Posts Tagged ‘bill and ted’

Whilst coming to the end of writing my first extensive look at why a certain “horror” franchise failed to produce quality films, I was made aware of a mini-craze amongst film reviewers on social media in which they reveal their favourite film from each year that they’ve been alive.

At first I had no interest in taking part, but then I thought that it might be fun to see what came out each year I was alive. One thing that I quickly realised that there are some years in which there were few standout films for me, 1990 and 2005 being particularly sparse, whereas I really struggled just to pick one from 1994 as as well as what I chose, there were so many entries that were not only great, but would top many top tens around the world.

So I was born in 1984 and will therefore start there. In the interest of fairness I am only going to consider films that were released at the cinema.

1984 – Ghostbusters
1985 – The Goonies
1986 – The Fly
1987 – Spaceballs
1988 – Willow
1989 – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1990 – Night of the Living Dead
1991 – Terminator 2 : Judgement Day
1992 – A League of Their Own

1993 – Jurassic Park
1994 – The Shawshank Redemption
1995 – Mortal Kombat
1996 – Star Trek : First Contact
1997 – The Fifth Element
1998 – The Truman Show
1999 – Fight Club


2000 – American Psycho
2001 – The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 – 28 Days Later
2003 – Pirates of the Caribbean : The Curse of the Black Pearl
2004 – Troy
2005 – Land of the Dead
2006 – Lucky Number Slevin


2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – The Dark Knight
2009 – Star Trek
2010 – Scott Pilgrim vs the World
2011 – Moneyball
2012 – Avengers : Assemble
2013 – Rush

Then we come onto those that I’ve seen since I started reviewing films for this site. Click on the below links for the full run downs of the top tens from these years.
2014 – Nightcrawler
2015 – No Escape
2016 – Captain Fantastic
2017 – TBD

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There is an internal debate that I have had for several months and that it “what is the greatest decade for cinema” in terms of quantity of quality films, and after several months of debate, I have come to the conclusion that the best decade for cinema was the 1980s.

I got onto this debate again over the weekend as I went back to my hometown of Lincoln for a few days. It was the first time I’ve had two days in a row off from all jobs since April and as I turn 32 on September 12th, I decided to celebrate by going home, seeing family and friends, and whilst there I got my present from my parents, the ever reliable present that is money. I decided to invest it in some new Blu-Rays as I haven’t brought myself some for a while, infact it’s only one in since April, which is a low number for me.

After browsing HMV’s five Blu-Rays for £30 section, I came away with the following (I bought more than five);

  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • Weird Science
  • Gremlins
  • Krull
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Jane Got a Gun
  • The Gift

I only realised a few hours later that four of my choices were from the 1980s, and it got that debate starting again, and I still come to the conclusion that is the best decade for film. Whilst that is obviously down to personal taste and opinion, I have decided to justify my decision by writing an article about it.

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So many classics, and original films at that

Arguably no decade has more classics coming out of it than the 1980s. You’ve got genre defining classics in pretty much every single category, which isn’t something that you can say about most decades. Whilst the 1990s had some timeless films, such as “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Fight Club”, there weren’t that many films that you can look at and say that you’d still be watching them regularly 26 years after the decade ended.

To put this in some sort of context, here are some examples of genres and some of the classics (in my opinion) in that genre. Please note that if there is an asterix next to it, I haven’t actually seen the film and am going purely off it’s reputation.

Science Fiction : ET*, The Terminator, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Blade Runner*, Predator, The Abyss, Star Trek 2 : The Wrath of Khan and Aliens.

Horror : The Fly, The Thing, The Shining, Gremlins and The Evil Dead.

Comedy : Ghostbusters, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Weird Science, Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off*, The Blues Brothers*, Big, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Police Academy.

Adventure : Raiders of the Lost Ark, Willow, Krull, The Neverending Story and The Goonies.

War : Full Metal Jacket* and Platoon*.

Action : Die Hard and Top Gun.

Drama : Rain Man, Stand by Me, Gandhi and A Passage to India*.

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All of those were just of of the top of my head, I’m sure if I delved into it there would be more, but there just some of the classics that came from the 1980s, and in particular, original ideas. Again, without delving into it, there are only three sequels listed above (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Wrath of Khan), and whilst there are a few remakes (The Fly and the Thing), the vast majority are original ideas and a lot of those films, for better or for worse, started franchises.

As time has gone on, original ideas have become few and far between in Hollywood, making most films predictable, especially in our current decade, in which it’s very hard to see a film that isn’t based on a book, another film, isn’t a reboot, remake or sequel, and is just an outright original idea.

Whilst the majority of films in earlier decades were obviously original, in my opinion no decade outside of the 1980s has produced as many original hits that people still watch and inspired as much.

Computer generated special effects were rare!

The 1980s was the last decade in which it was uncommon to see computer generated special effects in films. The vast majority of effects in the 1980s were practical, and because of this it often looked far more realistic.

For example, the only bit of CGI that I have been impressed with recently was in “The Jungle Book”, in which the animals looked exceptionally realistic, but that is definitely a rarity these days and to counter that, a few weeks later I watched “Gods of Egypt”, which I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all done on green-screens as everything looked ridiculously fake.

Practical effects work better for me because they just look more realistic. I’ll grant you that this isn’t always the case, such as the scene in “The Terminator” in which the Terminator is removing his faulty eye, but by in large it just looks better. One such direct example that I can use is the 1982 version of “The Thing” in comparison to it’s 2011 prequel.

On the image below you can see an image of the same character (please note for those that haven’t seen it, in the picture on the left the character is dead, or least so they think). On the left hand side is the character in the 1982 film and has been done entirely with practical effects, compared to the same character in the 2011 prequel, which was a 100% CGI character.


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I have nothing against the prequel at all. Whilst it’s nowhere near as good as the first film, it is a reasonable attempt, but the look of this character in particular just takes away any semblance of fear and danger. Whilst you never see the practical effects split-face character alive in the 1982 film, I would be far more terrified if that was coming towards me than the one on the right, and it’s all because the split-face on the right hand side looks fake as hell.

Everything just looked better in the 1980s and more lifeless, and seeing a character that I know is completely CGI personally takes me out of the film a lot, whereas practical effects characters just don’t have the same impact on me whatsoever.

Effects help story telling and if used right, they can be excellent. There are so few films these days that make non-human characters look realistic, whereas the 1980s managed it so well as it was a time when sixty or so years of research had been perfected, and it was only towards the end of the decade that computer generated effects started coming into effect, and what’s more, some of the creatures in the practical effects era were cute as hell, such as Falcor from “The Neverending Story”.

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Characters and story came first!

Following on from the above, one thing that a lot of modern day films often make a mistake on is trying to make their film look great, but completely forget about the characters and story. For example, when I first watched “Avatar” I was stunned by how visually brilliant the whole thing was, and it is stunning in Blu-Ray format, but once you take your eyes off of the look of the film, there just isn’t a lot of substance there. The characters are weak and the storyline is just a “meh” situation.

During the majority of the films in my earlier list, you get to know the characters exceptionally well because the story telling allows them to be. The focus was on great storytelling and not how it looked. For example, I only recently watched “Die Hard” for the first time and it worked on many levels, one of which was that it had a great antagonist (which is another film modern day films struggle with might I add). Even now, more than two weeks after watching it for just the one time, I can remember a lot about the characters, even the minor ones, and that’s what I want.

The central antagonist in “Die Hard”, Hans Gruber (played menacingly brilliantly by Alan Rickman), is a great antagonist because not only does he look like winning, but you learn a great deal about his character.

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The same can’t be said of a lot of modern day films. For example, I recently went to watch “Lights Out”, literally the day after I watched “Die Hard”, and yet I couldn’t tell you the name of a single character, it was that forgettable, and that’s not just a one off either. Horror films these days are so focused on things such as jump scares, they’ve taken their eyes off of what is most important, the characters. If I don’t care enough to remember the characters names, why should I care about the situation that they’re in.

For example, in the list above is my favourite horror film, “The Fly”. For those that haven’t seen it, watch it. Go and watch it now (well, after you’ve finished reading this). “The Fly” for me is everything that makes not only a great horror film, but a great film in general. I have already covered this film in my review for “The Fly”, but to sum it up the reason “The Fly” works so well is that whilst it only has three characters, you get to know them so well that you start caring about them as people, and you see where each is coming from.

