When it comes to movies, some of the best works of art are often forgotten before they even come out. Here are 5 movies you rarely hear about that I think everyone should see.
1: The Cell
Number 1 on my list is one of my favorite movies of all time and it often gets overlooked, even by horror fans. Perhaps one of the most visually stunning movies I have ever seen, The Cell is a psychological fantasy that focuses on the deep inner workings of the human mind.
The Cell stars actors we all know well such as Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D'Onofrio in roles like nothing they've ever done. When Catherine, a psychologist working with experimental technology that lets her enter the mind of another, agrees to help find Carl's (a disturbed serial killer) latest victim by entering the maze of his mind, she finds herself in way over her head.
The movie starts inside the dreamscape of a comatose child where Catherine is trying to help mend the young mind of her patient. Jump to the horrifying serial killer, Carl, a man whose childhood traumas caused him to develop a severe personality disorder. The police are hot on his trail after uncovering one of his victims in a shallow ravine where FBI agents suspect his carelessness is a sign that he wants to be caught. They discover Carl soon after but in a comatose state he is likely never to come out of following his alter ego pushing for psychological dominance.
The problem is that he's already taken another victim and, like his others, has placed her in a cell that will continuously fill with water over the course of a couple days. And he's the only one who knows where she is...
When the FBI finds out about this experimental technology Catherine is using, they slap her
with the facts and eventually convince her to enter Carl's twisted mind to save the missing woman. Though her plan is to appeal to the child still lurking inside of Carl's psyche, she cannot avoid the dark presence of his horrifying alter ego. The initial entrance into Carl's mind is vastly different from Catherine's child patient in the beginning of the movie. With the use of jarring close ups, slowed sound and slow motion imagery, you as a viewer are plunged into the world with her and it's a haunting place to be. Luckily, the first person we meet is Carl's child self, who seems distrusting and afraid, but he is who Catherine needs to appeal to.
After a disturbing scene with a horse that has haunted people for years and a few stages featuring twisted sexual fantasies, Catherine is placed at the bottom of a staircase before a throne. And in the throne is the creature himself; the dominating personality that has devoured Carl's psyche.
I can't stress enough how visually stunning this movie is. Every twist and turn and every cinematic choice, costume, character movement, and angle breathes life into this twisted tale. With nods to Dante's Inferno, every minute takes you deeper into a world you can't help drowning in.
The Cell is an absolutely underrated movie that I believe deserves so much more love. For it's direction, art choices, acting, and incredible storytelling, this movie is one that you won't soon forget. Add it to your list if you dare!
2: La Belle et la Bete
I will say it right now and I don't care who's listening. The latest Disney live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was a TRAVESTY. From the unoriginal story telling, horrendous costumes, and the eyebrow raising comedy, it just wasn't the fantastical tale we deserved. Especially those of us who loved the movie as a child, but are now adults.
Enter La Belle et la Bete, the French adaptation of the fairy tale told a little differently and for a more mature audience. While this movie focuses on a cursed prince, a beautiful commoner, and a curse-breaking love story, there is so much more to this movie than what we have been given in other versions.
FIRST, before I gush about the movie as a whole, I will say one thing. As someone who went to college for fashion and costumes and made a living off making them for 12 years, I can say that, without a doubt, the costumes in this movie are some of the best I have ever seen. With such intricate details, I found myself staring at the screen in awe the whole way through. And instead of the typical blue and gold all of us Disney cartoon lovers are familiar with, the colors were rich and vibrant and moved across the spectrum to fit the moment. I am telling you, if for nothing else, watch this movie for the absolute perfection that is the costumes.
Moving on, if you know the story of Beauty and the Beast, you know how this tale ends. It's the execution that sets this one apart. Rather than a animal who's a bit clumsy and out of practice, in this particular film, the beast still maintains a noble and yet solemn persona. He dresses classy and he stands up straight and his voice is to die for. And not only that, but his curse is derived from a lost love and arrogance combined, giving him even further depth.
While Belle is still afraid of her new situation, as she explores the castle, its inhabitants, and the beast himself, she begins to find solace in his presence and it is the most alluring romance to witness. The fantasy factor is multiplied ten-fold in this tale with giant moving statues, gorgeous architecture and set design, and flawless camera angles. I am telling you, whether you want the romance, the fantasy, or the absolutely beautiful visuals, this movie should be on your list.
