While I didn’t see the new Lone Ranger movie, the reviews I’ve read and word of mouth I’ve heard all say the same thing: the movie is a mess, but the explosive final act almost redeems it. There are a lot of movies like that. Flicks that are pretty bad, but have that one or two moments that really shine. It could be a really cool action scene, a really stylish sequence, or maybe something outright funny. Think about how Scary Movie 4 was hard to sit through, but that Saw parody intro with Shaq and Dr. Phil was kind of hilarious. Maybe how Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zen is a plodding bore, but the fight scenes will blow you away. Or how while the animated G.I. Joe movie was kind of average, the first four minutes were pure excellence.
I wanted to have an entry for “every single scene in Street Fighter” but my editor said that didn’t make a lick of sense. Anyway, here’s the Top Ten Most Awesome Scenes from Bad Movies.
10. Superman Saves the PlaneSuperman Returns (2006)
Superman’s been known to be the main character in some stinkers, but for my money, Superman Returns is the worst of them. It’s the most misguided member of the franchise and somehow makes Superman less likeable than he was in 2013’s Superman Kills Everyone: The Movie. At least we have this sequence where Lois Lane is on an airplane hooked up to a space shuttle. It goes horribly wrong and Superman proceeds to make his first public appearance in years by coming to the rescue.
This part is where the movie really comes alive, if even for a moment. The iconic theme kicks in and Superman starts it easy by tearing off the unmanned space shuttle and throwing it into space, where it won’t harm anyone. Then things get hairy. Superman’s in no physical peril here, but those people on the plane – which includes Lois Lane bouncing around like a pinball – are doomed. His strength doesn’t give him the easy win here, as pulling on a wing only tears it apart. He uses more care to save all those people and does so in the middle of a baseball field, surrounded by cheering fans. Then Superman enters the plane and greets everyone with cheesy rhetoric about how airliners are still the safest way to travel.
9. Avengers vs. the HulkUltimate Avengers (2006)
The direct-to-video animated movies Marvel used to put out weren’t very good. They were 95% dull on the whole and only really became worth checking out when they did the Hulk Versus features. Even before that, Hulk was making the animated Avengers movies watchable, whether he was busting up Ultron in the future or clashing with the Avengers in the present.
Ultimate Avengers is a loose adaptation of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates and one of the big differences (outside of Thor’s lack of beard) is the ordering of threats. In the comic, the Ultimates fight the Hulk and later use him as an attack dog against the alien invasion. In this movie, they instead fight the aliens first and then Hulk gets a little too rowdy in the face of victory. That’s when things get fun. Hulk proceeds to take on all of the Avengers, giving us such awesome moments as Hulk brutally haymakering the side of Giant Man’s kneecap and Cap straight up running up to Hulk and punching him in the face, despite being thrown around like a ragdoll thrice over.
Even though the Hulk fight is everyone’s favorite part of the movie, they somehow decided that Hulk needed a whopping twenty seconds of screentime in the sequel. Go figure.
8. Oh No! Country Bear Hall has Been Crushed!The Country Bears (2002)
Country Bears is a movie I watched with great reluctance. My friend got it for me for Christmas as a gag and after a long, long time of begging off, I finally decided to give it a watch and get it over with. It’s just as bad as you think. Think of the Muppets, right down to the same storyline, only without the charm. That is, unless you’re talking about the movie’s villain Reed Thimple, as played by Christopher Walken’s hankering for a paycheck. Walken makes any scene he’s in, but there’s one that really takes the cake.
The story is that he’s planning to destroy the Country Bears’ concert hall unless they can come up with the money to save it. He’s so into the idea of destroying it that we see him in his office, crushing a scale model of the building with a giant weight like something out of a cartoon. But that’s not enough! He clears his desk and puts ANOTHER scale model on the table! Then that gets crushed! Rinse, repeat! This would be crazy enough, but the icing on the cake is that while he’s wearing a buttoned shirt, tie and vest, he’s also not wearing pants. He’s just sitting around in his boxers, having the grandest time. For a minute, so was I.
