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South Park: The 5 Best (And 5 Worst) Guest Stars | ScreenRant

South Park’s success lies in the show’s sharp wit mixed with potty humor. Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s ability to lacerate pop culture, big issues and current events is also a big part of its popularity. It definitely doesn’t need celebrity guests to carry it, but the inclusion of cameo performances is often a fun part of the show.

RELATED: South Park: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Halloween Episodes

Many cameos were so perfectly done that they didn’t feel gratuitous at all, while some guest stars didn’t add much to the show, remaining in the background. Fans have their favorites, but some guest stars were clearly more well-received and executed than others.

10 Best: Radiohead As Themselves

Many of the best celebrity cameos on South Park are held by musicians. Radiohead starred in one of the most brutal episodes ever, season five’s “Scott Tenorman Must Die.” It’s such a South Park episode: they take a common trope, in this case, a bully playing a gross prank on Cartman, and turn it into an over-the-top revenge story.

When Cartman elaborately slays Scott’s parents and feeds them to him in a chili cook-off, he adds to the humiliation and disgust of the situation by ensuring that Radiohead is there to watch. They mock Tenorman and call him a crybaby while he sobs over his parents.

9 Worst: George Clooney As Sparky

In season one’s fourth episode, “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride,” George Clooney lends his vocal talents to… Sparky, the Marsh family dog. While the episode began as an offensive foray into dog behavior, it ended with more tolerance in a lesson about gay acceptance, even if it was still questionably delivered. It was a milestone for Comedy Central, but Sparky’s voice, which was just a few barks, really wasn’t all that impressive or important and had we not known, we never would have guessed Clooney was even involved.

RELATED: 10 Pop Culture References Created On South Park

Clooney was much funnier in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut as Dr. Gouache, a parody of his ER character, Dr. Douglas Ross. He replaced Kenny’s heart with a potato, giving him yet another death and proving what an incompetent doctor Gouache really was. So they blamed Canada, of course.

8 Best: Ozzy Osbourne As Himself

In season two’s 14th episode, “Chef Aid,” Ozzy Osbourne joined several other performers, including Ween, Primus, Elton John, Rancid, Devo, Rick James, DMX, Joe Strummer, and Meat Loaf, as guest stars in a concert to benefit the boys’ beloved Chef. The benefit itself was funny, including Chef’s own part in the fundraising, but Ozzy clearly had the best cameo.

Ozzy poked fun at his own trademark speech, claiming that he and Chef went way back, when Chef told him to “buy a pompadour hat” and he mistook it for “bite the head off a bat.” He then bit Kenny’s head off, giving the kid one of his best ever deaths.

7 Worst: Jay Leno As Mr. Kitty K

In season one, episode 13 dealt with Cartman’s mother and her personal life, which of course comes into play again later in the show. Jay Leno gave a lackluster and forgettable appearance as Cartman’s cat, Mr. Kitty. Like Clooney, Leno is sort of funny here because he’s a big name giving vocal talent to a few “mews,” but if you didn’t pay attention to the casting you wouldn’t even know he’s in the episode.

RELATED: The 10 Best Episodes of South Park Of All Time

Leno was much better as himself in “City on the Edge of Forever,” in which Mrs. Crabtree, the bus driver, unintentionally beats Carrot Top at his own game and becomes a comedic sensation.

6 Best: Robert Smith, Himself

One of the least embarrassing guest roles in the history of South Park went to Robert Smith of The Cure. Barbara Streisand fans may have not liked the first season’s 12th episode, “Mecha-Streisand,” but the hilarious episode broke both South Park and Comedy Central records.

Robert Smith plays the only beast in the Kaiju film parody who can defeat her, a giant moth who flings her into outer space. His fans loved the role, especially his young nieces and nephews, who consider it his highest achievement. As Smith leaves, with the sun setting in true heroic mode, Kyle calls out, “Disintegration is the best album ever!”

5 Worst: Richard Belzer As Loogie

In the first episode of season four, “The Tooth Fairy Tats 2000,” Richard Belzer starred Loogie, the leader of an organized crime ring centered around lost teeth. The show took a funny take on the tooth fairy myth and how the minds of children work when it comes to money, but Belzer, a great comedian, could have easily been used in a more suitable setting for his talents, even if the tooth fairy could be considered a great conspiracy.

RELATED: 10 Incredible South Park Parodies Almost Better Than The Real Thing

It’s not even that Belzer was a terrible guest, but that there were so many guest roles on the show used in better capacities. Belzer would be a fantastic addition to the show as a regular who comes up with conspiracy theories.

4 Best: Malcolm McDowell, Narrator

In season four, episode 14, Parker and Stone decide to mock the classic novel Great Expectations with an episode called, “Pip.” None of the regular boys were featured in the episode, which starred the titular character. Stone dubbed it one of their worst episodes, even though many fans appreciated the parody.

Malcolm McDowell was the narrator of the episode, but he was listed as “British Person.” He was incredibly funny and did a beautiful job, but fans can’t help but wish he’d also been cast in a more nefarious role in another episode of the show, given his previous villainous characters.

3 Worst: Norman Lear As Benjamin Franklin

Season seven’s fourth episode, “I’m A Little Bit Country,” was also the show’s 100th episode, and it took on the Iraq War, pitting citizens in the town for and against it against one another to the point where they, too, are at war. Cartman meets Ben Franklin while in a coma and asks him his own opinion.

RELATED: 10 Ways South Park Has Changed Since Season 1

Franklin is voiced by Norman Lear, actor and founder of People for the American Way, and he diplomatically gave Cartman advice that pretty much sounded like having your cake and eating it, too, suggesting that America go to war but also allow protest, as both are necessary.

2 Best: Korn As Themselves

The best South Park Halloween episode, and one of the show’s best episodes ever, “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery” dealt with a missing corpse used as a puppet, pirate ghosts (ghost pirates), and the best celebrities featured on the show: Korn!

The band was given enough lines to actually mean something in the episode, sure, but they were also fantastic lines that juxtaposed against Korn’s nu metal image and performance on the show, making them sound like a wholesome game of super sleuths a la Scooby Doo. They even had a goofy creature sidekick, “Niblet,” who played the part of Scooby.

1 Worst: Bill Hader As Farmer #2

Actor Bill Hader voiced a farmer in the seventh episode of South Park’s 15th season, “You’re Getting Old.” The cynical episode was a good one, but Hader was a bit wasted as a farmer after Randy’s underwear. It was funny, but Hader’s such a comedic genius that he really needed a bigger role to work with.

Stone and Parker had to know that Hader had much more potential, because not only did he guest star several more times, but he gave a great performance in season 17’s first episode, “Let Go, Let Gov,” as Alec Baldwin, which is the honorable mention for the best of this list. He’s been many other characters since.

NEXT: South Park: The 10 Worst Things Cartman Has Ever Done


2019-07-11 04:07:46

Sara Schmidt

Star Trek: The 5 Best Episodes Of Voyager (& The 5 Worst)

Out of all the Star Trek spinoffs in our little corner of the universe, Star Trek: Voyager seems to be the most divisive when it comes to how good or bad it was. The stories waver between brilliant and outright silly, and it’s true that the plot and storylines took some crazy chances that seemed to reflect the unusual circumstances of the lost ship itself.

RELATED: 15 Worst Star Trek Episodes Of All Time

No matter what side of the fence you’re on, you have to agree that the show had some dizzying highs and lows. Here are five of the best Star Trek: Voyager episodes, followed by the five worst.

10 Best – Caretaker, Season 1

There’s a lot to like in the very first episode of Voyager, especially if you’re a fan of other Star Trek shows. The space station Deep Space 9 is the launch point of the show, literally. This was the last port of call for the USS Voyager before it was lost in the Delta Quadrant. It was teased that Riker from The Next Generation was going to be her captain.

The characters are introduced in tandem with the exciting plot, so there’s little downtime in the action to make room for worldbuilding and character development. The plot follows Tuvak’s mission to infiltrate Chakotay’s crew into eventually meeting the Caretaker, the entity responsible for bringing the ship to the Delta Quadrant.

9 Worst – Fair Haven, Season 6

One of the best things about Star Trek: The Next Generation was the Holodeck, but the practicality of the system was always in question, as it seemed to give the crew no end of trouble. By the time Voyager came around, the novelty had worn off, and that’s no more apparent than in this eye-roller of an episode.

RELATED: Star Trek: The 10 Fastest Ships In The Federation Starfleet, Ranked

The setting of a quaint Irish town is a nice start, but the stereotypes that inhabit it would make anyone cringe. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Lucky Charms mascot showed up. Plus, this whole thing is a hologram, so remind us why we or the crew of the USS Voyager needs to care about it.

8 Best – Meld, Season 2

Anyone who appreciates writing that asks the tough questions about human nature will like this episode. Tuvok catches a murderer on the ship, and the killer says he did it because “I didn’t like the way he looked at me.” The logical mind of Tuvok is unsatisfied by this answer and attempts a Vulcan mind meld to discern the true motivation. He not only discovers that the killer was telling the truth but begins to experience the same uncontrolled, violent rage that led to the murder.

In an interesting plot parallel, the actor who plays the murderous Lon Suder is Brad Dourif, who played a similar role in The X-Files episode, “Beyond the Sea.” In this show, he claimed to have psychic powers and made another famously logical character, Dana Scully, question her own perspective about the unknown.   

7 Worst – Favorite Son, Season 3

We all wanted to see more of Ensign Kim, but we didn’t want this ridiculous episode. This is a great example of how writing can go off the rails for no other reason than to exploit old tropes that nobody likes. Why subject Kim to the tiresome “planet of lusty women” trope?

RELATED: Star Trek: 10 Voyager Storylines That Were Never Resolved

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the fawning women are shallow, sexist stereotypes that would alienate any female viewer. It gets even worse. It turns out that Kim is actually from this planet and isn’t human but Nasari, a race native to the Delta Quadrant. Wait, what? Why was this even necessary?

6 Best – Flashback, Season 3

It’s not just a great story with some amazing performances. It explores the whole concept of memory through the character of Tuvok, and are there any bad Tuvok episodes? “Flashback” was Voyager’s contribution to several shows that were made to celebrate the franchise turning 30 years old, so we’ve got some satisfying fan service and cameos to enjoy as well.

George Takei makes an appearance as Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Excelsior, and the setting is the same time frame as the last Star Trek film to feature the original cast, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Grace Lee Whitney, who played Kirk’s yeoman Janice Rand in the original series, is also an Excelsior crew member. The theme of memory featured here is no coincidence.

5 Worst – Spirit Folk, Season 6

Do you know what’s worse than a bad episode of Voyager? Another bad episode about the same thing. As if our first visit to the land of Irish stereotypes wasn’t bad enough, we end up here again only a few episodes later. The whole idea of holographic projections being self-aware is interesting to a point.

RELATED: The 10 Worst Star Trek Episodes Ever According To IMDb

Moriarty of The Next Generation and the projection of the Doctor are compelling examples, but the extremes this episode goes to is beyond silly. Is every holographic projection capable of self-awareness? For the millionth time, we have to ask why is there a Holodeck if it’s so dangerous, and why even have safety protocols if they’re always turned off?

4 Best – Message In A Bottle, Season 4

Not only is this an exciting episode, as it allows Voyager to contact Starfleet after four years of being completely out of touch, but it also has some amazing humor and features the Doctor, one of our favorite characters. He has to contend with another holographic Doctor, played by Andy Dick of all people.

The episode serves an important function in the series, introducing a new race called the Hirogen and a communications network that plays an important role in future episodes. The Doctors must also rescue the USS Prometheus from Romulan control. The setting is gritty, with the malevolent Romulans lurking in the background, and the comedy of the dueling Doctors is welcome levity.

3 Worst – The Fight, Season 5

Critics call this the Star Trek Fight Club episode, and this particular entry has a lot of critics. The character of Chakotay never really had a place to be in the show, except to be constantly fooled by Seska or Tuvak’s schemes, and “The Fight” doesn’t do him any more favors. The stereotypical view of Chakotay’s Native American heritage is never handled very well, and this episode is a glaring example, as his heritage gives him some kind of inherent gateway into spiritual knowledge.

