Phil's Quick Capsule Review

Grosse Point Geek: Top Ten Guilty Pleasures You Probably Haven’t Seen But Really Should…

Its safe to say that I have watched a lot of movies, (I shudder to think of the time and money I’ve spent doing so!) – some great, some average and  some downright awful – however there are quite a few , that, despite  beingrather good (in my opinion), have ether by-passed a mass audience, are unjustly very unloved or have just been forgotten in the mists of time.

Now this is a rather personal list and doubtless many people (no names mentioned – Phil Hobden) will probably totally disagree with me on most if not all it, but it is submitted in the hope that said films will get another chance and be embraced by a hitherto untapped audience.  So here we go:

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The Thirteenth Warrior (1999) Director: John McTiernan. Actors: Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif.

Based on Michael Crichton’s  s novel The Eaters of The Dead –   this should have been huge  -previous adaptations of Crichton’s books such as  Jurassic Park and Disclosure had done bumper box office, plus it was directed by John McTiernan who helmed Die Hard and Predator. Infamously undergoing extensive reshoots and hugely over budgeted,  it belly flopped on release. Playing a bit like the Dirty Dozen with Vikings, It features cannibal cave men,  a rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith, , a fantastic mid section battle and a very exciting subterranean action sequence.  Extremely entertaining and well made its definitely  worth a look –check it out on DVD or Netflix.

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Predator 2 (1990) Director: Stephen Hopkins, Actors: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Bill Paxton.

A very  good follow up to the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger starring sci fi actioner, Predator 2 was seen by many as its (admittedly brilliant) predecessors poor relation. Not so I say  – Stephen Hopkins sweaty LA set sequel is

extremely well done,  profane, very exciting and hideously violent. Ok so Danny Glover is no match for Arnie and some of Bill Paxton’s acting is a laughably OTT, but it’s a hellava lot better than what we got with the sub standard, Robert Rodriguez produced  Predators in 2010.

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Event Horizon (1997) Director: Paul WS Anderson, Actors: Lawrence Fishburne. Sam Neill, Natasha Richardson.

Ok so not everyone likes Paul WS Anderson and the fan boys will never forgive him for Soldier (1998) but of all his films, this rather forgotten space ghost story is his best by far.

The camera work and SFX are  impressive,  its also well acted by all concerned – (Fishburne is excellent) plus Anderson successfully creates a very creepy atmosphere with chilling scenes of chaos, torture and body horror.  Unfairly seen as a kind of Alien/Hellraiser rip off,  it makes for a  cracking bit of entertainment – and is  a must see  for all serious sci fi film fans.

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Kiss Of The Dragon (2001) Director: Chris Nahan. Actors: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda.

Never held in the same regard as previous Jet Li outings -such as the awesome Fist of Legend , this Paris set actioner is nonetheless an over looked classic.

Basically If you haven’t seen it then shame on you – absolutely packed to the rafters with gun fights, fisticuffs, mind boggling stunt work  and featuring  a quite brilliant bad guy in the form of Tcheky Karyo’s odious Paris Police Chief, Kiss of The Dragon is an action film par excellence. Indeed for sheer wince inducing  joy  – check out the quite frankly insane hotel escape sequence and the final one man assault on the central Parisian police station which has to be seen to be believed. Shakespeare it aint  – but what a film!

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Ninja Assassin (2009) Director: James McTeigue. Actors: Rain, Sho Koshugi

Produced by none other than Joel Silver and the Washowski Brothers –  how on Earth this made it beyond direct–to-DVD obscurity is any ones guess. The cast is virtually unknown, the script isn’t exactly ripped from the pages of Charles Dickens and  the paper thin plot is just about as derivative as you can get. However despite all this, it works superbly.  The action scenes are surprisingly brutal and thrilling –in particular an extended chase sequence featuring ninjas, machine guns, throwing stars and a lot of blood is an absolute standout.

Don’t let the daft title put you off  – this is great stuff.

  * * * * * * *

Waterworld (1995) Director Kevin Reynolds. Actors: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper.

At the time this apocalyptic actioner was touted as one of the most expensive films ever made. Set in a world covered by oceans and featuring Kevin Costner as a mutated fish man, its troubled production was beset by disaster, huge cost over runs and a rather public falling out between director and star. Dubbed “Fishtar and “Kevin’s Gate”, it was slated on release ,took an awfully long time to make a profit and basically did a right number on Costner’s career. But if you can see past the silly dialogue and Hopper’s Captain Haddock style baddie, Waterworld is actually pretty damn good entertainment.

James Newton Howard’s music score is top notch, the action is exciting and well staged,  its superbly directed by Kevin Reynolds and the production values are all excellent. Much maligned and unfairly sneered at by many, this is a blockbuster that really deserves a second chance.

