Sunday, October 28, 2007

14 Underrated Movies of 2007

It's only October, but 2007 is already full of tons of great or really good movies. It's pretty amazing, because I've gone years where I haven't seen a truly great movie until the final weeks of December and struggled to piece together a top ten list where the bottom three aren't on there simply for the sake of filling out the top ten.

2007, however, has had plenty of great films, some of which were complete surprises (28 Weeks Later), some were ones you were hoping to be good but weren't expecting them to be (Transformers) and others ones that received great critical reaction but not many box office dollars (Michael Clayton comes to mind). And so this list below takes a look at the movies released thus far that have failed to reach their box office potential for whatever reason...

It's no real surprise that this serial killer movie didn't make a ton of money as it is nearly three hours long and it's no action thriller along the vein of Seven, but Zodiac is a near masterpiece in its presentation of the long and arduous investigation that went into finding the Zodiac killer, a real person. Pulling off a movie like this is difficult, but David Fincher seemed to be on automatic as pieced together the complicated storyline.

28 Weeks Later
Yeah, it's a zombie movie. But it's a zombie movie that takes what was accomplished in the first film and makes things scarier and more exciting. This is definitely one of the best horror sequels ever, yet didn't perform too well in theaters and even got slammed by quite a few critics as being unoriginal. Seriously, I've read many reviews, some from professional critics and some from bloggers, that have mocked this movie, but I don't know what the hell they were watching. I consider myself to have pretty good taste in film, and 28 Weeks Later was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Gone Baby Gone
The full strength of this movie is yet to be seen, but it already appears to be skirting under the radar. The directorial debut of Ben Affleck, the movie stars his brother Casey as a private detective looking for a kidnapped girl. The film fires on all cylinders and is a dramatic yet exciting detective flick with heart.

The Kingdom
Sure, the script isn't all that great and overall the movie could have been more, but The Kingdom is an exciting, well-paced action thriller that was seemingly made to blow away the competition. Surprisingly, this one flopped massively, and I'm still scratching my head as to why.

The Last Mimzy
It's a kid's movie, but a very good kid's movie at that. In a year where Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a bit disappointing, The Last Mimzy is a refreshing and unique adventure tale about a brother and sister who discover a toy that give them special powers. However, what is the true purpose of the alien toy? This one probably flopped because it's a more serious kid's movie, and the title sucks. Highly recommended, even to adults.

Michael Clayton
Some people predicted this would top the box office when it hit theaters, but of course a slow-moving legal thriller wouldn't do that. Still, the movie has shown disappointing returns even though it is one of the best reviewed movies of the year and features some of the best performances of the year, by Tom Wilkinson, George Clooney and Tilda Swinton most notably. This movie isn't for everyone, but those who are patient while find payoff in the film's climax.

Seraphim Falls
This Liam Neeson/Pierce Brosnan movie was never even released wide, but it is a non-stop action thrill ride set in the old west. With a simple story of one man trying to hunt down another man through snowy mountains and the desert, Seraphim Falls offers very little dialogue but haunting performances from the men involved nonetheless. More importantly, it is exciting from start to finish and features some great visuals.

The Pixar movie still made a good amount of money at theaters this summer, but compared to other Pixar films, it was a box office disappointment. Some blamed it on the fact that the title is hard to pronounce or that it stars a rat, but I don't really know. All I know is that this film features absolutely stunning visuals, an entertaining storyline and witty screenplay. It is a pure treat, and one of the few animated films that I could see competing against live action movies as "best movie of the year". It isn't THAT good, but I hope you get my point.

Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale's movie about a man who crashes in Vietnam and forced to live in a prison camp in the middle of the jungle looked cheesy at first, but it is actually one of the finest made pictures of the year. Featuring great acting, beautiful scenery and exciting, fact-based story, Rescue Dawn is certainly one of the hidden gems of 2007.

This film about the death of the sun and human's last attempt to save the species is more pure sci-fi than most films we see these days, but it's a shame it wasn't marketed to general audiences more effectively. Featuring dazzling special effects, good performances and an exciting, chilling story, the movie could easily appeal to both sci-fi buffs and regular moviegoers alike. I blame the studio for not positioning this sci-fi classic better.

The Lookout
I can't remember how this one did at theaters, but regardless it probably didn't get the attention it deserved. Featuring a great performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a memorable story about a young man trying to overcome a disability, and a bank robbery, the movie is exciting, dramatic and "twisty" all at the same time. Those who like small-town crime thrillers should certainly check this out. It may not be Fargo, but it's still really good.

The last minute or two kind of suck, but Vacancy, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a bitter couple who get trapped in the hotel from Hell. There isn't a moment that passes when the tension eases up, and that's all that really needs to be said.

Amazingly, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature flopped at theaters, forcing The Weinstein Company to split the directors' two movies, Death Proof and Planet Terror, into two movies in Europe, and DVD. Had they released this around Halloween we might have seen better results, as while neither film are absolutely amazing, both are certainly better-than-average horror movies, if you can even call them that.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Casey Affleck hits this list for the second time, as he plays the second title character for this slow-moving western drama. He turns in an award-winning performance, as does Brad Pitt, who plays the famous outlaw. As with Michael Clayton, this movie isn't for everyone, but it has certainly gone under the radar without much box office impact.

The year is still young. I expect more quality films to make this list as we wind down to New Years...


Coy M. said...

Grindhouse was not released as two DVD's in an attempt to make more money. This was planned originally because the "Grindhouse" experience was supposed to be one that audiences got in theaters and theaters only. The double-feature movies of old were also released seperately outside of theaters, and the two directors have stayed with tradition by releasing Planet Terror and Death Proof seperately. I feel bad for anyone who wasn't able to catch the double feature in theaters, as it was one of my best movie-going experiences this year! I have heard a rumor that the original Grindhouse feature with both films and trailers inbetween is planned to be released on DVD on December 27. But this may just be a hopeful rumor.

Tim said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Eric. I haven't yet seen any of these!

Tim said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Eric. I haven't yet seen any of these!

Anonymous said...

My top choice for an underrated film is Gone Baby Gone. It was amazing and I am frankly very surprised it was not given any Oscar nods.

Erik Samdahl said...

Yeah it was quite good!