Marvel Cinematic Universe: From Worst to Best



I think it’s safe to say that no one has had quite an impact on the film industry at the moment like Marvel studios. Since 2008, they’ve now released twenty movies in their shared universe, typically releasing three movies every year, with each film building off the the events of the last to make a shared cinematic universe that everyone is trying to copy now. They’re films are some of the highest grossing movies of all time, and they’re single-handedly keeping superheroes as the most popular genre at the moment.

Everyone has seen their movies and eagerly wait for their next entries to see where they’ll take their dramatic, funny and always entertaining movies next. So now that Marvel studios has released exactly twenty of their own movies, I feel now is a good time to look back and countdown all of them from their worst to their best.

Keep in mind that I’ll only be looking at the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not every movie Marvel had a part in. Which means no X-Men movies, Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, and unfortunately no Deadpool films. With that said, these are how I would rank all of the MCU movies.



Number 20 – “Iron Man 2”

As a direct sequel to the first film in this cinematic universe, “Iron Man 2” takes everything that made the first film likable and charming and makes it obnoxious. This film is loud, irritating, makes the least amount of sense of any Marvel film and has the worst pacing of any film in this series. It doesn’t really have a lot going for it, especially when the lasting image of this film are the annoying conversations between Downey Jr. and Paltrow talking over each other. Easily the worst film in the series.

Number 19 – “Thor: The Dark World”

Not as annoying or irritating as “Iron Man 2,” but this films’ crime is that it’s so boring. The characters are dull, the plot is forgettable, the way it uses the other nine realms of Asgard is lame, and it feels like nothing is accomplished. The only saving grace of this film is Tom Hiddleston’s always great performance as Loki and how he’s given a chance to do way more than he did in “Thor.” Speaking of which…

Number 18 – “Thor”

Like “The Dark World,” this one is just forgettable. It is better due to the heroic character arc of its lead, and many of the scenes with Thor learning to live on Earth are funny in that “fish out of water” style. Beyond that, there is nothing worthy to be seen in “Thor.”

Number 17 – “The Incredible Hulk”

This one now feels like the black sheep of the cinematic universe and is often forgotten among the many other super heroes. It also didn’t help that Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was always on people’s minds and that Edward Norton didn’t want to keep playing the Hulk after this movie. For the time, this film had great special effects and it made good use of the Hulk’s size and scope. But there was really nothing else going for it.



Number 16 – “Doctor Strange”

In the grand scheme of this universe, “Doctor Strange” doesn’t really have much going for it outside of its stunning visuals and the odd journey its title character goes through. It is impressive at times, but other moments are just so bland and predictable that it makes for an average blockbuster.

When the best character in your film is a piece of clothe, you know you goofed on a few things.

Number 15 – “Iron Man 3”

Some people really hate this one because of how it mistreats the comic origins of its villain. I always overlook that and instead remember “Iron Man 3” for making me laugh so hard. For a long time, it had the best sense of humor of any Marvel film and loving most of the film as a result – it basically sent the standard for how comedy in Marvel would be handled in the future. But beyond this, the plot is nonsensical and full of holes, and the climax leaves a lot to be desired. Not the strongest Iron Man tale, but far from the worst.

Number 14 – “Ant-Man”

Now we’ve reached that films that are just…fine. Perfectly serviceable summer blockbusters that were a lot of fun while I was watching them, but had no reason to watch them again after my initial viewing. “Ant-Man” did everything right, especially in scale and storytelling, but didn’t leave much of an impact on me. The film did it’s job and gave us a unique superhero with a very similar personality to many of the other Marvel leads. It wouldn’t be until his next film that we would get a better taste of his personality.

Number 13 – “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

The best way I can describe “Age of Ultron” is that it is a sequel to an experience. Rather than being it’s own thing, it tries to replicate something that cannot be topped and captured again. Even though “Age of Ultron” is, in many ways, an improvement over “The Avengers” in terms of storytelling, tension, dialogue and character dynamics, everything it does tries to be “The Avengers” all over again. It just doesn’t feel as genuine this time around.



Number 12 – “Captain America: The First Avenger”

Now we move onto the ones that I thoroughly enjoy, starting with quite possibly the best superhero origin tale. Right from the beginning, our lead shows us his charm, compassion and likability that would become his defining characteristics, with some of the best scenes being little moments to prove that he’s not trying to be a great soldier, but a good man. This whole movie is like if Captain America made a movie, cutting out the nitty-gritty and leaving only that which the filmmakers feel is important. Certainly one of the more underrated Marvel films.

Number 11 – “Ant-Man and the Wasp”

We come to the most recent Marvel film, one that won me over with its charm and likability. I appreciate the smaller-scale character driven piece, especially since it was a palette cleanser after “Infinity War.” I ended up loving every character in this film, which is a testament to the writing and acting throughout.

