#343. Jon Turteltaub

If you grew up in the 1990’s, it’s likely you’d recognize the work of director Jon Turteltaub, but not his name. While Turteltaub hasn’t been as prolific as say, Steven Spielberg, he had many hits that defined our childhood. Even as we grew up, we would eventually turn to films made in the timeframe of the 90’s and think, “Huh . . . that was pretty good.” I am sure there are other directors for other generations who made films that defined their formative years, but for the Xennials (the group between Generation X and the Millennials), Jon Turteltaub is certainly a strong candidate. Part of this was due to his connection to Disney at the time, directing many films aimed at the children of the 90’s. Even the less Disney-esque films he directed were still distributed via a Disney subsidiary. This week’s two films highlight two ends of Jon Turtletaub’s directing career.

National TreasureNational Treasure
Year: 2004
Rating: PG
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

While Turteltaub’s career has veered mostly toward television pilots recently, with shows like JerichoHarper’s IslandCommon Law, and Rush Hour holding his focus, he still occasionally directs films. With Disney’s The Kid (2000) capping off his 1990’s films, the rise of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise revealed that audiences had an appetite for action and adventure that Disney wanted to immediately grab hold of. Shortly after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Disney tasked Jon Turteltaub to direct National Treasure (2004). A few years later, he would also helm the sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets(2007). While there was no third film in this franchise, Turteltaub and Nicholas Cage would eventually team up again for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010).

Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage) has spent his life searching for a treasure allegedly hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States. While his father, Patrick (Jon Voight), is skeptical that the treasure exists, he is surprised to find his son on his doorstep with the Declaration of Independence and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) from the National Archives. Ben ended up stealing the original document when the search led his partner, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), to suggest that they steal the Declaration to find the next clue in the puzzle. Sensing Ian’s ulterior motives, Ben took the Declaration first and, with his father’s help, finds the next clue to locating the treasure. The ensuing cat and mouse chase lead the group across the east coast, eventually arriving at Trinity Church in New York City. With Patrick as Ian’s hostage, Ben has to decide: save his father, or give up the treasure?

Cool RunningsCool Runnings
Year: 1993
Rating: PG
Length: 98 minutes / 1.63 hours

Some people might have liked the campy 3 Ninjas (1992), Turteltaub really didn’t hit his stride until the next year, when Cool Runnings (1993) was released. Of course, that could just be my nostalgia talking. Either way, many people have considered it a good movie. Shortly afterward, Turteltaub directed such hits as While You Were Sleeping (1995) and Phenomenon (1996), showing that he could direct films that weren’t necessarily aimed at Disney’s target demographic. That being said, these films were still made under the wider “Walt Disney Studios” brand via Buena Vista Pictures. One does wonder if his association with Disney helped these films become the cult classics they are today. Some of his more recent, non-Disney films, like Last Vegas (2013), have done all right, but time will tell if his upcoming film, Meg (2018) will stand up over time like his work in the 1990’s has.

Failing to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics, Derice Bannock (Leon Robinson) is upset that he can’t compete as a runner for his home country of Jamaica. Not letting the incident get him down, he seeks out a different route to the Olympics: bobsledding. If Derice can’t make it to the Summer Olympics, he is committed to competing in the Winter Olympics instead. Finding former bobsled gold medalist, Irv Blitzer (John Candy), Derice gathers a team of runners and manages to scrape together the cash to sponsor their team. Once at Calgary, nobody takes the team from the Caribbean seriously, including some of the team members themselves. After a last-place showing on the first day of competition, the four Jamaican bobsledders find their groove and start to advance in the rankings. With the potential for a medal on the line, will their old and used bobsled hold up long enough to get them across the finish line?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 terrific Turteltaub movies

Bacon #: 2 (Cool Runnings (directed) / John Candy -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

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#342. History Hunters

We cannot predict the future, but we can certainly study the past in excruciating detail. Some items of significance from the past are recognized for what they are immediately after they have gained a spot in the annals of history. And yet, there are many instances where these precious historical artifacts are lost. Sometimes these items are lost on purpose, to protect the power they yield. Other times they’re misplaced via upheavals that change the social structure of the world. Regardless of how these historical items are lost, there are people out there who hunt the lost history to better understand our modern world. These individuals might not be archeologists, like symbology professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) in The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels & Demons (2009), and Inferno (2016), but they all understand the importance of history. This week’s two films highlight some “history hunters.”

