Top Ten Movie Heroes

A very long time ago I posted my list of Top Ten Movie Villains. I love a good villain and a great villain almost always makes for a great movie. Just recently, I posted my Top Ten Movie Antiheroes and I’ll certainly I’ll edit those lists as I see fit, but before that I decided this was a list I had to make. Heroes are the kind of characters you love to see prevail because they do the right things when the right things need to be done.

Like many lists, this was a difficult one to come to a conclusion to. First off, I didn’t exactly know how to go about this list. Should I judge the heroes based on how much I personally enjoy the character or should I judge the heroes based on their intentions as a hero. I ultimately chose to make a list with both of those ideas in the back of my mind and this is the result.

10. Driver

Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece is an allegory of the events and relationships that can drive a person to do the things they do. The nameless hero at the films core is a true hero and one for the ages. He’s mysterious, charming and most of the time he needs no words. He simply puts himself in danger for the people he cares about. Ryan Gosling plays the character masterfully.

9. Rooster Cogburn

One of my favorite genres in film is the western. In terms of the western genre most of the time the protagonists of the story can be considered antiheroes especially in my favorite Clint Eastwood westerns. You’ll find one of my favorite western heroes in the Coen Bros. masterpiece, True Grit. Jeff Bridges just may have given the greatest performance of his career as the alcohol chugging, foul-mouthed, trigger happy U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn.

8. Catwoman

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The Dark Knight Rises tells the perfect story it does because it’s made up of so many rich and meaningful characters. I love the part that Catwoman plays in the war that transpires between Batman and Bane. You never know what to expect from her. By the end she’s right where she belongs in this epic. Catwoman fits right in the middle between Batman and Bane in this story of hope. It’s a little reminiscent of the part Harvey Dent played in The Dark Knight only this time with more inspiring results. By the end, Catwoman can’t run away and fight what she truly is, a hero.

7. Sanjuro

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Sanjuro simply epitomizes the idea of a lone warrior and wandering samurai. Sanjuro is an enigma, but it’s hard not immediately side with him as he causes chaos in a village ruled by rival gangs. The clever ronin pits the two gangs against each other and the result is intense and completely enjoyable. Sanjuro is a cool, level-headed and wise samurai. He can’t be rattled and if he draws his sword with intent to kill then death is inevitable. He’s one of if not the most iconic samurai in film and he’s one of the greatest heroes to boot.

6. Gandalf

The Lord of the Rings tells one of the greatest stories in all of film and in said story there are many characters you can’t help but despise and many characters you can’t help but love. My favorite character in all of Middle-Earth is the great wizard, Gandalf. Where as some may argue that the shoes of the hero are filled more by Aragorn, Frodo or Sam I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. However, the wise and powerful Gandalf is a hero on all accounts and he’s my favorite character in the tale so making this list with out him would be a sin. If you want a true showcasing of heroism just watch Gandalf battle the Balrog in the Mines of Moria.

5. R. P. McMurphy

At the heart of the masterpiece, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is a beautifully woven relationship between a hero and a villain. The power-hungry establishment is personified in my most hated villain (in a good way) ever put on screen, Nurse Ratched. The rebellion to think and act freely is led by one of the greatest heroes put on screen. Jack Nicholson gives his career-best performance as Randall Patrick McMurphy. The character is unbelievably likable regardless of his crazy antics. No matter the case, he has respect for the people that deserve it and though it may mean he stays in the looney bin forever, he’ll take a stand and do the right thing when no one else will. R. P. McMurphy is a truly magnificent character and one the greatest heroes in film.

4. James Bond

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James Bond is one of, if not the most, iconic character in existence. He is the definitive secret agent and he is an awesome movie character. My favorite incarnation is Daniel Craig. He takes the realistic world he’s been presented and dances circles around it. He’s a dutiful hero and a reactionary. His charm and charisma are second to none. Never was James Bond more masterfully explored than in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. Not only are Bond’s roots examined, in the same film he meets his match. James Bond always has his fun with women and his drinks that are shaken rather than stirred, but at the end of the day he does his duty as secret agent, 007.

