Stranded’s Awesome: The Movie Marathon

What a night at the theatre…well, afternoon, anyway.  Was at a film this afternoon that has me rethinking my favourite set of films.  In fact, as I write this, I have my account on IMDB open and looking at my ratings.

So this week, I proudly give you six film selections…two are actually a series of films, so technically we are talking ten films in total…that I have rated 10 on IMDB.  In fact, the only ones I have rated at 10.

Honourable Mentions…films I have rated 9, in no particular order

Most of my films are rated between 6 and 8…perhaps funny, but the other two films in both The Matrix series and the Underworld series all have been rated at 3.

But…I digress…here are the 10’s…

6.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I think I might have been 13 when I first saw this…that would have been 1983.  One might argue that it was the first “adult” film that really caught my fancy and the humour in it, to this day, kills me.  From The Knights Who Say Ni to Robin the Chickenhearted to using coconuts to mimic horse hooves…brilliant…I’ve been in love with all things Python ever since.

“Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot. He was not afraid to die, oh brave Sir Robin. He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways, brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin. He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp, or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken. To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away, and his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin. His head smashed in and heart cut out, and his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged, and his nostrils raped and his bottom burned off and his penis… ” – Sir Robin’s Minstrel…prior to being eaten

This film worked without being completely crude…again, I was 13 and suspect my parents would not have let me see it were that the case.  It has its questionable content…perhaps even an introduction to the silliness of religion…but that bit is a post for another day…oh wait, I may have already written that one

Regardless, for those who have not seen it, allow me to introduce the dreaded Black Knight:

5.  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

More British humour…in fact the only feature film of a story written by one of the Python writers, Douglas Adams, that started as a radio show, made it to television, and currently stands as the only known book trilogy in existence that is written in five parts.

The film, however, took it an entirely new direction.  Admittedly, the usual traditionalists do not like it and claim it takes away from Adams’ master work…forgetting that Adams himself was in on writing the screenplay prior to his passing away.  Perhaps my favourite part of this film, and it was a fantastically funny film if you like left-field humour, is that they have not tried to do a sequel…without Adams around I suspect that would pale in comparison.

Perhaps, for those who do not know the set, the opening sequence might be the best introduction…

It’s an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, Man had always assumed that he was the most intelligent species occupying the planet, instead of the *third* most intelligent. The second most intelligent creatures were of course dolphins who, curiously enough, had long known of the impending destruction of the planet earth. They had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger, but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for titbits. So they eventually decided they would leave earth by their own means. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backward somersault through a hoop while whistling the star-spangled banner, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

4.  Star Trek (2009)

I was skeptical when I heard that the newest Star Trek film was a return to the original characters…Kirk and his merry band of space explorers…however, hearing that J.J. Abrams had been handed the controls to the Star Trek universe made me very curious.

I saw this film…in the theatre…nine times.  Not kidding.

Unlike some of the other series, however, the Star Trek films have had to be separated as the series of them are a bit hit and miss…take Star Trek V, for example…so bad I will not even provide a link here.  The first “Next Generation” film, as you may have noticed, Star Trek: First Contact did make my honourable mentions above.

This film in particular, however, was brilliantly written.  It gives us all the cliches…

“Dammit, man! I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” – Bones

It also had the interesting concept of actors playing actors, you might say…the only two characters that did not, in my humble opinion, really mimic the originals were Chris Pine doing Captain James T. Kirk, but I like what he did, and Zoe Saldana doing Uhura, but when we look back at the original Star Trek series there was not much character for Uhura and Zoe did an excellent job becoming the crew’s hen mother.

So…what scene to pick…what scene to pick…perhaps a scene that was foreshadowed way back in Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan…I give you the Kobayashi Maru:

3.  Serenity (2005)

If J.J. Abrams is the George Lucas of this generation…perhaps Joss Whedon is the new Stephen Spielberg.

Serenity was the film version of the television show Firefly.  A quick background in that Firefly was my introduction to Whedon’s work…it followed the better known television shows of Buffy and Angel, but due to poor ratings only lasted 13 episodes…and since that cancellation, in what started as a protest of my anger for the show being cancelled, I have not watched regularly scheduled television since.

“Let’s be bad guys.” – Jayne Cobb

This is a western, done in space.  Perhaps ironic in that was the original complaint about the original television pilot of Star Trek.  In the film, Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew of misfits and stowaways run across the universe in their Firefly class vessel, aptly named Serenity, to find one of the deepest darkest secrets…to discover just what drove some early space settlers to insanity and to monster-hood.

This particular scene is a personal fav:

2.  The Dark Knight Trilogy

  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

This series leap-frogged from the 9’s today.  I left the cinema about two hours ago and I knew, going in, that this final film of the series had a lot to live up to.  Batman Begins, I ranked at 9…The Dark Knight, ranked a 10…Thanks to The Dark Knight Rises, however, the entire set now ranks a 12.

Christopher Nolan deserves a best picture nomination…perhaps not for this newest film on its own…but similar to Peter Jackson’s LOTR best picture win, for the entire set.

“Calm down, Doctor! Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.” – Bane

I am hesitant to say which of the second or third films was the best one at this point…probably need to go back and watch all three again before I can decide that.

Unlike the other films, most of you probably know this set well enough that you will not require a synopsis from me here.  I will say that one thing about all three of these films is that they kept me guessing until the bitter end of each one…not on everything as I seem to have a knack of predicting where a film is going generally…but on key points of the plot.  For a film to catch me with something completely out of the blue…well, that is truly special for me.

So, being this is a three film set and I can only choose one scene, this is particularly difficult.  Admittedly, logic dictates I can only choose from the first two so I believe this might be my favourite sequence from The Dark Knight:

1.  Star Wars Original Trilogy

  • Episode IV:  A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V:  The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode VI:  Return of the Jedi (1983)

What can I say?  I was six when the first film hit theatres.  I was at the ripe age, whether intended or not, that Star Wars created dreams of future…and galaxies far far away a long long time ago.  In fact, as part of my tenth birthday party, my friends and I went to see The Empire Strikes Back for the first time…I was even at a better age for this series to take hold of me.  Unlike The Dark Knight trilogy, however, the weakling of this group was the third film…which only ranks a 9 for me…but still ahead of anything even the second or prequel Star Wars trilogy had to offer.

Again, not going to bore you with a synopsis…Star Wars lore has seeped so deeply into pop culture that we all know it from the Jedi to the Wookies…people still make fun of Yoda’s speech patterns now.

The acting, generally, was awful…and George Lucas could write romance about as well as Stephen King does endings (rather poorly)…but it simply worked.  The droids with attitude, the fascist dictator running the known galaxy and the young boy who gets caught up in the entire mess on the whims of an old soldier…the adventure on a universal scale.  When one includes all six films, of course, the entire series is Darth Vader’s biography…from young boy to his cremation after his son helped redeem him…the original three, however, were films on how little people could stand up and do something.  How no future, with the right drive and direction, could become something beyond the stars.

But of course…

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…” – Obi-wan Kenobi

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