Movie Masterpieces Part 1 – Action and Sci-Fi

Reasons why we love these thrillers… spoilers ahead!


Graphic by Monica Inouye/SAC.Media.

“Kill Bill Vol. 1” from Amelia Alim

In 2003, Quentin Tarantino directed a cinematic masterpiece and my favorite movie of all time: “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.” This movie gained attention for the thrilling action scenes. As well as the phenomenal acting performed by Uma Thurman. The awards from the MTV Movie Awards for Best Fight, Best Villain and Best Female Performance were well-deserved and received. The movie’s production required 155 days and used $55 million. This action-packed film also presents a female lead. In fact, Tarantino and Thurman discussed this project together starting in 2001. The focus on martial arts and the main character’s persona was created within their cooperation. Moreover, the main character of this film represents endurance. She’s full of strength yet she desires revenge. The depiction of women empowerment in movies was still debatable, but this movie was a grand establishment. At the beginning of the film, the protagonist, Beatrix, awakens from a coma after four lonesome years. Prior to the coma, her ex-lover, Bill attempted to murder her because she was marrying another man. When Beatrix was unconscious, she lost her unborn child,which triggered her utmost to gain vengeance over Bill and his team of trained assassins. Between the invincible plot, astonishing camera work and incomparable acting, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” has gained the achievement of being an unquestionable cinematic masterpiece in my perception.

“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” from Grace Handjojo

When “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” was first released I had no idea what it was going to be about. I went to the movie theater like any other day and decided to watch this movie. Little did I know back then how obsessed I would become. The movie follows Clary Fray, who learns that she comes from a line of Shadowhunters, warriors who fight demons, when her mother is kidnapped by the antagonist. After learning this piece of news she joins forces with the remaining number of Shadowhunters that still exist in order to get her mother back. Her partner in crime, the male main character Jace Herondale, fights along her side and teaches her the ways of shadowhunting. Although this movie was not perfect compared to the book it was still something that caught my attention. The chemistry between the two main characters really sucks the audience in. Being the cheesy romantic that I am, this was not something I could resist. Another reason why this movie is one of my favorites is because of its genre. It’s a fantasy fiction with amazing computer generated images. There was a particular scene that I loved, where they visited a cemetery where all the past shadowhunters were buried; this is why they called it the City of Bones. This movie has a lot to offer, an interesting storyline, charismatic characters, action and so much more. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who has not read the book!

“End of Watch” from Janel Chavez

This film was made in 2012 and falls under the action and crime genre. This movie has been found to be one of the best police movies that has been made. This movie doesn’t just describe the work of a police officer, but it also shows the audience their personal life. These two men in the movie were ordinary people. They were young men barely starting to create their life with their families. This film is more of a documentation of two police officers patrolling the busy streets of Los Angeles. These two partners are good friends and look after each other like brothers. Throughout the movie they get caught up with gang members who exchanged gun violence and one ending up dead. The moral and action of the story is what catches my attention compared to other movies.
I consider this to be my all-time favorite movie because the person who inspires me the most is my dad, and he is a police officer who works in the Newton division like these officers in the movie. This movie gave me a new perspective of officers and a viewpoint of a day in their life as they work. I believe these officers put their life on the line as they deal with certain groups of gang members, drugs and murder suspects. I have watched this film about 10 times, and I can still watch it over and over again. What makes this film important to me is that I now have realized the danger my dad faces when he is at work and it’s scary knowing that he puts his life in danger protecting and serving others before himself. Now, I never take advantage of saying bye and giving him the biggest hug ever before he leaves for work. Although this movie doesn’t have a happy ending, it makes me realize that life is short and can end unexpectedly. Never take life for granted.

