(Photo by Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)
All Ben Affleck Movies Ranked
Ben Affleck chose the right friends early on: His first notable appearance was in 1992’s School Ties, which happened to co-star Matt Damon. The two would go on to become household names after co-writing and co-starring in the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting. And a few years after School Ties, Affleck starred in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, and is now a regular fixture in Smith’s View Askewniverse. Damon, Smith, and Affleck would all work together in 1999’s iconoclastic Dogma.
Later on in his career, Affleck would pal around with Michael Bay, creating two bombastic feasts together: Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. He’s worked with some of the most legendary directors of their time, like John Woo (Paycheck), John Frankenhemier (Reindeer Games), Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused), and David Fincher (Gone Girl) — experiences we’re sure all went into Affleck’s own directing career, which culminated in the Best Picture-winning Argo.
Affleck’s recent stint in the DCEU has left his image relatively unscathed: His Batman was considered among the best things out of Batman v Superman and Justice League. And after some highly public personal issues and with his last directorial effort, Live By Night, a Rotten bomb, Affleck’s now on something of a comeback trail for 2020. The Last Thing He Wanted‘s single-digit Tomatometer was probably the last thing Affleck wanted at this point. But his 2020 sports drama The Way Back transcended the inspirational sports template, giving him a meaty role to sink his teeth into, and it impressed critics along the way. Next, he’ll be directing an adaptation of The Big Goodbye, which details the making of 1974’s Chinatown. Until then, we’re ranking all Ben Affleck movies by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus:Live by Night boasts visual style and an impressive cast, but they're lost in a would-be crime saga that finds producer, director, and star Ben Affleck revisiting familiar themes to diminishing effect.
Synopsis: It's the Roaring `20s and Prohibition hasn't stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The... [More]
Critics Consensus: Lovely to look at but about as intelligent as the asteroid that serves as the movie's antagonist, Armageddon slickly sums up the cinematic legacies of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.
Synopsis: When an asteroid threatens to collide with Earth, NASA honcho Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) determines the only way to... [More]
Critics Consensus:Justice League leaps over a number of DC movies, but its single bound isn't enough to shed the murky aesthetic, thin characters, and chaotic action that continue to dog the franchise.
Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince... [More]
Critics Consensus: A distinct lack of chemistry between Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock, coupled with a screwball sensibility that's a touch too screwy, scupper Forces of Nature's modest ambition to serve up romantic charm.
Synopsis: All Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck) wants to do is make it from New York to Savannah, Ga., in time for... [More]
Critics Consensus: Fans can expect a good laugh as the cast from Smith's previous films reunite for Jay and Silent Bob's last bow. The loose plotting and crude language may be too much for others though.
Synopsis: When Jay and Silent Bob learn that a "Bluntman and Chronic" movie is being made featuring their comic book counterparts,... [More]
Critics Consensus: It might be hard for most viewers to identify with The Company Men's well-heeled protagonists, but writer/director John Wells uses their plight to make universally resonant points -- and gets the most out of his excellent cast.
Synopsis: A young executive at a shipping and manufacturing conglomerate, Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is on the fast track to the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Although Chasing Amy's depiction of queer sexuality is frustratingly clumsy, it handles an array of thorny themes with a mixture of sensitivity, raw honesty, and writer-director Kevin Smith's signature raunchy humor.
Synopsis: Holden and Banky are best friends and authors of a popular comic book. Holden falls in love with Alyssa, who... [More]
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
Hugh Jackman delivers his slicey swan song as Wolverine in Logan, the R-rated for-realsies conclusion to the arc of Marvel’s famous X-Man. This week’s gallery pays tribute to the Marvel movies that existed before and now compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe — read on for the best & worst Marvel movies (outside the MCU)!
This week’s Ketchup includes lots of superhero news (both for The Avengers 2 and Justice League), sequels for Dodgeball and movies that aren’t even out yet, and remakes of The Crow and Guys and Dolls.
