The date is November 2019. The city is Los Angeles. Earth has undergone massive population explosions in the urban areas, the city landscape is a mish-mash of every culture, and almost everywhere you go there are advertisements. The most prominent of these advertisements is floating space-barge advertising the Off-World colonies, offering excitement and adventure. It appears there’s much excitement to be true, when six replicants (android-like creations that resemble humans in nearly every possible way, with the exception of enhanced agility and strength, constructed to work as slaves in off-world colonies) commit mutiny and escape to Earth, where they have been outlawed under penalty of death, to find a way to increase their four year lifespan, causing a Blade Runner named Deckard (Harrison Ford), a special LAPD task force whose job is to kill any and all replicants, to come out of retirement. This visionary sci-fi masterwork is directed by Ridley Scott.
Trancers starts off in the neon-tinged year of 2247, where we find much of old Los Angeles (now called “Angel City”) submerged by the ocean. Law enforcement officers called “Troopers”, like Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson), are taking down (referred to as “singeing”) “trancers”, which are weak-minded people (dubbed “squids”) who can easily come under the hypnotic, homicidal zombie-like spell (“not quite alive, not dead enough”) of nefarious Charles Manson-esque cult leader Martin Whistler (Michael Stefani), who Deth sees as responsible for the murder of his wife. Deth thinks he has taken down Whistler once and for all, only to learn that the telepathic supervillain is still alive, but has avoided Deth (and death) by traveling back in time to Los Angeles in late 1985 with something called “time serum”, where one can go back through time by their conscience into the body of another person in their direct family lineage of the past.
There and then, Whistler hopes to terminate the ancestors of the three-person “High Council of the Western Territories” members who took him down in 2247. Jack Deth always gets his man, so he too goes back in time to stop Whistler once and for all, inhabiting his consciousness into one of his own ancestors, a sleazeball journalist named Philip Dethton, who happens to be a dead ringer. Along with Phil’s young girlfriend Leena (Helen Hunt), Deth is going to be crafty to take down his target, as Whistler is inhabiting the body of his own ancestor, who happens to be an LAPD detective, and has already channeled a number of “trancers” to his cause to protect him as he tries to take down the last Council member’s ancestor, a down-and-out, alcoholic ex-pro baseball pitcher currently living on Skid Row (Biff Manard).
Linda Hamilton returns as buffed out Sarah Connor, the mother of humanity’s future savior, now holed up in a mental institution for her claims that the world is going to end in an apocalyptic nuclear war instigated by a sentient advanced computer system. That savior, John (Edward Furlong), is a rebellious teen living in foster care who soon learns his mother isn’t a crackpot after all after being chased by a cop who is actually a T-1000 model Terminator – a shape-shifting, liquid metallic artificial entity (Robert Patrick) – sent from the future to kill him. John’s own savior is a T-800 cybernetic organism (Arnold Schwarzenegger) identical to the one sent to kill Sarah years before, only this time, his future self reprogrammed one of them to send back and protect the boy and mother. However, the older model is barely a match for the nearly indestructible, futuristic killing machine, and a chase ensues that sees Sarah and company trying to stay alive while destroying the path to humanity’s downfall, the advancements learned through the finding of the chip and hand remnant from the previous T-800 machine. James Cameron co-writes and directs this big-budget smash.
The simple premise: A killer android (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to assassinate the mother (Linda Hamilton) of a resistance leader of the future. A soldier of that resistance (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to protect her from harm, but the killer android is virtually unstoppable in its mission. This classic science fiction/action/horror/thriller represents the best in all of those genres that the 1980s has to offer. James Cameron put his name on the map with this action masterpiece.
Hands of Steel is an Italian-produced film obviously influenced by James Cameron’s The Terminator if combined with the basic plot of First Blood. Set in the near future, we find a beefy thug (Daniel Greene) has been brainwashed by the evil head of a pollution-spewing corporation called the Turner Foundation, headed by John Saxon’s Francis Turner, we soon learn, to assassinate a popular ecological guru leading an environmental movement that is set to make major radical changes to the drastically worsening country. But he’s no ordinary thug; Paco Queruak is a war veteran that was left for dead before getting his body used for a radical cyborg assassin experiment, rendering him with an electronic mind and a body of hardened steel, underneath his very human-like exterior. However, at the last second, his human side begins to question what he’s doing, leaving him on the run from the organization that made him in order to hide their tracks. Paco goes on the lam to his old stomping grounds in Arizona, where he meets a lovely motel and bar owner named Linda who offers him room and board in exchange for doing some chores around the property. Meanwhile, he engages the locals in arm wrestling contests he can easily best them in. Meanwhile, he’s being pursued by a world-class hitman, and also the FBI.