Number 10 – “Iron Man”

For a long time, this was my favorite. It was the one to start it all and introduced us to Robert Downey Jr.’s unparalleled acting abilities. But then time passed and we got better made superhero movies. Tales that had better character arcs, and much better climaxes. It showed that “Iron Man,” while still a solid entry in the shared universe with great acting and writing, is weaker compared to films will see later on this countdown.

Number 9 – “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

The most realistic and authentic of the Marvel films, “Homecoming” was more of a treat than I initially gave it credit for. The comedy felt genuine, the dialogue was fresh and witty without being over-the-top, and Tom Holland plays the best Spider-Man to date, perfectly balancing the line between the comedy and drama of being Spider-Man while still learning how to be the best hero possible. It is as refreshing and honest as we’ve gotten from Marvel.



Number 8 – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

While I initially thought of this one as little more than a funny summer blockbuster that was another sequel to an experience, I thought more about “Guardians Vol. 2” and how it blurred the line between really funny scenes throughout with very intense and emotional moments. This thread is forever connected because of the theme of family and how each character has a different interpretation of it. This is far more than a funny summer blockbuster and it deserves all the credit it gets.

Number 7 – “Black Panther”

I know this one is special for a lot of people, and for very good reason. It is a game-changer in terms of what it is saying and what it represents, while still remaining as thought-provoking as a superhero film can get. For me, watching “Black Panther” was like a gateway to vast and diverse culture that I wanted to see even more of. I respect this film for what it accomplished and what it was trying to say, while still being a whole lot of fun.

Number 6 – “Thor: Ragnarok”

Speaking of fun, here is the most balls-to-the-wall insane entertainment of any Marvel movie. It is uproarious, thrilling, charming and so crazy that it’s hard not to crack a smile just thinking about it. The whole film never takes itself too seriously, unlike the previous Thor films, and just has as much fun with Asgard as it possibly can, leading to some of the coolest sequences of any superhero movie.



Number 5 – “Avengers: Infinity War”

The most ambitious and epic movie out of this universe. Everything about this film felt big without sacrificing the smaller character driven moments. The pacing is stellar and everything about it felt satisfying while keeping the fun-loving Marvel style. This film is what ten years of development leads to, and it did not disappoint.

Number 4 – “The Avengers”

When I think of Marvel movies and what they’re capable of doing, “The Avengers” is typically the first thing that comes to mind. It was an event when it came out and felt like more than just a normal film-going experience. No body have ever made a movie quite like “The Avengers” at the time, and it still hasn’t been topped by anyone except by Marvel. This has become the standard for summer blockbusters now with it walks that tight rope between tense character-driven drama and witty comedy. It may seem small now compared to “Civil War” and “Infinity War,” but “The Avengers” is still just as mind-blowing today as was in 2012.

Number 3 – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Now we get the truly great Marvel movies, the ones that transcend being just summer blockbusters. I wish I could say all three of these last ones are a tie for number one, but instead I’ll place “The Winter Soldier” here because it not only works as a wonderful political thriller, with some of the best action sequences in the entire cinematic universe, especially the highway fight scene, but because of struggle to find the difference between right and wrong in a world that is constantly evolving. The fact that it’s Captain America that undergoes this struggle makes it even more interesting as we watch him personally struggle with his beliefs against the rest of the world. A simple yet highly effective movie.

Number 2 – “Captain America: Civil War”

Now take what “The Winter Soldier” said about the difference between right and wrong in an ever evolving world and add in a personal yet passionate conflict between its leads, and you have the most human portrayal of superheroes I’ve seen in a long time. It is amazing how well this film works on so many levels and never stops being entertaining for even a moment. The acting, the writing, the pacing and tension is solid throughout, but the relationships are the star of this film, especially with how brutally real they feel. It’s one of the few Marvel films that made me think about what these heroes were fighting for and what they were doing to the world at large, all while still being thoroughly entertaining.



Number 1 – “Guardians of the Galaxy”

This may come as a surprise to some, since I wrote off “Guardians of the Galaxy” as little more than a dumb popcorn flick in my initial review. But the more I thought about how different this film is from every other Marvel film, and as they released more superhero tales, the more I looked back on this film and realized how smart, witty, emotional and stunning this film can be. On paper, this film should not work – every one of these characters are assholes, while four of the five main cast members aren’t human, one of which can only say three words. Yet through clever writing, unbelievably captivating performances, an unparalleled soundtrack and the best world building of any Marvel film, we get a gem amongst some already awe-inspiring movies.

But the main reason “Guardians of the Galaxy” is my number one is because it was a risk. Marvel had no idea if this film was going to win people over. Unlike their other products with heroes that everyone knows about and could turn a profit even if they made a bad movie, only die-hard comic book fans knew who Star Lord, Rocket and Groot were. Marvel took a huge chance by doing a story that, not only didn’t contain any previously established characters, but was filled with characters that were far from heroes. Hell, two of it’s characters were a CGI raccoon and living tree! But despite all of the odds, this is the most memorable, fun and heartwarming film that Marvel has ever released.

