As promised, here's my list of films that I at least enjoy, but almost everyone else seems to hold with disdain or nearly abhor. Now, one thing I want to emphasize is that although there are plenty of films I happen to love which others don't hold nearly as high, there are only two films (possibly three, depending on how you view things) on this list that I like a lot, or just flat-out love (the final 2-3). The other films I mostly find entertaining with enough redeeming qualities to where I could at least enjoy them when in the mood for any ordinary, but fun film. Additionally, I'm quite aware of the similarities most of the films on this share, which is completely coincidental with regards to the fact I like the films. Anyway, onto the second of these two lists.
*As before, SPOILERS warning.
10. Christmas with the Kranks
I'll admit it's been a while since I last saw this film, but I'm a sucker for just about any Christmas-themed film. Boy did this film get torn apart by critics and casual moviegoers, and to be honest I never understood why it's been regarded as such a repulsive work. It's obviously not a great film and the premise might sound like a cop-out, especially since there's hardly any surprises to find after seeing the trailer(s). However, I think that, more times than not, what should determine whether a film can even be tolerated is whether it's entertaining or not. And for me and Christmas with the Kranks, I was entertained enough to where I felt it wasn't time wasted. I saw it once in theaters and again shortly after it came out on DVD, both times during which I felt I got what I wanted: a mildly enjoyable Christmas film with silly, but humorous moments. One pleasant surprise I found with the film was what it chose for its more heartfelt scene at the end where Tim Allen gives the cruise him and his wife were gonna take to their neighbors who they normally have a sour relationship with. The scene itself isn't a huge surprise, but one small part I liked was when the husband tells Allen this doesn't mean he'll suddenly be nice, and Allen jokingly gives him similar regards. It's a small scene that shows a nice light-hearted acceptance of two characters. I might not bother with it during Christmases as of recent, but I still think this is a perfectly decent film for some chuckles.
This film is probably a gigantic surprise given my number one choice from the previous list, but as I said there, I didn't mind Broderick until I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And I had seen Godzilla (several times) before I ever got around to Bueller's tormenting escapade. Emmerich's a director I've always had negligible regards for. Though I still haven't seen Stargate or 2012, I'd regard most of his films as fair entertainment (with the glaring exception of 10,000 B.C.). But with the exception of the film in parenthesis, his more or less "Americanized" take on Godzilla seems to be his most reviled work. The key reasons behind the outrage towards this film seem to be that it's not true to its source material and that the film is too long with too little Godzilla. I can understand the latter of these two arguments to an extent, but I for one am glad that Emmerich took a far different approach. Though I haven't watched any of the Japanese Godzilla films from start to finish, I've seen bits and pieces from the King Kong vs. Godzilla film as well as a flick involving King Ghidorah (I only know the monster names since Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is a guilty pleasure game of mine). While I can see how films like those are entertaining, I like seeing a different, if still derivative approach taken (not that I'm making a direct comparison, but just look at Batman Begins/The Dark Knight vs. Batman/Batman Returns). Godzilla is a long film, I'll admit, especially since most of it is talking but I never get bored when watching the film, especially when we get the silly but fun Baby Godzilla section. Godzilla's one of those film I'll acknowledge and accept its shortcomings, but I won't say they ruin the film to where it can't be enjoyed.
8. Wild Wild West
h boy, this film is a huge contender for most despairingly regarded film on my list. Once again, I admit it's a pretty ridiculous film, but what can I say? I suppose I'm just a sucker for the absurd and silly (part of why I didn't mind Date Movie, Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans; but not enough to put them on this list). I generally like Will Smith even if his movies themselves aren't always the best, with this being one of those instances. At the same time, however, Wild Wild West is a film I can enjoy precisely for its proclaimed preposterousness. I won't call it a good film, but I wouldn't slap the bad sticker on it either. It's a movie that fits with its name does the trick as an amusing film which I can fall back on when nothing else (that's great) is on the boob tube.
7. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
I must say that I'm surprised that I've enjoyed all of the Terminator films up to this point (keep in-mind I haven't watched the TV show and probably never will). Though it might debatably be the worst installment thus far, Rise of the Machines still seems to attract a large amount of despair. I think this is mostly for two reasons. One, it's following up on Judgment Day, one of the best film sequels to date, and two, it's essentially adding onto and trivializing what most considered a resolved plot from Terminator 2. I can understand feeling uneasy about the latter, but to be honest, I think it still fits into the plotline well enough. The action scenes are also very well directed, especially towards the end where the impending events begin to feel that much more legitimate. Given that this is by the same person who gave us the abomination that was U-571, however, it should go without saying the film does obviously have some problems. But as far as being an at least entertaining follow-up to a couple films that, quite frankly, won't ever be outdone in the same series, it's sufficient. Is it the weakest in the series? Maybe, but it's still a lot better than the dump that most film sequels fall into.
