Films '96+

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Films of 1997

# Film Title Date Rating Frogs One Word Buy at
1 Sleepers 11 January 1997 85% ****+ Strong Buy!
Sleepers is an unpleasant, harrowing film in places, but it is very good indeed. Starring Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt among others, it relates the tale of four boys growing up in a tough area in New York City who get into trouble and are sent to a reform school. They endure terrible, dehumanising treatment which scars them for life. Years later, they get the chance for revenge... This movie should be seen.
2 Daylight 16 January 1997 60% ***+ Stallone Buy!
Daylight was an entertaining film, but don't expect Shakespeare. If you want an enjoyable, entertaining film with some not-terribly-stressful emotional moments scattered thinly among the thrills, spills and usually-good special effects of explosions and Stallone ever escaping death by a hair's breadth without working up a sweat, it's a good film to go to, and I can certainly recommend it. If you look down on merely entertaining films, you won't enjoy this. See Sleepers instead.
3 Evita 19 January 1997 90% ***** Powerful Buy!
Madonna is brilliant as Eva Peron in this 1996 film of an Andrew Loydd Webber musical; and I say that as someone who dislikes Madonna usually. Antonio Banderas was also exceptionally good in his rather symbolic part in the film. With hardly a word but sung, it is almost more an opera than a musical. A lot of the songs have been re-worked and I believe some of the songs are new for the movie. Fans of musicals must see this film, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. See it.
4 Extreme Measures 2 February 1997 70% **** Ethics Buy!
Extreme Measures was an enjoyable film. It was a pretty good thriller with a reasonably good plot. While it was not outstandingly good, it was decidedly better than average. Gene Hackman was perfectly cast in the role of the doctor throwing ethics to the wind for his concept of what was right.
5 Ransom 9 February 1997 90% ***** Outrage Buy!
Ransom is a very good thriller with a well-developed plot, good action sequences, and clever details. What is most notable, however, is the excellent acting in the roles of the main characters. Mel Gibson leaves no doubt that he is the star of this film, however René Russo, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo also give truly excellent performances. Without giving away the plot, Gary Sinise is very cleverly cast as the character Jimmy Shaker in the film.
6 Michael 22 February 1997 80% ****+ Spirit Buy!
Michael was a very enjoyable stroll through a few days in the lives of a group of people who's lives were brightened by the appearance of an angel, Michael, played by John Travolta. A very different kind of angel, Michael nonetheless brings happiness to the people around him. A really good cast, headed by John Travolta and closely followed by William Hurt and Andie MacDowell, and Robert Pastorelli, along with a plot and script full of humour, life, and love makes this film well worth seeing.
7 Mars Attacks! 2 March 1997 85% ****+ Zany Buy!
Mars Attacks! was brilliant. It was weird, zany, and hillarious. It had a good if not totally original plot, with lots of great effects, and a wonderful cast. The people who did the casting for this movie deserve an Oscar!!! The cast includes an amazing line-up of stars including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, and such lesser known stars as Christina Applegate. Oh yes... and who could forget Mr. It's Not Unusual himself, Tom Jones. This is an absolute must-see!
8 Jerry Maguire 14 March 1997 75% **** Charming Buy!
A romantic comedy which offers a charming, heart-warming story with many funny moments. The acting was convincing and the casting perfect. Tom Cruise went up greatly in my estimation, as an actor, in the course of this film. Renee Zellweger, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Lipnicki, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jay Mohr, and all the other actors and actresses in major rôles gave admirable performances.
9 Star Wars 22 March 1997 90% ***** Masterpiece Buy!
George Lucas' ground-breaking Science Fiction masterpiece once again released on the big screen for fans of all ages to appreciate ... but this time the way Lucas really wanted it to be seen, and with several extra scenes he was unable to put into the initial release due to time and monetary constraints. It did not disappoint! Star Wars, a Science Fiction fairytale of the grandest sort, has lost nothing of its charm in the intervening 20 years. The extra scenes added some important insights into the storyline running through episodes IV, V, and VI (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), and the whole film was more impressive due to the digital remastering, and improved special effects. A must see, but you knew that already.
