Filed under Hobbies

Ted’s Favorite Movies from 2001

This is the complete list of movies that I enjoy more or less.  Some of these movies are well known while some of the others are the lesser known cult classics.  This list is composed of the movies that I feel are worth writing about.

James Cameron’s Films

Hands down James Cameron is my favorite film writer-director to this day. All of his movies are loaded with amazing visual detail, along with a really good story. His directing style is some of the best in the industry. This style gave a lot of the shots in Titanic a really grand scale without resorting to excessive CGI work. The technical feats that he creates and uses in The Abyss and Titanic are truly amazing. To this day I don’t think any movie has ever had as many levels of detail as those two. Beyond that, he is one of the few people that can make a sequel just as good, if not better, than the original. Terminator 2 and Aliens were terrific sequels to already really good movies, and yet he is able to write them with some thought to the previous movies. Though, now that I think of it, his sequels tend to “borrow” a lot from the original… maybe a little too much. One thing he is really notorious for is Director’s Cuts! Almost all of his movies have 15-30 min. hacked out of their theatrical releases. Even Titanic is rumored to have a pretty hefty cut, which will hopefully wind up on video someday. Unfortunately, movies that he only writes, and not directs, tend to not be nearly as good as the ones that he puts the full load of effort into. However, when he does put a lot of effort into it, he can churn out some really good movies. I highly recommend getting his movies on DVD, especially his sci-fi films, since they’ve gotten the best treatment thus far from their respective studios.  

Star Wars

Pretty much everyone has seen these movies by now in one form or another. They are one of the few series of movies that have kept a continuous story and characters over four plus movies. Like with Cameron, having Lucas write all six movies (originally nine movies) keeps a strict consistency that sequels rarely have. Each movie adds a bit to the ongoing story that he came up with 20 some years ago. His movies also have an enormous range of imagination, which too is hard to find today. He is also capable of creating some really interesting and likable characters. Unfortunately, he doesn’t heed the fans’ wishes at the level that I would like to see. The fact that it took 15 years for him to get around to making Episode 1 was ridiculous (its Jar Jar’s fault that he waited so long.) The other issue has to do with his movies not being put on DVD. Every Star Wars fan out there bought their DVD players specifically for those movies, and for Lucas to be holding off on their production with a lot of lame excuses is just plain stupid. Well it looks like Episode 1 is finally coming to DVD; that’s not quite what the diehards were looking for, but it’s a start. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until Episode 3 comes to video before Lucas releases the original trilogy, and that should be around 2006. Oh well, at least it’ll make a nice box set.  

Star Trek

Star Trek movies have been around almost as long as the Star Wars movies, and in that time there have been more Star Trek movies made than Star Wars movies, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. This series of movies have seen some serious high points and a lot of low points in the past 20 years. The scary part of this series of movies is that of the nine movies made the even numbered sequels are truly better than the odd numbered, sort of. Each of the nine movies are good in their own way, some more than others. My problem with the movies is that there is no real consistency to them other than the characters and the ship. The other problem is that all of the movies tend to feel low-budget compared to movies like Star Wars. Since each of the movies have been written by a different person (or persons), they tend to go in their own direction which leads to big disappointments. Star Trek: Generations was one of those movies that could and should have been a lot cooler, but instead we got the stupid Nexus and a lot of plot holes to go with it. If Paramount continues to make Trek movies, they really need to consider hiring completely new writers and even a new director for it. Oh well, on the plus side they seem to go through and give all the Trek movies the ‘Gold’ treatment on DVD, which is always cool in my opinion.  

Indiana Jones

Not much can be said about these movies though, they are some of the coolest movies out there. They have a fantastic combination of humor, adventure, and historic elements that all blend well together. The Young Indiana Jones mini-series, from what I saw of it, is really well done. They fit with the movies almost perfectly, and they add more depth to Indy. And best of all it sounds like they’re gearing up for a fourth entry in this saga (I kinda wish there were more Indy movies to begin with.) Unfortunately, as with Star Wars, Lucas seems to be content on not putting these movies on DVD anytime soon, so instead we get another release of it on video tape… get off your ass Lucas/Paramount/whoever, and put these damn movies on DVD, what are you waiting for? HD-DVD? Oh well, on a happier note, the Indiana Jones Ride at Disneyland/world is really awesome.

Alien

This has to be the most interesting series of movies around. All four movies are written and directed by a wide range of people, and of the four the first two are the most widely appreciated. The first movie is a classic horror film; a person/creature goes around killing all the characters one at a time. The second movie was actually more of a running gun battle than a horror flic, which added another dimension to the original film. It’s also the most widely liked of the four films, because of the good blend of action and suspense, and not to mention the characters. The third movie was the most disappointing of the four. With the success of the first two, the third one had some pretty high expectations with the fans. The main problem with this movie was that none of the characters were widely liked by the audience, except for Ripley and a couple others. Also, this was the movie where they kill off the only character that ties the ‘Alien’ films together. The fourth movie was an okay shot bringing the franchise back. This one was kind of an odd ball because it was written more like a television pilot than an actual ‘Alien’ film. Though most of the characters in this movie were kind of interesting, except for Ripley unfortunately, the whole movie just lacked a real good story. 