This Week’s Top Story
THIS WAS A BIG WEEK FOR MARVEL MOVIE NEWS: DAREDEVIL REJOINS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
This was a week full of enough stories involving Marvel movies to take up almost half this column, but instead, we’ll just cover them all in one story, so we can devote more coverage to other stuff as well. The biggest single story is one that’s been in the works for about a year, but now it’s official. The movie rights to Daredevilhave reverted back to Marvel Studios following failed attempts by 20th Century Fox to greenlight a new movie not starring Ben Affleck or Jennifer Garner. It’s unconfirmed whether this also includes the Elektra rights, but unless Fox makes a new Elektra movie soon, she would likely revert back to Marvel as well. Two other characters that one might have expected to still be at 20th Century Fox (because they’re mutants) were also teased this week by Joss Whedon as possibly being in The Avengers 2. When Whedon says his script includes “a brother-sister act,” there’s pretty much few other pairs that it could be other than Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who were two of the earliest members of The Avengers, starting back in the 1960s. The Scarlet Witch, in particular, has been a long-standing member of the team, and was integral to the events of the team in the comics in the last ten years (Avengers Disassembled, House of M, etc.). They’re not quite on the same level, but two characters that we also learned will be in X-Men: Days of Future Past this week are Bishop and Warpath. The casting a few weeks ago of Omar Sy and Booboo Stewart led a lot of fans to guess that they might be playing Bishop and Warpath, but it was only this week that we actually got that confirmed. Finally, Lee Pace (TV’s Pushing Daisies) has been cast as the main villain in Guardians of the Galaxy. Various sources have ideas about who exactly Pace might be playing, from the incredulous (The Controller) to the more credible (The Collector). The confusing part is that Pace doesn’t really look like either, but The Controller is a) “a brick” and b) less of an obviously “cosmic” character. An actress named Ophelia Lovibond has also been cast as an aide to Lee Pace’s character, and you can read various casting call descriptions here.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 IF MAN OF STEEL IS SUCCESSFUL, ZACK SNYDER MIGHT DIRECT JUSTICE LEAGUE
The next issue of the British movie magazine Empire has a big feature on the Superman movie Man of Steel, and this week, several quotes from that piece appeared online. Along with the other details you might expect from such a story, we also learned some of Warner Bros’ thinking about what Man of Steel might mean for the long-planned Justice League movie. The article implies that if Man of Steel is a success, director Zack Snyder will also be asked to direct Justice League. Although Snyder has had two recent critical misfires, his first three films as director did much better. Given that, and the fact that this story is built upon a hypothetical success, this story is a “Fresh Development”… with an asterisk. As for what the director of Man of Steel also directing Justice League might mean, one wonders if the reinvention of Man of Steel will apply to other DC superheroes. Will the sad bearded fisherman Superman be joined by, say, a nervous pierced barrista Batman, a happy dreadlocked beekeeper Flash, or an angry tattooed carnival barker Wonder Woman?
#2 IF YOU CAN WATCH A WRENCH, YOU CAN WATCH DODGEBALL 2
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy isn’t the only 2004 comedy to now have a sequel in the works. 20th Century Fox has hired screenwriter Clay Tarver (cowriter with J.J. Abrams of 2001’s Joy Ride) to start work on a sequel to Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. The movie about a professional dodgeball team featured Vince Vaughn, Justin Long, Christine Taylor, Hank Azaria, Rip Torn, and, as the antagonist, Ben Stiller. For the sequel, the characters played by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller will be teaming up against a bigger threat. It’s not yet known whether Stiller will look the way he did at the end of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
#3 CHANNING TATUM AND JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT MIGHT BE THE NEW GUYS OF GUYS AND DOLLS
It feels like it might be close to a decade now that producers have been trying to put together a new movie adaptation of the 1955 movie Guys and Dolls, a musical about gangsters in the 1940s. At one time, Vin Diesel was mentioned as a possible star in one of the roles originally played by Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. A new deal for a Guys and Dolls revival has finally been made with the widow of songwriter Frank Loesser by 20th Century Fox. Although there’s no deals yet, the two young actors that Fox is reportedly interested in for the two lead roles now are Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That it’s those two in particular is interesting because they both showed off their dance moves during the opening of this year’s Academy Awards; one has to wonder if that wasn’t exactly how all of this started. Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also costarred together in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
#4 TOM HIDDLESTON MIGHT STAR IN THE REBOOT OF THE CROW
Tom Hiddleston, who most people know from playing Loki in Thor and The Avengers, is now in talks to possibly star in the reboot of The Crow, originally based on comic books created by James O’Barr back in the 1990s. Hiddleston’s interest in The Crow has extended to the actor actually putting on his own makeup and sending it to the producers as test images to see what he might look like as rocker-turned-dead-guy-turned-crimefighter Eric Draven. The reboot will be directed by F. Javier Gutierrez, whose first two movies don’t yet have enough reviews to produce RT Tomatometer scores. Last week, Hiddleston also made the news for starring in one of two possible movies based on the life of war photographer Robert Capa. That movie now has the title Close Enough, and this week, we learned that his romantic costar will be Hayley Atwell, who has also costarred in a Marvel movie (Captain America: The First Avenger), which also involved World War II.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 FROM FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN TO… RATCHET & CLANK?
