Film & Television

For Your Consideration – 5 Underrated Movies

By Steven O’Connor

It seems that these days, movies are judged so much before they have even hit the big screen. These movies are expected to bring in a certain amount of money and if it doesn’t break box office records, it’s either considered a failure or they move onto somethingelse. There is always the  reboot option, look for example at Superman Returns. It did well at the box office however, it was not considered successful enough and the planned sequel was scrapped. The A-Team, great movie and great cast but again the sequel was cancelled as it didn’t bring in as much money as they had hoped. Quite often it is the cast of these movies who criticize them more than others.

Over the years, there have been many movies that were considered flops and have been criticized heavily by media, movie goers and even the cast themselves. Here I will list 5 movies that I didn’t think were as bad as everyone else says they are:

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

The prequel movies really weren’t as great as fans hoped they would be were they? You are charged with telling the story of how, perhaps the greatest trilogy of all time, came to be and this is what you make. I liked it. There, I said it. Episode 1 was bad, I’ll give you that. It was a children’s movie and was a disappointment it but had its moments (any moment featuring Darth Maul).

Having seen the original trilogy which was the ending to the saga, much of the suspense is gone when watching the prequels as we already know the ending but I always remember that old saying – ‘Focus on the journey, not the destination’. Episodes 4 through 6 told us that once upon a time ‘the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the old republic’ and I thought Episode 2 conveyed that rather well, as the Jedi were shown to be basically ‘space police’. This movie does have a lot of bad moments (as Ewan McGregor has pointed out many times) and I won’t deny it.

The lightsabre duel between Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku (played by an ageing Christopher Lee) is just too horrible for me to even think about. The love scenes with Anakin and Padme are poorly acted and drawn out. I watched the prequel trilogy again recently and found Natalie Portman’s performance to be the weakest part rather than Hayden Christensen’s poor acting ability. He was very inexperienced and it showed, but even a young actor can only do so much with the script that he is given.

Overall I feel that this was a very fun movie and there were a lot of great moments like the chase scene with bounty hunter Zam Wesell over the streets of Coruscant. There was also a very enjoyable fight scene on Kamino as Obi Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett dueled in the pouring rain which just looked amazing. The battle on Geonosis was also an important part of the saga to set up the Clone Wars and it gave us the first opportunity to see Samuel L. Jackson looking bad-ass with his purple lightsabre.

Ghostbusters 2

I just don’t get the lack of love for this great movie. The original cast returned and it was a good story. It had much better special effects and a good soundtrack. Yet this movie is often dismissed, mainly by the cast members, with Bill Murray being the most vocal (as he seems to be with a lot of his movies). While this was a sequel to the hugely successful 1984 hit Ghostbusters, this film took inspiration from the success of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series (note the huge difference with the character Janine) so naturally there was a more comedic and family friendly element to it.

The story would take place 5 years after the original movie and would see the Ghostbusters called back into action after being banned from any ghost hunting activity following the events of the first movie where, despite saving New York, they were sued by city and state agencies for property damage. The essence of the original is still there for all to see. as the main cast work so well together and make such a natural and believable team. There was an awesome bad guy in the form of ‘Vigo the Carpathian’ whose spirit has come alive in a painting at the Museum of Art.

As a kid watching this I can tell you that Vigo scared the shit out of me!!!  Wilhelm Von Homburg creates a powerful image as Vigo as he comes to life in the painting. Throw in a voice over by the amazing Max Von Sydow and there you have a seriously chilling and scary villain. The talking point of the movie however was the performance of a then relatively unknown Peter MacNicol. I honestly don’t think I have enough words to describe how amazing MacNicols performance was in portraying Dr Janosz Poha, head of the restoration department at the museum. His character hails from ‘The upper vest side’ and has the funniest accent ever and I still don’t think anyone knows exactly where he is from. Vigo possesses Janosz and recruits him to help find a baby that would be Vigo’s vessel into the 20th century. That vessel would be Oscar, the infant son of Dana Barrett. Macnicols natural comic ability was joy to see, especially in his scenes with Dr Venkman, played by Bill Murray.

