In the arena of the sports movie, every story can be told. The impossible underdog team that survives a brutal season into the final game. The kid who’s just starting out and the veteran being pulled back into the game, who both share the same odds: Against. Stories of the power of coming together as a selfless team, and myths of individual strength when you remove all the limits. Sports movies make us cheer, laugh, cry, and scream. They even make us think about renewing that gym membership.
We’re going all the way to the end zone with our list of the 150 Best Sports Movies of All Time, sorted by Adjusted Tomatometer from at least 20 reviews each. (The Adjusted Tomatometer is our special formula which takes into account, among other factors, the movie’s year of release and its number of reviews.) Just about every sport ever played is here: football (Rudy), baseball (Bull Durham), hockey (Miracle), soccer (Bend It Like Beckham), boxing (Rocky), ice skating (I, Tonya). There’s racing: by foot (Without Limits), by car (Talladega Nights), by horse (Seabiscuit). We got fictional sports (Rollerball) and sports we made up through sheer tyranny of will (Murderball). If it’s in the spirit of competition, it’s in this list.
Because this is a movie list, there are no TV movies (we pour one out for Brian’s Song), and nothing rated Rotten — even fan favorites like Any Given Sunday. Please deal with your rage accordingly before continuing.
And with our most recent updates, we welcome in new popular hits like Ben Affleck’s The Way Back, Best Picture nominee Ford v Ferrari, wrestling family drama Fighting With My Family, the vertigo-inducing Free Solo, and Maiden, about the first all-woman crew in a global yacht race.
Ready? For the leisure, life, and love of the game, here are the 150 Best Sports Movies of All Time!
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Critics Consensus:Race is nowhere near as thrillingly fleet or agile as its subject, but the story -- and a winning central performance from Stephan James -- are enough to carry it over the finish line.
Synopsis: Young Jesse Owens (Stephan James) becomes a track and field sensation while attending the Ohio State University in the early... [More]
Critics Consensus: Pleasant to a fault, Million Dollar Arm is a middle-of-the-plate pitch that coasts on Jon Hamm's considerable charm without adding any truly original curves to Disney's inspirational sports formula.
Synopsis: In a last-ditch effort to save his career, sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) plans to find baseball's next star... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though the film may not delve as deep as some would prefer, More Than a Game is an inspiring documentary featuring likable youngsters, a positive message, and some exciting in-game footage.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kristopher Belman chronicles the early career of basketball superstar LeBron James. James and four other talented teammates were a... [More]
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the spirited performances of a talented cast - particularly Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as rivals-turned-teammates -- Blades of Glory successfully spoofs inspirational sports dramas with inspired abandon.
Synopsis: Figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) take their intense rivalry too far during the... [More]
Critics Consensus: The harder they come, the harder they fall -- this film shows, in raw, gripping detail, that even skater dudes can't resist the life of the rich and famous. It's more poignant than hard-core, and gives us a portrait of a life run over by the whims of the entertainment industry.
Synopsis: This documentary film explores the life of former skateboarding pro Mark "Gator" Rogowski, who, in 1991, was sentenced to 31... [More]
Critics Consensus: This drama about American track star and hero Steve Prefontaine intelligently looks at the character of this oft mythologized athlete and features a fantastic performance by Donald Sutherland as Prefontaine's trainer.
Synopsis: Before Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) makes it to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, he is an unlikely track star at... [More]
Critics Consensus: Equal parts tough and funny, and led by a perfectly cast Burt Reynolds, The Longest Yard has an interesting political subtext and an excellent climax -- even if it takes too long to get there.
Synopsis: An ex-football star doing time is forced by the warden to organize a team of inmates to play against his... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Critics Consensus: Delivered with typically stately precision by director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
Synopsis: Following the fall of apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a South Africa that is racially and... [More]
Critics Consensus: Muddled overall, but perceptive and brutally realistic, North Dallas Forty also benefits from strong performances by Nick Nolte and Charles Durning. Football fans will likely find it fascinating.
Synopsis: A brutal satire of American professional football in which a veteran pass-catcher's individuality and refusal to become part of the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.
Synopsis: Denzel Washington is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he... [More]
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
Synopsis: When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Critics Consensus: In addition to offering an enlightening early look into the world of future star/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron provides a witty and insightful overview of competitive bodybuilding.
