Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday "Bad" Movies - Year Five Top 10 Favourite Movies

Five years.  I have been writing posts for the Sunday “Bad” Movies for five years.  Over the five years, I’ve seen many movies.  There have been more than fifty per year, with two years even going above the sixty movie mark.  This wasn’t one of those years, though it was close.  This is my post for the fifth year of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.

I’ve done four of these posts so far, detailing my ten favourite movies from each of the five years that I’ve been running the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  Forty movies have been written about already.  Now it’s time for the final ten.  It’s time for my ten favourite movies of the fifth year.

Year five began with my normal annual Christmas movies.  Specifically, year five began on week 211 with a watch of Santa with Muscles.  Fifty-eight movies were watched over the course of the year, ending with American Ultra on week 261, and the anniversary rewatch of Super Mario Bros. coming up this week, on week 262.  I hit week 250 this year, and read a novelization of Catwoman as part of the festivities for the milestone.  Other than that, I’ve been fairly busy with school so the only other bonus posts are these.  Let’s get into the top 10 of year five, though.  You’re waiting for those.
This zombie movie set on New Year’s Eve was about a group of friends having a party while people were turning into violent monsters.  One by one, the characters in the house slowly began to turn as they looked for a way to cure the illness.  They eventually discovered that the disease was a virus spreading through social media and that their attachment to their phones and computers would be their downfall.

Antisocial wasn’t one of those crazy bad movies that tend to reach the top ten on my lists.  It was a solid little Canadian horror movie that had a message.  The message might not have always been handled in the best way, but it gave a nice twist to the normal violent zombie fare that comes to the screen.  Sometimes people pay too much attention to social media and not enough to what is going on around them.  That’s a solid message to give to viewers.  If it was handled a little better, this could have been a classic zombie flick.

A sequel was made to Antisocial that I haven’t seen yet.  It may pop up in a future Sunday “Bad” Movies installment.  Who knows?  Anything could happen.  It’s supposedly a post-apocalyptic movie set in the aftermath of the first film.  Same main character, but furthering the extent of the damage done through social media.  The first one was a decent movie and I’m looking forward to eventually checking out the sequel.
For those who know me for more than the Sunday “Bad” Movies posts, you probably know that I like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  It was a show that I grew up with.  I’ve been slowly working my way through the series again, and I’ve been loving it for the most part.  This movie came between the second and third seasons as part of a different timeline.  Ivan Ooze, the bad guy, was never mentioned on the show.  The powers that the Rangers got in the movie wouldn’t be there when the show returned for the third season.  There were other reasons that it wasn’t in the canon of the show.

The movie had a different feel to it than the show.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie had bigger action scenes, more variety in the fighting, and bigger swings at special effects.  It didn’t always land what it was attempting, but it tried.  One of the other things it did differently from the television show was one liners within the action.  Throughout most of the first and second season, the things said during the fighting were motivational lines.  There were jokes sprinkled into the fights in the movie.  It was different.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie wasn’t made to necessarily be a great movie.  It was made for children to have fun.  It was cheesy, particularly in the bad guy.  Ivan Ooze was a walking joke machine.  Paul Freeman was clearly having fun in the role.  The movie was made to capitalize on the show’s success, but the tone was geared towards having a good time.  It was a good time.
Video game movies rarely get a good rap.  They’re usually a mess of story that doesn’t capture the fun or immersive nature of their source material.  In video games, you try to become the character you’re playing as.  You work hard to keep them alive.  You shoot the enemies, or in the case of the Super Mario Bros. series, you jump on the heads of the goombas.  Everything in video games is about how they’re interactive.  That doesn’t come through in movies, which can lead to disappointment.

Super Mario Bros. suffered from much more than the simple lack of interaction.  The entire story was a mess.  Mario and Luigi ended up in an alternate dimension version of Brooklyn where King Koopa reigned over lizards that had evolved into humans.  They had to stop King Koopa from using Princess Daisy to merge the lizard people Brooklyn with the mammal people Brooklyn.

There was an early 90s science fiction look that Super Mario Bros. fit right into.  It’s a look that I enjoy, even if the movies within it aren’t always the greatest.  John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins were better than the material they were given.  They were drunk much of the time that they were making the movie so that their terrible experience would be better.  Apparently there was fighting between the studio and directors over whether the movie would be for kids or adults.  And that’s how we ended up with jokes like the “Mario Mario” bit.  It’s a strange movie that becomes more watchable with each viewing.
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer were two of the six writers on Scary Movie.  They will never let you forget it.  Since Scary Movie was released, they have produced and directed spoof film after spoof film, many of them with the word Movie in the title.  The problem with the majority of their work is that they eschewed real jokes for references to anything that was popular at the time.  They weren’t trying.  They were working on references instead of actually writing something good.

