Friday, July 11, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Last

Fair warning, these are mostly darker action flicks.

41. 28 Days Later
(Cillian Murphy)
Definitely one of my favorite zombie movies, though purists will argue that it's not a proper zombie film, since the cause of the outbreak is viral, not supernatural. Uh, yeah, this is me not caring. This movie is frightening, fresh, and visually interesting. A young man wakes up from a coma to find that all of London has been evacuated, and only the infected are left. He finds a few survivors, and together they make a break for the coast and possible rescue. Though the sequel was a bit disappointing (all special effects, no humanity), the original is a very cool film. (Fair warning: brief frontal dudity in the first 10 minutes--dude wakes up naked in the hospital.) Here's the trailer:

42. The Untouchables
(Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert DeNiro)
I'm not a huge Costner fan, but I love this film. The Untouchables is the story of Elliot Ness, the government agent tasked with bringing down Al Capone (played by DeNiro!). He gathers around him a group of men who can't be bought or bullied into backing down--the Untouchables. This is one of those great epic "cops vs. gangsters" pictures, and features Connery's Oscar-winning performance as Malone, as well as the famous shootout-in-a-train-station scene. Here's a glimpse of Connery and Costner:

43. Unleashed
(Jet Li, Morgan Freeman)
This is the most violent "anti-violence" movie I've ever seen, and it's this tension that makes the film so great. Li plays Danny, a man who's been treated like an attack dog since he was small, and is controlled by his master and used as an enforcer and trained killer. When an accident suddenly frees Danny from captivity, he tries to find a life outside of the world of killing and cruelty that he's known. He finds that world with Morgan Freeman, a blind piano tuner, and his daughter. This new life is threatened when "Uncle Bart" shows up looking for his faithful "dog" to return. Amazing fight sequences, and real dramatic tension make this movie a brutal but awesome story.

44. Serenity
(Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau)
How do you create an awesomely different sci-fi film? Make it a sci-fi/kung-fu/horror/western. Joss Whedon first created this story as a TV series called "Firefly," which was never given a real chance on the networks but has taken on a whole new life in syndication and with fans. Serenity is the feature-film that (re)introduces us into the world of Captain Mal and his crew, scavengers and pirates living at the edges of an imperial-controlled galaxy. Mal was on the wrong side of the last great war, and now he and his band of misfits and scaliwags try to scrape out a living--until the arrival of a doctor and his very disturbed sister sends them on a new and darker journey. If you've never seen the series, that's okay, the film guides you into the story and characters just fine. Just keep in mind, it's really a western--so some of the slang and "substitute-swears" take a second to get used to. Here's the intro:

45. Red Dawn
(Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen)
Man, do I enjoy this film. This is your prime example of 80's Cold War paranoia--an alternate reality nightmare in which the Soviets invade through Canada and Mexico, and catch the nation unawares. The story follows a group of high-schoolers in Colorado, who barely escape the invasion and hide out in the mountains, conducting guerrilla warfare on the occupying troops as they try to stay alive through the winter. It's super-awesomely-cheesy and really violent, but I dare you not to cheer them on as they wreak havoc on the enemy. WOLVERINES!!!

46. 12 Monkeys
(Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt)
Another bizarre sci-fi film. In this one, the human race was nearly wiped out by a viral epidemic. Bruce Willis is a convict sent back in time to find the source of the virus--but he may or may not just be insane and hallucinating all of it. Reality gets all bendy and strange as he tries to piece together what's going on, and maintain his sanity. Brad Pitt gives one of my favorite performances of his, as a clearly insane trust-fund baby who just might also turn into a mass murderer. Bizarre movie, but interesting story. (Note: I'm pretty sure you see naked Willis booty, so be prepared.) Here's a darkly funny scene inside the asylum Willis is taken to when he arrives in 1996:

47. Batman Begins
(Christian Bale, Liam Neeson)
After the ridiculous "Batman And Robin," it appeared that Batman movies were forever doomed to campyness. Then came Christopher Nolan's 2005 reboot of the franchise, and he made it clear--Batman is freaking awesome. This is a grown-up comic book movie, dark, brooding, and psychologically-focused. In other words, no more neon bad guys or rubber bat-nipples. This is a great movie for people who haven't watched Batman films before, or have given up on the idea. And i'm TOTALLY GEEKING OUT about the sequel, which comes out in 6 DAYS!!! Okay, the clip is of Bruce being trained by the ninja master Ducard (played by Neeson). Rockin':

48. Blade Runner
(Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer)
More sci-fi, this time from 1982: Ford plays Deckard, a "blade runner"--a man who hunts down dangerous androids who appear human but are not. He's put on the trail of "replicants"--the most human-like of their kind--who have escaped their owners. This search takes him through a seedy, dystopian Los Angeles, as he hunts down these dangerous individuals. (Note: Seedy--meaning i definitely remember some sort of nudity, so be aware.) The visuals were stunning for the era they were produced, and the themes of the film include the idea of what it means to be "human." Pretty cool flick. I need to check out this newly-released version of it:

49. Beautiful Girls
(Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon)
I remember a friend in college sitting me down and saying, "You need to watch this movie with me, you'll love it." He was right. I did. Beautiful Girls is about going home, reconnecting with the past, and figuring out where to go from there. It follows Willie, a piano player returning home for his high school reunion, who reconnects with his best friends, who each have serious relationship issues. The film deals with fidelity, honor, loyalty, self-doubt, and growing up. And the music's great. One of the most interesting (and somewhat uncomfortable) relationships in the film is the friendship between Willie and his 13-year-old neighbor Marty (played by Natalie Portman). There's obviously an attraction, the bond of kindred spirits, there, but the age difference presents some problems, to say the least (don't worry, it doesn't go anywhere scary):

50. The Incredibles
(voices of Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter)
One more animated film, and my favorite Pixar film. This story of a superhero family who struggles with accepting their abilities and destiny is great, because it values the idea that some people have special abilities that others don't, and those who are gifted have a duty to use those gifts. Like Dash says, "If everyone is 'special,' then no one's special." In this "everyone gets a ribbon" world, that's a refreshing message. In this fun scene, Mr. Incredible goes to Edna Mode to get his costume fixed:

If you missed any of the other parts, just...scroll down. They're all there. Thanks for reading!!!

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