The Greatest Year for Film: 1994 - 5/25/2021
From time to time there is a year in which a large number of films are released that become classics. 1994
may be another such year. Here are my thoughts on some of the remarkable films that hit the big screen that
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - February 4th
After a decade of flying under the radar, Jim Carrey exploded onto the media landscape with this film. The
movie also showcased Courteney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc and surprisingly Dan Marino. And this wouldn’t be
the last we see Carrey during 1994. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve watched this movie on
Speed - June 10th
The buzz around this file was infectious and a great movie to watch on the big screen. I always love a good
Keanu Reeves action movie and this was my introduction to Sandra Bullock. It was also Jan de Bont’s first
directing gig. The movie is billed as an adventure on a bus, but even after the bus sequence is over there
are still more thrills to come.
The Lion King - June 24th
Walt Disney Animation Studios had been upping their game for the past few years, but I would call this film the
first animated epic. While still being an animated family musical, it pushed the scope of its production to
be more dramatic, thrilling and immersive. Great original songs were by composer Elton John and lyricist
Tim Rice. The movie had an amazing all-star cast. This was the first animated film that I ever bought
the soundtrack to. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of my love for Hans Zimmer.
Forrest Gump - July 6th
Two fantastic reasons to see a film; Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis. This was more than just a
movie, it was truly an event. Storytelling at the highest level. Astonishing performances by Robin
Wright, Gary Sinise and Sally Field. It’s the greatest use of visual effects for storytelling and not a
single spaceship. This instantly became one of my favorite movies of all time.
True Lies - July 15th
Written and directed by James Cameron this movie was a visual masterpiece with its photorealistic image compositing,
model work, CGI and stunts. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Paxton, Tom Arnold and Tia Carrere
are all great in this film. Each of them brought out the most in their character. The story is great and
I especially love how Jamie Lee Curtis’ character is drawn into the world of spies. I can’t say enough how I
love the visuals.
The Mask - July 29th
Jim Carrey exploded onto the screen for the second time in 1994. The movie also starred Cameron
Diaz. Carrey’s elastic face was now even more dynamic with the help of wildly exaggerated computer graphics
in the style of Looney Tunes. And this film cemented Carrey's reputation as a significant actor in
Clear and Present Danger - August 3rd
This political action-thriller starred Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer and James Earl Jones. The
movie was based on Tom Clancy's 1989 novel of the same name. It was a sequel to Patriot Games (1992)
and The Hunt for Red October (1990). This was another chapter in the Jack Ryan saga, though the character
was portrayed by Alec Baldwin in Red October. The movie stands on its own as an excellent, suspenseful story
full of action and yet another great performance by Ford.
The Shawshank Redemption - October 14th
Of course, like the vast majority of people I didn’t see Shawshank in the theater. It wasn’t until later when
we stumbled upon it on cable and fell in love with this amazing film. The intriguing story keeps you watching
even at its slow pace. But in the end it pays off with one of the best endings of any movie and the viewer is
handsomely rewarded. The film starred Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton and James Whitmore and was
written and directed by Frank Darabont.
Stargate - October 28th
This was a different kind of science fiction adventure film, with its atmosphere, story, characters, and graphic
content. Directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich and starred Kurt Russell, James Spader and Jaye
Davidson. I particularly enjoyed Davidson’s portrayal of Ra.
Dumb and Dumber - December 16th
This was the third massive film starring Jim Carrey released in 1994. Carrey's expressive face, expert
mimicry skills and physical brand of comedy kept the hits coming. At first the casting of Jeff Daniels may
have seemed as an unlikely choice, but he turned out to be a perfect match along side Carrey.
As impressive as this list is, there were also these other great films released during 1994 including Interview
with the Vampire, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, Kevin
Smith’s Clerks, the Coen brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy and Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.
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