3. Kikuchiyo

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If you’re looking for heroism in film, look no further than 1954 and you’ll find a gorgeous masterpiece entitled Seven Samurai. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai tells the tale of seven brave warriors who join forces to protect a village of farmers from bandits. My favorite samurai I’ve had the pleasure to meet through film is the seventh samurai, the clown, the triangle, Kikuchiyo. Toshirô Mufine is the only actor that makes the list twice and how could he not? The man is a delight to watch every single second he embodied Kikuchiyo. He was a confident master of the sword and seemingly he’s also a bit of a buffoon, why not have fun? He was an odd one as the other six samurai point out, but aren’t we all.

2. Django

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He’s a freed slave, he’s a bounty hunter, he’s a vengeful gunslinger, but most of all Django is a hero. He’s a courageous and benevolent force driven by love. His journey is an epic one, the story is gorgeous and Django is a character you feel the need to root for. He’s the fastest gun in the south and nothing will stand in the way of him and the woman he loves. Django is the epitome of a badass and his heroism is the stuff of legend. The character is defined and portrayed flawlessly. Django Unchained is a wild and eloquent excursion into southern slavery in the form of a spaghetti western fantasy and at its heart is Django, without a doubt one of the greatest heroes in film.

1. Batman

My favorite movie, without question, is The Dark Knight. My favorite villain in all of cinema is Heath Ledger’s Joker. It goes without saying, but choosing the number 1 slot for this list was no difficult task. What Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale first crafted in one of my favorite movies ever made, Batman Begins, was nothing short of the greatest hero’s journey ever put on screen.

They also succeeded in crafting the greatest hero in existence. Obviously, Batman was first created in 1939, but never was the character more realized than with what Christopher Nolan has been creating in his Dark Knight Legend. Both Nolan and Bale just show a complete understanding of their character at hand. What Bruce Wayne is, is a man with no responsibility or agenda. He could’ve done anything he wanted to, whether that be a powerful villain or a lazy, rich playboy that he seemingly is. Instead, he became Batman.

The symbol for hope and good in Gotham is Batman, a character like no other who literally is good for the sake of being good. The character may best be defined by the final line of Batman Begins. Lt. Jim Gordon attempts to show his gratitude, “I never said thank you,” he says to which Batman immediately replies “And you’ll never have to.” Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman for the thank you’s or the praise. He does the right thing because it’s the right thing.

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Top Ten Cinematic Enemies

From the very beginning of film there have always been enemies or rivalries at the core of any story. Whether its a cop and a robber in “The Great Train Robbery” or Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in “Empire Strikes Back”. Sometimes these enemies can best be described as good vs. evil, but not all stories are that black and white. Each has a side to root for, each is unique in its own way and this is a list of my ten favorite.

10. William Munny and Little Bill Daggett

Unforgiven is one of my favorite films of all time. The entire movie centers on the two stories of William Munny and Little Bill Daggett. In the archaic, dying west, a story is told of two men who helped shape the violent worlds around them and their eventual meeting. Its a beautiful film with one of the greatest climaxes in film.

9. Alfred Borden and Robert Angier

At the center of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece of deception and magic is a rivalry between two magicians. The dark story that unfolds between these two characters is nothing short of breathtaking. These character’s obsession with one-upping each other eventual leads to fatal tragedies. You won’t want to blink at the risk of missing something.

8. Juror #8 and Juror #3

Guilty or Not Guilty? That is the question that 12 Angry Men asks from the beginning, but what drives this tale are two men who will fight for their side till the bitter end. Each character in this film is unique and brings something to the story, but what it all comes down to is a rivalry between one man who argues “not guilty” from the very beginning and one man who will argue “guilty” regardless of reason.

7. The Bride and Bill

The four-hour epic, Kill Bill, would be nothing without its two main characters; Beatrix Kiddo and Bill. What makes the relationship between Bill and Beatrix so unique is that even though they know in their hearts that one of them has to die, they still feel an unconditional love for each other. This relationship leads up to one of the greatest deaths in film.

6. Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Amadeus is one of the greatest films ever made and that’s because of the relationship that it centers on. It’s a tale of the mediocre composer Antonio Salieri and his professional rivalry with world-renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The relationship is interesting in the way that Mozart isn’t even aware of Salieri’s deep-seeded hatred towards him. Its truly an amazing film.