Synopsis: This partly real and partly scripted film documents what many consider to be the golden age of bodybuilding that occurred... [More]
Critics Consensus: While taking full advantage of its subject's colorful baseball career, No No: A Dockumentary also imparts broader, thought-provoking messages that should resonate with viewers who aren't sports fans.
Synopsis: Baseball pitcher Dock Ellis had a controversial life and career, once pitching a no-hitter while high on LSD.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's assured direction - combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman - help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Synopsis: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm's length, except his... [More]
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Critics Consensus:The King of Kong is funny and compelling with more than a few poignant insights into human behavior. Director Seth Gordon presents the dueling King Kong players in all their obsessive complexity and with perfectly al dente observations.
Synopsis: Named "Video Game Player of the Century" in 1999, Billy Mitchell sets a record score in "Donkey Kong" that many... [More]
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Led by strong work from Margot Robbie and Alison Janney, I, Tonya finds the humor in its real-life story without losing sight of its more tragic -- and emotionally resonant -- elements.
Synopsis: In 1991, talented figure skater Tonya Harding becomes the first American woman to complete a triple axel during a competition.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
For Ralph Macchio, returning to the part of Daniel LaRusso — the part he played in three Karate Kid movies from 1984–1989 — was not an easy decision. He even turned down opportunities to return to the role following the release of 1989’s The Karate Kid Part III. But with YouTube Red’s new Cobra Kai series (now Fresh at 100% on the Tomatometer), he finally picks up Daniel’s story some 30 years later. Key to his decision to return was the new streaming series format.
“You can tell these stories like long movies just broken up into say 10 parts,” he recently told Rotten Tomatoes. “In our case, it’s a great narrative way to not have to compete with Iron Man, Batman, and Star Wars.”
As those film franchises are predicated, to some extent, on the nostalgia factor, Macchio noted the interest in 1980s nostalgia also became a factor in coming back.
“If you can do it in a way that is relevant for today and bring in that young audience, as well as the nostalgia, I think you can have a win-win,” he explained.
The series, which sees Daniel running a string of successful car dealerships in the San Fernando Valley while old nemesis Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) reopens the Cobra Kai dojo, balances the nostalgia with a new set of younger characters, a plan devised by executive producers Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald.
“They had really fresh, passionate, unique, and well-thought-out take on it,” Macchio said.
Zabka, whose Johnny Lawrence hits a run of bad luck as the series begins, said that both he and Macchio felt protective of the characters they played in the original film and wanted to make sure Cobra Kai felt “like a true continuation of that story.”
“They pitched the show to me and it sounded awesome, the way they were going to approach it,” Zabka said. “They assured me all along the way of what they were going to do and how they were going to do it. They’re huge fans of the franchise, and they’re extremely talented. I trusted them, and they delivered.”
Macchio added: “They were the guys that were the kids in the movie theater in the ’80s, that saw this movie a zillion times, and watched it on VHS til it wore out. It just seemed in the right hands. I thought it was a smart and fresh angle into the world.”
Part of that fresh angle was finding Daniel not only successful, but living in an affluent part of the Valley economically far from Reseda and facing mid-life issues Daniel never would’ve dreamed about in the ’80s. Macchio said he smiled when the executive producers first pitched the idea to him. Running the car dealerships, in particular, seemed like a natural extension of waxing Mr. Miyagi’s classic car collection in the original film. Daniel also received a beautiful 1947 Ford convertible from Miyagi for his 16th birthday, so to Macchio, “it wasn’t so out of the realm of possibility that maybe a successful auto dealership might be a place that he would wind up.”
Meanwhile, Johnny finds himself 30 years on living in an apartment very similar to Daniel’s in The Karate Kid and working as a freelance contractor and handyman — a mirror of the occupation Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) held in the original film. But unlike the seeming contentment that work brought Miyagi, Johnny faces a number of other issues from rough clients, a broken family, and his own spiraling sense of self-worth. And though it seems Johnny blames a lot of his problems on losing the 1984 All-Valley tournament, Zabka believes the character is not stuck in a high-school mindset.
“The tournament is not the theme of his life, it’s just one thorn in his side that altered his course, and there are many other complications and details going on around it,” he explained. “He’s dealing with adult issues, but he’s resisted change for sure.”