Modern day films tend not to care about the characters, and are only concerned with the look. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that this isn’t the case for all films, but if we take arguably the most popular modern franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll notice that whilst they are fun, they all lack something that is so important to turning a good movie great, a captivating and believable antagonist. If you don’t think I’m being fair with that statement, take Loki and Zemo out of the franchise and name me one antagonist that looked like winning (Zemo won because he achieved his goal of splitting Steve and Tony).

Infact, I’m going to make a very, very bold statement here. In my opinion, there hasn’t been a single antagonist that you could classify as “timelessly brilliant” since Heath Ledger’s Joker in 2008’s “The Dark Knight”. In an already brilliant film, the Joker is arguably the best part, whereas I can’t think of a single film since that is not only brilliant (which is a small list in itself), but also contains an antagonist on a level that’s even close to that.

That’s not to say that you even necessarily need an antagonist in the film, afterall, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” doesn’t really have an antagonist, unless you count Ted’s Dad, but even then that’d be a push. Whilst having a bad guy (or girl) isn’t vital, it definitely helps, and modern day films fail miserably to give great antagonists,

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Great music!

I’m not going to spend too long on this point but how many films these days have theme tunes that you know as soon as you hear them? I’ve just looked through my entire Blu-Ray collection, about 25% of which are from this decade, and yet there isn’t one that I would look at and think “yeah, that has a theme tune I’ll remember in 26 years” (and just for clarification, I mean original songs, not popular songs just used as the main theme) and yet there are numerous films from the 1980s that you could play back now and most people would recognise them.

For an example of this, I’m just going to leave this here….

And finally, films that people still talk about!

Now, I’m not going to look at films from this decade for this one as it’d be harsh given that we’ve still got over three years of the tens left, but there is no decade which people refer to more than the eighties when talking about films.

For example, there are some decades with a lot of great films in them, and some of the biggest films of all time are from the early days of cinema, but no decade comes close to having as many pop-culture references like the 1980s.

 

There are so many quotable films that came from the eighties, and they have sunk deep into society. To end this article, here are a few quotes that are still used to this day, even if slightly twisted, that all came from films in the 1980s and I still hear on a semi regular basis in either real life, or modern films paying tribute to them.

“Here’s Johnny” (The Shining)

“No, I am your father” (The Empire Strikes Back)

“I’m too old for this shit” (Lethal Weapon)

“Phone home” (ET)

“Say hello to my little friend” (Scarface)

“Yippee-ki-yay” (Die Hard)

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick some ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum!” (They Live)

“Don’t cross the streams” (Ghostbusters)

“We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass” (Ghostbusters)

“I’ll be back” (Terminator)

“If you build it, they will come” (Field of Dreams)

And with that, I bid you adieu.

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February 2nd 2015 – Pointless sequels and needless remakes – Remakes and sequels are now a common sight at a cinema, but that is not a good thing.

February 14th 2015 – Can Star Wars regain it’s force in Episode 7? – With Star Wars due to be released at the end of the year, can it regain what made the original trilogy so popular. Please note before reading this that I am not a fan of Star Wars.

March 5th 2015 – A genre that could learn from another – A look into how films based on computer games could improve by following the example of comic book based films.

April 5th 2015 –  Top Twenty Films – Part 1 – A look into ten of my twenty favourite mainstream films. This half of the list contains a virus outbreak, a Spartan army, arguably Christian Bale’s greatest performance, a few classics from the 1980s and one film that contains arguably the best twist ever seen in a movie.

April 28th 2015 – My Top Twenty Films – Part 2 – Second half of my top twenty films of all time. This half of the list contains Brad Pitt aging backwards, a man turning into an insect, an entry from arguably the best franchise of more than five films in history, and a fantasy film from Ron Howard and George Lucas.

August 10th 2015 – The films of 2015 that I’m looking forward to

August 29th 2015 – Shawshank Redemption’s Andy is Guilty – A look into the character of Andy in “The Shawshank Redemption” and how everyone’s belief that he is innocent could infact be wrong.

September 6th 2015 – Why I won’t apologise for not liking your friend’s movie – I had negatively reviewed a film called “Teacher of the Year” before stepping away from my laptop for a few days. When I returned I had some very immature responses from the director’s friend and he didn’t like that I hadn’t praised the film. This was my response.

September 7th 2015 – Four underrated and underutilised actors – Mainstream movies are filled with actors who consistently put in poor performances, so I decided to take a brief look at four that I feel should be in the mainstream considerably more than that are.

January 19th 2016 – The acting gets nominated – Just before the Academy Awards in 2016, a race-row developed in Hollywood after no-one of a non-white origin was nominated for one of the big four individual awards. This was my take on the situation.

May 18th 2016 – The Bottom 5 so far – In May 2016 I realised that I was close on 200 reviews and articles on the site, so I decided to dedicate that post to listing the five worst films that I’ve reviewed so far.

August 2nd 2016 – Coming soon and looking good – A brief look at films that I am excited by.

September 4th 2016 – The 80s was the greatest decade – I look at why the 1980s is the greatest decade for films.

October 1st 2016 – A preview to the end of 2016 – At the end of each year I rank all of the mainstream films that I saw during the year, this was a preview.

March 17th 2017 – A film for every year – There was a social media thing going on amongst film reviewers in which they named their favourite film from each year that they have been alive. These were my choices.

March 19th 2017 – 85 reasons why the Resident Evil franchise sucked – The Resident Evil film franchise finally ended in 2017 and I took a look at why other than the first one, it was generally a poor franchise.

I’ve started getting a few questions through to my emails from people asking me various questions (if you have a question, please email jacksonkate1984@gmail.com) and one question was someone wondering what my favourite ten mainstream films were, and this got me thinking quite hard about it. Five of the films were automatic choices, I didn’t even have to think about them, but then I had trouble with the other five spots.

I had several provisional top 10s but then I would remember another film that I loved that weren’t included but I wanted to get in there somehow, so I then decided to take a different stance with it. Instead of just doing a top ten, I would figure out how many films I do actually love and then round up to the nearest five from there, so when I wrote down 18 films, I decided to simply go with a Top 20 and filled with 2 other films that I like.

So here it is, my Top 20, so to speak, although please note that the only order that these are sorted into is alphabetical order. I could have easily gone with a 20 to 1 approach, but then I would have encountered a similar issue that I had avoided by doing a top 20, so here it goes.

28 Days Later28-Days-Later

Director : Danny Boyle

Cast : Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Eccleston

Coming out in November 2002, 28 Days Later became the first 18 Rated film (well, after I turned 18 anyway) that I saw at the cinemas and it scared the living crap out of me. In the years since it has obviously lost that scariness, but remains

28 Days Later follows Jim (Murphy) as he wakes up in a deserted London. He explores various areas of the city but there is not a soul to be seen before he enters a church. In there he sees hundreds of corpses. When he calls out to see if anyone is still alive, he is greeted by several people standing suddenly and glaring at him. Jim hears a distance door opening and someone running up a staircase, a priest bursts through the door and attacks Jim. Jim subdues the priest and runs away, only to then be relentlessly pursued by vicious attackers.

During one attack he is rescued by Selena (Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley). Selena reveals that there was a viral outbreak several weeks prior that caused anyone infected with it to become permanently enraged, and infection usually takes hold within seconds. Jim visits his parents to see if they are still alive, only to be greeted by their decomposing bodies. When nightfall comes he explores his old family homes, only for the infected to spot the candlelight and they break in. The trio eventually subdue the infected, but when Selena sees that Mark has a deep cut on his arm, she kills him with a machete, stating that although it wasn’t certain that he was infected, she could tell by his eyes that he knew.

Soon therefore they run into Frank (Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns), and together they decide to travel up to Manchester to the source of a signal promising safety from infection, the journey there is far from safe though and they almost die several times. When they arrive at the supposed location of safety they find nothing there. In anger Frank starts ranting and raving, only to become infected when a drop of blood from a dead body gets into his eye. Frank is suddenly shot by soldiers and the group are rescued, but is it necessarily safer with them than it is with the infected nearby?