RELATED: The 10 Best Episodes In Star Trek TV History, Ranked

Skills, attributes, and technobabble are tossed into the mix just to make a pre-determined plot work and are never brought up again. As much fun as cameos are, the appearance of the Groundskeeper who also mentored Picard back in the day falls flat.

2 Best – Timeless, Season 5

And then Voyager crashed and almost everyone, except Chakotay and Kim, dies. That’s how the amazingly epic the 100th episode of Star Trek: Voyager starts off. It was even directed by LaVar Burton, who makes a cameo appearance as Geordi La Forge from The Next Generation.

The ship crashes while attempting to use a cosmic slipstream as a shortcut to get home. Although almost the whole crew is dead, the ship is preserved, and the few remaining crew members and their allies attempt to turn back time and give it another try. The special effects are stellar and the story is visceral; at one point they find Seven of Nine’s frozen body and salvage her for parts, and Kim has some serious survivor’s guilt. It’s both deeply heartbreaking and uplifting.

1 Worst – Threshold, Season 2

If the other entries on this list are a piping hot mess, then this one is a dumpster fire. One of the most jarring things about it is that the plot starts out to be quite engaging. We start with Torres, Kim, and Paris trying to break the trans-warp barrier to get the ship back to the Alpha Quadrant faster.

Sounds like a compelling plot, but by the time we get to the end, Paris devolves into a lizard, kidnaps Janeway as his reptile bride, and they make a few amphibian babies on a planet that looks like Dagobah from Star Wars. To make it even worse, it’s never explained how the Doctor got them back to normal.

NEXT: Every Star Trek Series, Ranked Worst To Best


2019-07-11 01:07:55

Kristy Ambrose

Friends: 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Boyfriends On The Show | ScreenRant

The main characters of Friends had many different love interests over the ten seasons of the show. For the three main women, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe, they had a variety of boyfriends. Some of these boyfriends were great guys who you’ll definitely want to be in a relationship with while others weren’t so great. Some of these relationships were short-lived while others lasted a good amount of time even leading to marriage. While they didn’t always pick the boyfriends that were best for them, sometimes they did.

We’ve put together a list of the best and worst boyfriends over the course of the seasons of Friends.

10 WORST: BARRY

Barry is the first relationship we see that Rachel has had. Barry was her fiancé who she left, and it’s easy to see why. There’s nothing about him that is very likable. He’s super boring, and the life of an orthodontists’ wife doesn’t seem very fitting for Rachel. But, what makes him really the worst is that he cheated on Rachel with both her sister and her best friend. Thankfully, Rachel got out of this relationship and moved to New York City. She was definitely much better without him.

9 BEST: JOEY

Now, this entry might seem like a strange one to include, but there is reasoning behind it. While Joey was often a big jerk to the women he slept with, he rarely had girlfriends. In the situations where he did have a girlfriend, especially his brief relationship with Rachel, he was actually caring and considerate. Joey might not have been the most mature of boyfriends on the show, but he definitely cared about the few people in his life that he was close to.

8 WORST: TIMOTHY BURKE

The main reason why Timothy Burke is on this list is the fact that he dated Monica after she dated Richard. While there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with him as a person, this fact was just too weird.

RELATED: Friends: The 10 Most Hilarious Quotes From Monica Geller

While of course, Monica is to blame here as well, there’s something extremely creepy about someone dating a woman that their father already dated. But, on the other hand, she was definitely closer in age to Timothy than to Richard.

7 BEST: MARK

While Mark isn’t spoken of very highly on the show, that is mostly just because Ross hated him. Ross might have been jealous of Mark, which honestly makes sense as Mark was a better boyfriend than him, Mark was overall a good guy. Even after they break up, Mark still has enough respect and fond feelings for Rachel to help her get the job at Louis Vuitton. This makes him just an overall solid person.

6 WORST: GARY

Phoebe had a lot of different boyfriends over the years, and some of them were a lot better than others. Phoebe is a unique person who has a lot of love to give, and it definitely took her a few tries to find the right person. Gary was definitely not that person. He wanted Phoebe to move in with him before she was ready. Also, he shot a bird which was a huge no-no when it comes to dating an animal lover like Phoebe.

5 BEST: DAVID

David is another one of Phoebe’s boyfriends, and he was definitely one of the best ones. He was only in a few episodes, but he seemed like an amazing guy. There is definitely some debate amongst fans as to if Phoebe should have chosen him instead of Mike. Even if she didn’t pick David, he was a really sweet guy who cared a lot about Phoebe and was a huge romantic.

RELATED: What Happened To Phoebe After Friends Ended

Hopefully, David ended up with a happy ending even if Friends didn’t show it to us.

4 WORST: GAVIN

Rachel definitely struggled over the seasons to find good relationships. Many of the guys she dated weren’t that great, and Gavin is definitely one of the worst. He was a huge jerk to her. When she came back to work after her maternity leave, he was conceding and also sexist. While the show might have tried to redeem him later on, it’s hard to forget how he treated her at work. It’s clear that Gavin was a character who thinks it’s ok to disrespect people, even people that he claims to have a crush on.

3 BEST: PETE

Pete might be a bit of an underrated and forgotten boyfriend on the show which is quite a shame. Pete was played by Jon Favreau which definitely doesn’t hurt with making the characters charming. He was a good love interest for Monica and seemed like a good person in general. While he only appeared in six episodes, he definitely left an impact.

RELATED: 10 Best Friends Guest Stars, Ranked

They had a sweet love story, and there’s not much to complain about here.

2 WORST: ROSS

It’s no surprise that Ross is so high up on this list as one of the worst boyfriends from Friends. He wasn’t just a bad boyfriend at many points to Rachel, he was also a bad boyfriend to basically every woman that he dated. He was still in love with Rachel when he dated and got engaged to Emily. Plus, he often disrespected Rachel and interfered with her life when he got jealous. Overall, he was one of the most selfish characters on the show, and he jumped from one relationship to another. He seemed to care more about being in a relationship than actually being a good boyfriend.

1 BEST: MIKE

Mike was one of the most solid boyfriends on the show. He was a good match for phoebe and able to roll with her more eccentric personality traits. Plus, when they disagreed about what they wanted for the future, they were able to break up in a respectful way. Luckily, they made things work, and Mike was able to realize how important getting married was to Phoebe. Overall, he was just a sweet guy who was respectful and invested in Phoebe. Compared to many of the rude boyfriends on this show, Mike was a shining example.

NEXT: Friends: 10 Saddest Moments, Ranked


2019-07-11 01:07:20

Amanda Steele

Nicholas Cage: His 5 Best Movies (And 5 Worst)

 

No matter what anyone tries to say, Nicolas Cage is a great actor. He played an alcoholic trying to kill himself in a heartbreaking drama that won him an Academy Award and he also successfully satirized Batman alongside a 13-year-old girl saying the C-word, so it’s safe to say that this is an actor with some serious range. There may be a handful of duds on his résumé, but that seems to be more to do with his difficulty saying “no” than his acting ability.

RELATED: Nicolas Cage Surprises Fans At Nic Cage Movie Marathon

He’s worked with Michael Bay, but he’s also worked with Ridley Scott and the Coen brothers. So, here are his five best movies… and five worst.

10 Best: Leaving Las Vegas

As the movie that won Nic Cage his Academy Award, this one is an obvious entry on the list. Still, it’s a fantastic movie, anchored entirely by its two lead performances: Elisabeth Shue playing a struggling prostitute and Cage playing an alcoholic writer determined to commit suicide. As his life comes to an end, he suddenly finds meaning in it as he falls in love with Shue’s character. When it’s too late, he realizes he has something to live for. The story is tragic, and it could’ve easily failed if Cage didn’t commit, but thankfully, he did and it resulted in a terrific film.

9 Worst: Ghost Rider

Nicolas Cage is a lifelong comic book fan, and he was even cast to play Superman in a Tim Burton movie that got cancelled for enough reasons that there was a whole documentary made about it. But sadly, when he finally did get to play an iconic superhero from the pages of comic books, it was as a demonic character whose dark themes were criminally watered down by a studio looking for a more commercially viable PG-13 rating.

RELATED: Nicolas Cage Thinks Ghost Rider Should Get R-Rated Movie Reboot

Now that movies like Deadpool and Logan have been successful, Cage should get another crack at the character with R-rated freedom – if the fans will allow it.

8 Best: Kick-Ass

While Nicolas Cage’s attempt at starring in a serious superhero movie might have failed, his attempt at playing a supporting role in a satirical one was much more successful. Based on the Mark Millar comic of the same name, Kick-Ass is an action-packed comedy about what would happen if a nerdy high school kid actually decided to become a superhero. Cage plays Big Daddy, a spoof of Batman, and his pitch-perfect delivery of his lines evokes a few different Batmen. When he’s in the costume, playing the character of Big Daddy, he comes off as full Christian Bale badass. But when he’s the mild-mannered alter ego Damon Macready, he channels Adam West. It’s hilarious.

7 Worst: 8MM

This thriller about a private eye who stumbles into a dark case involving snuff films has a lot of promise from its themes and plot, but there’s no suspense attached to the brutally violent sequences. So, it’s pretty much just violence for violence’s sake. Plus, the flickering film projectors hide Nic Cage for most of the movie, so even if there is a nuanced performance, we can’t really see it. Fun side-note: My film stock-obsessed film school lecturer was hired as a consultant on this movie, and since it was his only claim to fame, he never stopped talking about it.

6 Best: Matchstick Men

Matchstick Men is one of the most underrated movies in recent years and it also ends with one of the most jaw-dropping and shockingly plausible plot twists ever conceived on film. Nicolas Cage stars alongside Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman in a darkly comic thriller about con men and betrayals and family and double crosses and deceit. Most dark comedies tend to throw emotion out the window – that’s part of what makes it a dark comedy in the first place – but that always feels as though something’s missing. Matchstick Men manages to have a cynical edge and still feel emotionally resonant.

5 Worst: Knowing

Knowing is an interesting, engaging apocalyptic thriller until its final moments. There are thrills in the plane crash sequence, which was shot inventively in a Steadicam long take, and the central mystery is involving – until it’s resolved. The movie’s key problem is that the ending ruins it. An alien force shows up and Nic Cage just tells his son to go with them, and allows Earth to be destroyed in the process. Nothing is really explained and a lot of the movie’s elements don’t add up. Rose Byrne does her best to bring some artistic merit to this movie, but it’s flawed from the ground up.

4 Best: Adaptation

There are a few reasons why Adaptation succeeds. It’s directed by the visionary Spike Jonze, it has an inventive script by Charlie Kaufman that toys with the fabric of what it even means to be a movie, and it balances the story of a guy adapting a book into a movie and the story of the book itself deftly.

RELATED: Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson to Star in Charlie Kaufman’s Netflix Movie

But the movie’s greatest asset is its lead actor, Nicolas Cage, who plays twin brothers. One is a chubby, insecure loser and the other is a happy, thin, optimistic go-getter. Few actors could pull off two characters in the same movie like Cage does in this one. It’s mesmerizing.

3 Worst: G-Force

The worst kids’ movies tend to be the ones that underestimate their audience. If you’re making a movie for kids and assume that all kids are dumb with a juvenile sense of humor and little expectations from their trips to the movies, then you’ll end up with something as mind-numbingly dull and insubstantial as G-Force. This CGI-laden spy ‘comedy’ about an elite team of secret agents who happen to be guinea pigs and are determined to save the world from a maniacal billionaire isn’t an original idea – it’s a rip-off of Cats and Dogs, and it’s not even as good.

2 Best: Raising Arizona

A lot of Nicolas Cage’s best movies are comedies. It seems that his most sincere acting is inherently comical, so when he tries to give a dramatic performance, it comes off as laughable, and when he tries to give a comedic performance, every line is delivered perfectly and he fits seamlessly into the tone of the movie. The finest display of this is in the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona, the story of an ex-convict and his infertile police officer wife who decide to kidnap one of a rich guy’s newborn quintuplets when they realize they can’t have kids of their own. The movie makes hysterical use of slapstick humor and Cage carries it brilliantly.