5. The Man with the Harmonica and Frank

Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the greatest tales of revenge ever told. What’s beautiful about this story is that we don’t even come to realize what our hero is attempting to take revenge for until seconds before he gets it. It’s an interesting way of telling a story and it works perfectly. We realize what a cold-blooded bastard Frank is throughout the movie, but we don’t truly understand his menace until he comes face to face with The Man with the Harmonica.

4. Maximus and Commodus

The epic known as Gladiator is driven purely by a tale of deserved vengeance. When watching Gladiator, we went nothing more than for the hero Maximus to succeed in his quest for killing the the ruthless emperor Commodus. What you get in Gladiator is a character you absolutely love and and a character you absolutely hate and when they are mortal enemies it makes for an exhilarating film experience.

3. Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday

In most films there is a clear cut good guy and a clear cut bad guy. Some of the most interesting rivalries come from films when that’s not so clear. Films such as The Prestige and Amadeus are examples of that, neither of the characters in those stories can be established as the good guy or the bad guy. What makes There Will Be Blood so interesting is the way it tells a tale of the rivalry between two unquestionably terrible people. The story of hatred that unfolds is a truly amazing one to watch.

2. Randall Patrick McMuphy and Nurse Ratched

The heart of the masterpiece that is One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest lies in the relationship between R.P. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. There is no movie character in the history of film that I feel more hatred towards than Nurse Ratched. And to watch the battle of wits between her and the free spirited Randall Patrick McMurphy is nothing short of one of the greatest film experiences ever. The battle between the two is the battle between being yourself and conforming to the whims of the powers that be and its really quite beautiful.

1. Batman and The Joker

No other pair of enemies has ever been able to give as much poetic justice to the battle of good and evil than the never-ending battle of Batman and The Joker. Batman is pure good, while The Joker is pure evil and they are now and always will be mortal enemies. The genius behind their relationship is in the way that neither will kill the other.

Batman won’t kill in general especially not The Joker, because that’ll be giving The Joker exactly what he wants; for Batman to reach his breaking point. The Joker will kill anyone except Batman because “he’s too much fun”. They need each other in order to have purpose as does good and evil. They “complete” each other as The Joker says. The story of the epic and constant battle between Batman and The Joker epitomizes the term good vs. evil.

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Inglourious Basterds Review

Inglourious Basterds is a film I’ve been dieing to see and subsequently review for almost a year. It was by far the most anticipated movie of this year for me and my expectations for this film were off the chart. I’m happy to say that they were exceeded and Inglourious Basterds is not only going to be the film of the year, but also in my opinion, one of the greatest films ever made. The film was absolutely fantastic from start to finish and I can’t wait to see it again.

Tarantino being the genius that he is, managed to take everything you liked about his past films and throw them into this spectacular epic. The always amazing dialogue, the memorable characters, the quotable lines, the constant comic relief, and the unexpected twists, all was there and done better than ever. Quentin Tarantino certainly has his own style when it comes to making a movie and he holds absolutely no punches in this phenomenal piece of cinema.

Before going on, I’ve got a word of warning. I’d like to say that I found the movie downright flawless, but I can see why others might disagree, these are some of those reasons. Keep in mind I’m not saying these are bad things because what Quentin has mad here is a nearly perfect movie. These are just words of warning to some people who might not agree with me. First off, the movie, if you didn’t already guess, is very violent and gritty. You know how Aldo Raine talks about how he wants 100 nazi scalps, yeah you actually do get to see some scalpings and much more. Secondly, expect a lot of reading (subtitles) and a lot of dialogue, not bothersome to me in the least, but I have heard its boring to some. Lastly, theirs not as much action as you might think, Inglourious Basterds is an art house film first and an action movie second (one of the reasons I love, Tarantino has found the perfect concoction).

Now back to my review. Next I’d like to discuss the acting. Every single actor and actress brought a fantastic performance to the table. Everyone and I mean EVERY-ONE brought their A-game. Their was two performances that stood above the rest though. First off, any skepticism you have on Brad Pitt performing in this film needs to disappear right now because he was fabulous. It was the perfect part for him, sure it was an incredibly well written part, but it had to be played just right. Brad was able to do that.

