THE GREAT ESCAPE
This iconic and epic war drama follows the breath taking and exhausting attempt escape plan of British prisoners of war from a German POW camp. Based on a true story and starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough, the film is heavily fictionalized for the benefit of the box office but makes for an extremely tense 172 minutes. While only three of the 50 prisoners made a successful bid for freedom, the film is an exhaustive exercise in determination and motivation.
Possibly one of the most epic tales of rags to riches, the Rocky franchise started in 1976 with a young Sylvester Stallone (who also wrote the film) starring as Rocky Balboa, a small time club fighter destined for big things. The initial movie was a sleeper hit, made on a budget of just $1 million. Throughout the year, it ended up taking $225 million at the global box office (the highest earning film of 1976), winning three Academy Awards and turned Stallone into a global star. The film now has six sequels with a seventh, Creed II, being released this month.
Based on a novel of the same name by Winston Groom, Tom Hanks stars as the now-iconic Forrest Gump, a humble Alabaman who witnesses several historical moments throughout his life which end up shaping the world we live in today. From inspiring Elvis’ hip-skating dance, to earning a Purple Heart for bravery during the Vietnam War, becoming a renowned ping pong player and long-distance runner and revealing the Watergate Scandal, the heart-warming movie tells a tale of strength in character and hard work inspiring generations upon generations that you really can achieve the impossible if you put your mind to it.
Mel Gibson yelling that his freedom could not be taken is possibly one of the most quoted movie scenes of the 90s. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards and picking up five the year of its release, this epic war drama is about legendary Scottish warrior William Wallace (played by Gibson), who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence again King Edward I of England around 1300. Although the film was criticized for factual inaccuracies, the gory and ambitious battle scenes coupled with love, patriotism and treachery has made the film about an underdog battling his mightier enemies a cult classic.
INTO THE WILD
Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild is as beautifully cinematic as it is devastating. Following the tale of idealistic dreamer Christopher McCandless, who cashes in his law fund degree and sets off for Alaska to live alone in the wilderness in an abandoned school bus. While being away from civilization and alone in the wild is everything he could have hoped and dreamt of, the elements are unforgiving, and lacking hunting and survival skills, his fate is doomed (spoiler alert). While Into the Wild doesn’t have a happy ending, the movie does make an appealing case for rejecting society, something most would think is impossible (as long as you’ve mastered your survival skills).
This is the mind-blowing real story of Aron Ralston, played by James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle, a climber and extreme sports lover who heads out hiking alone to the remote Blue John Canyon, Utah, in 2003. While attempting a tricky climb, his arm gets trapped under a boulder and with no mobile phone (this was 2003) and no one knowing where he is, Ralson must make a choice – to die a slow, painful death, or free himself the only way possible – by cutting of his arm. It’s an incredible story of strength and survival, convincingly and brilliantly played by Franco, that is motivating, thrilling and stomach turning.
Despair, heartache, panic and hope all make this heart-wrenching film, based on the true-life story of a Spanish family who were caught up in the 2004 tsunami while on holiday in Thailand, a jaw-dropping watch. While the tragedy killed 230,000 people across South East Asia, the movie, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and written by Sergio Sánchez, manages to focus on the hope and incredible strength of the people caught up in an impossible situation and it’s two main characters, played by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, navigate the pain of loss and separation in a way that is incredibly empowering.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALL OUT
While Tom Cruise is nearing 40 years in the bizz, the sixth movie from his action spy Mission series has been his most successful project to date, so far grossing $790 million worldwide at the box office. The actor curated and starred in all the jaw-clenching stunts himself, even breaking his ankle in one which put the filming schedule back by 9 weeks while Cruise healed. While the critically-acclaimed movie is nail-bitingly thrilling, the fact that 57-year-old Cruise has a career that just seems to be getting better and better proves that anything really can be possible.
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