1 Worst: Next

Some Nic Cage movies are so unabashedly bad that they fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category that was created by such famously terrible cult classics as The Room and Battlefield Earth (a.k.a. Scientology: The Movie). An example of a movie that takes itself seriously and wants to be a sci-fi classic and is terrible, yet doesn’t fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category due to how lazy and mundane it is, is Next starring none other than Nicolas Cage. Supposedly adapted from the seminal works of Philip K. Dick, this sci-fi actioner is a far cry from the likes of Blade Runner and Minority Report. Next seems confused by itself, which is a rare feat, but not an impressive one.

NEXT: Top 10 Nicolas Cage Movie Hairstyles


2019-04-26 03:04:10

Ben Sherlock

The 10 Worst Things Loki Has Ever Done

Loki was one of the oldest villains in the MCU. First appearing in Thor, he would go on to become the main antagonist in The Avengers before having subsequent appearances in Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. Throughout his time on-screen, Loki went through a redemption arc of sorts where he went from the God of Mischief to someone proud of his Asgardian and Jotun heritage, fixing his relationship with Thor.

That said, Loki did a lot of awful things before his untimely demise in Avengers: Infinity War. We’re looking back at the 10 worst things Loki has done so far.

10 UNLEASH THE HULK

Loki knew that he couldn’t outmatch Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers, so he came up with a plan to subdue them. This included getting captured and imprisoned on the Helicarrier so that he could unleash the Hulk.

RELATED: How Thanos Got the Mind Stone for Loki in The Avengers

His plan was successful, making Bruce Banner’s and the rest of the team’s worst fears come true. Not only did Hulk nearly destroy some of the other Avengers, but almost wrecked the entire Helicarrier by himself. Many SHIELD agents’ lives were placed in danger, all because the Hulk was let loose. If it weren’t for Thor also being on the ship, the results would’ve been much worse.

9 DESTROYED PHIL COULSON

While we take the crossover-centric MCU for granted, that was just a pipedream back in Phase One. There was one character that seemed to tie the team together, which was SHIELD agent Phil Coulson. Coulson appeared in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor, having a hand in most of the founding Avengers. He was also ecstatic to meet Captain America and see the team formed to help save the world. Unfortunately, Loki’s invasion of the Helicarrier would be curtains for him. This noble agent was cut down by the God of Mischief in a matter of seconds, leading the Avengers to unite.

8 USURPED ODIN

While Loki seemed to be on a better path in Thor: The Dark World, the end of the film proved that he was up to his old tricks. After faking his own death, he managed to usurp the throne of Asgard and banish Odin to another realm. This meant that Asgard was under the command of Loki from Thor: The Dark World all the way to Thor: Ragnarok. Usurping Odin also caused the Allfather to essentially be trapped on Earth and stripped of his power in the process. It was Loki’s actions here that started the events of Ragnarok, which led to the destruction of Asgard.

7 LED THE DARK ELVES TO THE PALACE

At the end of The Avengers, Loki was taken back to Asgard by Thor and placed in a prison for years. In Thor: The Dark World, Loki remained in confinement, having brief moments of conversation with his old family and friends. However, he was still not meant to be trusted, which was proven when the Dark Elves came knocking.

RELATED: Loki Survived Infinity in One of Marvel’s Fake Avengers Scripts

While Kurse was letting the prisoners free, Loki told him the directions to the palace so that he could confront Odin. Unfortunately, this move backfired on Loki, as it resulted in the death of his mother, Frigga, the parent that he was close to.

6 NEARLY DESTROYED JOTUNHEIM

In Thor, Loki was jealous of his brother’s place in Asgard. They were both in line for the throne, but it was ultimately Thor who was chosen to take his father’s place. This sent Loki spiraling, which caused him to come up with a plan to become worthy of the throne. He tried to destroy Jotunheim, a realm that fought with Asgard several times, by leaving the Bifrost open. There are shots of the realm’s structures falling and many of the Frost Giants running away in terror. Keep in mind that this was after Loki tricked Laufey, the king of the Frost Giants, and cut him down.

5 SNUCK THE TESSERACT

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, it seemed that Loki had finally joined his brother in fighting the good fight. However, he was still up to his old tricks. While he was resurrecting Surtur in Odin’s Vault, he came across the Tesseract, which he used in The Avengers to try and take over New York. At the start of Avengers: Infinity War, it was confirmed that Loki, indeed, took the Tesseract for himself. It wasn’t clear what he planned to do with the Infinity Stone, but it was all for naught. It was his greed that began the Mad Titan’s quest for genocide.

4 TRIED TO KILL THOR

Thor was banished to Earth in his first movie to learn humility so that he would be a better leader. At the climax of the film, Loki sent the Destroyer to make sure that his brother didn’t come back to Asgard. Thor, with no powers, had to work with the Warriors Three to try and destroy the machine. His final strategy was self-sacrifice in an effort to save his friends, which Loki gladly took him up on. The Destroyer backhanded him, leaving Thor for dead. However, that was precisely the move that made the God of Thunder worthy of Mjolnir again.

3 INVADED NEW YORK

Loki was the villain of The Avengers, meaning that he did a lot of awful things in that movie. He slaughtered people in Germany, sent the Hulk on a mad rampage, and even took over Hawkeye’s mind. His crowning achievement was his invasion of New York with the Chitauri army, though.

RELATED:  Loki Has Become the Thor Franchise’s Magneto

Opening a portal, he had legions at his command, all trying to destroy the city and take down as many people as possible. Loki’s actions here caused a lot of damage in the MCU as a whole. People weren’t the same after that, and their lives was changed forever.

2 LED ASGARD TO COMPLACENCY

Four years passed between the events of Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. That means four years went by since Loki took over Asgard under the guide of Odin. That was a long time to wonder what was happening to the city under Loki’s leadership. At the start of Thor: Ragnarok, we see that the God of Mischief had led Asgard to complacency, putting on ridiculous displays and erecting statues in his honor. Asgard had lost its touch because of Loki, not helping to protect the Nine Realms. Thor was the only one trying to save the Nine Realms as a result.

1 TRIED TO STRAND THOR

It seemed that Loki and Thor were finally reaching a mutual understanding in Thor: Ragnarok. After having a meaningful talk, they were working together to get off Sakaar. However, Loki was about to take the opportunity to strand his brother and call the authorities on him.

This would not only doom Asgard and everyone on it, but doom Thor to confinement by the Grandmaster for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, Thor was already onto Loki and had a backup plan prepared. He shocked Loki with the technology Valkyrie used and left him there for the rest of the champions to find.

NEXT: 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Loki


2019-04-25 11:04:43

Joshua Olivieri

Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked Worst To Best (Including Endgame)

Here’s our complete ranking of the MCU movies ahead of Avengers: Endgame. Marvel Studios has become the biggest force in Hollywood, earning $18.5 billion at the global box office in little over a decade and revolutionizing how studios approach blockbuster franchises. And while there’s a litany of reasons why, one of the most fundamental is that their films are, for the most part, really good.

It’s not that long ago that good superhero movies were exceptions that proved the rule about comic book movies, and even those shining examples – Superman: The Movie, Batman 1989 – eventually gave way to extinguished returns in sequels. Even after the triple-tap of BladeX-Men and Spider-Man at the turn of the millennium gave the genre a sense legitimacy, the scales were still tipped against costumed heroes; the third entries of each of the series those movies formed were duds that ended the trilogies or led to reboots.

Related: The Original Marvel Studios Plan Would Have Led To A Very Different Infinity War

Marvel Studios brought a sense of consistency, almost by accident. When the company moved into film production, they lacked the rights to many of their major characters (before 2008, all Marvel movies had been licensed) so had to build icons out of then-B-list characters like Iron Man and Captain America. The focus had to be on the storytelling as much as spectacle, something that allowed audiences of all creeds – from die-hard comic fans to those discovering the likes of Thor for the first time – to embrace these characters. That it was all interconnected in one world where heroes eventually started crossing over only compounded the excitement.

Typically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is broken down into its chronological narrative Phases: Phase 1 (six movies released 2008-2012) shows the formation of the original Avengers; Phase 2 (six movies released 2013-2015) the impact of superheroes on the world; and Phase 3 (ten movies released 2016-2019) circles the Infinity War against Thanos, along with introducing a new generation of heroes. This idea of narrative blocks has been at the core of the series since the very start, doubling as a way to hyper-focus audiences on what’s important in the immediate future.

But it’s also legitimate to take a look at them from a more critical perspective. These films do tell a narrative tapestry, but each one needs to work on its own. And, while the overall quality is uniformly high (few are out-right bad, and most are at least above-average), MCU movies can be broken into clear strata of quality, ranging from the sure-fire classics to misfires. With Avengers: Endgame bringing an end to the full scale experiment, here’s our ranking of the MCU movies from worst to best.

22. Iron Man 2 (2010)

All of Phase 1 displays signs of a studio struggling to find its edge, but nowhere do you feel the strain of the shared universe as much as with Iron Man 2. Primarily, Jon Favreau’s sequel seems to exist to move Tony Stark backwards from where he was left by the two post-credits scenes of Iron Man and The Incredible HulkThe Avengers plan changed and having Stark at the forefront of the team was no longer the starting status quo – which requires a lot of confused setup for the future, none of it very interesting. But if you strip out the big picture wheel-spinning (which included not only Avengers but nods to Black Panther, Captain America and Namor), then it’s not got much to offer besides.

It’s really a half-dozen different stories all pulling in different directions. Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow, Whiplash, War Machine, Justin Hammer and Pepper and Stark Industries all have their own subplots alongside Tony’s demon in an arc reactor plot, and they’re so disconnected that at one point Fury has to put the hero under house arrest so he can unlock enough power to get to the boss fight. So much of what made the first film work is undone, with confidence in the characters making way for repeated winking – Don Cheadle’s first line is “I’m here, deal with it“, Coulson draws attention to what may or may not be a prototype Captain America shield – and the distinct feel replaced with a visual style that jumps between generic late-2000s blockbuster and Bay-esque militaristic fetishism (and leery camera).

Robert Downey, Jr. and co. anchor the whole thing well, the Iron Man design and implementation is still amazing, and the goals are admirable enough, which is enough to make it passable, but it still pales compared to the rest.

Related: Every MCU Movie Iron Man 2 Set Up

21. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

While it’s often cited as an out-and-out bad film, Thor: The Dark World‘s real problem is that it’s bland. The story is – like other low-ranking MCU sequels – multiple different threads all undernourished. The tone never embraces the full-on Kirby cosmic side to the extent the movie thinks yet neither passes as a knockabout comedy either. And there’s so little ingenuity that its finale where all of reality hangs in the balance is set in one square at the University of Greenwich

Its relation (read: disregard) of the past is a particular problem. Alan Taylor took the broody, high-contrast style of Kenneth Branagh’s original and replaced it with clean CGI, expanding Asgard in a superficial way that comes across as cheap Star Wars; and if that’s what it was going for, the inconsistent story flow, set blocking and editing are more Attack of the Clones than The Empire Strikes Back. The director was allegedly picked to apply a Game of Thrones style to Marvel’s mythic franchise, but there’s no verve here and just a couple of bar scenes to pay lip service. Even the once good stuff doesn’t really work; Anthony Hopkins’ Odin performance is shocking and while Hiddleston is still fun as Loki, his arc and weird betrayal fake-out on Svartalfheim is amateurishly written. Later efforts from Taylor – equally unimaginative Terminator Genisys and Game of Thrones‘ dire “Beyond the Wall” reveal him as the likely core issue here.

What Thor: The Dark World does mark is the point where Marvel bias began to take hold. Thanks to the success of The Avengers and promise of growing inter-connectivity (this was the first movie to explicitly confirm the Infinity Stones), there was a lot of goodwill directed at Thor 2 upon release that feels incredibly in the moment and oblivious to its many flaws.

Related: How The Thor Movies Secretly Introduced The Multiverse To The MCU

20. Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the Marvel movie everybody who dislikes the MCU sight-unseen thinks Marvel movies are. It’s an unimaginative stringing together of multiple random plot strands that never fully pay off (the third act involves six different sets of characters and yet they barely connect up), instead repeatedly falling back on the charisma of its leads for quick laughs. The result is the most out-and-out boring entry in the series, one that does very little with its characters and is instantly forgettable.

