Category Archives: The Tens
Top tens, bottom tens, lists of tens
As usual, I applied all my usual standards for the list.
- X-Men 2 – X-Men was a really good movie, and helped to lay down the ground work for its sequels, which is why X-Men 2 is so great. With the basics set down, X-Men 2 was able to burst out of the gate at breakneck speed. With a new enemy in the form of Stryker introduced, allegiances now came a bit more mutable (pardon the pun).
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Probably the high point of the Star Wars movies (all of them), Empire advanced the story threads laid down in the first movie, while bringing in new twists. Was Vader telling Luke the truth, or was he just messing with him? Every thought went through out minds when we first saw that movie, making all too eager for the next movie.
- Dark Knight – Batman Begins set a high standard for the Nolan Batman movies. Thankfully, Nolan paid off big time with the sequel, introducing a version of the Joker that was increasingly difficult to get a read on. Was he really insane, or probably the biggest criminal genius that anyone, even Batman, had ever seen? It sure helped that Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was just phenomenal.
- Road Warrior – Prior to the release of Road Warrior, I had never heard of Mad Max. And I bet if I ran a poll and asked who was in Mad Max besides Mel Gibson, most respondents would say Tina Turner, erroneously thinking of the third movie. When I think of a Mad Max marathon, it usually starts with Road Warrior, with Mad Max being an afterthought.
- Jurassic Park 3 – This one is a guilty pleasure entry. I liked the first movie with all its big dinosaurs, but the second movie completely fell flat for me. Then along came the third movie, which I think I saw either on DVD or on one of the movie networks. I found myself intrigued by the movie. Unlike the second movie, which followed the unlikely hero of Ian Malcolm, this one focused on one of the two characters who would feel the direct impact of the return of dinosaurs, Dr. Alan Grant. Jurassic Park 3 ends up being a fun thrill ride as Grant is pulled back into the world he hoped to leave behind.
- Return of the King – This one is tough to put on the list, mostly because all the previous movies (Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers) are almost as good. But Return makes the list because it expertly brings the Lord of the Rings trilogy to an exciting and dramatic end.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – This, I feel, is the high point of the Harry Potter series. this is the movie in which you really learn what is at stake on the Potterverse. We’ve seen hints of it in the first two movies, but it is in Goblet that not only does Harry’s world expand greatly, but we see the true darkness that will dominate the rest of the series.
- Evil Dead 2 – This movie is one of my personal favorites. Almost a remake of the first movie more than a sequel, Evil Dead 2 is just a much better film than Evil Dead.
- Goldfinger – This is a fudge point for me. Technically, this is a sequel to From Russia With Love, but since there have been so many James Bond films, it is tough to call any one a sequel of the previous… in most cases. But, taking it as a sequel for the moment, it is the quintessential Sean Connery Bond film.
- Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan – Khan was an excellent Star Trek movie. The return of a classic Trek villain, the spectacular space battles, just everything. We are even willing to overlook the fact that Chekov does not even appear in Space Seed, the episode that introduced us to Khan in the first place. Naturally, all of this would still hold true is Star Trek: The Motion Picture had not really been a television pilot that was pushed to the big screen by the success of Star Wars.
It is rare that a sequel will exceed the original. Yes, there are a number of notable exceptions, but for the most part, sequels generally tend to be of a lesser quality than the original.
But then, there are some that take this lowered expectation and fail to even meet that. These sequels are not bad, but really bad, so bad that they echo in the minds of most people as some of the worst films ever.
Like many of my other lists, I have limited my picks for the worst sequels to those that I have seen. Case in point, Batman and Robin has got to be the worst sequel ever, so bad that it nearly killed the franchise. But, since I have never been masochistic enough to sit all the way through it, I cannot include it on my list.
I did add a few other restrictions to this list. Franchise reboots are not counted, nor are remakes, even if they are pseudo-sequel remakes. I also eliminated most James Bond movies. While they are a series, there are only a couple that can be considered direct sequels of previous films. Even then, most of them do manage to stand on their own.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Just a few New Year’s resolutions to try and keep this year. I figured that if I was going to do this, I might as well do this big time.
My list of 10 great superhero movies to watch when in the mood
1) Batman Begins – The movie that revitalized the Batman cinema franchise after the mess that was Batman and Robin. Christian Bale is great as the deeply troubled Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Cillian Murphy is terrifying at Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, played so delightfully unassuming.