10 Dante's Peak 28 March 1997 70% **** Cataclysm Buy!
The disaster movie is one which finds mixed feelings among the movie-going public. Dante's Peak was a good, enjoyable film which had a plot, even if it was not the most original. The effects were astonishingly good! The acting was good, with a well chosen cast lead by Pierce Brosnan as the USGS (United States Geological Survey) vulcanologist sent to investigate possible instabilities in a dormant volcano sheltering a picturesque American town. Inevitably, things start to go wrong...
11 Romeo + Juliet 5 April 1997 70% **** Devotion Buy!
Shakespeare's classic romantic tragedy is mostly done justice in this cinematic rendition. Although some unnecessary minor changes were introduced pointlessly, some of the changes were reasonable enough, and sometimes quite cleverly done. Overall, it was a good film with some humour introduced over and above the silver-tongued but somewhat bitter quips of Mercutio in the bard's script. The great passionate but innocent romance and devotion of Romeo and Juliet, is well protrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Casting is good all round. A good film worth seeing.
12 The Empire Strikes Back 11 April 1997 95% ***** Epic Buy!
The Empire Strikes Back was better than I have ever seen it before -- far, far better. I had considered it to be the weakest of the three films, but my memory had fooled me. It was significantly more captivating than Star Wars. This film must be seen on the big screen to really be appreciated.
13 Metro 19 April 1997 55% *** Unoriginal Buy!
While the three people who went to see Metro with me all tended towards a review of 'mediocre', I thought it was an enjoyable enough if rather unoriginal cop thriller. Certainly no new ideas here, but not too bad.
14 The People vs. Larry Flynt 23 April 1997 85% ****+ Rights Buy!
While I wasn't sure beforehand what to expect going into this film, I was glad I did go to see it. It was very good indeed. The acting from all the actors/actresses in major rôles was excellent. Woody Harelson shows a lot more talent than he is usually given the opportunity to, and Edward Norton was very good indeed as Larry's lawyer, Alan Isaacman. It is a film which shows the multidimensionality of a person who would normally be seen as one-dimensional.
15 Return of the Jedi 25 April 1997 95% ***** Galactic Buy!
The third (in the order of their making) of the Star Wars films was as brilliant and as entertaining as ever. With not a moment of dullness in the story, it is a rollercoaster ride through the galaxy of Lucas' mind filled with the characters we know and love. Need I even mention that you must see this?
16 Liar, Liar 2 May 1997 80% ****+ Side-splitting Buy!
I'd heard mixed opinions of this film, but the trailers were hillarious, so I went along. If you like Jim Carrey, you will love "Liar, Liar" (I'm pretty damned sure there's a comma in there despite the Internet Movie Database's using "Liar Liar" as the title). If you are not a Jim Carrey fan, you probably won't like it. The audience at the showing I went to (opening night) loved it, however. In my experience, people either love or hate Jim Carrey. I don't think either he or the characters he plays are people you can sort of like, or think are "Ok". This is probably the best Carrey movie yet, surpassing both Dumb & Dumber, and Ace Ventura.
17 Shine 3 May 1997 85% ****+ Expectations Buy!
Shine is the story of a boy musically gifted, specifically at playing the piano, and his father who pushes him so hard to win competitions, and be the best that he is driven to nervous breakdown. His father rules with an iron fist in the family home, and is obeyed out of fear. The story follows his life, both before and after leaving the family home in Australia, developing his character and that of his father, as well as many incidental characters to a somewhat lesser extent, very well indeed. Geoffrey Rush's performance as the adult David Helfgott is well deserving of the Oscar he won for it. This is a must see.
18 The English Patient 9 May 1997 75% **** Loss Buy!
Having meant to go to see this film for ages, but there always being something else on I wanted more to see, I finally went to see The English Patient. It was very good, and is worth seeing, but I have seen films that I enjoyed more this year. It was perhaps a little overly long, but if so only marginally so. Acting was very good, and it had a fairly strong plot. The cinematography was excellent.