With the production issues that restricted Ant-Man in the past and a cast family well-established, this could have been a real step up. It wants to be the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids family comedy of the MCU, yet Peyton Reed all-too-often falls back on formula meaning ideas are repeatedly left hanging: most applications of the Pym Particle size-changing are variants of “small thing becomes big” or “big things become small”, and when things are a bit different, there’s no story purpose (Scott Lang shrinks to the size of a child in a high school and nothing comes of it). It plays like a superhero movie of the 1990s, and not in an intentional way; at one point, the villain calls in motorbikes like he’s Mr. Freeze trotting out another piece of plastic merchandise.

Viewed in the context of Avengers: Infinity War, the film weakens further. Far from the palette cleanser promised, Ant-Man and the Wasp is lacking any substance at all, with the only moment that really captivates being the post-credits scenes that show the effects of Thanos’ snap. When the most exciting moment of a film is a reminder that a previous, better film happened earlier that summer, you know something’s gone wrong.

Related: Ant-Man And The Wasp Was The MCU’s Biggest Missed Opportunity

Page 2 of 6: Avengers: Age of Ultron & More Of Our MCU Ranking

19. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers: Age of Ultron remains the biggest disappointment in the MCU. It was admittedly the most hyped entry up until that point also, carrying the weight of the 2012 original and the many excellent standalones since, but that doesn’t make the fall any less painful. Whereas with most Marvel films you can at least understand what the intent was, here many ideas feel misguided; this was positioned as Whedon’s Empire Strikes Back (bigger, deeper, darker) yet doesn’t have the plot urgency or consequence to make the new themes, characters or threats have any proper impact, while the bolder moves it does make – the twins, Nat and Bruce’s relationship – are interchangeably underserved and insulting.

It’s easy to nitpick the narrative (Scarlet Witch’s dream-visions are so ambiguous in intent it hurts) but that’s only because the filmmaking is overall considerably weaker. While it’s common to claim this is better directed than The Avengers, that’s only on a superficial level; the original looks a little too like a TV show at points, sure, but its sequel doesn’t offer much more beyond a more experienced CGI team with its considerably weaker script. What really stands out is the editing – scenes have no placement and most are cut down to the point big moments don’t land because they have no setup or breathing room. All this together leaves a disjointed experience, one all the positive elements – Vision (especially his origin), the core three, Andy Serkis, the Hulkbuster fight – are struggling to combat.

One the one hand, Avengers: Age of Ultron is very much the result of the infamous Marvel Creative Committee, who by most accounts were meddling with the film’s direction to a damaging degree. On the other, many of its missteps have come to define the MCU going forward: comedy undercutting sincerity (see: Ultron’s “children” line); slow scenes filling in for genuine character development (see: Hawkeye’s farmhouse); and a disregard for the continuity (see: the mid-credits scene with a totally new Infinity Gauntlet).

Related: Avengers: Age Of Ultron Is The Moment Marvel Gave Up On Their Continuity

18. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

It’s not the worst MCU film, but The Incredible Hulk is undoubtedly the black sheep. The only actor who’s returned so far is William Hurt as a changed General Ross in Captain America: Civil War, and the primary event referenced later by Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is a deleted opening scene (that thanks to a Captain America Easter egg is patently non-canon). Despite that, The Incredible Hulk is a solid piece of world-building. It’s full of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries Easter eggs that build on Iron Man, roots Hulk’s origin in Captain America’s super soldier serum three years ahead of Steve Rogers’ debut, and directly builds to the Avengers with its ending and immediate credits scene (even if the idea of Iron Man recruiting a team against Hulk was canned).

All of that is great flavor to an otherwise generic 2008 blockbuster. Louis Leterrier’s direction is off the shelf, with high contrast, sweaty night-time scenes style du jour, and its story is any werewolf narrative turned action movie. Edward Norton may have had grander plans in mind, but The Incredible Hulk is lacking anything unique.

The MCU connections actually highlight a lack of identity. For all the aforementioned setup, the movie is also trying to honor the 1970s TV series; Lou Ferrigno gets an ingratiating cameo, the theme tune plays throughout, and the ending appears to be almost indicating this is intended as a quasi-remake. Worse, it betrays one of the biggest rules of Marvel Studios: it doesn’t explain what the Hulk is and how he could work in a wider context.

Related: The MCU Didn’t Have A Good Plan At First – And Incredible Hulk Proves It

17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is the epitome of Marvel fun. It’s an entertaining but flippant movie, one that prioritizes in-the-moment laughs over anything of greater weight; its subtext – how colonizers hide their dark pasts – is given brief mention before being relegated to background references. That is fine enough as mid-tier entertainment, but it can’t help but feel a little lacking considering where the MCU had reached at this point.

Comedy is Thor: Ragnarok‘s best and worst quality. Being from Taika Waititi, the jokes have slightly more edge than standard Marvel and set the tone differently, but it’s a shame so much improv led to rather static scene blocking and unrefined editing. What’s really lacking from the director, though, is his trademark balance of emotion with his comedy: both What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople used their wit to accentuate tragedy, but none of that’s here. In fact, Thor: Ragnarok actively bypasses letting sadness sink in: Odin’s death was reshot to be blandly spiritual after it made test audiences feel too sorry for him, and the loss of Asgard is undercut by both a lack of connection with its people and a Korg joke immediately after.

With all that said, there’s plenty that works. Both Thor and Hulk are well-defined enough at this point to thrive in this new environment and, while most new characters are a little exasperating (see: Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster), Valkyrie is a fully-rounded delight. The less-improv heavy moments bring that Kirby style to the fore without much resistance. It’s just hard to not want something a little more balanced given how impactful it feigns to be.

Related: Why Thor: Ragnarok Was A Divisive MCU Film

16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a lot going for it. It looks absolutely incredible and there’s a cast of likable, offbeat heroes to provide a string of great moments. It’s just a shame the movie doesn’t have a proper story. The movie begins with the team on the run from Sovereign, then they’re saved by Ego, then Ego reveals he’s bad and they have to stop him. That’s pretty much it, and it leaves a film with plenty of style but no momentum; once Ego arrives, everything grinds to a halt for 30 minutes where there’s no direct threat (something that makes Hawkeye’s farmhouse look positively riveting). It highlights the problem Marvel has with first sequels, wanting pure character development but not knowing how to realize that beyond a string of scenes where characters explain how they feel.

If you break it down, on paper Guardians 2 is about fathers absent and adoptive, and the nature versus nurture debate. Unfortunately, while plenty of sides to this are raised – every single character has a part to play in the theme, one way or another – it never comes together to be anything more than individual. There’s a sense Baby Groot was supposed to be the uniting aspect given his hugs at the end, but his role for most of the film is that of comic relief.

As already mentioned, the characters keep James Gunn’s head above water. Star-Lord gets a payoff to his backstory that honors a lot of seeds in the first movie, although Rocket comes across the best by far, his personality painfully laid bare without having to lean too heavily on the whole scientifically-altered raccoon thing, and gets the fair share of great moments; were it better set up “I’ve lost too many friends today” would be an all-timer.

Related: Should Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Have Had More MCU Connections?

Page 3 of 6: Ant-Man & More Of Our MCU Ranking

15. Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man was the first in a new type of Marvel origin film. Here was a character becoming a superhero in a world where the Avengers already exist, where namedrops and cameos were de rigor, and the formula was down to a tee. But this was also a movie where the production limitations (Edgar Wright was infamously fired three months before production began, replaced by Peyton Reed) and the high hit-rate of said formula made for safe choices. The result is actually the median Marvel film, overall competent but with little ambition, and where the character would only truly shine when part of the wider ensemble.

What Ant-Man gets unavoidably right is the casting. It’s a shame we never got an in-his-prime Hank Pym, but Paul Rudd as Scott Lang is an effective twist on the typical Marvel hero (this one is a real criminal, no questions) and Michaels Douglas and Pena add edge as aware mentor and hyperactive buddy respectively. There’s also a large, affable supporting cast (Bobby Cannavale as an upending of the step-father is an underrated highlight) that take audiences through the rather standard story and making a more overtly comedic movie pop.

It’s one the superhero side where Ant-Man struggles. The action, in particular, is a major let-down, with a constant uncertainty in how to shoot the micro-sequences. Are they told from Scott’s shrunken down perspective or a full-size human? With minimal pre-production, Peyton Reed doesn’t have an answer so goes for an uneasy blend of the two, which is disorienting and sometimes interesting, yet never that innovative.

Related: Ant-Man’s Spider-Man Reference: Who Else Was Luis Talking About?

14. Captain Marvel (2019)

Unlike most MCU movies where there’s a degree of consistency to the quality throughout, Captain Marvel is the one that varies the most. Some moments and long stretches of story are very strong – anything involving the Skrulls and their true purpose is fascinating – yet many decisions have more mixed reactions.

It’s all rooted in a welcome, non-linear change-up to the formula; Brie Larson enters as Kree Starforce member Vers and only gradually uncovers her past as Carol Danvers, eventually choosing the hero persona entirely of her own accord. It’s strong messaging, having the first solo female MCU hero emerge from a place of external restrictions to define herself, but also leads to unclear audience perspective – even at the end, viewer and star aren’t on the same page – and turbulent narrative. Not to mention some classic concerns aren’t adjusted; villain Yon-Rogg who earlier warned humor was a distraction is beaten in a gag beat.

Operating as the MCU’s first lore-heavy prequel, Captain Marvel does a good job of expanding the world. 1990s period details are mostly background (bar specific music choices), and the Marvel references are mostly organic and expand known ideas without contradicting (just don’t ask Nick Fury how he lost his eye or where the name Avengers came from). And, of course, with clear connections to Avengers: Endgame (which Larson shot first), it exemplifies origin stories as dry runs for bigger adventures; Brie Larson is more Hemsworth than Evans (strong, promising, not fully there yet) but it doesn’t matter because this functions as just one piece of a whole.

Related: Captain Marvel Points Out The MCU’s Biggest Problem (But Can’t Quite Fix It)

13. Thor (2011)

For a movie that every subsequent outing for the character seems to have been trying to somehow “correct“, Thor really is a forgotten MCU hit. The Dark World attempted to go more grounded, Ragnarok more all-out comedy, but they miss how Kenneth Branagh pretty much nailed the balance between both first time out. The story mixes the fish-out-of-water comedy with faux-Shakespearean drama (the plot as much as the dialogue is rooted in classical storytelling) well, the filmmaking choices (dark-lit sets and dutch angles) accentuate the otherworldly feel, and it was overall the most earnest embracing of comic weirdness up to that point.

Chris Hemsworth isn’t as out-of-the-gate perfect as Thor compared to Evans’ Cap or RDJ’s Tony Stark, but the sillier Earth-side of the story allows him to ease into the role. On the other side, Tom Hiddleston is a revelation as Loki, who’s never been more complicated than here, and the supporting cast like Anthony Hopkins as Odin is inspired. There’s no specific weak aspect, more a general sense of good-not-great; Jane Foster is a solid love interest but underserved, the same with the Warrior’s Three.

Thor is an overall affable movie, balancing big world building for the franchise and universe (the “magic as science” descriptive is non-aggressively pushed) with more internal character debates. It was only by Avengers: Infinity War where Thor truly became a worthy MCU lead, but you feel that if the ideas raised by his first movie had been followed through on, he’d have reached that point a lot sooner.

Related: Every MCU Character Who’s Lifted Thor’s Hammer

12. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 is far and away the most underrated movie in the MCU. Coming off The Avengers and returning straight to standalone stories with the odd nod to Thor and Captain America was a tricky ask, but Marvel went for broke with what will likely be the last Robert Downey, Jr-led outing. It’s a Shane Black movie through and through, from the stylish ephemera – framing narration, Christmas setting – to more fundamental aspects – the wry humor, the focus on buddy-cop escapades – and doesn’t fall into many of the Marvel formula pitfalls that later movies would (the Whedon influence was yet to sink in). Plainly, Iron Man 3 has one of the most distinct personalities in the series (even more so than Guardians of the Galaxy).

