Some Movie Positivity (Zack Patterson)
Ok, so across social media and my podcast array, I’m very often referred to as the negative person. First to shoot down something just for the sake of shooting down something. In particular my Most Overrated Movies podcast was apparently quite harsh (I respectfully disagree). So to take on a more positive approach, here’s a list of 15 very UNDERRATED movies out there for you guys to check out! These can be movies panned by critics or movies that are just so unheard of that you don’t know about them yet (I’m betting that, like the Overrated list, you’ll disagree with most of these and call me an imbecile but here we go).
15: Need for Speed - STAY WITH ME HERE! Based on the popular (in 2002) video game series, Need for Speed is a foot-on-the-gas car race movie, not unlike Fast and the Furious. UNLIKE the FF franchise (FFF?), you get new characters, a face paced video game-ish story and limited CGI in support of practical effects. The racing sequences are as frequent as they are awesome and the humor in between is actually a bit refreshing compared to any other car movies that have come out after Gone in 60 Seconds. Granted the plot is a bit loose and its shares a Fast and Furious level of impossibleness at times. Even so, Need for Speed is a fun throwback to the video games with more charm than you’d expect from a financial flop movie that was completely panned by critics.
14: Moon - A spectacular piece of science fiction with stellar acting performances by both Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey (I know, touchy subject there, let’s keep this about movies yeah?). While waiting for his return trip home, Rockwell’s character runs a lunar mining outpost in the not too distant future, and Spacey voices the android that oversees the facility. After an accident, some strange occurrences begin to surface in the facility. I dare not say more than that, just know that it’s a solid plot and well worth watching. Grounded sci-fi can be the best sci-fi.
13: Terminator Salvation - I know for sure I’m gonna lose some points here. Look, this movie had a lot of flaws, but it also had a lot of points in its favor. 3 movies in a row warning about the future and finally they decide to trying make a movie in the future, which is what I wanted all along. You get some more crude, grizzled-looking machines from the early stages of Skynet’s rise to power. You also get to meet famed future characters before they’ve even met one another. The main character is a new face and was written well, before everything went to hell. Fact of the matter is, previews are partially responsible, as one of the best potential twists in the film was revealed in the damn trailer. Another factor that hurt it was Christian Bale as John Connor. Aside from the spat he had with a disruptive photographer, he also turned a minor role into a major one, gaining a ton of screentime. As a result of that, they had to change the ending completely to set up more of him in the sequel that never was. Not unlike the DC films, this project was dismantled by studio meddling, but that doesn’t make it unwatchable.
12: The Raid: Redemption - This. Is. The. Best. Action. Movie. I. Have. Ever. Seen. It’s Indonesian and has many many subtitles, but the martial arts sequences are absolutely sick! Some solid camerawork and editing really beef up the scenes too. There’s really not much else I can say on this one. If you’re looking for a “Turn off your brain action flick”, this is the best there is.
11: Cowboys 7 Aliens - A lot of people see this film as mediocre, and I do get that, but the thing I love most in movies is when you can combine genres. This film film chose to combine sci-fi and western themes, but for once, it weighed more on the western side of the equation as you follow a sheriff and criminal that get caught up in an alien abduction story. Having Harrison Ford involved is no doubt a big part of why I like this so much, but a film about lawmen chasing bandits (but replacing bandits with aliens) was too cool for me to pass up.
10: Outlander - An interesting and unique sci-fi story on a noticeably low budget...biblically low budget. A story we are all too familiar with; space police officer harboring fugitive alien beast has spaceship problems and crash lands on earth. The twist on this one is that all of that happens during the viking era, as two viking tribes fight for overall power of their region. I like the idea of an alien best inspiring the viking lore pertaining to dragons and serpents. I also like that they chose to give the movie an R-rating to allow for Alien levels of grotesque violence. Collectively its a fun movie and in my opinion one of a kind.
9: Hardcore Henry - This. Is. The. 2nd. Best. Action. Movie. I. Have. Ever. Seen. Dunno what that says about my taste but whatever. FINALLY, a fully 1st-person action film! Modeled with the same simplicity and chaos you got from a *insert franchise name here* shooter game. No explanation, barely an introduction and then thrown into the mess. Plot was creative, but at some places a tad predictable. The violence is excessive enough to satisfy your bloodlust for this lifetime and it gets bonus points for having Sharlto Copley in it (A better actor than he gets credit for). It’s not the Tarantino type of over-the-top pulp (Part of why I love it so much), but because of that it has its own groove and that groove is executed brilliantly. Again, totally hated by many critics, but because it had a microscopic budget, it technically wasn’t a flop so there’s that.
8: Frequency - Movies about time travel, or time in general really, are so hard to make without being cliche or full of plot holes. This less sophisticated film makes for some truly interesting time fiction. Story goes that a man fiddling with his deceased dad’s old radio in present day somehow ends up chatting with his dad on it 30 years earlier. What follows is a sort of reverse puzzle as their conversations start to alter the timeline and the cost that comes with such things starts to catch up to them. It’s a drama-turned thriller that’s sure to keep you interested.
