Film & Television

For Your Consideration: 5 More Underrated Movies

By Steven O’Connor

5 More Movies That Aren’t That Bad

I previously wrote an article where I listed 5 movies that I think received a little too much criticism. Believing that these movies were a lot better than people gave them credit for, I tried to defend each one and say why they are still some of my favourites to watch. Looking back I feel that the 5 movies I selected are the most popular underrated movies and that my arguments have been heard many times before. So today I bring you 5 more movies that I think receive far too much criticism and maybe aren’t as popular as my previous 5.

Weekend at Bernie’s 2

Bernie’s back, and he’s still dead’. In 1993 the sequel to Weekend at Bernie’s was released to hugely negative reviews. Let’s face it, this movie was not made to break records but simply a fun follow up to a movie that had developed a large fan base. If you are not familiar with the story from the first movie it is relatively simple. Young accountants Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) are invited to their boss Bernie Lomax’s beach house in Hampton Island for the weekend and see it as the perfect opportunity to impress him. What they don’t know is that Bernie (Terry Kiser) has arranged to have them killed in an attempt to cover up the fact that he has been stealing money from his own company ($2million to be precise). Instead, the hitman is ordered to kill Bernie and frame Larry and Richard. Now believing that there is a killer after them, Larry and Richard must keep up the pretence that Bernie is alive in order to get off the island before the killer can get to them (unaware that the killer is not after them).

The story for Weekend at Bernie’s 2 takes place immediately after the events of the first movie. Larry and Richard, suspected of stealing the company’s money themselves, are fired and are under investigation. They discover that Bernie had in his possession a key for a safe deposit box in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Believing that the box contains the stolen $2million, they go to the morgue to steal Bernie and the whole charade begins again. This time there is a slight twist as they encounter a voodoo queen who tries to raise Bernie from the dead in order to lead her to the money, however all did not go according to plan and Bernie can only move when there is music playing. Inspired by Bernie’s movements in the film, a dance named “Movin‘ Like Bernie” was created and is still used today and has been adopted by the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Homemade movies went viral on the internet, from children to soldiers serving overseas to professional athletes, all performing the dance.

I still love watching this movie as it is nothing more than just harmless family fun that still makes me laugh. Filming the movie in the Virgin Island was a huge plus as some of the scenery in the movie was breathtaking. The soundtrack had a nice Caribbean touch and to this day there are petitions to have this very rare soundtrack released. Overall a very fun movie that I enjoyed more than the original and that I can watch and still laugh as much as I did the first time.

Wild Hogs

Here we have another movie that is nothing more than harmless family fun, brought to you by Disney. The story involves a bored dentist, a henpecked plumber, a lonely computer programmer and an almost bankrupt lawyer. They are four friends who are now middle-aged men and are frustrated with their daily routines and feel that they need more adventure in their lives. Doug (Tim Allen), Bobby (Martin Lawrence), Dudley (William H. Macy) and Woody (John Travolta) have their own biker gang that meets regularly at the local bar. They are all kitted out in their biker gear and their patches were made by Doug’s wife. Woody, feeling very frustrated with his life, suggests they set out on their “Hogs” for a cross country trip and try to regain that feeling of freedom they once had. The guys take to the road with the sounds of AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynrd, George Thorogood and Bon Jovi as no great biker movie would be complete without a killer soundtrack.

Things were going relatively well until they encounter the Del Fuegos, a notorious biker gang in New Mexico led by Jack (played superbly by Ray Liotta) who do not take kindly to a group of suburban yuppies pretending to be real bikers. After accidentally blowing up the Del Fuegos bar in an attempt to act tough, Jack and the Del Fuego’s seek revenge and set out to find the Wild Hogs who are out of gas and forced to hide in the small town of Madrid, whose residents live in fear of the Del Fuego’s. In a town that takes its law enforcement seriously:

Hey, I took my law enforcement course on the internet! For arms training they just told us to play Doom – Charley

A terrific cast also included Marisa Tomei as Maggie, the owner of the Madrid diner and also John C. McGinley (Dr Cox on Scrubs) who provides an absolutely hilarious performance as a cop who is hot on the trail of the Wild Hogs… although not for the reason you may think.