Part of that resistance is listening to old tunes while cruising the Valley in a vintage — if somewhat disheveled — 1980s Camero.
“He’s an analog man in a digital world,” he continued. “There’s something refreshing about a time when everybody wasn’t on their ‘iComputers,’ as Johnny calls them, and we weren’t so connected. There’s a little bit of autonomy that Johnny’s preserved.”
Though he admitted that Johnny is somewhat stuck in his ways, he thought it was “refreshing” to play someone whose maintained that sense of self across the coming of the Internet and social media.
And as Johnny holds onto that analog sensibility, it eventually leads him to reopen Cobra Kai and revisit the lessons he learned from John Creese (Martin Kove). While it quickly gives him a renewed purpose, it sets Daniel’s world “off its axis,” according to Macchio.
“It’s kind of like walking into the Death Star,” Macchio said of the moment in the Rotten Tomatoes TV sneak peek above when Daniel walks into the new dojo. “He just remembers taking a beating his whole adolescence and what that form of karate is, versus what he has learned through Mr. Miyagi.”
Despite overcoming those challenges and facing opponents like Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) in The Karate Kid Part II and Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) in The Karate Kid Part III, Macchio said Daniel makes a startling discovery about Cobra Kai: “It is the kryptonite for Daniel LaRusso.”
The fact that the two characters would reconnect 30 years later and immediately resume a rivalry both thought long buried was always part of the pitch for Cobra Kai.
“Johnny doesn’t really work without Daniel in this universe,” Zabka explained. “Really, Daniel doesn’t work without Johnny. If he didn’t run into Johnny, who knows what he’d be doing? He’d be working with his mom at the restaurant.
“Both of these people affected each other’s lives, positively or negatively,” he continued. “Like it or not, there are events that happen in our lives that affect us and alter our course.”
And in this latest alteration of their shared course, it no longer clear who the hero might be.
“They’re dual protagonists and dual antagonists,” Macchio said, “which is kind of refreshing and challenging.”
Added Zabka: “I think this show gets really, really layered and leveled, in the humanity of [Johnny] and all the characters. What’s really amazing is that [The Karate Kid] has breathed so much and kind of evolved that a show like this could be made and we could explore another side of it.”
Zabka firmly believes the series will reshape the way people perceive The Karate Kid and the conflict between Johnny and Daniel. At the same time, he also thinks a new viewer could come fresh to the show and find things to enjoy.
“If you’re not a Karate Kid fan, if you’ve never seen the movie, you’re going to love Cobra Kai regardless.”
Macchio agreed. While the early episodes reestablish the rivalry between Daniel and Johnny, the series will give Daniel’s kids and Johnny’s students plenty of focus.
“It really blossoms and becomes a world of relevance for how bullying is dealt with in 2018,” Macchio explained.
Though that theme of bullying was a big part of The Karate Kid films, Cobra Kai will talk about the way it becomes a more complex issue with the arrival of social media.
“Daniel LaRusso would come home with a black eye, you knew what was going on,” Macchio said. “When [his daughter] Samantha maybe comes home, or [Johnny’s student] Miguel or some of these other characters that you’ll see, you can’t quite tell what’s going on because you can’t see it. We deal with that in a subversive way.”
The series will also continue to use the world of the original films as a place to draw from, though neither Macchio nor Zabka would say if Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), the main villain of The Karate Kid Part III and apparent owner of the Cobra Kai name, will ever come to the Valley and deal with Johnny.
“There’s a groundswell of that even on Twitter right now,” Macchio said. “People are asking ‘Is Terry Silver coming back?’ This is great stuff, because we have so many places to draw from and revisit story. Hopefully we’ll be doing this for seasons to come.”
“That’s a way to go,” added Zabka. “There are many ways to go with it, and we shall see.”
From The Karate Kid sequel on YouTube Red to sophomore installments from contemporary standouts like Dear White People on Netflix, this month offers some critically lauded titles for your binge. Catch up on the series that are not to be missed for May.
What it is: While this is just the first season of Cobra Kai, a series that charts the re-opening of The Karate Kid’s infamous Cobra Kai dojo from none other than Johnny Lawrence himself, the best way to catch up on the series’ characters and rock ’em sock ’em tone is to watch part one (and parts two and three, if you’re so enthused) of the classic 1980s film franchise.
