Thir13en Ghosts

  • Directors: Steve Beck
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Gilbert Adler, Joel Silver
  • Writers: Robb White, Neal Marshall Stevens
  • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, F Murray Abraham

Ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) and assistant Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) lead a team on a mission to capture a spirit, called the Juggernaut, in a junkyard. Several of the men are killed during the ensuing fight, including Cyrus himself. However, the team is able to catch the ghost.

Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub), a mathematician who is also a widower, is informed by the estate lawyer of his uncle Cyrus, Benjamin Moss (JR Bourne), that he has inherited a mansion. Arthur and his financially insecure family plan to move into this mansion with his two children, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts). Their babysitter/nanny Maggie (Rah Digga) accompanies the family.

Dennis Rafkin, disguised as a power company employee (electrician), meets the family and Benjamin as they tour the mansion. The residence is made almost entirely of glass. It contains Latin phrases etched on floors and movable glass walls, along with priceless artifacts. Arthur and his family are eager about inheriting this new home, and while Arthur is discussing financial matters with the attorney, Kathy and Bobby venture off on their own to explore the mansion. After seeing several ghosts in the basement, Dennis frantically runs upstairs to warn Arthur about the home he is about to own. Benjamin assures Arthur that Dennis is crazy and should be ignored. Dennis tells Arthur that there are twelve spirits imprisoned in the house, held captive by the spells written throughout the residence.

The film ends with a battered Maggie walking through the wreckage, yelling out to Arthur and the kids that she did not agree to this when she came to work for them, and that she was quitting.

Monster House

  • Directors: Gil Kenan
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Jack Rapke
  • Writers: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettler
  • Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy, Mystery
  • Actors: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee

A preteen boy, D.J. Walters (Mitchel Musso), spends a lot of his free time spying on the house across the street and its owner, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), a crotchety old man who terrorizes anyone who steps anywhere on his lawn or close to his house. DJ has seen and documented Nebbercracker taking toys from kids that have stepped in his grounds. His parents (Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard), dismiss his comments as “kid talk” and leave town for the weekend, during which he is to be cared by Elizabeth or “Zee” (Maggie Gyllenhaal), DJ’s apathetic babysitter.

When Charles “Chowder” (Sam Lerner), DJ’s best friend, loses his basketball on Nebbercracker’s lawn, DJ ventures there to recover it, but Nebbercracker appears and grabs DJ, who then starts screaming. This causes him to collapse from a stroke, seemingly dead. While Nebbercracker is carried away by the paramedics, a gold key is dropped, which DJ scoops up.

That night, DJ gets a call from Nebbercracker’s house (which was just eerie moaning from the other end). He calls Chowder and they agree to meet at a construction lot. There, they decide to investigate the house. When Chowder tries to ding-dong-ditch the house, it comes to life and attempts to eat him. They run back to DJ’s house and spend the night watching across the street. Unknown to them, Zee’s boyfriend, Bones (Jason Lee), has already been “swallowed” by the house.

The film ends with the kids returning to the hole where the house was, and Chowder, DJ, and Jenny helping Nebbercracker return all the toys. During the credits, it is shown that everyone that was eaten by the house crawls out of the basement bewildered but unharmed.

A Christmas Carol

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
  • Writers: Screenplay, Robert Zemeckis, Story, Charles Dickens
  • Genres: Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn

A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/money-changer who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. He holds anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love and the Christmas season. But an encounter with the ghostly figure of Jacob Marley sets the stage for a mysterious and magical encounter with three phantasmic beings to help him realize the true magic of Christmas itself.

Beowulf

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Steve Bing, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
  • Writers: Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary
  • Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • Actors: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Crispin Glover, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Alison Lohman

Set in Denmark, the film opens with King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) celebrating the construction of his new mead hall, Heorot. The noise of the celebration echoes into Grendel’s (Crispin Glover) cave and torments him. In a mad fury, Grendel breaks into the hall and kills many people. After being challenged by Hrothgar, Grendel runs off into the night. Back at his lair, Grendel is admonished by his unseen mother for attacking the humans and possibly inviting retribution. She calms down after Grendel tells her that he did not harm Hrothgar.

