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Movie Rewind

Looking Back: The Golden Child (1986)

How do you top “Beverly Hills Cop”? That’s the question everyone at Paramount Pictures wondered after Eddie Murphy’s 1984 comedy smash became the most successful R-rated comedy of all time. In the mid-1980’s, Murphy was one of the biggest movie stars in the world and the promise of a follow-up movie promised big things. It also gave Paramount Pictures an …

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Looking Back: Vanilla Sky (2001)

Tom Cruise’s film career took an interesting detour in the late 1990’s. Rather than merely present himself as a dreamboat leading man of tailor made cinematic fantasies, his films began to explore the intimate world of dreams. Twenty years ago, Cruise’s initial turn as super agent Ethan Hunt once again proved he could open just about any movie. The complex, …

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Looking Back: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

H.G. Welles’ classic novel became a 1996 film event, unintentionally in a way that reflects the cautionary tone of the book it’s based on. David Thewlis (a replacement for the more appropriate Rob Morrow) stars as Edward, a man shipwrecked on an island controlled by a mad scientist. Edward immediately discovers that the majority of the island’s population are genetic …

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Looking Back: John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. (1996)

One of my favorite summer movies is also one of the least likely sequels to ever see the light of day. No one would ever deny the grit, charm and ahead-of-its-time pessimism of John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York.” His 1981 cult classic is undeniably great but the odds of it ever getting a sequel, even with healthy home video …

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Looking Back: Mobsters (1991)

The concept of “Young Guns” (1988) was so obvious and calculated, it was no surprise that it became a hit. Casting hot young actors in the roles of historical cowboys, outlaws and wanted criminals in the old west also led to “Young Guns II” and a televised variant, “The Young Riders.” The next step was inevitably “Mobsters,” made by different …

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Looking Back: Mary Reilly (1996)

In the establishing scenes of “Mary Reilly,” Stephen Frear’s flawed but riveting take on “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde,” the screen is filled with thick, soupy London fog. This visual persists over the rest of the film, suggesting clouded truths, hidden horrors and the isolation experienced when there’s no one to hear your cries for help. If this doesn’t sound …

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Looking Back: From Hell (2001)

It’s no wonder “From Hell,” the fine Jack the Ripper thriller from The Hughes Brothers, was such an underachiever in 2001. Coming to theaters a month after 9/11, the film is grim and wall-to-wall with human despair even before Jack butchers his first victim. Not helping matters is that the film, while superior to “Sleepy Hollow,” looked awfully similar (though …

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Looking Back: Highlander (1986)

It’s not hard to see why Russell Mulcahy’s “Highlander” bewildered audiences in theaters but gradually found a ravenous cult following afterwards. While an instant flop and a real oddity in theaters, Mulcahy’s Scottish-infused update of the vampire legend gained serious traction on VHS and repeat cable airings. Whatever it was that lured movie lovers to this goofy epic (Sean Connery, …

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Looking Back: Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Baz Luhrman’s “Moulin Rougue!” was supposed to be released during Christmas of 2000 but was pushed back until the following summer. Reportedly, Luhrman wasn’t finished with the film and it needed more work before opening day. Seeing the film now, I can’t help but wonder: the film is so crammed to brim and monstrously overstuffed, was the first, unfinished draft …

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Looking Back: Evolution (2001)

You can’t blame filmmakers for trying to recreate the success and vision of Ivan Reitman’s “Ghostbusters.” In fact, Reitman himself tried to recapture the lightening in a bottle success of the franchise twice- in 1989, with “Ghostbusters II” and in 2001 with “Evolution.” The former is a hit and miss sequel but the latter is an intriguing, mostly forgotten f/x-driven …

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