There was a moment, some 12 years ago, now, when the release of the CGI animated movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within might signal a new golden age for videogame adaptations. And then the movie, distributed by Sony and based upon a Sony game, actually came out. There’s obviously (pretty huge) differences between the two franchises, but this week, we learned that Sony is once again preparing a CGI animated movie based on one of the console company’s most popular franchises. The Ratchet & Clank movie will be released in theaters sometime in 2015. T.J. Fixman, who has written several recent Ratchet & Clank games, is working on the script. The title characters are an anthropomorphic mechanic-turned-adventurer and his small robot sidekick, and they have intergalactic adventures. It’s easy to see something of a connection here to another movie planned for 2015, Guardians of the Galaxy, which also features a furry gun-wielding character, and possibly similar cosmic adventures (no tiny robots though).
#4 BUDDY COP MOVIES THE HEAT AND RIDE ALONG GET SEQUELS BEFORE THEY’RE EVEN RELEASED
The “friend police” movies (AKA “buddy cop” movies) The Heat (June 28, 2013) and Ride Along (January 17, 2014) aren’t even released yet, but Universal Pictures is already starting work on sequels for both movies. The pairs of law enforcement officers in the two movies are Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat, and Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along. This story is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because, well, it’s bad enough that we get a lot of sequels. Do we want studios to already be working on sequels to movies that the world hasn’t even seen yet?
#3 SCARLETT JOHANSSON TO PLAY A SUPERHUMAN DRUG MULE IN LUC BESSON’S LUCY
There’s no denying that French director/writer/producer Luc Besson has given us some memorable action movies. However, Besson has been so prolific that he has also given us a lot of not-so-memorable movies, especially since his heyday which ended in 1997 with The Fifth Element. And so, we’re long past the point where a new Luc Besson movie is necessarily greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. Anyway, Scarlett Johansson has signed on to star in his next movie called Lucy, which Besson wrote, and will both direct and produce. Johansson will play a drug mule who is given superhuman abilities (including telekinesis, pain resistance, and a form of telepathy) when the new drug that she’s smuggling goes into her blood system. And then she beats people up.
#2 ROBERT DE NIRO CONTINUES HIS LONG DESCENT FROM CRITICAL ACCLAIM WITH SPY’S KID
Robert De Niro used to be a name associated with such critically acclaimed movies as The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas. And now, he stars in movies like The Big Wedding and the upcoming boxing comedy Grudge Match with Sylvester Stallone. Expect more of the same, because De Niro and Shia LaBeouf are attached to star in a gimmicky-sounding thriller called Spy’s Kid from director D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, I Am Number Four). Spy’s Kid is based upon a true story as related in a series of articles in The Oregonian in 2011, and not, as the pronunciation might suggest, on any movies directed by Robert Rodriguez. Shia LaBeouf also made the news this week for being in talks to costar with Brad Pitt in the World War II tank movie Fury from the director of Harsh Times and End of Watch, David Ayer.
#1 CUTE MIYAZAKI MOVIE KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE TO HOLD A GRUDGE?
Let’s be honest, people do make generalizations about world cinema sometimes. Arguably, one of the most diverse film cultures, however, is Japan, the source of both Akira Kurosawa, Godzilla, Beat Takeshi, and the entire anime scene, whether you’re thinking of Hayao Miyazaki, Akira, or one of those freaky movies involving tentacles. This story involves a Japanese remake that has the potential of being either a sublime Reese’s Cup-style blend of mixed inspirations, or a complete train wreck for the same reason. Shimizu Takashi is the horror director who gave the world the spooky little girls of both the Japanese and American versions of the same stories (Ju-On: The Grudge and its sequel, and the American movies featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar). And now, we know that Shimazu Takashi will be directing the live action remake of Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, in which 16 year old figure skater Fuka Koshiba will star. What exactly does a movie like that even look like?
Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.
