The Gunslinger45's top 50 favorite movies

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Heads up, this review is going to be a long one.

7.
The Avengers: 2012 (PG-13)
USA / Paramount
92% (CF)



This was the ultimate culmination of the comic book movie boom. Not only is it one of the crowning achievements of comic book movies, it was started by and tied together 5 different movies! This is the cinematic version of a comic book crossover event! But holy hell did it took a while to get here. Like I said before, after Blade we got good comic book movies like X-Men (2000), Spiderman (2002), Blade II (2002), The Punisher (2004), and Batman Begins (2005). But we also got some really terrible movies like Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), Blade Trinity (2004), Fantastic Four (2005), Elektra (2005), Superman Returns (2006), Spiderman III (2007), and Green Lantern (2011). Trust me there were a lot more! And after 2004, the bad movies began to outnumber the good. Well in April of 2005 Marvel’s CEO Avi Arad with some help from Merrill Lynch began to organize the company to finance its own movies based on its characters, namely an Avengers movie where it would be tied together by five different films. And since Marvel would be pulling the strings, this would allow not only more control over what was put on screen, but also enable better quality, and more faithful adaptations. The result became Marvel Studios.

And the very first film Marvel Studios worked on was a character whose rights they had regained from New Line Cinemas, Iron Man (2008). And it was awesome! Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect casting choice for Tony Stark. He perfectly captured Starks ego, arrogance, swagger, and eccentricities that make him such a good character. And while I miss Tony being an unashamed hawk like in his early days of the comics, they stayed pretty damn close to his more contemporary origin story. So I can’t complain too much. It also introduced Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) of the organization that would later be called SHIELD. And at the end of the credits for Iron Man was the first of many post credit scenes, which introduced Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and he wanted to talk to Tony about the Avengers Initiative! After that the fanboy waters had been chummed!

That same year a reboot Hulk movie was released called The Incredible Hulk (2008) and it was a major improvement on the horrendous Ang Lee Hulk of 2003. Best of all was getting Edward Norton to be Dr Bruce Banner and a far improved CGI Hulk who actually said some of his signature dialogue like, “HULK SMASH!” instead of being a silent grunting brute. Best of all those lines were delivered by Lou Ferrigno who played the Hulk in the 70’s TV show I used to watch on the Sci-Fi Channel as a kid. Both movies were financial successes (though Iron Man was far more successful).

What followed included Iron Man 2 (2010). I am probably in the minority, but I really liked this movie. We got more pathos with Stark and Mickey Rourke, who rarely gives a poor performance, played Ivan Vanko who was an amalgamation of villains Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo. This movie also introduced Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and was another box office success.

The following year came Thor (2011) which gave the Odinson his first movie appearance since the God awful TV movie Return of the Hulk. It also introduced to the world Chris Hemsworth in the role that made him a star. And it is actually my favorite of The Avengers tie in movies. I thought Hemsworth was perfect casting for the Thunder God; he had the look, the build, and the presence of royalty. And Tom Hiddleston as Loki was absolutely flawless! However I thought the change from the actual pagan gods to beings from another dimension called Asgard and being an immortal race of aliens from who were mistaken for gods on Earth and where worshiped as the Aesir was pretty silly. But I really liked everything else about the movie, so I did not let that get me down. And this fact allowed the casting of really good actors in certain roles which normally would not be given to a non white actor. Most notable was Idris Elba as Heimdall and Tadanobu Asano as Hogun of the Warriors Three. It had great characters, a perfect balance of action, drama, and humor to break up the tension. Hell Kenneth Branagh was in the director’s seat! So you know that Thor’s speech patterns would be regal when you have Hamlet directing. It did not have as many “doths” or “yay merrilys” as the comics, but it was enough to get the point across. And it did show Thor's transformation from arrogant prince to humble defender of Midgard. And to top it off, it also introduced Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

Finally there was Captain America: The First Avenger headed by Chris Evans. And boy was this a surprise! Chris Evans previously appeared in the horrendous Fantastic Four movies where he played the Human Torch. And he was extremely annoying and unlikable. In this movie though, Evans gets the part right. He plays Steve Rogers as young and idealistic, if not a tad naïve. But the kid’s heart is in the right place, and he expertly portrayed the Star Spangled Super Soldier on the big screen! It was also in this movie that set the plot for The Avengers by revolving around the Tesseract (or Cosmic Cube for comic book fans) that was shown in the Thor post credit scene. And it also included a few nods to the original comic such as the show Roger’s puts on where he punches Hitler in the face (which was the cover of the first issue in the 40’s). And at the end of the movie was the trailer for The Avengers movie itself!

