A few weeks ago I posted my top ten movie guilty pleasures -those hitherto dismissed and mostly derided celluloid “masterpieces“ that only a select few (i.e. me) seem to have genuinely enjoyed. Since then I have had further thoughts on the matter and decided (despite prior ridicule from Phil) to post another top ten “guilty” list for your perusal.
Once again – this is shared with the readers of ALLTHINGFILM with out shame or regret…………despite the negative reaction it might receive!
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Star Wars Episode 3-Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
Director: George Lucas
Now everyone knows that George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy was a massive let down of biblical proportions. All three featured terrible dialogue, stilted acting, a horrible cheese coated love story and Jar Jar bloody Binks. However in my humble opinion, and despite numerous faults, Episode 3 was actually a pretty damn good movie rightly deserving a hellava more praise than it initially got.
To begin with the action scenes are all outstanding -of note, the gigantic opening space battle, a final volcanic show down between Anakin and Obi Wan and an edge of your seat lightsabre duel between Yoda and Palpatine.
The film is also refreshingly dark (most of the Jedi buy the farm), at times very violent (heads, arms and legs lopped off with abandon) and oddly for a Star Wars film, more than a bit shocking – one sequence near the end featuring Anakin about to mercilessly kill several Jedi children is both decidedly upsetting and incredibly emotional.
Its also the best written entry of the new trilogy, and features some very good performances –in particular, Frank Oz as Yoda, and Ian McDiarmid as the thoroughly evil Palpatine, who completely steals the show, especially in the standout scene where he tells a troubled Anakin the chilling story of Darth Plaegeus the Wise.
Now I’m not suggesting that Revenge Of The Sith is anywhere near as good as Empire (what is?) or even a New Hope – the story is totally implausible (committing mass murder to save a loved one – give me a break!) Hayden Christensen is again absolutely god-awful as Anakin, and (despite improvements) the script is still very iffy indeed. But despite all this, id still say that it is worth another look – and at least there’s no Jar Jar!
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Out For Justice (1991)
Director: John Flynn
Back when Steven Seagal was appearing in half decent films, he made this rather splendid actioner about a hard as nails NYC cop who goes after the nutcase Mafioso (William Forsythe) who murdered his partner in cold blood.
Yes its extremely stupid and takes itself way too seriously -indeed Seagal’s various monologues about his long dead father and the ‘old neighbourhood’ wear very thin after a while, as does the highly implausible fact that every gangster in New York seems to quake in fear whenever he’s about.
Nevertheless it does feature a career best performance from Seagal, a deliciously nasty turn from Forsythe and enough fisticuffs, broken bones, blood and death to rival a Glasgow boozer at chucking out time.
A really entertaining film, surprisingly brutal in parts, well made and best enjoyed with a few mates, a takeout and a crate of lager.
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Freddy vs Jason (2003)
Director: Ronny Yu
Now I’ve never really been a fan of Nightmare on Elm St or Friday The 13th – both series of films were never ending and got more and more ridiculous with each crap sequel the studios churned out. Not only that most of them were of a very poor standard indeed – despite what the hard core geeks would have you believe.
So imagine my surprise when this mash up of two of the horror genre’s most revered icons turned out to be not half bad at all.
At times very funny, action packed, well directed by Ronny Yu (The 51st State), with a decent plot that isn’t as derivative as you might think, and featuring a cast of virtual unknowns that actually serve the story rather than just show up to be killed in various gruesome ways. Not exactly cinemas finest hour – but far better than most of the Freddy and Jason films put together.
Oddly, despite a good showing at the box office, a proposed sequel – Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash –never materialised – now that I would have paid to see!
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The Expendables (2010)
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Riding a wave of renewed studio good will after the twin successes of Rocky 6 and Rambo 4 – Stallone got together a cast of past and current action stars and successfully produced this insanely enjoyable and very action packed fight fest.
Now I’ve had endless arguments with Phil about this one – (basically he thought it was a right disappointment) and to be fair the promise of seeing Sly, Bruce Willis and big Arnie on screen for the first time is kinda let down by the fact that they only share one scene together. However, despite numerous faults (the script is woeful), you cant deny that The Expendables is damn good fun.
Particular highlights include a breathtakingly exciting island escape sequence, a spectacular punch up between Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren, and an absolutely bullet riddled final 20 minutes that features blazing gunfights, massive explosions and bone crunching displays of martial arts.
Top film – the sequel isn’t bad ether.
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Terminal Velocity (1994)
Director: Deran Sarafian
I have to say that it isn’t often that I put a Charlie Sheen film in a top ten of anything – save for one featuring a list of worst films ever made. However, there is one entry in his appalling CV (excluding Platoon) that proudly holds its head high above all the other dreck – and that is Terminal Velocity. Upon release it was a total flop and fared no better with the critics who universally panned it. Long forgotten, it occasionally shows up in some late night slot on the telly usually to be watched by chronic insomniacs and alcoholically refreshed returnees from the local hostelry. This is a situation that I have always found a tad unfair, because if you actually sit down and soberly give this film a chance, you will find that Terminal Velocity is an absolute gem. For a start its very funny indeed, with some great one liners and sight gags. Sheen is also especially good – his character Ditch Brody frequently given a right kicking by various bad guys and spending most of the film in a state of perpetual tongue in cheek frustration and confusion. In addition Nastassia Kinski impresses in a well fleshed out role that gives her far more to do that just stand there and look pretty, plus the late great James Gandolfini (in a pre Sopranos role) is fantastic as the chief villain.