Had this been a movie about zombies then I would probably go as far as saying that it’s the best zombie film ever made, but as the infected aren’t dead they’re technically not zombies, but that doesn’t detract from what is an incredible British movie. This started off several years of my fellow Brits pumping out quality horror films, including Severance, Creep and a film I have previously reviewed, The Cottage (click for the review). Danny Boyle doesn’t bring out many films but when he does, they are usually quality.

The film has many excellent qualities to it, including bringing the excellent Cillian Murphy to the public eye in what would be the first of three films to date that he has been on screen with Brendan Gleeson. It also uses horror well, with the scariest element being that the infection doesn’t fuck about. It doesn’t take hours or days like most transformations in similar films, once you’re infected, you’re attacking people within thirty seconds, and this leads to an emotionally brilliant scene where Frank is infected, realises that he’s about to turn and tries desperately to say a final goodbye to Hannah in the little time he has left.

Using the methods that Boyle used to film 28 Days Later, don’t expect a clean, 4K quality video, it was literally recorded on a video camera and it shows, but it works. Visually, without having the context of the film, 28 Days Later looks terrible. It’s grainy, saturated and has lighting issues, but it works because you realise that’s what it would actually be like if it were to happen in real life. In too many films these days you will see a supposedly pitch black environment that is fully lit up from a lighter, so filming it on a video camera and using the absolute minimum they could in terms in digital effects.

It’s impossible not to respect the success that they achieved with so little. To manage to do what they did, such as agreeing to clear part of the motorway for several hours and getting the police to stop various people wandering into parts of London so they could film it and make it look deserted, is incredible.

If you’re going to make a zombie film, you need to watch this first because whilst it isn’t a zombie film (they’re not zombies), it does everything a zombie film should do.

 

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Director : Zack Synder

Cast : Gerard Butler, Rodrigo Santoro, Vincent Regan, David Wenham and Michael Fassbender

I know some of you will be looking at this and be surprised that I have included 300, but 300 is just one of those films where if there’s nothing else on, you can put this on and not really have to think about it, you can just put it on and go. In that sense it’s like the FIFA series on Playstation and X-Box, if you’re bored, pop it on and you’re enjoying yourself within minutes.

300 tells the story of Leonidas (Butler), the King of Sparta, as he rejects an offer for his country to be spared from a Persian invasion if they agree to find fight for it’s commander, Xerxes (Santoro), a man who believes himself to be a God. Knowing that the Persians will now attack, he seeks to use the army to fight them off, but the law states that Sparta can only go to war if the Oracle allows it, but that the request it denied.

In desperation, Leonidas figures out a loophole in the law and travels with 300 soldiers, who he claims are just there to be his personal bodyguard, as he “goes for a walk”. They soon find their way to Thermopylae and despite being outnumbered many thousands to one, the Spartans easily dispatch what is thrown at them. However, a deformed Spartan that was denied the chance to help defend his country by Leonidas, could cause all of his work to come undone.

300 is one of my favourite films because it is just fun. It’s exactly what a movie is supposed to me. You’re experiencing a battle through the eyes, or eye, of a character who survived the battle and is gearing up the rest of the army. He has been given the job of telling his army the story and making them pumped up and ready for battle, and it works well as an audience member.

Yes, it’s full of cheesiness and more abs than you can shake a stick at, but it’s one of the few films where I can watch it and notice something new every time. I love that even in the battles, even when focusing on just one character, it involves a lot of characters in the background as well. They aren’t just a random blur, you see their fights as clear as you’re seeing the character that’s centrally on screen. You don’t get that often in films and it’s that attention to detail that helps it so much.

I have previously reviewed the first film to be based on the Battle of Thermopylae (click here for that review) but this is one of the few remakes that is better than the original film. Infact, this list has several films that are remakes that are better than their originals and it isn’t something I use lightly. 300 is far better than the original and that’s not even to say that the original was a bad film. The original was more realistic and definitely more grounded with it’s visuals, but what it lacks compared to the original is the adrenaline rush.

Gerard Butler’s brilliant portrayal of Leonidas is one of the best breakthrough performances of the 21st century so far. Butler was already in several major motion pictures before this but this gave him the platform to become a leading man and it’s amazing what he achieved with a script that was full of cheesy one liners and well, more cheesy one liners.

It also has the brilliant Vincent Regan in it. Vincent Regan will feature again in this list and for good reason, he is a remarkable actor and is a joy to watch in any film. Midway through the film his son is killed and Regan goes from crying his eyes out to the angriest you’ve probably ever seen someone on film before, it’s a laudable bit of acting from Regan and anytime I see him on screen, I know I’m about to see an acting masterclass. If anything he is more fun to watch than Butler in this film.

 

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Director : James Cameron

Cast : Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and Lance Henrikson

For me this is comfortably the best film in the Alien franchise. I didn’t particularly like the first one, Alien3 is meh, Resurrection is just there, the first Alien vs Predator film was ok, the less said about the second the better, and don’t even get me started on Prometheus.

Aliens focuses on the sole survivor from the first film, Eleanor Ripley (Weaver) as she is awoken from hypersleep in her pod several decades after escape the ship. She struggles to cope with the more advanced world, especially after finding out that her daughter, who was just a young child at the time of the events of the first film, had died of old age whilst Ripley was asleep.

As Ripley is caught up in legal cases for destroying the ship with no evidence of an alien, a remote outpost sends a distress signal and she joins the marines on their trip.

Despite an initial slow start, the marines eventually find a survivor and just in time to see an alien burst out of her chest. The marines quickly kill it but that angers the nearby hidden aliens and they wipe out most of the marines. With only a small handful of them left, they must escape the station soon due to a pending explosion, but there is something more dangerous laying in wait.

James Cameron did such an amazing job with this film and the damaged, but still strong character of Ripley. Ripley is struggling in this film due to the death of her daughter but you see her try and establish that same mother-daughter style relationship with a child who has somehow survived on the station amongst the attacks.

It’s the little touches that make Cameron such a huge box office draw, and despite it being a sci-fi/horror movie, Aliens is also a great character driven movie and even those that don’t have a lot of screen time are given indications of what they’re like as a person. It’s not just the main characters that are developed, but the minor touches added, such as writing “Fly the friendly skies” on a pilot’s helmet is a subtle, yet very important aspect of building an otherwise unremarkable character.

Cameron also gets the pacing exceptionally well, and the first alien doesn’t even appear on screen until more than an hour into the movie. Up until that point it’s just a slow build, then action, time to breath, action again and so on. It’s not 100mph like a lot of horror films, there is a great chance to “take a breather” because the well executed action sequences.

Once scene that sticks in my mind as fantastic is when the marines have turrets set up in a narrow tunnel and they fire based on movement. You don’t see the guns firing, all you see is the screen showing the rapidly decreasing amount of bullets in the gun and the increasing panic of the characters as the chance of the aliens getting through increases. It’s an exceptionally well acted scene between several actors who moved onto much bigger things after this film.

 

American Psycho1d575f341c9891f7f417ad2463f2331b

Director : Mary Harron

Cast : Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Willem Da Foe, Reese Witherspoon and Chloe Sevingy

In my opinion one of Christian Bale’s best performances comes from one of the his earliest films from his adulthood, American Psycho. I have been a fan of Bale since first seeing him in 1991’s Treasure Island, but it wasn’t until he reached adulthood that he became a great actor and he features three times in my top 20 list, with only one other actor having more than that.

American Psycho is set in the 1980s at the height of the yuppie era, and one such yuppie is Patrick Bateman (Bale). On the outside Bateman is just your average 20something that has done well in life due to his father practically owning the company that he works for. He enjoys the finer things in life and is engaged to the neurotic Evelyn (Witherspoon), although he is sleeping with the girlfriend of a colleague.

In his spare time however, Patrick is far from normal and kills people on a regular basis, including prostitutes, random people that he meets in nightclubs and models. Patrick soon becomes jealous of his colleague, Paul Allen (Leto), a man who keeps one-upping him in terms of getting seats at a restaurant that Patrick can’t get a reservation for, a better apartment and even a better business card (leading to one of the best scenes in the movie). Patrick tricks Paul into coming to his apartment and kills him with an axe. Patrick must then cover up his tracks as the police investigation begins.

