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Archive for the ‘Top Five List’ Category

Every generation has those precious few great actors that you get to grow up watching from the time you are a child, to young adult, and so on. My generation has been lucky to have a few truly great actors and without a doubt one of the actors at the top of the list is Tom Hanks.  He has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards for Best Actor and has won two, Philadelphia and Forest Gump, and he should have won a third for Saving Private Ryan.  Many of the movies he is in are up for Academy Awards for Best Picture and he has worked with some of the best directors around in Stephen Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Frank Darabont.  If you see his name involved in a movie, or TV mini-series for that matter, you can make a safe bet that the project will be great.

My introduction to Tom Hanks was the late 1970’s show Bosom Buddies which is funny because I vaguely remember that the TV show was actually supposed to be the springboard for his fellow cast member Peter Scolari and even though in my head I thought the show lasted 5 years it only lasted 2 and 1/2.  My next experience with Tom Hanks hooked me forever and maybe made me want to get married just so I could enjoy what I thought was the traditional bachelor party full of fire trucks, drugs, guns, booze, and hookers (this is a line from the movie.)   I watched him through the 80’s in good comedies, such as The Money Pit, and not so good comedies, Dragnet, and one absolutely horrible film, Joe versus the Volcano.  I became a huge fan after I watched the move Nothing In Common.  Then there was Big, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Saving Private Ryan and I was forever sold on movies that he was in.  I became a big fan of his and realized that I am lucky to have a great actor to watch in my life for many, many years.

For me trying to pick my favorite Hanks films is difficult for many reason one of them being that I haven’t seen a few recent ones and a couple old ones that I should have.   I have been trying very hard to watch The Green Mile, Philadelphia (although I am thinking I saw this once but probably 20 years ago so I don’t remember,) Captain Phillips, and Charlie Wilson’s War just to name a few.  There are a couple of films I have seen but just don’t remember like Cast Away and Big for example, that I can’t put in this list either although I am pretty sure they should be.  But I ran out time to watch them again.

Another expectation that I am eliminating are the films that his performance were great, vocal or otherwise, but I wasn’t a fan of them or just don’t think they belong on this list.  The great performance but lousy movie award goes to A League of Their Own, my review you can read here, and the Toy Story movies that even though he is great in his vocal performance I am just not sure I can include them in my Top five films.  I will also say that my honorable mentions and #5 movie could all be interchanged it is that hard for me.  Even in writing this list I have changed my mind about four times

So with this all being said, I would like to present to you my Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films (as of November 2016):

ygm#5 – You’ve Got Mail (1998):

I know what you are thinking, of the two Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks romantic comedies this isn’t even the better of the two (I forget that Joe versus the Volcano is supposed to be a rom/com for the two but I consider it a disaster on all levels.)  I know and I’m sorry but for a rom/com I find Sleepy in Seattle too slow and nowhere near as funny.  This may be an overly simple plot but I find it charming, funny, it used cutting edge technology, at that time, to create a plot point that ironically is the main way people meet today.  The love interests met in an old AOL chatroom and now-a-days everyone is using a dating app to meet people.  At the end of the day I watch this movie a lot and that’s why its number 5 on my list.

Briefly, this movie involves the son of the and part owner of a big box book store called Fox Books (Barnes & Noble like) named Joe Fox, played by Hanks, and the owner of a small children’s book store, Shop Around the Corner, named Kathleen Kelly, played by Ryan, who meet in an America Online chat room.   They don’t share any information about each other so they have no idea that they become rivals when a Fox Books store is built in the same NYC neighborhood as her bookstore.  The drama begins as they begin to fall for each other anonymously online but have a strong dislike for each other professionally.

This movie makes me smile from almost beginning to end.  All of it has to do with Tom Hanks and how he does what he does when it comes to quick wit and physical comedy.   I guess I shouldn’t say all because the writer does a great job of playing on the stereotypes that are prevalent in New York’s west side.   Among the co-stars I loved Dabney Coleman who played the Dad to Joe Fox.  Every scene he was in, and there weren’t a lot, I thought he was able to match wits with Tom Hanks with the humor.  He wasn’t so much the quick wit as he was the blunt observation humor of the group.  He also inadvertently added the insight Hanks character needed to chase after Kathleen.  I will also say that David Chappelle gives his best performance he has had in the movies with his small roll in this film as the manager of this particular Fox Books store.  He allowed the script to create the humor and was never over the top.  Lastly I would like to mention Greg Kinnear who was the pretentious douchebag NY Liberal writer and boyfriend to Kathleen Kelly.  He was a humorous representation of what NY liberals are that you wouldn’t see now because those types of people don’t like to make fun of themselves.   He was particularly funny when he found out that Kathleen’s mother figure Birdie fell in love with Generalissimo Franco of Spain when she was in Spain.  He was briefly hilarious. Oh and quickly I’ll mention Parker Posey as the neurotic girlfriend to Joe Fox.  She was highly annoying and that is what she is supposed to be.  Even annoying she is still hot.

One thing I liked about the story is that it doesn’t take the easy way out and have Kathleen Kelly immediately after she finds out her rival Joe Fox is also the secret love over the internet.  The writer took the time to allow Joe Fox to become friends with her before revealing to her that her one time big rival and killer of her business is the love of her life.

Unlike Benn who can remember why he disliked or like a movie he saw 14 years ago and write a 1000 word review on them, I struggle writing reviews if I haven’t seen it recently or, as in this case, I am a big fan of the movie.  In order to write this for my Top 5 List I have seen the movie about 6 times in the last 36 hours and only stopped to watch the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  I am a big fan of this film which is why its number 5.

davincicode#4 – The Da Vinci Code (2006):

This movie plays at my heart strings on many levels.  I am a sucker for action movies that take place in Europe.  I just love watching car chases, planes, trains, motorcycles, any kind of action that involves roads and buildings that have been around for 300 years or more.  This movie also plays on my love of history and mixing history into the plot of the story.  Then finally you have a smart detective movie that involves twists and turns and betrayal around every corner.  Plus, and this is sinful to millions of people, but I have read the book (ok listened to the unabridged book on CD,) and watched the movie and I like the movie much more.

The second reason why I love this film is the cast itself.  I love Hanks as this brainy professor who is almost a human encyclopedia who is brave and courageous but is not a physical presence in the film.  He is not going to kick anyone’s ass.  Sure he can defend himself but I don’t see him winning a physical fight.  I love Audrey Tatou as well in this film.  Being the female lead and in a role in which she is more of the brute force of this duo is fun.  I think she is wonderful as this simultaneously strong yet confused and vulnerable in trying to find out the truth.  One change that the movie made that was a great improvement over the book was changing the character of Sir Leigh Teabing from being a younger overweight professor to an elderly thin and handicapped man portrayed by Ian McKellen.  No matter how many times I watch the movie, and its lots, I am completely memorized by the whole scene where McKellen, as Teabing, explains the true story of the Holy Grail to Langdon and Neveu I am watching like I have never seen it before with wide eyes becoming a true believer of what he is saying.  Sure its from a book but that is still great story telling.

Since I plan on doing a review I won’t go into to many more details but much like my 5th favorite Tom Hanks, there are better movies in my honorable then this movie but I love watching this movie over and over and isn’t that what these lists are about?

nothingincommon#3 Nothing In Common (1986):

As I said in my review which you can read here, this is the first movie when I realized that Tom Hanks could really act.  I did not see this movie when it came out but I did see it before his breakout roles in Philadelphia and Forest Gump.  This movie showed what is best in Tom Hanks and for me his swing spot is when he is in a movie that is equally funny and dramatic.  That is this movie.  His performance as well as Jackie Gleason, who played his father, was mesmerizing for me to watch.  I said in my review that his quick wit was on display and he was perfectly cast as an advertising executive who makes commercials.  I want to believe that some of the comedy in the film, especially in the beginning was improvisation because if it wasn’t I want to know why the writers haven’t gone on to better things.  In fact they disappeared.  Which for me lends credence to the belief that I have that a lot of the comedy was improve.

I mentioned Gleason and I have to say it was great to see him in this roll.  I vaguely remember him on the TV show The Honeymooners with the reruns in the 1970’s but my large knowledge of him comes from the Smokey and The Bandit movies because I never saw the film he was nominated for an Academy Award, The Hustler.  In Smokey and The Bandit he played an over the top comedic character of a Texas county Sheriff named Buford T. Justice.  Anyway, the most amazing thing to me is that this was the last film and while he was filming the movie he had already been diagnosed with three forms of cancer.  He was in retirement and at first refused director Garry Marshall’s request to come shoot the film but was persuaded when Marshall told him that if he didn’t shoot this film the last film in his long career would have been Smokey and The Bandit 3, a film so God Awful that Burt Reynolds declined to be in it.  Now maybe he played the part of an unhealthy father because he was dying in real life but to me he was the perfect foil to Hanks.

I can’t remember the last time this movie made the classic TV circuit if ever, but if you want to watch a great Tom Hanks film before he was great and have a taste of 80’s nostalgia with the music and the hair and the carefree attitude of sex and adultery and childish behavior in the office, rent this on Netflix or Amazon and enjoy.

forrestgump#2 Forrest Gump (1994):

True confession time, I didn’t see the movie Philadelphia for quite some time.  I didn’t care for the subject because it became oh so politicized and of course my political beliefs were in the wrong back then as they always are all the time.  I was annoyed with Tom Hanks for taking on that roll even though it won him his first Academy Award.  I can’t tell you why, maybe it was because, and its childish and stupid but my high school sweetheart, who I had broken up with by then, had come out of the closet and I was very resentful of wasting two years of my high school dating a woman who wasn’t sure who she was attracted to.  I had plenty of girls to choose from.  Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.  I bring up the movie Philadelphia because since I ignored it, Forrest Gump is the movie that I consider to be his iconic film roll that shows how amazing an actor he became.

Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, is considered a stupid man because of his 75 IQ.  However this “stupid” man begins a journey that takes him from small town in Alabama to a college football superstar at the University of Alabama to a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, to Shrimping Boat Captain, and millionaire and all while being almost blissfully unaware of his accomplishments.  Along the way he meets the icons, heroes, and villains, of the Baby Boom generation in the likes of Elvis Pressley, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and John Lennon.   He takes guidance from his mother, Mrs. Gump, played by Sally Field, and his commander from Vietnam, Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise.  His real inspiration is his girlfriend from childhood Jeannie, played by Robin Wright, and she is a character that suffers all the pitfalls from this era in terms of sex, drugs, and violence from the 60’s and 70’s.  If Forrest is unaware of his success and his high highs, the Jeannie is very much aware of her failures and the very low lows.  This is a great character movie with a dynamic cast with the best performance by Tom Hanks.

Throughout this list I have talked about how wonderful Tom Hanks is by using his physical skills in creating comedy.  Well in this film he uses his physical skills to perfection by showing so many emotions through his face and the way he walked and talked.  He did wonderful job keeping is voice the same from beginning to end and I love how he mixed his southern voice with a specific lower tone in his voice to show that he was “slow.”  Another thing that he did vocally that was terrific was to be very precise in his articulation of his words.  He may be using the wrong words and he may be considered dumb but to me because Hanks was so specific in his articulation that it gave Forrest a quiet confidence because you always knew what he was talking about.

I love the purpose of the story in this film.   The character of Jeannie wanted to be a famous musician and to be rich.  She constantly was moving around to find herself but she ended up getting into bad situation after bad situation.  Forrest Gump on the other hand just lived life that was given to him and he ended up being the famous one.  It was great to watch that transpire.

