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The first 2 movies in this list are my favorite movies of all time. The rest, I can't really rank, so I have them in alphabetical order, as well as chronological order for some.
The list is rated by their approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes
The Last Airbender (2010)
2010: Not as bad as everyone is saying. 2014: Yes, as bad as everyone is saying.
THE LAST AIRBENDER takes place in a world where there are four tribes: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. As Katara explains, the tribes once lived in harmony and peace, until the Fire Nation decided to conquer all. The Nations' only hope lies in someone known as the Avatar, one who can bend all the elements, and when the world needed him most, he vanished. A thousand years pass, turmoil has settled between the nations. The Air Nomads are gone. Two siblings, Sokka(Rathbone) and Katara(Peltz) discover the latest reincarnation of the Avatar: Aang(Ringer), who ran away from his tribe when he was needed, and became encased in a frozen prison. After being thawed, Sokka and Katara bring him back to the Water tribe, where they learn who he really is. All the while, Prince Zuko(Patel) is on a mission to capture the Avatar and bring him to his father, Fire Lord Ozai(Curtis), in order to regain his honor. But Sokka and Katara aren't willing to adhere to Zuko's request, so they decide to help Aang master all the elements. You may or may not be surprised to here me say this, but I liked it. Yes, Shyamalan did change somethings, and yes he may have taken a misstep in changing pronunciation, but what people have to remember is this: it's a movie. It's not a TV show. There are things you have to change in order for it to work as a film. You have to be able to whittle it all down to something that works as a film, while keeping all the major major moments of the show itself, and Shyamalan does that. The actors did a good job as well. Dev Patel was marvelous as Prince Zuko. He really captured his essence. Noah Ringer was really good as Aang, although I would've liked to have seen him to some more comedic stuff. Shyamalan didn't have to take it all so seriously. The penguin-sledding scene would've gotten big laughs. Oh well, easy come easy go. Jackson Rathbone was really good as Sokka. He actually made me cry at one point during his scene with Princess Yue(Gabriel). That was really the emotional part of the film. It was very emotional in the show, but Shyamalan tends to turn the emotions up a notch, causing tears to be shed. He did it with THE SIXTH SENSE, he did it with SIGNS, he even did it with LADY IN THE WATER, and he did it with THE LAST AIRBENDER. Nicola Peltz is the only gal who can play Katara. She got Katara's delivery, her emotions, everything. I was thoroughly impressed. But I was most impressed with Aasif Mandvi as Commander Zhao. That was a surprise, and a pleasant one. He has proved he can do serious as well as comedy. The writing was good too. Shyamalan did a good job of sticking to the voices of the writers of the TV show, as well as provide some of his own spin. However, the movie did jump around a lot, and that was a little unsettling for me, but it didn't stop my enjoyment of the film. The visual effects were spectacular. I got chills from watching them. They were very good. ILM did a great job of matching the TV show in that area. Appa was probably my favorite effect. He made me smile every time he was on screen. But still, special effects can't cover story, but the story's good, so the visual effects are just as good too. You have to really know the show in order to get a lot of what's in the film, which helps if you've watched the show. If someone didn't, then there would be one of two reactions: They didn't get it, or they liked it enough as a film but would later on be disappointed when they watched the show for themselves. If you like M. Night Shyamalan, there's a good chance you'll either like this or you won't. I can't really give any guarantees. If you liked the TV show, and are a purist, you probably won't like this film. However, if you liked the show, but are able to enjoy the adaptation as a film, then you will like this film as I did. I'd like to see it again if I have the chance. As for Shyamalan, he gets a tip of the hat from me for trying something different. He did a good job of adapting another's work. I can't wait for the sequel.
NOW IN 2014:
Okay, here's the deal. Now that I've studied screen writing, I'm actually seeing the glaring flaws in this movie. The biggest one being he compressed a whole season into one movie. That's not how you do it, because your focus switches. Act I belonged to Katara, The midpoint belonged to Zuko, and Act III belonged to Aang, the movie's protagonist. What? What the hell is that?
He should've just made the movie its own thing, but he didn't. And he failed.
