Hello neglected readers. Again, the perfect storm of procrastination, distraction, and general malaise has lead to blog atrophy. Since I’m no longer encumbered by a day job, I figure there’s no time like the present to put off the job search and give you something to wrap your eyeballs around.
The big day is on the horizon. The newest installment of Star Wars will be forcing itself on the movie-going public in a matter of days, shattering box office records and re-branding just about every consumer product in the known universe. Before it gets here and sets the new standard by which all seventh movies in a franchise will be judged, I thought we should take a moment and figure out which movie series is the current holder of the title: Best Seventh Movie. Obviously we’re not going to use any objective metric like box office gross or award nominations. In many cases, except for a couple of the ones on this list, any franchise that has gone that long is at the point of self-parody by plucky number seven. Let me point out that I haven’t actually seen all of these, but don’t let that dampen my expert-sounding tone.
7. Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond) – I’ve never been a James Bond guy. Sure, Sean Connery is the definition of cool, but when I was a kid I was more drawn to his turns in Highlander and Time Bandits. Awesome as being a super spy was, I wanted to be immortal and time travel with a group of British midgets. So, this belongs in the category of “haven’t seen,” but since this is the first major franchise to have a seventh movie (besides the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road to…” movies), I figured it deserved a mention.
6. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Nightmare on Elm St.) – While I wasn’t much of a James Bond guy, I am a die hard Freddy Kruger guy. I’ve seen all of them. The recent reboot, like most recent reboots, is sacrilege. With franchises that run this long there is a general rule of thumb as far as quality. With the Nightmare on Elm St. movies, it’s the odd numbered ones that stand out. This first is a classic, Dream Warriors is fantastic (with a cast that includes Lawrence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette), and Dream Child is one of the campiest entries, with Freddy at his catch-phrasiest. Which brings us to the New Nightmare. This was Wes Craven’s attempt to make Freddy relevant again by rooting him in the “real lives” of the people who made the original film. Freddy has now transcended the screen. He’s pissed that the series is over and the only way to stop him is for Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) to make another movie. They try to up the creep factor by making Heather’s son, who looks like he just came home from the Overlook Hotel, the conduit for Freddy’s reemergence.
It mostly pays homage to the original movie and tries to recreate some of the iconic deaths. Even if it’s not close to as scary, this was the precursor to Wes Craven’s Scream series about a “real life” horror killer that you have to follow a set of cinematic tropes to take down.
5. Star Trek: Generations – Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to any long-running franchise. With Star Trek, it’s the even numbers. Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country are all varying degrees of awesome. The only redeeming quality of Search for Spock was Christopher Lloyd as the lead Klingon… funny that they ended up time traveling in his ship for the next movie. Anyway, Generations had a tough legacy to overcome. Not only that, this movie was to be the bridge between the decaying original cast and the new class of Federation heroes that would carry the torch. Obviously, in order to do that, time needed to be rendered irrelevant. So, we’re introduced to the Nexus, an extradimensional realm which allows those who enter to experience their pasts over again, whenever and however they choose, to ultimate and unending ecstasy. Kirk is stuck there and Picard must convince him to leave so they can team up to stop Soran, Malcolm MacDowell, from chewing the scenery into oblivion. It’s a fun romp and we get to see Kirk get one last hurrah before taking up the mantle of Priceline Negotiator.
4. Furious 7 – This goes into the category of ones I haven’t seen. I take that back. I have seen the first Fast & Furious, so I’ve technically seen them all. Cars, guns, bad-assery, and combinations of all three jumping out of planes, crashing through skyscraper windows, and ignoring any basic laws of physics. Not a complaint, mind you. Movies like this are about spectacle and this one bugs the viewer’s eyes out like the love struck wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon…
Plus, now that I’m looking at the cast, you’ve got Tony Jaa as a henchman. Holy shit. If you don’t know who Tony Jaa is, allow me to enlighten you…
Long story short, do not fuck with this man’s elephant. Furious 7 also features the emotional goodbye to Paul Walker, who died doing pretty much trying to rehearse for the movie. Again, haven’t seen it, but I plan on giving it a looksee.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 – The first half of the last in the Harry Potter series finds Harry and his pals on a quest to destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. I think that’s the plural of horcrux. The plural of vortex is vortices, so maybe it’s horcuces. I’m not going to try to parse the grammar of made up words. I’m just glad it’s not a damn emoji or something. This movie marks the first time in the series where it wasn’t super creepy to look at Hermoine in the way that most creeps were doing since The Sorcerer’s Stone. This was also the first movie in the series that broke from the formula that was established in the first one: Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts turns out to be a tool of Voldemort, Harry figures this out, wins a Quidditch match, uses whatever object happens to be in the title to beat back Voldemort, rinse, repeat.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – The X-Men franchise has been spotty. It’s got two real quality entries, X2 and X-Men: First Class, and two that are widely regarded as two of the worst comic book movies ever made, those being X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Days of Future Past, much like Star Trek: Generations, serves as a bridge between the original cast (again with Patrick Stewart) and the prequels that have rejuvenated the franchise. Wolverine, who is basically just walking sinew at this point, is sent back in time to prevent the cataclysmic future that the X-Men are currently facing: Sentinels that can adapt to their mutations to take them out. This movie hinges on two great set pieces. The first is the prison break of Magneto with the mutant Quicksilver. Since Marvel and 20th Century Fox both technically have rights to the character, both decided to include him in their respective sweeping super storylines. This is the superior handling of the two.
The second awesome set piece is Magneto picking up RFK Stadium and dropping it on the White House lawn. The action in the movie is great and Michael Fassbender does a great job lending gravitas to a role that was previously inhabited by one of the best actors of a generation.
1. Creed (Rocky) – If you haven’t seen Creed, GO. SEE. CREED. When I mentioned that many franchises that go this long become a parody of themselves, this was where the Rocky franchise had gone. People forget that Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture. Rocky II was a good movie. Rocky’s III and IV are 80s cult classics, but they’re cartoonish as hell. I need to go back and watch the boxing sequences in the first two movies, because watching the matches in Rocky III and IV, it’s a wonder how any of those fights went longer than 30 seconds. They just pummel each other in the head with no thought of defending. The fifth and sixth in the series are hot garbage. Creed brings the respectability back to Sylvester Stallone that makes you all but forget Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! Google it. It follows the story of Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis, who seeks out Rocky Balboa to train him. I mentioned the boxing from III and IV, well they actually make the boxing look and feel real this time. The only thing that was missing was a dream sequence that could’ve brought Carl Weathers into it somehow. Sort of like in Happy Gilmore. Or maybe as a ghost Jedi.
Thanks for reading. I hope I can make a regular go at this again, but I’m easily distracted…