19 Scream 16 May 1997 90% ***** Murderous! Buy!
Scream is a parody on a par with the very best. It goes through all the formula horror plots in the space of 2 hours, but always there is a twist to throw us off, and often to make us laugh. I am not someone who habitually watches horror movies, however I've seen enough to know the sameness of them; repetitive, unoriginal plots ... seen one, seen them all. Scream parodies this genre as only a maker of the serious (at least as their intention) kind could. Be ready to be truly scared, however. The reason this parody works so well is that it really is a horror movie, but one with a difference! This movie will keep you guessing as to who is the killer, constantly leaving you in the dark (metaphorically, naturally!). Right up until practically the end, I guarantee you, your guesses will be wrong.
20 Beavis & Butt-head Do America 23 May 1997 70% **** Cornholio! Buy!
I have never bothered watching Beavis & Butt-head on TV, but the film was really very funny indeed, and well worth seeing. What else can you say about Beavis & Butt-head?
21 The Relic 31 May 1997 70% **** Frightening Buy!
The Relic is a good suspense-thriller-alien-or-mutated-life-form-rampage movie. It's a bit like Alien or Aliens in a Natural History museum. The effects were good, the action impressive, and the atmosphere fearful. As films of this genre go, it is excellent. The gore levels were perhaps a little higher than necessary, but that is the nature of the beast (no pun intended).
22 Con Air 6 June 1997 70% **** Cagey Buy!
Con Air is a good, fun action thriller. Nicholas Cage, as in The Rock, makes a very good unlikely/unwilling hero, and the film has many funny moments to enhance its enjoyability. Worth seeing.
23 The Fifth Element 14 June 1997 90% ***** Bizarre Buy!
... bizarre and brilliant! This big budget European-made movie rivals any Holywood-made Sci-Fi movie in all departments. The story is original, and the plot is not full of holes as is often the case. It has an almost comic-book style -- in story, set/costume design, and cinematography. It's full of action. It's full of humour. It's full of aliens and evil and heroism. The Fifth Element is one of the most colourful, metaphorically and literally, that I have seen in a long time. You must see this movie! (So good that I went to see it again on 18/6/97!)
24 The Devil's Own 21 June 1997 15% * Pathetic Buy!
Thin on plot. Detatched from reality.
25 Batman & Robin 27 June 1997 30% ** Cringeworthy Buy!
The best thing about Batman & Robin was the Gotham city architecture, which was gothic brought to its logical extreme and twisted into a comic book style. The problem was that otherwise the film was pretty bad. The script, especially the dialogue, was terrible. Arnie didn't give his rôle his best, and I don't really blame him, as the character didn't really give any possibility for making anything of it. Alicia Silverstone should probably stick to being a model or whatever it is she normally does, because acting doesn't seem to be her forte. Basically, a thumbs down to this film.
26 The Chamber 28 June 1997 65% ***+ Racism Buy!
The Chamber is a John Grisham novel, made into a film, about racism in Mississippi, about an old man on death row for a crime committed many years ago as a member of the Klan. While not Grisham's best book, it was good all the same as a book, and this film was surprisingly close to the book (from my imperfect memory of it -- I read it quite a while ago). It was, in my opinion, a good movie and well worth seeing.
27 One Fine Day 4 July 1997 60% ***+ Amusing Buy!
George Clooney suited the part of the mischeivous, childish (but likeable) ex-husband charged with minding his daughter while his ex goes on her honeymoon. Michelle Pfeiffer was very good (as usual) as a single mother bringing up a child who can't stay out of trouble for five minutes. Pfeiffer and Clooney's characters go through the slightly cliche friction/hate/dislike when they meet, hurt in previous relationship and unwilling to enter into another, to romantic ending sequence, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
28 The Lost World: Jurassic Park 21 July 1997 90% ***** Excitement Buy!
The Lost World was, in my opinion and in those of the people I went to it with, even better than the first movie, Jurassic Park. While it clung only very tentatively to the book, it was all the same very entertaining with plenty of marauding dinosaurs, a reasonably good plot, and good casting of the lead rôles, such as Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, etc. Worth seeing, especially if you liked the first one and/or are a Michael Crichton fan!
29 Men in Black 1 August 1997 90% ***** Interplanetary Buy!
A wonderful sci-fi comedy! If you (unlike FBI agents, according to K) have a sense of humour, you must see this -- MiB gets a definite thumbs up!
