Friday, August 19, 2005


By Reymundo Salao

While I'm having a sabbatical from making film reviews, may I just share to you something, well, fun to discuss about. In this edition of my column, let me just share to you some of my personal choices of the WORST popular/successful movies, the BEST underrated (or box-office failure/forgotten) movies, and the movies that are considered hard-to-find, and even CANNOT be found on home video anymore.


1. DARK CITY - This enigmatic sci-fi tale directed by Alex Proyas (director of the Brandon Lee "The Crow" movie) may have been a great big failure at the box office, but the only reason why it might have failed is that the audiences have failed to grasp the imaginative bounds of this surreal masterpiece. It tells of a thought-provoking, mysterious world of a City, which literally is in constant twilight. The movie begins with its main character waking up from his sleep, and not remembering who he was. As he struggles to find out who his identity is, he becomes a suspect of a murder that he has no memory of. Not only that, he is also witness to strange occurrences, one that when the clock strikes midnight, everybody suddenly falls into a trance-like instant sleep, except for him. And while everybody is asleep, strange beings come out of the shadows to alter and control reality. Who are these beings? What is going on in this city? Intriguing and rich in prolific madness, Dark City is a masterpiece, clearly a work that its critics cannot comprehend.

2. CONAN the BARBARIAN - Tagged as the movie that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger's career, and also the same (and perhaps the only) movie where his acting is indeed impressive, Conan the Barbarian has long been regarded as a mere testosterone movie. A brute action flick, and as one critic quoted to describing it as a "Psychotic Star Wars". But there is clearly more to this film than just big muscles, blood n' guts, and giant swords. Because CONAN was based on the books of Robert E. Howard, whose radical "philosopher-barbarian" ideas has become a true work of passion, embodying an ubermensch sense of valiance, honor, and discipline. A character whose essence is closely correlated with the philosophies of Neitzche. In fact, in the intro of the film, there is a quote from Neitzche (which is my favorite quote) "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger". This film was a worldwide success, but only a few have regarded its deeper meaning. In the DVD commentary by director John Milius, he states how much of the film's artistic emphasis on the dramatic side was trimmed down because they felt that American audiences were just too concerned of the action factor of the film rather than the storyline.

3. EVIL DEAD (NOT to be confused with the Chinese movie that was shown last week) - The ORIGINAL Evil Dead was made in 1981 by Sam Raimi who years later would become phenomenally successful in directing the Spiderman movies. Back in the old days, there were only a handful of horror movies that could scare the living daylights out of moviegoers they were "The Exorcist", "Night of the Living Dead" and the one which sprung out of the less popular production companies was this film "Evil Dead". Sinister and ghoulishly eerie, it blends elements of "The Exorcist" and "The Shining" into a terribly disturbing horror movie. It spawned 2 sequels "Evil Dead 2" was more of a remake than a sequel, and also took the movie in another direction as it became more of a campy-comedy film, and "Evil Dead 3: (or as it is popularly known: ) The ARMY of DARKNESS" The Evil Dead Saga has become popular to a vast planetwide cult following, and there had been rumors that its main character ASH would be the next character in the "Freddy vs Jason" sequel, which is initially entitled "Freddy vs Jason vs Ash"

4. LA VISA LOCA - Not too many Pinoy movies are as magnificent as this. And what makes this comedy great is, not only that it is NOT slapstick, but it also serves as a great satire about Filipino culture and attitudes towards foreigners and foreign influence. Unfortunately it didn't gather much hype when it was shown. We could only hope that it would bag an international award later on this year.

5. CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK - Critics just love to pick on Vin Diesel because he seems to have been incredibly stereotyped when he appeared in lousy roles like the ones in "Fast & the Furious" and "xXx". But Riddick attempted to cook up a marvelous sci-fi saga that could proudly stand alongside Star Wars and Dune. But no, critics still thought of him as a talentless Rambo, and Riddick was released on the same day as the newest Harry Potter movie was released.

6. THE QUIET AMERICAN (Released in the Philippines as "The SPY") - This love triangle starring Brendan Frasier and Michael Caine, set in war-torn Vietnam during the 70's is also a good symbolism of the relatinship between Vietnam, the US, and Europe.

7. THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY - like Conan, this film was also successful. But again, people tend to fail to see the depth of its storyline. It is actually a most brilliant tale of how peaceful man's simple ways should have been, but with the introduction of modernity in an innocent community comes the consequence of mayhem. In the movie, Nixau's tribe lived happily with themselves until they stumbled upon a Coca Cola bottle, this bottle would become the one thing that will bring forth envy and mistrust among the tribe.

8. DARKMAN - Before Sam Raimi became well-known for his Spiderman movies, he created this interesting superhero movie which stars the then-not-so-famous Liam Neeson and Frances Mcdormand.

9. OFFICE SPACE - This comedy from Mike Judge, the creator of "Beavis & Butthead" is a hilarious movie about office life. It stars Ron Livingston & Jennifer Aniston.

10. MATRIX REVOLUTIONS - This sequel, which marks the final chapter of the MATRIX Saga was greatly lambasted by critics for the wrong reasons. Its critics considered the heavy storyline aspect as a liability, but it is actually what makes it a great picture. REVOLUTIONS actually completes the MATRIX saga with great dramatic epiclike effect. The twist of Neo's blindness and eventual messianic self-sacrifice really does fulfill a more interesting end. Thumbs-down critics fail to comprehend the beauty in its deep meaning.

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