Meanwhile, Hrothgar closes Heorot and proclaims that he will give half of his kingdom in gold to any man who can defeat Grendel. Beowulf (Ray Winstone) and his men arrive by ship from Geatland and convince Hrothgar to reopen Heorot. Beowulf’s credibility is challenged by Unferth (John Malkovich), the King’s most trusted advisor. Beowulf proceeds to tell a tall tale of how he slew several sea serpents in a past adventure to convince the people of Heorot that he is capable of killing Grendel. Hrothgar offers Beowulf his Golden drinking horn, a trophy taken after a battle with the dragon Fáfnir, in the event that Grendel is destroyed.

Beowulf and the dragon fall to the shores far below. The dragon reverts to the golden man of Beowulf’s dream, whom Beowulf realizes is his son. Beowulf then dies in Wiglaf’s arms. The latter, still refusing to believe his friend is anything but a hero, finally listens to Beowulf’s confession.

Back to the Future Part III

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Bob Gale, Neil Cantone
  • Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Western
  • Actors: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F Wilson, Lea Thompson

After lightning strikes the clock tower and sends the Back to the Future Marty back to 1985, Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), who is stranded in 1955, takes “Doc” Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) home. He explains to the Doc of that era that Doc’s future self and the DeLorean time machine were accidentally sent back to the year 1885. Marty learns from a letter written by Doc in 1885, that the DeLorean is hidden in an old mineshaft. The letter instructs Marty to find the car, return to 1985, and then destroy it in order to prevent further disruption of the space-time continuum.

With the help of the Doc of 1955, Marty retrieves the DeLorean. In the process, he discovers a tombstone which leads him to learn that Doc was killed in 1885 by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, just seven days after having written the letter. Ignoring Doc’s urging to return to 1985, Marty decides that he must save Doc, who had no idea he would be killed days later. Marty takes the DeLorean back to 1885, and arrives in the middle of a skirmish between a group of Native Americans and the United States cavalry, resulting in the DeLorean’s fuel line being ruptured. After hiding the car, Marty treks towards town, encountering his great-great-grandparents who had recently arrived in America from Ireland. To mask his identity, he takes up the name “Clint Eastwood”. After arriving in Hill Valley and nearly avoiding a skirmish with Buford, Marty reunites with Doc, who agrees to leave when he learns of his upcoming fate. Doc sees Marty’s photograph of his tombstone and concludes from the inscription that he was to have fallen in love with a woman named “Clara”. Learning that the new schoolmarm he has promised to pick up is named Clara Clayton, Doc decides to leave without meeting her.

As planned in the parallel year 1985, Marty coasts safely across the ravine bridge, now called “Eastwood Ridge”, but he immediately encounters a modern-day diesel locomotive bearing down on him. Marty escapes, but the DeLorean is smashed to pieces. Marty picks Jennifer up at her house where he left her in Part II, and having learned his lesson back in 1885, refuses to take part in a drag race with Needles, who calls him ‘chicken’. This causes him to avoid the automobile accident which resulted in the ruined future depicted in the previous film, as evidenced by the erasure of the fax Jennifer obtained from the future. Marty takes Jennifer to the site of the destroyed DeLorean, where he accepts that it is what Doc wanted. At that moment, however, a time machine built out of a locomotive appears. The door opens to reveal Doc, Clara and their two sons, who are named Jules and Verne (before appearing in Back to the Future: The Animated Series) after the author Jules Verne. As Doc prepares to leave again, Marty asks if they plan to go to the future. Doc replies that they’ve already been there, and the train – which has been futuristically upgraded – lifts off from the ground and flies off into time.