Superfast! was different.  It took the story of the Fast and Furious movies and added legitimate jokes to them.  They were actually spoofing the franchise instead of taking it and using it to reference Call of Duty and Tinder.  The characters were heightened versions of their Fast and Furious counterparts.  The situations were heightened versions of the Fast and Furious stories.  It was the proper way to do a spoof.

There are a few Friedberg/Seltzer movies that I actually like.  Superfast! works well enough that it rose to the top of their crop.  It doesn’t reach the heights of classic spoofs like Airplane!, but it manages to hold its own.  It’s an entertaining comedic look at one of the biggest franchises in current movies.  I’ve enjoyed it both times I saw it.
A few years ago, I read Michael Crichton’s novel Timeline.  It was a solid time travel story that felt real to the era in which it was set.  I was captivated by the characters and what they were going through as they tried to get back to the present day.  It was action-filled, scientific, and well written.  I knew that I would eventually watch the movie.

Timeline was suggested by @Mimekiller, and I was inclined to include it in my Sunday “Bad” Movies schedule.  The cast was one that I knew I would enjoy watching.  Paul Walker, Gerard Butler, and Neal McDonough are people who I enjoy seeing in movies, regardless of the overall quality.  Having them go into medieval era France and face off with an evil Michael Sheen was a bonus that I wasn’t quite expecting.  It was a fun time all around.

The one thing that didn’t quite work was the set.  Whether it was a built set or a location shoot, something about it seemed too small for the scope of what the movie was going through.  The present day stuff with Ethan Embry and David Thewlis was fine because it was in a laboratory of sorts, but the stuff in the castle felt too contained.  That said, it’s still a blast to see these actors in this sort of a film.  I would watch it again.
Full Moon Features has been a staple of the Sunday “Bad” Movies since the first year.  I’ve seen two Evil Bong movies, and now two Gingerdead Man movies.  This sequel to Gingerdead Man changed the setting of the killings and the voice of the murderous gingerbread man, but ended up becoming much more entertaining than its predecessor.  It was, perhaps, the best Full Moon Features film that I’ve seen.

The action was taken to Hollywood in Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust.  A b-movie studio was making a new film.  The Gingerdead Man showed up to create a violent atmosphere during the production.  Makeup artists, effects workers, producers, actors, and directors were all targeted by the evil baked good.  It showed how movies were made while showing how murders were made.  It was a meeting of the two worlds.

What worked for me, and I’m not afraid to admit this bias, was the behind-the-scenes stuff.  I’m currently working my way through school for film production and have experienced things similar to what happened in the movie.  We haven’t killed each other in school yet, but the bickering, tours, and production issues have happened.  I’ve gone through some of the problems with making a movie that the characters went through.  There’s comedy to be found in reality.  What they depicted in the movie was a heightened version of my real world and it hit home.  It made me fall in love with the movie.
Remote Control was a few years ahead of its time.  It hit that meta note that became popular in the 1990s, but it hit that in the late 1980s.  @thenickisaac was right in suggesting this one, because it was one of the most interesting failures to have graced the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  The throwback to 1950s science fiction with the 1980s mentality was a meta horror tale that could have been better served a few years later.

Here’s where things get confusing.  Remote Control was about people who rented a movie called Remote Control, in which people watched a movie called Remote Control.  The movie within the movie would end by the characters staring at the people watching the movie.  Then they would stare at themselves.  Then they would kill.  Did you follow that?  Remote Control involved a movie within a movie, and it would all lead to aliens mind controlling people to kill.  Two video store clerks tried to stop the alien plan.

Meta elements aside, there’s still a solid 1980s sci-fi horror movie in Remote Control.  Aliens are controlling people to kill one another through a video tape.  There’s comedy and horror, the two genres that I always appreciate blending of.  Kevin Dillon is doing his pre-Entourage thing.  It’s worth checking out.
Uwe Boll is currently the most watched director for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  I’ve watched seven movies that he has made.  The first movie in the In the Name of the King franchise was the best that I’ve seen from the abrasive director.  It’s the one film he’s made that I’ve seen and might actually consider to be a good movie.

Jason Statham starred in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale as a farmer who had to save his wife and son from an evil magician who planned on taking over the kingdom.  It was an Uwe Boll style fantasy story which, for the most part, worked as an action packed good time.  There may have been a few of Boll’s bad tendencies in there, but the scope and budget he was given raised the final product above his standard fare.  Watching Jason Statham beat down evil magical beings and goblin-like creatures was something I needed to see.