7. Anakin’s Killing SpreeStar Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
I don’t think I’m overstepping my boundaries when I say that people weren’t too fond of the Star Wars prequels, especially how they turned menacing killing machine Darth Vader into a whiny rube. Despite all the mistakes of the movies, at least we got the Tusken Raider massacre in the least popular of the trilogy. Anakin went back to his home world of Tatooine to save his mother. Although she spent the last few years in happiness with a loving husband and step-children, she was kidnapped by sand people. She’s been kept alive for the sake of torture and…probably some stuff that doesn’t really belong in a Star Wars movie.
Anakin comes to rescue her and upon their tearful reunion, Shmi Skywalker dies in his arms. Despite criticism of Hayden Christensen’s acting in these movies, he has this perfect distraught and confused “why did this have to happen?” glare on his face as she dies and once the music starts to kick in, it becomes an angry scowl. With lightsaber in hand, he stalks into the Tusken Raider camp and proceeds to decapitate two guys and slices through another, utterly pissed off. To keep from a harsher film rating, it cuts away and we hear the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn screaming at Anakin to stop…to the point that even Yoda hears it light-years away. That totally rules. Instead of being a victim of politics and all that crap, Anakin has a total Frank Castle moment to drive him towards being a genocidal maniac and it’s especially hard to blame him.
That is, until he angrily explains to Padme that he also slaughtered the women and children because they’re no better than animals. That’s pretty messed up. To take the movie back to mediocrity, Padme responds to this revelation with, “No, that’s cool. It happens,” and moves on.
6. The Burly BrawlMatrix Reloaded (2003)
I feel that while the first Matrix stands on its own as a self-contained entity, but the second one doesn’t really work because it’s build-up for the third movie. Had Revolutions been good, Reloaded would have been good in retrospect. Revolutions wasn’t, therefore Reloaded wasn’t. Still, it had the kickass Burly Brawl fight.
Neo’s doing his own A-plot stuff when Agent Smith shows up. This is rather shocking to Neo, considering he killed him at the end of the first movie. Smith plays it off as, “Whatever, I’m back. Deal with it.” Turns out he has the ability to transform people and agents into copies of himself and he’s been spreading through the Matrix like a virus. Unlike the others, Neo is able to resist and has a big, honking fight with his computerized rival. More and more Agent Smiths enter the fray and Neo fights them off. Using his kung fu skills, super strength and other bells and whistles of being The One, Neo holds his own. Soon there are over a hundred Smiths coming at him and even though Neo explosively shrugs off their dogpile, he still chooses to get the hell out of there. He can’t destroy Smith and Smith can’t keep Neo down. It’s a stalemate.
Not only is it a cool fight (obvious CGI towards the end notwithstanding), but it’s foreboding. Neo may master the Matrix more and more over time, but the threat of Smith is only going to get worse by the minute. The entire civilization within the Matrix is in peril. Then again, the scene also made much of Neo’s following action scenes dramatically pointless because how do you expect random goons to do what a legion of the first movie’s big bad couldn’t?
5. Bluto Sings “I’m Mean”Popeye (1980)
The Robin Williams Popeye movie is one of my guilty pleasures, but I cannot in good conscience call it good. It’s a drab, muted cartoon world that leaves me scratching my head more often than not. One of the more memorable parts of the movie is the soundtrack by Harry Nilsson, which is just…odd. Not especially good and not especially bad, but…odd. For instance, one song features the lyrics, “Everything is meat, meat, meat! Better watch what you put on your feet!” What in the hell?
Everything comes together when Olive’s family is holding a party to celebrate Olive’s engagement to Bluto, who runs the town with an iron fist. Bluto – played by Paul L. Smith (who I’m pretty certain is a time-traveling Mark Henry in white-face) is steamed that Olive’s flown the coup. He proceeds to grab whatever he can get his hands on and annihilates the house from the inside as all the partygoers pray for survival. All the while, Bluto sings “I’m Mean”, a song that’s been stuck in my head for decades. Just to give you an idea of what kind of lyrical madness was going on in Nilsson’s head, here’s the one and only verse:
I’m so mean that I had a dream of beating myself up!I broke my nose!I broke my hand!I wrestled myself to the ground and then!I choked myself to death and broke the choke and woke up!AAAARGH!
A nice touch with this scene is how right before Bluto blows his top and goes on his rampage, fearsome boxer and Popeye’s mid-boss for the movie Oxblood Oxheart is led away from the house by his mother because they’re smart enough to know that he doesn’t want any of that.