7: The Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick) - I get why these movies don't have the best reviews. Chronicles of Riddick is kinda all over the place and Riddick is more or less a copy of the plot of Pitch Black, but Riddick himself is a compelling character who deserves a standing place among the best and most unique science fiction personalities. Pitch Black was more of a fluke than anything else. It was an awesome sci-fi horror film that just happened to feature Riddick caught in the fray. Chronicles attempted to expand the background of this world and Riddicks character, which turned out to be tougher than they thought. Finally a third film, ironically just called Riddick, was made. Unfortunately this turned out to be yet another setup film as fans continue to wait for Riddick to ever get an origin story or any kind of closure. Still a fun and well made film though. Overall its another fun franchise with some great moments.
6: My Fellow Americans - A simple mid-90’s comedy. 2 ex presidents (one from each side of the political spectrum) are caught up in a scandal that forces them to go on the run together before being killed as part of the cover up. Along the way, there’s a lot of playful jabs at both sides while also seriously reflecting on issues of the times. Some of those issues are still prevalent today. The reason it’s on here is because it’s fun. This kinda movie would be impossible to make these days, as it would cause more arguments than laughs in the current political climate. The news outlets alone would go for months trying to analyze one side or the other, throwing accusations like ninja stars. This movie is the opposite of divisive, and it’s funny in the process. Well worth a watch.
5: Titan A.E. - Easily the best non-disney animated feature of my youth. Done by the same people that did Land Before TIme, this movie is about humanity having to carry on without Earth, which was destroyed by the usual “kill all the things” type of alien race. The story revolves around a man trying to find his father and than ship he vanished with, as it’s rumored to be the last hope for humanity before we go extinct. Some very good voice acting performances from the likes of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Nathan Lane mixed with a great soundtrack and some solid action sequences makes this one of the best animated films of the last 20 years. Well worth looking into if you haven’t seen it.
4: G.I. Joe 1 and 2 - “Why they’d even bother making these? They are just doing the exact same type of thing as with Transformers...” Yea but G.I. Joe does it SO MUCH BETTER. All of the characters and weapons and vehicles are callbacks to the toys and the comics and the cartoon, and for me that was huge because I had all kinds of Joes stuff. The plot in each film feels like something you’d get from fictions of the 80’s and modernized, as opposed to just taking some CG giant robots and going “Hey look, Transformers!” with some of the most awful camerawork that exists on this planet. The plot is also campy at times, but so was the cartoon, doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. Everybody gets their due screentime (Grimlock was in a 165 minute Transformers movie for 4 minutes...) and Cobra Commander is everything you’d want out of that villain. It just feels like the creative team here actually did their homework and put the effort and the public just doesn’t appreciate it because Transformers got out there first. Well worth a watch on a lazy afternoon.
3: The Adjustment Bureau - Based on the short story “Adjustment Team”, the creative team took that concept and ran with it in a way that makes for cinematic poetry to me. The narrative is so entrancing here that I never get bored and I’m glued to it from beginning to end. You genuinely care about virtually all of the characters while wondering what comes next.. Matt Damon is such an out-of-place casting choice for the lead role, but because of that he ends up being absolutely perfect in that role. It’s my favorite Matt Damon movie by far. This film also introduced me to the talents of Anthony Mackie and now I want him to be in every movie ever (He is also the best choice ever to play the the Falcon in the Marvel films. Fact.). This film actually wasn’t panned by critics, and even got an Oscar nomination, but I bet most of you reading this haven’t seen it...and you totally should.
2: The Fall - This independent film represents the good that comes out letting a movie be art. This movie is a visual masterpiece with an awe-inspiring color scheme and insanely good camerawork. Ironically, the plot is relatively simple. Sometime around the 1920’s, two hospital patients, a man and a little girl, meet and the man tells the little girl a story to pass the time. Doesn’t sound like much on paper, but seeing the story unfold as the man tells it, and the ramifications that come with it lead to a thought provoking and emotional spectacle combined with hard-hitting drama everyone should experience. These types of movies are so rare now that when they come along they cannot be missed. It’s a beautiful movie and I absolutely love it.
1: Sunshine - Amazing damn movie. A claustrophobic, science v faith, science fiction thriller. Again a simple plot. A bunch of scientists on a space station traveling towards sun, to restart it before it goes out. What follows is a visually riveting psychological thriller that is compelling enough to keep you at the edge of your seat. Another great cast, and a stylistic musical score match the beautiful visuals for a well rounded sensory experience (This sounds wicked snobby doesn’t it). The common criticism in modern science fiction is that it lacks tact and originality. I see a good balance of both of those things in this film.
There you have it. 15 great movies to check out that I love dearly. See, I’m not so bad ;)
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