This is a wonderful movie but it isn’t my favorite Hanks movie.  In fact my favorite Hanks movie is the one in which he provides almost no humor at all.  In this movie he creates humor by being the character of Forest Gump and the situations that happened.  I can’t imagine anyone that hasn’t seen this film but if you haven’t please do, it’s a great performance, and a great review of all of the good and bad of the Baby Boomer generation.

savingprivateryan#1 Saving Private Ryan (1998):

This is my favorite Tom Hanks film.  It is also my favorite military film.  If you want to read my review, please go here.  I am going to copy and paste the comments from my Top 5 Military film to describe this movie but I will say that this movie is amazing and Tom Hanks is as well. His performance has Captain Miller was amazing.  There were several scenes that again showed how he can act brilliantly.  It starts right in the beginning as he is on Omaha Beach and he is watching his men get cut to shreds.  Then there is the scene in the church where he is talking about how many men he has lost since he took command.  My favorite of his when his being confronted by his own men about the loss of two of their own troops trying to find another Private Ryan because he is able to diffuse the situation by giving up the information about his personal life that he kept hidden.  This is an amazing movie and it is my favorite Tom Hanks Film.

 

From my Top 5 Military Movies post:

This movie had me in the first 30 minutes in the film. I have jumped a lot in my days at horror movies but I have never been generally scared at any sitting of any film.  That all changed when I saw Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene and the attack on Omaha Beach.  I had never seen anything like that before in any movie.  The movie theater felt like a battle zone and it almost felt like the bullets were zooming past you.  I remember seeing some older gentleman in the movie theater, normally way too old to see a movie like that, and I heard them talking about it after words.  I went up to them and asked if they were veterans and they said they were and I asked if that first scene was close to the real thing.  They told me no, not at all.  But it was the best portrayal a movie has ever shown.

This movie is an example of the kind of courage you need in battle.  More than 2000 men died on Omaha beach that day and even though other movies tried to give an example of what it was like, The Longest Day for example, this movie put you there and while I have always respected the men who fought for our country this movie only deepened it.  I will never know if I have the kind of courage the men and women have in today’s military have to have in order to the jobs they do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.  I would like to think I would have the training and the will power.  But I will never know.

Saving Private Ryan is a movie about a group of Rangers that are looking for a soldier with the 101st Airborne named Private Ryan who jumped into France the night before the D-Day invasion which was June 6, 1944.  The group was sent to find the soldier because the soldier had three brothers all of whom had died in on various battlefields, including D-Day itself.  Ryan was getting an honorable discharge from the military because of the loss of his brothers.  The Rangers job was to go and find this “needle in a haystack.”

The movie is an ensemble cast of pure brilliance.  The movie cast was led by Tom Hanks and had Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Tom Sizemore, Paul Giamatti, Giovanni Ribisi, Dennis Farina and a host of others.  The movie was directed by Stephen Spielberg and I feel that this is his second best movie next to another movie about World War II, Schindler’s List.  It seemed to me that everyone was perfectly cast especially Hanks as the Captain of the Rangers and Sizemore as his Sargent.  They made the downtime between battles meaningful and the movie seem quick.  In fact the movie was way to fast and I wished it would have kept going to see the survivors continue on in the war.

This war movie is the movie that all other war movies get compared to from the past and the future.  I will always grade any future movie I witness against this film in terms of action, character development, and truth to the history, and authenticity.  This film is a true film that I believe gives justice to all those who have served past and present.  My full review can be seen here.

 

Honorable Mention (In no particular order just know that two of these at one point were number 4 and number 5) :

Sully (2016):

This movie was at one point both number 4 and 5.  I moved it off because as amazing as this film is I don’t know how I will watch it once I get this film on Bluray.  It is an amazing film for many reasons including Hanks and the director Clint Eastwood.  This movie is better than both my current four and five’s but I don’t know given the subject matter of the film if I would be watching it as much as I watch the others.  I have written a review of the film that you can read here.

Road To Perdition (2002):

Tom Hanks the bad guy.  It’s weird to see some of our favorite actors portray bad guys.  This reminds me of Robin Williams in the movies One Hour Photo and Insomnia.  Although in Tom Hanks case it may be a misnomer to say that he is a bad guy.  He is mind you because he is a hit man for an Irish mobster that is an ally of the Capone mob in the 1930’s.  Things get fuzzy when his son sneaks into his car when Hanks’s character Michael Sullivan is protecting the mobsters’ son Conner, played by Daniel Craig, and the son ends up killing a rival and forcing Michael to gun down the rivals body guards.  Connor ends up sending Michael on a mission that is supposed to get him killed and Connor goes to kill Michael’s family because of Michael’s son seeing the hit.  Michael survives the attack but loses his wife and a son who didn’t witness the crime.  He then goes on a quest to protect his only son and kill of the mobsters son which draws the wrath of the Capone mob.  This is a great father son film and you don’t see it too often but you should definitely pick it up.  This was my original number 4 film but I pulled it because as amazing as it is, this is quite a sad film and I don’t watch it as often as I should.

Bridge of Spies (2015):

There was a brief period in time when I stopped going to see new Tom Hanks films.  Before I saw this film in the spring of 2015 the last film of his I saw in the movie theater was Angels & Demons.  This movie made me regret missing so many of his films since then.  This film is pretty freaking amazing and the only reason why I haven’t got it on my list is because I just like the others more.  Gun to my head if you told me that this film was better than both my number one and number two choices, in terms of how good the film is, I would probably agree with you.  That is how much I believe in how good this film is.  I just don’t know how many times I would watch this film versus the others.  This is an amazing film if you like History and the Cold War or Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  If you don’t then this film probably wont appeal to you.  To read my review click here.

Bachelor Party (2004):

Yes this is the worst film on this list, by far.  But I love this film so much.  I contemplated making this film my top 5 film but I couldn’t because it was so dumb.  But in terms of comedy and creating some wonderful wet dreams for a 13 year old boy who got to see it on HBO, this is a fun movie.  I laughed and laughed and laughed and still do every time I watch this film.  If you want to read one of my old reviews then click here to read a review of this film.

Apollo 13 (1995):

This film is fun to watch.  I would also say that unless you are interested in history you probably wouldn’t like this film.  But is an amazing film about NASA and the problems that they overcame in this historical event.  Tom Hanks was the serious actor in this film but he was, and I hate to type this again, amazing in it as the commander.  Gary Sinise was in this film as well and was wonderful as was Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon.  It’s a long film but to me it goes fast because the suspense builds from the beginning and just continues to the last scene which I believe is hard to do when you know the outcome.  But it does and this is a great film.

 

Well that sums up my list of my favorite Tom Hanks films. My guess is that if I were to do this again in 5 years there will be new movies on the list.  I feel lucky as a fan of movies to be able to enjoy his work on the big screen.  I will make a point to make sure and not miss anymore of his films.

 

 

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So this month in honor of the long awaited sequel to the 1997 film Independence Day, aptly named Independence Day: Resurgence , and because Benn’s lovely wife Heather demanded it, we are doing our top five Disaster movies. Benn because he won last month’s challenge and because he is a tool is making me list the top five worst disaster films while he gets to talk about the best ones.  So instead of giving you a list of what I consider the best disaster films which would be topped with what I consider to be the best, The Towering Inferno,  which you can read my review here, I am forced to tell you which ones absolutely suck.  All because I made him review the Twilight Saga which I still say he secretly liked.

Since Benn set the rules for the disaster films I shall share with you what they are and most of them are self-explanatory.

  1. A massive loss of life – pretty obvious but the body count can be small if it involves the entirety of whatever group is involved. Think of the movie A Perfect Storm.
  2. By Natural, unnatural and/or supernatural means – again straight forward allowing for alien invasion, viral outbreak, crazy animals etc.
  3. Disaster has to be within the timeline of the movie – The movie needs to show the disaster happening at some point for it to be included. It can’t be a post apocalyptical world so good movies such as Mad Max and horrible movies like Waterworld and The Postman are left out.
  4. No Zombies – Benn decided and I agreed that this genre of disaster/apocalypse is so popular right now that it deserves its own category so we left it out of the list.

I set some limits inside of Benn’s limits to what films I will include in this list because in all honesty if I wanted list a true list of worst disaster movies I would just go look at whatever disaster movies that have been released in the last 4 years on the Sci-Fi channel and make it from that.  So no movies that started on the Sci-Fi network.  Sorry, but not Sharknado on the list.  I also decided that these movies had to have been made after 1970 because the technology in general was too restrictive to make good special effects.  I mean the 1955 film Tarantula is hilariously funny and bad but I can’t include it on the list.  I start with the 1970’s because I would argue two of the best disaster films, the aforementioned The Towering Inferno, and the original The Poseidon Adventure, were both made in 1974, and 1972, respectively.  So with those restrictions in place, here are the top five worst disaster films.

If you want to see Benn’s list of his favorite disaster movies because Heather says so, click here.

 

kingdomspiders.jpgNo. 5 – Kingdom of the Spider (1977)

Now it is generally known to my friends that I do have a fear of spiders.  Not a horrible one where if I see a spider across the wall from where I am I won’t freak out and run out of the room.  I won’t be happy If I have one crawling on me but in general I am ok.  What I don’t like is watching them on film at all in any kind of horror story.  So you know a movie has to be ridiculously bad if I am not scared by a film that has spiders in it, a lot of them.  The 1970’s gave us some wonderful disaster films but it also gave us some horrible ones as well.  This film is bad for many reasons.  If this film was made in the 1950’s I would argue that this film would be a little bit more likeable because the general lack of science knowledge was still evident.  But by the 1970’s science was becoming a larger part of our life as well as the science of other animals.  So the ridiculousness of what these spiders could do, like draining whole human bodies of blood inside of what seemed like minutes was just bad.  This is one example of the many things that spiders wouldn’t do.  Even if the spiders were, as this story had it, infected with so much pesticide they began to have toxic bites.  It’s just not scary and very absurd.  Speaking of absurd, my favorite Star Trek captain is the star of the movie.  That’s right William Shatner himself is in this film and it fits because a bad movie needs an actor known for overacting.  Shatner’s non-death death scene was just completely awesome and an excellent example of overacting.  The jest of the movie is that several farm animals have been found dead and several colonies of tarantulas have been growing and becoming more aggressive.  Before the ranchers and small towns people can do anything about it the spiders attack and overwhelm the town and trap or heroes in a small motel.

Now the reason why I feel this is equally as disaster film as it is horror film is that it does affect a small town but there are lots of people and we see lots of deaths, the disaster is natural and the final scene implies that this could be come nationwide very soon.  This again shows how ridiculous this movie is.

TitanicNo. 4 – Titanic (1997)

I hate this film so much I almost gave myself alcohol poisoning in 1998 during the Academy Awards Show.  Benn and I and two other roommates decided to do a shot every time the word Titanic was said.  Then Billy Crystal comes out and sings a song that has Titanic in it like 11 times.  The theater director in the show we were working on or acting in who knew what we were doing was so worried about us he called 20 minutes into the show to make sure we aren’t actually doing what we said we were going to do.  Long story for another day.

This movie is really hard for me to put on the list because I love the last hour and a half of the movie once the ship hits the iceberg and we watch all the events around the sinking.  The part that I hate with an absolute passion is the stupid f’ing love story written into the event.  I couldn’t give two sh*ts about what happens to Jack and Rose and I swear if I ever met two people named Jack and Rose who are married I would think about slapping them.  Every part of their story in this film dragged the film down.

Even some of the disaster scenes were hokey.  I loved it towards the end of the film where we see passengers who were at the stern of the boat start to slide forward as the bow goes underwater.  To steal a line from those great guys at ScreenJunkies.com it’s the greatest game of human Plinko in the world.  Oh and I will forever laugh at the scene where the guy falls off the back of the Titanic and hits the propeller and flips in, just hilarious.  That being said most of the special effects were pretty amazing.  But the love story is so distracting that it causes me to hate this film with a passion which is why you see it on the list but only at number 4.