Potentially Nolan's Masterpiece
After three fabulous movies, Christopher Nolan follows them with another winner: "Inception". The idea of a person entering another person's dreams is not a new concept, nor is the concept of dreams within dreams. People entering another's dreams was explored in a film I have yet to see called "Dreamscape", and dreams within dreams was also used in Luis Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and John Landis' "An American Werewolf in London." However, the effective use of these themes has not made this a cliché, so that helps make "Inception" a great film worthy of multiple viewings. "Inception" talks about the idea of entering dreams to see what's going on inside of a person's head. From there, you can unlock secrets or implant thoughts in another's head. This is called "inception." Cobb(DiCaprio) is one of the people who has a job involving inception. But as he enters dreams, he begins to have visions of a woman(Cotillard) entering his dreams, causing him some trouble. What had the potential to be a misstep is actually a masterpiece. Nolan, who also wrote the script, does a very good job of storytelling, character development, and handling dreams. Without a great writer, which Nolan is, a movie involving dreams can be messy when done wrong. Thankfully, "Inception" is not done wrong at all. Though there were a few moments where it wasn't as gripping, the movie still pulled me in. And don't worry, it all makes sense in the end. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in another fabulous performance. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was really good too. He looks a lot like the late Heath Ledger. It was almost eerie in a way, because Christopher Nolan obviously has worked with Heath Ledger in the past, and he's worked with a look-alike now. But that's not relevant. What is relevant is Gordon-Levitt was good in the film. In fact, there wasn't a bad performance out of any of the actors. Cotillard, who won an Oscar for her performance in Olivier Dahan's "La mome" aka "La vie en rose", was great, Ellen Page was great, Ken Watanabe was great. Everybody was just fabulous. This film has moved Christopher Nolan up on my top 20 directors. He's still under Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, M. Night Shyamalan, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, but that's a really good thing in my opinion. The ending was really sad, and makes you think. I won't give anything away, but trust me, it is mind-boggling. I can foresee this film getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound. This is definitely one of the best films I've seen in 2010. It seems as if Christopher Nolan can do no wrong. He already has five movies, including this one, on the top 250 movies on IMDb, and he's become critically acclaimed and loved by audiences. I am incredibly anxious to see what he does with his third "Batman" film. If you like Christopher Nolan, you'll like this film. If you like movies that deal with the subject matter this film deals with, then this is the film for you. However, if you're unfamiliar with a movie like this, then see it anyway. It is worth the 2 and a half hours of viewing.
Jennifer's Body (2009)
This generation's "Fright Night"
"Jennifer's Body" is a horror/comedy film directed by Karyn Kusama about two girls, Jennifer Check(Megan Fox) and Anita "Needy" Lesnicki(Amanda Seyfried). They go to a concert in a bar one night, and after a freak accident occurs, causing the bar to go up in flames, Jennifer is captured by the band and taken into the night, while Needy watches in worry. The next day, the whole school is in grief of the people lost in the fire, and Jennifer comes back, only different. She is now a demon, a succubus, and she's eating boys. Now Needy has to find a way to end her reign and save the school.
I have to say, I actually had a lot of fun watching it. I think people need to understand that this isn't supposed to be another "Juno." You can't expect Diablo Cody to write a script exactly like "Juno." This is supposed to be a fun campy horror film. I see it as this generation's "Fright Night," in that you have a small town, and a monster comes rolling in, and the protagonist of the story knows what's going on, and nobody believes her.
Megan Fox was pretty good in this. I can see why a lot of people don't really like her style of acting, but it works for this film. Amanda Seyfried is marvelous. She's going to do some really good stuff later in her career.
Having said all of that, I will admit that this isn't as funny as "Juno," but I really didn't expect it to be. I just wanted a good funny film, and that's what I got. I admire Diablo Cody trying something different. I can't wait to see what else she has in store. I also need to check out "United States of Tara."
If you like campy horror films, this is the movie for you. If you like Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, there's a good chance you'll like this one. If you're a fan of Diablo Cody, like I am, you're going to thoroughly enjoy this film. Just know what you're getting into.