With Marvel dominating the film industry at the moment, as well as how many companies conduct their business, it’s safe to say that their movies aren’t going anywhere, especially since “Black Panther” and “Infinity War” are in the top ten highest grossing films of all time while still being critically praised. These films keep finding new ways to tell fascinating and surprisingly complex stories that seem to keep getting better over time. As long as people enjoy people becoming more than what they are, Marvel will always have a special place in our hearts.




Number 16 – “Godzilla” (2014)



This is one of the few reviews in my Godzilla-thon that is difficult to talk about, because I have already written a full review of this movie on my blog. In fact, in the case of the 2014 “Godzilla” I practically wrote three reviews of that movie already, analyzing it from nearly every perspective I could think. But I guess there is another point-of-view I could look at the other American Godzilla film from, and that’s from a distant perspective.

It has now been over three years since “Godzilla” was released. Fans have had time to analyze the movie in detail, Toho has already released another Godzilla film since then and is planning a new trilogy of animated Godzilla films, and a huge Monsterverse has been launched with “Godzilla” acting as the first movie in that series.

So, rather than retreading the same ground I already covered in my previous reviews of this movie, I’ll use this review to answer one question – How does “Godzilla” hold up?

To give a brief plot description, the film mostly follows the Brody family, in particular the father Joe (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Joe was the supervisor of a nuclear facility in Japan until some unexplained tremors caused the plant to be destroyed, along with his wife. Joe has spent nearly the last twenty years researching the cause of those tremors and comes to the conclusion that it was not an accident and that there are bigger players and powers at work here. Ford is a bomb defuse expert in the American military, who has just returned from active duty to spend time with his family in San Francisco. But when Joe needs Ford’s help in Japan, Ford reluctantly agrees to help him discover what exactly happened to the nuclear plant all those years ago.



What they find is a hibernating monster, codenamed M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) that feeds off nuclear energy like a parasite and can shut down all electronics with an EMP. As the monster escapes, Joe is killed and Ford is recruited by the mysterious organization Monarch to help track down the creature. One of the scientists, Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) tells Ford about a force that would hunt down and kill the Muto, an ancient creature that is at the top of the food chain – Godzilla.

The general consensus for “Godzilla” seems to be that while Godzilla is on screen, the movie is amazing. But the problem is that Godzilla is on screen for all of eight minutes.

Do I agree with that consensus? Yes and no.

I do agree that when Godzilla is being shown, the film is at its absolute best, especially when it demonstrates Godzilla’s size and scope like when he tosses around battleships like they were leaves on the water or creates a tsunami when he comes out of the ocean.

One of my favorite little bits is when the Muto is in the middle of destroying the airport and everyone is screaming their heads off, but all of a sudden Godzilla’s foot steps into frame and everything goes silent. The screams stop, the explosions are silenced – everyone is in awe of the monster that just appeared out of no where. This creature deserves our attention and they give Godzilla one of the best entrances of any monster I have ever seen.

But at the same time, it is disappointing that we only get to see so much of Godzilla. One of the biggest problems I have with the movie follows that great entrance. You have the first confrontation between Godzilla and the Muto ready to go and show a huge monster brawl through Honolulu, and yet you cut away from it the moment Godzilla roars at the Muto. We don’t get to see any of the ensuing fight, just the aftermath.



There are moments where I wish we got to see more of the monsters doing their thing, instead of just the destruction they leave behind. But I do get what the movie was going for. This movie gets much better when you look at it as a thriller instead of a monster movie, where the monsters aren’t there to be action pieces, but instead as the biggest possible threat to our characters.

Think of Godzilla like the shark in “Jaws” – We don’t get to see very much of either of them, so both movies do their best to work with their limitations by building up the suspense around them. We witness their ferocity, size, and power without actually ever seeing them. So by the time they both play an active part in the movie, we already have an idea what they are capable of and know to fear them. Each second they’re out in the ocean, getting closer and closer to pouncing somewhere and doing god-knows what to a bunch of unsuspecting people. They’re not really monsters, as much as they are time bombs building the tension up every moment they’re not on screen.

In this case, the limited screen time for Godzilla works the films’ advantage. Instead of showing the monsters wrecking havoc on the world, we see it through the individuals’ point of view. We see the millions of people without power or homes in Honolulu, or the thousands of people stuck on the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the best shots of the whole movie is a tracking shot of a field filled with cars stuck on a highway trying to get out of town, only to reveal a crashed airplane in the middle of the field. We see emergency crews trying to get to the airplane, but there’s so much traffic that it seems impossible to get there. We see cars going off on the grass to get away from the other vehicles. Each car tells a different story about how people react to these fantastic yet dangerous situations.