2) The Dark Knight – The sequel to Batman Begins. Where the first movie is al Batman, The Dark Knight is the Joker’s movie. This time out, Heath Ledger plays a far darker Clown Prince of Crime, at times even darker than the comics (anyone who’s read Batman: The Killing Joke will know how hard that is to do). Ledger’s Joker is tough to tell whether he’s a genius gone mad, or a genius acting mad.
3) Batman – Tim Burton manages to take the Dark Knight back down the path he started on, away from the 1960s “caped crusader” that began the era of cheesy heroes.
4) Iron Man – I have to admit, I’ve never really been a fan of Iron Man in the comics. War Machine, yes, but not Iron Man. And while I still am not a fan of the comic book hero, Robert Downey Jr. manages to make Tony Stark a likeable character, even with all his flaws.
5) The Incredibles – Pixar enters the world of superheroes with this entry. Delightfully fun to watch.
6) Goldfinger - right now, there are some of you who are probably arguing that James Bond is not a superhero. But, if you watch the any of the movies (Goldfinger is chosen because it is my favorite), he fights evil (like any superhero) with an array of skills and gadgets (like Batman), often facing off against colorful (and sometimes over the top) villains.
7) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – This movie snuck out and did not garner a lot of attention, but it is definitely worth checking out. Very post-retro with its 1930s-40s movie serial feel recreated with 21st century know-how (nearly all of the movie was computer generated).
8) The Phantom – Another personal guilty pleasure movie. I never was quite sure why, but I always find myself watching this movie whenever I stumble across it on television.
9) Spider-Man – the first one is the best one. While Tobey Maguire could have wise cracked a bit more as the webslinger, it is still a fun movie to watch.
10) X-Men 2 - This is the movie that really let the X-Men shine as heroes. The battle at the Institute alone makes the movie worth watching.
1) Swamp Thing – Specificly The Anatomy Lesson story written by Alan Moore.
2) Metamorpho – He’s been seen in guest shots, but nothing that is completely his own.
3) Starman – Jack Knight returns in a retelling of his origin as Starman.
4) Blackhawks – Set in either the WW2 or post WW2 era.
5) Dial H For Hero – Would like to see the concept of a variable hero animated.
6) The Creeper – Jack Ryder’s crazed alter ego would make an excellent dark piece like the Spectre short.
7) Camelot 3000 – Not a DC Universe title per se, but a series that would make an excelent animated feature
8) Blue Devil – Would be interesting to see the origin story of Blue Devil (before the mystical stuff really took over).
9) DC Detectives – Bringing together a trio of DC’s classic detectives, Roy Raymond, Jason Bard and Mysto, combining their investigative skills to solve “the crime of the century.”
10) G.I. Robot – Set in WW2 Pacific, This gritty version would bring the Weird War Tales character to life.
These are the films that I just let me down. WARNING: Spoilers will most likely follow.
Standard “10 in the 10″ rules apply. I had to have seen the movie, and it had to have had a theatrical release, and it had to have been released in the last 10 years.
Remember, the Best 10 is subject to personal tastes, and thus, it may not match any list that you may compile yourself.
The Best 10 in the Last 10 (as always, in no particular order)
1) Sin City 2005 - A throwback to the film noir of old Hollywood with a modern slant. What makes this film one of the best is not only it’s highly stylized look (black and white with highlighting color), but it’s adherence to the original source material (Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels).
2) Batman Begins 2005 – Who would have thought that a reboot of a series would be so… wow. Batman Begins goes past the action and adventure of the caped crusader and analyzes the psyche that makes of the Dark Knight. Use of “second tier” villains (Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul) help make the film a spectacle while still leaving ground to explore.
3) The Dark Knight 2008 – A lot of initial buz for this movie was generated by the sudden and tragic death of Heath Ledger. Still, even if Ledger had not died, his performance as the Joker would have been phenomenal, throwing back to the origins of the Joker while still putting a severely twisted spin on the character.
4) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 – I have to admit I did not expect much of this movie going in. In fact, I was seeing it because I had gotten a movie pass in a pirate themes video game. Now having seeing this film, I would have paid full price. A true swashbuckling adventure.