"Avatar" is a film directed by James Cameron about an ex-marine, Jake Sulley, who has become part of a project known as the Avatar Program. The Avatar Program is a system where humans can walk through Pandora, which is the home of a race of people known as the Na'vi, as one of the people, and when I say one of the people, I mean your essence in the body of a Na'vi. These are known as avatars. What we learn from Jake is that he was injured in combat, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He also had a twin brother who was part of the Avatar Program, but he was killed in action. After being called in, he is given a mission: make contact with the Na'vi, and make them trust him, this way the soldiers and the businessmen can obtain a mineral. During his experience on Pandora, he meets Neytiri, a woman from the Na'vi tribe, and daughter to the leader. As Jake begins to learn about the Na'vi and their beliefs, he begins to have a change in view about everything, and his heart grows fonder of Neytiri. And I am going to stop right there because I do not want to give too much away for those who have not seen it. PROS: The visuals were superb. Seeing it in IMAX 3D gave it something that would not be appreciated if you saw it in 2D in a regular theater. The development of the Na'vi was really well done. I could tell that Cameron had a huge appreciation for the Na'vi. You felt their pain, you really did. The music was also fantastic. James Horner, who scored movies like "Legends of the Fall", "An American Tail", "The Land Before Time", and "Titanic, which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. I felt that the score is part of what made the film, and the music was one of the reasons why I wanted to see "Avatar" in the first place. Zoe Saldana carries a pitch perfect performance as Neytiri. I have liked her since Gore Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal". But it was "Avatar" that brought out the best in her. She added depth to the character that Cameron could not, which says a lot about her. CONS: The story was incredibly clichéd. Even though there were differences, it was, as someone else has said, "Pocahontas" in space. Also, the dialog was bad in certain areas. I laughed a little when I know I should not have laughed. However, Cameron also made "Titanic", which had laughable moments in the film, mostly involving Jack and Rose. Furthermore, the characters were one-dimensional. You did not care about them at all. It was your basic James Cameron story: There are good guys, and there are bad guys...and then there is everyone else. That is it. I have always been partial to movies that present 3- dimensional human beings. John Carpenter's "The Thing" comes to mind, where the only villain in the whole film was the monster. You would think that James Cameron would take advantage of making 3-dimensional characters in a film that is meant to be seen in 3D. Jake Sulley, which is moderately portrayed by Sam Worthington, had poor character development. I sat through basically the whole movie thinking, "Why should I care?" even though I did not want him to die, there was still that part of me that had no emotional stake in the outcome as far as Jake was concerned. James Cameron has always had, I think, a poor ability to create good characters and get the audience involved. He is great at making innovations in film, sure, but that can easily be removed. To me, the great filmmakers of the world get you involved on an emotional level with the film. Steven Spielberg does that in just about every film that he has ever made; Peter Jackson has been doing it ever since he made "The Lord of the Rings". The list can go on and on, but Cameron does not fit. All in all, "Avatar" is a movie that I probably will not see again, because there is no point for me to see it. If I had no connection with the characters, and if I did not care for the story, then there is no point in seeing it twice, unless I am going to make fun of it and ridicule it in a playful manner. Did it deserve its Oscars that it won? Yes, with visual effects being a given. But was it worthy of a Best Director and Best Picture nomination? Probably not.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
I liked it when I first saw it, but now I think it is only a sub-par film
"The Black Cauldron" is a film loosely based on a book series known as "The Chronicles of Prydain" by Lloyd Alexander about a boy who dreams of adventure, but when a magical pig named Hen Wen is captured, he has to set off on an adventure to find her and bring her back before the evil Horned King uses her to find the Black Cauldron, a weapon used to make dead soldiers come alive.
I was about, I would have to say, maybe 8 years old when I first saw it. And I liked it a lot. It was a thrilling adventure. Now, I was not scared of it, but it does have moments that could be frightening to little kids. But that goes for a lot of Disney films. They all have an element of horror in them.
It was not until 9th grade when I learned that it was a book, and it was not until I was in my teenage years that I started to read "The Chronicles of Prydain." Now I think that the film version of "The Black Cauldron" is only sub-par. And here is why:
This version is just the first two books, "The Book of Three" and "The Black Cauldron" rolled into one movie, with "The Book of Three" dominating the story of "The Black Cauldron." In the film, Taran is an Assistant Pig-Keeper, but in the stories, he does not start out an Assistant Pig-Keeper. He starts off by making horseshoes. There is a character who is Taran's mentor named Dallben in the film version. But in the books, there are two characters, Dallben and Coll. What they did was have the characters of Dallben and Coll meshed as one. Dallben is an old enchanter. One might equate him to Gandalf or Merlin because of his wisdom and his appearance. Coll is the one with the bald crown. The Princess Eilonwy is an interesting character as well. In the books, she is a chatterbox. In the film, they cut the chatter down. But they keep her independent mind in the film, which is a good thing. Also, her bauble floats in the film. But it does not in the books, it only lights up at her command.