In the future, New York, after the dreaded nuclear holocaust, is a wasteland of lawlessness and gangland thuggery. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a skilled martial arts warrior named Gibson Rickenbacker, a “slinger”(aka, a mercenary for hire helping refugees), who fights for and rescues a woman named Pearl Prophet from a horde of marauders. It turns out that the woman is a woman no longer, but rather, a cyborg transformed in order to gather information and transport it to Atlanta in the hope of turning the tide on the widespread plague that has threatened humanity with extinction. However, the leader of the marauders is the fearsome psychopath, Fender Tremolo, a man who has history with Gibson and has ruined his life in the past. Fender steals her back because he wants the cure for himself, and it’s up to Gibson, along with his newly found tag-along Nady Simmons, to become Earth’s last hope.
RoboCop is set in near-future Detroit, where the city streets are just about completely dominated by the criminal element, while the police are neither respected nor welcome; they are virtually walking targets out there. Desperate to clean up the crime-ridden community and build a gleaming new one in its place, the government officials turn to OCP, Omni Consumer Products, to build and manufacture the future of law enforcement, robotic police that are more powerful and well-armed than anything anyone has ever seen. However, when the first prototypes prove inconsistent, the city officials balk at the idea, so an upstart faction within the OCP comes up with a newer, more “human” cop, a cyborg built using the remnant body of downed officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), and dubbed simply as “RoboCop”.Things proceed splendidly for the RoboCop program, that is, until the human side of the cyborg begins to recollect his past life as Murphy, plagued with flashbacks to the family he lost and the psychopathic criminals who all but ended his life as he knew it. Determined to bring the bad guys that did him in to justice, RoboCop sets out on a mission of his own, not realizing that the gang in question is actually in cahoots with a rogue entity within the OCP, who for all intents and purposes, also own the city, the police department, and the machine side of Murphy. Paul Verhoeven directs this scathing and potent satire on American commercialism and privatization.
Goldie Hawn plays the ultra-disdainful Joanna Slayton, who hires a carpenter, Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell), while stopping off for repairs in their luxury yacht off the coast of the small town of Elk Cove, Oregon, with her snobby hubby Grant (Edward Herrmann), in order to remodel her closet space for her extensive designer clothing collection. The two don’t see eye to eye on his work, and Joanna refuses payment, leaving him walking away miffed, especially as she also tosses him and his pricey tools overboard. When Joanna ends up falling off the yacht, she ends up drifting ashore with amnesia. Grant sees this as his opportunity to sow some wild oats, while Dean, seeing her story on the news, sees a way to get payback by claiming she is his wife Annie and making her do all of the household chores for him and his four bratty boys. Annie knows nothing about such matters but soon settles into the role Dean tells her she has always had, but as the two grow feelings for one another, there will be a reckoning should she ever remember where she actually came from. Garry Marshall directs.
JoBeth Williams stars as suburban Ohio housewife and mother Cathy Palmer, who escapes her joyless marriage in her spare time by reading her favorite romantic thriller novels, all starring a Modesty Blaise-like globe-hopping female private detective, Rebecca Ryan. She loves them so much, she enters a Rebecca Ryan fan fiction writing contest in which the winner of the would-be authors scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, including seeing all the famous sights, as well as meeting the author of the novels herself, Margaret McMann. When her selfish hubby tells her he has no time for it, and she should just not go at all, Cathy decides she’s going to Paris alone if she must, leaving him and their two boys behind for the week. A curious thing happens on the trip, as Cathy ends up taking a blow to the head after getting hit by a car while pursuing some purse thieves, and when she awakens in the hospital, she not only forgets she’s Cathy, but she thinks she’s the heroine of her novels, Rebecca Ryan herself. She begins her make-over to glamour and adventure, all the while imagining everyone and everything around her is part of a plot of one of the novels, including the leader of the French opposition party, whom she suspects is part of her mission to help protect. Meanwhile, she mistakes Englishman Alan McMann, Margaret’s son (played by Scottish actor, Tom Conti), as her partner-in-crime-solving, Dmitri, and the two get themselves into a heap of real trouble as she dives head-first into snooping around where she doesn’t belong without the skills or expertise to truly know what she’s doing.
Rosanna Arquette stars as Roberta Glass, a dreamer New Jersey housewife who contents herself to reading about the mysterious lives of others through perusing the personals in the local paper. One in particular has caught her eye, involving “Jim and Susan” (Susan is played by Madonna) who use the ads in order to meet in public places. Curious Roberta heads out to catch a glimpse of the two when they meet in New York City, and. through a mishap, ends up with amnesia, not to mention a case of mistaken identity that sees her playing the role of being Susan herself. Trouble is, the artsy hipster Susan is being followed by a crazed thug (Will Patton) intent on recovering some heisted priceless Egyptian artifacts that end up given to Jim, earrings that have been seen in the real Susan’s possession. With the help of Jim’s friend Dez (Aidan Quinn), who also mistakenly thinks Roberta is Susan, she must traverse this dangerous territory and find meaning to her own life, even if she has to live the life of another to do it. Susan Seidelman directs this whimsical, artsy farce.
