Family Friendly Fantasy and Science Fiction
By Kristin Battestella
Hello again with another quick list of recommendations for your rainy days and family fun nights. Here are a few genre keepers that can be enjoyed by the entire family-young and old, modern and classic.
The Adventures of Robin Hood - This 1938 classic may seem hokey to some, but tales of
Sherwood Forest don’t get much better than this. Juvenile audiences and old time memories still make Errol Flynn’s be greened Robin, Olivia de Havilland’s Maid Marion, and Basil Rathbone’s Sir Guy of Gisborne a delight.
Swiss Family Robinson- Forget Pirates of The Caribbean, this 1960 Disney classic has tree houses, wild animals, tropical locations, and pirates! How can you not love Dorothy MacGuire and the scrawny boy who’s obviously a girl? Everyone can still enjoy this one-and it looks great on DVD. Disney just doesn’t make ‘em like they used to.
Clash of the Titans- This sword and sandal fanfare looks so bad yet still looks so good. The All-Star cast, Harryhausen-laden visuals, and story filled with meddling gods and mythical creatures is a delight for young and old. Very young children might be scared by the darker imagery and there’s a touch of toddler nudity; but kids 10 and under can still delight in this 1981 charmer.
Ladyhawke- Yes the music’s bad and the ending is weak, but this fanciful and tragic love story is still beautiful and moving. Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer are bittersweet as two cursed lovers who can only see each other for a moment at dawn. Fine characters, witty humor, and nothing scandalous make this a family keeper.
Jurassic Park- This Steven Spielberg extravaganza isn’t exactly one of my favorites, but the sequels are down hill from this groundbreaking and visually stunning dinosaur ‘what if’. A fine cast and some awesome dinosaurs will always look good to the paleontologist at heart.
Stargate- The long running series and spin-offs have their fans, but the original 1994 Stargate is a commitment free fix for a night of archeology and action. Kurt Russell’s Colonel O’Neill has more edge, and who doesn’t love a little bit of aliens with their Ancient Egypt?
Batman Forever- Not as dark, serious, and thought provoking as the recent Batman installments, this 1995 edition from Joel Schumacher has comic book fun, color, Robin, and Bat Girl. Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, and Tommy Lee Jones add the supporting grit, humor, and charm. Kids can enjoy the lighthearted take on the Caped Crusader while parents critique Val Kilmer’s entry as Batman.
The Mummy- Another original film that reigns above its sequels and direct to DVD spin-offs. Here’s more Egyptology and fantasy to inspire the kids, along with charm and wit from Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. The mummy effects still look good to the mature, critical eye, and despite some humorous romance; there’s nothing skimpy and offensive.
X-Men- Perhaps not the best one in this mutant superhero trilogy, X-Men still packs in a lot of introductions and back-story, setting the scene for a fantastic look at discrimination. Teens who don’t already enjoy X-Men will love this tale of the gifted and misunderstood for its reflection of their own lives.
Bruce Almighty- Though humorous and a little fresh in some places, Jim Carrey proves here that he can handle drama and mature story telling. Morgan Freeman is charming as God, and Carrey’s everyman struggles to do the right thing when given such enormous opportunity. Family friendly or even acceptable for youth group-beat that!