Why you should watch it: It’s 2018, and nostalgia is the name of the game. Luckily, Cobra Kai from creator Robert Mark Kamen has it in spades. Featuring committed performances from Karate Kid original players Ralph Macchio as Daniel and William Zabka as Johnny, this 10-episode reboot on YouTube Red feels as comfortable and entertaining as ever, and it’s further brought to life by an ensemble of young actors finding their own footing in the discipline of karate. The streaming service releases all 10 episodes of the series’ inaugural season May 2, with the pilot and second episode available for free.
What it is: In a not-to-distant future, the city of Los Angeles has been taken over by alien hosts who have recalibrated the entire world order; mankind is now subservient to the new reining power. That power is put to the test, however, when one family decides to sneak across their borders in hopes of saving their son, who was separated from them during “the arrival.”
Why you should watch it: Colony doesn’t want for TV star power: from creator Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) to stars Lost vet Josh Holloway and The Walking Dead and Prison Break fan-favorite Sarah Wayne Callies. Their presence alone is enough for many to tune in, but over the course of two standout seasons, the USA sci-drama has grown legs of its own and is grade-A entertainment for fans of the genre. Performances are matched by set design and special effects, but really, it’s a family drama at its core. Season 3 premieres May 2.
What it is: Based on writer-director Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name, Dear White People takes place on a predominantly white Ivy League college campus and, through the perspective of several different African-American characters, explores and satirizes the racial tensions, microaggressions, and social injustices experienced while there.
Why you should watch it: As funny as it is revealing, this truly ensemble piece for Netflix fearlessly goes where other programs don’t dare to, not just representing the current social and political climate, but crystallizing lasting truths within it. Airtight scripts and a bevy of standout performances make season 2 a must-watch for fans new and old. Season 2 premieres in full May 4.
What it is: This fictional period piece inspired by real, World War II–era events follows five young recruits through their training as spies at a secret Canadian facility called Camp X — and beyond as they infiltrate their European enemies’ headquarters across the Atlantic.
Why you should watch it: This is a period piece that won’t leave you yawning. Sleek, full-throttle espionage-thriller story arcs and memorable characters to match, this CBC-turned-Ovation series is as contemporary a period piece as you’re likely to find. Think more Kingsman and less Downton Abbey. Season 2 premieres May 7.
Where to watch it: On Ovation, Ovation on demand through your cable provider, and on the Ovation NOW app available in the iTunes store and Google Play store
What it is: Like Company X, Six on History is a fictional series inspired by true events. In this case, it follows the day-to-day at-home lives of SEAL Team Six side-by-side with their high-risk overseas missions. The main plot picks up here when their ex-comrade, Rip, is held hostage by the Taliban and a rescue mission ensues.
Why you should watch it: One name: Walton Goggins. This veteran character actor has been a scene-stealing supporting actor in all genres on screens big and small for years, and after his turn in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Six solidified his leading man chops as Rip, the troubled SEAL needing rescue. Add to the mix a never-better Barry Sloane and a slew of other robust performances, and this character-driven drama surpasses the action-first fare of its wartime-set contemporaries. Season 2 premieres May 28.
What it is: Based on the 2010 Australian feature film from writer-director David Michôd, Animal Kingdom resets itself in Los Angeles and showcases the city’s grittier side through a crime family led by iron-fisted matriarch Janine “Smurf” Cody (Ellen Barkin). Our point of entry is Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole), a 17-year-old who’s swept up into the family business after his mother dies of a heroin overdose.
Why you should watch it: Ellen Barkin, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Barkin. The series’ thrilling writing and direction led by creator Jonathan Lisco is well worth the watch, but Barkin (Tony and Emmy winner and two-time Golden Globe nominee) brings a conniving richness to Smurf that must be seen to be believed. Season 3 premieres May 29.
What it is: After the unexpected death of their father, estranged siblings Ralph-Angel (a conman fresh out of prison), Nova Bordelon (a New Orleans–based journalist and activist), and Charley Bordelon (an upper-class Los Angeles mother to a teenage son) move to rural Louisiana to claim their inheritance: hundreds of acres of sugarcane farmland.
