Annal: 1994 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film

Results of the Saturn Award in the year 1994.

Film:The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Henry Selick

For those who never thought Disney would release a film in which Santa Claus is kidnapped and tortured, well, here it is! The full title is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which should give you an idea of the tone of this stop-action animated musical/fantasy/horror/comedy. It is based on characters created by Burton, the former Disney animator best known as the director of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and the first two Batman movies. His benignly scary-funny sensibility dominates the…

Film:Addams Family Values

Addams Family Values

Barry Sonnenfeld

This somewhat more cohesive follow-up to The Addams Family has the same director, Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), but a better story line. Joan Cusack plays a busty gold digger who ingratiates herself into the Addams home and convinces Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) that she wants to marry him. Besides Lloyd, the cast includes Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, ideal as those Brontëan lovers, Morticia and Gomez. But Christina Ricci again walks away with the best moments as the chilly Wednesday Addams, making life miserable for two camp counselors…

Film:Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Harold Ramis

Bill Murray does warmth in his most consistently effective post-Stripes comedy, a romantic fantasy about a wacky weatherman forced to relive one strange day over and over again, until he gets it right. Snowed in during a road-trip expedition to watch the famous groundhog encounter his shadow, Murray falls into a time warp that is never explained but pays off so richly that it doesn’t need to be. The elaborate loop-the-loop plot structure cooked up by screenwriter Danny Rubin is crystal-clear every step of the way, but it’s Murray’s world-class reactive…

Film:Heart and Souls

Heart and Souls

Ron Underwood

Robert Downey Jr. has never been more charming than in this comedy about a yuppie who is revisited in adulthood by the spirits of four people who had been his friends as a child. The ghosts (Kyra Sedgwick, Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Tom Sizemore) all have unfinished business in this world before they can move on to the next, and Downey’s character agrees to let them inhabit his body while they sort it all out. The appealing cast alone strongly recommends this movie, but Downey’s remarkable facility for physical comedy—manifesting the personalities of his…

Film:Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus

Kenny Ortega

This big, fat theatrical bomb has a lot going for it. There’s the three leads, Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, playing three resurrected witches who wreak havoc on Salem, Massachusetts, 300 hundred years after they were hung. There’s music, special effects, and magic. There’s a surprisingly horror-filled plot. Whoops, hold up on that last one. It’s probably the extremes that this film goes to (displaying a Disney label), such as the witches sucking the life out of a little girl in the first five minutes, that put the brakes on any success…

Film:The Last Action Hero

The Last Action Hero

John McTiernan

Jack Slater is an action-film hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. An old projectionist (Robert Prosky) hands a magic movie ticket to Jack’s biggest preteen fan (Austin O’Brien), and the kid steps right inside the latest Jack Slater film, becoming the actor star’s sidekick in gunfights and car chases. But when Jack’s nemesis (Charles Dance) gets his hands on the ticket, the fight busts out into the real world and Jack (à la Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear) refuses to believe he’s a fictional character. Director John McTiernan churns some nifty scenes out of…

Film:Rookie of the Year

Rookie of the Year

Daniel Stern

Baseball movies seem like a sure thing, combining the drama of the game with positive values. So it’s too bad this pleasant film takes the field in the most superficial way. Henry, the worst player in Little League, suffers an injury that miraculously heals as the strongest pitching arm in the world. His life becomes a kid’s dream with a career in the Majors, but nothing really happens. His strength cannot hide his lack of skill, yet audiences love him, probably to support subplots such as the team being rescued from bankruptcy and Mom’s boyfriend turning bad.…

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