20. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987)
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Box Office: $22 million ($46 million, adjusted for inflation)
Oscars: 6 nominations, 0 wins
Premise: A young Christian Bale plays Jamie Graham, a real-life boy who went from a life of luxury to struggling to survive in a POW camp.
Over two hours?: More than 30 minutes over
John Williams Score?: Yes
Father Issues?: Jamie’s businessman father is the reason his family is in Shanghai
War?: Yep, World War II
Aliens?: Nowhere to be found
Surprise Appearances: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Joe Pantoliano, Ben Stiller, and Miranda Richardson
Fun Fact: Ben Stiller’s time on the set of Empire of the Sun provided the germination of the idea for Tropic Thunder.
Best Line: “It’s at the beginning and end of war that we have to watch out. In between, it’s like a country club.”
Verdict: A good movie, but much too long for its own good and too drearily sad. Still, Christian Bale provided one of the greatest performances from a child actor in the ‘80s, as Jamie. When the movie succeeds in showing itself through Jamie’s eyes of innocence and wonder — as well as his later eyes of disillusionment and emptiness — it comes alive in a way many war movies fail to.
Rating: 4 stars / 5