The sequel had what was, at the time, the biggest three-day opening weekend gross in history,a record that was broken one week later by Batman ($40,505,884).Ghostbusters 2 eventually grossed $112.4 million domestically and $102.9 million globally to a total of $215.3 million worldwide.

There are still ghosts (cheesy ones at that) and I still find it hard to think what most people, especially the cast of the movie, find wrong with this one.

Rocky 5

Sylvester Stallone, the creator and star of the Rocky saga, gives this movie 0 out of 10. He wishes it was never made and said that he made it out of greed. It’s hard to defend a movie when its creator makes statements like these but this movie remains my favourite Rocky sequel (apart from 2).

The Rocky sequels had spiraled a little out of control as they kind of got a little over the top (great Stallone reference there, but I digress). Rocky 2 was an excellent sequel, Rocky 3 was just ok and Rocky 4 looked great, although it was just silly at times. I know that Rocky 4 is like the greatest movie of all time for some people and I agree that it was a fun movie, but the Rocky saga could have easily done without it and looks like it was made out of greed rather than 5 if you ask me. The sequels, although great movies, were just money makers filled with montages, muscles and over the top fight scenes.

In a nutshell Rocky 5 tells the story of Rocky Balboa, who has reluctantly retired from boxing and is declared bankrupt after his accountant swindled his money. Rocky is now back where he started and takes on a promising new protégé in slugger Tommy Gunn, who would eventually turn his back on Rocky as he craves the money and fame. Meanwhile Rocky’s son must adjust to his family’s new life after bankruptcy. Rocky and Tommy Gunn would square off in a street fight which showed that Rocky was back where he belonged, doing what he had being doing his whole life, living life on the streets. The movie had a great ending with Rocky and his family accepting that this is the life that they were meant to have and that they were home. This was my favourite Rocky sequel as the tone of the movie was similar to the first two.

My favourite thing to take away from this movie was the terrific father/son story between Rocky and his son Rocky Jr, who was played by Stallone’s real life son Sage. Despite never acting before, then 14 year old Sage delivered an excellent performance as the neglected son desperate for his father’s help and attention.

Rocky would return for one more excellent sequel that doesn’t go over the top and combined with this movie, shows the Rocky character the way he was meant to be seen.

Batman Forever

Probably my favourite movie from this list. Even with the success of Batman Returns, Warner Bros. decided that they wanted a new direction for the Batman franchise. Batman Returns was a success although many felt that Director Tim Burton, had set the tone a little too dark and decided to go with the safe option of the family friendly movie for the third installment. This would also allow them to benefit greatly from merchandising, which they did.

Joel Schumacher would take over the director’s chair and would lead the re-vamp starting with re-casting the caped crusader. Michel Keaton turned down $15,000,000 to return in the lead role as he was upset with the direction the series was going. I like the fact that he was at least asked to return. Several days later Val Kilmer accepted the role without reading the script or even knowing who the director was. I was very happy with Kilmer’s performance in the movie. He played probably the most likeable Bruce Wayne of any Batman movie in my opinion and took on the mantle of Batman quite well, although Keaton will forever be the best Batman.

Like the first two installments the movie would feature an all star cast, that would include Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. The villains would team up to try and expose Batman’s identity and leave him broken and weak allowing Two-Face to finally take his revenge. Both men would work really well together and would provide a slightly over the top, bordering on campy performance. It worked well and was quite enjoyable. The movie also included Nicole Kidman, Debbie Mazar and Drew Barrymore.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the movie, in terms of character, was the casting of Chris O’Donnell as Robin. Robin was initially included in the script for Batman Returns and would be played by Marlon Wayans but would be dropped at the last minute. Wayans would sign on for Batman Forever but Schumacher decided he wanted a different actor and O’Donnell would be selected over Leonardo DiCaprio for the part. I always think that Robin should be left out of all Batman movie, however, I thought that the Dick Grayson story-line in this movie worked very well. It provided someone other than Alfred who could share in Bruce Wayne’s secret, and who could understand exactly the torment he was going through.