All of the primary cast members from the previous movies would be in this movie (save for Ed Norton who was replaced by Mark Ruffalo) and the story would continue from where the previous movies left off. Now a lot of people were very worried that such an anticipated movie would not live up to the hype. I mean this is a massive movie with a huge budget and ties together the stories from all the other movies. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. And it could not be helped that one anxiety at the time was that this movie was being directed by Joss Whedon. Whedon at this time was primarily known for directing TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. And to be honest I was one of those who had major worries about Whedon’s directorial capabilities. I did not watch Buffy, and while I did watch a few episodes of Angel, it was nothing impressive. That was until a few months before the movie came out. I had checked out another TV show Whedon worked on called Firefly, and I really liked it. Unfortunately the TV show was canceled after only one season and during mid story to boot. But I knew that after the TV show was canned Whedon directed a movie to finish the story of the show. This was a movie called Serenity, and after watching that movie a lot of my concerns were relieved. It showed not only can Whedon direct a big sci-fi action movie, but he can also balance a large cast. All of which would be necessary for this movie.

Then the day came when I saw The Avengers, AND IT WAS EVERYTHING I HAD HOPED FOR AND MORE! Whedon balanced the cast members screen time very well. Each member of the Avengers was given their “moments” which was where they had either a really kick ass scene or action sequence. So everyone got to look badass. Loki also made his return as the main villain. The plot is standard superhero fare. Villain runs amok, tries to take over the world with an alien invasion, and the heroes must come together to stop him. The action beats were all there, the scale was huge, the world was at stake, and the final showdown was easily one of the best I had ever seen! What sets this movie apart from the others is not only the scale but what can be called the movies “Whedonisms.” Joss Whedon likes to add a little bit of comedy into his works. As a scene progresses on, and you get quick comedic beats in, usually in the form of a funny line, a quick visual joke, or the occasional running gag (like Agent Colson’s Captain America man crush). This movie has a lot of Whedonisms, but that does not distract from the movie. The movie is still an action movie based around superheroes and you never lose that feeling. It is just something extra that enhances the movie experience. This movie is a gigantic fun action movie, and helps separate it in tone from the more dark and serious comic book movies like The Dark Knight. In addition, The Dark Knight was a movie where Nolan tried to set the character of Batman in reality. Hence certain elements that were present in the comics were omitted because… they work better in the context of the comic book universe. That’s why Ra’s al Ghul had no Lazarus Pits, and Bane was presented without the muscle enhancing drug Venom. The Avengers on the other hand fully embraces the comic book movie idea. It blends science, magic, and an inverted character who turns into a giant green rage monster when he gets pissed the **** off! And it was fantastic! It gained praise from critics, and also annihilated box office records, becoming the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time. This was mostly due to repeat business as a lot of people went and saw this movie multiple times. Hell I saw it four times in the theaters! This is the movie I saw the most in theaters. I also acted as the guy who got some of my friends and co-workers to see the movie with me. I even broke my general rule of not seeing a movie in 3D (the other reason it made so much money) for three of those viewings just to get the box office up. And I hate paying extra cash to see a movie with 3D, and quite frankly I generally hate 3D movies! But the 3D in this movie was okay. And most importantly I wanted this movie to out-gross the very mediocre Avatar, and the over long Titanic, so I had no issues paying extra. It is also the movie where I had the most fun seeing it in theaters, and the movie that I can honestly say is my favorite movie in terms of pure entertainment. Sure it has a few flaws. Namely the fact that the majority of the character development for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk was in the 5 tie in movies. Like any good comic book tie in, you really to read the tie in issues to know the bigger picture. It makes the movie that much better. But with that being said, the movie was exactly what it needed to be. And the movie delivered what it needed in spades! One of the greatest comic book movies ever and a milestone in fanboy history, The Avengers, at number 7.



Jaws and A Fistful of Dollars are great, Casablanca is really good too although haven't seen in a while.