Even when following single people there are some tense and heart-pounding scenes here. The one where Ford is trapped on the wooden bridge with a flaming train behind him and a pregnant monster in front is filmed and paced perfectly. Or the halo jump from high above downtown San Francisco with the creepy “2001: A Space Odyssey” music playing, as they descend right on top of the monsters. When this movie wants to be suspenseful, it excels at it.

But the biggest compliment I can give this movie is also one of its greatest weaknesses. All of those tense and thrilling sequences mean very little if you don’t care about the safety and well-being of the characters involved. Would the opening sequence of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” be as exciting or suspenseful if we didn’t know anything about Indiana Jones? Or if Harrison Ford’s acting wasn’t as compelling or emotional? No, then we would feel nothing when Indy was chased by that giant boulder.

And here lies the main problem with “Godzilla” – outside of Bryan Cranston’s performance, the acting sucks. Everyone always has these emotionless blank faces to all the other-worldly things going on like they just got out of bed and don’t care about anything until they get their coffee. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is especially bland, because he’s around during nearly every monster sequence and always has this neutral facial expression that drives me crazy. He’s been so desensitized to all this that he cannot emote properly. I understand that he’s a solider who has seen combat and violence, but if you’re being out-acted by a computer image then something is wrong here.

Bryan Cranston is the only actor in this movie that seems to give a damn, since he takes an active role in searching a government concealed mystery and will not stop until he gets the answers he came for. He is a man driven by grief, sadness, and regret, and will not settle until he finds the truth. Cranston’s acting reflects this, especially when he starts yelling about what Monarch is covering up at the nuclear plant. I cared about his fight to find out what rightfully deserved and had been denied for nearly 20 years.

Which is why it’s all the more confusing when they kill him off halfway through the movie. The only interesting character in the whole film, and he’s dead before Godzilla even shows up. He doesn’t even get enough time to react to news that a monster was the cause of the plant’s destruction, just an accidental death in the middle of the opening rampage from the Muto. And then we get stuck is his boring-as-dirt son.



Why couldn’t it have been the other way around, where Ford died in the initial attack and then we follow Joe around for the rest of the movie? That would have made this movie amazing. If we weren’t being entertained by the presence of monsters or the destruction and carnage they bring, we’d be getting a powerful performance from Bryan Cranston, especially in the second half when he’d be grief-stricken from losing his son.

Anyway, it is difficult for me to say that I hate this movie when there are so many amazingly tense and suspenseful moments throughout, but I see why people would leave the theater feeling disappointed. Personally, I don’t think the problem is there weren’t enough scenes with Godzilla. I think there was just enough of Godzilla to keep his sense of scale and awe throughout the entire film. I think the problem is that there wasn’t enough good acting to keep the human scenes as interesting as the monster scenes.

The reason “Jaws” works from start to finish is because the acting from its leads compliments to thriller-atmosphere and makes you want to see if our heroes will make it out alive. While “Godzilla” is like “Jaws” in many respects, the difference between the two is the compelling acting that doesn’t deliver when it needed to. It doesn’t provide the emotional punch and impact that it deserved when you see Godzilla and the Mutos battling in downtown San Francisco. Those scenes come and go and I feel next to nothing about them. It isn’t until Godzilla finally busts out his atomic breath and starts being a badass that things get interesting again.

So does “Godzilla” hold up? The monster scenes absolutely hold up still, showcasing some brilliant camera work and pacing, and most of the scenes with Bryan Cranston are good due to his acting. Everything else in the movie is pretty forgettable because you don’t give a damn about any other characters. This makes “Godzilla” a tough yet satisfying experience for me.


Mini-Review – “Bernie” (2011)


If there’s one strength to “Bernie,” it would be keeping the reveal that everything which unfolded was based on a true story until the end of the film, as we see the real Bernie Tiede sitting down to a conversation with star-Jack Black.

I was blown away to find out that everything I had just witnessed occurred in real life, and Richard Linklater decided not to gloat about that until the film was finished. Part of this is because these events seem so unbelievable – a story about the sweetest and most-caring man you’ll ever meet, Bernie (Black), attempting to comfort a rich-widow (Shirley MacLaine), and the two end up being great friends, to the point that she smothers him and makes it impossible for Bernie to have a life of his own. Being unable to say no to anyone, Bernie ends up taking far more drastic measures than one would expect.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that “Bernie” was based on true events, due to the many interviews throughout the film. We spend close to half the film talking to the locals of Carthage, Texas, as they gush about how Bernie was an outstanding citizen who put the needs of everyone above his own, how he was the best thing that happened to the town and that he’d even make God blush. I was under the impression that these people were merely actors, since many of the descriptive details they would use had hilarious timing.

Turns out, everyone they interviewed were the actual townsfolk of Carthage, recalling their best memories of the real Bernie.