30 Bean 8 August 1997 80% ****+ Chaos! Buy!
Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie was hillarious! Mr. Bean as usual causing utter chaos everywhere he goes, destroying things, ruining people's lives, and all in the craziest manner possible. If you are a Bean fan, you will love this movie. If you're not, it's time to become one!
31 Swingers 9 August 1997 80% ****+ Quirky Buy!
Swingers is a rather unusual and, as the "One Word" description says, quirky comedy about a guy lamenting the end of a 6 year relationship six months past who's friends decide that he needs to get himself out of his depression and get a life. Some unusual filming, an originl plot, and some reservoir dogs references put the icing on the cake for this one.
32 Speed 2: Cruise Control 15 August 1997 60% ***+ Action Buy!
While not quite as good as the first one, Speed 2 was a fairly enjoyable action movie. Sandra Bullock and 'that guy with the car' (this time he has a boat) are about the only cast remaining the same, with a new lunatic boyfriend stepping into Keanu's shoes.
33 Grosse Pointe Blank 17 August 1997 95% ***** Brilliant Buy!
This is a truly original film. Brilliant, inspired -- this is the best film I have seen this year. Unmissable!
34 Event Horizon 22 August 1997 55% *** Bizarre... Buy!
Event Horizon is more horror than Sci-Fi. It's one of the strangest films I've ever seen. If you have a weak heart, or are at all squeamish, this is not the film for you (I'm not sure it was the film for me). It's a film that'll leave you on edge for the evening, and it is often very unpleasant. It's not a film I would recommend highly -- I would not recommend it at all without reservations.
35 Albino Alligator 24 August 1997 35% ** Monotonous Buy!
I prefer Kevin Spacey as an actor. This, his debut as director was quite a let-down. It was slow, with precious little in the way of a plot. While the character interactions were interesting at times, there was very little else with which to credit this movie.
36 Conspiracy Theory 30 August 1997 80% ****+ They Buy!
Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts star in this film about a taxi driver, publisher of a newsletter called Conspiracy Theory, who, in a twist of fate to prove rather bad for his health, manages to pinch a nerve with one of his stories... but he doesn't know which one! The film is very enjoyable, with some humourous moments (as can be expected from any film starring Mel Gibson). Great fun, and highly recommended!
37 Night Falls on Manhattan 5 September 1997 75% **** Ethics Buy!
Night Falls on Manhattan is a film about a young lawyer (Andy Garcia) who has pulled himself up from nothing, financing his way through college by working as a cop. He joins the masses of new ADAs (Assistant District Atourneys) in NYC, and has a case far beyond what he is due given to him by the DA who fears his highest ranking assistant is trying to oust him from his position and take it for himself. The case involves a drug dealer who shot several cops, including Garcia's character's father, killing two. Anyway, not to give any more of the plot away... suffice to say that the case makes his career. He discovers that his morals/ethics are harder to stick to at the top with pressures opposing them from all directions.
38 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 14 September 1997 80% ****+ Groovy! Buy!
One of the most ludicrous films I've seen in quite a long time, Austin Powers is well worth seeing, especially if you're familiar with Bond films, and 60's spy series. Mike Meyers played both the white-cat-stroking villain, and the blue velvet suit-wearing Austin Powers with the bad teeth, terrible hairdo, and overactive libido. Overall, excellent but very very weird. Something along the lines of Casino Royale; the spoof Bond film starring David Niven et al.
39 Air Force One 18 September 1997 65% ***+ Dramatic Buy!
Air Force One is an enjoyable action-filled thriller starring Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, among others. It's occasionally a bit silly, to the extent that it caused laughter in the audience, but overall a fun (if not exactly requiring any thought or, indeed, any brain activity whatsoever) movie, in my opinion worth seeing.
40 Contact 27 September 1997 85% ****+ 2001-ish :) Buy!
Contact was around 2 and a half hours long, longer than the average film by about 45 minutes, but well worth it!!! If you are anything other than a luddite stick-in-the-mud technophobe, you will almost certainly enjoy this movie. It's a story of epic proportions, and while some have said that it is slow at some points in the middle, I think it is the way it is because to be any other way would be to compromise the storyline. Overall, an excellent movie. See it!