Unusual fact: amidst the chaos of the production a certain Joss Whedon was brought on board by the studio for script and story rewrites.

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D-Tox (2002) Director: Jim Gillespie. Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Polly Walker, Charles S Dutton.

Made at a time when Stallone couldn’t buy a hit movie to save his life, this $55 million flop about a serial killer hiding in a remote rehab clinic for cops, barely registered on release. Known as Eye See You in the US, it quickly exited theatres and in later years was disowned by its star.  Now with out doubt I am the only person on the planet that actually liked this film. Why? Well, for a start the cast, in particular Stallone, put in very good performances, its atmospheric, at times thrilling, well directed and has an interesting who dunnit story line that keeps you guessing till the end.

Yes its not the greatest movie ever made but I really enjoyed it – even if no body else did.

Still available on DVD – I would like to think im not the only person that is a fan of this one!

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Highlander 2 –The Renegade Version (1995) Director: Russell Mulcahy. Actors: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery.

Now bear with me on this one.

Released theatrically in 1991, produced by no less than eight studios, featuring terrible visual effects, an awful plot that that contradicts the original film, a gurning Michael Ironside, and editing that seems to have been done with a chainsaw – Highlander 2 is quite rightly seen as one of the worst sequels ever made. However – there is a  version that was put together in 1995 by the original producers and director Russell Mulcahy. Completely recut, with added scenes, new SFX  and a  rejigged story that dispenses with the Immortals as Aliens plot– Highlander 2 –The Renegade Version makes for an altogether far better film.

Ok so, its still not a patch on the original, the plot continues to confuse and some of the effects are still iffy  –I cant guarantee you will like it – but for the sake of curiosity its very much worth a look.

Definitely available on Region 1 DVD and probably R2 if you look online.

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 The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) Director: David Twohy. Actors: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore.

Yes, you read it right – I’ve included one of the most universally derided Sci Fi films in history on this list! –and dammit – I’m not ashamed to say that I really liked it!

Frankly I don’t see what all the fuss was about. I always thought Twohy and Diesel showed a lot of imagination by expanding the Riddick character, plus Its got great action and inventive SFX  – though granted some of it is a bit odd  -in particular Judy Dench’s casting as a sort of weird translucent alien, plus some of the dialogue is unintentionally funny (witness the clunker that is Big Vin’s line: “it’s a long time since I’ve smelt beautiful”) but despite all that, I have a real soft spot for this one and I would certainly recommend the recently released 3rd chapter in the series – simply called  Riddick (now out on DVD and Blu Ray -see review section).


Alien vs Predator (2004) and  AVP: Requiem (2007) Directors: Paul WS Anderson (AVP1), The Brothers Strause (AVP2). Actors: Colin Salmon, Lance Henriksen, Sanaa Lathan, etc.

Universally panned by the critics and  generally unloved by fans of both the comics and the Alien/Predator franchises -these two are, by far, my ultimate guilty movie pleasures. As a big fan of the AVP comics and novels, I was actually very happy with both these films. The Chariots of The Gods plot in the first one is fantastic – especially the flashback scenes  showing the Predators being worshiped as deities by ancient humans, and the brief shots of the Predator home planet in the sequel are equally well handled. The action in both is also very good and at times really exciting – in particular the final showdown in AVP1 between the “Scar” Predator, Sanaa Lathan’s heroine and the Alien Queen is a standout, as is the last 20 minutes of AVP2, which is by turns bullet riddled and blood soaked in equal measures.

Yes, I admit that they are both a bit daft, the scripts are woefully bad, the “PredAlien” monster in AVP2 is very poor, and neither film is a patch on the other entries in the franchise, namely, Alien, Aliens and Predator.

Despite all this though, they are never less than entertaining and most of all  very well made.

  * * * * * * *

So there we are – my top ten guilty film pleasures. As mentioned this list will probably be laughed at by many and doubtless has shot down any credibility I had as film fan – however I care not a jot.

In my opinion the worst films are those with huge budgets, big name directors and stars, then turn out to be totally and utterly dreadful . Recent sinners would be the likes of Transformers 2 and 3, Ghost Rider 2, Roland Emmerich’s 2012 and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. God-awful movies that were  loud, unoriginal, badly written and worst of all – boring as hell.

Whilst the 10/11 films listed above have numerous faults, and have received some kind of kicking from ether critics or fans (in most cases both) –they were at least all well made and damned  entertaining .

The above movies are generally available on dvd and can be probably be found dirt cheap on Amazon and in HMV. 

Grosse Point Geek

Grosse Point Geek

The Austin Powers to Phil Hobden's Dr Evil, it's fair to say Will spends his life trying to convince Phil that Paul WS Anderson ISNT a bad filmmaker, that The Hobbit movies really are THAT good and, for the most part, Phil is wrong about most things. Which he is.

Oh and Will doesn't really use social. Ever.

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