Much of the backlash rests at the feet of the Mandarin. The movie marketed itself on seeing Tony Stark showdown against a modern update of his archnemesis, and that’s exactly what it delivered; just not in the way many were expecting; the Osama Bin-Laden channeling Mandarin was just an actor, the Eastern-influenced Ten Rings all part of a terrorist front by vengeful Western tech genius Aldrich Killian. But while that’s not accurate to the comics, it is to the real world. Terrorism is a performance and the real threats to our society are at home, making the Mandarin as thematically rich as it is hilarious.

If Iron Man 3 has a villain problem, it’s everything else. Maya Hansen was the secret big bad in earlier drafts but studio rewrites make her character-less, the Extremis soldiers are vague goons without any clear weaknesses, and while Killian being a suave rich guy is accurate to what the movie is spearing, it’s doesn’t make for an interesting final battle.

Page 4 of 6: Doctor Strange & More Of Our MCU Ranking

11. Doctor Strange (2016)

It’s easy to be glib about Doctor Strange. An origin story for an arrogant, sarcastic, rich man with a goatee who suffers a life-changing injury but directly through that discovers new powers – on paper it transplants Iron Man‘s formula to Stephen Strange to a tee. Yet this is a wholly unique film that simply uses the tropes to tell a much more offbeat story than Marvel was used to. Benedict Cumberbatch is easy casting but gives his all, as do the often underutilized cast, while the humor that waylaid many Phase 3 movies is worked into the character beats more organically than most.

While this movie is often compared to Inception, the Christopher Nolan this Doctor Strange has most in common with is actually Interstellar: the idea that time is the true enemy and death the ultimate fear is a heady topic for a superhero blockbuster, yet it’s one that Scott Derrickson takes to its natural conclusion with the Ancient One’s reflective death and series high-mark “Dormammu, I have come to bargain.

Going from themes to visuals is where Doctor Strange loses itself a little. Derrickson certainly offers up some strikingly weird imagery, yet a lot of it is odder for the sake of it than having some greater visual purpose. Claims Doctor Strange was “like nothing you’ve ever seen” act like 2001: A Space Odyessy didn’t do it better almost 50 years earlier. This problem is most evident in the action, which are rather flat chase scenes with impressive CGI grafted on them; only Marvel would have a sequence where characters must defend against reversing time and set it in a bland alley set.

Related: Why Didn’t Doctor Strange Trap Thanos In A Time Loop?

10. Iron Man (2008)

It’s easy to heap a lot of importance on Iron Man for how it kickstarted the MCU, marking Marvel Studios out as a blockbuster force to be reckoned with and in its post-credits scene building directly to The Avengers. But all of that ignores that, at its arc reactor core, Iron Man is just a good movie.

At this point in time, critics were starting to question if superheroes were going out of vogue – the previous two years had dud third installments for trailblazing X-Men and Spider-Man franchises – only for 2008 to offer two rebukes. The Dark Knight got a lot of the spotlight for its high-end removal of all genre tropes in favor of a stripped back crime story (and indeed remains the superior film), but that doesn’t mean Iron Man was by the numbers; it took the basic origin story playbook but subverted much of it. Robert Downey, Jr. is an off-base superhero protagonist, Jon Favreau gave his cast freedom to adlib, and in its final moments undoes the entire secret identity trope (something not even Spider-Man could maintain for more than one movie in the MCU).

What’s so amazing about Iron Man is how so much of it holds up on a filmmaking level. The cinematography is clean, the CGI refined (the same can’t be said of that year’s Visual Effects Oscar winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and even the pacing modern. Were this released today, audiences may question the lack of any fantastical elements, but they’d engage with it in much the same way.

Related: Iron Man’s Most Important Moment Wasn’t Nick Fury

9. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I had a date.” Few MCU moments have quite the same heartbreaking gravitas of Captain America: The First Avenger‘s final moments where the inescapable sacrifice of the man out of time comes crushingly real. That ending sequence is shared universe building done right, with an emotional payoff to the film’s core themes beelining into a tantalizing bigger picture, yet it only works so well because of everything that came before.

The best MCU origin movies get to the core of their titular character, but with Captain America, Joe Johnston goes one better and thoroughly deconstructs who exactly this former propaganda piece is and makes a detailed case for why he’s still relevant today. Whether it’s being crushed by his song-and-dance number or betraying orders to become a true hero, the delineation of the Captain from his namesake country is so effortless. Much of that praise has to go to Chris Evans, who is such perfect casting as the Star-Spangled Man that he almost single-handedly pivoted Cap as the lead of the franchise in place of Iron Man (and comes across fairly convincingly as a weakling despite the shrunk CG body).

Above all, Captain America is an Indiana Jones-style adventure, a fantasy World War II romp with a visual style straight off the cover of a Boy’s Own sci-fi collection. The Red Skull is a deliciously teased villain, the dancing-and-fighting montages captivating, and there’s a greater foreknowledge of where the story will go – the filmmakers know Steve isn’t making it out alive and Bucky’s death is done with knowledge of the future. Captain America has far-and-away the best standalone Marvel series, and while his Russo-directed efforts are stylistically different, the core of the character and themes are all in The First Avenger.

Related: Why Captain America Is Greatest MCU Hero (& What The Avengers Movies Miss)

8. Black Panther (2018)

Just because something works doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved,” Shuri says to T’Challa. She’s talking about his Kimoyo Beads, but is very much summing up the creative drive of the film. Black Panther is how to do Marvel right while evolving it. It presents the character full-on, building on the Captain America: Civil War introduction and deconstructing the ideas that define him, but goes a step further than even The First Avenger and adds on proper social commentary.

Ryan Coogler proves himself like no other breakout director has in the MCU, crafting a story that at every turn is using the superhero genre to explore the ills of colonialism and question what we can do today to correct the mistakes of the past. It’s rarely preachy or obvious, and builds to a rational conclusion in a tough manner. The chief stroke of brilliance is Killmonger. Marvel corrected their villain problem by developing them as if they were heroes, which for Erik means making him come from a logical place but then extend to an extreme level: Killmonger is right but his actions are wrong.

While the movie can’t totally escape Marvel formula – jokes are hit-and-miss, while the scale of the final action scene feels mandated – the next-level world-building, seamlessly creating an afro-futurist land that feels truly real (bar the recurring street set), marks Black Panther out as something beyond its ilk (and more than worthy of its game-changing Oscar wins). Franchise connections are light, but that’s only because that approach is the future of the franchise.

Related: With Black Panther, The MCU Finally Steps Out Of Iron Man’s Shadow

Page 5 of 6: Guardians of the Galaxy & More Of Our MCU Ranking

7. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The narrative is that Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel’s biggest gamble thus far, trying to sell a talking raccoon and a walking tree to general audiences. That’s true to a point, but it must be remembered that there was a point when a Norse God or World War II relic or robot suit named after a transition metal were similarly confounding to the mainstream; Marvel never had safe bets by nature of not having A-list characters. This reading does, however, highlight Guardians of the Galaxy‘s biggest strength – its swagger. From the moment Chris Pratt starts dancing to Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love” as the title fills the screen, this is an incredibly confident, blended riff on Marvel superhero and Star Wars sci-fi tropes that has no interest in whether you’d heard of them before SDCC 2012 or not.

Much of the credit rightly goes to James Gunn, who melds his personality sensibilities with that of the cosmic Marvel comics and the MCU without sacrificing much of any individual part. If Star Wars was a used future, this is a casually-zany future. Everything is weird, but when everything is weird, nothing is: the vibrancy is charm, not in-your-face spectacle; the stilted yet straight dialogue is making for comedy without undercutting the scale of the story.

Where the movie does struggle a little is in its plotting, with the mix of team-up and origin story formulas buckling around the second act; the Knowhere sequence slows the pace, drops exposition and then needs characters to act out of sorts to get towards the final act. This problem would return in the sequel, but it doesn’t bring the movie down too much because of the effort put into making sure each character is defined and the MacGuffin has meaning way beyond purple whisps.

Related: Thanos’ MCU Introduction Doesn’t Make Sense – Here’s How We’d Fix It

6. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Sold as the culmination of the entire MCU (but really just Part 1 of 2 as Marvel always promised), Avengers: Infinity War is barely readable by any standard narrative means. It has two dozen heroes each with their own interlinked arcs, but even at 160 minutes long, the film can only develop them incrementally, with a handful getting anything approaching proper focus. It’s certainly entertaining to see Bucky and Rocket live out a meme or Steve Rogers meet Groot, but the only way to really parse down its story is from the perspective of villain Thanos, which may be the Russo brothers smartest decision in the entire MCU.

In direct contrast to Killmonger (right motives, bad actions), Thanos is misguided to the bone, his plan horrific and means distressing. Wanting to destroy half of all life in the universe is utterly insane, but it’s framed in something approaching a Campbellian hero’s journey that makes the drive understandable, if not relatable. And that is why, even when he and Thor, the closest thing the film has to good protagonist, come face-to-face, the Mad Titan still wins: he is a force of pure will, who is able to collect the Infinity Stones because at every stage he’s willing to do what none of the heroes are capable of.

Infinity War is a hard film to assess on its own merits considering its cliffhanger ending leaves everything up in the air ahead of Avengers: Endgame, but there’s no denying the audacity of the mass decimation at the end (even if a return is oh-so-obvious). It’s grim storytelling done on a scale only possible with blockbuster budgets and the sheer weight of what’s to come. Avengers: Infinity War ignores so much of the set up (Thanos is a different being) but it works because it fundamentally understands the core of the Marvel universe is character.

Related: Avengers: Infinity War’s Ending Was Very Different In The Comics

5. The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers is where the MCU truly became the mega-franchise it is today. Up until 2012, Marvel Studios had marked themselves out as being able to produce consistently “good” action movies with strong characters (Iron Man 2 notwithstanding) that challenged superhero norms of recognisability and marketability, but it was only with Joss Whedon’s team-up they truly became “great“. It released in May 2012, two months before highly anticipated conclusion The Dark Knight Rises, yet not only made more but ended up being the most influential. Many studios tried to build their own shared universes (none quite as successful) and Whedon’s blockbuster style became the norm for this franchise and many more.

But The Avengers wasn’t just bringing the characters together and riffing humorously on their differences. It could have been that sort of gimmicky movie, sure, and would have likely still passed $1 billion, but what really made it work was how energized and focused it was. There’s not really a plot, more a chase for the magical MacGuffin, yet the character interactions provide a story backbone – in the first 40 minutes or so, every scene transition connects directly to the previous one – that remains tight. And that allows the movie to do more than bring heroes together: it analyzes the notion of a team-up in a mildly-meta way, responding to preempting critics and making the eventual group shot a triumph even if you’d not seen a single previous film.

Even then, not everything works – some of the earlier action sequences are very televisual, Hawkeye’s entire arc is undone by a complete lack of setup – but those are overridden by the smart script (what seem like improv asides become emotive throughlines in stark contrast to Whedon’s reshoots on Justice League) and an explosion into three-dimensional action. And while the base thrill of the Avengers coming together is now part and parcel of any random MCU film, it’s been allowed to retain its special feeling by future films thanks to a careful honoring of its core ideas (and a movie-long tease of the purple alien behind it all).

Related: Marvel’s Original MCU Phase 1 Plan Ended With A Very Different Avengers

Page 6 of 6: Our Top 4 MCU Movies

4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Much was made at the time how Captain America: Civil War was similar to Batman v Superman, from the macro – the shared universe is split in two as the major heroes duke it out – to the micro – the fights are dictated by characters’ emotions for dead mothers. But what’s so striking is that, when both movies landed on the May weekend, it was DC who balked, moving Dawn of Justice to a less competitive March. This was the moment where the MCU’s scale became next-level, where former B-list characters were a bigger draw than the World’s Finest.