Again, if the film had opened up with the knowledge this was based on what really happened, the film would be very different. If we were told at the beginning, we would have no room to think about what was happening, because everything already had a fixed ending. By keeping that knowledge away from us until the film was finished, we suddenly have to look back on everything we witnessed, everything we were told, and realize those were many points-of-view and opinions coming together to form some sort of truth.

In other words, we find out the fiction we just watched is actually reality.

It was the simple things that made “Bernie” so memorable, whether through the random acts of kindness by Jack Black that told us this man doesn’t have a mean bone in his body or the crazy interviews throughout the film that paint a great picture of Carthage. This leaves us with a quirky and somewhat dark comedy about a small town all coming to the same realization – “That man was so nice, I never expected him to ever do something like that.”

Final Grade: B+


Mini-Review: “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)

moonrise kingdom

While watching another dollhouse-like piece from Wes Anderson, I could not help but make comparisons between the most eccentric yet beautiful film creator of our time and another auteur: Alfred Hitchcock.

When I discuss these Anderson and Hitchcock in the same sentence, it is to talk about them, not as directors, or even filmmakers, but as auteurs – They control every aspect that we see on the screen. They determine which way the shot is framed, how the camera will move, how the film will be edited, and most importantly, they tell the actors exactly what to do, leaving them with no choice or freedom. There is only one right film, and that is the one in these auteurs minds, every thing else just gets in the way.

As “Moonrise Kingdom” progressed, I realized that the roles of Edward Norton, Francis McDormand and Bruce Willis were not giving their own performances, but were merely acting out Wes Anderson’s ideas. As a result, we get this distinctive style of filmmaking that cannot be mistaken for anyone other than Anderson.

In the end, we are left with a product that often feels other-worldly in its execution. As if this film was made by an alien who had observed human behavior but does not truly understand it, with so much blank space and vague expressions. The alien may know what it all means, but has a strange way of saying it.

Overall, I left “Moonrise Kingdom” feeling the same way I did about “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Rushmore,” that Wes Anderson’s style is the most bizarre yet entrancing filmmaking I have seen. It is so off-putting that I can’t take my eyes off it.

Final Grade: B+

Coming Next: “The Revenant” and My Top 10 Films of 2015


Paul’s Favorite Films – Honorable Mentions


Of all the couple thousand films I have watched in my lifetime, it was actually quite difficult to narrow it down to just 25 of my favorite films. I have an entire collection of movies which I adore that did not make it into the countdown. So many films that I could watch at any point and still love every scene, but only so many spots on showcase my favorites.

Which is why it seems fitting to talk about some of the other films that just missed making this countdown. These are the ten honorable mentions to my top 25 favorite films of all time. I’ll give a brief explanation to each film. Who knows? Maybe some day, I’ll come back and review each of these ten movies in detail.


“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

The only Stanley Kubrick film to make either the top 25 countdown and the honorable mentions, “2001: A Space Odyssey” transcends what most movies attempt to be, and enters into a state of mind. With virtually no story, we are left with two and a half hours of atmosphere and questions about the future.

Like most Kubrick films, he pays attention to every single tiny detail and draws it out for the audience to enjoy. The reason “2001: A Space Odyssey” gets here over other Kubrick films is because of the scope of space, and to make a film that covers such a vast distance of time and space while keeping the audience entranced.


“Ace In The Hole” (1951)

Billy Wilder followed up “Sunset Boulevard” with this look at the newspaper business, in which Kirk Douglas finds the story of the century – a man is trapped in a collapsed cave and is slowly being crushed to death. But once Douglas is told they can rescue the man in a few days, he delays the rescue to draw out the story and take the credit for saving this man.

Just as in “Sunset Boulevard,” the dialogue is crisp, but never to the point of absurdity. It is a joy to listen to these people talk about how this story needs to heard across the country. But what really gives “Ace In The Hole” its bite is Kirk Douglas’ performance. He is haunting and disturbing, yet keeps his values and morals close to his heart, even as things get far worse.

“Ace In The Hole” is a tragic tale of searching for fame, only to realize that it often comes at the price of ruining innocent lives, especially in the journalism business.


“Shadow Of A Doubt” (1943)

Of all the films Alfred Hitchcock made, he often said this was his favorite – the tale of a young Californian family that is visited by their uncle, whom one of the children is named after, only to slowly realize that the uncle may not be who he says he is.

Perhaps this was Hitchcock’s favorite because it was one of the first films he made after coming to Hollywood, and it represented his own fears and doubts about the Hollywood system. Maybe it was the often brilliant cinematography that captured how small our family is to this monster of an uncle they all adore. It could also be the performances of Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright, as they fight for their twisted morals of nature versus nurture.

In any case, this is a classic early Alfred Hitchcock film that hits right at home and how family can often be a bad thing.


“No Country For Old Men” (2007)

Anton Chigurh. Just Anton Chigurh. “No Country For Old Men” makes this part of the countdown simply because of its villain, a man who feels like he must be anarchy and misery in the world. That he has no other choice but to be this evil, uncaring maniac. He certainly doesn’t get any enjoyment out of killing anyone who sees him, but he remains dedicated to causing mayhem, otherwise he would have no purpose.

