It’s been a long time between lists on Salty. A passion of mine, we used to get all the kernels to vote but a lot of them have gone their own way or are too busy to contribute anymore. To me, underrated movies are movies I have seen that I just worship but for some odd reason the rest of the world did not get on board. Remember, this is my list and as such it is my own subjective thoughts, this will be unique in that everyone else has completely different tastes based on everything that has happened in their life up until this moment. It is my goal that this list may see you add some movies to your lists of things to view and I hope we agree on some of the movies on my list. Please add your suggestions as to what you think is a purely underrated movie that deserved more love.
BY JASON KING
THE RIVER WILD released in 1994 and starred a very active Meryl Streep who did the majority of her own stunts and nearly drowned during the making. Also starred Joseph Mazzello (the little kid from JURASSIC PARK), David Strathairn and Kevin Bacon in one of his truly most evil roles. I loved this for the action, the thrills, the white water rafting and of course Streep and Bacon. As usual you believe Streep is a white water rafting expert, the bloody chameleon she is. I really need to see this one again. It tripled its budget but was never really raved about and since its release I have never even really heard about it.
Larry Clarke is one of my film gods. He is a youth worshipper and loves getting into the heads of his usually unknown and untalented actors and making a unique film that always blows me away. In WASSUP ROCKERS, which released in 2005, Latino South Central poor skater kids have a day living it up with the rich white folk. Great fish-out-of-water story that really captures a strong tone and tells a fantastic story. The style of the film is so unique that Jonathan Velasquez was used for a high end modelling shoot following the movie. It embraced the guys’ true nature and didn’t have any stylings. Love this movie and everything from Clarke. The film was incredibly limited and I don’t think it made more than $1MIL and I had to import on DVD but it was so worth it.
HARD CANDY is one messed up movie, it is freaking brilliant and has become a small, somewhat cult, movie. Besides some very small projects this was the first movie that introduced us to Ellen Page. She had just turned 18 when it released and thank god, one messed up movie to star in so young. It made small returns but most critics will talk about it with fondness. Loved it!
CUBE (1997) is one of the most unique science fiction movies of all time, I love this messed up work of pure bloody genius. It looks like a mammoth budget production but the entire thing was made for $365000 and more than made its money back but it was never a box office smash. A great cult-like enjoyed mouse trap movie. The entire set of the movie was 14ft x 14ft and every character is named after a prison. Must see!!
THE FRIGHTENERS, one of Peter Jackson’s earlier films made in 1996, five years before FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Horror comedy masterpiece in the vein of GHOSTBUSTERS and starring Michael J Fox. Still watch this one regularly. It was this movie, shot entirely in New Zealand (surprise surprise Mr Jackson) that Michael J Fox came to the conclusion to cease long away-from-his-family shoots and signed on to the local TV show SPIN CITY. It was also the film that kicked WETA in the butt and pushed their CGI to new levels. They had to increase their one computer, I repeat ONE computer to thirty six to meet the needs of the effects of the movie. The movie basically doubled its budget but I still feel it never got the love it deserved – highly recommend a viewing if you haven’t seen it yet.
The Sharon Stone Western movie when she was the “it” girl everyone wanted in their movie. Also has the angry Gene Hackman Warlord of a small western town with the most gorgeous son of all time, one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s earlier films. DiCaprio and Hackman own this movie. Directed by Sam Raimi in 1995 the film has a great cast; besides the three mentioned throw in Gary Sinise, Lance Henriksen, Keith David, Tobin Bell and even a much slimmer and younger Russell Crowe. The film didn’t even make budget and was destroyed by critics but I loved it, it may have had something to do with my husband starring in it 🙂 Still love it, it’s no masterpiece but its a cheesy, fun, shoot-em-up Western.
MASTERPIECE MOVIE – I bloody love SNEAKERS and wish I could get it on Blu Ray for a re-watch. Call it the grandfather of the OCEAN’s movies, just not set in casinos, set in the world of IT, hacking and espionage. The ensemble cast is epic; Robert Redford, Ben Kinglsey, Dan Akroyd, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn and James Earl Jones to name a few. It was released in 1992 and made some ok coinage bringing in about $100MIL worldwide bit it should have made a lot more. Can watch this one over and over. Phoenix and Redford are awesome in this.