Raiders of the Lost ArkRaiders of the Lost Ark
Year: 1981
Rating: PG
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours

Because history isn’t always written down, we often need to turn to archeologists to dig up the past. While the artifacts recovered don’t tell the whole story, they can lead to an inference of the lives of the people who once used them. Regarding famous Hollywood archeologists, none come closer than the adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). For his first appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), he was able to find and recover the Ark of the Covenant. While the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) wasn’t about any historical object, the next film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) found the Holy Grail (albeit a different interpretation than the one in The Da Vinci Code). I can only hope that after the non-historical Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Indy will find a historical artifact in the fifth installment due out in 2020.

Adventurer and archeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has traveled the world in search of rare and significant items. While he came home empty-handed from Peru, two men from the government have another mission for him. As it turns out, a mentor of his is being tracked by the Nazis because they believe he holds a key piece to an item known as the “Staff of Ra.” When Jones arrives in Nepal and finds his friend has died, he manages to obtain the item in question and heads to Cairo. Upon finding the Nazi dig site, Indy realizes they’re digging in the wrong spot because they only have half of the information on the Staff of Ra. With full knowledge of the artifact, Jones finds where the Ark is actually buried but is thwarted by the Nazis who trap him in a tomb and take the Ark away. Escaping from his predicament, Indiana Jones catches up with the Nazis just as they are about to test the powerful artifact.

National TreasureNational Treasure
Year: 2004
Rating: PG
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

While Americans do appreciate history, there hasn’t been much of it in the United States when compared to other regions of the world. In fact, as we’ve seen in The Monuments Men (2014), we will go out of our way during a time of war to protect the art and history of Europe as the Nazi menace looms overhead. Still, this doesn’t mean America is completely devoid of historical artifacts, it merely means most of them have been documented. Because of this, the undocumented history is certainly more interesting to pursue. Since the secretive society of the Masons helped found the United States, there have always been rumors of Masonic treasures buried under government buildings. National Treasure (2004) takes this idea and runs with it, following up these adventures with National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) a few years later.

With only the single clue of “The secret lies with Charlotte” guiding his way to a fabled Masonic treasure, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage) sets out on an expedition to the Arctic to uncover a ship with the same name. When he finds a pipe with a clue that suggests the next piece of the puzzle is on the back of the Declaration of Independence, his partner, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), suggests they steal the famous document. The two men go their different ways, which leads Ben to go to Washington D.C. to warn the authorities of the robbery attempt. Because they don’t believe him, he takes matters into his own hands, stealing the document himself. The next few clues lead him to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Trinity Church in New York City. The whole time, Ian is hot on Ben’s trail, eventually leveraging Ben’s father as a hostage. Will Ben give up a chance at treasure to save his dad?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 history hunters

#341. Harrison Ford

If you don’t know who Harrison Ford is, then you’ve likely never seen any number of successful and timeless classics. While Ford has been in many thrillers and dramas, including Best Picture nominees American Graffiti (1973), The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now! (1979), Witness (1985) (wherein he obtained his one and only Best Actor Oscar nomination), and The Fugitive (1993), he is perhaps best known for his leading roles in such franchises as Star Wars and Indiana Jones (both of which also obtained Best Picture nominations over the years). He’s so recognizable that it’s sometimes shocking to find his appearance altered in movies like 42 (2013), only to eventually recognize that trademark smirk and gravelly voice and know that it’s really Harrison Ford. This week’s two films highlight some of the best roles of Harrison Ford.

Blade RunnerBlade Runner
Year: 1982
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

The sci-fi genre has been kind to Harrison Ford, offering him many memorable roles throughout the years. Not only has Han Solo from Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) been placed as #14 on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 50 heroes, but the role has been repeated by Ford in the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), and The Force Awakens (2015). While Han Solo is certainly iconic, Ford doesn’t bring him into his other roles, like Colonel Hyrum Graff in Ender’s Game (2013), thus showing he has a certain amount of range when it comes to his sci-fi characters. Of course, some of this is dictated by the movie itself. The cyberpunk-inspired Blade Runner (1982), and its sequel, Blade Runner 2049 (2017), have a darker tone than his other sci-fi roles, and he adapts the character of Rick Deckard to fit the theme.

