The Mask (1994)

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 41
Release: 19.8.1994
Dir: Chuck Russell
About: Stanley, an easy-going bank employee, turns into an eccentric green-skinned being who can bend reality after wearing a wooden mask that is inhabited by Loki who is a Norse god.


First Thoughts

This isn’t a film I’d seen all the way through before today. my first experience was during a week away with school. It was put on for the whole group but when asked for people to go on the shop run, I volunteered as tribute. I was never one for film watching with the hyper and disengaged.
The next attempt at watching this came when this was THE film on Christmas Day. Completely unheard of today given how easy is to access movies, however this was my one chance to watch this film and I fell asleep. Only other film I really remember this happening with is The Bodyguard after I’d spent the day at the ITV Studios and it remains, to this day, a film I’ve yet to watch.

The Good

  • While it’s not my thing, I cannot deny that Jim Carey is a master when it comes to this over-blown comedy with a larger-than-life character. From the impersonations to what have now become iconic and quotable one-liners, Carey hits all the notes with an effective precision.
  • While the over-sexualisation of Cameron Diaz irks me somewhat, I have to accept that its part of the time in which it was made and totally a reflection of the characters that watch her walk into the bank. I couldn’t imagine anyone better in the role and she does work well with Carey.

The Bad

  • I think I’ve been spoiled by another mouthy, off the wall anti-hero in the past few years. The Mask I feel is a story much of the same ilk as the Merc with the Mouth and would have been better suited as a darker, more violent affair. As it stands it is too tame for a general audience, but there are some jokes that just don’t seem at home in a PG outing. I have found out since watching it, that the source material is much similar to Deadpool, which only reaffirms my opinion that was pitched to the wrong audience.
  • The murky landscape of the city with the day glow prominence when The Mask reminds me to much of what would become of Tim Burton’s Gotham once he leaves the franchise. While Batman Forever came long after this, the memory still taints this somewhat.
  • I’m sold on Carey as the Mask. i’m not sure he works as well as Stanley. Interestingly enough, those who I feel would have been up for portraying Stanley, I’m not sure could give a convincing The Mask.

The Ugly

  • While a lot of the effects do still stand up owing to the comic book style of the character and the narrative, there are a few that just don’t quite work. When it comes to the flattening of the Mask early in the film, it has been done better in something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? When you’ve used a lot of Carey’s physicality to do away with some need for CGI, it’s a shame that they couldn’t embrace using some physical effects too.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the times in which Carey/ The Mask breaks the fourth wall. The biggest problem of it being that its used quite a lot in quick succession and then it doesn’t happen again.
  • I would argue that this is also rather badly edited. From odd cuts that move characters and seem to miss out dialogue to references that don’t make sense I feel as if we’re left with a disjointed film.

Final Thoughts

Upon watching this time, it would appear I wasn’t asleep for very long. Perhaps the feeling that I’d missed something important was due to editing. As it stands, I really hadn’t missed much and I really could have done without watching it again.

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Rating: 15
Length: 1h 47
Release: 7.4.1995
Dir: Peter Farrelly
About: Two good-hearted but incredibly stupid friends stumble upon a briefcase. Unknown to them, it contains money that is intended for abductors with connections to the mob.



The Good

  • Who’d have thought Jeff Daniels could do this sort of humour?! It’s a really different look for him and he certainly looks like he’s having fun.
  • There are some funny parts. However, when you’re throwing it as thick and fast as this film does, it’s not surprising that some of it works.
  • When it lampoons other films, it really makes it work. Both the Pretty Woman montage and the Silence of the Lambs quote are both well done.
  • I do actually quite like the resolution of the film including the FBI and the death fake out. Not sure the final scene works for me, again it’s the level of intelligence inconsistency that makes the final gag fall flat.

