This is my last one! Welcome to the third and last part of my three-part article on movies that, strangely, are unpopular with critics, but still managed to generate a fanbase throughout the years. As I mentioned previously, in the next paragraphs, it will be my great honour to introduce you to some of the ‘bastards’ of my movie collection. Even though I grew up loving these movies, almost all of them were pretty much hated by either the critics, the box office or other big movie fans like myself at their release.
I hope I can give you a reason to take an interest in these movies, or at least consider them for a second look! For this last batch, some of them are known blockbusters, while some were forgotten.
1. Dredd (2012) – Pete Travis
Most of you might not know this one since it flopped badly at the box office and it lacked a solid marketing campaign. However, the most recent big cinematic take on Dredd, the futuristic comic book police officer who acts as judge, jury and executioner in the streets of Mega City-One, is pretty stylish and cool. Director Pete Travis used an authentic kind of cinematography to make the visual thrills of Dredd even bigger than common comic book movies. If you watch this movie on Blu-ray or 4K, you might see amazing details in the way they used special effects, slow motion and lighting.
The character of Dredd was brought to screen once before by Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd (1995) and was a totally missed effort. This time, Karl Urban (the actor who played Bones in the latest Star Trek movies) revived the character with an adequate serious attitude and epic one-liners. He teams up with Rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to infiltrate a complex building full of gangs and criminals to hopefully to restore justice, which makes way for blood, massacre and great action. Do not let the ‘B-movie’ look of this film discourage you, Dredd‘s action still adds up today and you will be easily entertained.
Hey, guess who is the main villain here! Our good old Cersei Lannister (aka Lena Headey) is still starring at windows and looking down at all the horrors committed by her people.
2. Entourage: The Movie (2015) – Doug Ellin
This one is mostly a guilty pleasure. Ok…I might as well say it: the Entourage movie is not really good, but it’s funny and cool if you remain a good fan of the series after all this time.
Overall, the script and most of the story doesn’t fly so high. See, this as an extended Entourage episode; a series finale after the series finale. Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his lifelong friends Eric (Kevin Conolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), as well as his brother Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon), live in Hollywood and try to support Vince in the making of his first movie as a director. Of course, the legendary talent agent Ari Gold (mesmerizing Jeremy Piven) is back, like never before. A few notorious actors drop by for a cool cameo, including Mark Wahlberg (also a producer of the series), Armie Hammer, Ronda Rousey and Jessica Alba.
The movie is stupid, but boy is it funny. Full of «bromance», sexy and somewhat entertaining, I recommend to watch it on a VERY late Friday night after you had at least two beers. In a post #MeToo movement, this moment already feels a bit wrong, considering how we see women depicted and treated in Hollywood in this somewhat accurate showcase of the movie industry. That being said, a few laughs are to be had still and this closes the loop on more than 10 years of Entourage….not in a spectacular fashion, but they did their best. It remains you of what the series is all about: “coolness”. See Turtle fight Ronda Rousey in the ring so that he can be allowed to date her, one of the best scenes in the movie.
3. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Zack Snyder
Interestingly enough, all three of my articles included a Batman movie! I think it’s pretty clear that the masked crusader was a big part of my childhood and young adult years. The first crossover between the Superman franchise and the Batman franchise was due to Zack Snyder’s revival of Superman with the so-so Man of Steel (2013). Fans were praying to see the two pillars of DC Comics interact and their dream came true! In 2016, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, but accumulating mixed reviews. Many called it a CGI fest, a blockbuster with a messy pace and uneven script, which resonates with many fans today. As for myself, there might be too much CGI for one, but I find the characters to be well exploited. This goes without saying for Ben Affleck, who delivers a dark, wounded and muscular approach to Bruce Wayne and Batman. The web went nuts and screamed for payback at Warner Bros when they learned that he would be the next Batman after Christian Bale, but he pulled it off beautifully and he definitely remains the best part of the movie. Same for Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Gal Gadot’s brief appearance as Wonder Woman. Henry Cavill’s take on Superman is somewhat weaker at some points, but he is fit and looks the part all the time, a good comeback after Christopher Reeves’ era. Finally, the movie is still stylish and visually looks like a comic book, we recognize the signature of Zack Snyder, which works well for superhero movies. The long-awaited fight between Batman and Superman also delivers, that I guarantee!
