In my experience having seen over 6,000 movies, around 0.8 out of every 10 movies is truly great. 2 out of every 10 are an absolute dumpster fire. But The bulk of the moviegoing experience falls in the solid to barely passable region when you really think about it. After all, we go to the movies to escape. In honor of America electing a president that is shoulder shrugging agreeable instead of keeping one that is true evil, these are my Top 10 “Meh” Movies Way Better Than the Alternative.
10. “The Last Samurai” vs. “The Great Wall”:
The concept of “The Last Samurai” is admittedly ridiculous. Tom Cruise is “The Last Samurai”? What? I mean I do not believe the filmmakers were trying to be racist as the story is intended to be about a white American soldier discovering Japanese culture, but it kind of gives you that bad after taste in your mouth when you think about it. Still, the movie looks beautiful with some top notch production and costume design. Cruise is solid as always because, well it’s Tom Cruise. The film also introduced American audiences to the excellent Japanese actor Ken Watanabe. On the other end you have a Chinese produced movie engrained with another white megastar that has no place being involved. “The Great Wall” was a complete train wreck and Matt Damon’s pony-tail version of ‘Hawkeye’ is the ultimate whip cream on top of a steaming pile of poop. The Great Wall of China was erected to keep out a legion of ridiculously looking greenish monsters and the forces of the Chinese army cannot stop them unless they set Matt Damon free. Both films showcase how historically Asians need whites to save the day apparently. “The Last Samurai” at least has good elements going for it. There is also a reason “The Great Wall” lost a reported 80 million dollars.
9. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” vs. “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:
I know a lot of people didn’t like “The Last Jedi”, and for good several reasons. It’s basically an extended car chase in space for three quarters of the flick, Luke Skywalker needs to drink alien breast milk before he can train Rey, and Supreme Leader Snoke gets killed five minutes after we actually meet him. There are some good things including a lightsaber battle drenched in red visuals and a drop the mic final showdown between Luke and Kylo Ren. “The Last Jedi” is not that great. But hey, let us not forget just how absolutely horrific “The Phantom Menace” was. That prequel brought us the worst character ever with Jar Jar Binks. presented the child version of Darth Vader as the most annoying twat in the galaxy, and even tried to explain the force with ‘Mediclorians’ inside the body. What world do we live in that being a Jedi means that you have some type of mystical matter inside that could lead one to controlling the force? Sounds very similar to Scientology. Plus, other than the Darth Maul lightsaber throw down which was badass, the entire final battle looks so fake it might as well have been an animated movie. Just remember all of you die hard “Star Wars” fans complaining about “The Last Jedi”, Lucas made the biggest space manure more than 20 years earlier.
8. “Black Hawk Down” vs “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”:
At the time, “Black Hawk Down” received favorable reviews. A gritty war movie littered with stars, the film is based on the true story of a group of U.S. soldiers fighting for their lives against a Somalian armada and it is non-stop action. Watching it again recently, “Black Hawk Down” has not necessarily aged well. The action is often chaotic, which is intended, but there are several filmmaking mistakes hiding under the curtain of the excuse “Hey, it’s war”. The cast and writing is less than great during those brief moments in between battle. And yet, any movie in any genre is going to TRUMP any Michael Bay movie. “13 Hours” takes a recent tragedy with multiple U.S. citizens losing their lives during a shootout in Libya and uses that context as a glorified military recruitment video. The action is typical Michael Bay with the camera never staying still and explosions are a dime a dozen. The attacking Libyan’s, which in real life had reason’s to fight back against American’s, were essentially faceless brown people with machine guns. Both of these films are a bit of a spin on making America look like the good guys no matter what. And as always I strongly respect the men and women for their service, not their fault the bullshit our government has them do sometimes. So I can at least modestly respect the intensity of “Black Hawk Down”. As for “13 Hours”, can we pass a bill to make sure Michael Bay is never within 50 miles of making a movie about a serious tragedy. Bay, stay in your lane girl.
