Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Favorite Movies: 2000 to 2009

Here's part one of my lists of favorite movies by decade. I'll try to limit each list to ten since that's a popular number for list purposes. Given that it's easier to see a movie from 2005 than from, say, 1925, this first post will cover the most recently completed decade. Eventually I'll work my way backwards. Since it's too difficult to put them in order from least favorite to most favorite or vice-versa, I'll simply list them in alphabetical order.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The sequel was even better than 2005's excellent Batman Begins. Batman faces off against the Joker. This version of the Joker isn't just a lunatic who enjoys random acts of murder; the Joker has been re-imagined as an agent of chaos whose sole purpose is to upset the order of things (whether or good or evil) and to corrupt otherwise good people.

Memorable Scene: This is a hard choice, but I'll have to go with the "pencil scene". Not only was it totally unexpected, but it showed us that this Joker was going to be different than previous depictions of the character.

2. The Incredibles (2004)
Superheroes are driven into hiding by lawsuits. One, Mr. Incredible, refuses to give up the glory days. However, a chance to don the super suit puts him and his family into danger. It turns out that Mr. Incredible has a very disgruntled former fan whose technology makes up for his lack of superpowers.

Memorable Scene: Mr. Incredible, his family, and his friend Frozone save Metroville (an obvious amalgam of "Metropolis" and "Smallville") from the villain's giant robot.

3. Iron Man (2008)
Billionaire defense contractor Tony Stark has a change of heart when he's captured by terrorists who want him to recreate a new weapons system for them. Rather than build the weapons, Stark builds a suit of powered armor and escapes. More refined suits of armor follow the first, with Stark deciding to use the suits to make the world a better place. However, Stark is betrayed and has to fight his former friend who has built his own armor.

Memorable Scene: Stark's escape from captivity in his first suit of armor (turning the terrorists into the terrorized) is one of the best first appearances of a superhero ever.

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
I had to merge the three movies into one since the trilogy is effectively one long movie. A powerful magic ring falls into the hands of the hobbit Frodo who must destroy it before the evil lord Sauron can use it to restore his kingdom of darkness. Along the way Frodo and his friend Samwise must face orcs, giant spiders, and the demented Gollum who has been twisted by the effects of the ring. In the meantime, Frodo's friends (an odd group of hobbits, a human, an elf, and a dwarf) must defend the kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor from Sauron's allies.

Memorable Scene: There are a lot of memorable scenes to be found in over eleven hours of film, but I've always enjoyed the inspirational speech given by the King of Rohan immediately followed by the charge of the Rohirrim in The Return of the King.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Cursed Pirates of the ship Black Pearl seek out the last piece from a chest of Aztec gold, along with the blood of one of their former crew mates, in an attempt to remove the curse. The daughter of the local British governor and a blacksmith's apprentice who loves her get involved with Jack Sparrow; former captain of the Pearl who was marooned before he could have any part in the curse.

Memorable Scene: As explained by Jack Sparrow's replacement, Captain Barbossa, the curse makes the pirates immortal but robs them of feeling, happiness, or pleasure; it's as if they were dead men. Soon enough, we're shown that, by the light of the moon, the pirates even look like rotting corpses.

6. Serenity (2005)
This follow-up to the prematurely-canceled TV show Firefly reveals the origins of the Reavers, shows the source of River Tam's psychic abilities and the reason why her mind is so screwed up, and finally gives Captain Malcolm Reynolds the opportunity to strike back at the evil Alliance government. True to creator Joss Whedon's style, major characters will be unexpectedly killed along the way.

Memorable Scene: The teenage River Tam, armed with her augmented abilities and two battle axes, wipes out a room of cannibalistic Reavers.

7. Signs (2002)
Strange sightings and events make it apparent that earth is being slowly invaded by a stealthy alien race. The story focuses on the experiences of a widower and his family who must protect their farmhouse from the deadly creatures. The low-key nature of the invasion, and the film's focus on religious faith (which gives the title Signs a dual meaning), make this one of the most unusual alien movies ever made.

Memorable Scenes: The climactic end scene, in which multiple seemingly unrelated details come into play, leaves the viewer rethinking almost everything that came before it.

8. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Sky Captain and intrepid reporter Polly Perkins must thwart the plans of the evil scientist Dr. Totenkopf, whose giant robots are kidnapping scientists as well as stockpiling fuel and materials for unknown reasons. This fond homage to pulp sci-fi comics and serials takes place in an alternate 1939 and even recreates the soft focus and washed-out color of films from that era.

Memorable Scene: While an army of giant robots march through the streets of New York, Polly Perkins goes to near-suicidal lengths to get the story while Sky Captain fights the robots in his souped-up P-40 fighter. Lines lifted straight from Orson Welles' 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast and death ray sounds taken from the 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds make any classic sci-fi fan giddy.

9. Star Trek (2009)
The vengeful Romulan Captain Nero goes back in time and effectively rewrites the entire Star Trek timeline as we know it. Spock, Starfleet Cadet Kirk, and the rest of the Enterprise crew must save Earth from Nero after he successfully destroys the planet Vulcan. I've been a Star Trek fan for years and originally hated the premise of a film set during Kirk's cadet years. A great cast and script made me love the movie. Instead of killing the franchise, this version of Star Trek may have saved it.

Memorable Scene: George Kirk (James T. Kirk's father) ends up as captain of the U.S.S. Kelvin and fights a losing battle with a Romulan ship from the future. His noble sacrifice saves most of the Kelvin's crew as well as his newborn son, James.

10. Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The last Star Wars movie made but the third story in the six film saga. The Clone Wars come to an end while Anakin Skywalker quickly falls to the Dark Side. Chancellor Palpatine is revealed to be Darth Sidious too late for the Jedi Order to do anything about it. A duel between Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin results in Anakin becoming horribly burned, forcing him to wear the iconic armor of Darth Vader. This is one of my favorite films, although I admit that it's inferior to the original Star Wars films and is bogged down by several silly scenes and plot holes.

Memorable Scene: The simultaneous Yoda/Sidious and Anakin/Obi Wan duels are possibly the most energetic and frenetic duels in the series. Darth Sidious is downright giddy in his evilness.


  1. fantasy or sci-fi that seems strange!!! ;-)

  2. I rarely watch movies that aren't science fiction or fantasy. The same goes for novels. I don't mind non-fiction too much, although I get most of that from the news or books. Plain fiction movies, on the other hand, tend to bore me. If the movie doesn't have the fantastical elements of sci-fi or fantasy, or the virtue of being based on a true story, what's the point?



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