2007’s Movies List: #15 and #14

Another double review, but I think from here on out will be full reviews for each movie.

#15: ‘The Fugitive’

It seems like there are so many thrillers coming out these days. I think the model thriller movie is none other than ‘The Fugitive’. This is an early 90’s movie, with less than stellar effects (I can’t believe I didn’t notice years ago just how fake the jump off the dam was-fake body), but an incredible, original storyline. I was also thrilled to realize the editing was good. Harrison Ford stars, and he’s just the right age to play a man who is framed for the murder of his wife, or at least he pleads innocently to it. It doesn’t matter, as the judge finds him guilty and he’s sent off to federal prison. In an interesting twist of events, he ends up escaping custody and he’s off on his own. He’s trying to prove his innocence, but he must also escape being caught so he can afford time to prove his innocence.

That plot idea wouldn’t work so well nowadays because it’s been done before, but never has it been executed so well, or at least from what I’ve seen. The Fugitive has the workings of a great thriller, but perhaps what makes it so watchable is knowing that it’s one of the first that is able to employ so many ideas for chase scenes, and so many escapes. This, of course, is tied into Ford’s character’s journey across the area to show that he didn’t kill his wife.

What we also get is much character development from both Ford’s character, and the police marshal who is charge of tracking him down. That marshal is played by a younger Tommy Lee Jones, though he’s certainly old enough to play his part. Jones’ only Oscar win was for his supporting role in this movie, and by the end, I whole-heartedly loved his character and performance. The actors can act well when there’s a good script to go off of, and this movie is filled with plenty of twists and it can become hard to tell how it’s going to end.

While the ending isn’t anything too spectacular, it’s the characters played by Ford and Jones that make this movie worth watching. And that’s on top of a great storyline, spot-on editing, and the rest of what makes movies worth watching. This movie is downright entertaining, and receives my recommendation despite its age. It may be before all the now modern technology, but the characters and plot will still keep you focused on this one.

#14: ‘Princess Mononoke’

What some consider to be director Hayao Miyazaki’s best achievement is this 1998 anime film about a young man who cannot run from a curse that was put upon him, but he’ll attempt to outrun it. That’s kind of an inaccurate and weird description for this movie, but the movie is filled with such originality that the weirdness emanates from the very things it tries to tell us. Mainly, the story is filled with such fantasical places and characters. You’ll travel to a forest filled with Kodamas who are spirits who perform little except to inhabit the place, a village filled with former prostitutes (that side of the storyline is a bit downplayed in the English version, I think) and meet a woman who rides on a wolf.

The premise of the movie is obviously of fantasy, in what is similar to Lord of the Rings in fashion, but true to Japanese religious ideals of gods and demons. That made it hard for me as a Christian to watch, despite the somewhat over-the-top violence and gore (still managed a PG-13 rating). Still, I think the movie does well in its depiction of humans going at each other, and if anything, shows the costs of doing so. This is somewhat of a disaster movie, though it doesn’t seem to be one until closer to the end. It’s not until one of the characters taps into an ancient god’s power that we see the drastic effects of the being.

Towards the end, the movie becomes a movie trying to find some moral grounds. While I think it’s debatable whether or not we leave the movie learning antyhing new about the life we should lead, I think this movie taps into the human condition very well, as to show us our inequities. The essence of the movie is a cry for change, and while that cry isn’t directed toward the only one who saves, who is Jesus Christ, I’d like to think this movie articulates the kind of flaws we need to see in ourselves. This movie doesn’t dawdle much on minor plot points, but it’s filled with detail, including the animation. Every character is important, and the movie ties itself nicely by telling a story that starts off with little background, but leaves you with much to think about.

Once again, Princess Mononoke, while animation, is not for kids. It’s filled with the kind of violence and gore you’d expect to see in warlike movies that, if depicted in live-action, would be rated R. This movie escapes the R rating for being animated, but it still is not appropriate for children. Also, the subject matter is a bit mature; well it’s nothing to heady, but I think one could easily fall prey to confusion when the movie is filled with so much talk of demons and gods. Regard it as fantasy, and make sure any younger viewers do, too.