“No Country For Old Men” is, more or less, about the evolution of the dark criminal mind and how it has gotten to the point where can no longer understand it, much less control it. Anton is the perfect representation of that darkness, never satisfied with his work, uncaring about those he kills, unconcerned if he is doing right or wrong, and he couldn’t care less about any of it.

A villain the perfectly encapsulates chaos, along with a mostly silent film that sees our hero get chased across Texas and Mexico for just a bit of money. This is one Coen Brothers film that won’t be forgotten soon.


“Giant” (1956)

The next two films I have already talked about in great detail, but that’s because these are the only films on both countdowns that I have previously reviewed. In a way, I have a greater respect for them because I got to share my new-found love for these films with all of you.

“Giant” is a perfect representation of an epic – Large scale, covering a massive range of both land, people and time, yet it still feels comfy with its focus on the Benedict family and their conflict over pride, race and legacy. We watch as the world changes, but our characters never take that into account and go ahead like the world has always been flat and was the center of the universe.

The conflict between Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor comes naturally, as if they came from different worlds, but see a lot of themselves in each other – their thick-headed pride, but also their devotion to their life philosophies.

“Giant” feels like it takes up all of Texas, while still keeping focus on the marriage of these two and the consequences of their actions.


“her” (2013)

Simple, yet innovative. This is a science fiction piece that understands technology in cinema is not just fiction, but can be relatable and logical, yet still fascinating and imaginative.

I found myself just as invested in this futuristic Los Angeles as I was in the romance between Theodore and Samantha, finding a love story set in a world not too different from our own. A world where technology might have advanced further than us, and has replaced us in many capacities, but “her” finds a middle ground where humans and technology make one another more desirable. That we wouldn’t be complete without the other.

With that quirky, off-the-wall craziness you can only get out of a Spike Jonez film, “her” is one of the most creative and heart-warming films in recent memory.


“Godzilla” (1954)

One last time, we return my favorite film franchise.

Since “Son Of Godzilla” and “Mothra vs. Godzilla” made my top 25, “Godzilla” is my third favorite film in the franchise, but this is the movie I respect more than any other. For what this film set out to do, given their budget and the attitude towards nuclear weapons in 1950s Japan, this could have easily failed. Instead, we got a dark and eerie look at how fragile life can be in the face of unrivaled strength and power.

“Godzilla” isn’t just a great monster movie, but a great movie in general. Rather than focusing on a monster running rampant through Japan, we get a film about a weakened Japan attempting to combat such a threat, and the lives that are affected by this tragedy. Throughout the film, we watch as lives are crushed, burned, irradiated and ruined by something out of our control.

With effects that still hold up today, a creepy yet atmospheric score, and the theme of man’s evolution of weaponry taking shape, the Japanese version of “Godzilla” is one of the stand out monster films of all time.


“Bride Of Frankenstein” (1935)

Speaking of stand out monster films, we have another amazing one at the opposite end of the spectrum as “Godzilla.”

Rather than a monster terrorizing helpless people, we have a monster that never set out to hurt anyone, didn’t wish to be created, and yet is seen as nothing more than an abomination. We fear him simply because he is different and must perish because of it.

Yet, Doctors Frankenstein and Pretorious play god and reanimate the dead just because they can. They attempt to set out and prove they are a higher grade of man by doing what no one else can do – decide to lives and who dies.

All while one of their creations meets an old blind man, and takes him in to his home, feeds him, warms him back up and gives him a good night sleep. And in this case, who is truly the superior man?


“adaptation.” (2002)

The second Spike Jonez film in these honorable mentions. Even I didn’t know how much I adored his films.

Like Jonez’ other films, it is hard to nail down exactly what happens in “adaptation.” but what makes it far more difficult is the screenplay written by Charlie Kauffman, and then proceeds to make himself the main character of the film. We follow Kauffman as he attempts to adapt “The Orchid Thief” into a screenplay, but finds it impossible given the source material and his twin brother Donald, constantly interfering about how his screenplay is coming along.

I have never seen a film like “adaptation.” and I hope I never do. It is about the struggle of a screenwriter who somehow gets wrapped up in the ongoing story, and then works all of that into his screenplay. Are we watching Kauffman as he writes the screenplay? Or are we watching his interpretation of how it all went down? Or are we watching a man’s slow descent into madness?

I also love the overall message of the film and the realization that Kauffman comes to at the end of the film – You are what you love, not what loves you. An outstanding message for everyone.


“The Princess Bride” (1987)

Part of the reason I love this film is because of how effortlessly the fantasy seems to come. Every character fits like a glove into the story, their motivation and dialogue feels natural and it all contributes to the narrative that never stops. “The Princess Bride” is beautiful to listen to, as their accents give way to crisp words said with passion and ferocity.