American Psycho is a near perfect satire of life in 1980s America and none more so than Bateman himself, who is consistently loathing those around him, especially anyone who achieves more than he does, such as Paul, and he is played superbly by Bale. Bale’s ability to play someone who is all smiles on the outside but is planing to kill someone on the inside is a joy to watch and it’s refreshing to see an actor embrace a role of a character that you’re not really supposed to like but you can’t help but do so.

His feelings on the inside not matching his outside appearance is one of many continuing themes throughout the film and the contradiction between the situation and the way the film approaches it is joyful to watch. For example, in the seen where Paul is getting killed, Patrick has started playing “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News, a complete contradiction of moods and it is portrayed so perfectly.

It is one of many interesting themes that are explored in the film, with others being the constant mistaken identity and mishearing what other people are saying, which comes to a head in one of the best endings on my top 20 list. It is an ending that leaves you asking questions and that is a great way to leave things sometimes. For example, if you think of the ending to Inception, people are still debating to this day whether Cobb is dreaming or not as you never see the top fall, that has lead to some great discussions online, including one theorising that the top isn’t his totem to begin with.

The ending in American Psycho is similar in the sense that even now, 15 years after it’s initial release (it’s the 15th anniversary on April 14th), people are still debating the ending and what it means. I won’t spoil it for those that haven’t seen it, so if you haven’t then I would seriously recommend it.

There has been talk of a remake recently to follow the book a bit more closely (the book has far more depraved acts), but I hope they don’t as this is more of a one off masterpiece rather than something that should be explored on a regular basis.

 

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventurebillandtedfront

Director : Stephen Herek

Cast : Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves and George Carlin

Just one of two comedies that will appear on this list of my Top 20 films is the 1989 hit “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Despite being 26 years old, this film has dated relatively well as it is still relateable to any generation. Although it is a definite 80s film in terms of it’s style and presentation, the story can be translated to work for any generation and any time and that is something that you can’t say for many other films.

For example, if you taken American Psycho out of the 80s it wouldn’t work because it focuses primarily on the yuppie lifestyle of the 1980s, Aliens must be set in the future due to the technology, but Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure could be set at any point in time from when schools became commonplace because the struggling students getting an unusual chance to do something part of the storyline.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure follows slackers Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) as they are destined to change the world into a better place, bringing peace to the universe through rock and roll, but they don’t know this and are set to fail their high school history class. Failing the class would mean that Ted’s father would send him off to military school in Alaska and thus the band wouldn’t exist in the future. Rufus (Carlin) is sent back in time to help them pass by giving them a phone booth to learn about history first hand.

The phone booth can be used to travel through time and the pair figure that instead of simply learning from the historical figures, they can achieve more by actually bringing several historical figures back to the modern day to help them. Amongst those historical figures are Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates and several others. The journey is far from trouble free though as the phone booth gets damaged and their travel becomes sporadic. They do eventually find their way back to the the present day, but in a world completely unfamiliar to them, the historical figures don’t stay put.

Excellent Adventure is one of my favourite films from that era of the late 80s and early 90s. It is one of the few genuinely fun movies out there that you can just sit back, relax and enjoy what you’re about to watch. It is like most films from that era and celebrates it, rather than mocking it in some sense. The 1980s was full of great movies and this was one of the last ones to come out during the decade, but again it stands the test of time.

It’s rare to find a mainstream comedy film from the 1980s that wasn’t fun, it’s a generation that knew how to do comedies well, and there were quite a few that came very close to being included in this list, including Weird Science, The Goonies and many more.

It is also a very rare film where Keanu Reeves doesn’t actually look like he’s not enjoying himself. Whereas Winter hasn’t really had a big on screen career at all, Reeves has been in the main stream attention on various occasions since Excellent Adventure came out, with big roles in 1991’s Point Break, 1994’s Speed, 1999’s The Matrix and several others, but he has never truly been a mega-star and therefore his returning to a franchise from early in his career wouldn’t be out of the question. There has been talk of a third film in the franchise, set around the two when they are in their 40s, but whether we want to see another Bill and Ted film is another question.

 

Fight ClubFight_Club_Edward_by_cromley009

Director : David Fincher

Cast : Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, Jared Leto, Meatloaf and Helena Botham Carter

If I was to rank these top 20 films in order of my preferences then there is a very, very good chance that Fight Club would rank as Number One. Yes, that’s right, my top film, there is only one film that would rival that spot but that won’t come until part 2 of the list, but for now I want to laud this film as much as I can.

Fight Club is just an incredible piece of cinema, you can’t put it into a single genre and there is largely something for everyone, and even Helena Botham Carter doesn’t ruin it, which is probably the most lauding thing I can give to it. It makes the emotional void and talentless vacuum tolerable, something which I never thought possible.

An unnamed narrator (Norton) is a man who can’t sleep and after a trip to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with him, it’s recommended that to understand true suffering that he should attend support groups. Whilst there he meets a woman called Marla (Botham Carter) and after several arguments, they agree to go their separate ways.

The narrator soon meets Tyler Durden (Pitt) on a flight and after discovering that his condo has been blown up, he stays in Tyler’s run-down house in the middle of nowhere. Tyler convinces the narrator that the only way to live life is in a carefree manner and to achieve this you need to take your aggression out on others, so they start an underground boxing club called Fight Club.

There are only a few rules of Fight Club and it turns out to be a big hit, however, Tyler soon starts taking Fight Club to the next level, turning it into Project Mayhem. Project Mayhem sets out to commit acts of terrorism against anything corporate, such as destroying corporate art, coffee chain franchises, computer stores and expensive cars. The narrator soon becomes exceptionally frustrated that Tyler doesn’t share information with him, but when Tyler does choose to share a certain bit of information, it is the most shocking bit of news of the narrator’s life.

I really want to say what the twist is for those that don’t know, but I can’t because I want anyone who experiences this film for the first time and doesn’t know the twist to be as shocked as most people were when they saw it for the first time. I unfortunately can never say that as someone told me the twist before I saw the film, but even then it still wowed me when I eventually saw it.

Fight Club has tremendous rewatchability for numerous reasons. Once you know what the twist is you look for the signs of it throughout the film and every time I do watch it, I see something new. One of the fun little games is looking for a Starbucks cup because there is supposedly a Starbucks cup in every single shot.

For a glowing look at the film, all you have to do is realise that the author of the book, Chuck Pahalniuk, has even said himself that the film is better than the book. I read the novel soon after watching the film and the book is excellent, but when the author says that even the film is better, you know you’re onto a winner. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Pahalniuk pens the sequel.

 

Moneyballmoneyball-poster

Director : Bennett Miller

Cast : Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Chris Pratt

Remember earlier when I mentioned that only one actor appeared in more films in this list than Christian Bale? Well that actor is Brad Pitt, appearing in this list for the second time, and by the time this list ends he will have been featured four times.

This follows on from a few weeks ago when I was looking through my Blu-Ray collection and there were a lot that featured Brad Pitt, it was at that point I realised that he was probably my favourite actor that’s still working on a regular bass. He rarely has a bad film and this was the same.

I’m not going to lie, I know precisely nothing about baseball other than the basic rules and some of the better known teams, i/e the Yankees, so I found myself surprised that I was watching this and when I saw it in the cinema, I was the only person in the screen. Baseball is not even slightly big in the UK and although I’ve watched a few games here and there, I’ve never seen any of my fellow Brits on Facebook or Twitter mentioning the sport.

Because this is actually a historical based story, rather than fiction, I’m going to talk about the entire film, now just a summary. Therefore, incase you haven’t figured that out, it will contain spoilers.

Moneyball tells the true story of the Oakland Athletics baseball team in their 2002 season. The season starts with the Athletics losing their three star players and it is the duty of Billy Beane (Pitt), the General Manager, to replace them. The only issue is that Oakland have one of the lowest budgets in the league and they can’t replace them with established stars. When visiting the Cleveland Indians, Beane is intrigued by the input of an unknown office worker in a meeting by the name of Peter Brand (Hill).

Beane hires Brand when he learns of a unique system for bringing in players to establish their value. Instead of home runs or any other similar stats, Brand’s formula works on aspects such as how many times a player gets on base. The approach to signing players is met with ridicule by everyone and the early season results reflect this. Manager Art Howe (Seymour Hoffman) says that the approach, along with the lack of security with a rolling one year contract, means he can’t do his job properly and regularly threatens to leave.

