Twister

  • Directors: Jan de Bont
  • Producers: Ian Bryce, Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy
  • Writers: Michael Crichton, Anne Marie Martin
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck, Zach Grenier

In June 1969, a young Jo watches her father get sucked into a tornado after trying to hold a storm cellar door shut to keep his family safe. Decades later, meteorologists at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) are discussing a building storm system over Oklahoma which could produce a record outbreak of tornadoes. Meanwhile, retired storm chaser Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) and his fiancée Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz) are heading out to meet Bill’s former storm-chasing team to get the final divorce papers from Bill’s ex-wife, Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), who, since the day her father died, has sworn to hunt down as many tornadoes as possible, not wanting the same fate to happen to someone else. Besides Jo, the team consists of the eccentric Dusty Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Robert “Rabbit” Nurick (Alan Ruck) navigator, Laurence (Jeremy Davies) photographer, Joey (Joey Slotnick), Alan Sanders (Sean Whalen) Rabbit’s driver, Tim “Beltzer” Lewis (Todd Field), Haynes (Wendle Jospeher) who rides with Beltzer, and Jason “Preacher” Rowe (Scott Thomson).

Jo, who is still in love with Bill, tries to stall because she does not want the marriage to end. Jo then tells Bill she wanted him out on the field because his idea for a tornado-analyzing device has been built. Called Dorothy, they will put it in the path of a tornado to measure it from inside. Four of the so-called “Dorothy” weather machines have been built. Haynes tells them of storm activity, and they head out. Bill’s rival team shows up, led by Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) with his assistant Eddie (Zach Grenier). According to Bill, Jonas is in the storm-chasing business “for the money, not the science.” While Jonas’s team is passing Bill’s team on the road, one of Jonas’s team members runs Bill off the road. They head to a tire shop to get Bill’s flat tire fixed, and Bill sees Jonas giving an interview to some local reporters. Bill finds out that Jonas has stolen his idea for the Dorothy weather machine. Bill accuses him of stealing his idea, but Jonas says it was an “unrealized idea.” Everyone gets drinks at a local diner next door to the garage while Bill stays outside. Inside the diner, Melissa confronts Jo about her trying to keep together her failed marriage to Bill. Outside, Bill notices the sky is turning green, the sign of an approaching violent storm.

Haynes receives readings from Dorothy’s sensors that indicate the tornado will shift its track again. Bill and Jo, now without radios, are at first unaware, and start running towards a nearby farm as the F5 heads right at them. They first take cover in a barn, but it is filled with sharp metal tools. They run out the other side to find the tornado bearing down. It destroys the barn, and they dodge debris as they run to take cover in a small outbuilding. They find metal pipes inside this shelter, and tie themselves to the pipes with leather belts. The tornado destroys the structure, and they are pulled upside while anchored to the pipes. They manage to see the inside of the F5 tornado as it passes over them. It is filled with lighting and a smaller tornado in the core. Seconds later, the entire storm dissipates, and the family from the farm comes out of their underground storm shelter. Bill and Jo debate who will run the lab and who will analyze the new data while the rest of the team arrives.

Transformers

  • Directors: Michael Bay
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy
  • Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, John Rogers
  • Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Mark Ryan, Jess Harnell, Robert Foxworth, Charles Adler, Reno Wilson, Darius McCrary

The film opens with Optimus Prime, heroic leader of the benevolent Autobots, describing in a voice-over the shut down of the Transformers’ home world, Cybertron. It was destroyed by the malevolent Decepticon leader Megatron in his quest to get hold of the All Spark. The Autobots want to find the All Spark so they can use it to rebuild Cybertron and end the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, while the Decepticons want to use it to obliterate the Autobots and take over the universe. Megatron had managed to locate the All Spark on Earth, but crash-landed in the Arctic Circle and froze in the ice. After stumbling upon his frozen body in 1897, explorer Captain Archibald Witwicky accidentally activated Megatron’s navigational system and his eye glasses were imprinted with the coordinates of the All Spark’s location, an incident that left him blind and mentally unstable. Sector 7, a secret government organization created by President Herbert Hoover, discovered the All Spark in the Colorado River and built the Hoover Dam around it to mask its energy emissions. The still-frozen Megatron was moved into this facility and was used to advance human technology through reverse engineering.