Tim: Why on earth does this movie have such a lousy reputation? The mind boggles. Daredevil is a second-tier movie about a second-tier Marvel character, and so it follows that it lacks the operatic grandeur, emotional complexity, and mind-bending special effects of the Spider-Man and X-Men movies. Therefore, taken on its own modest merits, Daredevil delivers. The backstory is generic as all get-out (kid loses dad to bad guys, gains super skills, resolves to wage a one-man war on crime), but there’s a nice twist here: Daredevil is blind, and his other four senses are extraordinarily heightened. It’s nice to have a hero who turns a physical handicap to his advantage (and the visual effects artists deserve props for depicting Daredevil’s amplified perceptions). It’s also refreshing to have a character who’s a semi-regular churchgoer; even though there are plenty of folks in the Marvel universe who are allegorical Christ figures, I’m glad one of these films makes room for some actual religion when its hero explores (albeit not terribly deeply) the moral weight of his vigilantism.
As a native New Englander, I’ve always had a soft spot for Ben Affleck; he has the look of a classic movie star, but he also exudes an air of vulnerable decency that makes for a sympathetic hero. Michael Clarke Duncan is effectively menacing as the Kingpin, Colin Farrell plays Bullseye with roguish exuberance, Jon Favreau is solid as always as the best friend, and Jennifer Garner is convincing as an action heroine. Garner and Affleck also have pretty excellent chemistry in this movie (maybe they should go on a date or something). And there are some better-than-average musical choices throughout, though they can’t all be winners (N.E.R.D.’s “Lapdance” and House of Pain’s “Top O’ the Mornin’ To Ya,” oui; Evanescence, non). I don’t want to oversell this thing, but for popcorn thrills, you could do far worse than Daredevil. Call me crazy, but I think this one’s due for a critical reappraisal.
Ryan: Usually, Tim, when you’re able to concede some words of praise for movies that were widely panned, I’m with you, because I appreciate the fairness of acknowledging silver linings. But to say that the mind boggles when considering Daredevil‘s reputation, and that it might warrant a critical reappraisal… I have to draw the line somewhere. I tried to give this movie the benefit of the doubt, particularly during those early scenes when, as you’ve mentioned, Daredevil’s backstory threatened to suffocate itself with cliches (“My client is not on trial here!”). And for the most part, the first half hour isn’t completely terrible. I’ve come to realize that, personally, I much prefer watching superheroes duke it out with their enemies in well-choreographed hand-to-hand fight sequences, as opposed to battles that rely heavily on special effects. Daredevil’s early raid on that dive bar packed a lot of punch, and aside from a bit of dodgy CGI work, it’s a pretty solid fight scene with nicely orchestrated action.
Unfortunately – and this conflicts with another point Tim has made – Ben Affleck has absolutely no charisma in this movie! Normally I find him to be a decent actor, but he was unbelievably bland here. The chemistry, it can be argued, is there between him and Jennifer Garner because, frankly speaking, she really seemed to be phoning it in as well. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Dare-Lektra, their playground flirt-battle was the moment the movie’s “benefit of the doubt” expired for me. Come on, that was ridiculous. A blind dude engages you in Hong Kong-style wire-fu on the teeter-totters, and he asks you where you learned how to fight? I think I’d be freaking out right about the time he followed me down the street by smell alone. I’d also like to point out that the two lovebirds met each other a grand total of three times before the climactic battle with Bullseye.
I don’t know, Tim. There were just too many moments that hammered on my sense of logic, and the tone drifted from campy to serious and back again far too easily. The movie is riddled with cliches executed (presumably) without a hint of irony, from the ex-girlfriend breaking up with him on the phone to the slow pan across the roaring fireplace during the love scene, and the actors seem relatively bored throughout. With that in mind, and considering I did enjoy the close-up hand-to-hand fight scenes, I think the 45% Tomatometer is fairly accurate.
Jeff: Taken out of context, the idea of a blind lawyer who fights crime with the heightened sense perception he gained after being doused with radioactive chemicals is pretty ridiculous — but if you read the books, particularly during Frank Miller’s outstanding run, you know he’s one of the more realistic, readily identifiable heroes in the Marvel universe.
With a little work, then, Daredevil could have been a pretty killer superhero movie — the character’s history is soaked in noir vibe, gritty urban crime, and one horrible tragedy after another. What did writer/director Mark Steven Johnson give us instead? An inexcusable mess, larded with hambone acting and awful dialogue, not to mention one of the most excruciating sequences in the Marvel filmography, earlier pointed out by Ryan: the Affleck/Garner playground dance.
Like Ryan, I found that scene ridiculous, but I’d already lost hope for the movie by that point. The best action sequences in the world couldn’t paper over this script — and along those lines, while I agree that Ben Affleck didn’t do himself any favors here, there isn’t a lot any actor could have done with lines like “I prowl the rooftops and alleyways at night, watching from the darkness. Forever in darkness. A guardian devil.”