The Top 20 Movies You Hate To Admit You Love: No's 15-11
15. Transformers: The Movie
What Is It?The true culmination of America's obsession with watching giant robots that turn into cars fighting other robots that turn into jets. The gloriously cheesy, original (non -- Michael Bay directed), Transformers movie. This movie is pure unadulterated 80's cheese, from the soundtrack -- provided by obscure eighties cock -- rockers Lion, as well as kind of hard rockers Kick Axe to the frothing at the mouth villains and heroic to a fault good guys.
Starring all the original voice talent from the regular cartoon, including Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Chris Latta (as Starscream), and Frank Welker (as Megatron) -- Transformers: The Movie picks up right where the cartoon left off, with Megatron (who else?), plotting how to get the Autobot's "Matrix Of Power".
Now in the cartoon, Megatron and his merry band of sociopaths and idiots tried so, so many ridiculous plots to get the damn thing its amazing they didn't just give up after about the fiftieth time the Autobots managed to beat them without landing a shot. So, much to my (and I'm sure everyone else's surprise), Megatron just kinda says "fuck it" and stages an all-out attack on Autobot city. Its clear to see here that the people behind this movie wanted to make this a really stand-out scene; nearly all the Autobots and Decepticons are here -- everyone from the Dinobots, to the Insecticons, to the Constructicons are here kicking ass and taking names. Its really a sight to see. Remember, this is before the age of CG integration into animated movies, meaning that everything here was actually animated by hand.
And in one of the ballsiest moves I've ever seen in a PG rated kids movie, good guys are actually killed on-screen. Now on the normal cartoon your average character would have to do nothing short of strapping some kind of nuclear device to their head in order to achieve death. Here we have Megatron non-chalantly blasting the shit out of eight or nine guys at a time.
The Transformers Movie is perhaps best remembered (often for the worst) as the vehicle used to remove Optimus Prime from the Autobot leadership position. In death (at the hands of Megatron), and in a surprisingly touching moment Prime turns over the Matrix Of Leadership to none-other than Hot-Rod.
Yeah, Hot-Rod. You don't make fun of a guy on his birthday, and you don't argue with a dieing man. But for shit's sake Hot-Rod?!!
At the same time, and in a complete reversal of the Autobots death-bed annointing Starscream usurps the position of Decepticon leader by throwing an injured Megatron out of the cargo-bay door of their ship. This is where the plot really gets interesting, as Megatron is revived by the planetoid-robot monster Unicron. Despite facing a behemoth Megatron still feels superior -- and says so, only to get punked right the fuck out. Unicron threatens to kill Megatron (lots of 'trons here) unless Megatron agrees to help Unicron destroy the Autobot's Matrix Of Power. So, re-energized with a new look, a new name (Galvatron) and a new voice actor (Spock himself, the living legend, Leonard Nemoy) its no mystery as to what happens next -- Galvatron takes what few troops he has left and stages an all out assault on the remaining Autobots.
The plot follows a relatively simple trajectory from there. There's a few small skirmishes -- as the remaining Autobot survivors flee from the Decepticon army and Unicron devours one of Cybertron's moons, Galactus style.
There's even a song and dance number.....
Eventually, in yet another awesome battle scene the remaining Autbots and Decepticons battle each other as well as Unicron -- this is the same incredible animation as before, only this time there's also a giant robot the twice the size of a planet involved. In the final climactic scene Galvatron and Hot-Rod, who uses the Matrix Of Power to become the less hyphenated Rodimus Prime (so many dick jokes....) finish their fight inside the skull of the fully transformed Unicron. Eventually, Galvatron is destroyed as is Unicron (literally from the inside out) and peace is restored to Cybertron.
...... at least until the third season.
I Should Feel Guilty, Why? In many ways the quality of this film is utterly remarkable. Its not Citizen Kane, but compared to most of its contemporaries (G.I. Joe: The Movie, Dolph Lundgren in He-Man -- I'm looking at you), its a classic. Make no mistake about it though, this film is a total "toy-jam". In geek parlance a "toy-jam" is a point in an on going series where the people behind it feel the need to move out their older stock of toys, feeling that they've essentially made their maximum profits off of them -- and begin to reinvigorate a line with a large wave of new toys. Basically, Transformers: The Movie is a ninety minute toy commerical.
(But damn was it good commerical..........)
And I think I've heard enough Lion and Kick Axe (ugh..), to last me the rest of my life.
14. D.O.A: Dead or Alive
What Is It? Potentially the worst and yet somehow best movie adapted from a video game ever. DOA is vapid, stupid, trashy entertainment. And that's what makes it great.