Evil Dead

This trilogy has one of the largest cult followings in the industry (next to Star Wars, of course.) Deep down these are all supposed to be horror movies, but they end up being real slap-stick comedies, even though the movies try to be serious. The first movie is actually more horror than comedy, but the following two are just the opposite. These movies contain some of the greatest one-liners in history (next to Holy Grail, of course.) Sure the movies are low budget and the acting isn’t so hot, but hey, they’re funny as hell. I just wish they would make more sequels, or better yet… a TV show. Eh, for what it’s worth… Go Bruce Go!  

Terminator

This is a really powerful movie saga, even though it’s billed as a sci-fi/action movie. The first movie is essentially a horror movie, while the second one is more of an action flick. Personally, I liked the second one more than the first. The funny part is that T2 is essentially a rip-off of the first one. I mean, if you look at it, a lot of what you see in it came from the first movie; like some of the chase sequences: the bad guy terminator winds up in a semi in both flicks for example. There were a couple of others but I can’t remember them right now. Unfortunately, Cameron ended T2 in such a way that any future sequels will be hard to explain. All I can say is that I just hope the upcoming Terminator 3 doesn’t suck, and I’m afraid it might. Anyway, be sure to pick these two up on DVD… they’re worth every penny.  

Highlander

Now this has to be one of the most screwed up series of movies to this day. To start off, the first movie was really cool and it drew a pretty big cult following. And then came the first sequel. Highlander 2 is a prime example of what happens when you don’t let the original writers do the sequel. You get a movie that completely destroys the entire premises of the original. I think it has been classified as one of the worst sequels of all time and an example of what not to do. The third movie completely ignores the second movie, which is a good thing. It was also a slightly better movie than the second one as well, but it’s still not that great. The fourth movie ignores both the second and third movies, and instead follows the story that the TV show (which is a spin-off of the first movie) has built on the side. The fourth movie is a huge improvement over the middle two films; it actually skips the middle two as well, so it’s basically a sequel to the first movie. On the upside, it’s got great sword fight sequences and a decent plot (compared to the last two). However, this movie’s editing is extremely choppy and somewhat incoherent. Also the movie was rushed out the door, so it wasn’t as refined as it should be. The Highlander movies are a really good example of how not to make a movie franchise. ‘Messy’ is a good word to use when describing it.  

Lord of the Rings

Wow, this movie was impressive. I’m pretty certain that it lived up to all the hype. I think this movie even stands as one of the best Sword & Sorcery flicks to date. This movie far surpasses that crappy Dungeons & Dragons movie. But personally I never read the books, my loss I guess, maybe I’ll do it one of these days. But anyway, I’m looking forward to the sequels to this movie. I mean, it’s so cool that they filmed all three at once. That’s what Lucas had originally in mind for the Star Wars prequels, but he gave into merchandising. Hopefully, the DVD will be loaded with goodies, and I’m hoping that rumor is true about that hour and a half director’s cut to this film. Lord of the Rings special edition here we come!  

The Matrix

This movie was a sweet surprise; I wasn’t expecting it to be so cool. It ended up being an awesome movie with a huge cult following (it’s on par with Star Wars at the moment.) Every red blooded American that owns a DVD player has this movie from what I have seen. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequels to this film, almost as much as the Star Wars prequels; maybe a little more. Though I’m not sure how the sequels will work since Neo is technically a god while in the matrix. They would need to make the adversaries really tough for him, which means his character would do all the fighting.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This is the all time geekiest movie ever made. Every minute of this movie is hilarious. Every year that I went to Gen Con (in Milwaukee, WI), there would always be a group of people reenacting parts to this movie. No movie before or since has had more really good one-liners in it. My friends and I would quote this movie to death. “We are the knights who say… Ni!” I would actually like to see this movie with a bigger budget, just to see what the original vision was, since most of the gags were created based upon a it’s low budget (coconuts instead of horses.)  

Back to the Future

These movies always made me smile. They made time travel look really fun. The major cable channels run these movies pretty incessantly, and I catch them from time-to-time. I’d love to have a car like that, that is, if it can travel through time. It’s a shame that this series had to stop with three. Oh well, at least the ride at Universal Studios is a blast., and I suppose it could make up for the lack of sequels. 

Conan The Barbarian

This movie is probably the best and the coolest of the ‘sword & sorcery’ genre of movies. This is the closest thing to a Dungeons & Dragons movie out there. Well, other than the actual disappointing D&D movie. It’s too bad that the sequel wasn’t at the same level as the original. That was one really ‘campy’ film. Oh well, at least it was better than the TV show. I really wish that this saga would continue with the same tone as the original. Too bad Arnold is too old for the role.

Batman

Personally, I preferred the Tim Burton versions of these movies, even his rendition of the Batmobile. The first two were by far the best of the four. I mean, Forever wasn’t bad, but I think it would have been better with Burton at the helm. The fourth movie was the least liked by everyone, it was just too much like the 60’s TV show (a bad thing.) Though, the one thing that amazes me most about these movies is the star power (Arnold, Nickleson, Kidman, etc.) I find it amazing that they managed to get this crowd to star in such an “odd” movie series. On the bright side, the Batman animated series (made in 1992) isn’t half bad, it follows true to the comic book a lot better than anything that’s hit the screen.

Jersey Movies

Now these are really fun movies. These movies are just overflowing with one-liners, some of which make good Windows sounds. I really liked ‘Mallrats’ the best. Yeah, I know that’s the least favorite one by the diehards. But each of the five movies are just hilarious in their own way. Though, you gotta be young to appreciate these movies. Note: I have yet to see the fifth installment, but I shall pick up the DVD as soon as I get around to it.