There are a great deal of movies out there. Some good, some bad, some somewhere in between. I have run across some movies that made me wonder what they were thinking when they made them, and others made me wonder why more people don't know about these movies. So I decided to mention a few movies that I think are very good movies but don't get as much recognition as they should.
1. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
This may seem like a rather odd pick for an excellent movie, given the fact that it that it comes from the Final Fantasy franchise more famous for the 12 Final Fantasy computer games they have made since 1987 (with more to come). For those who are saying that no computer game ever was successfully turned into a (good) movie, my response is, yes, that is still true. Despite the name Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has nothing to do with the Final Fantasy computer games. It was made (illustrated) by many people who also worked on the games, but beyond that there is no real connection.
What struck me about this movie the first time I saw it was the attention to detail. As a matter of fact, it was the first animated movie that attempted (and did a very good job) at making the characters and setting photorealistic. Some parts of the movie seem so realistic that I had a roommate once who was surprised to find out that the people were animated and not real. The technical aspects of the film speak for themselves and even years later it is still an impressive piece of work.
But perhaps what makes this movie exceptional, as opposed to merely interesting, is the story. This movie, more than any other I have seen, has all the elements of a Classic Tragedy (try the first search result after clicking the link, it should be a pdf file). To be exact it has all the elements of a Shakespearean Tragedy after the style of Hamlet. I will not give a complete analysis of the movie in terms of the elements of a classic tragedy, but I will say that it does follow very closely the concepts of tragedy that make a play like Hamlet so memorable and universal. The plot follows quite well the structure of what constitutes a tragedy as given by Aristotle in his Poetics. As a matter of fact this movie could be used as an example to teach students what Aristotle meant by a tragedy. English teachers may have a problem with this due to their immense dislike of anything remotely Sci-fi (Slaughterhouse-Five excepted).
Because of the intricacies of the story and given the fact that it was such an excellent example of a classic tragedy indicates that the story did not come about randomly, like so many movies produced today. It is unfortunate that such a good story, with exceptional special effects, gets largely ignored due to its association with the Final Fantasy computer games (and the people who do like the computer games don't like the movie because it isn't like the the games). Thus many people miss what otherwise is an exceptional movie.
Disclaimer: The movie does have sci-fi action violence. It has a PG-13 rating for a reason. I would not recommend anyone younger than about 12 watching the movie, it can be rather scary for young children.
2. Deep Impact
Almost all (about 99.8%) of the criticism I have heard about this movie goes something like this, "That movie was so lame. I mean the love story in it was terrible. And all the characters were dumb. I especially didn't like Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck/Liv Tyler etc." To which I respond "Are you thinking about Armageddon?" Deep Impact had the incredible misfortune of coming out a little less than 2 months before the epically bad Hollywood butcher job of a poor excuse for a movie, Armageddon. At the time Armageddon was billed as the big summer blockbuster and everyone went to see it (that's everyone in the Hollywood sense of everyone). The movie was so bad that it influenced people's opinion to the point that any movie from the 90's that involved an asteroid (or comet, or other space body) was immediately lumped with it and relegated to the same dustbin of movie history, the "we hope this gets forgotten" dustbin.
So whenever I happen to mention Deep Impact, the general response is negative, until the person I am talking to realizes that they are thinking about Armageddon and not Deep Impact. While the brief synopsis of both films may be very similar, they are in actuality very different. The reason why I like the movie is because it tends to present real people (or more real than most Hollywood movies). It also explores some powerful and touching themes. The science in the film is also a lot better than most films I have seen (or rather almost all films I have seen), which is impressive for Hollywood movies.
So those are just two movies that I like that I think don't get as much recognition as they should. I may post about other movies in the future that I think fall into this category.