Top Ten Movie Villains

Movie villains are the backbone of the entire art form. Too often villains go unrecognized for just how important they are. Without villains there are no stories, no conflict, no drama, you get the picture. Of course there are exceptions, but I love a good villain. Usually the case is, the better the villain the better the movie. This is a list of my favorite villains in all of film.

There are many cases where the antagonist of the story is actually more interesting than the protagonist and even when that’s the case, I’m a sucker for watching a hero triumph over a villain. I took a lot into account when I made this list, but I’d have to say the order and choices were mainly based on a combination of the enjoyment I have watching the villain on screen and the actual malevolence of the character. Well, here it is.

10. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)

Ra’s Al Ghul is the leader of The League of Shadows and the mentor to the greatest hero in existence, Batman. In a way, they both want to save the world. Bruce Wayne studied under the tutelage of The League of Shadows because he was seeking the means to fight injustice. Where Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul differ is in the way Batman, as a hero should, sets himself apart from the villains whereas Ghul believes in necessary evil.

9. Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York)

Martin Scorsese’s epic about the early remnants of a city focuses largely on one of the most intense and cruel figures in the history of cinema, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the character flawlessly and with fervor.    His lust for  power is matched only by a love for his country and the freedom it represents. Gangs of New York is a vengeance story and to watch protagonist Amsterdam finally smite Bill the Butcher is incredibly satisfying.

8. Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

Never have the senseless and discouraging crimes against humanity performed by the Third Reich ever been more personified in film than with Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of Amon Goeth in Steven Spielberg’s magnum opus, Schindler’s List. This a film about the ability and will to do good. Amon Goeth represents the contradiction to this idea. He’s commanding, blood-thirsty and completely apathetic towards his actions.

7. Jack Torrance (The Shining)

I say Jack Torrance, but I more so mean the evil pumping through the veins of The Overlook Hotel that eventually forces sane writer/father, Jack Torrance’s transformation into a crazed/axe-wielding murderer. The first sequence in the bar where both Torrance and The Overlook Hotel show their true colors serves as a solemn warning for the horrific oddities that have yet to transpire. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy and one of the greatest villains in film.

6. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)

In a gorgeous performance, Anthony Hopkins supremely captures the essence and soul of an incredibly intelligent serial killer who not only murders his victims, but eats them. The grotesque violence that the character is capable of can only be spotted in a single scene of the film, but even during the moments where he’s only staring, you can still feel the gravity of just how despicable the character at hand actually is. He probably gets the least screen time of any villain on this list, but he is easily one of the greatest in the history of film.

5. Silva (Skyfall)

Raoul Silva (formerly Tiago Rodriguez) is the most sinister and formidable opponent James Bond will ever acquire. This isn’t some cackling, conniving or cat-petting villain bent on world domination. Silva wants one thing and one thing only, M. He’s a former MI6 agent, M’s “favorite” at his time of service before he was betrayed. He loves M if only because she gives him purpose and hates her for what she’s created in him. He’s a showman and he has fun doing what he does and he’s one of them, he knows all the tricks. Silva is a mastermind, he’s flamboyant, he’s malevolent and he’s completely deranged.

4. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)

Confident, cold, calculating, silent, creative, determined and soulless. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the brutal killer, Anton Chigurh. His weapons of choice are a cattle gun and a sawed-off shotgun fit with a foot-long silencer, but a pair of hand cuffs would do just fine for this man who will stop at nothing to reach his goals. “People always say the same thing” Chigurh says to a young woman who tells him he doesn’t have to kill her. This is a situation he’s been in before and it’s one he’ll be in again. Killing for him is just as easy as waking up. He is death incarnate in the Coen Brothers’ poetic masterpiece of crime and violence.

3. Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Col. Hans Landa is Nazi Officer, but he is so much more depraved than any other member of the Third Reich. Unlike the officers and foot soldiers who whole-heartedly believe Adolf Hitler’s poisonous words, Col. Landa is merely a Colonel of the S.S. because he knows it’s in his best interest. He’s a sly detective and easily earns himself the nickname, The Jew Hunter. At the end of the day however, he doesn’t care about the Third Reich’s plot for world domination. He cares about his own personal gain and if that means betraying his entire country than so be it. He just bleeds malevolence whether he’s drinking a glass of milk or strangling someone to death. Hans Landa isn’t evil because he’s a Nazi, he’s a very evil man who happens to wear a Nazi uniform.

2. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)

Bane can be looked at as the absence of hope. A meeting with Bane, let alone a fight with Bane, would result in anyone’s demise. He’s strategic, tactical, he speaks with intelligence and eloquence, but at the same time he is a complete brute. The mask he wears makes it so he can survive an unbearable pain, but it also serves as a signature look and a reminder of how emotionless and inhumanly evil this man can be.

In order to exact his torture of Batman and the city of Gotham, Bane places himself in a seat of power. He’s a revolutionary warlord, he’s his own General and he’s his own greatest soldier. This is a highly demanding performance and not just physically. Tom Hardy plays the character to perfection. Bane is supremely fearsome, intimidating and though he has a strict regiment and plot, there is no denying his admiration for death and destruction.

1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)

The Joker is unlike any other movie character and villain in the way that he epitomizes pure evil. The Joker is always smiling because there is never a dull moment where he is not doing exactly what he wants, instilling evil into the world. As the dark, crusading, creature of the night Batman is good for the sake of being good. The Joker, a gleeful and colorful clown, is evil for the sake of being evil.

The Joker burns a mountain of money just show exactly how much he doesn’t care about the idea of a motive. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” he says to the White Knight, Harvey Dent. Even when faced with opportunities to kill the heroes of the story, he instead attempts to reveal their true colors by giving them opportunities to kill him. He would gladly die doing what makes him happy.

Heath Ledger gave the greatest performance of all time as the darkest and most “unstoppable force” ever portrayed. Despite the fact that The Joker is so fiercely evil, he is very charismatic in the way he is also a clown. Ledger utilizes this trait in creating not only the greatest villain, but the greatest character in all of film. There didn’t need to be some kind of origin story or flashbacks to when The Joker was young. All there was in The Dark Knight was a showcasing of the constant battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Anything less or more would have taken away from the perfection.

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The Dark Knight Rises Review

I have never been more excited for a movie than I was for The Dark Knight Rises. I loved every single solitary second of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight Rises was the sequel to my favorite movie and the definitive end to what I could easily call my favorite series. My wild expectations were exceeded with the masterpiece that is The Dark Knight Rises, because with this epic Christopher Nolan has crafted the perfect ending for the perfect story.

The endings of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight offered resolution, but Gotham wasn’t saved the way Bruce Wayne had set out to save it as the symbol for good, Batman. They weren’t happy endings, but they did offer hope for brighter days. Hope is a large undertone of The Dark Knight Rises mainly because all of it is dashed with the emergence of a new threat against Gotham, Bane.

Bane is an intelligent brute force and he is the most intimidating presence I’ve ever seen depicted. He’s a revolutionary tyrant (although there’s more to his agenda), he’s his own General and he’s his own greatest soldier. Bane has never been more appropriately titled than he was in The Dark Knight Rises because what Christopher Nolan and Tom Hardy have created is the bane of Batman’s existence and the good he’s meant to inspire. There is a poetic and constant battle between a symbol for good and a symbol for evil in The Dark Knight, but unlike The Joker, Bane has a plan and it involves destroying Batman and everything he cares for. However, The Dark Knight Rises isn’t just simply about Batman’s struggle against Bane, a story like that had already been told.

Batman Begins told the perfect hero’s journey, it was a tale about one man, Bruce Wayne and his journey to becoming a true hero, Batman. The Dark Knight was about good and evil and the balance the two offer, Batman and The Joker. The Dark Knight Rises, however, is about the beating heart of a city. It is a sweeping epic that utilizes every character we’ve come to know and love and manages to introduce a few more incredibly fundamental pieces to the puzzle in order to tell a story of hope, triumph and the heroism that can only be described as legendary.