Howe purposefully starts ignoring the instructions from Beane, including not playing his players. Beane responds by trading out the players that Howe keeps playing. Despite the high tensions, the A’s start winning a few games and they soon equal a record breaking winning run and they head into a game against Kansas to make it an unprecedented 20 in a row.

Thee game starts perfectly for the A’s as they quickly establish an 11-0 lead, but Kansa gradually pulls it back. Going into the final inning, one of the players brought in under the new system, Mark Hatteberg (Pratt) hits a walk-off home run and wins the game for the A’s. Despite this, the A’s lose in the Playoffs to the Minnesota Twins. The film ends with Beane rejecting a contract to take over at the Boston Red Sox.

All sports movies should do things the way that Moneyball did it. I’ll use the Mighty Ducks franchise as an example of how not to do it. According to the Mighty Ducks, the only things you really need to suddenly become unbeatable is a new jersey, to be taught how to receive a puck properly and shoot at a goalkeeper who is tied up. I don’t care how crap you are as a team, you’re not going to become unbeatable after months and months of being awful, and that’s what most sports films do.

Now, I know that this film is slightly different to most sports teams because it is actually based on real events, which helps with the realism factor, but again, it doesn’t pretend that all of a sudden the team are unbeatable. It shows that they are still very much very close to going back to where they started, whereas in most sports films once the team starts winning, there’s nothing that can stop them.

Against, I don’t really know anything about baseball, but the system that Brand comes up with seems the most realistic way to get success. It’s all well and good filling your team with star players if they don’t produce. I would rather have a bunch of unknowns that are statistically proven to succeed, rather than big name stars that don’t produce when it’s needed.

Hill is fantastic as Brand and does feel very believable as a guy who would come up with a statistical formula. Hill has grown as an actor in recent years and well beyond his comedic beginnings. I wasn’t a fan of him as a comedy actor, but as a serious actor he is exceptionally. With this and his performance in The Wolf on Wall Street, have turned me completely on side with him. For me he is the highlight of this movie and puts in a more memorable performance than Pitt, which is saying something given that Pitt is the main star in this film.

Arguably the main reason that I like Moneyball is that it’s all very real, it’s not given the usual sports movie treatment of ridiculous montages, overpowering music or anything or a similar nature. Moneyball treats everything like you’re there and a participant in every seen. Conversations are long, drawn out and feel natural, they’re not to the point every single time and feel more realistic because of this. In many ways it feels more like a fly on the wall documentary and you’re observing real life.

And finally, before I move onto the next film, I want to talk about the soundtrack and more specifically, the song “The Mighty Rio Grande” by a group called “This Will Destroy You”. This song is enough to send shivers down your spine due to the atmospheric nature of it and it is used excellently throughout the film. Find the song, press play, close your eyes and think of an amazing time in your life. I guarantee you that after you’ve done that, that already amazing time will feel even more epic.

 

NightcrawlerNightcrawlerfilm

Director : Dan Gilroy

Cast : Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton

Those of you who have been reading my site for a while will remember me talking about this film during my look at my Top 10 films of 2014 and how I ranked it as Number One, and by quite a long way. In particular I said that it was the only film I was able to give a perfect 10 for last year.

It is the only film from 2014 that will feature in this list and yet the remarkable thing is that I almost didn’t even see it. I went to the cinema to watch something else, Purge : Anarchy if memory serves me correctly, but I got there slightly too late for the showing I was intending to watch so I decided to go and watch a later showing instead, but in between was Nightcrawler. I had not been impressed with the trailer for Nightcrawler but I decided to give it a shot anyway and I’m so glad that I did.

What makes it even more awesome is that my brother bought this on Blu-Ray when I was out of work and then decided he didn’t want it, so gave me it for nothing. I got a Blu-Ray of my favourite film of 2014, and arguably of this decade so far, for free. How awesome is that?

Lou (Gyllenhaal) is a man down on his luck and trying to make money any way he can. He steals chain link fences to sell as scrap metal and whilst he is making money from it, he is after more. After being rejected for a job because of being a thief he encounters a car crash and a man called Joe (Paxton) recording it. He realises that he can make money by recording footage and selling it to the local news stations.

Whilst at Los Angeles beach, Lou steals a sports bike and sells it in exchange for a camera and police scanner, and he starts going out and night and recording everything he can find. He sells the video to the only station that will buy it and he meets Nina (Russo). Upon realising that the better footage he gets, the more money he will get, he hires Rick (Ahmed). Rick is keen to impress but is equally as concerned about money and is constantly asking Lou for a review and raise, much to the annoyance of Lou.

As time moves on, Lou is able to get better footage and better equipment, but soon he starts breaking the law in order to get better footage, such as not reporting a home invasion to the police, allowing him to get inside and footage of the victims before the police are even aware. With this comes risks and Lou blackmails Nina into having sex with him.

However, Lou isn’t the only person out to get footage and when he realises that Joe’s operation has grown and he now operates two vans. Lou purposes sabotage’s Joe’s car, causing him to crash and get numerous life threatening industries. Just how far will Lou go before it’s too far?

Before I saw this, I was never really that impressed with Gyllenhaal but he has completely won me over with his performance as Lou. It’s hard to really describe in words what his performance other than stupendous and tour-de-force. Gyllenhaal transformed himself into the character and you genuinely feel that Lou was a threat because of how well Gyllenhaal plays the character. His nonchalance towards causing physical harm and even death to various characters is just incredible to watch, and yet you want him to succeed.

Gyllenhaal’s delivery of threatening lines is a sign of great acting, afterall, who could say the following with glee and make it sound almost gleeful – “What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them? What if I was the kind of person who was obliged to hurt you for this? I mean physically. I think you’d have to believe afterward, if you could, that agreeing to participate and then backing out at the critical moment was a mistake. Because that’s what I’m telling you, as clearly as I can.”

Much like Moneyball, the soundtrack for Nightcrawler helps superbly with the creation of a great atmosphere. The subtle guitar work, mixed with a sort of ambient theme, mixed with the neo-noir atmosphere of Los Angeles and night brings the environment to life. I’ve never been to Los Angeles and never had any intention of going before I saw this film. This made me want to visit what is supposedly one of America’s greatest cities and that is a great advert for the film.

Nightcrawler, as I said earlier, is a rare perfect 10 for me. If I did a scoring system on this website then this would get the full marks and if I had ranked every film within this list in terms of preference, this would have a great chance of being in the Top 5, it would certainly be Top 10.

 

Rushrush-salvatore-ferragamo-001

Director : Ron Howard

Cast : Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara and Pierfrancesco Favino

From my favourite film of 2014 to the one from the previous year and the magnificent Rush. Rush is based on the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the early to mid 1970s, a rivalry that started out professionally but very quickly turns personal.

Unlike baseball, I am actually a fan of Formula One, or rather, at least I used to be. I know a fair old bit about the sport and although it’s nowhere near as interesting as it used to be, it’s safe to say that this captures the excitement of what it used to be like. Before recently it used to be about who was the better driver as cars used to be very similar, whereas no there is usually one car that is miles above the rest and it doesn’t necessarily have to have the best driver in it to succeed.

Much like Moneyball, because this is based on historical events I am going to write exactly what happens right through to the ending, so again, spoiler alert

James Hunt (Hemsworth) is preparing for the 1970 Formula Three race at Crystal Palace when he lays eyes on Niki Lauda (Brühl) for the first time and they soon get into an argument after Hunt races in a dangerous manner, almost causing Lauda to crash. Lauda soon buys himself into Formula One and quickly establishes himself as a great driver. Hunt’s group decides to enter Formula One as well.

Hunt and Lauda renew their rivalry but Hesketh is no match for Lauda’s Ferrari. Hunt joins McLaren, a car that can make him competitive and the two, whilst respecting each other’s abilities, start a bitter rivalry for the title. Meanwhile, Hunt’s marriage has fallen apart and that, combined with bad luck, means Niki establishes a very early and seemingly dominating lead in the title race.