5) The 40 Year Old Virgin 2005 – It’s been a long time since a movie made me laugh, really laugh, and even longer when I still laugh at movie even after repeated viewings. Airplane does this, and so does The 40 Year Old Virgin. Steve Carell is hilarious.
6) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King 2003 – The final chapter in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and truly worthy of the Oscar that it won for best picture.
7) Iron Man 2008 – I’ve never really been an Iron Man fan, except for a brief period of time when James Rhodes was Iron Man after Tony Stark “died” (lasted all of two months, but spun off War Machine). So, a movie has to be good for me to change my opinion of a character than I never really cared all that much about.
8) The Incredibles 2004 – Probably the best Pixar movie I’ve seen, mostly because I am a comic book fan. It is a fun trip watching the fall and rise of a superhero.
9) 300 2006 – An adventure following the same adherence to the original source material as Sin City (also based on a Frank Miller graphic novel), even if the story if told through an unreliable narrator.
10) Phantom of the Opera 2004- I’ll admit it, I’m a Phantom mark. I’ve read the book… repeatedly, seen the musical traveling show, and seen a number of the movies (the original 1925 Lon Chaney version is still the best). This version captures the majesty and wonder of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway smash.
I modification of my Guilty 10 concept. This time, the list is open to anything on DVD and not just movies that saw cinematic release. It is also open to movies that were not necessarily released in the last ten years. There will not be a lot of duplication from this list and the guilty 10 in the last 10 list.
As always, I’m still working on my Best 10 in the Last 10 list
The Guilty 10 on DVD
1) Godzilla Final Wars – Supposedly the last Godzilla movie (just as Godzilla vs Destroyah was supposed to be the last Godzilla movie), Final Wars throws in everything to make one Hell of a roller coaster ride. Not only do we have the king of monsters, but just about every other monster Toho ever released (even the American Godzilla), but a human storyline draws upon a lot of the stunts that The Matrix movies used. On second thought, don’t really pay attention to the story, just watch Godzilla beat up on a lot of monsters.
2) Destroy All Monsters – Going retro with this Godzilla flick. Like the later Godzilla: Final Wars, Destroy All Monsters features a monster cast of Toho’s giant monsters in a Battle Royale against Ghidorah.
3) Five Deadly Venoms – Cheesy martial arts flick that is truly a master of cheesy martial arts clicks. The story centers around five martial arts masters (the titular Venoms), one apprentice trying to find who’s good and who’s bad, and a lost treasure. Granted, the treasure is almost secondary to watching the five Venoms introduce themselves to each other (“You’re Number One, the Centipede”) and fight, naturally.
4) Tarzan – I refer to the Disney version of the movie. A fun romp that brings the character of Tarzan to a new generation without losing a lot of what makes Tarzan, well, Tarzan.
5) The Phantom – One of those comic book adventure movies I know I shouldn’t like, but always enjoy watching whenever it’s on. Billy Zane is actually entertaining as the Phantom.
6) Doctor Who: The 5 Doctors – Not a movie, per se, but many of the DVDs out there stitch together this anniversary Doctor Who series into one mini epic. Even without a prominent presence of Tom Baker, the DVD is a fun adventure that pulls together not only the Doctors, but many of their most popular companions.
7) Cowboy Bebop – Anime series that is sharp, stylish, hip, and so well produced. Interesting characters and a hip non-anime style soundtrack help to make this a fan favorite in the U.S.
8) Final Fantasy: Advent Children – Similar in style to Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (well produced computer generated animation), only with the characters that those of you familiar to the Final Fantasy storylines will recognize.
9) The 40 Year Old Virgin – I have not laughed so much as when I watched this movie. Steve Carell is hilarious as the titular character, as are his friends that try to help him with his “situation.”
10) Godzilla – The original. A recent DVD release has on it the American version with Raymond Burr as Steve Martin (yes, that’s right, Steve Martin), as well as the original Japanese release of the film. Watch the original with subtitles to see the real themes of the movie come through.
I had originally intended this to be a Best 10 in the Last 10 motif. The only problem is that I really could not come up with ten movies in the last ten years that I’ve seen that I would classify as “best.” So, I decided to expand my top 5 all time to a top 10 of all time.