The Dark Knight Rises was filled with talent on and off the screen. Tom Hardy who gave a magnificent and very physical performance as Bane wasn’t the only new cast member. There was the always brilliant Marion Cottillard, the extraordinary Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway who offers the flawless performance of what should be considered the greatest and definitive Catwoman. Wally Pfister, again takes to the camera (apparently for the last time) and Hans Zimmer finishes what he started in the first two and with The Dark Knight Rises, Zimmer offers in The Dark Knight Legend the greatest score in film. Every recurring actor offers easily their best performance of the series, including Christian Bale as a Batman past his prime.

The Dark Knight Rises accomplishes the monumental task of beginning flawlessly and only getting better as the film progresses. As the stakes and tension rise so to does your involvement in the story and then the ending is fully realized. The Dark Knight Rises offers nothing short of the greatest ending in film. The word epic was never fully understood until I was able to finish watching The Dark Knight Rises. With this film, you’re being thrust into so many different events and characters it’s almost hard to take it all in, but when put in the hands of a story teller of this caliber, you can’t expect anything less than a miracle.

Christopher Nolan, with the help of his cast and crew, did exactly what he set out to do. He masterfully weaved together what he had done with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and told the ending his story deserved and needed. And that is nothing short of miraculous. The heroic character that Nolan and Bale have slaved over has gone through quite the journey and every journey has to come to an end.

The Dark Knight Rises is that end. Ever since I was able to witness The Dark Knight four years ago, I called it my favorite movie, but upon seeing The Dark Knight Rises I realized that the two are right on par with each other. Batman Begins is just as flawless, but because it is a simple origin story that absolutely needed to be told the exact way it was told it wasn’t able to touch on the complexities, themes and emotions that The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are able to delve into. My favorite word to describe a movie that I love is, and I don’t use it lightly, masterpiece. However, that doesn’t seem like enough for this trilogy. The Dark Knight Legend is not only the greatest movie ever created, it’s the greatest story ever told.

Grade: A+

Moonrise Kingdom Review

Allow me to preface this review, by saying that I have no insight into the mind of Wes Anderson whatsoever. I have only seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and it was a long time ago and I remember being interested, but apparently I was interested enough to watch it again or watch any other Anderson movies, until now. If I were to describe Moonrise Kingdom in one word I think I’d have to say pleasant.

While watching this unique film there were many moments where it was hard not to just smile at all the wonder and oddities. It was simple enough tale, but with wit and whimsy a love story unfolds seemingly through the eyes and innocence of a child, which is very fitting because at the heart of this tale is the blossoming love between two children, Sam and Suzy.

Moonrise Kingdom is actually at times a very real story and some of the undertones can be very serious at times, but because of the way it’s told it always feels as though we’re in one of the magical worlds in one of the books Suzy reads throughout. It makes choices and sticks with them. It’s very consistent and quite funny, but you laugh for all kinds of different reasons than you would had you been watching the average comedy that comes out these days.

Moonrise Kingdom cared more about its characters and the story it was telling and at the same time it was a funny story so the laughs just came naturally. For the most part, everything just worked and fell right into place. The casting was great especially the two main characters played by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Bruce Willis was another standout in a very different role for him. All and all, behind the screen and in front of the screen, everyone was doing their job well because they created something here that is completely pleasant.

Grade: A

Ted Review

Upon first hearing the premise of Ted, I was very intrigued. Just based on the idea, I felt as though it could be enjoyable and I was very interested to see where they would go with it. Fortunately, Family Guy creator didn’t get too repulsive of vulgar with the story he was telling and actually surprisingly enough seemed to care about the story almost as much as the jokes he was making. All around there were some dry spots, but it was an alright film.

Ted tells the story of a boy who wishes his teddy bear to life and the friendship that has lasted even into adulthood. The idea is that the main character, John (played by Mark Wahlberg) is getting too old for his teddy bear and he should move on with his lovely girlfriend (played by Mila  Kunis). This is supposed to make for some type of drama as he’s always choosing between the girlfriend and Ted.

