Top 5 Movies I Love That Everyone Hates
By Bret Dorman
(As always, SPOILERS! for each of the following 5 movies in discussion.)
Last week I wrote my Top 5 Movies Everyone Should Love and it got me thinking about the flip side to that coin. But instead of objectively trying to list 5 movies that are terrible (how can you pick and rank 5 if you factor in straight to dvd or crappy crappy horror movies?) I thought I’d go a tad bit different. Still trying to remain positive of sorts, these are movies that are generally crapped on but I like.It’s easy to see why some movies are critic and/or general audience proof. Crank 2 ranks among one of the bestest most craziest things I’ve ever seen and I genuinely think it is a masterpiece. While Crank 2 definitely could qualify for this list but I feel as though I give this movie too much love and am pretty vocal about my support for it. In the same way Filmspotting has a Pantheon (a group of movies they’ve ‘retired’ from their Top 5 lists to give other movies a chance) I am going to not include Crank 2 here. Some of the movies I like are admittedly fairly criticized and it becomes a matter of personal preference, but for some I feel they are unfairly judged or made fun of or deemed ‘lesser movies.’
A couple of quick qualifiers. When I say “Everyone Hates” I don’t literally mean every single person. Sometimes people take these titles a bit too specifically. But I tried to pick movies that even if people do like them, they are often ashamed to admit it or might not be able to properly defend them. Also, when I say “Movies I Love” I literally mean movies I love. Sometimes people don’t take these titles literally enough. These are all movies I own and are or were at one point part of a regular rotation of mine. Even though I should be ashamed to admit I like any or all of these movies I am not. I will proudly defend them… starting… NOW!
Reloaded may be my favorite of the bunch actually. It has a unique world building and I like its many characters and quirks. The fact that Neo is Neo, The Anomoly, and Mr. Anderson, which all mean different things to different parties is so cool. A character is called ‘The Keymaker’ and his sole purpose is to make one key for Neo. The fact that Neo imprinted some of his ‘code’ into Smith which makes him refuse to die is neat. The fact that Smith doesn’t simply take over one person at a time, but spread like a virus (which is what he hated about humans from the first) is an interesting twist on his previous Agent abilities. The introduction of The Merovingian is fun, as is the medieval version of the lobby scene. The conversation about depending too much on technology in Zion is a little too overwritten but still a relevant idea. I do think it is weird though that they actually go into Zion which is really well structured and built. Is it just me or did they make it seem like in the first it was a goal for them to build up to, not a place that really existed? I know Tank mentions they don’t have plugs because they are ‘genuine children of Zion’ but they could have thrown in one part where they get a voice mail or command from Zion, like “Hey just checkin’ in, what are you guys up to?” I won’t try to defend the crazy dance orgy.
Reloaded also has The Architect, who lays it all out for Neo. The Chosen One is all part of the machines system of control. They even factored in that they can’t fully wrangle Human Willpower, the mightiest force on the planet, so they manipulated it. This twist is just as powerful as The Matrix‘s twist of learning our world is a controlled computer program. Who saw that coming?Revolutions has basically three fights. The cool reverse gravity lobby scene that is a tad too short (for pretty obvious technical reason though?), the cool attack on Zion which is way better on the big screen, and The Burly Brawl, which is fucking fantastic. Smith Vs Neo. So powerful. By now we know the stakes and these two have intimately been going back and forth in their chest puffing displays of power. A combination of good choreography, epic music, slow motion, flying, and force-rain-punch-spheres all combined in context make this one of the best fights I’ve seen. Also, I read one interview (possibly the only one) where the Wachowski’s talk a bit about the sequels. I can no longer find it but they say to pay special attention to the last fifteen minutes and that the key to the whole movie is in that last scene. I agree. I’ll give you a hint… its color based. (We all know by now the color scheme of The Matrix… real world is blue toned while the matrix is green toned. That’s part of it…)
My favorite Matrix moment, if not one of the most transcendental things I’ve ever seen on film, is Morpheus vs The Escalade. Seeing this in Imax was one of the highlights of my cinematic career. It borrows extremely heavily from anime but to see a man so calm and cool take on a charging SUV while he is armed only with a katana and automatic pistol is completely badass. “Oh, but the twins were wasted in the movie!” 1) The visuals of them disappearing/reappearing during the brief fight in the parking garage are still awesome and 2) Morpheus is the best Matrix character, they never stood a chance.
4) Miami Vice
Rotten Tomato Rating: 47% Rotten
Written and Directed by Michael Mann I could tell you about how Miami Vice was plagued by a hurricane (or two) and real gang shootouts in very close proximity putting the production on hold or setting it back in certain ways… and I just did. Miami Vice is an example that what you see on screen may not be what the director intended, but settled for. Not every director has the luxury of getting exactly what they want all the time.