Contact

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey
  • Writers: Novel, Carl Sagan, Screen story, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Screenplay, James V Hart, Michael Goldenberg
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, David Morse

Dr. Arroway is a scientist for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. She and her colleagues listen to radio transmissions in hopes of finding signals sent by extraterrestrial life. Government scientist David Drumlin eventually pulls the funding from SETI. After eighteen months of searching, Ellie is able to gain funding from reclusive billionaire industrialist S.R. Hadden, which allows her to continue her studies at the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

Four years later, with Drumlin applying pressure to close SETI, Arroway finds a strong signal repeating a sequence of prime numbers, apparently emitting from the Vega star. This announcement causes both Drumlin and the National Security Council, led by National Security Advisor Michael Kitz, to attempt to take control of the facility. As Arroway, Drumlin and Kitz argue, the team at the VLA discover a video source buried in the signal: Adolf Hitler’s welcoming address at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Arroway and her team postulate that this would have been the first significantly-strong television signal to leave Earth’s atmosphere, which was then transmitted back from Vega 26 light years away.

The project is brought under tight security and its progress is followed fervently worldwide. President Bill Clinton and Drumlin give a television address to downplay the impact of the Hitler image, while Arroway learns that a third set of data was found in the signal; over 60,000 “pages” of what appear to be technical drawings. Government specialists are unsuccessful in attempting to decode the drawings, which is eventually decoded by Hadden. He explains that the pages are meant to be interpreted in three dimensions, which reveals a complex machine that which allows for one human occupant inside a pod to be dropped into three rapidly spinning rings.

Ellie considers these answers and falls unconscious, finding herself on the floor of the pod where she is being repeatedly called by the machine’s control team. She learns that from all external vantage points, she and the pod merely dropped straight through the Machine. Ellie insists that she was gone for approximately 18 hours, but her recording devices only show static. Kitz resigns as National Security Advisor to lead a Congressional committee to determine if the Machine was a fraud by Hadden, who had the resources to set up an elaborate hoax, but has since died. Ellie is accused of collaborating with Hadden; she asks them to accept her testimony on faith. Kitz and White House Chief of Staff Rachel Constantine together reflect on the fact that Ellie’s recording devices contained 18 hours of static. Ellie is given continued grant money for the SETI program at the Very Large Array.

Back to the Future Part II

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Neil Canton, Bob Gale
  • Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F Wilson

Marty McFly, “Doc” Brown and Jennifer Parker (now played by Elisabeth Shue) arrive from the parallel year 1985 in 2015. Jennifer begins asking many questions about her future. Doc tranquilizes Jennifer, who is not necessary for his plan, explaining that he brought her along only because she saw the time machine. After landing in Hill Valley, Marty and Doc leave Jennifer in an alley, expecting her to remain unconscious while they attend to the crisis involving Marty’s children. Doc explains that Martin McFly Jr., Marty’s and Jennifer’s son, is about to be approached by Griff Tannen, Biff’s grandson, and his gang, who will offer him the chance to take part in a robbery. According to Doc, this event leads to the ruin of the entire McFly family. Marty impersonates his future son and tells Griff he will not join the robbery; however, his self-control crumbles when his courage is called into question, and he is accused of being a “chicken”. The resulting confrontation leads to a hoverboard chase that causes Griff and his thugs to damage the glass facade of the nearby courthouse. Griff and his gang are arrested, Marty Jr.’s innocence has been assured without his knowledge and the planned robbery never occurs.