Niki marries his girlfriend just before the German Grand Prix is due to take place. The weather is terrible and the track already has a reputation for injuring people and taking lives. Niki calls a meeting to get the race postponed but Hunt rallies the room to vote for the race to go ahead. Lauda’s suspension breaks midway through the third lap and sends him crashing into the safety railing. Lauda has to be pulled from the burning wreckage and is taken to hospital.

In his absense Hunt closes the gap and this motivates a severely burnt and ill Niki to come back. Niki does eventually recover to rejoin the season still in the lead of the title race. Niki struggles in his first race back, quickly overcome with fear of the same thing happening again, but he soon regains his focus and goes on to finish the race, whereas Hunt has mechanical failures. That result means that despite missing a hefty section of the season, Lauda goes into the final day ahead of Hunt, but the weather when the race goes ahead is worse than Germany and Lauda leaves the race early on, realising that it isn’t worth the risk. Hunt eventually goes on to finish third and therefore winning the title.

Rush is one of the most stylish and realistic sports films that I have ever seen, possibly only bettered by Moneyball. Rush is visually incredible on every single level, right down to the simple things, such as Niki Lauda’s overbite. Too many sports films based on historical events ignore the little things, such as not making the actors look like those that they are portraying, and if you see a picture of Daniel Brühl normally compared to how he looked in the film, you will be amazed. It is a truly incredible transformation that the film-makers have pulled off.

Brühl is incredible as the Austrian Lauda and it’s impossible not to be impressed by him. I first became aware of Brühl due to his appearance in Inglorious Basterds and his mesmerising portrayal of a seemingly well mannered young man who simply won’t take no for an answer. He brings a great level of sympathy to the character because although the character is a self confessed arsehole, you understand why he is how he is and Brühl plays it excellently.

Both Landa and Hunt are portrayed as exactly what they were, flawed human beings. Hunt, despite being a world class racing driver, struggles with the normalities of life and this costs him his marriage, and Landa refuses to accept anything less than perfection and doesn’t know how to do anything other than via the most simple to achieve it. For example, when he marries his girlfriend, it’s simply in a registry office, he doesn’t go with a full on wedding because it is simple. Even Landa’s home is as basic as it gets.

Hunt and Landa are the perfect antithesis to each other and the duel between them, and how it escalates from a mere professional rivalry to a more personal battle, is a great build, but even better is when Niki has had his rivalry and James’ reaction to it. James’ guilt about how he rallied the other racers to ignore Niki’s protests for a race to go ahead, and the subsequent accident, is the perfect character development.

At the time of writing, Rush is ranked 161 in the IMDB Top 250 and yet was completely ignored by the Oscars, not even one nomination. It is highly unusual for a mainstream film to be in the IMDB Top 250 without receiving a single Oscar nomination.

 

Scott Pilgrim vs the WorldScott_Pilgrim_vs._the_World_teaser

Director : Edgar Wright

Cast : Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman, Ellen Wong and Mark Webber

Much like Nightcrawler I had precisely no interest in watching this film when I first saw it advertised and only saw it because I had time to kill in Sheffield. I was there to watch football but decided to do Christmas shopping before hand. I still had about 5 hours to kill so I went to the Vue that’s in Meadowhall and this was the only film on that whilst I didn’t overly want to see it, looked tolerable. It subsequently became arguably my favourite comedy film.

Portrayed in similar fashion to a video game and a mix of pop culture references, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is one of the most enjoyably fun films I’ve ever seen. It is one of the most visually unique films that I have ever seen, right from the simple things such as presenting a “pee bar” (similar to a life bar in a computer game) when Scott goes to toilet, right up to it’s comic book style visuals when one of the evil ex’s is skating down a steel bar too fast.

Scott (Cera) is a 22 year old going nowhere in life and refuses to admit it. One day he starts dating Knives Chau (Wong), a 17 year old high school student and Scott gets openly mocked by his friends and family. Scott soon attends a party there he lays eyes on Ramona (Winstead) for the first time, but his attempts at small talk go hilariously badly. Scott wallows in this for several days before he devises a plan to get Ramona around to his house.

After a while the pair do eventually start dating, all whilst Scott is still with Knives. When Scott’s band is invited to compete at a Battle of the Bands event and midway through performing, Scott is suddenly attacked by a man who claims to be one of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends and the first of seven tests he must past. Scott eventually makes light work of the man before Ramona reveals that in order for them to date, Scott must defeat he seven evil-ex’s. Scott finally breaks up with Knives.

As Scott progresses through his week to keeps running into more evil ex’s, finding it increasingly difficult to defeat each of them as their powers become more extreme. With his neuroticism in full swing, Scott begins to question whether Ramona is worth all of the effort and soon starts taking a half-arsed approach to the situation, only becoming concerned again after they split up and Ramona gets back together with one of her former boyfriends, Gideon (Schwartzman).

Scott Pilgrim vs the World is an excellent throw away film. If you have a random Sunday afternoon where you have nothing at all planned, this is an excellent film to put on and enjoy for a few hours. Much like Fight Club, every time you watch you get something new from the film and that is something that is so rare with films these days. There is always something that you’ve forgotten and it is a delight

The humour within Scott Pilgrim vs the World is relateable, regardless of whether you’re a geek of not. There is a joke for everyone and my personal favourite comes from ex-boyfriend number 3, Todd. Todd is a vegan and because of this, he is granted special powers, such as telekinesis, but when he accidentally drinks an animal based product, the vegan police show up and strip him of all of his powers. He is the scene in all of it’s glory.

 

Arguably the biggest plus for me though is that it is full of people that can’t act and actually makes it enjoyable. Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and many other members of the cast are terrible at acting, especially Plaza, and yet they somehow make it work and make the film enjoyable, which is something that if you told me that this was the cast and nothing else about the film, I wouldn’t watch it.

Scott Pilgrim vs the world is an enjoyable romp and although it does start getting a little tiresome towards the end, it is still at least an 8 out of 10. I’m not going to lie, if I was ranking all of the films that feature in this list of my top 20 films, Scott Pilgrim vs the World would be in the lower reaches of the list, but it is still a worthy addition to my list.

 

 

So that’s it for Part One of my Top 20, I will be posting Part 2 within the next few weeks.

If there is one thing most of us can agree on, most sequel are crap. The main reason for the majority of them being awful is because they are poorly made, have a considerably lower budget than the first, key cast members not returning (for characters that weren’t killed off) and many other reasons

Firstly, let me list some shockingly sequels that are nowhere near as good as the first film. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film itself is actually bad, but ultimately ANY sequel will be compared to it’s original and none of the below are better than the film that they followed, and believe me, this list could be a LOT bigger

American Psycho 2

Aliens vs Predator : Requiem

Cube 2 : Hypercubecube-21

The Fly 2

Kick Ass 2

Anchorman 2

The Wolverine

Pirates of the Caribbean (all three sequels)

Saw

Batman and Robin

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Reloaded

The Hangover 3

Honey I Blew Up The Kid

Resident Evil

Piranha 3DD (and even the first one wasn’t that good)

Ginger Snaps : Unleashed

…..let’s put it this way, I could be sat here all night writing a list of shockingly bad sequels.

As I briefly touched on earlier, there are numerous reasons why sequels are rarely at least as good as the first film in the series, in some it’s because the stars of the first one haven’t turned for whatever reason, there has been a change in directors, writing, tone, it could be anything, and it’s a shame really because most of the films listed above didn’t need to be made. Most of them followed a film that could have stood on it’s own and that’s the truly sad thing.

The problem these days is that Hollywood is all about money, it’s all about cash-grabbing. Many excellent films would have made brilliant stand alone films before they were given sequels that they didn’t need. Franchises such as The Matrix, Pirates of the Carribean and several others started off with very enjoyable films before their reputations were somewhat ruined by the sequels that followed. The reason that they were given sequels that they didn’t really need is money. The Matrix made $463 million and at the time of it’s release, which although not massive by today’s standards, was a huge amount in the 1990s.

Of course, you don’t just get cash-grabs in franchises that started off well, with Transformers being a good example. The fourth installment, Age of Extinction, received box office receipts of over $1 billion, the only film of 2014 that grossed over the billion mark. What makes this even remarkable was widely considered to be one of the worst films with a wide release in 2014. The four releases have seen total box office receipts of a mammoth £3,757,097,628, that despite two of the four films achieving ratings of less than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and one of the others only getting 36%. The fifth and sixth installments have already been announced as well.