The plot of DOA, if you want to call it that, revolves around some kind of evil super villian dude setting up a tournament on an island in order to steal the power and abilites of the "world's greatest martial artists". Somehow this involves a competition featuring only hot chicks and really athletic and good looking men (oh, and Kevin Nash). Its like the cast of a Calvin Klein ad somehow wound up on the island from the Mortal Kombat movie. Its really all quite dumb, and really best ignored.
Our main girls (the five featured in the poster above) are this crazy dude's main targets. So he sets them up in fights against tough competition to find out which one's really the best. One other thing of note, the Asian chick, Kasumi is on the lamb from her native country of Japan, so she has a hot assassin after her. I don't really know why....
Also the blond chick who isn't Jaime Pressly is also in cahoots with someone to rob the island's owner of a fortune in gold and jewels. With that established (and really, the robbery sub-plot is forgotten about five minutes after its brought up.)
About the plot, all that's left to be said is in the end, when its all said and done the main bad guy winds up getting blown up in an explosion he started after having his ass beat by our five main girls. A fitting end..... whatever..
But really, I know what we're all here for; to see hot chicks fight each other in skin-tight catsuits and teeny-weeny-itsy-bitsy bikinis. And this flick doesn't disappoint.
All other deficiencies aside, the action scenes and one-on-one battles are the best thing this movie has going for it. And it knows it. We get quick hard-hitting one-on-one affairs. We get some longer one-on-one fights. The true highlight would have to Kasumi (the Asian broad) fighting a big dude named Bayman. These two smash through walls as they're kicking each other's ass, and in a clever moment smash through a wall right into an inground pool where two other fighters are trying to share a "moment". Its nothing we haven't all seen before, but its still done well enough to entertain.
There's also a very impressive "one chick versus about a hundred dudes" fight that takes place on a very tall flight of stairs as she's surrounded on either side. Again, nothing new to the genre -- but its executed well enough that its still entertaining to watch.
The fight choreography in every fight just feels right for this type of flick. There's never any real attempt at realism. One chick the size of a seventeen year old high school Senior can take on two-hundred armed assailants? Probably not. But it doesn't matter here. These women are our heroes. They're here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And not one of them actually brought any bubblegum.
When it comes right down to it, this is a movie for dudes that want to see hot chicks kick ass. There's not a lot of plot to think about, there's enough PG-13 nuditiy to give a twelve-year old arthritis (Jaime Pressly is introduced in a bikini that appears to be meant for a twelve-year old girl and one of the other girls performs an action scene in nothing but a towel after taking a shower). There's even a few hints of lesbianism thrown in for good measure.
Hell, there's even a scene with the girls playing volleyball and bouncing in slow mo --
- tion. In all its trashy, good, fun.
(You might hera a toilet flushing, but I was not doing what you might think....)
I Should Feel Guilty, Why?Because, by all rights and claims DOA: Dead Or Alive is a piece of shit. Its Baywatch with more karate. You know why you're watching it. Just don't let anyone catch you.
13. Bride of Chucky
What It Is. The much needed reboot of the failing Child's Play franchise that would bring Chucky out of the shadows and give him a wife, and eventually, a little Hell-spawn to call his own.
Starring Brad Dourif, (still voicing Chucky) Bride Of Chucky opens with an old flame of the Chuckster's retrieving his scattered body parts from a police depot before killing the police officer that helped her. This mysterious woman (soon revealed to be the helium voiced Jennifer Tilly) plans to resurrect her boyfriend. Why? I don't know what use a doll's going to be. Chucky was never "anatomically correct", anyway.
After a rocking intro song provided by "where are they now" shock-rocker Rob Zombie in the form of "Living Dead Girl", Tiffany heads back home. Armed with a "Voodoo For Dummies" manual and a top that barely contains her two massive milk jugs, she goes about the act. Though she doesn't pull an Ash, the magical incantation doesn't seem to have its desired affect. Despite a funky lighting show outside, Chucky is still as inanimate as ever. I wonder if she can return the book?
Predictably, Chucky does turn out to be alive (*Sarcasm*Gasp! I know -- I couldn't believe it either!*End Sarcasm*) and, in a rather amusing scene, kills none other than Alexis Arquette, playing Tiffany's would-be beau Damien Baylock. Talk about a bad omen for things to come. But that must have been a hell of a relief for the crew. With Alexis gone they don't have to stock a men and women's dressing room, anymore.