From start to finish this movie does nothing but make me laugh and the cast seemed to really enjoy working together, in articular a scene in the Del Fuego’s bar which is completely improvised by John Travolta. I often wonder why it is criticized by many people. I have no idea. This movie did not break box office records but did rank number 1 against a very impressive ‘Zodiac’ which starred Robert Downey Jr. The movie grossed $168.2 million domestically and $252.8 million worldwide. Surely that was respectable and warranted a sequel? Disney were initially impressed however the planned sequel ‘Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride’ was scrapped, a decision that baffled and upset the cast members.

The crew and the rest of us were ready to go so everybody was very disappointed. I think Disney has their own reasons and I try to stay out of that. The economy may be a part of it. You just think, ‘Boy, what’s that about?’” – Tim Allen

DOA: Dead or Alive

Holly Valance fighting bad guys in a hotel room in her underwear. Do I really need to say any more? Really? Ok, I’ll add a little bit more. (By the way, I’m not being sexist, my Girlfriend loved this movie too!)

Holly Vallance, Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki (Suki from 2 Fast 2 Furious), Eric Roberts, Kevin Nash and even Robin Shou (Liu Kang – Mortal Kombat) star in this 2006 action flick based on a video game that I still can’t remember. The movie is very similar to Enter the Dragon and Mortal Kombat as a group of fighters are invited to compete in a martial-arts tournament on an isolated island, only this time the island is a little more advanced and high-tech and the prize for the winner is $10,000,000. The plot centers around three female fighters who are chosen to take part in DOA: Christie Allen (Valance) a sexy jewel thief, Tina Armstrong (Pressly) a tough-as-nails pro-wrestler and Kasumi (Aoki) a Ninja princess. After parachuting down to the island Christie, Tina and Kasumi soon discover that they aren’t just fighting for the prize money, but also against tournament master Donovan (Roberts). Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter), daughter of the tournament’s previous master, is also taking part in DOA to honor her father’s legacy. Kasumi has left her kingdom to find out what happened to her brother who mysteriously disappeared at the tournament a year earlier, Tina is taking part to prove she isn’t a fake and Christie and her lover Maximilian Marsh bid to break into a vault on the island. But Donovan has his own agenda and has other plans for the female fighters.

Not many characters from the video game make it into the movie and the general public has pretty much brushed it off to the side as it only made $6,924,930 at the box office. Please do not let negative reviews deter you as this movie delivers on action, fun, cheesy acting and plenty of eye candy.

Forever Strong

The greatest victories are born in the heart”

I love this movie. It’s your typical sports-redemption drama that has been told many times in many variations with baseball, football, soccer and basketball but how well do you think a rugby movie would do compared to the rest? Not very well as it happens, but Forever Strong is not a bad movie and is one that I feel is really overlooked. Distributed by Crane Movie Co., Forever Strong received very little promotion and even now I forget how I actually found out about it, although I’m glad that I did.

Based on true events, Forever Strong is inspired by the success of Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole), coach of the Highland High School rugby team in Salt Lake City. Hotshot Rick Penning (Sean Faris) of Highland’s rival team from Flagstaff, Arizona is arrogant, cocky and believes that he is on his way to greatness. Coached by his over-bearing, victory obsessed father (played brilliantly by Neal McDonough), Rick is a one dimensional player, focused only on scoring and keeping all the glory for himself. His reckless lifestyle finally lands him in trouble after his second DUI car crash injures his girlfriend and is sentenced to serve 18 months at the Wasatch juvenile detention centre in Salt Lake City. Practically disowned by his father, Rick is approached by the compassionate warden Marcus Tate (Sean Astin) who offers Rick the chance to play for the Highland rugby team as the philosophies of Coach Gelwix help to inspire the spirit of real teamwork, sobriety, spirituality, and honor on and off the playing field.