4. The First-Person SequenceDoom (2005)
When he wants to make a joke about bad career choices, the Rock’s go-to movie is Doom, and for good reason. Considered a failure, the one section of the movie that everyone seems to dig is the cheeseball first-person sequence. For five minutes, Karl Urban’s Reaper sneaks through the facility and we see everything from his point of view. It becomes a pure live-action facsimile of the game’s style as he constantly guns down all the zombies and demons that try to sneak up on him. He goes through a variety of weapons and fights all sorts of creatures, until taking on a scientist that mutated into a doglike beast. Using a chainsaw, Reaper makes short work of him and continues on his journey.
Really, the only thing that could have made this better was if he was constantly shouting the dialogue from the legendary Doom comic book. “YOU ARE HUGE! THAT MEANS YOU HAVE HUGE GUTS! RIP AND TEAR! DYNAMITE!”
3. Wolverine and Sabretooth Through HistoryX-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
I’ve heard of the opening minutes of X-Men Origins: Wolverine described as a broken promise. Sounds about right. After young James Howlett kills a man with his newly-grown bone claws, his half-brother Thomas (Sabretooth) tells him that they need to run off and stick together. Without dialogue, much is said through this montage as we see the two take part in various wars. The two fight valiantly on the North side of the Civil War. In the first World War, we see Sabretooth take a rifle shot to the chest and not go down. In the second World War, Wolverine is a bit unnerved when he sees Sabretooth gleefully shoot up a nest of enemy soldiers. Then in Vietnam, he has to go out of his way to keep Sabretooth from blasting everything in sight.
It’s a beautiful sequence, especially with the sweet, primal way Sabretooth pounces through the battlefield.
2. Rocky Balboa vs. Tommy GunnRocky V (1990)
Rocky V is so bad that Stallone made Rocky Balboa sixteen years later just to make sure that it wasn’t the final chapter. The movie is all build-up as promising, young boxer Tommy “Machine” Gunn becomes Anakin Skywalker with boxing gloves and turns on his mentor. In order to prove to the world that he’s the true champion, Gunn goads Rocky into a street fight by hitting Paulie. The fight is as one-sided as you’d expect for a young world boxing champion fighting a past-his-prime has-been with brain damage. Rocky’s life starts flashing before his eyes, mainly in the form of nightmarish memories.
Just when all hope seems lost, his departed trainer Mickey shows up inside his head, glaring down at him and barking orders. While everyone else sounds miles away, Rocky hears Mickey clearly. “He’s no machine! I didn’t hear no bell! Get up, you son of a bitch, ’cause Mickey loves you!”
To the sound of his epic theme song, Rocky gets to his feet and repeats to Gunn, “I didn’t hear no bell!” The fight continues and goes all knock-down-drag-out until Rocky takes out Gunn and gets a little revenge on the Don King stand-in George Washington Duke. It takes sitting through the whole movie, but it’s worth it for the pure catharsis.
1. Introducing RoboCop 2RoboCop 2 (1990)
RoboCop 2 isn’t the worst movie. I mean, it’s followed by RoboCop 3, after all. It’s still a huge letdown, but it has one scene in there that’s absolutely perfect. It’s dark, humorous, horrific and builds up our hero without even showing him. OCP notices that they’re a bit short-handed on the crime-fighting front, so they try to make a newer model of RoboCop to lend a hand. Two models are brought in. Both are portrayed through stop-motion animation, which brings a perfect jarring effect.
The first one is a stocky cyborg with a hologram human face on a monitor. He proceeds to shoot two scientist bystanders, then shoots himself in the head. The second one is sleeker, but after stepping out to the audience of OCP suits, he tears his helmet off to reveal a screaming skull attached to wires and keels over.
The bigwigs are mad at the millions this cost them, but it’s explained that the effect of realizing what they’ve become has caused the human hosts to become horrified to the point of suicide. Apparently Alex Murphy’s been experiencing those feelings all this time, but he powers through because he’s THAT dedicated to his duty to keep the peace and fight for justice. It’s a situation that happens in comics a lot, where they have to show that the “hero” is more important than the “super” and it’s showcased on the money thanks to this grotesque cyber parade.