The next performance is something that everyone can agree on whether you actually liked the film as a whole or not. Christoph Waltz gave an absolutely brilliant performance as the antagonist. He deserves every award he’s gotten and is going to get. Hans Landa is one of the greatest villains ever to be put on the silver screen. He was played so well because at some points he had to be very polite and generous, while at others he had to be completely opposite. A perfect performance. One of the greatest I’ve seen.

Now I’d like to leave you with these words. Inglourious Basterds tells a spectacular story that’s filled with even more spectacular characters, while being told in spectacular ways. Inglourious Basterds is probably the most innovative movie I’ve seen. It’s just so much different than your average movie because Tarantino did what every film maker should do. He didn’t let anything hold him back (such as the history books for example). He just had a blast with it and as a result, I as an audience member had a blast. Now I’m going to use my favorite word when it comes to reviewing, and its probably used too liberally by all, but its well-deserved here. Inglourious Basterds is a masterpiece.

Grade: A+

Anticipation For Inglourious Basterds

Every year, like anyone, I have a lot of movies that I anticipate. Everyone’s must see list is different, but there’s always a single movie that stands above the pack for everyone that is the single most anticipated movie of the year. Sometimes you get lucky and you anticipated correctly and the movie you craved to see for a year finally came out and it was fantastic. Sometimes you find yourself disappointed, whether that means it was a bad movie and you can’t believe you expected so much out of it, or it was just an ok movie, but your wild expectations were not met so you find yourself disappointed. Last year this movie was The Dark Knight and obviously my insanely high expectations were actually exceeded. This year I am anticipating a lot of movies, (Sherlock Holmes, The Wolfman, Nine, Shutter Island, etc.), but there is a single movie that stands above the pack as always and that movie is none other than Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

I was certainly anticipating The Dark Knight more before it came out, but Inglourious Basterds has come closer than I would have ever dreamed. It’s the story of a a group of Jewish-American soldiers looking to take revenge against the Third Reich in German occupied France. With also another plot thrown in about a cinema worker, who years ago watched her family slaughtered at the hands of the Ruthless Nazi Colonel, Hans Landa. This is Quentin Tarantino’s sixth movie and he’s been working on the script for years. He was actually talking about shooting it before Kill Bill was even started. It’s his biggest cast of talking characters ever and filled with some big name actors one of whom being the one and only Brad Pitt, sporting a fantastic Southern accent. 

Brad Pitt’s performance looks to be fantastic from the trailers, but his isn’t the performance I’m anticipating the most. It’s Christoph Waltz, whom I’ve been truly expecting a lot out of and I’ve never even seen him in a movie before. This year at the Cannes Film Festival he was the winner of The Best Actor award for his role as Hans Landa in this film. He’s the main antagonist of the feature and I just can’t wait to see what he dishes out. All I’ve seen from his performance is a few very short clips from the trailers. He looks to be spectacular, but I’m sure I haven’t seen anything yet. 

There are so many reasons why I just cannot wait for its release on August 21st, from its intriguing plot, to its many fascinating characters, but there’s one reason the stands above the rest. Quentin Tarantino has never let me down. Jackie Brown was a fantastic movie, I absolutely loved Reservoir Dogs and Death Proof, and Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction were nothing short of masterpieces. I seriously doubt Tarantino can shoot out a bad movie on his sixth try especially when its got this much going for it. I said it for The Dark Knight and I’m going to say it again for Inglourious Basterds. When 3 am roles around on August 21st I’m going to drvie home sit down and write an honest review for what I hope to be the greatest movie of 2009.

P.S. Happy Dark Knight Day!

Inglorious Basterds Trailer

The first Inglorious Basterds Trailer was released today, which is amazing. This is Quentin Tarantino’s next movie and its my #1 for Most Anticipated of the Year I wanted to see this movie before any images or casting rumors were released. It’s a war movie by Quentin Tarantino, how could you not want to see that? I haven’t seen a good war movie come out in a while and Tarantino’s last movie was Death Proof, which was amazing in my opinion. This movie by the looks of the trailer looks nothing short of amazing, well here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did: