Wednesday 27 January 2010


Every now and again, some newspaper or some website or some magazine or some TV channel (most likely Channel 4) will do a “Best of X”, and tell you all the movies you should see, books you should read, games you should play, whatever. The fact is, however, that a lot of these things aren't the best of the best. They’re what a bunch of critics think the best are – and most of the time, they’re wrong. Citizen Kane is an okay film, but it’s not the best one ever made – that’s Revenge of the Sith. Sgt Pepper isn’t the best album ever made, that’s blatantly The Varangian Way.

So, here are five things that are frequently over-rated, and their plucky little underdog that you should be rooting for


The Magnificent Seven

I hate this movie. It’s dull, laborious, and a waste of fucking money, sure...but that’s not the reason I hate it. I hate it because this is the point where the Western world decided that they didn’t want to read subtitles, or see nasty foreign types on their screens. They’d just take the story, and do it English...with nice white, American actors...and cowboys!

Because their market research at the time had led them to believe that Cowboys are better than Samurai, presumably.

What follows is one of the most uninspired rip-offs in the history of movie making (with the notable exception of Eragon). Watch the hell out of the original, Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin No Samurai (Seven Samurai), and the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life, but please don’t worry yourself with this overrated piece of claptrap.

High Plains Drifter

Sure, you’ve heard of High Noon, A Fistful of Dollars, Unforgiven, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Young Guns, Outland – all great movies, right? But chances are that you haven’t seen the first western that Clint Eastwood ever directed, High Plains Drifter. Oppresive, mind-bogglingly violent and a little bit rapey, this should be required viewing for the Emotionally Fourteen.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those movies that I can’t say too much about without it giving the whole bloody thing away. So...just watch it, I guess.

Schwarzenegger Movies

Batman & Robin

Ha! I kid!

Conan the Destroyer

All too easily dismissed out of hand because it wasn’t as sweeping and powerful an epic as its predecessor, Conan the Barbarian, that doesn’t actually stop Conan the Destroyer from being a fun fantasy movie. In fact, in many ways, it captures the essence of the original stories and comics even better than the first movie. There’s magic, wizards, and combat, all told in a rather more episodic format. Considering that Conan was originally episodic and not epic...hey, this is more what Conan is supposed to be!

It’s not as good as the first movie, but it’s just as fun.

Star Trek Movies

Star Trek

Three years ago, someone could say “I like Star Trek”, and I’d say “Okay” or, at most, “What series is your favourite?”. These days I say “When you say that, do you mean you like Star Trek, or that bizarre mish-mash of Star Trek and Star Wars that was released last year?”

Star Trek isn’t a bad movie by a long stretch, but it’s a bad Star Trek movie. It relies way too much on big special effects, explosions, punch-ups and geeky, giggly in-jokes. That’s not what Star Trek is about – that’s what Star Wars is about. There was no character depth, unless you knew the originals anyway, and I could have sworn the Romulans appear to have been Vongformed in this instalment.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Yeah, okay, it’s an odd-numbered one, but it’s the best of the odd-numbered ones. There’s deep characterisation, and a sense of wonder and adventure that’s not there in the truly botched movies, like Number One and Number Five. If you’ve been put off re-watching it because of some stupid thing Simon Pegg said, then don’t do that. What does he know about whether a Star Trek movie’s shit or not?

Star Wars Characters

Boba Fett

There is a fan sub-culture based around Boba Fett and his clan, who call themselves “Fandalorians”. Hah, hilarious! Jesus...

Seriously, why is this guy so popular? His complete list of achievement in the Star Wars movies, in chronological order are:

Does what his dad says. Chuckles “menacingly”. Watches his Dad die. Cries like a girl. Appears in The Star Wars Holiday Special. Stands around. Appears at Cloud City via plot-device. Stands around. Stands around. Stands around. Falls in a hole.

Consider that next time you see someone wearing a Boba Fett shirt.

Princess Leia

Unplug your stupid “Girls...ewww” mentality that seems to surround way too many of the E14, and consider this: Princess Leia is, after Obi-Wan and Vader, the third-hardest character in the Star Wars movies.

Princess Leia is the single greatest shot in the Star Wars movies, hitting with a blaster bolt nine times out of ten. She has the potential to be a Jedi. She can lend a hand fixing the Millenium Falcon.

If that doesn’t work for you consider this. There are only two characters in the movies who choke people to death. The other one is Darth Vader.

John Carpenter Movies


Alledgedly, this movie singlehandedly created the slasher movie genre. Here’s the thing, though. Virtually every other slasher movie franchise (well, the ones of note, anyway), are better. Friday the 13th does it better. A Nightmare on Elm Street does it better.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes outdo it, and they were made before it.

What we have here is nothing more than a turgid slasher movie – and not really a very original one either.

Dark Star/Memoirs of an Invisible Man

There are two John Carpenter movies you should see. One of them is the Dan O’Bannon scripted sci-fi comedy Dark Star, and the other is the Chevy Chase/Sam Neill comedy Memoirs of an Invisible Man. It turns out that the master of gore and horror is actually a fucking amazing comedy director! Who knew?

Not the people who've seen They Live, that's for damn sure...

1 comment:

  1. A truly great read.

    Even though WE could argue about the new Trek movie until the sun goes down. I think the relauch was exactly what you said, but then the relaunch was an attempt to re-energise (see what i did) the franchise for todays cinema audience. I dont mean to criticise any member of the public, but lets just say a vast majority probably arent into Star Trek, they wont give a shit about massive character depth, all they want from a space film is explosions, things moving really fast and tits.

    The fact that the next generation movies started failing, albeit the movie plots were wearing thing, is because they spent too long deveoping the characters and not enough blowing stuff up.

    The Next Generation movies were fantastic at such growth, you have Data.. the modern Tinman who wants to be human, the love interest between Troi and Riker, Picards anguish over the last of the Picards (better than that mohicans crap).

    No of course it wasnt a REAL trek movie, because the vast majority of the cinema goers wouldnt know one and wouldnt want to see one... also as box office trends indicate, that kinda Trek film doesnt sell anymore..

    No, what they had to make was a special effects explosion happy film to get people in the doors..

    Bloody hell, Under Siege isnt exactly the Shawshank Redemption, but its still a kick ass movie simply for its fights and explosions..

    I think the sooner we put to bed the old guidebook on how to make a Trek film the better.. cos them days are over.. The relaunch was fun, explosion-y and one hell of a ride. Trek fan since I was 5... Still a Trek fan today..

    the less said about STar Trek 5, the better.