6. The Boondock Saints (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 28%)
Whether loved or hated, The Boondock Saints is an unapologetic and intriguingly crass work of entertainment. The story takes place in the crime-filled streets of Boston. Two Irish Catholic brothers Conner (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) feel summoned by their faith to purify their hometown of evil with their own version of vigilante justice. As they kill a multitude of notorious baddies, they become heroes in their community. However, Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), an oddball FBI agent, is not amused by the brothers’ actions and begins closing in on their trail.
Between novice director, Troy Duffy, a film rights conflict, and a limited release, The Boondock Saints is better than it has any right to be. Duffy uses a notable non-linear filmmaking approach to enhance the story rather than simply show off a purposeless style. Duffy also extends scenes of dialogue mixed with cool tracking shots and gratuitous violence. Now, it is apparent that this directing vision is not executed as well as when Tarantino does it, but the effort is commendable none the less.
Lastly, this is a movie that gets by with a lot thanks to the likable characters. The MacManus Brothers are both stereotypical and unique bad boys. They sport tattoos and smoke cigarettes like a boss, but they also never forget to say their prayers. The movie also gives a gift to audiences in the form of FBI Agent Paul Smecker. The character is every descriptive word wrapped up in one person. He is insane, memorable, niche, tough, cool, emotional, and so much more.
The Boondock Saints is a hyper-violent and guns-wielding opera destined for long-term cult status.
7. Hollow Man (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 27%)
Hollow Man is a film that deserves to be seen in a more favorable light. The film centers around leading scientist, Dr. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), and his team as he volunteers to be the test subject for their experiment on human invisibility. The experiment is a success and Sebastian becomes unseen. Unfortunately, making Sebastian visible again proves harder than expected and he slowly unravels with horrific consequences.
Hollow Man is essentially Paul Verhoeven asking, “What if the invisible man went berserk?” The verdict turns out to be a two-part answer. He becomes a slasher villain, and the idea of a crazed invisible man makes for a wildly enjoyable and sometimes ambitious movie. Through the character of Sebastian, performed excellently by Bacon, insightful thoughts are expressed through shallow actions. The construct of a god complex, the dangers of science, the disturbing nature of voyeurism, and the depravity of the male gaze are all shown in an antagonist that by the climax of the film picks off his opposers one by one like a Jason Voorhees.
While there is a little bit of a let down to the path Hollow Man takes, credit must be given for its effort and willingness to try something new. It is unique to see the combination of a retrospective sci-fi film with both sleazy thriller aspects and a subgenre of horror that was always meant to be unreflective.
Verhoeven takes risks with Hollow Man, and even if they do not always pay off, it is still an admirable film worthy of a positive review.
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 41%)
One, two Freddy is coming for you… again! In this sequel to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) moves with his family into the house of Nancy Thompson, the survivor of the first film that escaped death by the dream-stalking monster Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). At the new home, Jesse is stricken by nightmares and inexplicably violent urges. The source of these problems is due to the return of Freddy, and he has a sinister plan for Jesse. Freddy intents on using Jesse’s body has a host to enter the real world permanently and carry out his deadly revenge against the youth of Springwood, Ohio. As Freddy gains more and more control, Jesse and his girlfriend, Lisa (Kim Myers), must stop Freddy’s takeover before Jesse is lost forever.
It cannot be stated enough that a sequel should not be a shot-for-shot copy or rehash of something viewers have already seen. Fortunately for moviegoers, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge knows this. The film presents evolved motivations for a horror icon. In addition to his newly found goals, Freddy also remains scary. The film does not turn Freddy into a cartoonish buffoon with a potty mouth and bad puns (Anyone remember the atrocity that was the power glove?).
Lastly, credit must be given to Patton as Jesse. His blood-curdling scream, fear, and decent into madness, appear so intensely real that spectators become invested in the character and begin to think the director and producers convinced this poor actor that there really is a dream-based killer determined to possess him.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a chapter in the Freddy Krueger saga not to skip over.
9. See No Evil, Hear No Evil (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 28%)
See No Evil, Hear No Evil may never go down as a classic, but this film is not without a few terrific laughs. In the movie, Wally (Richard Pryor) is a blind man looking for employment, and Dave (Gene Wilder) is a deaf man who runs a newsstand. Dave decides to hire Wally but soon trouble finds both men as a murder occurs at their newsstand. While Dave and Wally discover who the killer is with their senses, the lead detective (Alan North) believes they are the main suspects in this case. To make matters worse, the real killer (Joan Severance) returns to cover her tracks which puts Wally and Dave’s lives in danger.
What makes this movie work so well is the chemistry between Pryor and Wilder. The two actors make their characters endearing, and they also make audiences want to root for them. As they naturally do when paired together, both actors show off their comedy prowess and make spectators giggle every chance they get. Even when gags should not land, they find a way to make them funny. Lastly, the actors know audiences need to feel a sense of emotional connection in order for the characters to be developed, loved, and comedic. As a result of this understanding, the two actors take time to strike a balance as heartwarming conversations are fit between scenes of zaniness.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil is a hilarious situational comedy that highlights the talent of two legendary performers.
10. Armageddon (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 38%)
Armageddon is a movie with strong entertainment value. In the film, an asteroid threatens to collide with Earth. NASA scientist Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) decides the way to stop the asteroid is to drill into its surface and plant a nuclear bomb to destroy it. This leads him to contact driller Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), who agrees to take on the space mission. Among Stamper’s selected crew tasked to help, is A.J. (Ben Affleck) who is in a relationship with Harry’s daughter (Liv Tyler).
The most enjoyable aspect of this movie is the acting. The absurd plot becomes grounded thanks to the actors’ commit to their roles. Liv Tyler shines as a sweet woman with a backbone and her chemistry with Ben Affleck is very believable and lovely to witness. Even the supporting characters are all played by great actors with everyone delivering line after memorable line. Owen Wilson as “space cowboy” Oscar, Steve Buscemi as wild-boy genius Rockhound, and Peter Stormare as Lev, a nutty Russian astronaut, are all wonderful to watch.
Along with the acting, a review of Armageddon cannot be complete without talking about the behind-the-scenes achievements. Intuitively, this summer blockbuster is full of explosions and massive destruction that are impressive to see and will amuse any disaster movie fan. From an oil rig blowing up to other large-scale obliteration, the effects are put to amazing use.
Armageddon is an enjoyable movie whose errors are made up for with a larger-than-life cast and special effects budget.