3: Pitch Black
If you watch movies, you've probably at least heard of Riddick. It's one of Vin Diesel's most iconic roles, but did you know Riddick had a prequel? A little lesser known movie called Pitch Black came out before Chrinicles of Riddick and Riddick and focuses on Riddick, the galaxy's most wanted, as he's being transported with traveling citizens. When the ship crash lands on a strange planet, he is forced to become a hero. And when i say he doesn't want to, I mean he really doesn't want to.
As the last Furyan, Riddick is a strong and dangerous species. Not only that, but after spending time in the most ruthless prisons, he's gotten what's called a "shine job" on his eyes so he can see in the dark. Hence his iconic goggles to shield his eyes in the light. When the seemingly desolate planet experiences an eclipse, the dormant wildlife emerges from beneath the ground to feed. And who is the only one who can see in the dark and defend the remaining survivors? The criminal they all fear.
Pitch Black is a scifi action movie for lovers of the genre. It's got everything. Suspense, aliens, heroics, and a tiny touch of romance. Of the entire Riddick Franchise, Pitch Black comes in first on my list.
And don't get me wrong! This isn't a story of a reformed murderer. Riddick is an anti-hero at best till the very end, but you can't help but love him.
4: House of Flying Daggers
You might have heard of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. You have probably even heard of Hero. Both were popular movies during a time when that Chinese epic style of cinema was exploding in America. And both seemed to overshadow House of Flying Daggers.
The movie, like the others, was directed Yi-Mou Zang and is ultimately a romance with that familiar Chinese art style we love. From fight scenes in the bamboo tree tops to gorgeous dances in a colorful brothel, there was not one scene in this movie that wasn't visually stunning. The costumes fit every part of the world and the action was like a waltz.
The story follows Mei, a blind dancer, and an undercover police captain trying to locate a rebel group called the House of Flying Daggers. Suspected of being the group leader's daughter, Mei is arrested and police captain, Jin, must gain Mei's trust to reunite her with her people and bring the rebels down. But, as you might have guessed, in their time together, the two begin to form a bond. Eventually, Jin isn't only pretending to protect Mei and he starts to develop conflicting feelings.
On their journey, a fake attack by the military is planned to further Mei's trust in Jin when he appears to protect her. But in a later attack that was not planned, he is forced to work with her for real to survive and their bond is strengthened. The lines between pretend feelings and genuine ones begin to blur and the cocky police captain soon finds himself deeply caring for Mei.
Without posting spoilers, further twists and turns turn this movie's story on its head and characters you thought you knew turn out to be things you didn't expect.
Aside from the masterful artistry in this film, there is a beautiful love story that will bring
sensitive viewers to tears, like any good work of art should. I can't stress enough how wonderful this movie is and even if you're not here for the story, you'll be in awe over the colors, movements, and settings throughout this film. It's definitely one you won't be able to take your eyes off of.
You've probably heard of The Matrix. In 1999, that movie became a cinematic phenomenon and took the world by storm. It created a thirst for scifi action and dystopian storytelling, but it might have overshadowed an equally badass action flick from 2002, Equilibrium.
The movie stars Christian Bale and is set in a post-World War III where people think emotions are the cause of all conflict. People are forced to take an injection every day to suppress emotion and those who defy the laws are sentenced to death. "Sense Offenders" include those harboring or in possession of things that might illicit an emotional response such as art, books, and music. The totalitarian world is bland, uniform with an elite law enforcement group called the Clerics who consistently raid homes and execute those breaking the laws.
High-ranking Cleric, John (Christian) loses his wife after she's arrested and deemed a sense
offender, which leaves him as a single father to two children. When his partner goes down the same road and is found outside the city with a book in hand, he's forced to execute him and is then sent down a spiral of doubt toward the system. Shortly after, he breaks one of his emotion-dampening injections and is unable to procure another dose before his next raid on the "underground," a group of rebels intent on taking down "Father" aka the overlord. You can guess where this story is going and I'm going to let you keep guessing before I give anything away.
The movie is action packed and full of great fight scenes. Seeing as the Clerics are trained in a martial art called "gun kata," the action is high intensity and the stunts are stunning to watch. We get that 90s-early 2000s attire with long coats and high collars along with that dystopian setting we love to see get taken down. If you're a fan of The Matrix, I guarantee you'll love this movie!!
There you are! 5 movies I think I underrated and deserve a lot more love. What movies do you think deserve more time in the spotlight?