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is put on task as a Blade Runner to track down four androids who have recently arrived on Earth. Androids aren’t allowed on Earth, having been relegated to the outer worlds of the human empire, so their presence in Los Angeles is illegal. While most androids can be identified via an “emotion test” known as the “Voight-Kampff,” some of these newer models have figured out how to outsmart it. With this added challenge, Rick manages to find these androids as they search for their “maker,” Tyrell Corporation founder Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel). Along the way, Rick learns from the androids’ leader, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), that they want to live longer than the four-year lifespan the androids have been given. As sentience and humanity become increasingly ambiguous, Rick continues to fulfill his duties as a Blade Runner and eliminate the android threats.

Raiders of the Lost ArkRaiders of the Lost Ark
Year: 1981
Rating: PG
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours

George Lucas really liked working with Harrison Ford. Not only was he cast in Star Wars, but he was also included in Lucas’ breakout film, American Graffiti (1973). Obviously, Ford made an impression, because he was eventually given the titular role of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). A role he went on to repeat in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). It’s no wonder that Indiana Jones was placed at #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 50 heroes, only bested by Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Time will tell if the fifth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise will recreate the magic of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it hopefully isn’t as bad as Crystal Skull, which almost feels serious next to the camp of Cowboys & Aliens (2011).

After a failed expedition in Peru, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) returns to his academic job at Marshall College where he teaches archaeology. Following one of his lectures, two men from Army Intelligence approach Dr. Jones and inform him of a plot by the Nazis to obtain the fabled Ark of the Covenant. They want him to go to Egypt to try and find this artifact before the enemy does. After a short stop in Nepal to recover a piece of the Staff of Ra, Jones makes his way to Egypt and uses his archeological knowledge to find the Ark amongst a Nazi excavation site. Unfortunately, the Nazis intercept Jones and take the Ark away, leaving him in a pit of snakes. Using some ingenuity, Jones escapes and intercepts the Nazis again, but fails to stop them from testing the artifact. Fortunately, the power of the Ark is too much for the Nazis to handle and Jones manages to safely return it to the United States.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Harrison Ford roles

Bacon #: 2 (Apocalypse Now! / Robert Duvall -> Jayne Mansfield’s Car / Kevin Bacon)

#340. Ridley Scott

While some directors have found success in a single genre, others have perfected their craft so well that they can find success in multiple genres. Ridley Scott has directed many successful and memorable films over the years, which is practically a testament to his prolific repertoire as much as it is his artistic vision. It can be difficult to nail down what his greatest successes are in order to pigeonhole him into a genre. His science fiction films have been iconic, but he’s also received critical acclaim for historical pieces. From dark fantasies (Legend (1985)) to modern heist comedies (Thelma & Louise (1991) and Matchstick Men (2003)), Ridley Scott has done them all. This week’s two films highlight some of the early successes in Ridley Scott’s directing career.

AlienAlien
Year: 1979
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

After his directorial debut with The Duellists (1977), Scott transitioned from historical drama to sci-fi/horror. It is significant to note that, while Scott did not direct the direct sequels of Alien (1979) (a task given to James Cameron and David Fincher), he did retake the helm when it came time to reboot the series via the prequel films that started with Prometheus (2014). With the original director back in control, Alien: Covenant (2017) helped to continue the revitalization of the Alien franchise. Of course, with this much experience in directing plots set on alien worlds, it’s no wonder that his adaptation of The Martian (2015) also gained him a nomination for Best Picture. Sure, his historical epic, Gladiator (2000), actually won Best Picture, but since he didn’t also produce it, he only received a nomination for Best Director for his efforts.

On the distant planet of LV-426, the crew of the Nostromo finds themselves the unwitting victims of the greed of their corporate benefactors. They soon learn the distress signal from the planet was a trap and now one of their crew has been incapacitated by a face-hugging alien. After the alien falls off of its own accord, an alien burst out of the crew member’s chest and runs away to hide in the ship. Picking off each member of the squad, one-by-one, the rapidly matured alien is now on course to return to Earth, thanks to the android who was following the orders of the company that employs the Nostromo. As the only survivor, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) arms herself to confront the indestructible beast loose on her ship. Few options remain for Ripley as she tries to escape while at the same time destroying the horrific alien.