6. Bicentennial Man
Robin Williams isn't exactly one to pick the best films all the time, especially as of recent. Despite this, he has starred in some good films and provided two solid performances in Dead Poets Society along with Awakenings, which I consider a very underrated film. I remember seeing trailers for Bicentennial Man when it first came out but didn't think much of it. Then it came on the Encore channels and I decided to give it a shot and see if it was really just another mediocre film. To my surprise, it was actually a fairly good effort. Just like Terminator 3, I think there are two main reasons people didn't like Bicentennial man: it was marketed like a comedy and is a fairly long film. But I'm a sucker for longer films even if I begin to get a bit bored and I actually don't mind a film being different from what it was marketed as; what I care about in the end is if the film is any good. And with Bicentennial Man, I got what was a usually honest and occasionally emotional film that does a good enough job developing its characters with an interesting (if implausible) storyline. It's not a movie to watch from start to finish several times, but works more than well enough as a drama to watch on a nice weekend night when you don't mind putting more time into it than most other films.
5. The Matrix Revolutions
I'm sure that anyone who saw my last list is probably bewildered by my inclusion of this film, especially given that it's this high. But Revolutions is a bit of a specialty for this list since I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm a fan, but I do find it enjoyable, especially compared to the travesty that was Reloaded. For some reason people really love to pick on this installment of the Matrix trilogy, which I guess has to do with the fact that most of the movie is the battle against the machines and apparently people hate the ending. Based on the reasons I provided for hating Reloaded, a lot of you are probably wondering why Revolutions is on this list since it's technically an action film more than anything. I guess you could say that after feeling so insulted by Reloaded I wasn't expecting anything in its follow-up, but most of the scenes in this film were much more rewarding. Part of the reason I say that I'm more fulfilled by them is because the fighting is taking place OUTSIDE of the Matrix itself, which is where I felt the attention should have been focused on in Reloaded. Given the initial premise at the beginning of Reloaded, it's pretty clear that the real attention should have been paid towards the machines, but instead our main characters are seen mostly screwing around in the Matrix, resulting in an overabundance of exaggerated action. Bringing most of the film back to the more gritty (by comparison) setting of Zion made the action feel much more tense. As for the ending, I'll admit it's not great and while people might think the final battle against Smith was underwhelming compared to the clone fight in Reloaded, what else could they do? Neo was fighting hundreds of Smiths at once, were you expecting Neo split into 100 clones and fight a million Smiths? Yeah, it was over-the-top, but Reloaded wasn't exactly in short supply of absurdities either. All I can really say is that Revolutions on its own is a mediocre film, but compared to Reloaded and keeping the reception of both sequels in-mind, I think it's misjudged.
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I think that with the possible exception of Wild Wild West, this is the most critically revered film on my list. What's most perplexing to me is that even people who loved the first Transformers film despise Revenge of the Fallen like a creation of the Holocaust. This film is literally more of the same that we got in the first film; giant robots talking and fighting, some cheap and fairly stupid attempts at humor, a long runtime and an ending that's satisfying overall yet still leaves hunger for more. One particular criticism that I find absurd is the belief that two of the characters in the film are racist depictions. If the two clowns referred to are that stereotypical, then what about Jazz from the first film? A character who spoke silly slang and was the only Autobot who died at the end. People also hated the long runtime, which does admittedly take its toll but it doesn't by any stretch make the film unbearable. I also find it funny that there's a lot of outrage over the "Autobot Heaven" scene. Need it be pointed out that this is a film with giant, talking robots dishing things out throughout the Earth? The films are highly fictionalized, what else is there to expect? If there's an "Autobot Heaven" briefly depicted then fine, it's just a small inclusion that in no way intrudes any philosophy or argument. I might be dragging on for this one, but given all the negativity surrounding this film (especially given it got a Razzie nomination), I think someone should at least come to its defense. The film is long, but it has satisfying action sequences. Almost all the attempts at humor are embarrassing, but they don't significantly detract from the entire package. It might be another CGI-heavy film, but so many other releases are and happen to produce far worse results. I watched the film in theaters at a midnight launch and saw it again on DVD, with my verdict remaining largely unchanged and essentially the same as the first: enjoyable, best on the big-screen, take it or leave it.