Watched Dirty Harry for the first time (somehow, as I love Eastwood) last night, was really enjoyable

Edit: Blazing Saddles and The Dark Knight are both really good films, and I think Dr. Strangelove is one of Kubrick's many masterpieces. The Avengers I thought was really good and can see why super hero/comic fans would love it, although not so much too my tastes.

And you can count me as another person who likes The Book of Eli, it's a bit too brutal, dark and grim at times, but overall I find it quite an entertaining film
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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Now that's a bad movie! I didn't even want to watch it, but since I'd heard it's awesome like five thousand times I decided to give it a try and was quite disappointed. It felt like the plot was only an excuse to show all the special effects, which were one of the very few advantages of this flick. However, the film wasn't atrocious and was even a bit entertaining, but certainly didn't live up to the hype!



Hell I saw it four times in the theaters! This is the movie I saw the most in theaters. I also acted as the guy who got some of my friends and co-workers to see the movie with me. I even broke my general rule of not seeing a movie in 3D (the other reason it made so much money) for three of those viewings just to get the box office up. And I hate paying extra cash to see a movie with 3D, and quite frankly I generally hate 3D movies! But the 3D in this movie was okay. And most importantly I wanted this movie to out-gross the very mediocre Avatar, and the over long Titanic, so I had no issues paying extra.
Marvel Studios should recognize fans like you. At least with a free ticket to Avengers 2.



Marvel Studios should recognize fans like you. At least with a free ticket to Avengers 2.
If they did that they would need to hand out A LOT of free tickets! I was not the only one who saw this movie more then once to get the box office up.



I was thinking The Avengers was going to suck going into the movie, the only reason I went is because my friends basically begged me to go. It was way better than I expected.

As far as superhero movies go, I still prefer the Nolan Batman trilogy, the 1966 Batman, and Watchmen though.



I have not seen Watchmen yet, but only because I already read the comics.
Yeah, the comics are the better work, and I know a lot of people HATE the movie. But the movie is enough of it's own thing, while staying true (enough) to the comic that it's worth seeing. I still need to see the complete version though, the added animated bits about the Black Freighter seem interesting.



Avengers was entertaining,I'm not a big fan of action or superhero films,so basically I don't remember anything about Avengers now except that I enjoyed it.
I still need to see the complete version though, the added animated bits about the Black Freighter seem interesting.
I always watch the longest version of the film but the Black Freighter story makes the film really heavy and depressing.I don't think that film gets better because of it but it definitely improves the devastating atmosphere.
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"Anything less than immortality is a complete waste of time."



6.
Rashomon: 1951 (NR)
Japan / Daiei Film Co.
100% (CF)



So what movie do I rank above The Avengers? A Kurosawa movie of course! Rashomon is often said to be one of if not the best Kurosawa movie and it is very easy to see why. While it does take place in feudal times, Rashomon is not a samurai movie in the same vein as Yojimbo, instead this movie is a psychological thriller. The story begins outside of Rashomon gates, where during a downpour we meet a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura), a priest (Minoru Chiaki), and a commoner (Kichijiro Ueda). The commoner asks what has the monk and woodcutter so down, and they say that they have just been at a trial for the rape of a woman, and how multiple people have testified and given contradictory reports. The main players are the bandit Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune), a samurai (Masasuki Mori), his wife (Machiko Kyo), and the woodcutter. What happens is that Tajomaru convinced the samurai to go off the road with his wife to sell ancient swords he claims to have found. The samurai agrees and he takes his wife to go off into the woods. When they are deep in the woods, Tajomaru ambushes the samurai, ties him up and rapes his wife, which is about as simply as I can put it. The genius and innovation behind this movie is that each character tells the story in flashback and while each story follows the same points, are very different and all are contradictory. Each of the testimonies where shown to be entirely plausible, but all are in doubt due to certain circumstances. To top it off, the certain testimony at the trial is called into question when new facts concerning the crime scene are discovered. It is an examination of point of view and the meaning of truth. And each of the four people who gave a story has their character cast into doubt. This movie gave rise to the “Rashomon effect,” a cinematic device that will use the flashback techniques to show multiple points of view of one single event. This would be used in movies like The Usual Suspects, Vantage Point, and Basic. The ending however is extremely poignant! I got a few tears in my eyes at the end! See this movie now if you haven’t! The movie was very well received in the western world, but oddly enough it confused many Japanese critics. Many claimed that it did well overseas because it was a more “western” film and others thought it did well because it was exotic. I don’t get the gripes personally, as it is easily one of my favorite films Kurosawa has done, and I am not the only one who believes it. It is often named among the best and most influential films. Either way you look at it, Rashomon is a brilliant piece of Japanese cinema, and it is my 6th favorite movie of all time.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Awesome pick with Avengers! I need to try and catch up with the rest of your list