 

2012No. 3 and No. 2 – 2012 (2009) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

I can feel the hatred coming from Heather…warms my heart.  As much as I like Roland Emmerich other films, his disaster movies are long on special effects short on story, writing, acting, likeability, quality of film.  I will say that the special effects are pretty good for the most part.  But the story and the writing for me is so comical that I sit there in disbelief thinking, who wrote this.  Why does every male hero figure has to be divorced from his wife because he works to hard and a borderline bad father in a Roland Emmerich disaster movie?  One has Dennis Quaid a workaholic father who is always gone on some science expedition and therefor misses most of his teenage son growing up and John Cusack is a chauffeur driver because the one book he spent all of his time writing that he ignored his family for sold like a grand total of five copies.   Then there is the oldest son of the hero figure that is pissed at his father both for the same reason, they are never around and often too judgmental when they are around.  2012 has the extra bonus of having a child with an embarrassing need to sleep with pullup because she still wets the bed when she sleeps instead of, I don’t know, being normal.  Cliché, cliché and cliché.

dayaftertomorrowYes, the special effects are awesome but why do we have the heroes always avoiding death at the last minute. In Day After Jake Gyllenhaal’s character manages to get his friends, and the hot chick Emmy Rossum in to a library that is just high enough to avoid being completely swallowed up by the flood and fast enough to miss the flooding waters and the taxi cab blasted through the front window of the library and in 2012 John Cusack is driving just awesome enough, including INSIDE A COLLAPSING BUILDING, to get around the catastrophic earthquake to get to an airfield to help fly a plane out of the danger area JUST before the ground falls apart during the Earthquake.  So many near misses I am beginning to think nobody important dies…oh wait nobody important in these movies die!  Also, why does New Delhi India the starting point for both movies AND have some kind of unrealistic weather event going on?  In Day After its snowing in New Delhi and in 2012 it’s a heavy monsoon.  I get that the weather change is a portent of bad things to come but why New Delhi…both times?

Plus both movies show that someone in the Presidential administration is completely oblivious and borderline nefarious when it comes to caring about the lives of others. In The Day After the Vice President of US is constantly ignoring and refuting the scientific data that Dennis Quad is giving him and in 2012 the Chief of Staff to the President is basically running the show once the President sacrifices himself and the Chief is constantly making decisions that kill hundreds of people and doesn’t seem to care about it.  Plus we have the extra bonus of the political conversation of Global Warming in The Day After Tomorrow except now of course its Climate change.  Oh and the whole scene of thousands of Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico, the delicious irony of it all.  Of course if they actually did that they all could be convicted and sent to jail for 2 to 5 years as opposed to what happens when you come to America illegally where you get free housing, healthcare, education all paid for by someone else because eventually the Democrats will need your vote.

If you want to know why I dislike The Day After Tomorrow more than 2012 its because of the scene in the library when Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters girlfriend, played by Emmy Rossum, is sick for some unknown reason and the librarian comes in with a possible answer. To set this up, earlier in the movie the kids went to this room and started grabbing books to burn to keep warm and alive when the big freeze happens and the librarian freaks out and takes no part.  So then the scene with the sick girl happens and the librarian walks in holding a book she responds to the question of how she knows by saying, “Because books can be good for something other than burning.” F*ck you lady!  If they all freeze to death no one gets to read ever again.  Plus this is the next ice age, those books are going to be under ice for the next 1000 years, they are nothing now.  What an arrogant insufferable pain in the ass, which fits because that describes these movies.

happeningNo. 1 – The Happening (2008)

I have seen this movie once and swore I would never see it again. This was where M. Night Shyamalan lost me as a fan of his movies.  How does someone write and direct the Sixth Sense and then come up with this comically bad movie.  I spent the entire time giggling at how many awesome ways people were committing suicide in the film.  I was just smiling away as the construction workers were sailing of the building and hitting the ground with a thud, the animal trainer getting mauled by the lions and the guy lying down in front of the lawn mower and on and on. Why was this happening?  What was the cause of this mass destruction across the world?  Was it alien machine?  Was it a virus that caused people to go crazy?  No.  It was Mother Nature pissed at how humans were treating the world so she released something into the air that made all of us humans commit suicide so she could start over.  A nearly two hour movie to tell us to take care of the environment?  Damn you M. Night Shyamalan, damn you to hell.

Honorable mentions –

My list is in no particular order and because I have only seen some of these once or 30 plus years ago I won’t have a lot to say, I just know that I disliked what I saw.

Left Behind (2014)

This movie is new to the list because I just saw it for the first time 5 days ago and you can read the review of the film here. It seems odd to not have this in my top five because with the exception of the Kingdom of the Spider film, all the other movies had way better special effects.  The problem with this film is that I knew going into it that it would be a horrible film.  Honestly I consider this film to barely above the level of a Sci-Fi film only because Nicholas Cage is probably at the end of the line of being an name actor.  With the slate of movies that he has coming out in the next year or so it looks like he will soon be a regular on those style of movies.  So because of that this movie isn’t in my top five, but because he still is a name he is in my honorable mention list.

Earthquake (1974)

My problem with this movie is I felt the special effects were poor. It seemed like all it did was stack a bunch of physical setting appropriate debris stacked above the camera and told all of the actors to start yelling and screaming and running around, drop the debris around them and shake the camera and boom there is your Earthquake special effects.  I am surprised that Charlton Heston starred in this film and I am even more surprised that this movie beat out The Towering Inferno for the Academy Award for Best Sound.  Hell, I can’t believe this was nominated for any awards.  After the Earthquake the story had two more major dangers, the looters and the National Guard assigned to deal with them and the damn that eventually breaks and floods parts of the city.  I felt no real connection to any of the actors in the film other than hoping that the actors survived because I like who they were in other films or TV shows.  There was an attempt at making some friction between Heston’s character Graff who it appears is going to leave his wife a crazy lady Remy played by Ava Gardner for a younger less crazy but much poorer hot chick named Denise, played by Genevieve Bujold.  After seeing Remy on screen for 30 seconds I started scream “Run Dude” at Charlton Heston.   Everything about this movie pales in comparison to The Towering Inferno and there actually are scenes that you can compare each other too on how it looked at the tension involved.  In Towering Inferno there is a scene that has a stairwell out and Paul Newman hast to use what’s left of a hand rail to get himself down, a himself and a little girl down, and then a boy gets to go down on his own and then a woman.  In Earthquake there is a building that Heston’s character works in that partially collapses and takes out a stairwell that is adjoining to an outside wall so if you fall you plummet to your death.  Lorne Green’s character gets some rope and they tie people to a chair and lower people down to Heston.  The background itself looks bad compared to Inferno and therefore there is no tension in the scene.  It is one of the many reasons why I love Inferno and hate Earthquake.

The Swarm (1978)

If the early 70’s gave us great classic disaster films then the late 70’s gave us some classically bad disaster films. Just to name a few we had Airport 79, Meteor, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (Which almost made this list,) but by far the worst of them for me was unfortunately and Irwin Allen film called The Swarm.  I vaguely remember in the early 70’s of a general concern that there was a real possibility of Africanized Bees coming up to the US.  There were news reports of how the bees were making their way from Brazil of the decades after they were introduced in the country.  But to try and turn it into a disaster/horror movie is just a horrible idea and you can see it being horrible for over two hours.  Everything that Irwin Allen was credited for doing in terms of special effects in both Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure were almost undone by this film.  The script was also horrible as well.  It had scenes were people who survived being stung were hallucinating that they were seeing giant bees all around them.    The only reason why this movie didn’t make my top five instead of Kingdom of Spiders is because there were 5 actors in this film who had won a total of seven Academy Awards two of them being Michael Caine and Henry Fonda.  I am going to link a Youtube.com video that shows highlights of how bad this film truly is.

 

Volcano (1997)

I did a review for this film which you can find here, but it makes me sad that Tommy Lee Jones was in this big pile of hot crap. The absurdity of the plot and the acting, with the exception of Jones and Don Cheadle, make this movie beyond painful.  One of the climatic scenes in the movie had all the fire fighters fighting a lava flow down Wilshire Blvd and the pool it up because the water someone manages to harden it enough to do so, and all of the firefighters start cheering and patting themselves on the back and cheering success completely forgetting the fact that 20 minutes earlier we see a part of the movie where the neighboring streets have lots of lava flow down them and nothing in its way and nobody cares.  But the good thing is that the movie doesn’t care either because we never see it again.  That’s one of many scenes that have you staring going WTF?  Just to list a few more, there is the explosion of the volcano out of the tar pits that forces the glass in the building across the street to shatter on every story and shower the people below with glass yet all come away un cut and un injured, or the scene that shows the little rat dog barking at the lava from about six inches away from the lava, or the constant political overtones of Rodney King and race relations throughout the entire f’ing film.  What makes it worse is that another disaster movie involving a volcano, Dante’s Peak, is 1000 times better plus its based on factual information as opposed to this one, which is about as factual as the story in any of your basic porn movies.  It’s Just bad all around.

Into The Storm (2014)

This one kind of hurts because the movie itself is crap but it has two actors that I am hoping have long movie careers.   The first is Sarah Wayne Callies who is Rick Grimes’s wife Lori in the AMC TV show The Walking Dead and the other is Richard Armitage who Is Thorin in the Lord of The Rings Hobbit Trilogy.  But they are only two of the three bright spots in another wise dull film that is a dumber, cheaper version of the 1990’s awesome tornado movie Twister.  The special effects are just a step above Sci-Fi Movie quality and the script and direction are right in that wheel house.  It’s another found footage movie, sort of, where there are multiple people filming different events in a town in Oklahoma when a many, many tornados strike seemingly all at once.    There were too many inconsistencies where, for example, a camera man would be 20 feet away from a tornado and bed fine until he falls to his knees for no reason and then gets sucked up however earlier there is a scene where both our hero and heroine were in danger of being sucked up by a twister over half a block away from where they were.  There are many scenes like this that make the movie comical and for the icing on the cake there are really no likeable characters in the film.  Even the two named actors aren’t able to do anything to make them likeable.  Now Sarah’s character nowhere near dislikeable as her character Lori from the Walking Dead but I would love to cheer her on at least once.  The only other bright spot is again an actor, or in this case actress, who is Alycia Debnam-Carey, who is currently in Fear the Walking Dead.  She is probably the most likeable character in the movie, which isn’t that hard to get that distinction to be honest.

 

 

 

 

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My movie review partner Benn Farrell and I have dedicated the month of May to those brave souls who have fought and died for the country and continue to serve it in the US Military.   I was born into a military family.  My father was in the US Air Force from the 1960’s to the early 1970’s.  He also served in the civil service from 1982 until he retired 20 years later.  Because of that I got to travel from Texas to Colorado to Washington and back to Colorado again.  My grandfather on my dad’s side was a doctor and won the Bronze Star in World War II.  He was a Battalion Aide Station doctor who was forced to go into the field to drag wounded soldiers back to the station because his medics were all wounded.  The soldiers he saved were all close to a German machine gun nest.  He was in the Italian campaign but I never found out the specifics.  My grandfather on my mother’s side was a soldier in World War I in France but I never knew what he did and where he fought.   I myself thought several times about joining the military but I was able to play football and have it pay for college.  I did try to enter the Air Force Academy but failed.  I soon washed out of football and college and I regret not joining the military at that time even though I was overweight it would have done me a world of good.

Back to the top five list I approached this as war movies that I love.  For me it was important for the movies to show realism in the film.  Not necessary the bloody violence of what war can do to the human body but realism in terms of military formations, accurate planes, ships, tanks, Calvary charges…etc.  While the story and characters can be fictionalized I would like to see the events as accurate as possible.  For example Saving Private Ryan is a fictional story about saving Private Ryan but the events surrounding their adventures are in real historical events like the D-Day Invasion and the things that happened on Omaha Beach.  However the movie Inglorious Basterds is fictional characters surrounded by fictional events in a very Tarantino way so that movie will not be included in this list.  This is due to my love of history and in particular military history.  I would love to be a professor in Military History.  Alas I have to make money so I am not.  Anyway, here is a list of my Top 5 Favorite United States Armed Forces Movies.  This was a very difficult list to make and I hope you like it.  For Benn’s list go here.

