This week ushers in the return of Xander Cage as xXx: Return Of Xander Cage hits cinemas and proves that Vin Diesel really does love a good guilty pleasure movie to bring to audiences. With this in mind, the team here at Filmoria have put their collective heads together to give a list of some personal favourite guild pleasures from the world of cinema. Check them out and let us know what your favourites are.
Bring It On (2000) – Sarah Buddery
There was a time in my life when I knew the entire opening “cheer” of Bring it On and felt no shame about this. That time was right now. It is a chant and a film which has been ingrained on my memory since I saw it 16 years ago at the tender age of 9, and the first film which came to mind when asked to think about one which could be considered as a guilty pleasure. In reality, I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever about liking Bring it On, and it is still the film I put on when I don’t want to think about life and all its woes.
Telling the story of perky cheer-captain Torrance Shipman (a very young and fresh-faced Kirsten Dunst), as she navigates the complicated cheer politics of her High School cheerleading team as they go for gold at a national competition. That is pretty much it really, but you haven’t come to this film to have yourself intellectually challenge, you’re here to have fun, and boy does this film give you that in abundance!
Where else could you find such unforgettable quotes as “she put the whore in horrifying” and “this isn’t a democracy, its a cheer-ocracy”? Bring it On introduces you to “spirit fingers”, cheerleading urban legends, and more fun than you could shake a pom-pom at. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, you might lose some brain cells, but by god you’ll have a good time whilst you’re watching it. Altogether now, “I SAID BRR, IT’S COLD IN HERE, THERE MUST BE SOME TOROS IN THE ATMOSPHERE!”
Never Back Down (2008) – James Thompson
I’ve always been partial to a movie that focuses on sport, whether it be a biopic covering a key icon or an underdog story that really grabs you by the scruff of the neck and draws you in. These are the types of movies that don’t need to contain Oscar-winning performances to draw me in and, in 2008, one film that solidified itself on my ‘must watch’ list and became my ultimate guilty pleasure was Never Back Down.
Jeff Wadlow’s film is pure sports perfection in my eyes, combining the talents of acts such as Djimon Honsou and Amber Heard (I love her in this), mixing in some well shot and executed fight sequences, and topping it off with a pumping soundtrack that has been a gym soundtrack for me ever since. It’s the underdog story as it should be done, with Sean Faris providing the core component of a mixed martial arts movie that defies some of the cliches and actually contains plenty of heart.
It may have spawned a rather forgettable sequel, but Never Back Down will forever be a film that deals that all-important killer blow and remains a truly unmissable guilty pleasure for the ages.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) – Chris Haydon
Michael Bay is an incredible director. Many people think that a director is the individual who films the picture, but this is incorrect. A cinematographer shoots the movie under the direction of a director. Bay’s job is to organise a scene, get everything ready and prepared for the take, and ensuring the construction of his film operates to his command. Watch a Behind-the-Scenes featurette of Bay directing any of his projects, but most notably the Transformers franchise, and you’ll be simply astonished at the power he conveys and excepts. Hell, he even screams at members of the US Military to do what they are told, and these are people who are trained to kill…
Of all the ‘Bayhem’ titles which get the most abuse, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is way up there. It holds a whopping 19% Rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, was dubbed as wildly racist, is laden with sickening product placement, and highly sexualised star Megan Fox compared Bay to Adolf Hitler when discussing her experience on the shoot. Now is Revenge of the Fallen a “good” movie? Well, no not really. It’s massively incoherent, overlong, obnoxiously loud, and features so many sequences of Shia LeBeouf frantically screaming “no no no no no no!!!” that it borders on parody. But here’s the thing: I absolutely adore the film. It is one of my biggest (and ridiculously elongated…) guilty pleasures.
In fact, I pretty much love every Michael Bay film besides Pearl Harbour, and as shameful as so many may think that is, one defies anyone to sit through a brutal, thunderous battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons and feel bored. Revenge of the Fallen is cheesy and often incredibly stupid, but it’s also ultimate, unprecedented comfort food for a Transformers fan like me, and after loving both Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, one is seriously excited for The Last Knight later this year. Autobots, Roll Out!
Ghost (1990) – Martin White
Back around when the film was first released in 1990, while being interviewed next to Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Swayze confidently declared this will be looked back on in years to come as a solid classic and he certainly wasn’t wrong about that. Instantly becoming the highest grossing film of that year, the story of a banker; Sam Wheat (Swayze) and an artist; Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) being madly in love with each other, only for everything they had to be shattered to pieces when Sam gets murdered and with his spirit form staying behind on Earth to warn Molly about impending danger, really says all it can about the strong bond of love and relationships.
Widely seen by a majority as simply a tearjerker targeted at a vastly female audience just simply isn’t true. This film is so much more than that and has everything you could ever want from a good popcorn movie – plenty of action, suspense, a good twist, strong characters you really feel for and a hilarious amount of comedy added to this already engaging story that’s mostly thanks to Goldberg’s reluctant to help psychic, Oda Mae Brown.
This was a film that I was afraid to admit to most people I love as it can easily be seen as more of a female-centric romantic comedy but when taking everything in as an overview including the wonderful score and superb direction from Jerry Zucker of Airplane! and The Naked Gun fame, this is one film you really cannot simply fault.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret Of The Ooze (1991) – Scott Allden
If the 1990 film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was for the avid fans of the original Eastman and Laird comic book, then 1991’s sequel – The Secret Of The Ooze was unquestionably aimed toward fans of the animated tv series from 1987.
The Ninja Turtles films will never be heralded amongst the finest of Hollywood – but they’re intended to be silly. The concept is bonkers, 4 anthropomorphic reptiles that are taught martial arts in a sewer by a giant rat? It’s the kind of thing Buzzfeed would churn out.
Quite often, The Secret Of The Ooze is subject to a lot of critical damning when making comparison to the original. I can’t say it’s a ‘guilty’ pleasure – I don’t feel guilty about it all. Although in the big wide world, it’s likely I would be frowned if I was to bring it up. And yes the original IS the better-made film, that’s a cold hard fact. But I really have a lot of love for Ooze. That’s mostly due to its similarities to the cartoon show.
The Turtles themselves are more light-hearted and ‘gung-ho’, never saccharine soaked, though. The action is less violent, introducing props/objects as opposed to the katanas and nunchucks, and the puns are certainly turned up to 11. It was more aimed at kids – and justifiably so. (yes, the comic argument is valid – but come on – how many of us actually read the comics BEFORE the show?). The film perfectly encapsulates the goofiness of the show, the larger than life central characters whilst also tweaking elements to craft its own identity.
But in fairness, the one aspect that lets the movie down is the costuming/puppeteering – everything looks cheaper and less convincing than in the previous film. This never hampers my enjoyment of it. I even liked Tokka and Rahzar (Bebop and Rocksteady subs), the dumbness of Super Shredder, the Vanilla Ice show. It was outlandish enough to be believably coupled with this outlandish concept. Frankly I would’ve loved more in that vein.
I think the issue is we, the general movie going public, are privy to preconceptions that any franchise nowadays has to be ‘serious’ or ‘dark’. Yeah, Batman. Of course. But Ninja Turtles?
The more i think about it and watch. I begin to consider Ooze to be as close to a great TMNT adaptation as the original is. It’s fun, it’s ridiculous, it’s action-packed. Not every franchise or known property needs to be tone shifted to maximise enjoyment. I encourage anyone to give it another shot with this in mind.
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage hits UK cinemas on Thursday 19th January, with our review of the movie online soon!