Civil War uses that growth and development very much to its advantage. Threads established in as many as nine previous movies (Iron Man 1-3, Captain America 1-2, Avengers 1-2, Ant-Man and The Incredible Hulk) are brought together to tell a story that grapples with the real world applications of having superheroes leveling cities outside your window, and the more personal story of Bucky that’s been simmering for the past two Cap films. And this is a Captain America film first and foremost; Steve Rogers’ responsibilities and guilts power the narrative and resolve the identity exploration of the previous films by having him desert the Avengers and the shield, yet remain the hero. Not that the solo movie arc means the Russos don’t elevate every other character; Tony Stark’s arc is extended, Hawkeye gets more development than in Age of Ultron, Ant-Man gets the showcase he deserved, and in Black Panther and Spider-Man two major heroes are introduced fully formed.

That said, it would be a lie to say some of the shine hasn’t worn off Captain America: Civil War over the past few years, inevitable for such a sprawling tale. The Sokovia Accords are really a plot device and characters – Black Widow especially – choose sides based on narrative requirements, not their past, which means the film doesn’t have as much to say as it thinks. But considering the scale Marvel was now working on, in stark contrast to the twin movie, that didn’t really matter.

Related: What Sides Marvel Heroes SHOULD Have Taken In Captain America: Civil War

3. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The MCU is greater than the sum of its parts, but if there was any one movie that best represented that sum, it would be Avengers: Endgame. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe in microcosm, with all the good and bad that brings. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s messy, it has a very confusing approach to micro-continuity, but it’s ultimately incredibly character driven and delivers an emotional catharsis beyond what any solo movie could do.

Being the ending – at least as close to an ending as a movie with seven movies confirmed in development for the next few years can be – Avengers: Endgame has a massive advantage in when it comes to stakes; so much of the legwork has done before a single frame of new footage. But the Russo brothers do not slack. The opening and closing scenes of Endgame eclipse anything in Infinity War (yes, even the snap), and the in-between journey is so sprawling yet focused in intention that moment after moment hits. Fan service is laid on thick yet feels earned and rarely Tumblr-bait, there’s no green screen flubs, and the ability to pull back from the jokes and let the darkest scenes land delivers what some previous films were missing.

But it’s not perfect. Some of the choices made to get to the ending are rather perplexing, doubly so considering how they seem so opposite to how things were set up in Avengers: Infinity War, a movie written and filmed alongside it. And long-predicted story turns are just as lacking in plot logic as feared. This may be the worst movie to introduce someone to the MCU with, but it’s the perfect one to express what’s made it so great.

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

After the second act of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it feels like Peter Parker has finally found some balance in life. His superheroics are taking a backseat and his life is together to the point he’s taking his senior year crush to the dance. He rings her doorbell… and then Vulture opens the door, crashing both sides of his life together. The greatest twist ever in a superhero film – the villain was the love interest’s father is a well-worn trope, but Homecoming buries it deep – that this happens purely on a character level, devoid of MCU or Spider-Man franchise context, is a shining example of just how well balanced Jon Watts’ film is.

Rebooting Spider-Man for the third time that was at once faithful and new was a tough order. Marvel decided to strip the character of what had been overdone before and built him up from what was left. This is a version of Spidey rooted most in the early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics, but transplanted to Generation Z to enable a modern-day deconstruction akin to what Phase 1 did for Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. And Homecoming certainly nails his balance of youthful, neighborhood vigilantism with the instantly relatable troubles of leading a normal teenage life, thanks to Tom Holland’s semi-awkward performance and a heavy dose of John Hughes referencing.

Eight years later aside (likely a result of needing Liz to be young enough to draw a picture of theAvengers in crayon), the movie’s placement in MCU canon is elegant as well. Tony Stark is a fitting father figure, the cameos are worth your patience, and, best of all, Peter (and Ned’s) wide-eyed passion brings “heroes outside your window” to life.

That all these three aspects – movie, character, universe – work so well results in one of the most satisfying Marvel movies, and one that has already aged better than its contemporaries (even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2).

Related: The Biggest (And Best) Change The MCU Has Made To Spider-Man

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Some of what makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier so effective was a complete accident; its story of modern espionage and invasion of freedoms lines up so well with the Edward Snowden NSA leaks that it’s amazing the film was in production before his story broke. However, that real-world caveat does nothing to take away from what the movie does with the character of Steve Rogers. If The First Avenger was about divorcing Captain America’s patriotic values from his propaganda origins, its modern-day follow-up is how you apply that to a morally-ambiguous, ostensibly peace-time landscape. This is there from the discovery his government bosses are corrupted to that the big villain is his former best friend.

This was the Russos brother’s first entry in the MCU and much of what made their subsequent team-ups so epic yet satisfying is rooted here. The action has proper heft – bullets wound and falls hurt – and there’s a deft balance of character and story, with every single player getting a proper arc that has a tangible impact on the plot; astounding as juggling two-dozen heroes in Avengers: Infinity War is, here there are still more than 10 essential characters interlocking. The core of it, though, is that Steve-Bucky relationship: the Winter Soldier twist is clearly signposted (and spoiled by anybody who was redirected to Bucky’s Wikipedia page pre-release) but that’s all effective setup for an emotional climax.

The weakest part about The Winter Soldier as an MCU film can hardly be blamed on the movie itself: its consequences are mostly meaningless. The Hydra-is-S.H.I.E.L.D. twist should have been seismic, yet Avengers: Age of Ultron not only mops up the fallout before the opening title but it has Nick Fury once again flying a helicarrier. In that regard, it highlights what a great Marvel movie should do – be as good as you can on your own.

Next: Every Upcoming Marvel Movie


2019-04-25 09:04:42

Alex Leadbeater

The 15 Worst Episodes Of Game Of Thrones According To IMDB (And The 10 Best)

Game Of Thrones is a very lucky fantasy drama. Unlike many of its genre brethren, like the more sci-fi LOST or Battlestar Galactica, its episodes don’t polarize its fan-base. The series is almost universally loved by those who watch it around the world, making it a surprisingly popular part of pop culture, despite airing on a premium cable network.

Even the most popular television shows aren’t perfect. For every outstanding episode, there’s going to be one that doesn’t hit with fans. Issue of pacing, or cramming too much story into an hour, or unpopular characters taking center stage, can cause fans to turn on an episode even when it’s a critical success.

Thanks to sites like the Internet Movie Database, fans and critics alike can rate episodes on a scale of one (the worst) to ten (the best.) With tens of thousands giving their feedback for a single episode, the ratings provide a good metric for measuring which of hours of Game Of Thrones are really best – or worst.

On IMDB, the best Game Of Thrones episodes have a 9.9, while the worst have an 8.1. That’s not a huge gap in quality, so an episode of Game Of Thrones called one of “the worst” is a pretty pleasing hour of television. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up The 15 Worst Episodes Of Game Of Thrones According To IMDB (And The 10 Best.)

25 Worst: S3E07 The Bear And The Maiden Fair (8.8)

Not the absolute worst of episodes, the season three episode “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” still ranks among the lowest ten. While it doesn’t appear that anyone truly hated it, the episode doesn’t have the same punch as others in the season.

Set near the end of its season, the episode worked more as a bridge between episodes than as its own story. It followed Jaime deciding to help Brienne, Tyrion dealing with the consequences of his engagement to Sansa, and a whole lot of people trying to make decisions. Ratings among IMDB users stand at 8.8, so it’s still respectable, but not a standout.

24 Best: S4E02 The Lion And The Rose (9.7)

In season four, Margaery Tyrell and Joffrey Baratheon finally married. Their houses were joined in “The Lion And The Rose,” and many fans and critics alike labeled it as one of the best episodes of the series so far.

More than 38,000 IMDB uses rated the episode, averaging a 9.7. The episode wasn’t big on battle scenes or dragons, but instead on political intrigue. Moments that should have been boring remained tense as the audience waited for the other shoe to drop. When the episode culminated in Joffrey’s poisoning, fans couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

23 Worst: S1E02 The Kingsroad (8.8)

Most television shows can struggle to find their footing in their first few hours. While Game of Thrones had a solid first episode, it’s second misses the mark by just a tad. Like many of the episodes that fans find fall short, “The Kingsroad” is a transition episode.

A lot of the episode requires main characters to spend their time on feet (or horse) traveling to a new location. The audience was introduced to a lot of new locales, new characters, and new plot pieces moving into place very quickly. It left little time to catch up, but also didn’t grip the audience like the pilot did.

22 Best: S2E09 Blackwater (9.7)

As season two of Game Of Thrones drew to a close, the battle for King’s Landing came to a head. Stannis Baratheon’s ships came to town and battled the Lannister soldiers under Tyrion’s command. The decision to focus the storyline of the hour solely on King’s Landing proved a very positive one.

Despite so much of the episode happening in the dead of night, and in questionable lighting, “Blackwater” was a hit with many fans because of its thriller sensibilities. The stillness of the water and the confidence of Stannis’ men was dashed by Tyrion’s “wildfire.” Sansa learned what came with invasion from a blunt Cersei. Audiences were captivated.

21 Worst: S7E01 Dragonstone (8.7)

With the debut of season seven, fans knew that Game Of Thrones neared its logical conclusion. As a result, expectations for the premiere, “Dragonstone,” were very high.

While fans loved Daenerys making her homecoming and Arya getting revenge, most criticisms of the episode lie in other directions. Plenty of fans dislike that Sansa and Jon can’t see the same threats coming (which is still a concern a season later.) That, however, wasn’t what landed the episode in the worst slot. Instead, that was the result of a cameo by singer Ed Sheeran. Fans found his cameo distracting instead of adding to the episode, ranking it with an 8.7.

20 Best: S4E10 The Children (9.7)

Season four went out with a bang – or rather, it went out with several. The season finale, “The Children,” marked the end for several characters the audience grew to know over the previous four years.

The many losses proved that even this far into the series, it could still surprise people. Tyrion disposed of both his father and Shae, while Bran and Arya both made decisions about their future. A huge highlight of the episode for many was the match between Brienne and the Hound, which many fans praised as one of the best fight sequences they’d ever seen. The episode remains a fan favorite.

19 Worst: S6E07 The Broken Man (8.7)

Helping to wind down season six of Game Of Thrones, “The Broken Man” was another transition episode in a long line of mixed-reviewed transition episodes. The episode served to put pieces in place for future story-lines, but it didn’t deliver the standout sequences viewers knew the show for.

The bright spot in the episode for most viewers? The introduction of Lyanna Mormont. The young leader quickly became a fan favorite for those who worry about the uneven treatment of women throughout the series.

18 Worst: S5E05 Kill The Boy (8.7)

By and large, critical reception of the season five episode “Kill The Boy” was favorable, which is why it’s a bit surprising that it landed among the 15 worst Game Of Thrones episodes.

Though fans largely enjoy the rise of Daenerys to a capable leader and Jon Snow learning how to secure his own future, it’s likely the Ramsay Bolton of it all that drops the rating among IMDB users. Ramsay is a character the audience loves to hate, largely as a result of his treatment of Sansa Stark, and this episode only scratched the surface of how controlling he would be.

17 Best: S4E06 The Laws Of Gods And Men (9.7)

Season four still ranks highly for a lot of viewers out of all eight seasons. It featured several strong stories, but it also featured performances that could carry entire episodes. It’s one of those performances that sees “The Laws Of Gods And Men” as one of the best episodes of the series.

While the episode features other story-lines, the standout is the trial of Tyrion Lannister for the poisoning of his nephew. Though he maintains his innocence, the audience watched as character after character gave testimony against him until he finally lashed out at everyone. It was a great character driven episode.

16 Worst: S3E02 Dark Wings, Dark Words (8.7)

When a series relies on political machinations as much as it does effects spectacles, slow moving episodes can make some fans antsy. The early season three episode “Dark Wings, Dark Words” is one of them.

This episode doesn’t have those water-cooler moments to get people talking. Slower pacing of the plot also put some people off. There are important events in the episode – like the introduction of a few new characters. Most of the audience didn’t care if Theon Greyjoy was captured or if Margaery Tyrell found out the extent of Joffrey’s cruelty just yet though.

15 Worst: S1E03 Lord Snow (8.7)

Not very many season one episodes make this list. Like the episode before it though, episode three “Lord Snow,” does land among the worst. Of course, it does it with an 8.7 ranking from IMDB users, so at its worst, it’s still better than most dramas fans rank online.