No. 5 – Fury (2014)

FuryThis movie was a joy to watch for me and I wasn’t expecting it.  I wanted to see this at the movie theater but it slipped out of theaters before I could see it.  When I finally got it to rent I loved everything I saw.  The atmosphere of this film was dark and dirty.  The battle scenes were hardcore, probably the bloodiest since Saving Private Ryan.  The story revolves around a US Tank crew four of which have been together for 3 years who are breaking in a new gunner who was never trained in a tank.  The opening ten minutes is wonderful in that it shows the horrors of what one man has to do to another when fighting a war.  Then right after that it shows the man breaking down, falling to one knee, in order to try and come to grips with what he just did to that enemy soldier he killed.  My favorite line in the movie comes from when Wardaddy, played by Brad Pitt, is showing Norman, played by Logan Lerman, a room full of Nazi party people who all committed suicide before they were capture by the US Army.  Norman up to that point had a hard time coming to grips with killing the enemy and having a naïve view of it and when Norman asks Wardaddy why he is showing him this room Wardaddy respond, “Ideas are peaceful, history is violent.”    I would love to post this saying on every anti-war rally in the world.  Like I said the action is very good and very real.  Although I am not aware of a tank unit doing what they did so the battles were fictitious in nature but do not detract from my enjoyment of the movie.  I have lots to say about the film and you can find what I like in my review which you can find here.

No. 4 – Gettysburg (1993)

gettysburg This movie isn’t for everyone and I know that.  The original release was over 3 hours long and the Blu-ray version is about 4 and half hours long.  But for me this is a visual feast for the military historian in me.  The production is utterly wonderful to see and for me it’s all about the attention to detail.  Of course the producers were smart because they hired hundreds and hundreds of Civil War reenactors to recreate the battles in the film. Because of this the movie is great in showing exactly how battles were fought during this time in history.  There was no blood shed like in Fury and Saving Private Ryan but the deaths seemed real and the hospital scene after the battle on Little Round Top was quite convincing.  The movie was from the Confederacy’s point of view for the most part and that alone is interesting because how often do we get the losers side of a story.  As I said in my review for the movie which you can find here, the battles are portrayed quite accurately in terms of the close contact the opposing sides had at each other during battles.

In case you can’t tell what this movie is about by the title, Gettysburg is about the Battle of Gettysburg fought in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania July 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July 1863 during the American Civil War.  The result of the battle was that the Union won its first major battle against the Confederate Army and while it took 2 more years for the war to end the battle started the shift towards ultimate victory for the Union.  After the battle one of the most famous speeches in American History, The Gettysburg Address, was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln.

I am a fan of the film because it ignored the urge to Hollywood up this film by adding the need to attract a female audience with a non-existent love story, like the movie Pearl Harbor, the producers wanted to stick true to the source material and present the battle as accurate as possible and that is why it’s on my Top 5 list.

No. 3 – Tora, Tora, Tora (1970)

toratoratora I love this movie for many of the same reasons I love Gettysburg and the reason why I am not a fan of Pearl Harbor.  This is the movie I wanted Pearl Harbor to be but with up to date special effects.  Tora, Tora, Tora is again a relatively accurate portrayal of the political events that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and that forced the United States into World War II.  This movie was told from both sides of the battle but I would guess from the American interpretation of the historical events.  The movie took the time to not only discuss the reasons for the Japanese choosing this option and the intelligence equipment that was used to crack the code.  Also the movie showed the ordeal and the mistakes made by the U.S. Pacific commanders made about deploying their forces and the failure of command in Washington D.C. in keeping the Pacific commanders in the loop of current intelligence.   This was probably the biggest reason for the success of the attack.  At any rate the movie takes the time to show all of this and it makes the historical nerd in me quite happy.

The attack itself was great to watch and much more realistic, I am sorry to say, than the movie Pearl Harbor.  The attack had the proper kind of planes on the ground and in the air and quite possibly the biggest difference is that in Tora, Tora, Tora, the US response during the attack was accurately shown, which was about nothing.  We did manage to get two P-40’s in the air and they shot down a few planes before they themselves were shot down.  They did survive the battle but they didn’t do what the Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett’s character did in Pearl Harbor.  Plus Tora, Tora, Tora ended on a down note with an upbeat quote from the Japanese Admiral who planned the attack and not with the stars of the movie taking part in the Doolittle Raid.

The reason why this movie is higher on the list than Gettysburg is because Gettysburg down time between the battles had a lot of character development, necessary mind you, but it slowed the story down a little too much.  To see my full review of Tora, Tora, Tora, click here.

No. 2 – Patton (1970)

PattonThis is the second best war movie for me even though it breaks a few rules that I have established above.  The battle scenes especially in Africa were a little too fake for me in that I saw way to many soldiers getting shot and then dropping to their knees, dropping their weapons, spinning around and then falling down dead.  I am also not too sure the battles happened the way they were portrayed in the film.  The battles themselves were good to watch but the movie itself was dated in terms of similarities between this film and other war movies of the era.

The reason why this movie is on this list is that I believe the portrayal of General Patton by actor George C. Scott is one of the best performances you will ever see.  He won an Academy Award for this portrayal of the controversial General.  The movie is about General George Patton from his time taking over the 7th Army in North Africa and Sicily.  Then it shows how he loses command over an incident where he slapped a private for being afraid to go back into battle.  On the verge of losing his job and being sent home, he is given a second chance and is given command of another army and goes on to great achievement and glory on the battlefield including commanding his forces to break through the German lines during the Battle of the Bulge in Christmas 1944.  The German military command considered him the greatest general for the allies.

Patton

As I said, the portrayal was one of a kind.  He was able to bring the character to life in such a way I have a hard time of not seeing George C Scott’s face whenever I see a picture of Patton.  Those who knew Patton say that his voice was nowhere near like Scott’s voice but the mannerisms were somewhat similar.  Plus a bonus for me was that in high school I had a history teacher named Mr. Smith, can’t remember his first name, who served under Patton.  He told me the story of when he was with Patton as his unit crossed the Rhine River and Patton stopped and got out of his jeep and relieved himself into the Rhine River.  That’s the kind of man he was and that is what made him a great general…he had no F’s to give.  You can read my review of Patton here.

 

 

No. 1 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

savingprivateryan This movie had me in the first 30 minutes in the film.  I have jumped a lot in my days at horror movies but I have never been generally scared at any sitting of any film.  That all changed when I saw Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene and the attack on Omaha Beach.  I had never seen anything like that before in any movie.  The movie theater felt like a battle zone and it almost felt like the bullets were zooming past you.  I remember seeing some older gentleman in the movie theater, normally way too old to see a movie like that, and I heard them talking about it after words.  I went up to them and asked if they were veterans and they said they were and I asked if that first scene was close to the real thing.  They told me no, not at all.  But it was the best portrayal a movie has ever shown.

This movie is an example of the kind of courage you need in battle.  More than 2000 men died on Omaha beach that day and even though other movies tried to give an example of what it was like, The Longest Day for example, this movie put you there and while I have always respected the men who fought for our country this movie only deepened it.  I will never know if I have the kind of courage the men and women have in today’s military have to have in order to the jobs they do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.  I would like to think I would have the training and the will power.  But I will never know.

Saving Private Ryan is a movie about a group of Rangers that are looking for a soldier with the 101st Airborne named Private Ryan who jumped into France the night before the D-Day invasion which was June 6, 1944.  The group was sent to find the soldier because the soldier had three brothers all of whom had died in on various battlefields, including D-Day itself.  Ryan was getting an honorable discharge from the military because of the loss of his brothers.  The Rangers job was to go and find this “needle in a haystack.”

The movie is an ensemble cast of pure brilliance.  The movie cast was led by Tom Hanks and had Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Tom Sizemore, Paul Giamatti, Giovanni Ribisi, Dennis Farina and a host of others.  The movie was directed by Stephen Spielberg and I feel that this is his second best movie next to another movie about World War II, Schindler’s List.  It seemed to me that everyone was perfectly cast especially Hanks as the Captain of the Rangers and Sizemore as his Sargent.  They made the downtime between battles meaningful and the movie seem quick.  In fact the movie was way to fast and I wished it would have kept going to see the survivors continue on in the war.

This war movie is the movie that all other war movies get compared to from the past and the future.  I will always grade any future movie I witness against this film in terms of action, character development, and truth to the history, and authenticity.  This film is a true film that I believe gives justice to all those who have served past and present.  My full review can be seen here.

 

Honorable Mentions –

I have more than my five standard honorable mention list so I won’t say as much as I should but just explain briefly as to why I like the film.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

                Until the movie Fury came out, I would have argued that this was the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan.  I liked the realism of the film and the battle scenes were quite amazing.  The movie had an ensemble cast and they all were very good in it.  The movie is about the events that surround the U.S. Marines and Special Forces attempt to capture a warlord in the city of Mogadishu, Somalia.  At the beginning of the fight two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and the marines were in a fire fight to try and save the guys in the helicopters and themselves until help could arrive.  The reason why this movie didn’t make my top five is probably my favoritism of my study of World War II and how amazing I thought Fury was as a film.  This film is right up there.

Glory (1989)

Until Gettysburg came along this little film was in my eyes the best film about the American Civil War.  It showed the violence of technology that Gettysburg didn’t really show and had the same authenticity that Gettysburg had in portraying actual battle.  The reason why I like Gettysburg more for this category is that Glory talks about a specific unit in the war and the prejudices an all African American regiment had to overcome even though they were fighting with men who were supposedly trying to set them free.  In terms of how the movies are overall, I believe that Glory is the better movie.  Denzel Washington received an Academy Award for his role as a former runaway slave who decided to join the fight against those who once owned him.  This is a great movie and there is nothing wrong with it but didn’t make it on pure semantics that are my own.

We Were Soldiers (2002)

This is only one of two Vietnam War movies on my list and I am somewhat conflicted because of the men who fought in that War probably had put up with more coming home than any American Soldier had in history.  Through no fault of their own they came home losers of a war.  The politics of the country had gone to hell by the time these men made it back so they weren’t looked at favorably and neither was the government.  I don’t like most war movies about Vietnam because there is always an opinion by the director or writer that makes some American the bad guy.  We Were Soldiers does not do that.  This gives an honest look at the first battle between US forces and the North Vietnamese Army which was a victory for the US.  Which happened a lot over the course of the war but in general people don’t know that but that is the politics again.  If you haven’t seen this film but have seen others like Platoon I would think you should take a look at this to see another side of the war.

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

This film is about a failed attempt to end World War II before Christmas 1944.  It involved at the time the largest paratrooper drop in history where U.S. and British paratroopers were dropped in three towns in The Netherlands that were occupied by the German Army and secure the bridges so the British 2nd Army can capture the three towns and provide a point of attack into Northern Germany.  The attack did not succeed and a lot of troops, particularly British troops, were killed and wounded.  The reason why I like this film is that it is made in much the same what as the other large ensemble cast movies had been made up to this point.  The battle scenes were good and it goes without saying that these men were heroic.  The reason why it doesn’t make my top five is because the ones I have on the list are better films and even though American forces did participate in this operation it was largely a British Operation with British soldiers.  My review of this film is here.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

All those things I said about Vietnam movies that weren’t like We Were Soldiers can be represented in this film.  I am a fan of it because I believe it gives a fair portrayal of both the good and the bad parts of the war.  There was heroism and honor in the fighting but there was also the thing that made the war the least appealing of all the wars the US has fought in.  It also is really the only Stanley Kubrick film I like.  While this movie is good it never would have made my list of Top 5 but it is good enough to see if you haven’t.  The movie follows a select few men who go through basic training in the Army and then sent over to Vietnam towards the end of the war.  The movie deals mostly with the basic training of the men being sent over and some of the negative effects that training come have.  The movie does show some stuff in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive that turned the tide of the war against in opinion at home.  What people don’t know is that after the initial losses sustain by the Americans and South Vietnamese forces the U.S. regained what it had lost and destroyed the Viet Cong to a point it wasn’t a fighting force for the next few years.  This movie shows some of those battles.  It’s a good movie but too negative for me.