The storyline doesn’t make much sense to me because I don’t see why someone can’t have a best friend and a girlfriend, but it is what it is. There is more to the story as a creepy father and son who are obsessed with the talking teddy bear get involved. It is first and foremost a comedy and there are a good amount of laughs, but it certainly left you wishing there had been more antics thrown in involving this sleazy, talking teddy bear.

It attempts to pull at your heart strings, but at the end of the day I don’t know what you could’ve done with this story, but they choose the comedy route and it felt as though it was missing some comedy in place for a alright story that was very inconsistent at times. It was as if the story was fighting the comedy when most good comedies find a balance between the two. It wasn’t a bad movie. It did its job for the most part, I just easily could’ve seen it being done better.

Grade: C+

Brave Review

There are animated movies and there are Pixar movies and unlike Pixar’s last venture, Cars 2, Brave is a Pixar movie. Cars 2 was the only Pixar movie that didn’t reach that level for me and I was happy to see they’re back on track with their newest movie, Brave. The animation was beautiful as ever, the story kept you involved and it’s rich in themes (something Pixar movies manage every time).

There was something about Brave that made me very excited. Seemingly, Pixar was making a fantasy movie whose protagonist was a strong female hero with a Scottish accent. Not long into Brave I realized it was so much more and just a little less. Of course I won’t give anything away, but it did not involve much adventuring and there was magic, but it just wasn’t that magical. The film really didn’t offer the amazing escapism you’d expect from the creative minds behind Pixar working to tell a fantasy story.

The always enjoyable Kelly Macdonald plays the young princess, Merida. She is quite the archer and is at the heart of the film. Her choices are what drive the film to the unexpected places it goes and along the way some characters are met (not as many as you’d expect), challenges are overcome and lessons are learned. The film was quite good and rather enjoyable, but it felt a bit small.

Small isn’t all bad though, it was also simple but in no way was it cliché. It was a very different story and it had its ideals fully realized in Brave, ideals about family and the things you can accomplish with the people you love. Pixar has done better and Brave could easily have been done better. Brave was no perfect movie, but it was certainly a pretty enjoyable one worth seeing.

Grade: B

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

I might have to think about it a bit more, but I may just be able to call The Amazing Spider-Man the best film to come out of Marvel Studios. To be completely honest, that’s not saying very much at all because I don’t think very highly of the movies Marvel has produced. For one, I can easily say that The Amazing Spider-Man is better than Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man Trilogy.

Once again, not saying much. The original Spider-Man trilogy isn’t even good, so to say The Amazing Spider-Man is better isn’t much of a compliment. It is, however, also better than The Avengers in everyday. It’s more entertaining and it actually has two dimensional characters to care for. The Amazing Spider-Man is a pretty good movie, unfortunately though the movie wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been.

In essentially reworking and crafting a completely different tale about a young loner who would one day become Spider-Man, Marc Webb (director of (500) Days of Summer) has succeeded in creating the best movie about a person with super powers, a super hero (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight do not count, Batman is not a super hero). What Marc Webb failed to do was follow up on what a great story he had been starting to tell.

The characters and performances were perfect (especially by lead Andrew Garfield and love interest Emma Stone). The origin and development was fun, entertaining, but most of all, enjoyable. Once, the villain, The Lizard came into play the film began to sour for me which was made all the more disappointing by the fact that I was as into the film as I was.

They really took their time with Peter Parker and the arc of his character, but once The Lizard came into play, everything seemed extremely rushed. There were points that felt right on the level of what Raimi had done with Spider-Man. Maybe the wrong villain was just chosen for what they were trying to do. Where as the first half of the film seemed to stray away from the generic way of telling a story such as this and worked perfectly. The last and villain-heavy half seemed to be very generic and just bored. The Amazing Spider-Man was good, but it had a lot more potential.

Grade: B