“Holy rusted metal Batman” – Robin

Let’s just pretend that line never happened though.

I thought that Batman Forever was an excellent sequel despite the new direction. The cast was superb and worked really well together. The movie also featured a pretty decent soundtrack with ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me Kill me’ by U2 and ‘Kiss from a Rose’ by Seal.

When I watch this movie it is easy for me just to escape reality and fell like I’m 11 years old again and enjoying every part of it. Not many movies can do that.

Street Fighter

It’s been described as ‘the absolute best worst movie’ ever. It’s a movie based on a video
game and headlined by action superstar Jean Claude Van Damme and the late Raul Julia. This adaptation was never meant to be taken too seriously yet people react with disgust as if it was supposed to have been an Oscar contender.

Featuring characters from the insanely popular Capcom video game ‘Street Fighter’ the movie centres around Col. William Guile (Van Damme) as he leads his troops in an effort to rescue hostages abducted by General M. Bison (Julia). They are eventually joined by a supporting cast of characters from the game, as they fight against the tyranny of the evil General. Sound great doesn’t it? So what’s not to like?

The movie features some nice action from several actors and the traditional action/comedy from Van Damme which works to perfection in this movie. Damian Chapa and Byron Mann are very likeable as game favourites Ken and Ryu, and Ming Na was great as Chun Li. There were also appearances from E. Honda, Balrog, Dhalsim, Sagat, Vega, Zangief and Blanca. The movie would also feature new characters T-Hawk and Cammy played by Kylie Minogue (I’m sure she hates watching this as much as I hate watching her).

After seeing the box office disaster that was Super Mario Bros., Director Steve E. De Souza did not want to bring in elements from the video game. It was a little disappointing that not a great deal of effort was put into many of the characters, such as the few seconds we saw of Blanca when he was almost completely covered by smoke. Other characters were barely recognizable and hardly even had their names mentioned.

In 2003, Van Damme was working on a sequel, “Street Fighter II” for Universal, which had released the original. Several cast members had been hired to join him in the sequel,
including his Universal Soldier co-star Dolph Lundgren in an unrevealed role. Australian actress Holly Valance would have replaced Kylie Minogue as Cammy, and Damian Chapa would have reprised his role as Ken Masters. Byron Mann was also reportedly in talks to return as Ryu. However, after a few years of trying to get the sequel off the ground, the project never materialized and any plans for a sequel were scrapped in favor of a reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (one of worst movies I have ever seen).

Despite negative reviews the movie did make a profit. It grossed $33,000,000 domestically and $66,000,000 worldwide, earning almost triple its production budget of $35,000,000.

“For Raul – Via Con Dios”

You can follow Steven on Twitter @St3ven91 as he discusses wrestling, The American Office and his obsession with the Chicago Bulls.

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6 thoughts on “For Your Consideration – 5 Underrated Movies

  1. I feel these are personally all of same genre/cult flavours.. How about some real classics.. Ever heard of Captain Ron, Weekend at Bernie’s 2? or some British ones like Ae Fond Kiss and Inside im Dancing..?

    • Weekend at Bernies 2 is actually one of my favourite movies that I still watch occasionally. When I wrote this article I was sorry that I never included it. I have an idea for future though that will include WAB2.

  2. Weekend at Bernie’s 2 is actually one of my favourite movies and I still watch it when I submitted this article I was a little sorry that I never included it. I’m thinking of something for the future that will include WABs 2. I have seen Captain Ron in years!! I will need to dig that one out.

  3. Pingback: For Your Consideration: 5 More Underrated Movies | The Amateur Hour Podcast

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