The Bad

  • There’s almost a quality of Monty Python to the humour in the dialogue. “Pull over.” Says the cop to Harry, for him to reply “No, it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing.” however, due to the characters it doesn’t work quite as well.
  • The literal toilet humour is just not my thing. I know what its trying to achieve and I also appreciate that it will have some people belly laughing. However the way in which it was done was mean spirited and the outcome was over blown.

The Ugly

  • The core issue with this film is that both of your leads are beyond stupid. You need a straight man to balance out the stupid. Daniels’ Harry does show signs of being the Tom Cruise to Carrey’s Dustin Hoffman. However, that wouldn’t work as Daniels is doing so well against type. Perhaps a third in their close group would help. I’m not sure, but either way it’s just a little too much for it to be funny.
  • The humour is a little too obvious and heavy handed at times. As I mentioned before, everything was thrown into this script. Some of it hasn’t aged well, but other bits I feel always would have felt offensive. Then there’s just the completely gross: spitting in the burger for example. It makes me gag.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t really like it the first time I saw it and it’s not aged well at all. It’s a bit painful for a comedy and I’d like to think I’ll remember to never watch it again.

Speed (1994)

Rating: 15
Length: 1h 56
Release: 30.9.1994
Dir: Jan de Bont
About: A disgruntled, dangerous man plants a bomb in an elevator. When his mission fails, he plants a bomb in a local bus and threatens to set it off unless his demand is met.


The Good

  • I love the music. While it doesn’t have the iconic status of Jaws, Jurassic Park or … anything by John Williams, it still packs punch and pulls the audience into a scene. And it starts with those impeccably 90’s opening titles. You know you’re going into something. There will be no easing into a situation, the audience hits the ground running and that score makes sure that your body knows that.
  • As I said, the audience go straight in and meet the bad guy before anyone else. No holding back. Well, except for who he actually is and what he wants. Dennis Hopper has everything you need for this sort of villain, the main thing being a distinctive voice. While the audience do get to see him a lot of his communication is done solely through audio, so the voice has to be right.
  • The film has so many instances and dialogue that may not seem like much, but do have call backs either almost instantly, or later in the film. It helps develop the thread running through the film.
  • The cast is awesome. There’s not a single person I’d replace. It goes without saying that Reeves and Bullock are perfect in their lead roles so I’m going to gush about two others.
    Firstly, there’s Alan Ruck. Its not the biggest of parts, but he has some excellent interactions within the main act. My favourite moment comes when he’s relaying Jack’s description of the bomb. He can’t bring himself to say what Jack had, so instead utters “oh, darn.” which gives us quite a lot about the character.
  • There is also my favourite character, Harry. Played by the wonderful Jeff Daniels. The chemistry he has with Reeves equates to what we would now call a bromance and I’m sold. There’s a moment in the first act when both Jack and Harry need to descend to the access point of the lift and its in that moment one takes to the cables like they’re a fireman’s pole, the other uses the ladder. This indication that Harry doesn’t jump in and, as a result, isn’t as reckless as Jack has a rather sad payoff towards the end of the film. None of which I think is possible without Jeff Daniels in the role.
    While he isn’t as prominent after the first act, he is crucial to the plot and the mindset of the character of Jack. You do feel his absence from Jack’s side, but he’s still very much working with him. Right up until the point Harry doesn’t look at where he’s going. That close up we’re given gets me every single time.
  • The film does gauge how long its focus should be on the bus. Just as I find myself drifting, the stakes are changed and the goalpost is moved; giving the audience a bit of an adrenaline jolt.

The Bad

  • The ‘Annie reveal’ in the final act doesn’t sit right with me. It’s edited in a way that makes me think I’m meant to, even for a spilt second, think that she is in some way involved. However, there needs to be some more editing for that to work, given that we see her interaction with Payne and therefore know she’d never met him before. I know there was original plans to have it revealed that Harry was working with Payne, perhaps this edit is what remains of a plan to have *someone* double cross Jack.