After Chucky tells Tiff off, by asking her nothing less than, "are you fucking crazy?" for thinking a stolen diamond ring was meant to be a token of engagment he winds up getting locked in a baby pen.
In a scene that was probably meant to evoke true horror in its explicit beauty Chucky escapes his prison (hacking his way out with the very same ring Tiffany threw at him earlier) and makes with the killin' on Tiffany. He does this as she's watching the Bride Of Frankenstein in the tub. Yes, this movie has the balls to compare itself to a veritable classic (and not very subtlely I might add). Yes, she has a TV perched on small shelf only a scant few feet from her completely full bathtub. Yes, we're probably supposed to sympathize with her death.
Anyway, Chucky electrocutes her. There's a lot of bubbles. Whatever, if you ask me, she had it coming.
Eventually Chucky decides he needs some help so he resurrects her as a doll. Right.... And that makes sense, why? Wouldn't she be more help as a normally functioning (and seemingly intelligent) human?
Eventually, after a bit of bickering the doll duo decide to head out in search of the "Heart Of Dembollah", an ancient artifact that will allow both Tiffany and Chucky to return to their natural bodies. Again I ask: what was the point of killing her in the first place, then? That's like having safe sex with a girl up until the "grand finale" wheras you rip off your silencer and just let her have it. What's the damn point?
Regardless, Tiffany doesn't seem to mind. Despite being brutally murdered by the re-animated doll that was once her boyfriend before awakening as a doll herself, Tiff actually takes to the whole thing pretty well. She even gives herself a pretty swank makeover to the tune of Blondie's "Call Me" before they take off.
"The early "Like A Virgin" Madonna doll prototypes had a few small flaws."
But, in order to do this they have to travel to Hackensack, New Jersey. More specifically a graveyard in Hackensack. Gee Chuck, 'ya think maybe you shouldn't have killed her? Then maybe you would've had your own ride. Dumbass....
As for the graveyard thing; I don't know who's buried there, but Child's Play clearly showed Charles Lee Ray's body getting pretty much vaporised before he did the whole soul transference thing. Whatever.... We've got a lot left to cover.
From here the flick essentially turns into a road movie as Tiffany tricks her neighbor, the good natured (and pretty daft,) Jesse (Nick Stabile) into transporting them to the proper place. Jesse's got his own little problems going on, however. He's dating the daughter of the Police Chief, Jade (played by Katherine Heigl). But of course daddy doesn't approve. So, on the lam from an asshole police chief the two teens run away to get married and elope. Great plan, except for the two killer dolls sitting in your backseat.
As they're pursued by Chief Kincaid's lapdog, a needle nosed prick named, well, "Needle Nose" the doll duo do their best to keep the teens safe. Even if that means killing Needle Nose by blowing up an entire gas station to do it..... Which is exactly what they do. Now that Jesse and Jade are suspected for blowing up an entire fucking gas station they decide to high tail it out of town. Smart move. There's a sub-plot that grows out of this, as each teen starts to suspect the other. But its never really fleshed out.
The movie moves at a relatively simple trajectory from here. There's one truly stand-out scene however, involving Police Chief Kincaid, who's played by the late, great John Ritter, a Rube Goldberg-esque trap, and some nails. Bride Of Chucky was, sadly, John Ritter's last major film role. At least he got to go out on top.
"Sorry Jack, three's a crowd."
On their way to Hackensack our heroes stop off in the romantic capital of the world -- yep, you guessed it -- Niagara Falls, to get hitched. Despite sleeping in the world's cheesiest hooneymoon suite (complete with a vibrating heart shaped bed) Jesse and Jade fail to consumate their marriage. But Chucky and Tiffany do.
Yes, this movie's greatest scene involves two dolls doin' it. This is after a "kneel down and ask for your hand in marriage" deal from Chucky. 2
"Man, these Lifetime movies are just weird."
In the end, of course, our heros win out. The big reveal scene is great though, with Chucky talking about how his origin would take "three or four movies to explain properly". Following that we get our big final showdown, that eventually sees Tiffany and Chucky dueling with shovels following an argument the two have over Swedish meatballs and doing the dishes.... (don't ask, really).
So, with evil deafeated for now, its time for our intrepid heros to head home.
Of course just as this happens Tiffany's doll womb busts open and a bloody doll baby comes sprawling out of it. Eww.... that's messy.