The last example I will give you on the subject of cash grabs is from a franchise that I have only truly liked one entry for, even so much as hating a few entries, and yet I still keep going back to watch them when they come out, the Resident Evil film franchise. I actually really liked the first film. It’s largely unrelated to the games but it is still one of my favourite zombie films and to this day, it is the ONLY film I have ever sat and watched with the commentary on. Now, the way it ended made it seem like a sequel was inevitable, and that’s fine, but the problem is that they just keep on pumping them out and they just keep getting worse and worse and worse. Fortunately the sixth one is planned to be the last one and in a way I am relieved.

Every sequel has been exceedingly poorly received by pretty much everyone and it’s not simply because they’re largely unrelated to the games, it’s because they are poorly made. Here is a run down of the four sequels so far and why they were so poor, yet still kept getting made.

Resident Evil Apocalypse

Budget : $45millionResident-evil-apocalypse-poster

Return : £129,394,837

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 21% (124 reviews)

The failed for many, many, many reasons, such as that it isn’t really that scary, is very much an action film, has an annoying child character and probably worst of all, turns Nemesis, one of the franchises’ most infamous and loved antagonists, into a fucking good guy.

At the end of the film, Nemesis, who was mutated from a guy called Matt from the first film, starts fighting the bad guys. This is the same character that would chase you relentless in the game and destroyed anything in it’s path to kill your character. He is a constant menace in the film and takes literally several battles to eventually defeat, and even in his final form, a large, ambling blob, his sole mission is to kill you.

So once you’ve turned your film’s main fearsome antagonist into a good guy, where can you possibly go from there?

It is the lowest rated out of all five films so far on Rotten Tomatoes but does surprisingly have an average rating of 6.2 on IMDB.

 

 

Resident Evil Extinction

Budget : $45millionresident_evil_extinction

Return : $147,717,837

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 22% (95 reviews)

The third installment in the franchise is one of the least interesting for me as nothing really happens. I also lost a lot of faith in the series with this entry because they effectively did whatever the film equivalent of an in-game cheat by turning Alice pretty much invincible.

The virus she was given has suddenly turned her super human and you no longer feel that she’s any real sense of danger.

Then we get onto a massive nonsense with a massive cloning operation, meaning by the end that Alice is now not only practically invincible, there are hundreds of her. Hundreds of invincible Alices and I’m supposed to still feel that there is a genuine sense of threat?

It just made a mockery of the thing and the film was filled with remarkably poor development problems. For example, when you get bit in the Resident Evil film universe, you have an hour or two before the virus kills and then reanimates you, yet the LJ character gets bitten and is still human several days later. What the hell?

Out of all five films, it’s between this and Retribution for my least favourite.

 

Resident Evil Afterlife

Budget : $60millionResident_Evil-_Afterlife

Return : $296,221,667

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 25% (95 reviews)

LOOK AT THAT FINANCIAL RETURN! Making almost five times what it cost is remarkable for any film, let alone a film that cost that much to make. It is the most profitable out of the five films so far, but that might be in part because it was the first to be released in 3D.

I’m not going to lie, out of the four sequels this is easily my favourite and the reason is that it’s the first time in the series that they actually do a few things that are similar to the computer game series. For example, the character of Chris is introduced whilst in a cage, coming from a shadowy part to come and meet Alice in a menacing a cryptic way. This is very similar to how several characters in the games are introduced, especially in some of the earlier additions of the game series.

I do also like that it finished off a lot of the nonsense that the third film introduced, such as killing all of the clones within the first scene, turning Alice human again so that she had a realistic chance of dying.

My one MAIN problem with this entry is that I felt like I was slow-motioned to death. This starts in the credits sequence when you go to Tokyo and a girl who has just been zombified is stood in the middle of a crossing when she suddenly lunges on a nearby pedestrian and bites him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the scene because it’s shot in a very stylish way, but that whole action of her stood there, people walking by and her then going for this guy is probably only about 10 seconds worth of actual footage, but is slowed to the point where it actually takes nearly 3 minutes to show.

Resident Evil Retribution

Budget : $65millionresident-evil-retribution

Return : $240,159,257

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 31% (65 reviews)

Despite being the best rated sequel on Rotten Tomatoes, this is, in my opinion, the worst by a country mile.

It is so pointless, pathetic and lazy that it just kept on getting itself in a tangle. As I said in the mini-review of Afterlife, one of the best things that they did in that was get rid of all of the nonsense with the clones, and yet this film re-introduces the concept to an incredibly ridiculous level.

It brings back several characters from the first film, namely Rain and One, but as clones that don’t know Alice and they try and kill her, and worst of all for me, another annoying child that becomes attached to Alice and follows her around….oh, and she’s fucking deaf.

Retribution is an abomination of a sequel because it all takes place inside of a hologram environment, and introduces several characters from the games but treats them like a parody. For example, Ada Wong (the woman in the red dress in the picture) in the game is a very dangerous woman, but also has a very human element that makes her very likeable, whereas the character in the film is as exciting as an ironing board. Leon Kennedy, one of the main protagonists from the games, is relegated in this to effectively being a bland pervert, and Barry Burton is just there for no apparent reason.

 

So, along with the first film, which I haven’t reviewed, you may be wondering why films that only have an average rating of 26.4% (33% for RE and 21%, 22%, 25% and 31% respectively) keep getting made, it’s because of the finances. I mentioned in the Afterlife section about it making almost five times what it cost to actually make, and the trend of large profits was throughout the entirity of the five films.

The five films have a budget of $248 million, and made a return worldwide of £915,934,667, a return of 369%. It’s obvious from that why they keep getting made. They don’t give a shit if they made an awful film because people keep going back, myself included annoyingly.

Now, you may be wondering why I writing an article about sequels, it’s because this week the third installment in the Ghostbusters trilogy moved a step closer as the all-female cast was announced. Ghostbusters is one of my favourite franchises after growing up watching four guys running around shooting ghosts, it’s just a fun movie and the fact it has a rating of 7.8/10 on IMDB at the time of writing shows that I am not on my own with this.

What made the original two films so successful is that you could actually believe that Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis could be scientists, especially the latter, and the comedy is subtle. It’s not in your face, it’s not stupid or farcial, it’s smart comedy. Even the very dark elements of the film, such as Louis and Dana turning into demons, were highly enjoyable for people of all ages. It’s one of the few films with a PG rating that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s got everything, comedy, horror, (mild) violence, drama, romance and a giant man made of marshmallows, what’s not to like?

I am dreading the new Ghostbusters film because I don’t think it will have the same artistic style of comedy that the original had. Now, I’ve never heard of Kate McKinnon or Leslie Jones before so I can’t fairly assess either. I have seen Kristen Wiig in a few films, namely “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Anchorman 2” (funnily enough, another awful sequel) and her performance wasn’t memorable in either to be honest. In TSLOWM she was a bit bland and in Anchorman 2 her role was a bit stupid, but at least she has flexibility.

The reason I am dreading it can be summed in two words, Melissa McCarthy. Now, I am fairly open minded with regards to actors and actresses that are seemingly one-dimensional, afterall, later on I will be talking about a film starring an actor who has been famed for his one-dimensional acting, but for me Melissa McCarthy offers precisely fuck all in terms of genuine quality, heart or warmth in her acting “ability”. Every single joke she does revolves around her weight, and most of the trailer for “Tammy” was her trying to climb over a counter but struggling because she is fact.

She is single handedly capable of ruining the new Ghostbusters film. Don’t get me wrong, I will more than likely still go and watch it, but there is virtually no way that it is going to be better than the original films, and for those saying that it should be considered on it’s own merits, it’s impossible. For people of my generation, Ghostbusters will always have a special place in my heart and whilst I won’t claim to watch it on a regular basis, it is genuinely one of my favourite films from my youth.

So, based on that, I’m going to move on talking three other films where sequels and/or remakes are not needed, but unfortunately are probably going to have at some point for various reasons. This is not necessarily to say that the sequels/remakes will be bad, but these three films/franchises do not need another installment, but one has either been confirmed or by the sounds of it, is exceptionally likely.