Blade RunnerBlade Runner
Year: 1982
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

A mere three years after Alien was released, Scott knocked it out of the park again with Blade Runner (1982). Many hold his “Director’s Cut” of the film to be the best version, clearly showing his vision for the movie was better than the one Warner Brothers wanted to sell. Much like Alien, he left the sequel to Blade Runner in another director’s (eventually) capable hands. Even so, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is incredible, but still misses the spark of the Ridley Scott original. After all, Blade Runner was groundbreaking for its set design, a trend seen throughout Scott’s other films. Whether it’s Biblical Egypt in Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) or the streets of Somalia in Black Hawk Down (2001), Ridley Scott takes us to these locations and immerses us in the settings, even if they’re in a future not yet arrived, like in Blade Runner.

In the year 2019, android technology has become so advanced that it is near impossible to tell the difference between them and normal humans. Because these androids often act up, Blade Runners are employed to “retire” the robots and keep humanity safe. While many androids have a short lifespan, some of them are looking to extend their life. One such android is Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who has assembled a team of androids and returned to Earth to “meet their maker,” so to speak. Consequently, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is put to the task of being the Blade Runner to take out these androids. He soon learns that the standard emotional tests to distinguish androids aren’t sufficient, and must use his skills as a former police officer to track down these androids and prevent them from killing any more people.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 superb Ridley Scott movies

Bacon #: 2 (Prometheus (directed) / Michael Fassbender -> X-Men: First Class / Kevin Bacon)

#339. Alien vs. Predator

Which came first, the Predator or the Xenomorph egg? It’s almost weird to me how these two sci-fi/horror franchises have become inexorably linked over the years. If anything, it’s to the credit of 20th Century Fox to combine these two successful franchises together, even if the films that result from the crossover aren’t that great. Sure, each franchise has great and mediocre entries in their canon, but both franchises’ worst are better than the best film of their combined universe. Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) were both critically panned, but fortunately this has not detracted from the popularity of either franchise. While the idea of combining the Alien and Predator antagonists originally started as an idea in a graphic novel, the idea of a crossover is hardly new. Regardless, this week’s two films highlight the origin films from the respective Alien and Predator franchises.

PredatorPredator
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

Despite not being nearly as prolific or as critically acclaimed as its Alien counterpart, the Predator franchise is still an essential piece of popular culture. Perhaps the reason the franchise hasn’t been taken seriously is due to the overt machismo that characterized Predator (1987). It’s even harder to take the franchise seriously when the Predator is integrated with our society, as seen in Predator 2 (1990) when the titular character comes to Los Angeles to do its killing. Recently, there has been a bit of a revival, with the Predators (2010) reboot, which added some more interest to the characters than just the meathead military guys from the original. Time will tell if this year’s The Predator (2018) will help bring the franchise into relevance, or if it will be the detonator on the nuclear device to kill the franchise for good.

Deep in the jungle of Val Verde, a spacecraft lands and releases its pilot into the dense surroundings. While a team led by CIA operative George Dillon (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are in the jungle to recover some stolen documents, they soon find that a team of Army Special Forces who went in ahead of them was brutally murdered. Unbeknownst to them, the “murderer” is still on the loose, and starts tracking the group of trained military men. One-by-one, the members of the team are picked off by the alien known as a “Predator,” a being who hunts dangerous creatures for sport. Eventually, the only remaining member of the team is Dillon, but he has determined that the Predator can only see in infrared, thus saving him from a potential conflict. Using the ingenuity of man, Dillon sets up a series of traps and is able to take down the Predator. Unfortunately, the Predator has one last trick up its sleeve.

AlienAlien
Year: 1979
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

In 1979, Alien was a hallmark film for both the horror and sci-fi genres. Not only is the eponymous Alien the 14th best villain of all time, according to the American Film Institute, but the sequel, Aliens (1986) practically improved on the original. It’s no wonder there are almost twice as many Alien films as there are Predator ones. Of course, Alien³ (1992) failed to deliver, and Alien: Resurrection (1997) did little to boost the franchise. When Ridley Scott, the director of the original Alien film, decided to revive the franchise with a set of prequel films, he succeeded in bringing the magic back to the franchise’s roots, but still falling somewhat short of the groundbreaking appeal of the original. Even with Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017) being moderate successes, there’s a chance that a future film would blow the whole franchise out the airlock into the icy vacuum of space.