7. “The Hunger Games” vs. “Twilight”:
The based on young adult novel’s genre has been crushing it recently. For the most part. Obviously Mr. Potter was the biggie, but plenty of others have flooded the market. “The Hunger Games” was a sensation from the start. Parents disregarded the irony of their young daughters dressing up as Katniss on Halloween, a character sent into a competition where children slaughter each other. At least it’s better than a slutty nurse costume. Still, “The Hunger Games” series is admittedly well shot and Jennifer Lawrence is good as any true movie star always is. It’s not her fault the fundamental concept is utter nonsense. On the other side of the Y.A. genre there was a franchise that was ridiculous not just in the concept but in every aspect of what was on the screen. We’ve got vampires that sparkle, Robert Pattison jizzing in his pants the second he smells Bella, a baseball game with suck heads running as if they were the flash, and wolf boy who cannot act so he just takes his shirt off. And the whole thing is a metaphor for teenage abstinence. Essentially a ‘Purity Ring’ committed to the silver screen. If I have to choose between these two scenarios, I volunteer my rights as tribute to go kill some kids.
6. “Timecop” vs. “On Deadly Ground”:
Obviously Arnie and Sly were the big action stars, but in the 90’s Steve Seagal and Jean Claude Van-Damme were not far behind in the kicking ass and taking names game. Pretty much all of their movies were garbage in hindsight, but as a kid growing up in the 90’s I thought they were awesome. The one that holds up at least a bit is “Timecop”. A futuristic action extravaganza, JCVD plays a cop assigned to monitor and arrest people who use new technology that allows criminals to travel back in time. It is pure fun, and we get Van-Damme’s best splits karate move ever. On the flip side you’ve got “On Deadly Ground”. Why was Steven Seagal an action star. In fight scenes he literally just flails his arms up and down as though he were in an after school fight between two sissies. I could kick higher than him. “On Deadly Ground” was his worst. A racist white a-hole in real life, Seagal plays a mystical environmentalist with Native American ancestry trying to stop a corrupt oil company with his shitty brand of kung fu. You know it’s bad when Steven Seagal is in it, but why did you have to go racist in the process? Also, why did you have to drag the great Michael Caine into this mess? This is the one time I’m rooting for fracking and not the hero.
5. “Batman Forever” vs. “Batman & Robin”:
The Joel Schumacher era is obviously the low point in the Batman film series. It all started when they added nipples to the suite. The costumes, set design, and performances are crazier than doing ecstasy on a Saturday night in a packed club. “Batman Forever” is not good, but it’s not terrible in comparison to “Batman & Robin”. Sure Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face is ridiculous. Jim Carrey is a solid Riddler but his spandex suit doesn’t do him any favors. But I would argue that Val Kilmer was actually a good Batman in a bad movie. Nicole Kidman as the damsel in distress and Chris O’Donnell as Robin were solid picks. “Batman & Robin” has no discernible good elements to show for itself. From the opening fight scene with Arnold as Mr. Freeze and the heroes having built in ice skates we knew this was going to be a disaster. Alicia Silverstone was awful as the bad girl biker version of Batgirl. And don’t get me started on the puffy fake halloween costume iteration of Bane. Plus George Clooney proved that you can be a great actor, but there are some roles that just ain’t for you. The moment that sums up “Batman & Robin” best is during the final battle. The bat mobile is covered in ice. When the heroes open the doors the ice on the sides clearly wobbles hard because it’s fake cardboard that was just taped on. If anybody was actually trying here, it sure didn’t show.
4. “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” vs. “2 Fast 2 Furious”:
Truthfully the original “Die Hard” trilogy are the only installments worth noting. The fourth wasn’t terrible and the fifth was garbage. “The Fast and the Furious” franchise is also a massive action franchise. Both of these series shot out of the gate with surprisingly massive hits in their perspective debuts. “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” had the unfortunate reality of living up to the greatest action movie ever. It was as expected a let down. The bad guy was forgettable and the backstabbing military dudes were ridiculous. Also the snowmobile shoot out is garbage. But we do still get some classic John McClane action as he mobs down the terrorists while making them increasingly pissed off because he just won’t die. “2 Fast 2 Furious” nearly killed one of the most lucrative franchises ever before it really got going. How bad does your movie have to be for Vin Diesel to say no. So they replace him with Tyrese Gibson? Now that’s a downgrade. How he’s still around in the franchise is beyond me. There are of course plenty of titties and fast cars, but the action is a 101 lesson on how not to shoot racing scenes. Plus Ludacris comes in and he can’t act to save his life. This installment made the first one look like masterpiece theatre.