I Should Feel Guilty, Why? If you can't figure it out yourself then I weep for you. But really, I shoudn't have to say much more than "doll sex", should I? The idea of Chucky getting hitched is pretty much a "shark jump" for the whole franchise. Seriously, how do you make Chucky scary again after this? And I for one felt a little guilty leering at Jenn Tilly's overflowing cleavage -- because, honestly, she's probably old enough to be my mother. Then there's the "twelve year olds love this shit" metal music soundtrack including Slayer, Rob Zombie, White Zombie, and nu-metal icons Papa Roach. There's a lot of stuff to feel guilty about here. This movie's entertaining, and I like it. But that damn sure doesn't mean it's good.
What Is It? The movie that inspired a generation to throw up their hands and sing. The movie that gave John Travolta his start in the industry. The movie that gave Olivia Newton John her fifteen minutes of fame. The movie that inspired Quentin Tarantino to make John Travolta dance in Pulp Fiction.
The word is, and forever will be, Grease.
Taking place in a Happy Day's style 1950's, with the pre-requisite soda stands and beautiful suburban homes (that a nine- to- five factory worker couldn't even begin to afford today)-- in a world without war, drugs, or STD's Grease is perhaps most predictably a love story.
John Travolta plays Danny Zuko -- a rough and tough "greaser". The punk-rockers of their time greasers are all about girls, smoking, drinking, and fighting rivals who try to invade their "turf". Danny is the alpha-male of the group, a leader in every sense of the word, Zuko demands respect from everyone; other students, his own greaser pals, and even teachers -- and he gets it.
But things grow rather complicated when, at the beginning of the new school year an old-flame of Danny's shows up. An import from Australia, Olivia Newton John plays little Sandy Olsson. She's a goody- two shoes in every sense of the word.
From the outset Sandy begins to run with the "Pink Ladies", basically a bunch of loose sluts who smoke and choke. Although she tries her best to fit in, Sandy just isn't cut out for hanging with the group. She's too nice and too "good". Newton John plays Sandy with an almost painful level of cheeriness. She's the kind of person who only exists in movies; behaved to a fault and seemingly never in a bad mood. Its a credit to Newton John's acting ability that Sandy never gets too annoying. But its does get close at times.
There's also an interesting twist that's wasted here; in the original Broadway version of Grease Sandy is an all-American girl. But do to Newton John's real-life heritage the character was changed to being Australian. This isn't used to its fullest potential (really, its essentially ignored) as its given only a few lines of dialogue, mostly to explain away the accent. There could've been another layer of depth -- in that "fish out of water" kind of way. But all of that is simply lost in potential and not actualized upon.
If this sounds like any other movie about teenage romance, you'd be right -- except for the singing. I know its not uncommon knowledge that Grease is a musical -- but its the one thing that makes it stand out. Now I'm no musical aficionado, but I still hold Grease in high regard musically. The plot, with Sandy and Danny going through their trials and tribulations do to their wildly differing lifestyles, and eventually making up just in time for prom, is pretty predictable.
There's also a sub-plot about Danny's gang and their run-ins with a rival gang of greasers that's resolved with a West Side Story-esque dance off.
In a way however, the plot doesn't need to be overly-complicated. This is one movie where its okay for everyone to be a caricature. You're watching Grease for the singing and dancing -- not neccesarily for the acting. Only Danny and Sandy really matter in the end, and Travolta and Newton John rarely hit a false note within the confines of their characters.
To that end, the choreography is excellent. There's singing and dancing in most every scene, excluding a few small character building scenes -- with the stand-out performance being John Travolta's first (but not last,) big on-screen dance to the tune of "Greased Lightnin'", wherein he dances on the hood of a 1950's Roadster -- the titular "Greased Lightning".
A lot of people feel Grease is one of the most influential movies ever made. Frankly, I'm not so sure. Grease is too effervescent, light-hearted, and ultimately candy-coated to be anything truly important.
I Should Feel Guilty, Why? Grease by any other name would be just another generic "coming of age" story. But when anyone says the word Grease it immediately conjures images of John Travolta shaking his ass on the roof of a muscle car. Nobody wants to admit they like a musical -- least of all one where Vince Vega spends ten minutes gyrating into the camera.
Grease is probably the best movie I'm going to write about on this list, but at its most base level you should probably feel a little weird for liking it
11. Independence Day
What Is It? The brainchild of filmmaking team Ronnald Emerich and Dean Devlin, the biggest budgeted action movie of the summer of 1996, and perhaps the biggest disapointment. It's the movie that gave Will Smith his start in doing big-budget action movies (thanks a lot....).
It is the day they will let our people go. This is our Independence Day.
