Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1988

Our country entered a state of renewal in 1988.  Weeks after NASA resumed exploration following the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, George Bush Sr. became President Of the United States, the first sitting V.P. to move directly into this position in over 150 years.  Severe drought caused $60 billion in damages across the country, 750,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park burning over the course of four months due to the brutal conditions.  The nation sought distraction from these disasters with the formation of World Championship Wrestling and the debut of the cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  1988 blessed us with the births of future Hollywood hotties Emma Stone and Vanessa Hudgens while taking from us legendary porn actor John Holmes and Anne "Ma Fratelli" Ramsey.  Tip-toe around those hypodermic needles washing onto the shore and into your local video store to check out these Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1988!

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

After The Avengers obliterated previous box-office records last May, Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ceremoniously kicked off with this summer's first official blockbuster, Iron Man 3.  Robert Downey Jr.'s fifth foray as the genius / billionaire / playboy / philanthropist Tony Stark (including his cameo after the credits of 2008's The Incredible Hulk) introduces new struggles for the swaggering superhero, both internal and external, as well as a slew of new gadgets and gizmos manufactured to bring his latest challengers to their knees.  Taking over directing duties for series veteran Jon Favreau is Shane Black, better known as the screenwriter who gave us Lethal Weapon, a move that clearly hasn't stopped this third installment from solidifying the second-biggest opening weekend in history.  But the question remains -- does Iron Man 3 continue the franchise's golden streak or serve solely as a time-waster until The Avengers 2 blasts into theaters in 2015?

Movie Review: TMNT

The emotional trauma endured by audiences unfortunate enough to have paid admission to 1993's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III sent a ripple through the fearsome foursome's once-bubbly fanbase that would be felt for years to come.  Fourteen years, to be exact, would pass before another full-length Ninja Turtles movie would grace the big screen, ushering in the next era for the band of subterranean "heroes in a half-shell."  The boys in green were introduced to a brand new generation of potential Turtle-ites with TMNT, busting into theaters on March 23, 2007, nearly two decades after the release of the first live-action film.  Implementing Hollywood's rapidly-growing CGI trend and boasting a budget larger than the previous three movies combined, the ultimate question would soon present itself -- would this latest installment of the beloved series glisten like a freshly-waxed shell, or would it be shredded and splintered by Turtle fanatics the world over?

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

After the box-office success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of the Ooze, New Line Cinema gave the go-ahead to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the final film of the original live-action trilogy.  Unlike Part 2, which was thrusted into theaters less than a year after the first movie's release, Part 3 was given a little extra time to simmer.  Fans of the Turtles were champing at the bit for another installment, ready to witness yet another spirited adventure piloted by our unconquerable "Heroes In a Half-Shell."  Which beloved characters from the animated TV series would be birthed onto the big screen in the next film?  The possibilities were nearly endless -- Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, The Rat King, Leatherhead, The Neutrinos... or how about, none of the above?  Yes, the glaring exclusion of some of the franchise's most notorious villains is just one of the reasons why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III will leave eager viewers green in disgust...

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of the Ooze

Lightning struck twice for distributor New Line Cinema with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of the Ooze, the sequel to the original 1990 box-office bulldozer.  The franchise caught fire in 1991, reaching the peak of its popularity with kids and adults alike.  The cartoon series was launching its fifth season and the Playmates action figures couldn't be stocked on the shelves fast enough.  Less than a year after Part 1 blasted into theaters, this fast-paced follow-up received a budget twice the amount of its predecessor, the generous $25 million allowance once again benefiting the incredibly talented special effects virtuosos at Jim Henson's Creature Shop.  Though generally not as commemorated amongst fans, TMNT II's strength lies in its ability to expand upon the Ninja Turtles universe, exposing new elements to the origin story of our "Heroes In a Half-Shell" while still finding time to include a rousing musical performance by the one and only Vanilla Ice...

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the first film I remember seeing on a theater, one of my earliest, most vivid memories.  I was as jubilant as a five-year-old in 1990 could be -- I'd never missed an episode of the cartoon series, my action figure collection was growing by the week, and now, the house lights were dimming for the first-ever live-action TMNT movie.  93 minutes later, as our family made our way to the car, I recall throwing kicks and punches at invisible opponents all through the parking lot, my head buzzing from what had been, up to that point, the greatest experience of my young life.  Rewatching it as a 28-year-old, the film withstands the test of time as it successfully blends elements from the comic books and TV show, helping it appeal to both older fans of the original comics and newer fans of the cartoons.  Over 20 years later, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remains a totally radical adventure and still the best movie adaptation for the franchise to date...

Five Movie Characters Who Deserved More Screen Time, Part III

Time and time again, minor characters in movies float through a scene and fade away as quickly as they arrive.  Whether it be a kung-fu preacher, a gang of mini-Bruce Campbells, or a hulking, blade-armored mutant ninja master, these inconsequential entities are far too interesting to be written off so quickly.  It's difficult arguing that each of the following Five Movie Characters Who Deserved More Screen Time aren't entitled to a bigger chunk of their respective film's running time...

Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1987

The world's population ticked in at five billion people during the summer of 1987, a year that single-handedly produced some of the most incredible movies of its decade.  Michael Jackson's hit album Bad was obliterating the charts and the classic Nintendo run-'n'-shoot Mega Man flooded shelves in Japan.  Patrick Stewart assumed the role of USS Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the animated Simpsons family made its TV debut as short cartoons on The Tracey Ullman Show.  Danny Kaye and Fred Astaire performed their last tap-dances into the grave, the same year the planet was blessed with the births of Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.  WWE's Wrestlemania III took place in the Pontiac Silverdome, setting the North American indoor sporting event attendance record with 93,173 patrons.  In the end, viewing these Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1987 beats falling down a well in Midland, Texas any day of the week...

Movie Review: Ernest Goes to Camp

From the mid eighties to the late nineties, the world was bombarded by one Mr. Ernest P. Worrell.  With a half a dozen theatrically released movies, around ten direct-to-video specials, a television show, and countless cameos and commercials, Ernest's stereotypical-Japanese-like work ethic forever burned his grinning image into pop culture.  (Knowutimean, Vern?)

Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1986

1986 was an interesting time to enter my "terrible twos."  In a year that witnessed the infamous Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the disastrous Chernobyl meltdown, the world needed relief, and the remedy would soon come in several forms.  For instance, '86 saw the opening of Pixar Animations Studios and Mike Tyson winning his first World Championship by beating Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas.  The year took from us Metallica bassist Cliff Burton and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard but gave us Amanda Bynes, Kat Dennings and Megan Fox.  Bill Buckner's dimwitted missed grounder allowed the New York Mets to pull even with the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, eventually leading to a World Series victory for the Mets.  Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's secret vault only to discover a bottle of moonshine might have been disappointing, but each of the Top 10 From Back Then: The Movies Of 1986 is sure to leave you satisfied.