“Lord Snow” primarily focused on Jon Snow’s first interactions with the men at the Wall. His deciding to train those who didn’t have his upbringing is admirable, but hardly the highlight of the episode. In an hour focused largely on backstory and exposition, the highlight was Arya getting to take sword fighting lessons. All of that exposition would eventually pay off, but for viewers first starting the series, it didn’t feel like it.

14 Best: S6E05 The Door (9.7)

If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan who wanted Hodor’s backstory, the season six episode “The Door” gave it to you, and then broke your heart. The emotional punch of the episode made many fans love it, and earned it a 9.7 rating on IMDB.

In addition to Hodor’s heartbreaking backstory, the episode also opened up more of the show’s mythology as we found out more of what Brans’ abilities allowed him to do. The threat of the White Walkers became more prominent, while Sansa, Daenerys, and Tyrion all had to make critical decision affecting their political futures. It provided movement all around.

13 Worst: S5E03 High Sparrow (8.7)

Season five proved to be a very divisive season for fans and critics. Interestingly, while the early episode “High Sparrow” proved a hit with critics (earning a 100% in the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores,) fans were a bit more disappointed with it. They ranked it at an 8.7 for IMDB.

The episode served to begin bringing together the stories from seemingly far reaches of the Game Of Thrones universe. Arya began her real training, Sansa plotted revenge, Jon achieved a higher standing in the Night’s Watch, and Margaery started making moves against Cersei. That wasn’t enough to satisfy everyone.

12 Worst: S5E02 The House Of Black And White (8.6)

The episode prior to “High Sparrow,” called “The House Of Black And White,” actually disappointed some fans even more. Its rating dropped to an 8.6.

This episode was all about characters making difficult decisions, but perhaps those decisions weren’t enough for some fans. A standout was actually Sam’s speech getting Jon elected to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but perhaps this is one episode where fans wished for more Jon Snow? There were many separate stories going on other than his, and not many of them started weaving together until the end.

11 Best: S7E04 The Spoils Of War (9.8)

With season seven, fans knew that more and more characters who were apart for years would have to interact again. After all, the series was almost over. In the fourth episode, “The Spoils of War,” those reunions, as well as some new interactions, made it one of the best episodes of the series at a 9.8.

The episode sees Jon Snow and Daenerys learn a bit of Westeros history, Arya reunite with two of her siblings, and Jaime face off against a dragon in battle. Fans waited six years to see Arya and Sansa finally in the same room, and they weren’t disappointed. Likewise, seeing Daenerys and Drogon battle Jaime Lannister’s forces was a sequence people kept talking about.

10 Worst: S6E01 The Red Woman (8.6)

While the season six premiere is a relatively solid hour of television when compared to other fantasy-dramas, it is among the worst of the Game Of Thrones fare for a particular reason. Those fans who love the novels find that the storyline for Dorne just didn’t make any sense.

Events in Dorne happened very quickly in this particular storyline, eliminating characters who actually had a large presence in the books. It confused those who used the books as a blueprint of the series. At least the reveal of Melisandre AKA “The Red Woman” being truly ancient gave fans an interesting look into her character.

9 Worst: S5E01 The Wars To Come (8.6)

The season five premiere of Game Of Thrones is another case of a solid episode with a lot of critical love that fans disagreed with. While the episode initially had an aggregate score of 100% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB users landed it at an 8.6 rating.

It’s not entirely clear what the fans disliked about this particular episode, but as a season premiere, “The Wars To Come” did require setting a lot of plot pieces into place. It’s also possible that because so many people loved the season four finale, they were simply hoping for more when the show returned.

8 Best: S6E10 The Winds Of Winter (9.9)

The season six finale marked one of four nearly perfect episodes – at least according to IMDB users. It scored a 9.9 (as did the final three “best” episodes on this list.) “The Winds Of Winter” was like wish fulfillment for so many characters and fans.

Daenerys finally got her alliance and set sail for Westeros, Arya took her revenge on the Frey family, the North declared Jon Snow their king, and Cersei made a major play for the Iron Throne. Because the episode featured so many turning points for so many characters, fans were immediately anticipating season seven.

7 Worst: S2E02 The Night Lands (8.6)

Like many of the worst Game Of Thrones episodes, the season two episode “The Night Lands” features both a lot happening – and nothing happening. The episode was similar to the season one hour “The Kingsroad” in terms of content and pacing.

That similarity meant there were a lot of separate stories going on, and none of them seemed to link together. Daenerys waited for her messengers, Jon Snow learned what the Craster family did with their sons, but more interesting than any of that was the brief moment where Arya opened up to someone. She told Gendry her real identity after learning he knew her father.

6 Worst: S6E08 No One (8.5)

As season six wound down, there were quite a few plot points that needed to be put to bed in order for story to move forward. “No One” was the episode that attempted to do that.

The episode brought an end to Arya’s time with the Faceless Men, saw Brienne and Jaime both fail at their real missions, and had Cersei prepare to “pay” for her crimes. The episode wasn’t one of the flashier hours of the series, and perhaps that’s why people were a bit disappointed with it, ranking it at 8.5. To have so many arcs end anticlimactically was a surprise.

Of course, one of the worst episodes came before one of the best.

5 Best: S6E09 Battle Of The Bastards (9.9)

One pattern fans noticed in the tail end of the seasons is that just before the finale episode, plenty of battles and tragic losses must occur in Game Of Thrones. That’s certainly true in the season six episode “Battle Of The Bastards” as well.

While there was plenty of tragedy to go around as many characters had their final episode, there were also a lot of turning points for characters. Sansa proved herself by bringing Jon Snow reinforcements and getting revenge on Ramsay Bolton. Daenerys got to take out a major threat with the help of her dragons. Yara Greyjoy found herself a new alliance. The episode became a favorite with its cinematic action sequences and its women on top.

4 Worst: S6E06 Blood Of My Blood (8.5)

Despite some stellar episodes in season six, there were quite a few that just missed the mark. The mid-season hour “Blood Of My Blood” was one of them at an 8.5.

While there were some fans who enjoyed getting to see what Sam’s home life was like, the majority weren’t all that interested in him taking Gilly home to meet the parents. The episode also provided a lot of scenes with characters making plans and talking about what they were about to do without actually doing anything. As a result, it provided a bit of a disappointment.

3 Best: S5E08 Hardhome (9.9)

One time it seemed that critics and fans could agree on an excellent hour of television was in season five’s “Hardhome.” The episode earned perfect marks from critics at The AV Club and IGN. IMDB users ranked it nearly as high with a 9.9.

The episode followed a string of hours providing set up, so its action sequences provided some much needed payoff. The Night King and his army of White Walkers taking on the Night Watch and the Wildlings was a sight to behold.

Of course, just two episodes earlier, the show hit its low with the worst episode according to IMDB.

2 Worst: S5E06 Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (8.1)

If there’s any episode of Game Of Thrones that is nearly universally hated, it might be this one. During the middle of season five, the series delivered fans “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” and the vast majority of fans didn’t like what they got, and IMDB users gave it an 8.1 as a result.

The episode itself had a lot of other things going on, but it’s most remembered for the assault of Sansa Stark. Season five began promising big things for all of its female characters, and while it delivered for some, it turned its back on others. In fact, for Sansa’s pivotal scene, the show literally did that – not even giving the audience Sansa’s point of view of her attack, but instead, focusing on those observing her, further disappointing fans.

1 Best: S3E09 The Rains Of Castamere (9.9)

While fans of the books on which the series is based expected the “Red Wedding” to happen at some point in the series, the season three episode still provided them with an emotional punch. Because of that, “The Rains Of Castamere” is a favorite for those familiar with the books, as well as those who’ve never read them.

There were plenty of other plot pieces set in motion for other characters, but the bulk of the praise for the episode lands on Catelyn and Robb Stark attending a wedding that ended in a massacre. The performances of Michelle Fairley and Richard Madden were fantastic and losing both characters (as well as numerous others) in one fell swoop proved anything goes on Game Of Thrones.

Do you agree with these IMDB rankings? Or should there be a whole different set of Game Of Thrones episodes at the top and bottom of the pack? Let us know in the comments.


2019-04-25 04:04:01

Amanda Bruce

The 100: The 5 Best Couples (& The 5 Worst)

Based on the young adult novel series with the same name, The 100 has been around for five years and is currently going 6 seasons strong. We’ve been holding our breaths ever since the group of youths has been dropped in the now harsh environment of Earth. We’ve suffered with them and for them, and each new season brings along its fair share of mystery, drama, and, of course, romantic tension.

RELATED: The 100 Season 6 Extended Trailer: Clarke & Bellamy Enter A Wild New World

Our favorite brave adventurers have seen some terrible things. Some of them didn’t survive to tell the tale, while others are still going strong. As it would be expected when you drop 100 teenagers in any environment – even an incredibly hostile one – the sparks of love and lust are bound to start popping up everywhere. The 100 blessed us plentifully on this matter, and we’ve seen couples come and go at the speed of light throughout the entire run of the show.

10 Worst: Clarke & Finn

It’s hard to find a soul out there that enjoyed watching the relationship between Clarke and Finn develop into a romantic one. While Clarke has been involved with her fair share of partners, these two just lacked chemistry, and it just seemed like they were pushed together because it looked good on paper.

The love triangle that eventually emerges when Finn’s girlfriend lands on Earth is messy and uncalled for, and Finn’s behavior towards Clarke screams obsessive and erratic. Out of all the romantic partners Clarke has been linked within the show, Finn is by far the least compatible and undesirable.

9 Best: Octavia & Lincoln

Octavia and Lincoln’s relationship made history on the show for being the first one depicting a romantic link between a Grounder and one of the Sky people. Besides, it was always wonderful to witness the deep connection between the two, and the impact Lincoln’s presence had on Octavia, acting almost as her guiding light.

RELATED: 8 Couples That Hurt CW Shows (And 7 That Saved Them)

The two proved time and time again how far they were willing to go for each other, and it was just as heart-warming witnessing Octavia and Lincoln take care of each other as it was heart-shattering to see them apart and suffer because of their love. Lincoln’s death was one of the saddest we were forced to witness, but his relationship with Octavia will remain in our memory as one of the purest and most beautiful on the show.

8 Worst: Raven & Finn

It’s bad enough that Raven was forced into a love triangle because Finn fell in love with Clarke in the first place. The cheating was awful and grants these two a spot on the list of the worst couples to exist on the show. Raven and Finn as romantic partners could have been something if it wasn’t for this unnecessary Twilightesque twist, that sent Finn into the arms of someone he had no chemistry with (and it’s hard for someone like Clarke to lack chemistry with another character on-screen).

It doesn’t help that his character development took a turn for the worse when he started using violence and killed almost two dozen unarmed people in his quest to find Clarke – the same person he cheated on Raven with, and who was oh so apologetic when he was reunited with her. It’s just safe to assume Finn wasn’t good for anyone he was paired with on the show, and his death wasn’t received with much grief by fans.

7 Best: Clarke & Bellamy

The relationship between Clarke and Bellamy is a strong one, forged through friendship and trust. Although these two aren’t a romantic couple in the show, their relationship is one of the most beloved by fans of The 100, who simply cannot wait to see these two follow the path of their characters in the books in at least one way – you know, in the way that they are engaged!

RELATED: Arrow: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Couples

Even though it’s a strictly platonic thing, these two have shared more chemistry and romantic tension than many pairs on the show who were actually supposed to be linked in that way (yes, Clarke and Finn comes to mind immediately). When in season 4 Clarke breaks down when making the decision on which 100 people should go on the list of those to be saved, she puts down Bellamy’s name. Once he sees this, he refuses to go unless her name is written along with his – something he does with no shred of hesitation, proving the beautiful and powerful bond the two share.

6 Worst: Raven & Shaw

This show is known for continuously killing off major characters, in almost the same heartbreaking fashion as Game of Thrones has gotten us accustomed with. This means that, inevitably, new characters will be introduced and the main characters that remain will get most of the screen time, while the new ones have the necessary time to be introduced, and those who weren’t so important in the beginning tend to be forgotten by the showrunners.