In response to an emergency beacon on an alien world, the starship Nostromo lands on LV-426 to investigate. While there, the crew discovers the skeleton of a giant alien that appeared to be killed by something erupting from its chest. When they find a chamber full of enormous eggs, one of the eggs opens, and a creature attaches itself to the face of one of the crew members. Returning to the ship, the rest of the team helps to discover that this “facehugger” has highly corrosive blood. Fortunately, it dies after releasing its hold on the crew member. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, an alien creature bursts from his chest and skitters away to hide in the vents of the ship. Now the crew suddenly find themselves up against an alien threat that their company actually wants them to bring back to Earth. Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the last surviving member of the crew, and it’s up to her to kill this monster.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 man-killing monsters

#338. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Perhaps one of the most recognizable action heroes of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many talents. Of course, these skills usually evolve over time. From his days as an award-winning bodybuilder, he used this physique to enter the realm of Hollywood and portray other, similarly built characters. From his first role in 1969 as Hercules in Hercules in New York, his muscles and accented speech patterns have defined his acting career. Once he became older, and his muscle-bound machismo didn’t fit in the action movies anymore, he turned to politics, becoming the governor of California and holding that position for almost a decade. Despite somewhat moving on from acting in films, he still occasionally appears in them, albeit as a bit of a parody of his previous performances. This week’s two films highlight some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best roles.

True LiesTrue Lies
Year: 1994
Rating: R
Length: 141 minutes / 2.35 hours

While most of Schwarzenegger’s roles have been in action films, he has actually done quite a few comedies as well. Often, these comedies are combined with some action so the audience can see Schwarzenegger in his element. For the better part of the 1980’s, Arnold’s roles were strictly in the “tough guy” category; but by 1988, his on-screen persona was lightened a bit with the release of Twins. At this point in his career, about half of his films were also comedies, including Kindergarten Cop (1990), Junior (1994), and Jingle All the Way (1996). Even the action/comedies of Last Action Hero (1993) and True Lies (1994) fully exploit his ability to poke fun at the action genre. Heck, we could even consider Batman & Robin (1997) comedy, for how laughably bad it was. At any rate, the fusion of comedy and action certainly worked for Arnold, and True Lies is perhaps the epitome of this.

Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a loving husband and father, but what his family doesn’t know is that he is not a computer salesman. Harry Tasker is a secret agent. Therefore, when he misses a birthday party that his wife and daughter planned for him, he loses their respect. He can’t tell them that he was chasing Palestinian terrorists through Washington D.C., so he decides to make it up to his wife by surprising her for lunch the next day. It’s at this point Harry learns that Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) is being seduced by a used car salesman pretending to be a secret agent. Using his connections, he scares the con artist out of the picture but also learns that Helen is desperate for excitement in her life. They soon both find themselves entangled in the Palestinians’ plot to terrorize Miami. As Helen learns of Harry’s true identity, they must work together to save the day and save their daughter.

PredatorPredator
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

What’s encouraging about Schwarzenegger’s action movies, is that they often aren’t purely “action.” From his role in fantasy films such as Conan in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984) to his roles in science fiction films like The Terminator (1984), Total Recall (1990), and The 6th Day (2000), Arnold has shown that action has no genre limits. What helps make these action films memorable are the one-liners spoken in his Austrian-accented English. Most of these memorable quotes have come from his roles in the Terminator franchise, but there have been many great lines from other films as well. Sometimes I’ll even get into a Schwarzenegger quote-off with my friends, he’s that quotable. With his muscular physique, he showed how to play a soldier in films like Commando (1985), but he really hit his quotable stride two years later in the sci-fi/action film, Predator (1987).