Marty and Doc travel back to 1955 to prevent Biff from getting the almanac. Marty goes through a long and complicated series of events involving his multiple attempts to recover the almanac, all the while making sure that he does not interfere with past events again and does not undo all that he had previously done in 1955 in the first film to set his parents up with each other. After revisiting the events of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, he eventually manages to steal the book from the 1955 Biff with the help of Doc in the flying DeLorean, and burns it, restoring history to its proper course, as evidenced by the changes in the newspapers from the alternate 1985, which now read “George McFly Honored” rather than “Murdered” and “Emmett Brown Commended” instead of “Committed”. As Doc fights the controls (and accidentally turns on the time circuits) while attempting to land the DeLorean during the storm to pick Marty up, the car is struck by lightning, causing it to disappear, the time-travel capability having been triggered by the lightning. A few minutes later, a Western Union delivery man appears with a letter, which he explains was sent seventy years ago with the explicit instructions that it be delivered to Marty “at this exact location, at this exact minute, November 12, 1955”. Marty opens the letter, which is from Doc, explaining that he is now living happily in 1885. Knowing he has only one source of help, Marty runs to the clock tower to find the Doc of 1955, just as lightning strikes to send the previous film’s Marty back to the future. The shock of suddenly seeing the new Marty, whom (he thinks) he has just sent back to 1985 causes Doc to faint. The film ends as Marty tries to revive Doc.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Robert Watts, Kathleen Kennedy
  • Writers: Novel, Gary K Wolf, Screenplay, Jeffrey Price and Peter S Seaman
  • Genres: Animation, Comedy, Crime, Family, Fantasy, Mystery
  • Actors: Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner, Joanna Cassidy

In 1947, Los Angeles, California, Toons commonly interact with the Hollywood studio system and live in a section of the city known as Toontown. Roger Rabbit is the star of “Maroon Cartoon” animated short subjects, but he has trouble following the director’s commands, delaying the production. Rumours are going about that Roger’s wife Jessica has a sugar daddy and studio head R.K. Maroon hires private investigator Eddie Valiant to look into the matter. Eddie, whose brother Teddy was killed by a Toon five years before, reluctantly takes the job. He discovers that the buxom Jessica is “cheating” on Roger by literally playing pattycake with Marvin Acme, owner of the Acme Corporation and Toontown. Eddie reveals photographic evidence to Roger, who sinks into depression. Marvin Acme is found murdered the next day, and Roger becomes the prime suspect.

At the crime scene, Eddie is met by Judge Doom of the Toontown District Superior Court and his Toon Patrol weasel henchmen. Doom is eager to use “The Dip”, a mixture of chemicals that can dissolve any Toon character on contact, on Roger once he can be found. Eddie encounters Baby Herman, Roger’s co-star, who swears that Roger is innocent and that Acme’s will, which would have left Toontown to the Toons, has gone missing; if the will is not found by midnight, Toontown could be sold at a public auction. Roger himself turns up at Eddie’s office and pleads his innocence. Eddie begins to investigate the case deeper with his on-off girlfriend Dolores and a Toon taxicab named Benny while trying to keep Roger hidden from the Toon Patrol. Eddie discovers that Jessica was forced by Maroon to get close to Acme or else he would have ruined Roger’s career. Maroon himself admits that he was forced into blackmail by another person, but before he can reveal who it was to Eddie, he is fatally shot by an unknown shooter.

Eddie and Doom then fight, using assorted Toon props found within the factory, until Eddie is able to run Doom over with a steamroller. The crushing does not kill Doom; instead, Doom reveals himself to be a Toon, the same one that killed Eddie’s brother. Eddie manages to open the drain on the Dip sprayer, showering Doom with the mixture and dissolving him. Eddie frees Roger and Jessica, their relationship having been mended, while the Dip sprayer harmlessly crashes through the warehouse wall into Toontown and immediately smashed by a Toon train. As numerous Toons enter the warehouse to see what the commotion is, Eddie discovers Acme’s will. It was an apparent blank piece of paper that Acme had given to Jessica that Roger later wrote a love poem to his wife on, but the will itself was written in disappearing/reappearing ink. With the will in hand, the Toons celebrate the ownership of Toontown and sing “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile” while Roger and Jessica as well as Eddie and Dolores rekindle their relationships.