During the credits, Starscream—the only surviving Decepticon besides Scorponok—escapes into space.

Almost Famous

  • Directors: Cameron Crowe
  • Producers: Cameron Crowe, Lisa Stewart, Ian Bryce
  • Writers: Cameron Crowe
  • Genres: Drama, Music
  • Actors: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Noah Taylor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

In 1973, William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock-and-roll journalist, despite the desires of his eccentric, overprotective mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand), who wants him to go into law. Shunned by his classmates (most of whom are two or three years older than he is), he writes for underground papers in his hometown, San Diego.

He goes one morning to watch as a local radio station interviews pioneering rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two hit it off, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a Black Sabbath concert. William, without credentials or a ticket, cannot get into the arena. He meets up with some semi-groupies who call themselves “Band-Aides,” named Estrella Starr (Bijou Phillips), Polexia Aphrodisia (Anna Paquin), and Sapphire (Fairuza Balk), as well as their leader, Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). Then he runs into the opening band on the card, Stillwater, who was running late. At first they dismiss him as a journalist, “the enemy”, but when he calls them by their names and praises their most recent work in detail, they realize that he is a genuine fan and allow him backstage.

The final scenes are a picture of the cover of the Rolling Stone issue that will feature William’s story with Russell’s picture on the front with the rest of the band behind him. We then see images of Penny leaving on her dream trip to Morocco, William at home with his sister and mother, and of Doris, which will take the band (without William) on its 1974 tour (with the marquee “NO MORE AIRPLANES TOUR 1974”). Though, as Bangs suggested, rock ‘n’ roll may be changing from an art form to a profit center, it is implied that at least Stillwater will be immune from this.

Speed

  • Directors: Jan de Bont
  • Producers: Mark Gordon, Ian Bryce
  • Writers: Graham Yost
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, and Jeff Daniels, Alan Ruck, Glenn Plummer

Police Officer III Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and his veteran partner Police Officer III Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) are explosives experts in LAPD SWAT. A disgruntled Atlanta Bomb Squad retiree, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), is holding a group of thirteen office workers trapped in an elevator for ransom. Jack and Harry manage to rescue the hostages before Payne sends the elevator plummeting to the basement. They find Payne in a freight elevator. After a brief standoff, with Payne holding Harry hostage, Payne escapes and sets off a small explosion that knocks Jack unconscious and appears to kill Payne. Jack and Harry are then commended for their bravery by the LAPD in an official ceremony.

Later, as Jack heads to work, a city bus explodes in front of him, killing the driver. Payne calls Jack on a nearby pay phone, revealing he is alive and that he has rigged another bus to explode. The bomb will arm itself when the bus reaches 50 mph and will detonate if the bus goes below that speed. In addition, Payne will detonate the bus manually if anyone gets off the bus, or if the ransom is not delivered on time. Jack locates the bus and jumps aboard, but the bomb has already been armed.

The police plan to catch Payne picking up the ransom money, believing that he is unaware of the evacuation and destruction of the bus. However, Payne is far ahead of them. Disguised as a police officer, he kidnaps Annie off of the street, then escapes into the subway where he collects the ransom money that dropped through a cleverly concealed hole beneath the designated trash can. He boards a train, kills the operator, and wires Annie with a bomb. Jack pursues them and follows Payne onto the top of the subway car, where a fight ensues. The duel ends when Jack pushes Payne’s head into a tunnel light, decapitating him. Jack disarms Annie’s bomb but cannot stop the train, which was damaged during the fight. The train derails at the end of the line, breaking through a wall where it comes to rest on Hollywood Boulevard. Jack and Annie confess how they feel about one another and kiss as shocked pedestrians look on.