“The Fifth Element” from Day Gyselaar

“The Fifth Element,” a French film by director Luc Besson, is one of the greatest creative achievements in cinematic history as well as my favorite movie. Released in 1997 to a successful box office, the movie had found itself—a sci-fi fantasy blockbuster—as one of the many creative experiments of the 1990s fantasy playground of films such as “Men in Black,” “Starship Troopers,” “The Relic,” “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” “Event Horizon,” and many more. Critics and moviegoers were torn, with many praising its uniqueness, and others criticizing the film for its inability to conform to American movie standards, claiming that the film didn’t know what it was trying to be. This, however, is why the movie is a masterpiece. Over 24 years later, “The Fifth Element” has aged like a fine wine, and proved that it was truly ahead of its time. By avoiding the trends of the era that are easily recognizable as a “90s film,” it exists in this timeless space that feels unique and fresh, even today. Take, for instance, the costume design by legendary fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Known for his vibrant, contrasting shapes and styles, Gaultier pushed his fashion to the limit by giving us a loud, neon future in every article of clothing, whether they be worn by the main actors or the extras in the crowds. This attention to detail amidst the absolutely stunning sets helps ground the viewer in the reality of the world. The soundtrack was also unlike anything else heard in the 90s and even today. Eric Serra, the composer of the score, made a truly foreign and futuristic sound by combining metallic crunches, airy synthesizers and traditional middle eastern chord progressions that is a joy to listen to. I guarantee you haven’t heard anything like it. Luc Besson describes the film as being “intrinsically musical,” and it shows. The combination of all the elements of the film is a symphony where every element is an instrument that contributes to the greater whole. Let’s also not forget about the amazing acting by some of the highest profile actors in the business. While still a typical blockbuster, containing all of the action, romance, comedy and drama you would expect, the movie is very camp—atypical of almost every American film at the time, and the actors conveyed these jumps in mood effortlessly. The overall look and feel of the world was styled after the colors and designs of French comics and sci-fi, such as “The Circles of Power,” which gave the movie its lush color palette and distinct technological flair that has yet to be replicated in any film since. But when it comes down to it, the story is what drives the film, and “The Fifth Element” is witty, punchy and fun. The movie knows its comedic timing and never dwells too long in a scene for the viewer to get bored or feel as though they’re stagnating. Overall, “The Fifth Element” is a testament to the creative process and a boon for the film industry. This movie stands out from the sea of mediocrity, taking risks to give vision and perspective on the science fiction genre in a way no other movie has been able to replicate since. This is why it is a masterpiece and my favorite movie.

“The Empire Strikes Back” from Nicholas Cabrera

This movie is both a cinematic masterpiece and my favorite film of all time. I am a huge movie geek so I will try to keep my excitement level to a minimum when gushing over the film and why it warrants both my praise and the praise of others. The movie I chose is the fifth installment in the Star Wars franchise, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Many people have talked about this film over the ages, but for me this film truly does represent the best that Star Wars can present. The editing, the camera shots, the cinematography, the performances, the iconic scenes, the script and of course the score. Everything just comes together to become this brilliant piece of cinema. This is probably the most mature Star Wars film out there alongside “Revenge of the Sith.” The reason it’s one of my favorites is because I have many fond memories of watching this film. While growing up my childhood seemed like sunshine and rainbows from my perspective, but for my parents they could not help but be so worried. I had to go to get chemotherapy at the young age of a year and a half in order to combat my leukemia. My little imaginative mind was not inside that hospital room with me. It was in a galaxy far, far away with Darth Vader and Yoda. This movie along with the rest of the saga transcended the experiences I was having in that little hospital room. I would help shape my little mind to love science fiction and love the art of writing. It was my inspiration. It’s what shaped me into liking cinema so much and why I can talk on the subject like I’m an expert. On the other hand, this film is a cinematic masterpiece because of what it can accomplish in it’s runtime. George Lucas’ script along with Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett tells a compelling patience about the struggles of becoming older and learning patience under harsh situations while still using its science fiction setting to full advantage. John Williams creates some of his best scores within this one film. The asteroid field, hyperspace, the battle for Hoth, the Imperial March, Yoda and the Force are among some of his best works and they are all in this one film. Not to mention cinematographer Peter Suschitzky knows how to paint the galaxy right. The ice planet of Hoth feels so cold, the swamps of Dagobah have never felt so dirty, the warm orange glow of the Bespin carbonite chamber. Everything can immerse you within a single frame.

“The Butterfly Effect” from Chase Buckley

“The Butterfly Effect” has been one of my favorite movies since the very first time I watched it. I’ve made all my friends watch it and they all know how much I love this movie. I love this movie for various reasons. The plot, the actors and the alternate endings come together as a whole to create an amazing film. I believe the main reason why I like this movie so much is that, in a way, it answers the question ,“what if?” “The Butterfly Effect” can be defined as “the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” In the film, Ashton Kutcher’s character has a traumatic childhood and is told by his therapist to write in a journal every day to help with his blackouts. One day many years later he stumbles upon his many journals, flips to a page, and begins to read. He is then transported to that very day and gets to relive the scene he wrote about but this time decides to do something different. When he is transported back to his current self, his whole life and his current situation is completely different. This movie shows how every decision you make affects your future and how everything happens for a reason. This movie is interesting because throughout life you may look back at your old self and think, “What if I would have done that differently, where would I be now?” This movie allows you to see what could’ve happened from a different perspective. I also love this movie because it has four alternate endings. So in a way you get to have the ending you want.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” from Chance Santamaria