Why you should watch it: Queen Sugar is the result of women both behind and in front of the camera joining their formidable powers: executive producer Oprah Winfrey; executive producer, director, and writer Ava DuVernay; stars Rutina Wesley and Dawn-Lyen Gardner; and other female directors for each episode of seasons 1 and 2. And their work isn’t the only stunning thing to the series; sprawling locations under the Louisiana sun and timely discussions of prejudice across race and sex and issues of mass incarceration make it a thought-provoking family drama. Season 3 premieres May 29.
What it is: After Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) is rescued from an underground bunker where she was being held captive by a brainwashing cult leader, she does what any young woman who wants to see the world would do: She moves to New York City! The Netflix comedy is from creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey.
Why you should watch it: Kimmy, her new roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), her new boss Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), and her landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) are sure to put a little pep in your step (and for more reasons than the titular hero’s incessant optimism) through their New York misadventures (and misunderstandings). The first half of season 4 premieres May 30.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, girls in tan speedsuits! Mass hysteria has gripped the nation since the hyperventilating presence of a femme Ghostbustersswooped in with a trailer, becoming the most disliked in YouTube history. Would a Mannequin remake cause the same tribulation? Only time will tell.
For now, as the Ghostbusters franchise crosses the mainstream once again, we look at 24 more ’80s movie remakes, ranked worst to best by Tomatometer! (Only original properties included — no Annie or Conan — while movies like 2011’s The Thing, which explicitly extend the original plot, are excluded.)
This week on home video, we actually had too many good items to choose from, so we were actually forced to cut down by a few. With that in mind, we’d like to point out that, in addition to the titles mentioned below, you can also pick up the Robocop trilogy, Abel Ferrara’s original Bad Lieutenant, and Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans on Blu-Ray this week. Otherwise, you can read on to see all the new releases we have this week, as well as reissued classics of film noir, 80s horror, and 70s Ozploitation, as well as a Disney film and a Tarantino/Rodriguez collaboration. Here’s to hoping for more good weeks!
The original 1984 film The Karate Kid, directed by Oscar-winner John Avildsen (Rocky), was something of a phenomenon, earning an Oscar nom for Pat Morita (the famous Mr. Miyagi) and spawning all kinds of merchandise to go along with its animated series and three sequels. Furthermore, it was a cultural touchstone for children (and young adults) who grew up in the 1980s, with heaps of nostalgic affection still lavished upon it today. So it was with some understandable trepidation that audiences looked upon this year’s remake/reboot of the franchise, starring box office giant Will Smith’s precocious progeny, Jaden, and aging martial arts superstar Jackie Chan. How exactly does one remake so beloved a film, with all its cult trappings, and avoid complete disaster? Well, it would seem that director Harald Zwart (The Pink Panther 2) may have gotten some of it right. Aside from the change of venue (and choice of martial art), 2010’s The Karate Kid manages to hit many of the same notes the original did, thanks in part to the chemistry between its two leads and in particular to Jackie Chan’s nuanced dramatic performance. With a relatively solid 67% on the Tomatometer, the updated film surprised a lot of folks with its not-bad-ness, and though it doesn’t seem likely to become the nostalgic favorite that the original has become, you could definitely find worse inspirational flicks for the kids of the aughts to grow up with.
Speaking of trepidation for remakes of beloved 80s flicks, we come to 2010’s reboot of the A Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. The original Nightmare was a Wes Craven classic, a moody, atmospheric tale fraught with tension that utilized its limited budget to the best of its potential and squeezed out some effective horror. Unfortunately, this year’s retelling of the story, which centers around a suspected child murderer who is burned alive in an act of vigilante justice and returns to haunt the dreams of his killers’ children, appears to have missed the mark almost completely. First of all, in the eyes of many, recasting the role of Freddy Krueger (originally played with relish by Robert Englund) is a mistake right off the bat, even if you’re replacing him with a capable actor like Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen) – “No one can replace Robert Englund!” On top of that, critics agree that while the film seemed to get some of the aesthetics right, it lacked the depth and subversive twists of the original, which made it so memorable and allowed for a slew of sequels to be made. At just 13% on the Tomatometer, 2010’s Nightmare falls far short of its original (95%) and probably won’t win over any new fans, but if even out of sheer curiosity, it’s available for you this week on home video.