41 My Best Friend's Wedding 4 October 1997 35% ** Uninspired Buy!
The premise could theoretically have given an interesting, funny film, however it did not. The plot was uninteresting, Julia Roberts' acting was atrocious, and the jokes/funny moments stood out despite their pallor due to their being so scarce. A disappointing film.
42 The Game 11 October 1997 97% ***** Chaos Buy!
The Game, starring Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, et al, is one of the most original films I've ever seen. I won't even attempt to describe it, as it really must be seen to be appreciated. If you do not experience this film (and it truly is an experience), you will never know what you've missed!!!
43 The Peacemaker 25 October 1997 65% ***+ Action Buy!
Good old mindless action-packed, effect-packed fun. Not a lot else, but fun all the same. Not bad acting from Clooney and Kidman (perhaps somewhat surprisingly), and a good performance from the slightly-Jeremy-Irons-ish chip-on-the-shoulder-bearing Eastern European bad guy.
44 L.A. Confidential 31 October 1997 85% ****+ Underworld Buy!
L.A. Confidential is quite a change from run-of-the-mill every-day movies. It's a story of the cops and crime bosses of L.A. earlier this century. L.A. Confidential has a cast with few big stars (excepting the brilliant Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Kim Basinger), but lots of great actors/actresses. It is well worth seeing!
45 Face/Off 7 November 1997 85% ****+ Stylised Buy!
If you are a Travolta/Cage/Woo fan, this movie is obviously a must see. It contained classic Woo stylised gun battles and lots of nice camera work. Travolta and Cage were as always very good, and Cage... ur... Travolta... ur... Cage... um... ok, whatever... the evil bad guy (amusingly called Castor Troy, who has a brother named Pollux!) is a particularly flamboyant, multi-dimensional (despite being single-minded) character. The plot, while being mostly good, is occasionally a little thin on the ground, thus the slightly lower than might have been suggested by the rest of this review rating.
46 G.I. Jane 15 November 1997 70% **** Determination Buy!
Despite the scathing review in Empire magazine, I decided I'd go along to see Ridley Scott's latest offering. I was pleasantly surprised. It was better than Empire claimed. While Demi Moore doesn't exactly fit the part of a special forces type, it was otherwise an enjoyable if not terribly intellectually challenging movie (It'd be pretty boring if every movie was intellectually challenging). Worth seeing, in my opinion.
47 The Full Monty 21 November 1997 85% ****+ Alternative Buy!
A comedy with quite a difference... I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it, but I'd heard nothing but good reviews so decided I would. It was a good descision. The Full Monty is not slapstick unsubtle comedy. There is a serious side to the film: the lives of the out-of-work men at the centre of the film and their families and friends. It is, however, hillariously funny on many an occasion. Well worth 4 or 5 quid.
48 Nothing to Lose 22 November 1997 80% ****+ Carefree Buy!
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be really very good indeed. Tim Robbins at his funniest with a great script and very good supporting cast. While not being totally unpredicatable, it was fairly original and plot twists surprised me several times. Well worth seeing if you're game for a laugh. The movie has a web site at
49 Alien Resurrection 28 November 1997 85% ****+ Alien Buy!
Alien Resurrection is a worthy member of the Alien series. Where Alien 3 was mediocre, Alien Resurrection, the fourth Alien movie, was exciting, full of great effects, and had a much more involving story. It is more like Aliens than it is Alien. It's an action Sci-Fi thriller. Very well worth seeing, especially if you're an Alien(s) fan. Have a look at the web site if you like before you go.
50 Cop Land 6 December 1997 65% ***+ Corruption Buy!
A movie about cops, corruption, and the fight for justice. Purely fictional to the best of my knowledge and, taken as being so, a fairly good movie.
51 Tomorrow Never Dies 12 December 1997 90% ***** Bond Buy!
Tomorrow Never Dies is classic Bond. Pierce Brosnan plays the inimitable 007 masterfully. Need I say more? See it! Oh, yeah... there's a web site too.

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