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If you grew up between 1975 and 2005, you were treated to some incredible movies. We saw films that redefined the way we look at cinema. Some of those movies are still instant classics if you watch them today… and some of them are not. Here’s 5 great movies that have held up well, and 5 that haven’t.
1. Still Great Today – Aliens
I was really torn about whether to put Alien or Aliens on this list. They’re both incredible movies, and they both are some of the finest examples of their genre. Where as Alien was a take on the slasher movie, with Ripley being a bad ass final girl, Aliens was definitely an action flick. The reason I chose Aliens is because of how much popular culture has borrowed from it. Play Halo for 30 minutes and tell me that Bungie shouldn’t be writing a check to James Cameron. Incidentally, it isn’t the last time we’ll be talking about Jimmy C on this list.
1. Not So Great – Back To The Future
Now before you get your torches and pitchforks out, let me preface by saying this: Back To The Future is my favorite movie of all time, and it BREAKS MY HEART to put it on this list. But we have to take a critical look and be honest here, some things about this movie do not hold up well. In 1985, Biff was viewed as a bully and a jerk. In 2019, we’d see him as a criminal. Keep in mind, he’s got attempted murder and sexual assault on his rap sheet by the end of that movie. And yes, the hand fading effect at the climax of the movie is not too pleasant to look at nowadays. I still love it, but it has not held up well.
2. Still Great Today – Jurassic Park
It isn’t perfect. Not everything is great. But as a movie, this film has held up incredibly since it released in the early 90’s. When you utter the phrase “90’s dinosaur movie,” your mind rightfully jumps to the worst possible scenario. But Jurassic Park defied the odds, showing us why the best effects will always be done live in front of a camera. Whether it’s the first appearance of the T-Rex, the Velociraptor jump scare in the power room, or Nedry getting taken out by the Dilophosaurus, this movie is still incredible. Just don’t look too closely at the Dilophosaurus scene or you’ll see the strings pulling its neck flaps out. (I’m sorry in advance)
2. Not So Great – The Matrix: Reloaded
Whereas the effects in the first Matrix movie hold up… okay…. (with the exception of the scene where he falls from the building and lands on the looney tunes pavement), the effects in the Matrix Reloaded are not good. Whether it’s the phantom twins or the Agent Smith clone army, there’s just too many moments that were cool in the theater that have not held up well. I considered putting the original Matrix on here, but I feel like it did so much for cinema and the way we view technology that it wouldn’t be right. Also, I for one welcome my new machine overlords.
3. Still Great Today – Halloween
Yea, I know I’m not breaking any original ground by saying that John Carpenter’s Halloween is still a great movie today. However, I’d be hard pressed to make a list like this and not include it. Everything you can ask for in a horror movie, especially a low budget film, is present in Halloween. The score is incredible and fits with the pacing of the movie, standout performances from Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence give life to the characters, and the atmosphere is incredible. The set designers did an amazing job of making a Californian city feel like late-fall Illinois. (with the exception of the one scene where you can see palm trees. Still, A for effort.)
3. Not So Great – Aladdin
I know. I know. I hate putting this movie on the list, I really do. I grew up watching Aladdin damn near every day, it was my favorite Disney movie. But it has not aged gracefully, and ironically… the problem is Robin Williams. I’m sure I’m going to be hated for this opinion, but hear me out. His performance is STELLAR. His ability to ad-lib, his ability to give life to the character, it’s all great. But the problem is that when he ad-libs, he makes a lot of timely references. It’s going to be the same problem that movies like Deadpool have in twenty years, where the timely references don’t make sense to anyone who wasn’t around for them. Even now, when I watch Aladdin, I don’t remember all the things he’s talking about in his jokes. It’s still a great movie, but in terms of holding up well, it makes the bad side of this list.
4. Still Great Today – Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Honestly, I’d be fine with people saying either Terminator 1 or 2, but I think T2 really holds up well. Once again James Cameron makes this list, and once again it’s with a sequel to an already great movie. This movie masters the use of practical effects and even took a novel approach to the emerging world of computer generated graphics. Unlike many directors at the time, who were content with the graphics looking sub-par, Cameron decided to embrace the short-comings of CG at the time. You can almost hear the conversation: “Jeez, everything we make on here looks like liquid metal.” “Well, why don’t we just have a liquid metal terminator?” Brilliant! And it worked! T2 remains one of the all time great action movies in history.
4. Not So Great – Avatar
See what I did there? Another James Cameron movie. And not just any James Cameron movie, but the highest grossing film of all time. It was an incredible movie when it came out, that showed everyone the true power of 3D and IMAX. Say what you will about 3D, but James Cameron showed that when it’s handled appropriately instead of as a gimmick, it can be a powerful film-making tool. That said, have you watched Avatar in the last eight years? Me neither. Well, at least I hadn’t until I decided to work on this list. When you watch it today, outside of the movie theater, it is the height of okay. The effects are okay, the story is okay (and stolen, but most stories are), the acting is okay… it’s just okay. And since it was at one time considered the best film ever created, that’s a pretty steep drop off and well worthy of a spot on the list.
5. Still Great Today – John Carpenter’s The Thing
I was really torn about whether to put The Fly or The Thing on here. Both are great movies, and in many ways for the same reasons. Both had great acting with Kurt Russell in The Thing and Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Both had incredible practical effects that to this day are probably the best ever done on screen. Both set a creepy atmosphere, and both were amazing horror movies. I ended up giving the nod to The Thing because of how many different things the alien possessed throughout the movie. Whether it was the scene with the dog, the scene with the chest paddles, or whatever the hell that was at the end, the effects were truly second to none.
5. Not So Great – Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom
Oh boy. So, I love the Indiana Jones movies and most of them hold up pretty well. However, the same cannot be said for the second installment Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Where to start? I can get over the weird story, the dark tone, and the frankly boring second act. But good god is there a lot of awful depictions in this movie. Whether it’s Indiana’s chinese side-kick Short Round, or their horrific portrayal of Indian culture, this movie has not held up well in that department. I’d say it’s a product of the time, but I have to ask “Was 1984 THAT racist?” Maybe it was, I wasn’t born until 1989. Still, the movie is hard to watch in 2019.
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