Lone Survivor (2013)

This is my only film entry of the current wars the U.S. have been in since the 9/11 attacks.  Mostly because since most of Hollywood has been against the wars from the beginning, even after 9/11, I don’t believe you get an honest portrayal of them.  This movie and American Sniper are the exceptions.  I have this movie on the list because it deals with more of an actual battle then American Sniper does even though that film has some intense stuff and does show the affects those battles have on the soldier which is important.  I chose Lone Survivor because of the story around a group of men and what happened to them and what they overcame.  The movie is about a group of men who are sent to kill or capture a high ranking Taliban leader in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Once there they realize that the troops surrounding the leader are much larger than they were originally told and have to leave.  Before they do so they run into a patrol and they have to fight it out.  The men are forced into a bad position and all but one are killed.  The movie does a great job of showing the trials of this new area of modern warfare and showed what happened to these men.  It is a good movie to see if you haven’t.

 

This is my list that I consider the best movies about the US Army in battle. I know there are more things involved other than fighting but I wanted to honor the brave people who join the military and make sure and point out the things they have to endure during the battles.

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How does one choose the best of greatness? How can I chose my favorite Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl victory, all five (that’s right Broncos fans, five wins,) are great.  How can I choose between my favorite Scotch because it’s all great.  I can go on and on but you get my meaning, it is hard to choose greatness when all of it is great.  Yet here is my dilemma, how do I pick a top 5 favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger film?  They are all nirvana (We now and forever will not speak of the abomination known as Junior.  Clearly this film was spawned by the forces of evil and it will never be seen, reviewed, or discussed in any fashion on my blog.) None the less, I have to endeavor to create such a list in order to celebrate the greatness that is Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I also have to do it because Benn Farrell lost the monthly review challenge in March so he has to write many things on Arnold because he lacks the special gift that those who know the greatness of Arnold have because he doesn’t see it.   When he has his list of Top 5 up I will link it here, but I can tell you that Last Action Hero will be in the top 5 as well as possibly Twins, maybe even Kindergarten Cop.  It’s shocking I know, especially the disgrace of Last Action Hero.  But like I said, he lacks that spark.  Anyway, I shall now produce a visual feast that shall make you warm in spirit and make you damn proud to be an American, by celebrating the work of an Austrian.Image: Arnold Schwarzenegger

running manNumber 5: The Running Man (1987)

“It’s time to start running!”  Ah what can you say negative about a movie where the bad guy is one time TV actor and longtime game show host Richard Dawson?  Oh and his henchman are a potpourri of famous football players, former professional wrestlers, and an opera singer.  Oh and the female lead in the film is Maria Conchita Alonso who in the 1990’s went to do what can only be described as Spanish speaking soft core porn.  How can you dislike this movie?  Oh and its based on a book by Richard Bachman, which is a pen name for none other than Stephen King.  Granted this movie has nothing to do with that book with the exception of the title and basic premise but still there is that too.  This is a purely guilty pleasure action film and one of my favorites.  Briefly the story is that in the future America a police helicopter pilot is sent to jail after disobeying orders to fire on a crowd of people who were starving and rioting for food.  He breaks out of prison and is caught again and forced to take part in a life or death game that is televised to the public.   If the prisoner survives the contest he is pardoned and sent to Hawaii…or someplace warm.  The contest is rigged as is society as a whole.  Well fortunately for this America that police helicopter pilot is Ben Richards who is played by the man Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The movie is glorious because of the violence of the film, the ludicrousness of the plot, and there is almost no acting in the film.  It is a vintage Arnold action film of the 1980’s.  Oh and by this point in time it is assumed that Arnold will have one-liners in his film and this has quite a few and they are all memorable.  I may be the only person on the planet who loves this film but I don’t care.  It is awesome and deserves to be on this list.

 

 

 

PredatorNumber 4: Predator (1987)

“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”  This was a wonderful movie on many levels.  It introduced a movie creature that has become an iconic part of American movie culture.  The movie put together some of the largest and biggest men on screen only to see them get torn apart.  Even Arnold can’t out muscle the 7 ft tall alien, but he can out think him, mostly.  It’s a typical 80’s action film with lots of blood and bodies.

You can read my full review here, but the Cliffnotes version of the story is that a group of Special Forces are sent to a Central American country to rescue some politicians.  It turns out the politicians are CIA and the previous groups that were sent to find them have disappeared.  Arnold’s unit finds the other military units slaughtered and begin to think that there is something larger at play then a bunch of rebels.  Things become clearer as they see something pick off his soldiers one by one and Arnold has to face the alien mono v mono to survive.

This movie was intense from beginning to end.  The minute they all jumped into the jungle I was on the edge of my seat until the final explosion.  The director, John McTiernan, did an excellent job building up the suspense and the slow reveal of the monster.  Plus visually this film was stunning with all of the shots of the Jungle.  McTiernan would put the experience of this film to good use when he would go to shoot another jungle film called Medicine Man.

This makes the list because it is full of action and Arnold’s humor.  It also created an iconic monster.  The special effects seemed amazing at the time but they do not hold up well over the long haul, with the exception of the creature costume itself.  Of course the costume was created by legendary special effects man Stan Winston.  This movie is a keeper.

 

conanNumber 3: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan was his first starring movie and really began his career as the action hero he was born to be.  He didn’t have a whole lot of lines in this film and some said that was a good thing because it left all  of the actual acting to the big stars in the film like James Earl Jones and Max Von Sydow to name a few.  This is also one of the few films where Arnold found love and loss.  Again, I have a review of this you can find here, but if you didn’t know what this movie is about, Arnold plays the once and future King Conan and he is on a journey of revenge and redemption trying to find the men responsible for killing off his entire family and village.

I am a fan of this movie for many reasons.  I love the action scenes and they are plenty.  I have always been attracted to the ancient world and its war making.  The concept of holding a sword and shield standing toe to toe with another person holding the same has always fascinated me in a primeval sort of way.  This movie does a wonderful job of tying the action with music and I am a big fan of this music which was written by Basil Poledouris who has written the music for such memorable movies as Hunt for Red October, RoboCop, and was arguably the best thing about Starship Trooper, besides the nudity.  Some of my favorite action scenes with music are the Orgy scene and the final battle on the hill.  But the music is great throughout the film.

The reason why it is my third favorite Arnold film is because it was one of the first ones I have ever seen and the old world background and the bloody action has always appealed to me.   It isn’t higher on the list because the story isn’t great and the acting is mediocre and the special effects are very dated early 80’s.  There is a scene in the Orgy battle where you see a stunt guy break open the very visible blood back after Arnold takes a swing at him.  That being said I have it at number 3 because whenever it’s on TV I will stop and watch it even though I have it on both BluRay and DVD.  The movie was kind of the launching point for his career.  I know some people will say his 70’s documentary Pumping Iron started him off but if this movie bombed I am not sure we get Arnold as the Terminator two years later.  As bad as this movie is, and it’s not horrible, Oliver Stone did write one version of this script, it’s always a fun watch and it has Arnold being a bad ass for most of the movie and you can never go wrong with that.

 

True LiesNumber 2: True Lies (1994)

This move for me proved that if James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger partnered together on every action movie they would own the box office record for action movies.  Unfortunately Cameron used his success to make the stain on the American movie culture known as Titanic and Arnold would never again have the same success as he had in this movie.   This is the third movie Arnold and Cameron worked together on and even though it is my second favorite Arnold movie if you were to tell me it’s his best movie I wouldn’t disagree with you.  This movie is that wonderful.

This movie, which I haven’t done a review for yet, has Arnold as a super secret agent spy who is a bad ass in every way.  However, he has not told his wife of 10+ years that he is a secret agent. She thinks he is a computer software salesman.  Well when Arnold’s character thinks his wife, who is played by the amazing Jamie Lee Curtis, is cheating on him, he creates a sting operation that will eventually and accidentally get them captured by major bad guys who will threaten the US by setting off nuclear weapons inside major cities unless Arnold can stop him.

There are so many things to like about this movie.  The two biggest reasons were Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the wife, and Tom Arnold who played his partner and side kick.  Curtis was amazing in what I would argue is her first action movie (I am ignoring her horror flicks when she was young because running and screaming isn’t action.)  She did a wonderful job of at first acting like the shy, quiet housewife, then getting turned into a sexy secret agent, and finally getting to throw around some punches and acting like a bad ass.  Tom Arnold on the other hand was the comic relief.  He was hilarious in every scene he was in and his timing was perfect.  I have never seen him be that funny and that good at it ever.   These were two excellent casting choices by Cameron.  But to be honest the entire cast was wonderful.

This movie is my second favorite only because I felt that while this was definitely the peak of his movie career, Arnold’s best movie had come three years before this one and that one cemented his place as an action movie icon.  This movie kind of just piled on that point.  This movie is the proof that you can have your cake and eat it too.

terminator2 Number 1:  Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

This is the essential Arnold Schwarzenegger film.  He is an action hero that is allowed to show a little heart and kicks much ass.  While he is the straight man the others, mostly the kid actor, provide a little comedy, and you had a menacing bad guy that was as near indestructible as the alien was from the movie Predator.  This had great action, great characters, ground breaking special effects, and a nice story.  Terminator 2 is Arnold’s largest grossing film in his career and after his run of 80’s action movies this film cemented him in the same lexicon of action hero’s as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Again another movie I haven’t reviewed, but the brief version is that Arnold once again reprises his roll as the Terminator from the first movie but this time instead of being sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, he is sent back to protect her son John, played by Edward Furlong, from the newest version of the deadly Terminators, the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick.  The story is a race against time to keep John alive, find some way to destroy the new Terminator, and destroy Skynet before it even starts.

I like this movie because I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end.  You never knew when the new terminator would show up and every time you thought they had it beat the robot would rebuild itself and start killing again.  The special effects were amazing because they were able to create this robot using liquid mercury and stop action filming and many other techniques.  Computer graphics were still a few years away so what they were able to do in make this creature was amazing.

The characters were wonderful in the film with the one exception of Edward Furlong.  This was his first film and it showed.  He had the makings of a talented career if he worked at it but he went the wrong direction with drugs and alcohol and has been a B movie, direct video king, ever since.  In this film he was a little annoying which I suppose since he was supposed to be 10 or 11 I guess that’s ok.  Interesting side note: while filming this movie, Edward hit puberty and his voice started to change which created issues with the continuity of the movie.  After it was filmed Furlong had to go into the studio and redo some of his lines in order to fix his voice track.

The biggest change made by a character in this film was Sarah Connor.  In the first Terminator she was basically your standard damsel in distress.   In this film we have her full on bad ass female that has become an icon of strong woman in films.  She was no nonsense, decisive, woman who needed to rely on herself and didn’t need a man.  Linda did a great job at it.  Arnold was Arnold in this film doing the roll that was made for him.  His change from killing machine to body guard led to some fun moments with John but his best stuff was his action scenes.  To this day the scene where he is walking out carrying that mini-gun makes me all gooey inside.minigun

The best part about this movie was then ending where Sarah and John were forced to lower the Terminator into the vat of liquid metal in order to destroy the chip in his head to kill off Skynet once and for all.  I would argue that most of the men in the audience had watery eyes as they watched John hold on to the Terminator crying to him that he had to say and the Terminator in that thick Austrian accent saying, “I’m sorry John.”

