparently called Hades) and the discovery of Very Bad Things there with them, and how they react when they find Yet Another reason to be afraid of the dark. The character of Riddick has since been expanded upon in other media, but here he’s basically That Scary Dude with the right amount of badassery to face off against things that might even be nastier than he is.

And the monsters – variously called bio-raptors or demons (and both terms fit) – are nasty critters. Because light burns them, you only get a few clear looks at them, leaving you to imagine what could have slaughtered all the inhabitants of a research station and apparently everything else on the planet, all the while navigating with eerie whoops and howls like evil dolphins. They are ravenous and tenacious, and while they’re not the brightest monsters I’ve seen, what they lack in smarts they make up for in sheer Eat Your Face factor. Having set up Riddick as a nasty customer himself, the bio-raptors mainly serve to demonstrate that he is not the worst thing the universe can create, not by a long shot.

So, if you’re looking for a good dark, scary movie, check out Pitch Black. While Vin Diesel has since achieved starhood, this movie is a nice look at where he started, and a nice little horror movie in its own right.

Final Destination (2000)

Is it possible to cheat death? Could you avoid a grisly fate if you just had enough warning, a premonition that things were about to go horribly wrong? What if you did? What if you were able to prevent a handful of deaths on the eve of a horrifying disaster? Now, Death’s books must be balanced, and he doesn’t like things to be left untidy. It’s nothing personal. Just business.

Final Destination is an American horror film writted, produced, and directed by James Wong, based on an idea written by Jeffrey Reddick and originally pitched as an episode of The X-Files. It was distributed by New Line Cinema (the House that Freddy Built). It stars Devon “Idle Hands” Sawa, Ali “Heroes” Larter, Kerr “Lucid Days in Hell” Smith, Kristen “Stay Tuned” Cloke, Daniel “The Fugitive” Roebuck, Roger Guenuer “No, that’s not The Rock” Smith, Chad “Disturbing Behavior” Donella, Seann William “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Scott, Amanda “Saving Silverman” Detmer, and Tony “Voice of the Antichrist” Todd.

Alex Browning (Sawa) is about to go on a high school field trip to France with his French class. Shortly after boarding, Alex has a vision of the plane exploding shortly after takeoff (in a terrifying sequence depicted more or less from Alex’s point of view – that is, from inside the fuselage… yeep). He wakes from this nightmare and, finding that events are unfolding just as he saw them in the dream, he appropriately freaks out, screaming that the plane was going to explode. His freakout and the resultant brawl in the aisle gets himself and a handful of others removed from the plane, including French teacher Ms. Lewton (Cloke), jerkass Carter Horton (Smith) and his girlfriend Terry (Detmer), and his friend Tod (Donella). Billy (Scott) is caught out due to being in the airport bathroom, and Clear (Larter) leaves of her own accord, sensing something wrong. Airport security, naturally, takes this thing very seriously, especially after the plane actually explodes as predicted. The survivors are devestated, and two FBI agents (Roebuck and Smith) question them, especially focusing on Alex’s vision.

A month passes before Alex starts to see the darker consequences of his apparently miraculous. As his entire class has heard about the incident, he is treated as a pariah already, so when Tod apparently hangs himself in the bathroom (actually a freak accident) Alex is blamed, bit Clear isn’t so sure. After a brief encounter with the mortician in charge of preparing Tod’s body for burial, Mr. Bludworth (Todd, as himself), Alex and Clear learn that Death has a design – and that Alex has messed up this plan. As a result, Death is trying to set things right by making sure that those that were scheduled to die, do die, by accidental methods as intended. Fortunately, Death still has a pattern, and if Alex figures that if he can figure out this pattern, he might be able to cheat death a second time – but how long can he outrun Death?

Final Destination was a pleasant surprise when I first saw it in theaters. After nearly a decade of unscary gorefests, I was delighted to finally find a horror movie that genuinely put the fear of death in me. Much of the paranoia fuel come in not knowing where or when the deaths would come – and because it’s Death himself stalking the leads, there is literally no escape – if he wants you, he will get you, and it will virtually come out of nowhere. The randomness of the accidents was most believeable (though Ms. Lewton’s death seemed like teabagging after a certain point), and I found myself walking into a room afterwards and subconsciously counting the ways it could kill me. On an interesting note, when I first saw FD in theaters, I was in this state of situational paranoia when I went to drive home, and discovered that it had started pouring down rain during the movie. And I had to drive home in that. Yaaaaay.

Another pleasant surprise was the quality of the acting. While many horror movies I’ve seen feature Bad Bad Acting, the leads were plausible as survivors of one disaster trying to outrun others. Sawa seemed a bit flat at times, but this is easily excusable as residual shell shock. They appeared to be believeable, rounded people, so that even Carter’s increasing douchebaggery when confronted by a threat he couldn’t fight seemd to fit. I felt genuinely bad for Alex as his class and fellow survivors turned on him, but fear does strange things to human nature. Tony Todd, the only actor I recognized during my first viewing, makes a very creepy Mr. Exposition without his scene seeming shoehorned (and he would reprise his role as Bludworth in FD2).

Final Destination was the first movie I’d seen in a long time to genuinely scare rather than simply shock. Therefore, it ranks amongst my favorite horror movies, and I would definitely recommend it for people who want a scary movie that doesn’t rely on gallons of blood to make its point.