The creation and mutation of life are themes often explored in the realms of science fiction and horror, but one film this year took ideas born from those themes and made them just a tad more personal, earning equal parts bewilderment, repulsion, amusement, and praise from critics. That movie was Splice, the Vincenzo Natali-directed, Guillermo del Toro-produced film about a pair of wunderkind geneticists who take it upon themselves to combine human DNA with one of their otherworldly creations in spite of explicit instructions not to do so. When the creature is “born,” Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) name it Dren, adopt it as their own “child,” and surreptitiously spirit her away to a secluded farmhouse, where Dren matures rapidly and begins thinking for herself. Critics felt that the premise was novel, and that the acting and story served the premise well, earning it a Certified Fresh 74% on the Tomatometer. However, though the film is certainly a breath of fresh air for genre enthusiasts looking for something new and original, Splice probably isn’t for everyone. Without spoiling anything, we’ll just take this moment to say that some very unusual and potentially disturbing things happen in the latter half of the film, things that some may find off-putting and possibly even offensive, while others may find them alternately amusing. Nevertheless, this is one of those conversation-starters, and despite its wild climax, it certainly could be a sci-fi thriller worth your time.
Here’s a film that never should have gotten as much press as it did, but when you consider its thoroughly gagworthy premise, it’s probably not hard to imagine why it generated so much buzz. For a couple of months earlier this year, movie news sites were aflutter with anticipation over a movie whose central idea combined elements of “torture porn” with some traditional horror cliches to realize the image of three half-naked humans on their hands and knees, crawling in a sort of sordid train of death. But let’s back up and add some context: two young coeds are touring through Germany in a rental car when one of their tires blows out. Like anyone in a similar situation might, the two girls freak out and seek help at a nearby house, which happens to be the residence of a very evil surgeon whose greatest dream is to create – you guessed it – a human centipede by surgically attaching his victims, mouth-to-anus. Now, beyond the scatological grotesquerie, critics say there are some genuinely visceral thrills to be had, and The Human Centipede (First Sequence)‘s effectiveness may even be helped by some of its B-movie qualities, but in the end, most felt that the film was undone by its gross-out themes. At 48% on the Tomatometer, though, it’s still not too badly rated for its genre, so you horror heads out there who may have missed it in the theaters may now get your chance to see what all the hype was about.
Though there are certainly more and more animated films being released every year, few of them seem to master the balance between artistry, storytelling, and visuals. However, every once in a while, there comes a movie that reminds us there’s more to animation than Pixar and Dreamworks. The Secret of Kells is an Irish animated film about a young apprentice in 9th Century Ireland who ventures into the surrounding forest and experiences a fantastical world outside the monastery he’s typically not allowed to leave. This original work is the product of co-director Tomm Moore, who also came up with the story, and is produced by the same folks who brought us The Triplets of Belleville, and not only was it successful enough to garner a Certified Fresh 92% rating, but it also secured a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Oscars. In other words, you may never have heard of the film, but chances are that it’s completely worth your while to check it out, especially if you’re a fan of animation.
Before their gifted step-child Pixar took over the cartoon landscape, Disney experienced a golden period of renaissance in feature animation during the late ’80s and early ’90s, and Beauty and the Beast is arguably the jewel in their crown. Drawn from the 18th-century French tale (which also inspired Jean Cocteau’s surreal 1946 movie), the film follows a vain prince who’s been transformed into a monster that must prove himself capable of true love if the hairy curse is to be lifted. Rendered in stunning old school 2D with elements of CGI seamlessly mixed in, the unlikely romance between the Beast and provincial girl Belle was the first animation to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and it holds up as a classic nearly 20 years later. The songs, by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, are witty and heartfelt, the supporting characters funny and charming, and the fairytale visual design is among the best of Disney’s modern era. The three-disc Blu-ray (which also comes with the DVD version) is loaded with more extras than Belle’s musical dinner banquet, with two versions of the film (theatrical and extended), picture-in-picture features, commentaries, deleted scenes and a near-three-hour interactive behind the scenes doco. Definitely one to treasure.