It’s my favorite movie because I can remember what theater I was at, even though it no longer exists, and the great time I had watching it.  I went with some girl, hell I don’t remember who, she could have gone naked and I wouldn’t have remembered.  When you have that move that kind of reaction to a movie it has to be a favorite.  At least it is for me.

 

Honorable Mention in no particular order –

Commando (1985) –

I have this in my top 80’s movies list which you can read here, but it is an honorable mention because of the shear ridiculousness of it.  It is the very definition of a guilty pleasure because so many things don’t make sense about it.  It is the very definition of 80’s action movies that require lots of dead bodies, no plot, unrealistic timelines, and the good guy winning in the end by killing the bad guy and getting the girl.  It’s fun movie to watch if you’re a guy and better to have.  If your wife or girlfriend ever made you watch The Notebook then this is something you make her watch.

Red Heat (1988) –

This was an odd buddy cop movie that worked with Jim Belushi as his partner.  It’s a fun watch but not the complete action movie you would expect of an Arnold film.  This actually has some detective cop drama to it as they try to solve the pieces of the story.  That being said the car chase between two busses is absolutely glorious in ever since of the word.  Doesn’t make by top 5 list just because the action is a little slow and the humor isn’t a strong.  But a good time none the less.

Terminator (1984) –

It must seem like a heresy for an Arnold fan to not have this movie on his Top 5 list.  It marks all the check boxes in action, intensity, great characters and a fun story.  It is the backdrop of this film that creates my number one Arnold film.  Well it doesn’t make my top 5 list for one reason:  He is the bad guy.  Arnold is great at the Terminator and it is his master roll, but in celebrating his greatness I can’t include a movie of his that involves him being the bad guy.

Total Recall (1990) –

This movie is just over the top in its action and special effects.  The whole concept of Arnold having to go to Mars is just a delightful trip to excessiveness.  I am a fan of this movie and it almost made my Top 5 because it did give us the lovely actress Sharon Stone when she was just starting.  Who knew she would become a tired hag.  And listening to Arnold say, “Get your ass to Mars,” is a delight.  But I couldn’t do it just because I though the special effects were a little uneven.  Some of it was great, like the body scanner X-ray machines.  But the prosthetics that involved fake faces, breasts, and aliens, just didn’t work for me and as much as I liked the movie, this was a draw back for me.  That is the reason why it didn’t make my Top 5 but still is a fun movie.

Red Sonja (1985) –

This movie is pure guilty pleasure even more so than Commando was a guilty pleasure.  This movie is actually just absolutely God awful.  But it does have Arnold doing Conan the Barbarian things as a Conan light character.  The movie is basically a female version of Conan called Red Sonja and the main character is portrayed by Bridget Neilson.  If Arnold wasn’t in this movie then I was put this on the list of worst movies ever.  It still may belong on it but whenever it comes on TV, which hasn’t been in 15 years at least, I would watch it.  I have it on DVD and that’s embarrassing.  Not sure if it’s on BluRay yet and nots sure if they are making it on DVD anymore.  It’s one step above Sharknado level.  But I can’t not watch it when I see it and I won’t even tell you it’s fun.  But I’ll watch if you put it in front of me.  So it goes on the list.  Plus 6th day, which is a way better movie, was released in the year 2000 so I can’t use that one.  And there is a movie Arnold did called Raw Deal that I have never been able to finish so it can’t make the list either.  So Red Sonja it is.

Hope you enjoyed my list. I did.

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In thinking about 80’s movies I have a hard time thinking about the best. Unlike my cohort, Benn, who was able to quickly put a list together, which you can find here, I have a difficult time because so many of my favorite 80’s movies are period pieces or science fiction movies.  If we are to talk about favorite 80’s movies that are in and around 80’s culture or lifestyle or technology, then my favorite Star Trek movie or 2nd favorite Star Wars movie do not qualify and neither does Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So I have to think about favorite movies that embrace the 80’s life.  The good thing is that some of the best action movies are from the 80’s because they embrace violence, language, and nudity.  In fact for me 80’s movies must have some sex, drugs, and rock and roll in it to be a good 80’s film.  A good teenage 80’s movie will have some adolescence hijinks as well.  So here is my attempt at this Top 5 list, we will see if Benn flags any of these.  Oh and here is Benn’s list for comparison.

 

 

No. 5 – The Last American Virgin (1982)

LAst American VirginThis is a movie that not many people have heard but made a lasting impression on me when I was a pre-teen.  I remember seeing this movie on HBO when I didn’t have a bedtime on weekends when it was just my dad and I.  He would go to bed early and I would stay up watching whatever movie would come on HBO hoping for some skin flick or finding the blurred Playboy Channel and clicking on and off of it really fast for the half second of clear picture you would get before it would go blurry.  Back in the early days of cable they had all the channels on but just screwed up the signal so you couldn’t watch it.  Anyway this movie was awesome for the 12 year old me because it was all about three friends in high school trying to find ways to loser their virginity and the hilarious situations that would ensue.  It also had some drama in that two of the friends, Gary, played by Lawrence Monoson (Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter,) and Rick, played by Steve Antin (The Accused,) fall for the same girl, Karen, played by Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead.)  This splits the two friends because while Gary genuinely cares for Karen, Rick is just playing the game so he can hook up with her because she is a virgin.  Karen picks Rick despite Gary’s best attempts of showing how honorable a guy he can be.  Rick does end up sleeping with Karen and of course knocks her up.  Rick then breaks up with Karen when she tells him and when Gary confronts Rick about it, Rick says that it probably isn’t even his and an almost fight ensues, severing the friendship forever.  Gary takes in a distraught Karen, sells most of his possessions and borrows money from his boss and pays for Karen’s abortion.  As Karen recuperates at Gary’s grandmother’s home, Gary continues to wait on her hand and foot and then confesses his love to her.  They embrace in a passionate kiss and she invites him to her 18th birthday party next week.  Well fast forward to the party and…well look for yourself:

 

Ah… the lyrics of that song, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” The lesson here is that no matter what you do for a woman, if she doesn’t have feelings for you, there is nothing you can do, no matter how nice of a guy you are, that will change her mind.  The ending with that kid crying with the music going made me afraid to fall in love.  If I had only remembered this movie it would have saved me lots of heartache later in life.

 

 

 

No. 4 Better Off Dead (1985) –

Better off deadNo 80’s movie list can’t be complete without a John Cusack movie in the offering and while most people would pick the classic Say Anything… I choose the lesser known but equally as awesome Better Off Dead. In this movie Lane Myer, played by John Cusack (The Raven,) is dumped by his girlfriend Beth who has fallen for the far more popular ski team captain Stalin.  Every time Lane tries to do something to impress his ex-girlfriend he would end up failing miserably in front of her and her new boyfriend which would cause Lane to think there is nothing to live for and try to commit suicide but would fail at that in hilarious ways.  While he is trying and failing to get his old ex back he fails to realize until the final moments of the film that the French foreign exchange student, Monique, played by Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin,) who has been helping him gain confidence in himself is actually the perfect girl for him.

I like this movie because the music is all 80’s and awesome and ridiculously over the top.  This movie is known mostly for the angry paper boy chasing Lane screaming, “I want my $2.”  Lane also has a few dream sequences that are legendary, at least in my mind, one of them being the one with the hamburger meat with the Van Halen song Everybody Wants Some.

Other notable funny situations are the Chinese guy who speaks like Howard Cosell from Wide World of Sports.  The mother and son combination of Ricky Smith, played by Dan Schneider (Good Burger,) and Mrs. Smith, played by Laura Waterbury (Honey I Shrunk the Kids.)  Those two provided the comic relief in many scenes portraying a widowed mother who is overbearing and forces her overweight son to wear his father’s clothes that are right out of the 1950’s as is Mrs. Smith.  Lane’s father Al, played by David Ogden Stiers (TV’s MASH,) is also quite humorous as the straight man to his crazy wife, Lane’s mom Jenny, played by Kim Darby (True Grit.)  Why is she crazy do you ask?  Christmas presents for Lane and the rest of the family that year, Swanson’s frozen TV dinners.

The moral of this 80’s story is that don’t be so caught up in trying to win the love of a woman who doesn’t love you that you completely miss the better woman that does love you for who you are as a person.  A running theme for 80’s teen romance movies but still good none the less.

 

 

No.3 Commando (1985)

commando88.  That is a fine number. It’s the number of many of a Dallas Cowboy wide receiver that I cheer for. It is also the number of guys killed in this totally awesome action movie brought to you by the 1980’s and its glorious body counts and rated R movies. This is also brought to by the Austrian Oak, The Governator, Arnie, the man, the myth, the legend, and the greatest living action movie actor in the history of Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

arnie180’s action movies were awesome because they had incredible strong men doing incredible things with guns, knives, and their bare hands.  Also the bad guys could shoot about as accurately as most Storm Troopers in the Star Wars films.  They also had a damsel of some kind in distress but not always a love interest.  The plots were basic for the most part and that’s what makes action movies great.  We had a bad guy doing bad things to innocent people and good guys show up and kill all the bad guys and save the person or people.  We didn’t need to know the motivation of why the bad guy was bad.  I don’t care that he came from a bad home where he was beat up by his day, or that they lived in a country that had dictators commit horrible human rights violations.  I don’t care.  I am happy to know that the bad guy is a bad guy because he wants to make money selling drugs, human trafficking or whatever.  I want a horrible bad guy because I want to embrace the glorious revenge that the good guy will give.  I also don’t want a good guy who is in touch with his feelings.  Sorry no tears shall be shed by my good guy.  If he loses a loved one, he instantly turns his sadness to rage and the vengeance begins.  The good guys most also have glorious one liner’s.  Something that makes you laugh as you see the good guy throw the bad guy off a cliff, balcony, pool of molten lead.  Sarcasm, thy name is 80’s action movie hero.  The 80’s, glorious, bloody, senseless violence and boy did I love it.

arnie2Commando is not Arnold’s best film in the 80’s that would be Terminator, maybe Predator.  But it is very 80’s.  Arnie is an ex commando with the US Army who is being framed by a pseudo Central American general who wants to rule is own country and wants Arnie to kill the current President. To force Arnie to do this, the general uses one of Arnie’s former subordinates kidnap is sweet, innocent lovely daughter, played by the equally lovely, sweet, and at that time innocent, Alyssa Milano.  This move has all the violence you could want in a 90 minute film.  In the first hour Arnie kills guys by gun, kicking a man through a wall to land on a broken piece of wood, dropping another bad guy off a cliff, and more guns.  Then there is the final 30+ minutes of the film where he takes on the general’s entire security force, at least 50 to 60 men, and kills them all.  He kills the general of course.  And then in a glorious one on one action, Arnie takes out his former subordinate by throwing a large metal pipe through the subordinate, and into a pressurized water heater, and, of course, steam starts coming out the pipe.  Arnie looks at his dying subordinate and says, “Let off some steam, Bennett.”  Oh and the name of Arnie’s character, John Matrix.  The name sound bad ass, as it should.  So Arnie, kills the bad guy, saves his daughter, and get the girl he had to kidnap and convince to help him. arnie3

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t the best action movie in the 80’s, but it is one of the best 80’s action movies not only in the 80’s but ever.

 

 

 

No. 2 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” Is one of the many quotable quotes from this fine 80’s movie.   Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the best lessons in life that I could only appreciate about 10 years after graduating from high school.