I try to adhere to the rules that I set up in my previous “10″ lists (theatrical release, had to have seen it, etc). Also keep in mind that the list is subjective. Some of my Top 10 will undoubtedly be on other people’s Worst 10 or Guilty 10. As I mentioned, this is my top 10.
Now, my Top 10 of all Time (as always, in no particular order)
Phantom of the Opera 1925 – Probably the earliest of the movies I include on this list, but a true cinematic treasure to watch, especially if you manage to get your hands on a good DVD copy. This version is probably the closest to the original novel’s story, down to the appearance of Erik (brilliantly played by Lon Chaney).
Henry V 1989 – This is the Branagh version of the Shakespearean history. This is a brutal version of the play, leaving in much of the negative scenes that the earlier Olivier version left out. Unapologetic in its tone, it celebrates Shakespeare with a stellar cast of British acting.
Goldfinger 1964 – the first of the movies on my list that some may debate the merits of, but this film remains the quintessential James Bond movie
Evil Dead 2 1987 - Definitely a guilty pleasure, but one of the horror movies I enjoy watching over and over again. A lot of Sam Raimi’s style that he uses in his later mainstream movies shows up in this film, and cements Bruce Campbell as a B-movie hero
Captain Blood 1935 – The swashbuckling adventure of Peter Blood, physician turned slave turned pirate captain, this is one of Errol Flynn’s best roles.
The Great Escape 1963 - One of the best war movies, telling a tweaked version of the true story of the escape from Stalog Luft 3.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1974- An irreverent look at the legend of King Arthur, with all the hilarious mocking that Monty Python is known for. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who does not know as least one line from this classic.
Batman Begins 2005 - Probably the best Batman movie to be release since the 1989 Tim Burton Batman, this version reboots the franchise, forgoing classic villains for the Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul (though both are classic comic villains), creating a Bruce Wayne/Batman seeking direction until he finds himself.
Brotherhood of the Wolf 2001 - Admittedly, this is the only foreign language movie on my list, this movie retells the legend of the Beast of Gevaudan, twisting and turning its way through a tale that is one part “werewolf” movie, one part adventure, and one part conspiracy movie.
Psycho 1960- Simply Hitchcock at his best.
Following the same guidelines set in my previous post Worst 10 in the Last 10, here are the 10 movies in the last 10 years that I like in spite of themselves (and other people).
I’m still working on the Best 10 list.
The Guilty 10…
1) Daredevil (2003) – There is just something about this movie that just clicked for me. Maybe it was Colin Farrell as Bullseye, or the really cool explanation (and effects) of how Daredevil’s radar sense worked, I don’t know, but I usually end up watching this movie whenever it’s on. Check out the Director’s cut, it actually added a lot to the movie.
2) Punisher (2004) – Granted, Rebecca Romijn is way too good-looking to be Joan (who was a bit mousey in the original story), but Thomas Jane is spot on as Frank Castle. Even better, we do see him wear the Punisher’s iconic skull in this movie, unlike the Dolph Lundgren version.
3) National Treasure (2004) – This one I saw on DVD because my dad wanted to see it. I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised by this neat little adventure movie.
4) Snakes on a Plane (2006) – In another decade, this movie would have been late night theatre fare much, much like Rocky Horror Picture Show, with all the audience interaction of Rocky Horror. Still, it’s just a fun movie to watch, especially on commercial cable (“I am tired of these monkey fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!“).
5) Silent Hill (2006) – I loved the creepy video games. And this movie managed to capture the same creepiness.
6) Slither (2006) – I love old horror movies, the Universal monster movies, Them, Hammer horror. Slither manages to play into the who B-movie/alien invasion movie while keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing.
7) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – This movie captures the feel of the old serials.
8 ) Hellboy (2004) – a decent job bringing Mike Mignola’s comic icon to the big screen. Ron Perlman is perfect as Hellboy.
9) Blade: Trinity (2004) – The last of the Blade movies, but it is Ryan Reynolds that shines as vampire-hunting wiseass Hannibal King.
10) DOA: Dead or Alive(2006) – This is the epitome of the guilty pleasure. It’s not well acted in general, and the story is, well, it’s based off a video game where the principle premise is that scantily clad women fight each other. Regardless, I still have fun watching it, sort of like the fun you have when you watch an old kung fu movie.