What Lies Beneath

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
  • Writers: Sarah Kernochan, Clark Gregg
  • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid

Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) enters a new phase of her life after a serious car accident leaves gaps in her memory. She is married to the renowned scientist Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford). Shortly after arriving in a new lakeside house in Vermont that once belonged to Norman’s scientist father, her daughter Caitlin leaves home to go away to college. One day when Claire is working in the garden she hears loud sobbing coming from over the fence. It turns out to be her neighbor, Mary Feur (Miranda Otto). She seems terrified and Claire is very concerned, thinking that her husband is beating her. Norman tells her not to worry. Claire wakes in the middle of the night, and looks out of the window. She sees Mary’s husband Warren (James Remar) dragging what looks like a body bag out into the boot of his car. By the time Claire had woken Norman, there was nothing left to see.

The next day, Claire decides to investigate by taking a basket of flowers and wine to the house as a “Welcome Gift”. After nobody answers the door she walks round the side of the house and makes a startling discovery; a woman’s sandal with a dark stain on it… She collects the sandal, and returns to the front door to leave the basket there. Warren returns as she is leaving the basket, and Claire explains why she was there and asks where Mary is. Warren gives a vague answer which leaves Claire even more worried.

In the Near Future: It is Winter and Claire is seen placing a single red rose on the grave of Madison Elizabeth Frank, but not the grave of Norman.

The Polar Express

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Gary Goetzman, Steve Starkey, William Teitler, Tom Hanks, Jack Rapke, Chris Van Allsburg
  • Writers: Novel, Chris Van Allsburg, Screenplay, Robert Zemeckis, William Broyles Jr
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Leslie Harter Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen, Chantel Valdivieso, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, Steven Tyler, Michael Jeter

The Polar Express is a story of a young boy (Daryl Sabara) on Christmas Eve who is hoping for belief in the true spirit of Christmas. He suddenly hears some noise from downstairs and runs to investigate. Seeing a shadow of what appears to be Santa Claus, he soon discovers that it is his parents. He runs back to his room and looks through magazines and encyclopedias for confirmation of Santa Claus and the North Pole, but to no avail. Hearing his parents coming, he runs back to bed and pretends to be asleep while his parents whisper about how he had once stayed up late listening for Santa Claus. About an hour after they leave, a magic train called The Polar Express pulls up in front of his house. He is invited aboard by the train’s mysterious conductor (Tom Hanks) to journey to the North Pole. Though he initially hesitates, he boards the train after it starts to move.

On the train, the boy encounters a group of other children who are on their way to see Santa Claus, including a pretty young girl, a know-it-all and a lonely little boy. The boy also encounters a mysterious hobo (Tom Hanks), who lives on the top of the train, as well as the engineer and fireman (Michael Jeter). They must all overcome a variety of obstacles; at one point, a herd of caribou block the tracks. Later, the cotter pin holding the throttle together breaks. The train, now out of control and with the Hero Boy, Hero Girl Nona Gaye, and the Conductor standing on the front, then reaches “Glacier Gulch,” an area with steep downhill grades. The three must hold on tightly as the train speeds through Glacier Gulch and onto a frozen lake. The train tracks are frozen under the ice, and as a result, the Conductor must guide the engineer and the fireman towards the other side of the lake as the ice breaks up behind them

The children return to the train, and the conductor punches letters into each ticket. These letters spell some form of advice (such as “Learn,” “Lead,” or “Believe” for the Know-it-All, Hero Girl, and Hero Boy respectively.) As the train leaves, the Hero Boy discovers the pocket of his robe torn and the bell missing. He returns home, saddened by the loss of the bell, but is cheered when he sees that Santa had already arrived at Billy’s house. On Christmas morning, his sister finds a small present hidden behind the tree after all the others have been unwrapped. The boy opens the present and discovers that it is the bell, which Santa had found on the seat of his sleigh. When the boy rings the bell, both he and his sister marvel at the beautiful sound; but because their parents no longer believe in Santa Claus or Christmas, they do not hear it. The last line in the movie repeats the same last line from the book: “At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”