Sure Colin Farrell wasn’t the best choice. He has openly admitted to pretty much being doped up for most this movie and not doing his best (even if he was on his A-Game I’m not sure he’s the best suited for the roll). Jamie Foxx can be intense at times but some of the emotional downfalls on his part are probably to be equally shared with Mann. He approaches the emotional part of a story the same way he does the technical side of the cops’ and drug runners’ procedures.Also, the theatrical release is more of a mess. I remember coming out very confused at what I just saw, having a new found respect for drug dealers. If they do something that complicated everyday they have to be smart people, right? But the Director’s Cut on DVD cleans things up a bit, plus it adds Nonpoint’s cover of In The Air Tonight during one of the climactic gunfights. Originally Mann didn’t want to put it in because he thought it carried too much baggage with it and he wanted to make his own thing, but he admitted that’s kind of silly and it needed to be included.
I also am just a huge fan of Michael Mann’s visual style and how he pushes the digital format. Miami Vice does for High Def gunfights with muzzle flashes and cool Miami stormy night time sky in the background what Heat did for surround sound gun fights with booming realistic sound effects in the L.A. streets. Also listening to his commentary makes you realize he really knows his shit and all the stuff that happens he talks about with a certain authority. He’s the kind of director who strives for realism in the way characters hold a gun, stealthily move through streets, communicate positions and commands, and go through the red tape of taking down bad guys.
3) Smokin’ Aces
Rotten Tomato Rating: 28% Rotten
Written and Directed by Joe Carnahan I actually had a theory a long time ago when this movie first came out that it was really an allegory for the current state of America. The CIA had a shady past that was coming back to bite them in the butt. Buddy represented Iraq and Oil and stuff. Acosta represents immigration. The two chicks represent the gay rights debate. The Tremor Brothers represent… chaos? It sounded good at the time, I had it better layed out. Then two or three years later I read on a blog post by Carnahan himself that Smokin’ Aces was really an allegory for America and Iraq. Booya!
Okay, so I don’t know how much of that really holds up… but the movie is awesome anyway. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but watching it more and more its exactly what I want. About 90% of the edits are sharp, with multiple people having a very linear conversation that singularly moves the plot forward. Also there are plenty of visual or sound gags that tie one scene to another.
There are two great moments where characters talk about death in some way. One of the Tremor’s manipulates a dead Jack Dupree’s mouth and falsely tells himself that it was okay for him to die. It’s oddly touching (set with this great Ennio Morricone track from Good/Bad/Ugly in the background). Acosta talks a security guard through death in another weirdly intimate moment. Most of the movie is about characters killing each other or dying and it’s rare to see their deaths given such weight in an action flick like this.The cast is solid. A bunch of great people doing exactly what they need to do. Ray Liotta ratches from silly (the stake out van antics) to intense (in the fantastic elevator shootout scene) without being melodramatic. Reynolds also brings a certain underdog aspect to the story. Alicia Keys has never been sexier and her partner, Taraji Henson is subtly hopeless in her love for Keys. Piven coked out of his mind. All the Tremors’, Maury Sterling, Kevin Durand, and Chris Pine are unrestrained. Common, Garcia, and Peter Berg all fit in nicely. Joel Edgerton is weirdly hilarious. And Ben Affleck doing his “What kind of accent is that who cares it is perfectly slime ball sleezy” accent is pitch perfect. Also… Jason Bateman wears ladies underwear.
The story isn’t as action packed as people may have expected nor as fast paced in the let’s never have a dull moment I thought it would be but it builds to a blood bath so chaotic and brutal it’s hard to see why this strong ending didn’t sucker more people into liking it. But I guess it was a little too out there for most. I personally like how every character has a quirk or gimmick and the story is a bit too overly complicated but its twist and turns are dealt with just the right tone. Also… Clint Mansell elevates anything he does the score for.
2) Punisher: Warzone
Rotten Tomato Rating: 26% Rotten
Written by Nick Santora and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway; Directed by Lexi Alexander
The Punisher Punches someone’s face in. Fuck yeah.
I should be clear and say The Punisher is my favorite comic book ‘hero’. I love his dedication and approach to wiping out every bad guy he can get in his sights or his hands on. I liked the 2004 version and thought Thomas Jane did a good job at what The Punisher was in that movie. The ’04 verison definitely has some of the better one liners.
But to me Ray Stevenson IS The Punisher. I would pick him as my Punisher if I ever made a movie. The fact that everyone around him is so silly and goofy and one noted while he is the most miserable fucker on the planet is very appropriate for what this movie is trying to achieve. The Punisher’s actions, plans, and villains are all absurd, but he treats them all deadly serious. He is always prepared and rarely comprimises, to the point of blowing someone’s head off right in front of two cops who just moments before arrested him (“GOD DAMNIT CASTLE!”).
Also that scene comes right after he punches someone’s face in. Fuck yeah.
