Five Good Parts of Five Bad Movies

Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.

This week…Five Good Parts of Five Bad Movies

This week…

Five Good Parts of Five Bad Movies

When it comes to movies, I’m a pretty forgiving customer. Even if a movie is dreadful, I’ll give it a bit of a break as long as it at least delivers a moment or scene or performance by which I was earnestly entertained and/or did not expect.

With that perspective in mind, I propose we make Hollywood slightly more like the music business. In addition to full-length LPs, we should be getting the equivalent of EPs and Singles for films (why iTunes hasn’t done this, I don’t know); I would totally buy a DVD collection of good scenes from bad movies.

That being said, I present to you the five brightest beacons each stranded in the middle of the dark chasms that are the cinematic failures that birthed them.[Note: the links for each entry are not ideal, merely the best YouTube has to offer.]

5. Colin Farrell as Bullseye in Daredevil
I actually don’t hate the Daredevil movie as much as most of America did/does but I do understand why it wasn’t met with the warmest reception. Regardless, Colin Farrell is awesome in it. Maybe it was when he shaved his head and put on a full-length leather duster or maybe it was when he had the bullseye brand put on his forehead in the make-up chair but Farrell (a pretty enjoyable actor, by all accounts) clearly knew what movie he was in, from the get-go. He lets his character have fun with the campy nature of the material while also managing to be a totally menacing villain and it is perfect.

4. The Opening Speech in Swordfish
I feel like most people have completely forgotten every part of this movie that doesn’t involve Halle Berry’s nerps but I’m here to dig it out of the sand. Well, part of it.

After seeing the rest of Swordfish, I (like everyone else) was very eager to forget everything that came after the Warner Brothers logo. However, I’ve caught the beginning of this movie on cable in the years since my first viewing and even though I know the rest of the movie is completely lame, Travolta’s speech is so well-written (by the way, he’s actually good in the scene) and the ensuing action is such a what-the-hell-is-going-on, non-linear storytelling opening sequence that I seriously start to think “maybe I should give this thing another shot”.

I never do keep watching, of course, because I can find the topless Halle scene online pretty easily.

3. The Dinosaurs in Peter Jackson’s King Kong
I campaign for the opportunity to see dinosaurs on screen like celebrities campaign for Democratic Presidential candidates every four years: without hesitation. Maybe it’s because I’ve never formally asked anyone important but I’ve never gotten any sort of answer to my burning question of “where in the hell are all the dinosaur movies?”.

In an age where every old movie is being remade, every established comic/book/game/toy property is being adapted to film, and a studio will drop $200 million on a freaking Transformers sequel (imagine if someone went back in time and told you about that, in 1992 – there’s no way you believe it), how is it that we’ve gotten like, three serious dinosaur movies since Jurassic Park clearly established the fact that computer generated imagery could perfectly forge extinct animals in a live-action setting? On top of that: the first two Jurassic Park movies made all the money in the world! There is no good reason for us to be making all these effects-laden movies if we’re not going to occasionally try something other than CG car crashes, superheroes, and natural disasters (by the way: movies featuring dragons should be outlawed). Dinosaurs don’t exist, anymore! Show them to me!

Anyway, the King Kong remake is too long, tries a little too hard, and is ultimately very forgettable but at least Peter Jackson realized that in between Naomi Watts screaming and Kong scowling at the camera, he should give us a heavy dose of dinosaurs. And he did. The Tyrant Lizard King blesses him.

2. The Duel of the Fates in The Phantom Menace
I am well-established as a Star Wars fan; I maintain an unwavering love for all six movies. But even I can and will admit that The Phantom Menace is not only the least satisfying of the Holy Sixology but it is also just a drastically flawed film.

Now that that’s out there, let me say this: if you didn’t love every single frame, musical note, and sound effect of the three-man lightsaber battle at the end… I don’t know what to tell you. And don’t tell me “it’s subjective” because it’s not. To quote Gene Siskel: “there is a point where personal opinion shades off into an error of fact.” I’ll respect your contrasting opinion up to a certain point but then it’s time for the wise (and if I’m wise on anything, it’s Star Wars) to throw a flag on the field. If you don’t enjoy the Duel of the Fates, you are wrong.

1. The Superman Scene in Fred Claus
(Yes, you read that correctly. Fred Claus.)

Despite a pretty stellar cast of Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Rachel Weisz (rocking her natural English accent), Elizabeth Banks, Kathy Bates, and John Michael Higgins, Fred Claus is a pretty dreadful movie. This was a well-accepted sentiment a few months ago when I stumbled across the flick on one of the HBOs around 3 AM and yet, there were no other programming options available at the time so… I took part.

Naturally, I was regretting my decision for roughly 90 minutes and with the exception of Weisz’s aforementioned accent and a few high-definition looks at Elizabeth Banks, each minute of the movie did nothing but fuel my desire to punch something.

And then, this scene came along. Maybe it was the context of being wrapped inside a horrifyingly dumb holiday movie or maybe it was the fact that I had been awake for nearly 24 hours when I first caught this scene but I was completely enthralled in a way that legitimately stunned me. It’s pretty simple and only 2.5 minutes long but for that entire short running time, I had forgotten the failure that was the rest of the picture and officially determined that Paul Giamatti and Kevin Spacey could read the phonebook to each other for nine hours and I would never stop watching.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.