Jaws (1975)

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When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (IMDb)
The horror of the first two tragic attacks is chilling, with the invisible attacker and vanished victim/bloody water aftermath, and the sense of impending doom in between is also well-crafted with a good score and tense character interplay between the paranoid cop and money-focused mayor. It’s a little slow and bloated, and only scattered spurts of action make the final act somewhat of a letdown (though the shark reveals still scare) but overall it’s still a suspenseful monster-attack movie.
7/10 (Good)

 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

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When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps and stop the Nazis. (IMDb)
The Grail-quest plot adds a decent dollop of tempered intrigue to the still stellar fast-paced action antics, giving the film a more mature tone than its wacky and wild predecessor, while the opening glimpse into Indy’s childhood and the introduction of his father (their constant bickering and brains vs. brawn dynamic are hilarious–see Connery’s silent look during their motorcycle escape) add some welcome character depth as well as some great humour that goes beyond just one-liners.
8/10 (Great)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

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After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, and stumbles upon a secret cult plotting a terrible plan in the catacombs of an ancient palace. (IMDb)
With the stereotypical exotic Indian locale being milked for all it’s worth, this sequel simultaneously takes turns towards darker (see the horrifying human-sacrificing cult and their child slaves) and funnier (see the outrageous palace meal) material. Capshaw’s distressed diva and Quan’s charming ESL kid sidekick add further humour to a stacked line-up of action sequences in the same vein as its predecessor, making them even more memorable (the secret chamber with spikes scene is a standout).
8/10 (Great)

 

Minority Report (2002)

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In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder. (IMDb)
The futuristic setting gets a little cheesy at points (see the magic glove and the weirdly bad quality hologram-video) and its dull colouring stale, but the future-predicting police premise is undoubtedly cool, and it produces a terrific twisting pseudo-murder mystery plot (with good turns from Farrell and Cruise) and some intriguing discussion on predestination vs. free will and the ethics of “pre-crime” (although the morality of keeping captive the three fortune-tellers is left unaddressed).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. (IMDb)
With Ford’s idealistic hero Indiana Jones at the helm here comes loads of life-or-death globetrotting adventure-action that’s able to flow smoothly from gun fights in burning-down bars in Nepal to frantic car chases in the deserts of Egypt (only the supernatural-tinged climax feels a little out of place). There’s nothing else terribly compelling here (only a few funny one-liners) but it’s so jam-packed full of exotic excitement (even when you think it’s over) that it doesn’t really matter.
8/10 (Great)

 

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

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A family of Emigre mice decide to move out to the west, unaware that they are falling into a trap perpetrated by a smooth talking cat. (IMDb)
The main story is as kiddish and small as its protagonist, but fun and exciting journey sequences (Fievel’s train and eagle ride; Tiger’s dog-filled misadventure), clever pun-filled dialogue (“Dog-gone it, I’m dog tired… fightin’ like cats and dogs against cats and dogs”), and delightfully nonsensical humour (“Dogfish…”) make this film enjoyable for adults too. Wylie’s surprisingly mature final speech (“One man’s sunset is another man’s dawn”) is another appreciable moment.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Back to the Future (1985)

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A young man is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. (IMDb)
Superbly written: Seemingly inconsequential early happenings gain new significance as Marty’s trip to the past calls them back to mind in delicious deja vu moments and hilarious ironic one-liners (“Better get used to these bars, kid”); the “80s kid in the 50s” aspect provides some great scenes (see the final guitar solo); and the time travel logistics are (mostly) well-constructed. It’s an entertaining and exciting film with great turns from Fox and the hilarious Lloyd (“… some serious shit”).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Super 8 (2011)

During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. (IMDb)
With its nostalgic setting and strong young cast playing a loveable group of adolescent boys (with a tragic lead) caught up in a very “adult” situation, the film recalls “Stand By Me”, but with a sci-fi mystery twist–and while this results in less character depth than that of the 1986 classic, it also gives the plot more drive and intrigue, although that in turn is fumbled in a shoddily-written conclusion. Flaws aside though, this is still a unique, great-looking, and highly enjoyable flick.
7.5/10 (Really Good)