THE GAME is one of my all time favourite movies. It released in 1997, two years after Fincher ate my soul with SE7EN and made me a lifetime fan. Just like SE7EN this movie ate me and spat me out and had me obsessed with Fincher. The twist in this movie, for me, is one of the greatest movie twists of all time (mental note – write a TOP BEST MOVIE TWISTS). Just writing this I am telling myself it is time to watch it again this month. Douglas and Penn are brilliant and I loved Deborah Kara Unger and James Reborn. So brilliantly made. The movie made decent money and is raved about by nearly everyone I have ever spoken to about it but I still don’t think it is in the echelons of the greats, where it belongs.
WATERWORLD is an amazing film, hated by most and bagged to the shithouse and back but this is totally unjustified. It was the commencement of the tall-poppy tear down of Kevin Costner but it has everything a good movie needs, MAD MAX on water, a wicked boat, evil bad guys, underwater monsters and lots of adventure. This and PRINCE OF THIEVES were brilliant partnerships between Kevin’s Reynolds and Costner. At first Costner said he would quit unless his friend Reynolds was put on to direct and later Reynolds walked out of the movie over halfway through it seeing Costner finish the project himself, a huge passion project for him. Reynolds was quoted as saying “Kevin should only star in movies he directs. That way he can work with his favorite actor and favorite director.” Haha. The film was also the most expensive movie ever made prior to TITANIC and this is mainly because the entire set sunk in a hurricane and had to be rebuilt. Add to that the trimaran sank dragging Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino behind it and they were nearly killed, and this was on the first day of shooting. No pain no gain right? It more than broke even but it was the start of the decline of Mega-Costner – still loved everything about it and watch it at least once a year.
If you know my movie tastes you will know that visuals win out for me, ok plot is incredibly important as is direction and acting but if you can blow my mind with aesthetics you are halfway to getting a fine review and THE CELL was released in 2000, a year that saw me in the middle of my obsession with all things serial killer, hell one of my email addresses is still firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂 THE CELL was this incredible trip into the actual mind of a serial killer, played brilliantly by Vincent D’Onofrio. He is battled in the mind by a psychologist played by Jennifer Lopez. The movie is stunning in its visuals and most of the scenes are based on macabre pieces of art. The installation “Some Comfort Gained from the Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in Everything” by Damien Hirst is what the horses are based on, “Dawn” by Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum is the first scene of Peter entering the mind of Carl where the three women are facing the sky and the corridor where Catherine chases Carl is based on a painting by Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger called “Schacht”. The visuals of director Tarsem Singh are what make this movie and I just watched his most recent movie SELF/LESS last Friday and the review is on the way but it also has some nice visuals and today it was announced Tarsem will be directing the thirteen episode television show, EMERALD CITY.
THE CELL tripled its budget was mostly disliked by critics, well fooey to them, I love it.
A technicolor vomit movie I bloody loved, still watch it regularly. Always loved SPEED RACER the TV show and just love how this was made, so OTT colourful and just the way this movie should have been made, over stylised cartoonish. BRILLIANT. Also helps I love Hirsch. The film lost a lot of money and the reviews were mixed. Don’t care, love it and am going to watch it again this week.
This one should probably be higher on the list. PEACEFUL WARRIOR is one of my top 50 movies of all time and is possibly the most affectingly powerful meaningful comeback story of all time. No shame, I purchased this on DVD from the US because someone told me the lead guy was gorgeous but then the film gut-punched me. It is based on a true and terribly harrowing story and the movie stars Nick Nolte (not the gorgeous guy), Scott Mechlowicz and Amy Smart. I do not think it made its money back and for some reason was only released in cinemas in the USA, Mexico and Lebanon. Some may find it slightly “Hallmark” melodramatic but no comeback movie has had such an impact on me.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my directing gods, a French director, who teamed up with Marc Caro to make THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. Jeunet is one of the most visual directors of all time and his earlier film DELICATESSEN was one of the first foreign films I ever saw and it changed my life, broadened my mind and helped forge my love of film. I immediately saw this one after it and then Jeunet got ALIEN: RESURRECTION which was followed by AMÉLIE and the rest is history. THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN is one of the greatest dystopian films I have ever seen and Jeunet’s mind is bloody creepy. It cost $18MIL to make but figures are unavailable, I am certain it never got an Australian release and if it released in the USA it would have been very art-house.