3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
I remember when I first saw the trailer for Tokyo Drift that I was already in the camp of people ready to deem it even worse than 2 Fast 2 Furious. It literally looked like an adaptation of Need for Speed Underground with no potential improvement. Then the scores and reviews which, interestingly, the non-critic reviews were actually positive while the scores were incredibly low. Out of some blind curiosity, I decided to see just how bad the film might be. Imagine how I felt not long into the film when I said "damn, this actually pretty good." I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is my favorite of the Fast and Furious films thus far, which might not sound like much but I actually do like this film quite a bit. The main reason I like it so much is because it really has the best, most well-developed story with characters who feel more down-to-earth and realistic than almost anyone else in the other three installments. I also like that CGI and shaky cam shots weren't resorted to nearly as much in this film. Instead, Justin Lin gave us some honestly good directing in and out of the cars. I also like that car tech doesn't become a part of many points of dialogue. Instead, the focus is kept on the actual plot at-hand as well as the characters. The racing is certainly a big part of the film, but it's nice to see that it actually takes a seat for the more important matters in the film, more times than not. I supposed what it really comes down to is that I think this film is enjoyable, but it's also put together very well without trying to step too far out of its proper boundaries.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that I wasn't expecting much out of this film after how disappointed I was with Dead Man's Chest. But just like Curse of the Black Pearl before it, At World's End turned out to be a big surprise and has actually worked its way up into my personal favorite films list. Just like Tokyo Drift, I'm going to be honest and say this is my favorite of the POTC films released to date. What I liked about At World's End is that it reverted back to the more serious nature of the first film compared to how carelessly silly Dead Man's Chest often was. There were still some comedic moments to be had, but focus was much tighter this time around. As I've said, I tend to enjoy longer films more than most, and At World's End is one that actually maintains my interest from start to finish despite being nearly 3 hours. Another reason I hold the film in a fond light is because I absolutely love the score. Hans Zimmer really gave us some incredible pieces to hear throughout the film, and I think that many of the scenes work so effectively just because of the underscoring. A prime complaint with this film is that it's too hard to follow, which might be a legitimate complaint if you've only seen it once or twice. But even then it's not difficult to keep up with what's going on or what might happen since it unfolds in a concise matter. While there are a couple points it can be tough to keep up with the shifting conversations, it's not like learning another language. I'm sure I'm alone in holding this movie in such high regards, but I just think it's a borderline masterpiece of a film that, if I were to take a more directly involved path in film, would be one of my main inspirations.
1. Alien 3
Before I get into this film, I want to emphasize that I'm referring to the Special Edition/Extended Cut of the film found on the Alien Quadrilogy box set. I also like the theatrical cut, but I'm going to be speaking on behalf of the more fleshed out cut. Alien 3's a tough film for me to really narrow down reasons for what it is I like so much about it. One of the biggest compliments I have to give is the setting, I love the gritty look and feel of the prison planet we go around. There's a very dry and mundane atmosphere that's captured in a way that makes the film feel surprisingly interesting and different. Something else I'd say is that, overall, the more developed characters feel a bit easier to identify with than what I'd argue as the less-than-remarkable characters (overall) from the first Alien and the on/off again Marines of Aliens. Something else I want to talk about is Ripley's character. I've found it interesting that most viewers found her less likable in Alien 3, but I actually didn't feel connected to her until this film. In the first Alien I feel like she wasn't that much of a person to really place much empathy in, especially since she didn't seem to become the center of attention until near the end. Sort of an unremarkable protagonist, so to speak. As for Aliens, I actually found her rather annoying in parts. While she's obviously being developed as someone who's strong in their will and determination, there was just something about her attitude in many scenes that continues to rub me the wrong way (kind of like Kyle from South Park, he's a good character but always pisses me off). In Alien 3, her character is, admittedly, more undertoned, but I also think this makes her more interesting and realistic, which plays off the setting and unfolding events nicely. Now there are also the two key points people always point out as immediate problems with the film: Newt and Beihn's character dying immediately and the Alien egg being on-board the ship. In regards to the former, I didn't mind too much since Newt left a bittersweet effect on me similar to Ripley and while I certainly like Beihn, I feel like his character wasn't developed enough to the point where he was a pivotal concern. Not to mention neither probably would have lasted long with the Alien and prisoners on the planet; it would probably make for some unnecessary conflicts. As for the egg, I'll admit it's obviously a problem but I'm fine if a film has to make a stretch or two so it can actually get away with its plot. Alien 3 has been a personal favorite film of mine for a while, it just always manages to engross me despite what many would likely call a dull setting. It took a different direction from Aliens and even Alien (from horror, to action, to thriller), which I liked since, if following up on Aliens with more action, they'd probably resort to absurd measures like the Matrix sequels. The change of pace was welcome and helped keep things varied, which is just part of why I appreciate and defend it so much.