The sequels didn’t match the quality of the first film, losing the budget and scope.  The first movie, however, hit all of the right fantasy notes for me.  It was entertaining.  There were solid swordfights and large scale battles in interesting scenery.  There were women attacking by swinging from vines among the trees.  The cast was solid with Statham, Ron Perlman, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Matthew Lillard, Ray Liotta, Kristanna Loken, Claire Forlani, and Burt Reynolds all having decently sized roles.  I know most people hate on this one.  It’s good fun if you’re into it, though.  I was into it.
The Marine 4: Moving Target was a disappointment, to say the least.  The story was a simple protect the woman story and it took place in the woods, a location that I don’t like to see over and over again.  It brought back Mike Mizanin as Jake Carter, which was a good choice, but it removed the story that made The Marine 3: Homefront a solid action film with stakes.  It was merely another case of moving from location to location to avoid the bad guys.

When the franchise came back for a fifth installment, Mike Mizanin was back again.  Also back was a solid story, though that story wasn’t necessarily Jake Carter’s.  He was just a part of it.  When the head of a biker gang was killed, the gang when after the two men who caused the murder.  Jake, now an EMT, was called in to help one of the men who had been shot.  The man had been blackmailed into killing the gang leader.  Now Jake had to keep the gang from killing the man as they were trapped in the parking garage of an amusement park.

That might not sound like the greatest, meatiest story to grab a hold of.  The thing was, that didn’t matter.  It was a story enough to bring stakes into the story.  The Marine 5: Battleground had a reason for the viewers to want the heroes to succeed.  Many of the gang members were played by wrestlers, allowing the fights to be well choreographed.  The actors knew how to fight in ways that looked good on screen.  They had physical presences that made it all the more entertaining.  Finally, Bo Dallas gave a great performance as the primary villain, one of the gang members trying to prove himself as a good replacement leader.  It was a performance reminiscent of David Patrick Kelly’s Luther in The Warriors.  I loved everything about this movie and it’s a direct-to-video action flick I’m sure to revisit time and time again.
Coming in as my favourite Sunday “Bad” Movie of the fifth year is this suggestion from both @lizziegolucky and @donholio, a Bruce Willis movie about a thief who got out of prison only to end up forced into some of the biggest heists of his life.  He teamed up with his heisting buddy to try and steal the parts to a Da Vinci invention that could turn lead into gold.  I don’t know where the bad guys got all their lead, but they had a lot and were going to become rich with it.

Bruce Willis helped write Hudson Hawk, and there’s a comedic taste to it that I miss.  His delivery of the lines felt perfect.  It was a time in his career where he would actually try.  Now, it seems as though he’s just going through the motions with every movie he makes.  Back in 1991, he did what he wanted in every aspect.  He wanted action?  He put it into Hudson Hawk.  He wanted laughs?  He put them into Hudson Hawk.  He wanted music?  They timed their heists to music that they would sing while doing their work.  It was all of the good sides of Bruce Willis coming together in a movie that felt quintessentially Bruce Willis.

One of the standout parts of Hudson Hawk was the ambulance stretcher chase where Bruce Willis is slapsticking his way across a bridge and through a toll while being dragged behind an ambulance.  It was a crazy thrill ride of laughs.  The other major highlight was David Caruso, playing a wacky henchman of the bad guy.  I never would have expected David Caruso to be in that kind of role.  It was the most absurd I’ve ever seen him, and it was a delight.

Five years of the Sunday “Bad” Movies brought at least one movie a week to me.  Some of them were great and I’ve either revisited them or will revisit them in the future.  Others were movies I would have rather not seen, but were worth it for the lessons they taught me about what should and should not be done while making a movie.  Some spoke more to me than others.  I connected with some movies based on personal experience.  Other movies were a fantastical look at something I would never experience.

Movies are meant for many different things.  They can be pure entertainment.  They can give messages to the audience.  Whatever the reason for a movie to be made, they are an important form of art.  Everything has its place in the world of art, even if you don’t agree with it.  That’s the brilliance of art.  That’s the brilliance of movies.

The Sunday “Bad” Movies has opened up my eyes to some of the movies of lesser quality that exist out there.  Hopefully it has done the same for the people who regularly read the blog posts.  People can rant and rave about the awards contenders and talk all they want about good movies.  Not many people sit down and seek out some of the worst things in order to find areas where you can improve your craft.

These ten movies each had their reasons for existing.  They had potential and good aspects among their “bad” overall final versions.  So did the ten movies from each of the four posts before this.  So did the hundreds of other movies that I watched as part of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  I might not love every movie I see, but I can appreciate what they’ve done to expand my knowledge of film.

With that, let’s bring the first five years of the Sunday “Bad” Movies to a close.  There’s one more post that will be finishing off the fifth year.  Coming within the next 24 hours will be my post for the fifth anniversary, a rewatch of Super Mario Bros.  I hope you liked these posts.  I hope you’ll like that one.  I hope you’ll keep reading the Sunday “Bad” Movies, and maybe even check out a few of the films yourself.

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