3. “The Amazing Spider-Man” vs. “Spider-Man 3”:
The Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” franchise was a trilogy of massive hits and the biggest part of the beginning of the comic book resurgence. The first one was good, the second one was great, and the third one was so bad it buried the franchise. “Spider-Man 3” saw the dumbest villain ever in The Sandman. Maguire plays a cringeworthy version of an evil emo kid for a big chunk of the movie, highlighted by the worst street walk dance sequence ever. But the biggest crime was that fans had been dying to finally see the most popular villain in the spider-verse, Venom. And they cast Topher Grace? Dude is skinnier than Maguire and he’s supposed to play a giant menacing anti-webslinger? Shame. A few years later director Marc Webb rebooted the franchise with Andrew Garfield at the helm, even changing the name to “The Amazing Spider-Man”. It’s not great. The Lizard is another silly villain, but when not in CGI big green guy mode Rhys Ifans is solid as the actor is always good. The climax is ridiculous with every construction worker in New York all working the night shift apparently and conveniently align multiple cranes for Spidey to swing on. That said, Garfield was a really good choice as Spider-Man. I argue that, while obviously not in the best movies, Garfield was the best one to embody the character. Emma Stone was also great as they went with Gwen Stacy instead of the usual Mary Jane. So it’s not perfect, but thankfully it’s also not “Spider-Man 3”.
2. “Conan: The Barbarian” vs. “Red Sonja”:
“The Terminator” made Arnold Schwarzenegger a mega star, but everything started with the muscle man in a loin clothe in “Conan: The Barbarian”. Fresh off of winning multiple Mr. Universe competitions, Hollywood swooped up the kid from Austria to be the next big thing in action. “Conan” has not necessarily aged well. The fight scenes are clunky and look like they were choreographed by a high school theatre teacher. Arnie isn’t a great actor, but he hadn’t found his footing in iconic celebrity confidence yet. But you gotta love James Earl Jones as an evil half man/half snake ruler. “Conan” is still fun and it also started a run of several mystical sword fighting movies in the 80’s and 90’s. By far the worst of all was “Red Sonja”. Do you even know what that movie is? Didn’t think so. Attempting to make the female version of “Conan” and even casting Arnie in a similar role but supporting, Brigitte Nielsen played the titular character. The plot was the same, fighting a tyrannical ruler while looking sexy wielding a sword. There just is not any aspect that is remotely good. Watching Nielsen and Schwarzenegger exchange what is supposed to be flirtatious dialogue around a fire is worse than nails on a chalk board. At the time a fashion model, Nielsen is not a leading lady. Stick to being the angry Russian chick in “Rocky IV”. “Red Sonja” wouldn’t even be shown on the SyFy channel I would wager.
1. “The Avengers” vs. “Suicide Squad”:
Relax MCU super fans. I’m not destroying one of your Crown Jewels in the franchise. I know it took the series to the next level. It is kinda fun and well cast. But there are several flaws. The heroes arguing like whiney bitches at each other in the middle is dumb. The end fight is standard good guys in a fight unable to be killed. Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk literally just comes rolling in on a bike in this giant city before the climax. How the hell did he know where to go? The attacking force is just a bunch of faceless aliens on flying scooters. And of course Hawkeye and Black Widow should have been dead in minutes cause they don’t have super powers. But it is out of the galaxy better than “Suicide Squad”. That movie is the worst collection of comic book characters ever assembled, and I’m including “Justice League” in there. It’s all over the place with the worst heroes ever (sorry, their ‘Bad-Guys’ as they constantly remind us), versus the dumbest villain in Cara Delevigne playing a possessed witch. Another example of a supermodel, not an actress. “Suicide Squad” is essentially a collection of broke-ass idiots who forgot that Comic Con ended two weeks ago. And let us never forget Jared Leto’s horrific take on the Joker with a sparkling grill in his mouth.