In 1971, William Peter Blatty published a fictionalized account of a real-life exorcism that was performed by the Catholic church on a young boy in the 1940s. Two years later, director William Friedkin, who had won the Best Director Oscar for The French Connection the same year Blatty’s novel was published, released the big screen adaptation of Blatty’s book, The Exorcist. The film was a monumental success, earning the title of most profitable horror film of all time as well as a whopping ten Academy Award nominations, and today, the film is frequently listed either at or near the top of every “scariest horror movie” list. The story centers around young Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair in a career-defining role), daughter to actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), who begins exhibiting dangerous and unstable behavior. After exhaustive medical examination, Chris decides to call in a priest for an exorcism, and the rest is head-spinning, projectile-vomiting history. This week, appropriately in time for Halloween, we’re treated to a Blu-Ray booklet featuring both the theatrical cut of the film and the Extended Director’s Cut. In addition to the hi-def transfer, you’ll also get several of the previously available special features, like commentaries featuring Friedkin and Blatty and the 1998 documentary on the making of the film, as well as a brand new 3-part documentary that explores not only the movie’s production, but also its legacy, with never-before-seen footage. This is a definite must-have (or, at least, must-rent) for horror enthusiasts.
These days the word “mad” has some unfortunate connotations for Mel Gibson, what with the abusive phone calls, racial slurs and loopy worldview (to put it kindly), but back in 1979 it perfectly defined what may be his most enduring character. Police officer Max Rockatansky (irony duly noted) was one taut, angry dude, having had his life shredded when a gang runs down his wife and child in cold blood. Set in a barren post-Apocalyptic future, director George Miller’s debut feature is an exercise in extracting maximum thrills from a minimum budget — aside from Gibson’s iconic, no-nonsense turn, the movie boasts some killer car chases and a memorable gallery of hoods that could only have existed in the Australian outback. The Blu-ray/DVD pack comes with film critic commentary and a couple of documentaries, though no input from Miller himself is a little disappointing. Best of all, though, audiences can finally see the film as it was made, with this release including “the original Australian language track,” which was redubbed by American actors for the film’s US release.
Movie stars don’t come much cooler than Humphrey Bogart: suave, roguish, witty, and always calm and collected in the presence of danger, Bogey epitomizes the larger-than-life persona of the Studio era. Put him together with master director John Huston, and you’ve got a formula for cinematic perfection. If you truly love movies, you’ve got a reason to rejoice this week, as two of the most iconic Bogart/Huston collaborations — The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre — hit the shelves this week in spiffy new Blu-Ray packaging. In Falcon, Bogey stars as Sam Spade — perhaps the most iconic of movie private eyes – who’s on the trail of the titular object of desire, and along the way he encounters a number of questionable characters (played with mastery by Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet). It’s nearly perfect thriller: dark, cynical, and filled with double and triple crosses, this is where film noir begins. Bogey was far less appealing in Treasure, and the result was a box-office dud upon its release in 1948. However, time has been kind to the film, in which Bogart plays a wage worker who becomes consumed with greed when searching for a hidden stash of gold. Both discs come loaded with extras, including documentary featurettes, cartoons, and newsreels, and radio programs featuring the stars.
Quentin Tarantion and Robert Rodriguez have made clear with several of their films their undying love for the stripped down, lo-fi era of B-movie filmmaking, and if anyone ever doubted where the two maverick directors got much of their inspiration, the pair put those questions to rest when they teamed up to release the 2007 double feature Grindhouse. Rodriguez’s Planet Terror focuses on a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) who must fight off a zombie infection with the help of some friends, while Tarantino’s Death Proof chronicles the exploits of a serial killer stuntman with a deadly car who chooses to harass the wrong foursome of young women. Grindhouse was also famous for its numerous faux trailers, which played between the two features, and one of which was eventually made into a real movie (Machete). But aside from getting both Planet Terror and Death Proof on Blu-Ray in the same package, you’ll also get a ton of bonus features with this Special Edition, including several that were previously available and even more that are exclusive to the Blu-Ray. The latter includes segments dedicated to the makeup effects of Planet Terror, the hot rods of Death Proof, extended versions of some of the faux trailers, and more.
Written by Ryan Fujitani, Luke Goodsell, and Tim Ryan
This weekend, eleven-year-old Jaden Smith defeated four grown men in a battle of the 1980s remakes as The Karate Kid soared above expectations easily outgunning The A-Team at the North American box office. Kid powered its way to an estimated $56M over the weekend from 3,663 theaters for a sensational $15,288 average.