And I enjoyed your review of it, reminded me of my own fanboy ramblings back when I first saw it. JayDee's Avengers review


Now that's a bad movie! I didn't even want to watch it, but since I'd heard it's awesome like five thousand times I decided to give it a try and was quite disappointed. It felt like the plot was only an excuse to show all the special effects, which were one of the very few advantages of this flick. However, the film wasn't atrocious and was even a bit entertaining, but certainly didn't live up to the hype!






Okay now the number 5 spot is a tie. I have tried to find out which one I like better, and I can't. It is like choosing between kids; not gonna happen. So instead we have 5A and 5B.

5A.
Clerks: 1992 (R)
USA / Miramax
88% (CF)



Clerks follows a day in the life of Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halleron), a clerk at the local convenience store the Quik-Stop. He is in his early twenties, is not in college, and hates his dead end job. But he does nothing to advance his station in life and does his job with the bare minimum of effort. His counterpart is Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), who works at the video store next door. If Dante does the bare minimum, Randal does even less than that. He is hostile to customers, routinely tears up customer membership cards, and is so bad at his job I am shocked he has one. The movie begins on Saturday morning on Dante’s day off and he is called into work. And the day he has is absolute hell. He has to juggle being assaulted with cigarettes, issues with his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti), issues with his cheating ex-girlfriend Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer), hockey on the roof, dealing with local drug peddlers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (director Kevin Smith), hanging out with Randal, and the strange and unusual customers who happen to come into the stores. And between all of that comes a sh*t ton of very funny discussions about movies, sex, relationships, and the random bullsh*t that a couple of guys would have just sitting around at work with nothing to do. The best way I can describe this movie is one half heart mixed with one half raw humor. The extremely crude language is very creative, as are the situations Dante and Randal are put into. But the movie is not just a collection of dick and fart jokes. You see Dante is torn between his current girlfriend, and his cheating ex-girlfriend he still has feelings for. He faces the choice of staying with his current girlfriend who is crazy about him, brings him food at work, and wants to see him get out of this soul crushing hellhole that is the Quik-Stop. Caitlin on the other hand, he dated for years in high school and she cheated on him all the whole time. He also has to struggle with the choice to stick with the easy and secure job he hates or to quit and face uncertainty as he tries to get a better job or go to school. The movie leads to interpersonal conflict all around, but ultimately the day has to come to an end with the closing of the store. And it is full of Kevin Smith's signature dialogue. And it is one of the funniest movies I have seen.



