THE TOP 25: THE GREEN MILE

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Kevin Lynch, Entertainment Editor

Welcome to “The Top 25,” a new series on ProspectorNow where I’ll be taking a dive into IMDb’s list of top ranked movies to see how well they hold up and also whether they deserve to be on this prestigious list. Please note that this list varies depending both on which specific list you choose, as well as movies being periodically added, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that I’m using the list as it originally appeared when starting this series.

We’ll be kicking things off with number 25, “The Green Mile.” This movie, starring Tom Hanks, takes place in 1930s’ Alabama. The movie is based off of a Stephan King novel, and is probably as close to a stereotypical “top 25” movie as I can imagine. Released in 1999, it received an 8.6 out of 10 on IMDb, and a 68 on Metacritic, not to mention its numerous awards.

The story follows Paul Edgecomb–played by Tom Hanks–an officer on a Depression-era death row, nicknamed the Green Mile, due to the “last mile” the prisoners walk being a vibrant green. When a hulking African-American man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought in for the rape and murder of two young girls, Coffey’s mysterious gift forever changes Hanks and the rest of the officers on the Mile.

The characters in the film are what truly bring the plot to life, however. The other guards on the Mile have such great and unique chemistry, not only with one another, but also with the prisoners that they will eventually execute. This is where the movie truly shines, as while Coffey’s whole plot line is interesting, it wasn’t nearly as captivating as the stories of regret and redemption of the prisoners paired with the unusual compassion of the officers.

One convict, Dell, takes in a tiny mouse who has been evading the guards and names him Mr. Jingles, leading to some of the movie’s most heartwarming and heartbreaking sequences, showing a different side to these supposedly hardened criminals.

Not only this, but the “villain,” while not very antagonistic, caused me to truly hate a film character more than I thought was possible. While some movies go out of their way to make the villain cruel and dislikeable, here they feel completely natural, while still being utterly despicable.

The movie is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and Coffey’s gift adds a perfect level of supernatural and mysterious elements so that it feels unreal, while still grounded in reality. It’s no surprise that Duncan was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, in addition to the film’s nomination for Best Picture.

While the movie is certainly fantastic, it is only number 25 after all, and it does hold a couple of flaws. The movie has three separate electrocutions, and while all felt distinct and necessary to the plot, it did seem at times like the film was just moving from execution to execution. There’s also a wholly unnecessary sequence at the beginning and end set in the present day, which doesn’t sound bad on paper, but kills the movie’s momentum after what would have been a perfectly serviceable finale.

This being said, the sour taste left by these missteps is completely overpowered by the superb acting and emotional story. I must admit, as skeptical as I was of the validity of this list, this movie is most certainly top 25 material. Its small scale holds it back from popping into the front of my brain when “the greatest movies ever” are discussed, but with everything going for it, it’s sure to make other aspiring sci-fi dramas green with envy.