Produced for only $40M, the PG-rated film presented a modern take on the 1984 Ralph Macchio-Pat Morita favorite and starred Jackie Chan as the mentor. The setting was shifted to Beijing and despite the title, the film centered on kung fu instead of karate. Sony launched the marketing campaign with a highly effective trailer that used the son of Will to generate excitement with kids while also using nostalgia to pump up parents and other adults. Add in an end-credit song from teen sensation Justin Bieber (with a rap by Jaden) and a much-talked-about promotion at last weekend’s MTV Movie Awards and young people were hyped up and ready to buy tickets.
Despite a lengthy 140-minute running time, Karate pleased audiences with an encouraging A CinemaScore grade and even scored an exceptionally high 94% in the top two boxes from exit polls. Females made up 53% of the crowd while 56% was under 25. It was the ninth biggest June opening of all-time and sixth best when only counting live-action films. Will Smith routinely opens summer blockbusters in the $50M range and contributes to his own soundtracks and now has a son following in his footsteps. Overseas potential is formidable especially across Asia.
Opening far back in second place was The A-Team with an estimated $26M coming in below expectations. The Fox release launched very wide in 3,535 locations and averaged $7,355 per theater. A remake of the 1980s action television series, the PG-13 film starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper witnessed a slight 4% dip on Saturday and may not have the positive buzz needed for a long summer run. Reviews were mixed. In the battle of the 80s flicks, The A-Team and The Karate Kid were expected to have been much closer in ticket sales this weekend.
After a three-week reign at number one, Shrek Forever After continued to show off the strong legs seen by most 3D films these days. The ogre flick declined by only 38% which was impressive given how much Karate Kid was taking away business from family audiences. Forever broke the $200M mark and boosted its cume to $210.1M.
Universal’s Get Him to the Greek enjoyed the smallest decline among last weekend’s four new releases dipping 43% to an estimated $10.1M in fourth place. The raunchy rock star comedy has collected $36.5M in ten days and could be headed for a finish in the neighborhood of $65M. Fellow sophomore Killers fell by 48% to an estimated $8.2M giving Lionsgate $30.7M. Look for a $50M final.
Filling up the next four spots were a video game, comic strip, television show, and comic book all turned into feature films. Tumbling 53% to an estimated $6.6M was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which has collected just $72.3M in 17 days for Disney. Fox’s Marmaduke fell 48% in its second round to an estimated $6M putting the ten-day sum at $22.3M. Falling 55% to an estimated $5.5M in its third lap was Sex and the City 2 which has taken in a disappointing $84.7M to date.
Iron Man 2 came within a hair of joining the triple-century club with its weekend estimate of $4.6M. Off 43%, the Paramount release jumped up to $299.3M putting it at number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing the $296.6M of last November’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The horror pic Splice rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.9M, down 61%, for a weak ten-day total of $13.1M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $141.6M which was up 10% from last year when The Hangover remained in the top spot with $32.8M; but down 19% from 2008 when The Incredible Hulk debuted at number one with $55.4M.
Don’t you love it when a plan (or, in this case, a remake) comes together? And since we’re asking questions, is there anything wrong with a big dumb action flick every once in a while? The critics would likely answer yes to the former question, but on the later they’re largely split — at least in the case of The A-Team. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 1980s, this is the tale of a crack commando unit that was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. They promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade; today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune, hoping to defeat the bad guys and clear their names. The pundits say if you like mindless action with a wink and a nod, you could do a lot worse than this reboot, which executes its set pieces with plenty of panache. If, however, you’re a fan of character development and plot, you’ve come to the wrong place.
A treasured highlight of 1980s mainstream cinema, The Karate Kid may not be a classic, but it’s got plenty of heart and charm. So, how does the remake fare? Not too badly, say critics, even if this appealing, energetic movie adheres to the plot of the original like it’s a sacred text. Jaden Smith stars as Dre, a youngster who moves to China with his mother; after running afoul of the local bully, Dre comes under the tutelage of the wise, subdued Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who teaches him a thing or two about both martial arts and life. The pundits say this Karate Kid is slickly mounted, and benefits greatly from strong performances (particularly Chan, who lends heft and melancholy to the Mr. Miyagi role). However, some find the note-for-note retelling of the first Kid simply reinforces how dated the material is. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Jackie Chan’s best reviewed movies.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
Winter’s Bone, drama about a 17-year-old’s desperate search for her father in an attempt to save her family’s home, is at 100 percent.