Who does not get excited when Inigo Montoya finally meets the six-fingered man and has a chance to redeem his father? Who doesn’t adore the relationship between Wesley and Buttercup? Who does not get a kick out of the three trails that Wesley must endure to rescue Buttercup?

But the other reason this film gets here is rather simple and often overlooked – that all of this is being told second-hand, as an old man tells this to his grandson. This is a story passed down through the generations, not as just a way to make people feel better when they’re sick, but to teach them about love and acceptance.

In the end “The Princess Bride” tells a story of two vastly different generations. One of fantasy and a fight for true love, and the other of a family growing close together through shared loves. To me, the scenes with Fred Savage and Peter Falk turn this film from a great fantasy into a timeless classic.

Well, those are just some of the my other favorite films that could have easily made my top 25 if there was a bit more room. I hope you enjoyed the quick looks at each of those films. Like I said, I might take a deeper look at each of those films in the future so be on the look out for those.

In the mean time, there is only one film left to look at this countdown – my favorite film of all time. If you’ve known me long enough, then you can probably guess what my favorite is. But if you only know of me through this blog, my top pick may surprise you.

Just in case, here is a refresher of the previous 24 films on this countdown.

25. “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” (1939)

24. “Ed Wood” (1994)

23. “Seven” (1995)

22. “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (1966)

21. “Goodfellas” (1991)

20. “The Thing” (1982)

19. “Son Of Godzilla” (1967)

18. “Pleasantville” (1998)

17. “Singin’ In The Rain” (1951)

16. “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” (1982)

15. “Under The Flag Of The Rising Sun” (1972)

14. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)

13. “The Night Of The Hunter” (1955)

12. “Fargo” (1996)

11. “Strangers On A Train” (1951)

10. “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)

9. “The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre” (1948)

8. “Ran” (1985)

7. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)

6. “WALL-E” (2008)

5. “Mothra Vs. Godzilla” (1964)

4. “Rear Window” (1954)

3. “City Lights” (1931)

2. “Ikiru” (1952)

Stay tuned, because tomorrow I will reveal my number one pick and my favorite film of all time.


Mini-Review – “Ip Man 2” (2010)


This is the martial-arts equivalent of “Rocky 4.” Even down to an ending speech from the protagonist about how he hopes his actions can help people change.

“Ip Man” was one of those rare martial-arts films that understood the simplicity of the genre, yet still managed to make these actions feel grand and meaningful. Along with “The Raid: Redemption,” those two films were the best martial-arts movies since the days of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

The plot follows up on the events of “Ip Man,” as our titular character (Donnie Yen) has fled to Hong Kong and intends to open up a new martial-arts school for his style of fighting, Wing Chun, combining defense and attack into one fluid motion. The film follows the conflict of getting the school running, fighting off rival schools and a climax against an English boxer who will fight any Chinese challenger to show the “superiority” of the United Kingdom.

Part of the appeal comes from these being based on true events. While I don’t deny that Master Ip did fight an English boxer, I do find the film’s portrayal of these events to be less than satisfying. Most of the events throughout the first half of the film do not amount to anything.

Master Ip has a friend who can’t remember anything that wanders the streets of Hong Kong, and we see him bring his friend food every once in a while. But this plot thread leads no where, as we don’t even see one last meeting between the two. This is one of many scenes that add little to the film.

“Ip Man 2” tries to add too many new characters and plot details to the simple story of the first film, which soils the great moments. While the martial-art scenes are fun to watch, as always, this one left me feeling hollow and unsatisfied.

Final Grade: C-


My Film Quest Through 2015 – 100 New Films

Schindler's List, Oliwia Dabrowska

If you’ve followed my blog for most of 2015, you may have noticed that I’ve released a lot more reviews than I usually have. The reason for this is because, one of my many New Years Resolutions was to watch 100 films I have never seen before, and write reviews on as many of them as I can. These movies did not have to be new theatrical releases, but any film that I had not already seen at some point in my life.

And after I released my review of “The Exorcist,” I had finally reached my goal. After nearly seven months of watching nearly five new movies every week and then finding the time to write my extended thoughts on each of them, 100 new movies have been seen.

This was one of the most fun and exciting times, since nearly every day I got to witness something new and watch kinds of filmmaking unfold. From old and nearly lost silent films, to animated films released only weeks ago, to everything in between, this has been a wild ride.

So, for your viewing pleasure, and to put down in a record, here are each of those 100 films, and my grade on each of them. As I recall, all but five of these movies have a review somewhere on the site. The only ones that don’t are the first three, an animated trilogy released straight to DVD that was based on a manga in Japan, and “The Room” and “Sharknado 2,” both of which were a Rifftrax Live experience, from the same creators as “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” while they ripped apart a terrible movie, so it is hard to properly judge the movie when I could barely distinguish the movie from the riffing.