A military team tasked by the CIA to rescue a hostage in the Val Verde jungle is joined by one of their agents, former Army Colonel George Dillon (Arnold Schwarzenegger). When the team arrives in the jungle, they find their mission is not one of personnel recovery, but information retrieval. Dillon recognizes a team of Special Forces who were brutally killed in a previous attempt to recover the classified information. Arriving at the insurgent camp, the team retrieves the documents but also captures a rebel named Anna (Elpidia Carrillo). As members of the team are killed off by a mysterious creature, Dillon learns that it is hunting them for sport. Eventually confronting the alien creature, Dillion manages to incapacitate it but must escape quickly when it activates a thermonuclear device. Yelling for Anna to “Get to the choppa!” they both narrowly escape the blast via the extraction helicopter.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger roles

Bacon #: 2 (Commando / Bill Paxton -> Apollo 13 / Kevin Bacon)

#337. French Action Exports

It’s hard to deny that the United States is the capitol of action films. Our big-budget summer blockbusters just scream, “Explosions! Guns! Michael Bay!” While it can be simple enough to recycle the same material over and over again in a formulaic fashion without leaving the country’s borders, sometimes American films can be from foreign countries. When I think of French films, I usually think of romances, intellectual dramas, and bizarre art films. Rarely do I consider French films to be in the “action” genre. And yet, sometimes French action films can be brought over to America to give their action a high-octane boost. Sometimes, with the experts of action behind the wheel, the films become better. Sometimes they might have fared better if they weren’t exported at all. This week’s two films highlight a few examples of French action films exported to the United States.

The TouristThe Tourist
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 103 minutes / 1.72 hours

While the action in an American version of a French film might be amped up, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better movie. After all, a remake is still a remake, regardless of the country where its source material may originate. This fact isn’t necessarily constrained to action movies either. Diabolique (1996), the remake of the fantastic thriller, Les Diaboliques (1955), did poorly when compared to its French original. Similarly, Point of No Return (1993), tried to capitalize on the recent success of Luc Besson’s Nikita (1990), but to middling results. At least American audiences eventually received Besson’s films directly, with such gems as Léon: The Professional (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997). It seems Hollywood will grab up any foreign films that aren’t critically panned and will rush them into production, often to poor results. Look no further than the Anthony Zimmer (2005) remake, The Tourist (2010) for proof.

On a train to Venice as a tourist, Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is approached by Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), who starts flirting with him, even going so far as to invite him to stay at her hotel suite once they arrive. Elise is doing this under instructions from her actual lover, Alexander Pearce. He wants her to throw the French Police and Scotland Yard off their trail by pretending that some random guy on the train is really him. As the chase continues, Frank finds himself in plenty of dangerous situations as the authorities continue to track him down in the hopes that they can retrieve the £744 million in back taxes. When the mafia joins the chase to recover the over $2 billion Pearce stole from them, the only way out of the situation is to reveal the truth. Of course, not only does Elise have her own secrets, Frank is hiding a secret of his own as well.

True LiesTrue Lies
Year: 1994
Rating: R
Length: 141 minutes / 2.35 hours

Remakes aren’t always bad. Sometimes, they can surpass their originals. For instance, most audiences will be familiar with Some Like it Hot (1959), but less familiar with the original, French film, Fanfare of Love (1935). Even good performances in movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) might be lauded by audiences who merely hadn’t seen Purple Noon (1960). Directors will even take short films and expound them into feature-length affairs, just like Terry Gilliam did with 12 Monkeys (1995), an excellent adaptation of the “artsy” La Jetée (1962). Action films are relatively easy to transfer between cultures, but comedy can be a bit harder to convey with a straight adaptation. Still, elements of the comedy can be used as a framework to create a memorable film. For example, the main plot of La Totale! (1991) was utilized for the James Cameron comedy/action film, True Lies (1994).

Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) is fed up with her husband. Because Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) isn’t paying attention to her, she’s craving adventure elsewhere. This was why she started contacting Simon (Bill Paxton), a man who claims to be a secret agent and is willing to let her help with an operation. Of course, Simon’s ruse is to merely get Helen into bed, but when the two of them are captured by a Black Ops task force, Simon reveals that he’s just a used car salesman. Helen, however, receives the opportunity to participate in a mission to seduce a mysterious man. In a surprise twist, Helen and the man, who is really her husband, are captured by Palestinian terrorists. As they escape their hostage situation, Helen learns that Harry isn’t a computer salesman, but is instead a Black Ops agent. The two of them team up to thwart the terrorists, saving their kidnapped daughter and the city of Miami in the process.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 exported explosions