In movies it’s safe to say that every now and then a great movie will come out and hardly anybody will notice. And I’m not talking about movies like Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World where it came out, nobody saw it in theatres and THEN it exploded. I’m talking about movies that you mention to people that are great and they have no idea what movie you’re talking about. Well, I have a lot of movies like that, so here is my list of personal favorite underrated movies.
5. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow –
This movie is, admittedly, more of a special effects exercise. But it also broke some serious ground and created a lot of filmmaking techniques that we still see today. Shot on a soundstage with little more than a green screen, some props, and good actors it’s almost like Indiana Jones lite. It is still a fantastic piece of entertainment that was virtually ignored by audiences when it came out. If you like color films from the 20s and 30s, Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers comics, or are just an effects buff, you have got to see this movie.
4. Speed Racer –
Speed Racer is one of the most polarizing, but still underrated, films of the last ten years. The Wachowski’s follow up to the Matrix trilogy featured all of their signatures: fast paced action, great use of slow motion, eye scorching visuals, and top notch actors. The problem a lot of people seemed to have with the movie was its cartoonish villains and it’s extremely bright visuals. Admittedly, the scenes can be extremely busy from time to time, but the fact that the film is so willing to embrace its animation roots when it could have gone ignored is commendable. When you look past the ridiculousness of the visuals, you’ll find there’s actually an engaging and well thought out story to back it up with some charming performances. This one seriously needs a second look.
3. Bowfinger –
Remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? Yeah, I agree it’s been way too long. Bowfinger is, to me, the last legitimately funny movie he was in, and that makes it all the more a shame that it didn’t get more attention when it came out. This is a hilarious satire of the movie industry and just how difficult it is for someone to break in. Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy are equally hilarious in a movie about a filmmaker who spends his life savings on trying to make a movie with the biggest action star in Hollywood…without him realizing he’s in it. This movie was directed by Frank Oz and is seriously hilarious. On top of that it features a cameo by pre-comeback Robert Downey Jr. Since I couldn’t find a good version of the trailer, here’s one of my favorite scenes.
2. Be Kind Rewind –
This movie was criminally mismarketed. The trailers try to pass it off as a Jack Black star vehicle when it is clearly not the case. This is a surprisingly warm film from Michel Gondry about a small town. It would be easy to talk just about the Sweded movie plot, which is still very entertaining. But the real star of this movie is the town of Pasaic, New Jersey. Gondry used real people in the town to play parts while using his quirky style to pull out some great performances, especially from Mos Def, Danny Glover, and Melonie Diaz. In fact, I’m going to go for it and even say there seems to be a Frank Capra influence running through it in terms of just how much it deals with the idealogy of a community coming together.
1. Last Man Standing –
This movie is probably the one movie that I get the most people confused about for two reasons. Number one, they’ve never heard of it. Number two, it’s basically a remake on top of a remake…or something like that. The movie is based on Akira Kurosawa’s classic flick Yojimbo, which was remade by Sergio Leone as a Fistful of Dollars. Well, this movie is a remake of Yojimbo set in a Texas border town during the Prohibition era with Bruce Willis serving as our man with no name…or at the very least our man with a very lousy alias. This movie has it all: Hong Kong style action, great performances, and amazing score by Ry Cooder, and it’s directed by Walter Hill. I swear, Walter Hill’s movies bleed toughness. And if that wasn’t enough to sell you on it, then picture this: Bruce Willis vs. Christopher Walken. Need I say more?