Dominc West as Jigsaw is absolutely absurd and Doug Hutchinson as Loony Bin Jim is even more insane. They play silly cartoon versions of R rated villains. One review I read described them as characters more at home on an SNL parody skit. I agree. Colin Salmon provides a good physical counterpart to Castle and poor Dash Mihok is delightfully pathetic as Soap.
When going into a movie like Warzone, I want to see some violent fucked up shit. I like how through two 3-second flashbacks they undo everything about the first one (wasn’t a fan of the revenge-begets-revenge theme the first had) and make this about Castle’s War, not his ‘revenge.’ This movie has some of the most fun and brutal ways I’ve seen people die on screen and I’ve seen a lot of people die on screen.
Did I mention The Punisher punches someone’s face in? Fuck yeah.
Every Punisher movie should be different and I like the playful over the top crazy tone this one had while keeping Castle grounded in utter sorrow. If I were to make a Punisher movie I would have it be very serious (perhaps bookended by some over the top fun violence) and violent. The humor wouldn’t come from the ‘it’s so wrong/over-the-top but funny’ sort of vibe, it would be unrelentingly nihilistic in its dark comedy. I can say this though, Warzone set a bar for brutality and Stevenson is The Punisher of my wettest of comic book movie nerd dreams.
And The Punisher punches someone’s face in. Fuck. Yes.
Rotten Tomato Rating: 46% Rotten
Written by Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Cappello; Directed by Francis Lawrence Yes. I LOVE Constantine. I said it. And I am not afraid to admit it. Go ahead. Make fun of me. I don’t care. Because at the end of the day the more you make fun of the movie the more I love it.
Let’s get a couple things clear. I never read the comics, so I am not predisposed to liking the movie. I am not a huge Keanu fan, I think he was perfectly suited for Neo which rerouted his career (to roles like John Constantine) but he isn’t a personal favorite or anything. I do tend to like movies or things about Christian ‘mythology’, like angels, demons, scriptures being used as guides, religious artifacts being used as weapons, and the all around weight Christianity carries with it. But I am not blinded by my love for these things, as evident in my very outspoken hatred for Legion and Priest. Perhaps I am too critical of these kind of movies?
I like the idea of being able to play around with preconceived notions (you kill yourself you go to Hell) and make them your own. Here Constantine tried to commit suicide and technically succeeded for a minute or so before being revived, so technically he is going to Hell. So what’s he do? Deport demons to try to buy his way into heaven. Badass.Rachel Weiss comes in as the skeptic and provides a fine audience surrogate. It helps that she is connected to the main thread in some way through a twin sister. When I first saw some previews and Shia LeBeouf was a sidekick I was worried. Not because of Shia (who hadn’t hit it big yet) but the whole sidekick aspect. I think he pulls it off quite nicely and his energy is good opposite Keanu’s. Djimon Honsou is above par with the rest of his cast as always. He doesn’t seem to be trying to out do everyone all the time, but he has one acting mode; all out. He doesn’t even consider anything less. His character could get his own spin off its rich with background we never get to see but is alluded to and his alliances are shifty. Tilda Swinton delivers a perfectly androgynous Gabriel and I love the imagery of his wings (especially how they fade into view and stretch out in the Church scene).
Lastly, I’ve said this before… but Peter Stormare as The Devil is my favorite devil incarnation yet and its going to be hard to beat. HE’s just so… evil and creepy, but never angry. His delivery of the line “Whuddya want… an *ex-tehn-shun*?” could get its own Minutia Monday article someday.I love how the movie never has to spell anything out for you, it just assumes you can catch up. Again, I never read the comics, so I went in just as cold as most the audience. But it all just clicked. The demons, the pendants, the mirrors, the card guessing game, the bowling alley, the holy water, the crucifix gun, the wing design, how Hell looks (in a perpetual state of disintegration), the cat, the feet in water, ‘the chair’, the wager God and the Devil made, the sulfur smell, the wrist slits and self sacrifice. It all adds up to one very unique twist on the ‘superhero’ genre while building off of (but not solely relying on) the archetypes of Angels and Demons is all geared to what I like in a movie. Objectively I can understand it’s all a bit weird, but subjectively I 100% love it all.
Finally, Director Francis Lawrence has such an obvious sense of visual coolness I don’t understand why more people didn’t cut this movie a bit of slack. I get that the idea may be too goofy or complicated or weirdly off putting or they just ‘didn’t get it’ (not that they couldn’t understand, but it just didn’t click with their tastes) but the movie has a unique sense of scenic build ups, reveals, and single frames full of depth (in the same way Sergio Leone had his own unique vision for all these things). Constantine isn’t plain, dull, or half-assed. Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a huge fan of I Am Legend or Water for Elephants, so I am not just a Lawrnece fanboy in the way you could argue my love for Mann’s films skewed my enjoyment of Miami Vice.
Constantine. I know. I can’t help it. Nor do I want to.
So there you have it. Feel free to comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org making fun of me and laughing at my face. These movies are all stupid, right? No! And neither am I! (Well… that’s still up for debate…)