The movie I chose to watch was the new “Godzilla vs. Kong” movie. My parents are huge Godzilla fans and they told me they would consider it to be a cinematic masterpiece. To tell you I was surprised would be an understatement. Adam Wing does a great job in telling a deeper part of Kong’s story that I would have never thought of. The movie starts off with us watching King Kong interact with a young girl, someone he is connected to. Kong grabs a tree, strips it of its branches and throws it straight up towards the sky. This reveals to us that Kong is in a virtual world. When Kong destroys his enclosure this sets off Godzilla to come hunt King Kong because there can only be one alpha creature. There is a plan made to save Kong by transporting him to the poles so he can enter the inner Earth.
This is when we get to see that at one time there were more of Kings Kong’s species, and that they were just living in the inner earth. We also get to see that at one point or another there was a meeting between these Gorillas and Godzilla. This is shown to us by Kong finding an axe where the blade is made from one of Godzilla’s spines. However bringing Kong to the inner Earth doesn’t solve the issue as Godzilla follows Kong to the inner Earth. This is where Kong and Godzilla battle for the alpha spot. While this is happening we find out that man is making their own titan to fight for them. This titan is Mecca Godzilla and they have released it to fight against Godzilla and Kong. Godzilla comes out on top in his fight over King Kong. This is when Mecca Godzilla enters the feels and attacks Godzilla. As Godzilla is getting beat up, the little girl that Kong cares for comes and tells him that Godzilla needs his help. Together Kong and Godzilla defeat Mecha Godzilla. Their bond that is formed fighting Mecha Godzilla allows for them to stop wanting to fight each other. King Kong goes back to the inner earth and Godzilla goes back to his home in the ocean somewhere. All in all, I would rate the movie nine out of 10.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” from Aaron Story

The movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” is what I find to be one of my all time favorite films, as well as one of the most significant films in cinema history. I say that this film is one of my all time favorites because it was one of the first movies I ever saw as a child. When I was really young, my parents made one of the rooms in our house into a legitimate theater room. It had recessed lighting, dark painted walls, special mauve colored carpeting, super comfy couches, Dolby surround sound system, a legit screen that was ten feet wide with the top of the line digital projector. It was quite the space to truly have a “movie going” experience right there in the home. Laserdiscs were the highest form of digital entertainment at the time, and my father was in the electronic repair business during the early 1990s which granted him many connections in regards to digital entertainment. One of his customers who ran his own video rental store became a friend of the family over time, and we got first dibs on all the latest and greatest films on laserdisc at the time. As my dad got closer with other folks with similar backgrounds, we would get invited to these industry showcases in warehouses where there were thousands of laserdiscs for cheap, and we’d walk away with boxes of movies. It was a dream. My dad is really into sci-fi and space exploration, and we were able to get our hands on a laserdisc which featured “high quality” compilation footage from the International Space Station as well as moon landing footage. Some nights we would put on different music like Pink Floyd and watch those laserdiscs for hours. With that being said, having a copy of “2001: A Space Odyssey” was my dad’s top priority. Being so young, around four or five years old, going from actual NASA footage to watching “2001” was a crazy bridge between reality and fiction. Of course my dad told me that “2001” was just a movie, but I was blown away by the visuals. Watching it today, it is still a shock to see how impressive the reverse projections, matte paintings and set designs still hold up for the most part. I find this movie important not only for its technical achievements, but for its powerful format of storytelling. The book of course goes deeper into the more ambiguous aspects of the film, but I really loved how the movie leaves the audience to put the pieces together. Most films, especially programming for children, are so spoon-fed. The blatant point A to point B stories were boring to me. Having this film leave the thinking and understanding to me has always been so fulfilling; from being a young boy to being a man in his thirties the film still makes me think and ask questions. I also appreciate the approach the story has to human evolution. I was raised in a religious home for the most part, and I was led to believe fantastical stories completely void of science. Seeing this movie gave thought to a possible origin story for the human race that was built on something completely mysterious and something approached with a scientific mind. That may be the most concrete reason I still enjoy this film today. It presents an alternate reason as to who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Of course it’s a fictional story, and presents nothing as fact, but I find the journey of life to be more interesting when considering all theories and possibilities of our physical and spiritual potential. You will never watch this film and say, “Oh, I finally get it now”. It always leaves a window open to possibility, which I find to be a truly beautiful thing. Art should provoke thought. Art should present the unexplainable in hopes of engaging the observer. Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite filmmakers and his work will always pry open the eye that most would want to keep shut.