Starring an all-star cast, that includes Will Smith (fresh of his adventures in Bel Air), Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Adam Baldwin, and Judd Hirsch (fresh off his adventures in saving the world as Dracula) Independence Day tells the very simple tale of an alien invasion of Earth.
Jeff Goldblum (as David Levinson) is a research scientist, searching radar echo signals for any sign of alien life. To note, he's not seen anything for all his time there. Suddenly, on one fateful night a strange alien signal is intercepted -- one that can't be explained through any traditional channels.
Proving Tommy Lee Jones' Men In Black character Kay's old adage of "a person is smart, people are stupid, panicky, and easily frightened" correct, the Earth's general populous begins to panic at the very notion of an "alien invasion". There's rioting in the streets days before any alien even pops up.
Eventually, the aliens do assualt the Earth. And from there the plot moves at a somewhat predictable trajectory. Will Smith (as Captain Steve Hiller) takes to the skies, and in a rip-roaring action scene, shoots down one of the alien craft. In a "shocking" moment (well shocking if it wasn't shown in every trailer since January of 1996), the alien's ship opens. Smith simply punches it out and snarks at it "welcome to earf!"
Of course, Independence Day was always set forward as a special effects extravaganza first and foremost. And to that end, there are several evocative and effects- heavy scenes including the full on destruction of the White House. There's one particularly distrubing scene involving a bunch of "alien zealots", who die on the roof of the Chrysler Building while holding up signs reading "take us with you" and "welcome home".
Throughout the destruction, as the military (as they often do) fail to hold back the threat, several civillians take up the fight themselves. Vivica A. Fox plays Captain Hiller's estranged wife who, taking her two young sons across the country, wants nothing more to find their father. There's also the pre-requisite family of rednecks traveling in a beat-up old RV. If any of this sounds predictable or unoriginal to you, just know that you're not the only one.
To combat the alien menace The President (played by Bill Pullman) decides to pull the man who broke the alien code, Levinson, closer to his chest. This leads to the movie's most memorable moments. Not because of Pullman or Goldblum. You see, somewhere along the way Levinson finds his dad Julius Levinson, and rescues him from his New York City apartment before the initial alien attack.
Why is this important? I've got two words to answer that; Judd Hirsch. Hirsch is Independence Day's one small pleasure. Hirsch plays an incredibly Jewish character and absolutely revels in the ability to solicit laughs. Aside from Will Smith, Hirsch is our main outlet for humor.
After much discussion (actually, a lot of stuff happens, but for the purpose of me not going insane lets just shorten it by saying "much discussion") the President and his crew decide to head to Area 51. In a rather amusing scene the President asks why he's never been told about "this place". His counsel responds succinctly; "two words sir; plausible deniability".
After a bunch of sciency-type stuff goes down, including Brent Spiner (of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame) making everything he can out of a cameo as a scientist who, admittedly "doesn't get out much", Levinson is able to reverse engineer one of the alien craft. There's also the pre-reqisite "alien autopsy" scene on a "not quite dead" alien critter that results in a few casualties.
Coincidentally enough this is just around the time when the Fresh Prince shows up with a not quite so fresh alien, as well as a brigade of civillians trailing him. With the few survivors left, Levinson and Hiller stage one last assault on the alien mothership.
Predictably enough, they, along with their rag-tag crew, topple the evil alien menace by uploading a computer virus into the mothership's mainframe. (Man, you'd think aliens would have better spyware protection, huh?)
In the end President Pullman (anybody's better than Bush, I guess) gives quite the "moving" speech to the rabble of survivors left. If this was meant to be "inspirational" it really misses the mark. Rumor has it that Pullman's speech was added at the last minute to settle a long-forgotten lawsuit related to the name "Independence Day". So if it feels tacked on, there's a good reason for it. Because it is. Predictably enough, everyone is reunited with their significant others and everyone goes home happy.
I Should Feel Guilty, Why? Because, in all fairness, the minds behind Independence Day crafted a hell of a roller coaster ride. Their movie was packed to the gills (man, I hate that expression) with action. You can't go five minutes without something getting blown up. With a sixty-nine million dollar budget, Emmerich and Devlin set out to blow a lot of shit up, have a lot of awesome aerial dogfights, and show off some then-unseen state of the art CGI work. In deference to both men, they did just that.
But neither man remembered to create characters to populate their story. Everyone, from the "tough as nails mother", to the "All-American good-guy", to the "by the books leader" is represented without a hint of innovation.
Independence Day is the ultimate candy-coated treat -- and its a truly well crafted and entertaining movie. But ultimately, all of its sound and fury signifies nothing. In the end its nothing more than a hollow experience.