Other than that, all the other 95 movies have proper reviews. The grades in this list might be modified from my original reviews, as my thoughts on them might have changed over time, though only slightly.


1. “Berserk: The Egg Of The King” – B-

2. “Berserk: Battle Of Doldrey” – B+

3. “Berserk: Advent” – B

4. “Wild” – A-

5. “Big Eyes” – A-

6. “Top Five” – B

7. “Election” – A-

8. “Selma” – C

9. “Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman” – B+

10. “American Sniper” – A-

11. “War Of The Worlds” (1953) – C+

12. “Foxcatcher” – B

13. “The Way We Were” – B-

14. “Boyhood” – A

15. “Dale & Tucker Vs. Evil” – B

16. “Inherent The Wind” – B-

17. “The Imitation Game” – C+

18. “Zodiac” – B

19. “Whiplash” – A

20. “Top Hat” – C+


21. “King Kong Vs. Godzilla” (Japanese Version) – B+

22. “The Theory Of Everything” – C+

23. “The Interview” – F+

24. “The Odd Couple” (1968) – C-

25. “Jupiter Ascending” – C-

26. “Father Of The Bride” (1950) – B

27. “Philadelphia” – B-

28. “The Hustler” – C+

29. “Project Almanac” – D+

30. “Easy Rider” – C-

31. “Kramer Vs. Kramer” – B

32. “Barbarella” – C+

33. “Kingsmen: The Secret Service” – B+

34. “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” – A-

35. “An American Werewolf In London” – A-

36. “Them!” – B

37. “The King’s Speech” – B+

38. “Nosferatu The Vampyre” – C

39. “The Fugitive” – B

40. “My Man Godfrey” – C


41. “Melancholia” – C+

42. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” – D+

43. “In Bruges” – B-

44. “Now, Voyager” – B-

45. “Superman II” – B-

46. “Wall Street” – D+

47. “The Public Enemy” – A-

48. “The China Syndrome” – B

49. “It Follows” – A-

50. “Viva Zapata!” – C+

51. “Die Hard 2” – C+

52. “Run All Night” – D+

53. “Chef” – B

54. “The Secret Of Kells” – B-

55. “Rushmore” – A-

56. “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” – C

57. “Unfriended” – A-

58. “Crank” – B

59. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” – B

60. “Ex Machina” – C


61. “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1955) – B-

62. “The Magnificent Ambersons” – C+

63. “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” – B-

64. “The Room” – B

65. “Schindler’s List” – A

66. “El Mariachi” – C+

67. “My Dinner With Andre” – B

68. “Unbreakable” -B

69. “Stella Dallas” – A-

70. “Mad Max: Fury Road” – A

71. “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” (1939) – B-

72. “Papillion” – C+

73. “Time After Time” – B+

74. “Dark Passage” – A-

75. “Spy” – A-

76. “The Babadook” – C+

77. “Jurassic World” – C

78. “Greed” – B+

79. “Dirty Harry” – A-

80. “Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks” – D+

Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.

81. “Inside Out” – A-

82. “Hotel Transylvania” – B

83. “Soylent Green” – B

84. “Kung Fury” – B-

85. “Hannah & Her Sisters” – D

86. “Rubber” – C+

87. “All-Star Superman” – B

88. “Terminator: Genisys” – D

89. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” – D+

90. “Miami Connection” – C+

91. “The Shop Around The Corner” – B

92. “Varan, The Unbelievable” – C-

93. “Atragon” – B-

94. “The Giant Claw” – C

95. “Mortal Kombat” – C+

96. “Ant Man” – B-

97. “Mr. Holmes” – B+

98. “The Incredible Shrinking Man” – B-

99. “The Red Shoes” – C-

100. “The Exorcist” – A-


Since the selection of movies is so fruitful in this list, and because there were so many that I adored, it seems applicable that I count down my ten favorite. So, just for the sake of argument, here are my ten favorite of these 100 films.

10. “Election”

9. “Dark Passage”

8. “The Public Enemy”

7. “The Exorcist”

6. “An American Werewolf In London”

5. “Whiplash”

4. “Inside Out”

3. “Boyhood”

2. “Schindler’s List”

1. “Mad Max: Fury Road”


And, because I’m sure this question will get asked as well, here are the five films that I hated the most out of the bunch.

5. “Project Almanac”

4. “Hannah And Her Sisters”

3. “Wall Street”

2. “Terminator: Genisys”

1. “The Interview”


So that is what I’ve been working on for the last seven months. When I wasn’t working or spending time with my family and friends, I was mostly watching these movies. What you can expect from me in the future is to finish up my Favorite Films countdown, as we will soon be reaching my top ten.

Thank you to every last one of you for your continued support and interest in my passion. I wouldn’t be here without you guys and hearing each of your thoughts on my opinions and reviews keeps me going. All of you are amazing people and don’t ever forget that.