As the final fight sequence is a bit of a CGI mess (unfortunately), my main issue with the whole film remains Jesse Eisenberg’s very, very poor interpretation of Lex Luthor. Comparable to a whinny and excentric teenager, we wonder where all the maturity and the intelligence we know Luthor has vanished to. Pretty odd for such a talented actor who gave us Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Anyhow, this is a minor flaw in an overall good superhero film. See it or the extended director’s cut again for sure!
4. Iron Man 2 (2010) – Jon Favreau
Now that Avengers: Endgame closed the loop on the awesome Marvel cinematic universe before phase four, it’s also time to look back on some of the movies that define this superhero mega-franchise for the past 10 years. Overall, most fans agree that there were no big stinkers in the MCU since the first Iron Man movie in 2008. However, the one that followed, Iron Man 2 (also directed by Jon Favreau) is almost always ranked in the lowest thirds among more than thirty movies (also including Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk). The script and the story might lack stamina compared to the others, but the second stand-alone movie for Tony Stark has its good moments! As always, Robert Downey Jr. delivers in his role, so it’s pretty easy to remain entertained all the way. My favourite part of the movie definitely remains that F1 race at Monaco, where Tony has drinks with Elon Musk and messes around with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) before driving his own car on the track. The real downer for this movie is its villain: Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko just seems like a big old tough guy who punches stuff, since his connection to Tony’s heritage is pretty minimal. The final confrontation with Vanko and his army is visually cool at best, but not epic. As I find Iron Man 3 to be somewhat weird in comparison to other MCU movies, I sometimes prefer Iron Man 2 for its sense of humour.
Also, an underrated character for sure, let’s just say that Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, the main competitor to Stark Industries in the MCU, steals the show every time he gets! Rockwell is a very gifted actor and this role is a really funny and memorable one in his filmography. Just for the fun of it, I’ll leave a clip here, but this guy really gets it.
5. The Punisher (2004) – Jonathan Hensleigh
Now, we go back 15 years, even before Tony Stark came into play. People seem to forget that there were OTHER movies before the Marvel Avengers’ era, so before 2008 at the release of the first Iron Man movie. Including Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man’s trilogy, The Punisher is one of these movies, exploring the back story of the Marvel’s most controversial and violent hero. Before the release of the Netflix series in 2017, there were two ‘failed’ attempts to bring The Punisher to the big screen, but Jonathan Hensleigh’s movie remains the best one that still needs an audience. The only one to show us the origins of the character, Thomas Jane (Frank Castle/The Punisher) understood his conflicted, violent, but also emotional baggage, making his interpretation really interesting. Filmed back in 2004, in Florida, we detect a Miami Vice vibe to it, which might look kitsch at first. Also, even though making John Travolta the main villain of the movie doesn’t help that much, we are subject to great confrontations scenes and shoot-outs throughout between his gang and Frank. Fans’ personal favourite probably remains the excellent bloody hand to hand combat scene between Frank Castle and The Russian, which is breathtaking.
I would say that this one is mainly dedicated to fans of the MCU and B-movies, as others might not see the point to see this one now. Today, Jon Bernthal has shown us his excellent take on The Punisher in the latest Netflix series, this movie is being forgotten, which is still sad.
And that sums up my series of underrated films that critics hated that you should still check out regardless. Before heading off, we have a whole bunch more for you to check out including our Marvel breakdown of San Diego Comic Con, and a sit down with Spock and Pike from Star Trek Discovery.