James Cameron is my all time favourite director. At the time of its making, in 1989, the $70MIL budget made it the most expensive movie of all time, something Cameron appears to have carried on to most of his movies :). Most of the stunts were performed by all the leads and the film was one of the most harrowing to make. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio had a nervous breakdown, Ed Harris nearly drowned and suffered horrendous depression from the film, something he has refused his entire life to ever talk about. ABYSS aka THE ABYSS released between ALIENS and T2 – you could say Cameron was on fire and in his prime, this was also his first passion project steering him to the depths of the ocean (if we of course ignore Piranha Part Two: The Spawning haha), something that has consumed his life and films, and something that led me to sit in a room with him talking about it, a career highlight. Money-wise it just made a bit of profit but the cost on the mental stability of the cast was a lot more. It is in no way one of Cameron’s greatest movies but it is still a masterpiece from my cinematic directing god.
THE GUARDIAN was epic. Water, action, total Hollywood with the massive hunk, in Ashton Kutcher, with the asshole older guy/ legend with a history and motive in Costner. Have watched it well over twenty times and love it every time. These are the movies cinemas were invented for, high action, decent plot and acting and sound and visuals of superb proportions. Critically snubbed most likely due to its very commercial story I loved it and continue to do so. Why Ashton did not pursue this comic action persona I will never know, he was like Keanu in SPEED and could have been a mega-star but was more happy doing his romcoms. I also found this the start of the Costner resurrection but he has remained pretty low-key with the occasional film every now and then. If you liked THE PERFECT STORM you will love this. It lost a fair bit of coin at the box office and this makes me sad.
Speaking of box office flops Disney threw in $300MIL to make JOHN CARTER and got close but never broke even in worldwide sales and what a huge shame this was. JOHN CARTER was one of my favourite movies of 2012. It was EPIC and science fiction and offered so much potential but no one got behind it, personally I am going to blame the marketing. Taylor Kitsch was a brilliant and bloody sexy leading man and the film was made for cinematic 3D brilliance, it looked amazing and could have been the start of a STAR WARS-ish franchise. It holds the record for the longest development hell of any production with 79 years from start to finish to make it to screen. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s story made its debut in 1912 in a magazine serial and the pre-production started in 1931 haha. Originally it was meant to be animated back in 1931 and if those plans went ahead this could have been Disney’s first animated feature. Give it a viewing if you haven’t – it is fun and it is awesome.
ALPHA DOG is an amazing, powerful punch-in-the-gut movie that should have made squillions. Sadly it only made a worldwide total of $32MIL and budget was not released. I do not think it ever got a release in Australia, but I could be wrong. The story is incredibly powerful and the cast is EPIC. Just look at the poster and those names. When films this good fail to be successful I question the human race and their tastes that are mostly fed to them by large corporations. Again I blame marketing of the film plus issues between the director and New Line Cinema. New Line wanted edits to the film and the director refused, so they sold the complete film to Universal, as is, and they shelved it for one year and then released. This definitely hurt the film. But not the content of the movie, track it down and watch it people.
12 AND HOLDING is one of my all time favourite movies. Think STAND BY ME if it was totally fucked up, one of the best coming of age movies ever made. It has some of the best child actors I have ever seen and you may notice a pretty much unknown Jeremy Renner in there as well as an always solid Annabella Sciorra. The movie was made for an estimated $400000 and failed to make even a quarter of that. Why? No studio behind it, no marketing or someone with money telling people it is awesome, enter downfall into oblivion. Sad because it is a great piece of cinema that I just love – again, another import from the US for me. Track it down peeps!
MOON (from Bowie’s son, the very talented Duncan Jones, who is currently making one of my most anticipated movies of all time, WARCRAFT), came out in 2009 as an incredibly limited release art house science fiction – WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!!! This film is loved by anyone who has seen it, makes my top 50 movies of all time and is one of the best science fiction movies ever made but not commercial enough so just be relegated to art house cult movie. Probably one of the worst marketed films of recent times, it did make its money back but seriously, a movie that was made for $8MIL bloody dollars that is this awesome should have made ten times that! If you haven’t seen it, get onto it ASAP.
Nothing much to say here, definitely the most underrated movie of all time, a pure work of genius that was released before its time. I love it as much as THE INCREDIBLES, the movie Brad Bird made after it but THE INCREDIBLES made squillions, and this did not even make half its $73MIL budget. The Western world, at the time, could not appreciate an adult animation (also appeals to kids). It is beautiful in every way and will melt the heart of anyone who sees it.
Thanks for reading peeps and please remember this list is subjective to my tastes, yours will be different, but if you like similar movies to me these movies will blow your mind! 🙂