I would guess that most people have seen this movie and almost all over the age of 35 have seen this film.  The story is that a high school senior named Ferris Bueller, played by Mathew Broderick (Glory,) fakes a sickness so he can have his own senior skip day.  He then goes on a day long adventure into the big city of Chicago with his girlfriend Sloan, played by the very 80’s hot Mia Sara (Legend,) and his best friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck (Twisters,) and hijinks ensue.

One of my favorite things about this film is how the writer/director and 80’s movie legend John Hughes is that he has the character of Ferris break the 4th wall in the film as if the audience is part of the trip.    This allowed me to get sucked into the film right away as well as the fact that even though I was only a sophomore in high school when this movie came out I could relate to what Ferris was saying completely.  There are so many quotes from this movie that lasted with me for so long and have come part of the Generation X culture.   One of my favorite lines is the end of the faking out the parents monologue.

And its not the line I quoted at the top here, but like high school, it’s a little childish and stupid. Enjoy some more!

 

The reason why I appreciate this and is in my 80’s list is the fact that, for me, this movie is a lesson in that you should enjoy your youth because the minute you leave high school, life gets serious and you have to take on responsibility.   You go to college and/or work and the level of stress constantly goes up.  Even if you are doing something you like the stress level you will have the minute you go out into the real world will change who you are and what you do in life.  At least that is my feeling for this movie.  In Ferris’s joy of his day off he is realizing that it is probably the last pure day of freedom he will have.

 

 

No. 1 – The Breakfast Club (1985)

breakfastWe have reached the Zen of all 80’s films from the master of 80’s films, John Hughes.  This is the quintessential 80’s Gen X film on life as a teenager in high school and growing up in the 80’s in general.  The movie revolves around 5 students who had to show up to detention on Saturday (yes that used to happen.)

I liked this movie because I feel that teenagers in the 80’s had some if not all of bits and pieces of each character in the story.  For me I felt that I could relate to on a few levels with Andrew the wrestler, played by Emilio Estevez (Bobby,) and the nerd Brian, played by Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight.)  My parents were very strict with me when it came to school.  Sunday thru Thursday nights I was not allowed to go out unless it was for work or if it was for football practice.  I remember when I was in elementary school I was expected to study hard and do all of my work and I was told that I was going to go to college when I got out of high school.  No real question if I wanted to do it, I was going to do it whether I wanted to or not.  In high school my grades were never good enough and no matter what I did I always had to do better.  When it came to sports I the pressure wasn’t as great on me by my parents as it was for school but I always had the feeling that if I could get a scholarship it would make my going to school better for them financially.  Now I don’t want to make it seem like my parents were monsters, they weren’t but I could relate to the characters in this film. Of course this is the theme of the movie and the final scene has the principle reading the essay that states they were all a mixture of each other.  It’s obvious but it’s true.

As for some of the other things that make this an 80’s movie there is the music, the drug use, sex although its all talk in this film, and the rebellious attitudes towards authoritative figures as well as a little fear.  The music though is what I remember most and the main song from the film was a top billboard hit for years and will almost always show up on the radio during an 80’s weekend or 80’s station of satellite radio.

Chances are if you have never seen the movie you have heard the song.

This is probably the least I have to say about all of my top five 80’s movies but for me it’s the best that represents what 80’s movies are for me.  For the most part they were stories about dealing with life changing at a rate faster than it had in previous years, being brought up by parents who grew up in the 60’s and dealt with life during the Vietnam War, and all the excess that money created during that time.

 

Best of the rest (in no particular order) –

Top Gun (1986) – For me its almost sacrilegious to not have a movie in the top five that dealt with the USA going against its nemesis for 50+ years , the Soviet Union. Communism is bad, mkay!  And we got lots of movies to prove it.  This movie is basically an advertisement for joining the US Navy and becoming a fighter pilot, which I wish I could have done.  Many of my theater friends, aka pinko communist sympathizers, will say that this is just one big homo erotic movie on the scale of Batman and Robin, but I say…maybe.  But who cares because Communism is bad and we need to destroy it.

 

Teen Wolf (1985) – This movie is really only on the list because of the music and the ridiculous principle that a werewolf is basically a hairy human with minor anger issues. The entire concept of a teenager turning into a werewolf and not only not causing an uproar but being able to continue his day to day life as a high school student and basketball player is ludicrous and wonderfully 80’s.   There are messages about being yourself and looking for love in the right people that are all better shown in other movies.  But the main reason is because…it’s a teenage werewolf…playing basketball.  Awesome

 

Red Dawn (1984) – Communists are really bad and we need to wipe them out. That is what this movie tells us.  That’s all.  The concept of a bunch of high school students becoming guerrillas in the Colorado mountains is borderline ridiculous but not implausible.  I was living in Colorado at the time this movie was released so it was a favorite of mine.  Kill Commies!  This concept is very different in today’s America in that many people are voting for a Socialist to become President.  Socialism is one step below Communism.  In 30 years we have gone from Kill Communists to Socialism is good.  Generation X are horrible parents for creating these damn spoiled Millennials.

 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – This movie almost made the list in my top 5 because this movie addressed sex a lot more than any of the other movies save American Virgin.  But because Virgin had more real life cause and effect of what love and sex does to the individual I put that in the top 5 and not this one.  But this is a classic 80’s movies with one of only two times I think I can tolerate Sean Penn as an actor.  Also I think Ray Walston should have got an Academy Award for his portrayal of Mr. Hand.  He was awesome and I had a few teachers like him in school.

 

Die Hard (1988) – I could make the argument that this is the best 80’s action movie of all of the 80’s action movies. Actually it is just a damn good movie. But since I decided to go a certain direction with my top 5 list I chose to leave this out.  But this is a great movie and I will do a review eventually and put a link to it here because no brief statement can describe how awesome this movie is and will always be.

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I was a comic book fan as a child and into my early teens. I was a DC guy and stayed loyal to my DC heroes with a few exceptions.  I don’t remember how I picked my heroes back then.  I have been and always will be a Green Lantern fan.  I could recite the Green Lantern Oath when I was a kid.  I think I am one of maybe 126 people on the planet the like the Green Lantern film with Ryan Reynolds.  Then I read Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Graphic Novel and it was a wonderful read and I became a Batman fan and have been ever since.  Three years after that discovery of The Dark Knight I watched the wonders of Tim Burton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker and loved it.  Then Joel Schumacher happened and I was lost.  The disgrace that was the movie Batman & Robin pissed me off so bad.  I was a fan of Batman as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Schumacher destroyed both of them.   Fortunately Marvel decided to start making movies and gave us X-Men and Spider-Man which ultimately lead to Iron Man and the Marvel Universe.  While that was happening Christopher Nolan created three masterpieces of Batman lore.  Now we are in this heaven of super hero movies a I have to create a list that will definitely show my favoritism.

This is a tough list to create because it could possibly be a very fluid list. We are still in what can only be considered the Golden Age of this genre of film.  Since 2000 we have been given the X-Men franchise, two Spiderman franchises, the rebirth of the Batman saved from the horrid Joel Schumacher era.  Most importantly of all we have seen the birth of and are in the middle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Not to be out done, DC will be kicking off its universe this year with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.  So I should say that this is my top 5 as of now, who knows, it may change.

The criteria for me in making this list are pretty straight forward.  Only movies made from 1970 onward, sorry, no campy Batman from the 1960’s with Adam West.  Also there has to be a super hero in the film, so that takes out Frank Miller’s 300 and Sin City.  So without further ado, here is my current list of Top 5 favorite Comic Book Super Hero Films and 5 Honorable Mentions.

 

Number 5: Batman Begins (2005)

batman beginsTruth be told, any of my honorable mentions could have taken the place of #5, but I went with Batman Begins because it gave back to me one of my most beloved characters as I have talked about above.  I was a huge Batman fan as a child and loved what Tim Burton did when he put it to film.  However, if there ever was a line between how a movie can be projected into the real world or in an obvious fantasy one, then Batman Begins gives us a real world Batman as opposed to the fantasy gothic world of Tim Burton.  Christopher Nolan brought realism to the character and it had a negative tone in it that I liked.  I thought Christian Bale was the perfect Batman as a man who must constantly balance his need for revenge with his idealism of justice.  I like to think of this Bruce Wayne as a 51/49 good guy versus bad guy.  The only difference between this Batman and, let’s say Deadpool, is that Batman will not kill but Deadpool would, but both fight for justice.  Or maybe, if I channel my inner 80’s nerd, Bruce Wayne is Chaotic Good while Wade Wilson is Lawful Evil.  Unlike the Michael Keaton Batman, who I thought would never cross the line; I had the feeling that Christian Bale Batman might if pushed in the wrong direction, at least in Batman Begins, we find out in The Dark Knight that he won’t. I also thought the casting of Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman were wonderful choices that only added to the film.  The musical score is probably my favorite movie music not made by John Williams.  The only weakness, if there was any, was the casting of Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes.  She didn’t have the best chemistry with Bale and her personal life was still hellish as she was married to Tom Cruise at the time. My review of the film is here.

 

Number 4: The Avengers

the avengersThe strength in this movie is very similar to the strength in the Thor movies and its because of the same reason, Loki.  Tom Hiddleston has brought as much life to the Loki character as did Heath Ledger to the Joker character in The Dark Knight.  He was a very menacing villain by acting very casual about the entire situation.  Of course he had his playful side throughout the entire film which added to his role as the villain.  I can’t completely dislike the guy because he is so nice and funny, even if he wants take over the world.  Plus I like the whole evil army attack and all the action it created

Another reason why I like this film is that I got to see separate characters from solo films come together and to form one big group and one big movie unlike the Fantastic Four or X-Men that all started out as group movies. There is something very cool about that.  Plus they added in some of the minor characters from the solo films like Pepper Potts, Professor Selvig, Agent Coulson, etc.  It was cool to see all these people from different movies come together for one big one.  I liked how the story put the team together but you get the feeling that they don’t completely trust one another.  This theme pops up over and over in the movies going forward leading to this summer’s release of Captain America: Civil War, but it started here and it made for an enjoyable story to watch.  The only odd thing about this film is that this is the start of the odd love story between Black Widow and The Hulk, but it’s not the worst idea ever.  This is just a fun movie.

Number 3: Captain America: Winter Soldier

CAptain America tws  For me this movie is all about the story.  Despite the one minor plot hole, (If Tony Stark found out about all of the secrets of SHIELD in the Avengers, how did he not know about Hydra,) this story just had me going from beginning to end and left me wanting more.

First off we have the concept of Captain America not sure he wants to fight for SHIELD and having doubts about his life as a super soldier.  Combine that with all of the shady dealings going on within SHIELD and then the sudden murder of Nick Fury only seems to galvanize his desire to not want to work like this anymore.

Then we have the old nemesis HYDRA coming back to haunt Cap in the form of a mad scientist and high level people placed in SHIELD.  Maybe its my love of all things World War II that causes me to love this part of the plot line, even if it’s a fictitious storyline involving WWII, but the nostalgia of it makes me happy.

The action in this movie was particularly fun and I would say that this movie probably has the most action of any of the individual movies outside of the Avengers movies.  There are multiple scenes that have more than one hero fighting the bad guys.  Plus this movie had Black Widow, played by ultra hottie Scarlett Johansson, and she had an even bigger role in this film then she did in The Avengers.  She is an enjoyable kick ass super hero who isn’t a 100% good guy and she isn’t really a super hero in the sense she doesn’t have a suit or something flowing through her veins or is a Norse God.  She just is a super spy who saves the super heroes more than they save her.

Again it’s a fun movie with few issues and memorable characters.  It’s a better sequel to The Avengers then was the actual Avengers sequel.

Number 2: Iron Man

Iron ManI have already done a review of Iron Man and I will link it here.  Why it is currently my second favorite movie is that it is nearly perfect in almost every way.  In fact the things I don’t like about are small.  One of them is that they make the main villain, Obadiah Stane, a one off bad guy and kill him at the end of the film.  Of the many things I do like about the film is that this is all about Robert Downey Jr.  This role was made for him.  Although I have seen other movies with him in them, this will always be the baseline for his performances for me.