Rick initially refuses as he just wants to do his time and doesn’t care about rehabilitation. He wants to get back to ‘his’ team and continue to be same person that he always was.

“I don’t play for your team, I play for myself!” – Rick Penning

Rick eventually changes his mind as he is offered a reduced sentence if he will play for Highland and prove that he is a reformed person. Struggling at first to adapt to his new team, Rick begins to believe in the teachings of Coach Gelwix and learns the true value of teamwork and helps Highland maintain their dominance over the league, much to the annoyance of his father and his former teammates led by his friend Lars (Penn Badgeley).

Forever Strong has brought a lot of complaints from viewers who think Hollywood are being disrespectful to the people of New Zealand as the movie contains use of the Haka (traditional Maori dance and song) “Ka Mate”. Viewers need to be aware that the actual Highland rugby team has been performing the Haka for over 20 years now and this pre-game ritual has become an important part of their culture.

This is a movie that I would highly recommend and if you haven’t heard of it then you should definitely watch it. Forever Strong is based on a phrase that Coach Gelwix often shares with his team members, “Kia Kaha” which in the Maori language means ‘Forever strong’. The longer version of the phrase translates to:

“Be forever strong on the field, so that you will be forever strong off the field.”

Daredevil

So here I am again asking myself how to defend a movie that even the main star looks back on with embarrassment. Yes, the movie was dark, they had altered the colour of Daredevil’s costume and Kingpin was black, but I thought that this was a really great comic book movie and enjoyed it more than the likes of fellow Marvel outings Spiderman and The Fantastic Four. Remember it’s a comic book movie, and that’s all it is supposed to be… a comic book movie. I would love to personally ask Ben Affleck why he is embarrassed by this movie as he must know that there is a huge fan base out there. Was it just that too many people didn’t like it and he is just going along with popular opinion? Who knows?

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) who as a child was blinded by toxic waste in an altercation with mobsters after discovering that his father had reluctantly become an enforcer for the mob. After the accident, Matt discovers that his other senses have been enhanced and he now has the ability to “see” through sonic vibrations. Matt uses his sharpened senses to train himself in martial arts and become a crime-fighter and vows to avenge his father’s death. Now known as “Daredevil” he operates in ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ by night and by day he is a lawyer, going after the criminals that escape the conventional means of justice, criminals who are aided by rich executive Wilson Finch who is also the ‘Kingpin’ of New York City’s Underworld. Do you really expect anything more from a comic book adaptation? The late Michael Clarke Duncan was excellent as Kingpin, even if they did hire a black man to play a white character but that’s been done before, perhaps most notably when Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in Batman (1989). Colin Farrell also played Bullseye, a hitman hired by Kingpin. I was not a huge fan of Colin Farrell before this movie but his performance here was fantastic as the assassin with perfect accuracy who makes it his personal mission to kill Daredevil after he made him miss a target.

The movie is by no means perfect, and the casting of Jennifer Garner is just one little blemish. Garner plays the role of Elektra Natchios, a vigilante who was trained in martial arts by her father after her mother was murdered. Elektra also play Matt Murdock’s love interest in the movie and the chemistry between the two wasn’t great at times. A scene were the two characters ‘feel each other out’ by having a little fight in a park didn’t really look too good. I always just skip that part though. There were other things to like in the movie such as Jon Favreau who played Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson, Matt Murdock’s legal partner and best friend and the comic relief of the movie. Joe Pantoliano also stars as Ben Urich, the obsessed investigative journalist trying to get the scoop on the mysterious Daredevil. If you decide to watch the movie I implore you to watch the much darker Director’s cut which features additional footage and a nice sub-plot starring Coolio.

For me, one of the best things about the movie is the soundtrack which features some of my favourite artists such as Fuel, Saliva, Drowning Pool, Seether, 12 Stones, Hoobastank, The Calling and Evanescence.

So there you have it. 5 more movies that I till enjoy to this day and if you haven’t seen any of them I would advise you to check them out. I hope that you enjoy and please comment and let me know what you think.

You can follow Steven on Twitter @St3ven91 and feel free to talk anytime.

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