The Ugly

  • The final act Vs the bus jump. For me, one of them has to go. While the bus jump gives us that great visual, I’m not sure what else you can put in the final act that would give us the resolution we need. Perhaps have it that there’s another set of cars on the track at the next station?! Doesn’t seem as good as “the track’s not finished yet.”
    As it stands its two overly identical situations and it almost gives the audience fatigue. The set up is the same, the way out of the situation is the same and the success only varies slightly.

Final Thoughts

I love this movie. I only watched it a few days ago and I already want to watch it again. Boiling it down to “Die Hard on a bus” doesn’t do this film nearly enough justice as it’s execution goes beyond that.

The River Wild (1994)

Rating  12
Length 1hr 51
Release 24.2.1995
Director Curtis Hanson
About A couple embarks on a rafting holiday with their son. The trip, however, turns into a nightmare when they find themselves battling two violent criminals.


The Good

  • All the actors are perfectly cast in their roles and bring a decent energy to the proceedings. Kevin Bacon does his bad guy thing, Meryl Streep does her leading lady thing and Joe Mazzello does his thing of being the kid in danger with emotional baggage. 
  • The filming is able to present this somewhat difficult story is a decent way. You’re able to follow the plot, feel the tension and the danger without being too lost in the elements. I can’t imagine it was easy to create the variety of shots over river rapids but it certain has a good attempt.

The Bad

  • I hate the addition of the dog. While Maggie contributes some way in terms of the plot, I don’t think it’s enough to justify having her on a dangerous journey. Leave the poor thing with the grandparents.
  • Streep and Bacon’s flirting in front of uptight husband, played by David Stathairn is cringe-worthy and damaging to Streep’s character. That’s not to say I don’t think she wouldn’t flirt, I just felt uncomfortable watching her do it in front of her son and husband. It may have worked a little better had Strathairn’s character not have made it on time to catch the raft and is brought to them later in the day by Benjamin Bratt’s character.

The Ugly

  • The pacing is really off for me. While I did enjoy the opening scenes and it showed the dynamic of the Hartman family, I found the payoff wasn’t worth the effort it took. Did we need to have so many scenes prior to the family setting off?  
  • I found the ‘bad guys’ a little confusing in the sense that it felt so obvious, yet it felt like it was also meant to be a reveal. I’d have perhaps liked to have seen either the conversation between Gail and her Father about his predictions for the robbery or even see the robbery itself. It was rather sloppy and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few cut scenes out there that develop that arc a little further.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent film, but very much of its time. No fault to the performances, but the screenplay feels a little lacking. Still, I’d take this over Hard Rain any day. Plus, Baby Mozzello fresh out of Jurassic Park. You can’t say no to that.

Have you seen The River Wild? What did you think?

Love Han x

Christmas Film Advent – Trapped in Paradise (1994)

“I detect resistance”

Length: 1 Hr 51
About: 
Residents of a friendly Pennsylvania town foil three brothers’ plan to rob a bank on Christmas Eve.

Naughty List

  • I’ve never been a fan of John Lovitz. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but he is the human equivalent of nails on a blackboard. He’s the American Joe Pasquale.
  • It’s too long and slow. The action sequences are brilliant, but there’s no pace or urgency between the set pieces. It would be fine if there was enough character development, but I didn’t feel there was enough to warrant the pace.

Nice List

  • Who doesn’t love a Nic Cage film?! Especially when he is being his impossibly wacky self. So many meme worthy facial expressions and unique verbal inflections that even if it was a rubbish plot, I’d sit through it again and again.
  • Cage’s character makes for quite a wonderful journey. The final act decision to head back to Paradise to redeem himself is rather charming, if not a little off set by the delivery of most of his lines.
  • The best part about this film though is Dana Carvey. Not at the start; he annoyed the hell out of me. However, when his character, Alvin, steps up and speaks out against Lovitz’ Dave, he becomes a less goofy, much more sympathetic character.

Final Thoughts

I’m happy to have watched it, but I can also see why its not a film I was aware of. With a good edit to cut it down to the 90 minute mark it might be a more digestible watch.