The thing that makes this so successful is the mixture of humor and action.  I feel that all of the MCU movies, with a few exceptions, have the right amount of that and that is what makes them so fun to watch.  The scene that had Tony Stark learning to use the Iron Man suit is so fun to watch it makes me giggle all the time.  Especially the first time when he flies into the ceiling falls and then his robot sprays him with fire extinguisher.

Another thing I like about the Iron Man movie is that we get to see some revenge and I like that in my action movies.  The scene where Tony Stark uses his suit for the first battle against the terrorists who are wiping out the town that was the home of the scientist who helped him escape them was satisfying to watch.    The fact that he is willing to dispose of the bad guy is a nice thing to see.

There really is nothing wrong with this movie for me.  As a child Iron Man was my third favorite super hero and fortunately the movie that was made for the character was wonderful.  My favorite super hero, Green Lantern, well we know how that movie went.  My favorite super hero movie goes with my second favorite hero and to me is still the standard bearer for all super hero films.

 

Number 1: The Dark Knight

dark knight I am going to start off telling you why this is my favorite super hero film by telling you what bothers me the most about it, Maggie Gyllenhaal.  As I stated in my number 5 favorite movie, I was not a big fan of Katie Holmes as Rachel because I didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between her and Christian Bale.  That being said every scene the Gyllenhaal is in just is painful for me to watch.  I find her to be obnoxiously confident for no reason, her timing is horrible, and I just don’t think she is a good actress.  The scene where she is interrogating Lau is painful and it lasts for 2 minutes.   At no time was she in charge in that scene, it was totally between Lau and Harvey Dent and there she was running back and forth like a messenger dog.  And this won’t matter for some but I find her highly unattractive as well.  Not that it affects her performance but at least I could have been watching an attractive woman act horribly, alas, that was not the case.

I love this movie for many reasons but the obvious reason is the performance that Heath Ledger gave as The Joker.  His performance, which I argue is the best character performance of all time, is iconic and one that won’t be forgotten.  How many phrases are still in our culture to this day?  There is the big one, “Why so Serious?”  Or maybe I imagine that he had more phrases that are used then and now than really are said.  But I could swear that I heard people say or saw posters of, “Introduce a little anarchy” and “I’m a dog chasing cars.”  At any rate the fact remains that for me almost every entrance he makes is memorable.  When he is still masked in the opening bank robbery scene and the mob bank manager asks, “What do you believe in?” his unmasking and quote “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger.”  At that point I realized we were getting a different Joker than the one Jack Nicholson gave us in Batman.  That’s key for me because I though Nicholson’s Joker was awesome and couldn’t be beat.  His Joker is awesome, but pales in comparison to what Ledger brought.  Anyway, scene after scene Ledger stills it from the other actors or was his to begin with.  His entrance to the mob meeting where he does his magic trick, when he kills Gambol and says his infamous “Why So Serious?” line, his whole speech looking for Harvey Dent at his fundraiser and when Batman tells him to let Rachel go, the Joker says “Very poor choice of words” and he drops off the side of the building.  I could go on and on.  But I won’t because you get the point.  I believe Heath Ledger created the best character performance of all time.

Of course I felt everyone, outside of Gyllenhaal, were magnificent.  In my review, which is here, I was harsh on Christian Bale saying is performance wasn’t as good as his was in Batman Begins, but I now believe that he was just as good in this movie as in that one. it’s just Ledger ran rings around him and the rest of him.  The writing is key as well.  The writing of the characters allowed the actors to bring them to life.  I have talked about humor being important in super hero movies and there was some in this film, but at a much smaller level.  Actors need good lines to deliver and writers need good actors to give them the life they deserve and this film has both.

I also like the character development for Bruce Wayne.  As I mentioned above in Batman Begins I got the feeling that if push came to shove Bruce’s desire for revenge could send him over the edge. In fact it did in a way because he did not save Ras Al Ghul at the end.  In The Dark Knight we see that despite all that The Joker has done, when Batman could have let The Joker fall to his death he made sure to save his life.  I just like the growth of the character between two movies.  I know you can say that he let Two-Face die but Batman didn’t have a chance to save him as he had to save Gordon’s kid.  I felt that these character growths in the movie made it an even better film.

One last thing I will mention that causes me to love this film is the music.  I have always liked motion picture soundtracks.  My dad made me play a musical instrument when I was in elementary school and junior high.  Plus while my friends parents were listening to rock from the 60’s or 70’s disco music, my dad raised me on the big band era music and he had every album from the Boston Pops.  And being a child that loves Star Wars and Indiana Jones, its hard to like those movies and not think about the music by John Williams.  Well for me the soundtracks in all three Batman movies, created by Hans Zimmer, are the next best thing to anything Williams has done.  Not better, and not close, but no one else is close.  But for me, the next in line is this Batman music.  Especially in The Dark Knight, the music provides a sense of foreboding, sadness, melancholy, and hope.  The music that is played at the end of the movie when Batman has taken the blame for all of Harvey’s acts and we are hearing Commissioner Gordon’s speech gives me chills every time.  In fact there are times if I am in the right mood, and I don’t know what that mood is, my eyes will start to water.  Mind you I am not crying because that isn’t manly but I come close.

This is my favorite super hero film.  I don’t see anything surpassing it anytime soon but then again I never imagined what Heath Ledger could do for The Joker.  Now I will get to see what Ben Affleck does for Batman in Batman v Superman and what Jared Leto does for the Joker in Suicide Squad.  Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

Honorable Mentions in no particular order

The Man of Steel –

Again I feel like I am in the minority in this one because I have seen other people talk negative about the film as a whole.  My review mentions how much people did not like Henry Cavill’s performance.  I liked it all.  I thought the tone was right in going a different direction than the Christopher Reeve era Superman films.  I liked the sense of “realism” in the film in that bad things will happen and while he gives us hope, Superman can keep everyone safe.  I am a big fan of the music as well.  Not a lot of humor in the film which is a little unfortunate but I can live with it.  My review for it is here.

 

Ant-Man

This movie for me is Iron Man light.  The plot in Ant-Man is virtually the same as Iron Man just switch out ex-con for playboy billionaire.   For me this movie is successful for the same reason Iron Man is successful and that is the lead actor in this film, Paul Rudd, is wonderful.   I like the concept of a tiny man kicking ass which is a switch because my childhood is filled with me watching movies of huge men kicking much ass in films.  As I mentioned in the review which you can see here, I wasn’t a fan of the female lead in the film Evangeline Lily and in the review I said that I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like it and now I think I have figured it out and it’s going to make me sound like an asshole.  Here it is: her hairstyle in this film is not attractive to her face.  She needs long hair.  Not long like elf long in The Hobbit films but more shoulder length.  The cut she had for Ant Man just didn’t work for me.  Sorry ladies.  But I still love this film and it could have easily been my number five choice but that would be repetitive.

 

Iron Man 2

Speaking of repetitive here is Iron Man 2 in my Honorable Mentions list so that would be two of the three Iron Man movies and Ant-Man i.e. Iron Man Light that are 10 of my favorite super hero movies.  I won’t apologize for this but since I will need your forgiveness later you can say what you will about my having Iron Man 2 here.  I liked this film so very much because they took the Tony Stark character to the next level.  I liked how the biggest villain in this film was probably himself dealing with the fact that he couldn’t solve the problem of his machine that was killing him and keeping him alive.  As I said in the review, which is here, I also thought that Sam Rockwell was incredible as the very douchebag like Justin Hammer.  I also mention that I wasn’t a big fan of the character Whiplash played by the one handsome and now battered Mickey Rourke.  It just was an annoying character and I could barely understand his Russian but that’s because I can barely understand his English.  Boxing is more brutal than football for head injuries but where is the outrage?  Anyway, I also like Iron Man 2 because much like Captain America:  Winter Soldier this movie is a mini Avengers film in that we get to see two more super heroes other than Iron Man, War Machine, and the introduction of Black Widow who is played by ultra-hot Scarlet Johansson.  Ill just leave this here:

So yeah…Iron Man 2 awesome and could be number 5 but I went with Batman Begins instead. Now as you move on to the next Honorable Mention please give me the forgiveness I asked you to not give me for this film.

 

Green Lantern

I liked this film.  I am not going to apologize for it but I still want your forgiveness.  As I said in my review which is here, I thought this film was the best way to set up the lore of the Green Lantern Corp.  It’s an intergalactic police force you are going to need special effects to do a movie about them.  Now it doesn’t make my top 5 because the villains are either poorly chosen, parallax, or poorly portrayed, Hector Hammond.    In order to save the movie from the necessity of giving the background and history of the Corp, the producers should have made Hal Jordan, Green Lantern, go against his biggest enemy first, Sinestro.   Instead they gambled that this film would do well and they could make a second Green Lantern film and have Sinestro as the villain but that didn’t happen.  This film ended up being the last non DC Universe film to be made.  The success of Man of Steel gave the owners of the DC Comics movies the idea to use that as the starting point of the DC Movie Universe.  I understand why they did but because of that we won’t get a Green Lantern film for at least another 4 years and an appearance from a Green Lantern until the proposed Justice League 2 and that may even be John Stewart and not Hal Jordan.  That would annoy me because Hal Jordan is the only Green Lantern.  I mean he isn’t but it’s like fans of Captain America will say Steve Rogers is Captain America and not his replacement.  You can’t replace the defining character of the super hero and expect fans to be happy.  Every time DC has replaced Hal Jordan in its comic book of Green Lantern they book does poorly.  So they have to have Hal Jordan as Green Lantern.  I am getting off track because if you couldn’t tell, Green Lantern is my favorite comic book character.  I like him more than Iron Man and even more than Batman.  This is why this film is in the Honorable Mention list even though the film itself doesn’t really deserve it.  Deal with it, it’s my list.

 

The Crow

This is my only true out of the box super hero comic book movie.  Unlike my friend Benn whose list, which you can find here, has more than me, I went with the traditional ones for all but this one.  To be honest of all of the Honorable Mentions this one was actually Number 5 at one point.  But when there is a tie I go with the movie I have watched the most so I went with Batman Begins.  Another reason was on a recent visit to Best Buy I found the Blu-Ray of The Crow in the $5 bin and bought it and brought it home only to discover I had already done that some time ago and forgot all about it.  That being said I love this movie.  It’s Deadpool light.  The Crow, which I will do a review for someday soon, is about a man who is murdered along with his girlfriend and his spirit will not rest until he has his revenge on those who have murdered him and his girl.  The crow in the film is the living spirit totem, if you will, for the ghost that is the man who is seeking revenge.  Anyway the film came out in 1994 and the look and feel of the film was beautiful, in a bleak dire sort of way.  I was first shown the film by my Ex-wife who, when we were married, was quite the Goth girl, I say girls because she was 18, and lived the music and style of the film.  Now there is much more to that culture but that’s another conversation.  I will say that it was a fun movie and since I like revenge movies anyway this one was right in my wheel house.  The movie became part of Hollywood lore because the star of the film, Brandon Lee, tragically died during filming when a prop gun used in a scene fired a projectile into Lee killing him.  Brandon was the son of former Karate legend Bruce Lee who also died under mysterious circumstances.  Coincidentally Brandon’s death happened around the time where his fathers’ Bio-pic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, had been released and did well at the box office.  The Hollywood lore being that some think Bruce was killed by Chinese Triad and many other things instead of a reaction to the drugs.  The rumor was that Brandon was killed by the Triad for what his father may or may not have done.  All of this is bogus but made for good copy.  What this has to do with the movie is nothing.  The movie is great and I like it.  The backstory is entertaining.

 

 

 

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