5B.
Clerks II: 2006 (R)
USA / Weinstein Company
63%



Then there was Clerks II, which followed Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl a critical and a commercial disappointment. Jersey Girl was a love letter to Kevin’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith, and while it had nowhere near the same level of raunchiness or humor, the movie had a double dose of the heart that is reminiscent of Chasing Amy. And to be honest, I liked it. But the tabloids were much more focused on the behind the scenes, especially since this was when star Ben Affleck was still dating Jennifer Lopez and it was the most unpleasant shoot Smith was on. After the wrap, he felt he needed to go back to the well and decided to make Clerks II, and he set the movie ten years after the events of the original. The movie opens in black and white as Dante pulls up to the familiar Quik-Stop. Dante opens the shutters to reveal that the stores are burning down and this leads to the transitions to color. Faced with their unemployment, they have no choice but to work in the fast food industry. They get jobs at the local Mooby’s, a fictional fast food chain tied to a cartoon character first seen in Dogma. Like the first Clerks, this follows the now thirty year old men in a day at their jobs. They deal with the same annoying customers, Jay and Silent Bob are hanging out in front of the restaurant, and Dante and Randal still fire back and forth the same hilarious dialogue as before. A few new characters are also added. Becky (Rosario Dawson) is their boss and Elias (Trevor Fehrman) is the awkward fry cook. But instead of this being a rehash like say Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, these characters have grown. Dante is engaged to a woman named Emma (Smith’s wife Jennifer Schwabach) and is trying to advance his station by moving to Florida to manage his fiancée’s father’s car wash business. Jay is now sober (a reflection of Jason Mewes’ own troubled drug history) and has found Jesus. Silent Bob is his sponsor, and Randal is now having issues about his best friend and constant companion moving away to Florida. But despite these changes they are still the same characters. Randal is still hostile to the customers, Dante is caught in yet another love triangle, and despite being sober and God fearing, Jay is still a foul mouthed pot dealer who puts the moves on every chick he meets. The movie also continues to be focused on a day in the life of these characters as was Clerks, but now the stakes are higher and the gags are larger. Even Smith shows his maturation as a film maker by actually moving the camera more instead of having it be mostly stationary like in the original. The humor in the original was mostly word play, but with a bigger budget allows for bigger jokes. This is shown in a bigger primary set, more location shooting then the original, and even a dance number. But the biggest part is one of the final scenes as Randal tries to throw a surprise going away party for Dante by hiring a Tijuana donkey show performance in the restaurant! And due to certain “confusion” hilarity ensues with one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in my entire life put on screen! I nearly died laughing when I saw this in theaters! The end is also a big emotional payoff as each character’s crisis is solved, the two clerks finally find their true station in life, and it is a big happy ending. And it brings an end the stories of characters I have enjoyed since I was a teenager. I loved these movies then and I still love them now. Clerks and Clerks II tied for the number 5 spot.



4.
Gran Torino: 2008 (R)
USA / Warner Brothers
80% (CF)



Clint Eastwood has been on screen as an actor for what seems like an eternity. And he has been behind the camera as a director for almost as long. And this is my personal favorite movie he has done. The story centers on Walt Kowalski, a Korean War vet whose wife just died. He lives alone in his house in the old neighborhood of Detroit. He is the last of the old neighborhood that lives there, as the rest of his neighbors are Hmung (people from the Indochinese Mountains of China, Laos, and Cambodia). And since he is not particularly close to his immediate family, he chooses to stay in his own house. Walt is also very racist, as it is not uncommon to hear him say something form his mental rolodex of racial slurs. Things start to change however one night when he prevents his neighbor Thao from stealing his prized 72 Gran Torino. The theft was part of an initiation into a Hmung gang, and when they try to get Thao to do another theft for them, Thao says no. They are about to beat the crap out of him when they are confronted by Walt with an M1 Garand who tells them to “Get off my lawn.” The gang bangers flee and Walt is now the new hero of the neighborhood. His Hmung neighbors bring him food and various gifts that he does not want. Thao’s older sister Sue Lor is the most adamant about making a connection with Walt, despite the various slurs which she laughs off. Thao is sent over to help Walt around the house to atone for trying to steal his car. The two ends up spending a lot of time together and the two become rather close. Thao gains the father figure he never had, and Walt gains a closer family bond to them more than he does with his actual family. Walt gets to pass on what he knows to the next generation while Thao learns to become a man. It is a touching tale of drama with Clint Eastwood reprising his signature tough guy role. However unlike other previous tough guy roles this is not in a crime thriller like Dirty Harry or a spaghetti western. In fact there is very little action in it. It is very dialogue heavy, but it is never boring, there is purpose to each line and Eastwood injects some humor into a lot of it. Eastwood’s portrayal as Walt is more of a tragic figure in need of redemption. He was a very cold father, he his dying of cancer, and must face his mortality. He is also a working class man who is a relic of a different age long gone, but what he has to teach is not outdated. And while he still holds old prejudices, he slowly changes while still being the same man he always was. It is a very touching movie while presenting itself with all the pissed off gruff you expect from an Eastwood movie. It is easy to enjoy, and considering it made a mountain of cash at the box office, it is safe to say lots of people enjoyed it. This movie however was ripped off at the Oscars, not receiving a single nomination, adding to my beefs with the Academy. But it is a great movie. Easily one of my all time favorites at number 4.



Rashomon is awesome. Perhaps the beginning of postmodern storytelling in film?