The bard, Fflewddur Fflam, is not at all like he is in the books. In the film, they portray him as an old man, but in the books, he is quite young, and has spiky yellow hair. Gurgi is pretty much the same as he is in the books, except Taran meets him when Gurgi tries to strangle him. There are a ton of important characters left out of this film, and I was not pleased with that.
One other part of the film that I did not care for was how they introduced the Fair Folk. They have them as fairies, but they are not like that at all. They are dwarfs, well, some of them are. Doli, the one who helps the companions to the place where the Black Cauldron resides, is not elderly. He is young as well. And the witches that live in the Marshes of Morva, Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch, hardly match their descriptions in the stories. And the magic sword that Taran takes from the Horned King's castle, which is known as Dynrwyn, can only be handled by someone of noble worth, and Taran does not prove himself of that in "The Book of Three," nor in "The Black Cauldron," which only mentions Dyrnwyn once.
The Horned King, now this was disappointing. In the film, they present him as an old emperor, but he is not like that at all. He is a warlord, and a young strong one at that. He does not speak at all in the stories, and he works for a higher power known as Arawn, Death-Lord of Annuvin, which they roll both Annuvin and Spiral Castle, the castle that the Horned King inhabits in the film, into one country. There is a character who works for the Horned King in the film called Creeper, which the makers of the cartoon created. Creeper does not exist in the books.
There are tons of other changes made, but I will not list them, simply because although I do not care for "The Black Cauldron," I do not want to spoil it for you. So, I say this to you because if you read the books, then you might be disappointed by the film. But if you have not read them, or if you have and you will appreciate it anyway, then feel free to see it.
The Lovely Bones (2009)
Peter Jackson's "Lovely" version
"The Lovely Bones" is a Peter Jackson film based on Alice Sebold's novel about a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon who is raped and murdered. She is sent into the "In-Between" to watch her family cope with the loss and her murderer continue to live his disgusting life.
When I first heard that Peter Jackson was going to take on this project, I was very excited. I have not read the book, but I was anxious nonetheless, and knowing Jackson's wide filmography, I was aware that this was going to be something worthwhile. So, I waited, and waited, and waited. I heard stories about creative clashes between Jackson and the visual effects department as to the portrayal of heaven. I had fears that it might not get made. It would be a dead project. But my hopes were raised once more when they started filming and it was in post-production, and then the release date was announced. Patiently, but oh so patiently, I waited. Upon my wait, I had heard mostly negative things about it, which did not shock me when I heard the complaint on the director. However, still wanting to have my own opinion on the matter, I went to the theater to see it.
I was not disappointed by this film. Jackson, like he did with "Heavenly Creatures" and "Lord of the Rings," creates a perfect balance between story-telling and the visual effects, although some of the visual effects were cartoonish; that does not mean that they did not fit well with the subject matter (they did).
I could tell that this was a story that Peter Jackson wanted to tell, and he does it with great conviction and passion.
Saorsie Ronan, who is known widely for her role in Joe Wright's "Atonement," does a fabulous job with the lead role of Susie Salmon. It can be viewed as emotionless, but what I loved about it was that it was perfect, because the truth is: how do you feel about something like this? You have been raped, murdered, and you are only 14 years old. So much happens. How do you react? And Ronan answers that beautifully.
The rest of the cast, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci, were excellent as well. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz, both parents in real life even though they do not have children together, brought tears to my eyes. Their portrayal of parents going through the kind of loss that Jack and Abigail Salmon go through is real, it is honest. And Susan Sarandon's part as Grandma Lynn was spot-on. My sister viewed the character as a rude character. Which she is, but she is handling the loss in her own way. And Stanley Tucci, who plays George Harvey (the pederast), does a superb job at making you despise Harvey, and making him so disgusting and creepy. What you see in the film is actually what happens in real life. You are seeing pederasty in its true and awful form.
Now, be warned, this is not a film for everyone. There are transitions that people will not be comfortable with, but everyone is different in what they like. It did take a while for me to become adjusted with it. But after that, I was fine.
So please, see it if you get the chance. Or if it is not worth spending the money to see it in theaters, rent it when it comes out on DVD. It is worth every second. Also, if you are aware of Peter Jackson making cameos in his movies, look for him. He is not that hard to spot.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
This is the most fun you're going to have watching a WWII movie!