Now, there’s nothing particularly terrible about Raven and Shaw’s relationship. The problem with these two is that they suffered from the show’s decision to further develop other character’s storylines in a much deeper fashion, making the relationship between these two characters seem unbelievably rushed, forced, and overall hard to root for. We absolutely love it when two “enemies” end up falling in love with each other – but we need time to let things develop and make them believable!

5 Best: Kane & Abby

In a show ruled by teenagers, it’s a breath of fresh air to see more mature couples as well – after all, love isn’t exclusive to a certain age group, and we couldn’t be happier the show decided to depict that through Kane and Abby. Granted, as individuals, they have developed into very different people from the ones that were first introduced to us in the first season of The 100, but their relationship was a great one to see blossom.

RELATED: One Tree Hill: The 6 Best (& 4 Worst) Couples

The two always had a little something going on, and it was clear from the very beginning. We finally saw them give in to the attraction in season 3, when Abby kisses him for “hope”, and when Kane saves her life, against her will but keeping her best interests in mind, it just added another wonderful layer to their relationship.

4 Worst: Octavia & Ilian

Lincoln and Octavia fans weren’t exactly happy with the new pairing. It’s not that they don’t think Octavia deserves to find love again after tragically losing Lincoln, but the way it was done didn’t leave much room for her relationship with Ilian to be enjoyed as fully as it had the potential to be. Putting two characters together just because they seem to share the same level of messed up and demons tends to be a recipe for disaster.

Besides, the fact that they had Octavia and Ilian have sex when she was clearly in pain was completely uncalled for. The two don’t even share that much chemistry together, they seem to have more dislike for each other than anything else, and it just seems a bit too forced on the part of the showrunners. Again, if they had had more time to develop on-screen as a couple, perhaps this could have been different. As it is, however, just doesn’t work.

3 Best: Miller & Jackson

They aren’t exactly major characters in the overall scheme of things, but Miller and Jackson’s relationship did a wonderful job at melting everyone’s hearts. Sometimes a love story can be portrayed as so unbelievably pure that it overshadows other plot points that should be considered super important, and for many people, that happens for Miller and Jackson.

RELATED: 5 Upcoming Franchise Reboots We Need (& 5 We Don’t)

It was obvious throughout the fourth season of the show that these two felt something for each other, something that went way past the realms of friendship. When Miller told Jackson he loved him at the beginning of season 5, no one could remain indifferent even if they tried to. The actors have beautiful chemistry and not a single thing about these two seems forced.

2 Worst: Bellamy & Echo

This whole relationship just doesn’t sit well with fans. Not because it’s terrible, it’s just because it’s so very…meh. It’s lukewarm, it came out of pretty much nothing, the substance just isn’t there. Bellamy and Echo just seem like a whole lot of nothing. The showrunners didn’t put much effort into making us care about Echo and none at all in making us care about her relationship with Bellamy.

Besides, just as it happens with many couples on the show, the relationship between these two is too forced to come off as anything special. The realness and rawness, along with the chemistry that usually makes us root for a couple aren’t a part of Bellamy and Echo at all. All in all, it was just sort of there for the sake of being there, and that usually doesn’t make a very solid foundation for an interesting relationship that fans care for.

1 Best: Clarke & Lexa

These two will forever be the relationship on the show. Fans are still mourning the loss of Lexa, and consequently, the loss of the beautiful relationship she shared with Clarke. The trope of former antagonists that end up falling in love is an all-time favorite, but it needs to be executed to perfection. Thankfully, the showrunners hit the nail on the head with Clarke and Lexa, and made for one of the most iconic couples on TV.

Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these two, who joined forces, and through love managed to make peace happen between their respective people. Lexa’s death marked Clarke deeply and forever, and although she had to move on as a character, the love story will live forever in her, as well as in our hearts.

NEXT: 5 Best Couples On Modern Family (& 5 Of The Worst)


2019-04-25 03:04:57

Mariana Fernandes

The 5 Best Game Of Thrones Duos (& The 5 Worst)

Game of Thrones is in its eighth and final season, and the show has featured many duos and pairs over the years. Some of these duos have been close friends and supporters, while others have been toxic and downright awful. With so many of the previous characters dead in this final season, it’s really down to the wire in the race to defend against the White Walkers and hopefully have someone good end up on the Iron Throne.

We’ve put together a list of 5 five of the best Game of Thrones duos and five of the worst featuring characters who are still alive in season eight.

RELATED: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Premiere: 5 Things That Satisfied Fans And 5 Things That Bothered Them

10 WORST: JAIME AND CERSEI

Jaime and Cersei were never a great duo to begin with given that they are siblings, but they’ve continued to grow apart as the series progresses. While Cersei is still conniving and always has only her best interests at heart, Jaime has had many changes of heart throughout the show. Seeing him leave Cersei to ride north to help against the White Walkers at the end of last season was a triumphant moment for him. Overall, it’s best that these two stay apart because the damage they’ve done together in the past is significant.

9 BEST: JAIME AND BRIENNE

Jaime and Brienne seemed like two people who could never get along, but they grew to respect one another. While they haven’t been in the same space yet this season, now that Jamie is in the north, there could be a chance.

RELATED: Game of Thrones Star Explains Jamie Lannister’s Reaction to Seeing [Spoiler]

They forged a bond early on in season three when Brienne was escorting him back to King’s Landing, but Cersei has been an obstacle keeping them apart. These two together can do a lot of good and have a lot of chemistry, too. Hopefully, with Jaime breaking from Cersei’s hold, they will be able to work as a team again.

8 WORST: THEON AND YARA

While the sibling relationship between Theon and Yara has gotten better over the years, they still aren’t a great duo. Theon is another character that has been through a pretty horrific redemption arc, but even with this, it’s hard to find him likable. Yara is a lot more stalwart and put together, and while Theon has come to her rescue a couple of times now, they aren’t a particularly heartwarming duo to watch.

7 BEST: ARYA AND BRIENNE

Arya and Brienne are a duo that sparks a lot of fond feelings. They are both two very fierce people who have pushed back against the gender roles assigned to them in society. It’s clear that Brienne sees herself in Arya, and she also has taken very seriously the oath she made to Catelyn Stark.

RELATED: 25 Wild Fan Redesigns Of Unexpected Game Of Thrones Couples

Arya definitely needed someone like Brienne in her corner. Now that the two of them are both in the north, hopefully, fans will get to see more interactions between the two of them. These two powerful women are a lot alike.

6 WORST: BRAN AND EVERYONE

The internet loves to make fun of Bran Stark. While mostly these jokes are good-natured, it’s clear that most fans realize he’s just kind of a weird kid. Having the Greensight will probably do that to any person. Bran’s interactions with everyone, including his siblings, are just rather strange and awkward. He’s not a bad character by any means, but he definitely doesn’t make a dynamic dream duo with really anyone.

5 BEST: JON AND SAM

Jon and Sam have been brothers in arms and close friends for many seasons now. After serving together on the Night’s Watch, they have been through a lot together. Jon himself asks Sam to Oldtown to study at the Citadel. These two will clearly be friends and support each other to the end.

RELATED: Game of Thrones: Why Jon Snow Is Able To [SPOILER] So Easily

It was also Sam who revealed in the season eight premiere that Jon Snow was not Ned Stark’s son. This moment of sharing might not have been the most selfless move, however, but fans can be sure that Sam does care about Jon Snow.

4 WORST: CERSEI AND EURON

This pair is a rough one to watch together. While Cersei needs Euron for the Golden Company to provide her with an army, the dynamic between the two of them is pretty gross. In the season eight premiere, Euron insists Cersei have sex with him to fulfill her end of the bargain. Cersei reminds him that she said she would only marry him after the war but ends up letting him sleep with her anyway. While Cersei is by no means a character to feel sorry for, it’s still rough to see her once again being put in a position to sleep with men she doesn’t want to sleep with.

3 BEST: TYRION AND JAIME

These two brothers have a strong bond these days. Now that they are both free from Cersei, their bond can continue to grow stronger. In the second episode of season eight, it was rewarding to see these two meet up again and be part of the “good” guys gearing up to protect the north from the White Walkers.

RELATED: 12 Couples That Hurt Game Of Thrones (And 8 That Saved It)

Hopefully, they will both survive through the bottle so we can see more of these two interacting.

2 WORST: DAENERYS AND JON

Daenerys and Jon might seem like the perfect dream team, but this dynamic is unlikely to last. While it was necessary for the two to become allies in the fight against the White Walkers, their romantic relationship has complicated things in a way that could be detrimental for the good of Westeros. Now that Jon Snow has found out that they are related, it’s likely there will be drama in the relationship going forward. These two are likely to hold each other back from achieving their true power, and others around them see the flaws in this partnership and are untrusting.

1 BEST: ARYA AND SANSA

One of the best duos in the past couple of seasons is Arya and Sansa. Season seven faked fans out by setting them up as rivals, only to reveal that it was all an act to bring Littlefinger to an end. This was a satisfying moment, and it’s also exciting to see these two sisters supporting each other already in season eight. Game of Thrones has kept the Starks apart for so long, so it’s definitely rewarding to see two of the Stark siblings have a strong bond and care for each other.

NEXT: 10 Best Moments From Game Of Thrones Women From Season 8’s Premiere


2019-04-23 05:04:38

Amanda Steele

Why The Curse Of La Llorona Had The Worst Conjuring Box Office Opening

The Curse of La Llorona posted the worst opening weekend in the Conjuring film series, but why did that happen? The franchise began back in 2013 with James Wan’s The Conjuring, which proved to be a critical and financial success. Not only did the horror hit spawn a direct sequel, Warner Bros. also forged ahead with a number of spinoffs, blowing The Conjuring open into a shared cinematic universe. While not every installment has been widely acclaimed, each movie proved to be a box office success.

Since its production budget was just $9 million, La Llorona certainly goes down as another fruitful installment, as it’s tallied $55.3 million worldwide so far. However, celebrations should be tempered a bit, because the film won the worst Easter weekend in a decade with $26.3 million domestically in its first three days. That figure is also the lowest debut for a Conjuring movie to date. It’s true La Llorona is by no means a failure, but it’s still worth wondering why it made considerably less than the other entries.

Related: The Most Brutal Reviews of The Curse of La Llorona

Part of the blame should be placed on the marketing department, as La Llorona’s connection to the Conjuring universe was downplayed in advertising. A teaser trailer was released in October 2018, with a full theatrical preview following in February 2019. Both made note of Wan’s involvement as a producer, but didn’t mention La Llorona was part of a larger franchise. It wasn’t until the movie premiered at the SXSW Festival in March that the truth finally came out, which in retrospect seems like a wasted opportunity. The Conjuring is one of the most recognizable names in the genre this decade, so it’s definitely possible La Llorona would have benefitted if its ties to the shared universe were more upfront. This is a new golden age for original horror (see: Us), but franchises are still the bread and butter of the film industry. Spinoffs typically need some sort of branding to reach their full commercial potential.

The relation to The Conjuring is doubly important here because La Llorona, based on Mexican folklore, is not as widely-known in other areas of the world. In the case of other Conjuring spinoffs, like Annabelle and The Nun, there was a fair amount of setup done in other films to familiarize general audiences with the concepts and get them invested beforehand. An argument can also be made that perhaps La Llorona might have fared better if the studio used its English translation (The Weeping Woman) as the official title – at least for certain regions. It’s not uncommon for films to have different names in different countries in an attempt to raise their level of appeal.

Curse of La Llorona will probably go down as one of the lowest-grossing Conjuring movies overall, but this is by no means a disaster or an immediate franchise killer. All shared universes, even Marvel’s, have sub-series that aren’t as popular as others, so La Llorona’s performance isn’t anything abnormal. And, if all breaks the right way, this’ll be a fluke for The Conjuring overall. In the summer, Annabelle Comes Home opens, and there’s a third installment in the mainline series that’s about to commence production. So whichever way one looks at it, The Conjuring is still in excellent shape.

More: How The Curse of La Llorona Connects to the Conjuring Universe


2019-04-23 01:04:30

Chris Agar