Spider Man

  • Directors: Sam Raimi
  • Producers: Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce, Avi Arad
  • Writers: Screenplay, David Koepp, Alvin Sargent, Comic Book, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
  • Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and Peter’s secret crush Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) visit a genetics laboratory at Columbia University with their high school class. While taking photos in the laboratory, Peter is bitten on the hand by a genetically engineered “super spider”. Feeling unwell, he passes out shortly after arriving home. Meanwhile, scientist and owner of Oscorp Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), Harry’s father, is attempting to preserve his company’s military contract, knowing that its loss will mean the end of his business. He experiments on himself with his company’s new, but unstable, performance-enhancing chemical vapor which increases his speed, strength, and stamina. However, it also causes him to become insane and he kills his assistant, Mendel Stromm (Ron Perkins). The next morning, Peter wakes to find that his previously impaired vision has improved and that his body has metamorphosized into a more muscular physique. At school, he finds himself producing webbing and having the quick reflexes to avoid being injured in a fight with bully Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello). Peter escapes from the school and realizes that he has acquired spider-like abilities from the spider bite. He quickly learns to scale walls, long jump across building rooftops and swing via webs from his wrists.

The Goblin holds Mary Jane and a tram car full of children hostage on top the Queensboro Bridge where Spider-Man arrives. The Goblin forces Spider-Man to choose who he wants to save, and drops Mary Jane and the children. Spider-Man manages to save both Mary Jane and the tram car, while the Goblin is pelted by civilians showing loyalty to Spider-Man. The Goblin then grabs Spider-Man and throws him into an abandoned building where he begins to beat him. The tables turn as the Goblin boasts of how he will later kill Mary Jane, and an enraged Spider-Man dominates over him, forcing the Goblin into being unmasked. Norman begs for forgiveness, but his Goblin persona attempts to remote-control his glider to impale Spider-Man. The superhero avoids the attack, causing the glider to impale Norman instead, and he dies asking Peter not to tell Harry about the Green Goblin. At Norman’s funeral, Harry swears vengeance toward Spider-Man, who he believes is responsible for killing his father, and asserts that Peter is all he has left. Mary Jane confesses to Peter that she’s in love with him, but Peter, feeling that he must protect her from the unwanted attentions of Spider-Man’s enemies, hides his true feelings. As Peter leaves the funeral, he recalls Uncle Ben’s words about responsibility, and accepts his new life as Spider-Man.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

  • Directors: Michael Bay
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy
  • Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Ehren Kruger
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Voices only, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Mark Ryan, Charlie Adler, Robert Foxworth, Jess Harnell

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) discovers something about the origins of the Transformers and their history on Earth. The evil Decepticons need to capture him for information.[2] The climactic battle takes place at the Giza pyramid complex,[3] where a temple is located within.[2] Lorenzo di Bonaventura explained the film will show the Transformers who visited Egypt before the pyramids were built, and “all our heroes end up here because of the Decepticons’ master plan.” Furthermore, Egyptian hieroglyphs resembling helicopters and other present day vehicles in real life will be explained in the film as being depictions of those Ancient Cybertronians who visited Earth.[4]

Bay explained the Transformers did not blow their disguise by battling in Mission City in the first film. “Everybody has gone ahead. It’s realistic. Two weeks after the tsunami nobody talked about it anymore. It’s very weird. We decided to do the same with the Transformers. The government talks about a military thing, says all is false, that it’s a joke, and people don’t know what they really saw.”[5] The human soldiers have joined the Autobots’ ranks in a team called NEST (Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers).[6] A government front called McClaren Robotics covers up the robot sightings, and the Allspark shard is kept by them in storage.[7]

Saving Private Ryan

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
  • Writers: Robert Rodat
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Dennis Farina

The film begins with an elderly World War II veteran (Harrison Young) and his family visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. The veteran collapses to his knees in front of a gravestone, overwhelmed by emotion. The scene then changes to the beginning of the Normandy invasion, with American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach and struggling against dug-in German Army infantry, machine gun nests and artillery fire. One of the officers who survives the initial landing, Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks), commanding officer of C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, assembles a group of soldiers and slowly penetrates the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach.

Meanwhile, in the United States, General George C. Marshall discovers that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family have all died within days of each other and that their mother will receive all three notices on the same day. He learns that the fourth son, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. The drop target for Ryan’s unit was Neuville-au-Plain, Manche. After reading to his staff Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby, Marshall orders that Ryan be found and sent home immediately.

Back in the present, the elderly veteran is revealed to be Ryan at Miller’s grave. Ryan asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and that he is a “good man”, and thus worthy of Miller’s and the others’ sacrifice. He then salutes Miller’s grave as the camera pans down the gravestones to the American flag and fades out.