American Psycho

Director : Mary Harron

Starring : Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Chloe Sevigney, Reese Witherspoon and Jared Leto.

Yes, that’s right, there has been serious talk about remaking this incredible film based off of the novel by Brett Easton Ellis. As the film that arguably launched Christian Bale into the A-List category, this 1999 flick follows businessman Patrick Bateman in the 1980s. By day he is a seemingly normal businessman, although you never see what he actually does for work, but by night he succumbs to his bloodlust and kills people in a variety of gruesome ways, including slicing someone’s head open with a swing of an axe, dropping a chainsaw onto a prostitute from the top of a stairwell and many others.

Patrick begins to descend into madness as he struggles to keep his two lives separate, especially after killing one of his co-workers, but the ending is very ambiguous as to whether Patrick just imagined everything, meaning he is either psychotic because he did all of these acts, or because he imagined doing them.

American Psycho is a triumph of cinema and is a true masterpiece of film. Christian Bale gives an Oscar worthy performance as Bateman, especially as he dances to Huey Lewis and the News whilst putting on a raincoat to murder his next victim.

The film already had a less than successful sequel starring Mila Kunis but now there has been talk in recent years or remaking this. Yes, they’re talking about remaking a film that was only made 16 years ago. If it had been a largely unknown film then I would understand (plus it give me the opportunity to review it properly and I would love to do that but can’t due to the nature of the site) why someone would want to remake it, but it’s not.

It has 299,467 votes and 1,022 reviews on IMDB (at the time of writing), and made $34.3 million at the American box office and numerous awards. Calling it an unknown film would be ridiculous, and the ONLY justification I can think of for a remake is that the film doesn’t show a few of the more controversial moments of the book (such as Patrick forcing a life rat into a woman’s vagina) and someone might want that.

Either way, a remake wouldn’t be better than the original and would therefore be pointless.

 

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The Bill and Ted franchiseBill_&_Ted

Director : Stephen Herek (EA) or Peter Hewitt (BJ)

Starring : Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, George Carlin, Amy Stock-Poynton and William Sadler

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was followed by a Bogus Journey and that was it for the Wyld Stallions. Unlike a lot of successful franchises, they knew when to stop. Winter and Reeves were both still young go on and do other things and not be typecast, and although it was still enjoyable, Bogus Journey wasn’t quite as fun as Excellent Adventure.

The franchise follows slackers Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) as they are destined to change the world into a better place, bringing peace to the universe through rock and roll, but they don’t know this and are set to fail their high school history class. Rufus (Carlin) is sent back in time to help them pass by giving them a phone booth to learn about history first hand.

Instead of simply learning from the historical figures, Bill and Ted decide to actually bring several historical figures back to the modern day to help them. Amongst those historical figures are Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates and several others. They eventually pass their history class.

Several years after the Excellent Adventure, the duo haven’t really learned from it and are struggling to reach their potential. They soon encounter robot versions of themselves sent from the future and are quickly killed by their counterparts. They wander around in the afterlife, including trips to both heaven and hell, but with the help of the Grim Reaper (Sadler) they eventually overcome their robot counterparts and the man who sent them. After spending some time with Eddie Van Halen, Bill and Ted finally reach their potential and bring about peace.

That was a nice little ending for me, they reach their potential and effectively closed the door on anymore sequels….or so we thought.

Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey are two of my favourite films from that era of the late 80s and early 90s. It is one of the few genuinely fun movies out there that you can just sit back, relax and enjoy what you’re about to watch, especially Excellent Adventure. It is like most films from that era and celebrates it, rather than mocking it in some sense.

It is also a very rare film where Keanu Reeves doesn’t actually look like he’s not enjoying himself. Whereas Winter hasn’t really had a big on screen career at all, Reeves has been in the main stream attention on various occasions since Excellent Adventure came out, with big roles in 1991’s Point Break, 1994’s Speed, 1999’s The Matrix and several others, but he has never truly been a mega-star and therefore his returning to a franchise from early in his career wouldn’t be out of the question.

However, how likely is it that there will be a Bill and Ted 3? Well there have been numerous occasions over the last five years where Winter and Reeves have both gone on record saying that it is close, including confirmations of scripts being completed, directors being attached  and various other things. There hasn’t been any major news since late 2013 but it still seems likely that it will be going ahead at some point.

Out of the three films I am mentioning, this would probably be the one that I would most like a sequel for, but there are still a few things that make me nervous about it.

Reeves has said that the film won’t be a reboot and will be a continuation of the story of these two characters and I love that. It has also been set that it would feature a lot of the cast of both films, and probably most importantly, Reeves and Winter themselves. Reeves has said that they’re not going to mess about if it goes ahead and it will feature the characters in their 40s, but even though they’re grown up, they aren’t mentally grown up, and that’s what worries me.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind seeing 40something Bill and Ted, but the thing that really worries me is that the way the second film ended showed them both as young fathers, married to their girlfriends and considerably more mature after an 18 month spell with Eddie Van Halen and their experiences travelling through time and battling robot versions of themselves, having them as immature 40 year olds would ruin that ending in many ways because it would lose a lot of the meaning of the end to Bogus Journey.

At least it wouldn’t be a reboot.

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Fight Club

fightclub1

Director : David Fincher

Starring : Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, Helena Botham-Carter, Jared Leto and Meatloaf

David Fincher’s 1999 masterpiece based on the 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk followed an unnamed narrator (Norton) as he struggles through life. One day he meets a nihilist called Tyler Durden (Pitt). Soon the two start an underground boxing club in which there of few rules (although I am breaking two currently).

The narrator soon quits his job in remarkable fashion before Fight Club turns into a movement called Project Mayhem. The goal of Project Mayhem is to destroy anything that glorifies commercialism, such as destroying a Starbucks and a piece of corporate art at the same time.

As things spiral out of control, Durden and the narrator soon come confront their issues with each other, wherein the latter realises that he and Durden are actually the same person.

Fight Club is one of my favourite films, infact it’s definitely in the top two and the only film that challenges is the aforementioned “Willow”. I often debate which of the two of them is actually my favourite film and it takes a lot for anything to even come close.

Now, I know a few of you will be saying that this film would never have a chance of having a sequel for numerous reasons, one of which is the big twist where Norton’s character has multiple personality disorder. The film, rather uniquely, closed off all storylines and seemingly left no room for a sequel, so where have I got the idea that there would be a potential sequel from?

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the headline “Fight Club 2 to arrive in 2015” in 2013, I was both really excited and dreading it at the same time. Now, the headline is in reference to Chuck Palahniuk writing a sequel to his novel, but in a generation full of films that are based on books, it seems almost inevitable that the film sequel will inevitably happen.

Pahalniuk has revealed details of the sequel and to be far, it doesn’t sound overly bad, but it doesn’t sound a lot like the first film at all and has been described as having several absurdly comical moments.

Speaking to Hustler magazine, Pahalniuk stated “”The sequel will be told from the– at first– submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life.  Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him Cornelius.  He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife.  The typical midlife bullshit.  Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with.  She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and– go figure– Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.”

I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest, I will reserve judgement until I had read the 10-part graphic novel sequel about whether it would make a good film, but realistically “Fight Club” shouldn’t have a sequel in film form.

At least it won’t be another shit computer game based on the film.

film-fight_club-1999-tyler_durden-brad_pitt-jackets-red_leather_jacket

 

 

So after looking at three sequels or reboots that I’m not entirely sure would be a good thing, I’m going to end this article with a number, but first of all, let’s see what you think that the number is based on this question….how many films that are currently scheduled for release in 2015 (including those that have already been released) at the cinema are sequels or remakes?

The answer…..30.

Taken 3, The Woman in Black : Angel of Death, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Divergent : Insurgent, Furious 7, Paul Blarts 2, Avengers : Age of Ultron, Mad Max : Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Insidious 3, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Terminator Genisys, Minions, Mission Impossible 5, Poltergeist, Point Break, Fantastic Four, Sinister 2, Hitman : Agent 47, The Maze Runner : Scorch Trials, Hotel Transylvania 2, Paranormal Activity : The Ghost Dimension, Spectre, Hunger Games : Monkingjay – Part 2, Star Wars : The Force Awakens and Alvin and the Chipmunks 4.