"Inglourious Basterds" is a Quentin Tarantino-directed film about a group of Americans known as the Basterds who are dropped into France with a mission: to kill Nazis...to do to them what the Nazis did to everyone that they terrorized.
This was a really fun movie. You can tell instantly that it's a Tarantino film because of its rich dialog, the brutal violence, and the humor along the way. Brad Pitt was funny as Lt. Aldo Raine, and Christoph Waltz was absolutely brilliant as Col. Hans Landa, the Jew Hunter.
Now, is this Tarantino's masterpiece, as he stated it was? I don't think so, but it was close. What held it back was the length. I thought that some of it was a little too lengthened. But it didn't stop me from enjoying "Inglourious Basterds." I would absolutely see it again.
If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino, then I can guarantee that you're gonna enjoy this movie. Also, forget its historical inaccuracies. Just have fun with it!
An awesome T.V. movie!
"Duel" is a T.V. filmed based on the book by Richard Matheson of "I Am Legend" and "What Dreams May Come," about a business man who is on the run from a big oil truck, who apparently wants to murder him.
I had the pleasure of seeing this on Chiller T.V., and I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. It's incredibly suspenseful, and it showed us what Spielberg was about to become. Even he himself said that there is a "kinship between ["Jaws" and "Duel]." Also, the characters were, all thought not the best, were somewhat relatible. Spielberg did a nice job of fleshing out his characters during his early years before he made "Jaws."
Dennis Weaver was excellent as the business men running away from the evil truck. His performance really made you root for the business man rather than the truck, which is what thrillers like this sometimes do: make you root for the away team, which is the bad guy.
Please see this movie. It's a great way to see how Spielberg started, and where he was eventually going to go with movies like "Jaws," "Raiders," "Schindler's List," and "Ryan."
Van Helsing (2004)
A very underrated Stephen Sommers film
"Van Helsing" is about the famous vampire hunter in his earlier years. During this time, he is working for the Vatican, and he doesn't have any memories about his past life. His next mission, in this film, is to travel to Transylvania to kill the infamous vampire Dracula in order to prevent the Valerious family, who have been trying to vanquish Dracula for years, from slipping into purgatory. While in Transylvania, he also faces some other classic movie monsters: Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man.
I have to say, I liked it back when I first saw it in 2004, and I still like it to this day. It's a fun movie to watch, like the "Mummy" movies. Hugh Jackman is really good as Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale is good as Anna Valerious. But the person who steals the movie is Richard Roxburgh, who plays Dracula. He really gives an interesting edge to Dracula. He not only makes him romantic, but he also makes him like Dracula is in the Bram Stoker novel...in that his goal is to make more vampires.
Now, bear in mind, there are some things in this movie that could have been done better, such as the Van Helsing character himself. Sommers doesn't fully explain how Van Helsing forgets and remembers certain things from his past life. Also, you don't really care for the Van Helsing-Anna relationship that is in the movie. It's sort of one of those things that are like, "You know...you two don't make a very good couple, so don't even try." Other than that, it's still a good movie.
Not as bad as people are saying, but still the weakest of the trilogy
"The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor," takes place 13 years after "The Mummy Returns" where Rick and Evie O'Connell have retired, and their son is out of the house and digging up mummies. But once he digs up an old Chinese emperor that, as usual, has a curse upon him, he and his parents are in for trouble.
When I heard who was going to do this one and who was going to be in it, I was really skeptical. I thought this movie was going to be a total failure because it didn't have Stephen Sommers in the director's seat like he was with the first two, and it didn't have Rachel Weisz playing Evie like she did in the first two; it had Maria Bello instead. So, I was really skeptical about it, especially Maria Bello, as good as she is, and I thought she was really good in "Secret Window." Still, I wasn't sure.
But then, I saw it, and it exceeded my expectations. It really did. I thought Maria Bello did a really good job of filling in Rachel Weisz's shoes, even though I still prefer Rachel Weisz to Maria Bello.
Now, even though it did exceed my expectations, it still had some things that could've been done better. Some of the writing could've been better in some places, and the visual effects weren't that great. They were just cartoonish, and the sad thing is, ILM has done movies where the effects look realistic, so I wonder why they wouldn't do the same thing to this one.
Having said all of this, even though it exceeded my expectations, I consider this one the weakest in the trilogy. But I'll still watch it whenever I get the chance.