Where the film succeeds the most though is in its action and stunts – especially the death defying airborne finale – a very clever combo of inventive camera trickery and wire work which has to be one of the most exciting sequences ever shot.
Daft to be sure – but well worth watching.
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The Thing (2011)
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Another box office disaster , this limped into theatres 3 years ago and is generally considered inferior to John Carpenters 1982 original, but seeing as I’ve put it on this list you would be correct in thinking that I don’t totally agree.
No friends I am not suggesting that for one moment that The Thing 2011 is better or even as good as Carpenters masterpiece – indeed anyone who would dare to suggest such a notion frankly doesn’t deserve to watch another film ever again. However – that doesn’t mean to say that it’s a bad movie – far from it.
Cleverly acting as a prequel rather than just a straight up sequel or remake , this interestingly delves into precisely what happened at the Norwegian science station that Kurt Russell’s McCready comes across in the first film. Professionally made and managing to successfully build up a real sense of impending doom, there’s gore aplenty, great SFX and some very good performances from both Joel Edgerton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Also unlike Carpenters film we do get to see the inside of the crashed Alien spacecraft which for me was a major plus.
I will again stress that it isn’t a patch on the 1982 original – however you have to hand it to director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr – he gave it a damn good try. The Thing 2011 is still available on DVD and deserves to be seen again.
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Director: Ridley Scott
Very few films in the history of cinema have ever been as divisive as this one. Made as a prequel to the original Alien quadrilogy, some people hailed it as one of the best sci fi’s ever made while others loudly declared it an almighty let down that infuriatingly posed far more questions than answers. As per usual myself and Phil disagreed massively in our opinions – he labelled it “Prometheuzzzzzz”, whereas I actually found it very enjoyable – if a little disappointing.
Plus points for me were the fascinating “Chariots of The Gods” inspired story, which tackled a subject matter rarely (if ever) seen in past sci fi films – i.e. was the human race seeded by Aliens? In addition the performances are all universally superb – Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron are especially impressive in their respective roles, as are the VFX which looked simply stunning on the big screen.
The drawback of this film though is that as good a director as Ridley Scott is, he didn’t seem to know how to finish the story, which results in a very rushed climax and as mentioned – far too many questions frustratingly unanswered. Nevertheless – Prometheus is a good film and for all its faults is a far better effort than the disappointing Alien 3 and the dreadful Alien: Resurrection– I just hope that the upcoming sequel in 2016 will right a few wrongs.
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The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Director: Terrence Fisher
In the 1960’s and early 70’s the Hammer film studio pretty much cornered the market in classic low budget but well made (sort of) horror films. The majority of which were directed by Terrence Fisher and mostly starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing playing everything from Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes.
Pretty much all of Hammers output was good entertaining fun but ,but one of my personal favourites has always been their excellent adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out.
Featuring some very good VFX (for Hammer that is), an exciting story, Christopher Lee in a rare good guy role and a deliciously evil Charles Gray as the Devil Worshiping Mocata. Two sequences standout – one is a fantastically creepy bit where the devil himself is summoned via Satanic ritual and then a very entertaining last 20 minutes where the coven throw everything at Christopher Lee from a giant spider to the Angel Of Death.
To be certain it’s very dated, and contains a lot of unintentionally bad acting, but in fairness as a film it really stands out as one of Hammer’s better productions –if your interested, it can usually be found on The Horror Channel and is probably still available on dvd.
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Director: Paul WS Anderson
I know I reviewed this film last week but truthfully what guilty pleasure list is complete without a film from the master of hackery that is Paul WS Anderson??
Now as Phil Hobden knows to his cost (and continued exasperation) – I am probably one of Andersons biggest supporters. Why? Well basically because he’s a damn good action director.
Yes we all know that his scripts are generally substandard and the plots of his films are nearly always inspired by other better directors….or video games. But if you choose to ignore these faults and have a proper look at the way he directs you will see that his editing, photography and camera work show a very talented eye for free flowing, exciting action sequences that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Cameron or Steven Spielberg production.
Nowhere is this more evidenced than in his latest effort –the relentlessly mad Pompeii. Now I agree that it’s a pretty idiotic film, the script is terrible and it has overly lofty delusions of being Gladiator Part 2, but its so much damn good fun that it really doesn’t matter. Without exception all of the action scenes are brilliant – especially the last 40 minutes which is virtually non stop, Anderson managing to squeeze in everything from a gigantic gladiatorial dust up, to a heart stopping horse vs. chariot chase and all this with an erupting Mount Vesuvius merrily laying waste to the entire city in glorious 3d molten glory.
Plus of course there is the utter unadulterated joy of witnessing Kiefer Sutherland as the thoroughly evil Senator Quintus Corvus – camp as Christmas, hamming it up for all his worth and so gloriously OTT that you just cant help but be swept up in the sheer lovable lunacy of his performance.
Pompeii is still playing at cinemas now – and if you can leave your brain at the door then you may just see the most entertaining film of the year so far.
All of the above should be readily available on amazon and certainly deserve to a part of any proper film geeks dvd collection!
Author: Will Strong