Roseanne Barr stars as Ruth Pratchett, a devoted wife to her accountant hubby Bob (Ed Begley Jr.), and mother to two precocious children. One day while attending a swank party, Bob meets and eventually has a fling with best-selling romance novelist Mary Fisher (Meryl Streep), and while they do their best to keep things under wraps, Ruth knows better. As their marriage falls apart, Ruth vows revenge, and set about destroying all of the things good old Bob and his mistress hold dear – his home, his family, his career, and his freedom. Susan Seidelman directs this cult comedy.
In this follow-up to the 1984 hit, Romancing the Stone, it’s hard to live up to a “happily ever after ending”, especially for a successful romance novelist like Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), who has learned more about romance in the chase than she does in the union of the two would-be lovebirds. It’s affecting her work, as she struggles to come up with new dreams and situations to fuel her romance novels, resulting in a prolonged bout of writer’s block. As Joan and her hunky man of adventure, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), have spent their time living the life of luxury partying in Cannes and sailing on their yacht off the French Riviera, boredom begins to set in, realizing the excitement in their lives lie more in reminiscing, causing them to wonder if their good run of romance has run out as they near the expectation of their marriage in Greece.
When a well-known leader within the fictional North African country of Kadir, a supremely wealthy sheikh named Omar (Spyros Fokas), approaches her to write his life’s story, on the hope of elevating his status among his people to become the new emperor there, Joan sees new possibilities to change her scenery, her outlook, and her horizons as a writer. Jack and Joan reluctantly split up, but when Jack catches wind that Omar may be in possession of the mysteriously alluring “Jewel of the Nile”, his soldier-of-fortune ways get the better of him, so he decides to get a closer look in Kadir, as does the diminutive lowlife named Ralph (Danny DeVito), who insists that Jack owes him enough for them to help each other get the jewel and split their fortune. Meanwhile, Joan discovers that Omar’s dark side and his attempt at a bloody power grab, leading her to try to get the scoop, as well as help spring a valuable prisoner who is seen as a folk hero to the people of the region, and therefore, Omar’s greatest threat to be respected as leader.
Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a best-selling writer of romance novels, has little romance in her own life. She dreams of a tall, dark and handsome man to rescue her and whisk her off her feet, much like the hero in her series of sexy adventure novels, though her waiting for her idealized man may be the reason why she is still single. When Joan’s sister is kidnapped, Joan must travel to Colombia to give some baddies a mysterious map she was sent by her recently butchered brother-in-law to free her. Unfortunately, the corrupt local police are after the same map and when Joan takes the wrong bus upon arrival, she soon finds herself on the run for her life. She comes across a local soldier of fortune named Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), who agrees to escort her to the nearest phone booth (for a price), but soon discovers the journey will be harder than they bargained for. Jack has the idea that they should follow the map to get to the treasure it points to, because it is the treasure and not the map that is the true bargaining chip. Could this be the adventure she has searched for all her life? Danny DeVito co-stars in this Robert Zemeckis film.
Last Crusade begins with River Phoenix playing a young Indiana Jones, even at a young age, having a thirst for adventure. His father (Connery), who is also professor of Medieval literature, is acutely obsessed with tracking down any information he can get regarding the whereabouts of the legendary Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and, as a result, little attention is paid to young Indy. Flash forward to 1938, where Indiana (Harrison Ford) finds that his father has been kidnapped by the Nazis, who are also looking for the Holy Grail, and the legendary powers of immortality it may hold. Indy and his dad have never quite seen eye to eye, which makes Indiana’s subsequent rescue attempts all the more interesting, as he tries to impress a man who only lives for the Grail. Steven Spielberg directs, with another memorable John Williams score in what was intended to be the iconic character’s final cinematic adventure.
While INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s really a prequel, set in 1935, a year before. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) finds himself in Shanghai on the hunt for a precious diamond, but gets in over his head, chased out of town with his assistant, a young boy nicknamed Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan), and Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), a ditsy, blonde, nightclub singer. Having to make a hasty exit into the Himalayas from a crashing airplane, Indy and friends find themselves in a starving village in India, who see their visitors as saviors destined to save their children who they believe have been taken away by resurrected forces of evil at a formerly abandoned palace. The trio set off for the palace in search of lost children, a sacred stone…and fortune and glory.