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

Kikuchiyo

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 Guilty Pleasure Movies

This was a confusing list to make. It’s one I’ve been wanting to make for a while, but I just wasn’t completely sure how to go about it. I don’t actually even like the title of the list because I certainly don’t feel guilty about loving these movies, I just do. As I stated before, this was a confusing list to make. That’s because I wasn’t quite sure where to draw the line between the masterpieces I call the best and the movies I love regardless of their flaws.

Making this list helped me realize that, in terms of movies, when you like the big picture, you’ll almost always look past any slight flaws because you’re enjoying yourself and vice-versa, when you don’t like a movie you’re going to look for flaws. At the end of the day, this is simply a list of  movies I love  that don’t hold a candle artistically and thematically to the many movies I would call my favorites.

10. Saw Saga

If I were to feel guilty about enjoying a movie (or series for that matter), I would probably feel guilty about enjoying the Saw movies. Of course the first one is my favorite, but I’m actually a big fan of the entire story. For some reason I really enjoyed watching the whole complex story pan out. It is the horror series of my generation and it entertains me to no end.

9. Star Trek

Star Trek is the newest film on this list and while I love most of these movies because of nostalgic reasons, that didn’t play a part with Star Trek. I had never seen anything Star Trek before this movie and I wasn’t expecting much, but with this new Star Trek film I was blown away. It was fun, exciting and everything just worked.

8. Sin City

By essentially recreating the panels of Frank Miller’s original stories Sin City tells a fast-paced collage of intertwining tales of brutality, crime, lust, etc. Like all of the movies on this list, I could pick up and watch Sin City any second and be whole-heartedly entertained. I might just add that, visually, this may be my favorite movie.

7. The Punisher

This is the movie that inspired me to make this list. After watching it recently I realized that every once in a while I should definitely take a break from what I see as art and just watch a movie and enjoy. Watching The Punisher again was like watching a combination of Batman Begins, Gladiator and Unforgiven. It doesn’t reach the amazing levels of those movies, but it is fun as hell.

6. Hot Fuzz

I was a big fan of Edgar Wright’s latest film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and I absolutely love Shaun of the Dead, but I don’t enjoy either of those films as much as I enjoy Hot Fuzz. The give and take of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg is ridiculous and when you match that with the great satire on cliché action movies what you get is a fantastic time through and through.

5. The Matrix Trilogy

From this point on, this list was nearly impossible to make. When I came up with the idea to make a list out of my top ten favorite guilty pleasure movies, the movies from five on came almost immediately to mind. I’m obsessed with The Matrix Trilogy, and I’d like to emphasize “Trilogy”. Like everyone, I’m a huge fan of the first and how it showed what an action movie could be, but I also love both sequels and The Matrix Revolutions holds a special place in my heart. I might even call it my favorite.

4. Death Proof

Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite director’s to have ever made a movie. While Death Proof is no Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds or Pulp Fiction, I still can’t help the fact that I always feel the need to pick it up and watch it again because of how much I enjoy every single moment. No one writes dialogue as well as Tarantino and its just as good here, then there’s Kurt Russell as the awesome villain, Stuntman Mike and a fantastic two-part set up that builds to one of the greatest car chases in film.

3. Casino Royale

If I viewed all of the movies on this list the way I view most movies and take in every aspect, this could easily be called the best movie on the list. Daniel Craig fully embodies the James Bond for a new generation. This is new 007 series filled with realism and grit. This is a James Bond who can almost die, who has only his wits and strengths as a secret agent to save him, not a ridiculous array of gadgets. It manages to change almost every aspect of the series, while paying homage to the gimmicks you need from a 007 movie. In terms of execution, this is far and away the best movie on this list and it also manages to entertain from beginning to end.

2. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Before Christopher Nolan’s Batman series came into my life, I had never anticipated a movie more than I had anticipated seeing Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I obviously didn’t enjoy The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones  that much, but this one looked appealing. This was to be the final Star Wars movie that would not only connect the two trilogies, but also essentially tell the origin story of my favorite character in the series.

At the time, I was not disappointed. I loved every single moment. I couldn’t get enough. I had built this idea up in my mind of how amazing this film would be and some how it turned out to be just that. As I matured it became clear that this wasn’t the masterpiece I had made it out to be in my mind, but it still means so much to me and I can say with out a doubt that it entertains me more than any other Star Wars movie.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

This is it, there is no other film that has ever been made that comes close to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. There are many films that reach a level of perfection and I would call them my favorites for many different reasons. With Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, like no other film I can look past its flaws and be completely taken away by the swashbuckling adventure at hand.

One of the reasons it stands apart as my favorite guilty pleasure movie is because of the incredibly memorable characters. I have an unconditional love for what Geoffrey Rush did with the character Hector Barbossa, even Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley play some what of an important part to the epic that is At World’s End, Bill Nighy is fantastic as villain, Davy Jones, and every secondary character has something different to offer. Let us not also forget that Johnny Depp manages to offer one of the greatest characters in history with the now iconic, Captain Jack Sparrow.

I love the whole series, I really do. But I just wanted to emphasize how much I care for this single film in particular. Artistically and thematically this film pales in comparison to films I’d call my favorite films. However, for lack of a better phrase, this is the ultimate guilty pleasure movie in my mind. Sometimes you need some mindless fun. It’s nice that not every film is trying to say something broader, but merely trying to entertain. It’s nice to just have some escapism and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is one of my favorite forms of escape.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review

I’m trying to figure out how best to establish my views regarding the Pirates of the Caribbean series, while establishing my opinion on this single film, the fourth in the series. I think the best place to start is by saying that my favorite film in the series probably have to be the third, At World’s End. From a filmmaking stand point, yes The Curse of the Black Pearl is unquestionably the best of the series. I just have such a blast watching At World’s End that I can’t help it.

Is the film that great when looking at it with a tasteful or artistic eye, no, not really at all. The film however is fun as hell and a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I honestly believe this can be said about all the films, on a quality level, the Pirates of the Caribbean series is not great, but I love the characters, I love the wit, I love where they start, where they’re going and especially how they get there. Above all I just love watching them and I think you know where I’m going with this. The same can be said when it comes to this new feature in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

In this fourth installment, you’ll find exactly the right ingredients: a fun adventure story, a good villain (a constant in this series), the best Barboosa subplot in the entire series and of course Jack Sparrow being Jack Sparrow. This film is right on par with the other Pirates of the Caribbean films and as a result, a fun time at the theater. My complaints on the film would come in the form of some screwball comedy and a dull love plot between a bible friendly crew member of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge and a mermaid, but this is all made up for in the idea that all these characters are respected. This is made apparent in the greatest aspect of the film, a revenge plot revolving around my favorite character in this film, Hector Barbossa and Blackbeard.

All and all, if you got any enjoyment out of the three first films, it would make no sense at all to not find enjoyment out of this film. And if I didn’t state it clearly enough already, then here’s the statement again; Pirates of the Caribbean is in no way cinematic brilliance. It is however, undoubtedly one fun trip to the movies and you can’t ask for much else.

Grade: B

#17 “Captain” Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean Series)

The fast-talking, quick-thinking and cooky pirate we all know and love.

 

  •  Actor: Johnny Depp
  • Quote: “Drink up me harties yo- ho”
  • Action: Fights Davy Jones on the mast of a boat while holding his heart in one hand.
  • Clip(s):