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Princess Mononoke was another victim of my "mix it up" ethos. Amazing work of art, though, and it introduced me to my all-time favorite filmmaker.
 

4-So

Spicy
I remember almost nothing about Princess Mononoke other than Neil Gaiman providing the English translation, which was the only reason I watched it in the first place. I should watch it again.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
With my third eye open, I have maneuvered my mind to a place of single-mindedness, emerging from the world beyond with it's.... beyond wisdom. Like beyond meat but for insight. Not real insight but it tastes as good. I feel my body making a knife which produces, with the trees, a lathe, which produces a small one person sailing vessel. I brave the seas and it's horrors and make my way to the shores of Miami, known for it's Blues, Vice and Connection.

Soon I find myself on the doorstep of Cynthia Matheque. I knock on the door... only for it to swing open. The door is unlocked. In fact, it's smashed shut and the place has been ransacked. Out of my fugue state of competency, I find myself flummoxed... even more so when the cops arrive and get the wrong idea. Man, ACAB, right? All Cops Are Beingunawareofmyquesttofindahiddenmovietheatre.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I like Prince of Thieves overall. Costner made the right choice in not affecting an English accent. Rickman is great. Movie's got crap sword fights. Terribly edited and almost incomprehensible.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
I've never actually seen Prince of Thieves but I remember what a HUGE impact it had on the pop culture scene at the time. Oddly, I've seen Men in Tights a whole bunch.

And Mononoke really does go surprisingly hard next to... most Ghibli stuff.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
It's 1988 day!

23. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
His head is never a balloon in the movie but considering the movie, this could have happened.

Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
93 Points, 4 Lists, #5 Bulgakov
Directed by:
Terry Gilliam
Starring:
John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley​

In a small city under siege from the Ottoman Empire, a production of Baron Munchausen is being performed that ends up being interrupted by a very irate… Baron Munchausen. Many people think the doddering old man who pushed his way onto the stage is mad but he claims the war and travails of this town are on his shoulders. He begins telling his story about him and his impossible servants when the attack hits the theatre. From there, Munchausen and a small girl must overcome the King of the Moon, a terrifying sea monster and death itself to end the war. But where does Munchausen’s stories end and the reality begin.


It’s always a bummer when a talented creator turns out to suck, as Terry Gilliam has as of late, because in other corners, sometimes crappy people can have genuine insight. This is a delightful movie about lies, tall tales, fiction and the value of it. And the value of not adhering to specific story telling laws in reality. Yes, overall, it’s actually a not-experimental-at-all arc for our characters as the feeble old man proves his worth with the help of a plucky young girl but it’s also a film that intentionally blurs the lines between the layers of reality it creates to play with the audience and the idea of storytelling. It also differentiates between the fun playful lies of Munchausen and the awful hidden truths and arbitrary rules of the evil government in the story. It’s also a visual marvel. I think we’ve seen someone chase after a bullet at super-speed since but I don’t think it’s ever been visualized better.

A True story
-Bulgakov

Hero’s Journey: The Baron reacquires his mojo and breaks reality and Sally sees the value of his lies.
Trivia
Forms an informal trilogy with director Terry Gilliam's previous films, Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985). The three movies represent the three stages of Man (youth, middle age, and elderly) and the impact of imagination on each. Jack Purvis and Winston Dennis appear in all three films. Of the three, this is the only one is which Dennis has speaking lines and his face is seen.
Ready, Set, Piece

 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
22. Willow
Val Kilmer being top billed is the film's biggest mistake.

Magic is the bloodstream of the universe. Forget all you know, or think you know. All that you require is your intuition.
94 Points, 4 Lists, #5 Issun
Directed by:
Ron Howard
Starring:

Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis​

Willow, a Nelwyn father, husband, father and hopeful wizard, finds a human child by chance. Willow decides to find a home for the child, he soon learns the situation is more complicated than it first appears; the child is to have a great destiny and an evil witch queen, Bavmorda, is hoping to destroy it before it destroys her. Willow finds himself having to depend upon the swordsman Madmartigan, who proves to be extremely unreliable, as they avoid and battle Bacmorda’s forces and Willow begins to learn about magic.


Warwick Davis has been a leading man since in the amazingly dumb Leprechaun franchise but this is a much better showcase for him as an actor, and even though he’s a fantasy character yet again, it’s probably the most grounded role I remember him in, believably playing a father even though he was only 18 at the time. The film itself has some decent effects and set pieces, too. I’ve yet to see the new show. Is it good?

Hero’s Journey: Willow finds that he needs to believe in himself. Madmartigan kills a bad guy and I think learns to believe in a cause I guess.
Trivia
According to Warwick Davis, the film had the largest ever casting call for little people at the time. Between 225 and 240 actors were hired for the film.
Ready, Set, Piece

 
It is very difficult for me to separate this film from my nostalgia for it. Yes it's campy AF, yes some of the practical effects have not aged super well. It's got a lot of heart, though, with some really clever dialogue, too. Davis and Kilmer play off each other wonderfully, and Jean Marsh chews scenery like bubble gum. The movie encompasses all the highs and lows of 80s fantasy films and it's a really good time.

I've only seen the first two episodes of the show so far, but Ilike what I've seen.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Had both of these on my list. Wasn't expecting Munchausen to make it this high up but then it does have adventure right there in the title. (I wasn't up on Gilliam making such an ass of himself of late, ugh, what a shame.)

Willow is just a rollicking good time. I swear we've heard the action scene musical theme from it in like three other trailers on this list already - I know trailers often throw in whatever music, but that piece really gets around. As for the TV show.... ehh, it's a bit up and down but in fairness I've only seen half of it. It starts out with some performances that are a little weak but get better, but then takes a turn towards being all grim and dark rather than the fantasy romp the movie is and my wife bounced off it.
 
It starts out with some performances that are a little weak but get better, but then takes a turn towards being all grim and dark rather than the fantasy romp the movie is and my wife bounced off it.
Well poop. The second episode was really promising, so it's a bummer that it sounds like it ends up just doing what every other TV fantasy series has been doing for the last decade.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
21. The Return of the Jedi
Is it just me or it looks like Wicket's heart isn't in it?

Never. I'll never turn to the Dark Side. You've failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
96 Points, 4 Lists, #3 4-So
Directed by:
Richard Marquand
Starring:
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher​

As the Empire plans it’s next move, in the palace of notorious gangster Jabba the Hutt, the friends of Han Solo begin making their move to rescue their friend. Luke has nearly completed his training, the results of which he can begin to show off. But in coming closer to being a Jedi, he also risks coming closer to falling to the dark side, a fact not lost on the Emperor of the Empire, a master of the dark side of the force and Darth Vader’s mentor. His plan will bring father into conflict with son and whoever wins this battle may also lose.


The Return of the Jedi is often a bit slagged on for its marketable teddy warriors but having grown up with the Ewoks (and having watched Caravan of Courage a LOT as a kid), but overall, Jedi is a pretty good adventure film. First of all, I think the final battle between Luke and Vader does a good job in selling the idea that “winning” the wrong way, a way that betrays the right thing is a loss. And in terms of set pieces, the entire Jabba third of the movie is nearly perfect, with two great fights with monsters and some maneuvering and planning from heroes and villains. I do like the latter half but in terms of pure fun, I don’t think it gets better and I think that fact and the Ewoks might be part of the reasons it is generally considered the least of the original trilogy. Frankly, it’s the one I have a lot of affection for. And it’s also the one I wanted to see most as a kid because more monster in act one and then teddy warriors.

Hero’s Journey: Luke resists the dark side even in an extreme situation, nearly losing in his “victory” but pulling back… and achieving the goal of finding his father’s humanity.
Trivia
It took six people to work the full-sized animatronic of Jabba the Hutt. The puppet fit three men inside -- two to operate the arms, head and tongue and another to move the tail. A man lying below the puppet pulled strings to move Jabba's mouth and make his sides heave. And two radio operators controlled the slimy goon's eyes, including pupil dilation, direction and wideness of eyelids. A final crew member was responsible for rubbing gel on the puppet to give Jabba his slimy look
Ready, Set, Piece

 
Yeah, RotJ has one of the best openings in film history and it's no wonder Terry Brooks ripped it off wholesale for Scions of Shannara.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
I love that there's just orcs in Return of the Jedi. Complete with axes and like studded leather armor. Just swinging by Jabba's place for a nice drink after a long day of presumably guarding treasure chests or something.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
20. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
False advertising: A giant George Carlin does not actually burst out of the moon.

"The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” That’s us, dude.
110 Points, 6 Lists, #8 Rascally Badger
Directed by:
Stephen Herek
Starring:
Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Robert V. Barron​

Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan have big dreams; mainly to start a band, despite not being able to play music. But in their way is the fact that they are not particularly good at school. In fact, they are so terrible, they are on the verge of failing and if they do, then Ted is getting sent to military school and breaking up the band. And considering that 700 years of the future, an entire society have based their values on the teachings of said band, the stakes are far hire than they could ever comprehend. To prevent them from failing history, time traveler Rufus allows them full use of his time machine in order to meet historical figures and learn from them directly. Can Bill and Ted figure out how to utilize their fantastic gift to save reality? Well, considering they think George Washington hunted Moby Dick…


It would be easy for this movie to go wrong and be a very forgettable comedy. It’s basically “let’s give two Spicolis a time machine”. And the kinds of characters Bill and Ted are feel more like sidekicks from a movie rather than co-leads. But it works because in part because Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are REALLY charming, taking what could have been one-note joke characters heavy on catchphrases and make us want to spend time with them. In fact, I think they come across much more likeable than a lot of the teen leads in films at the time. They are dumb but it doesn’t seem like they don’t want to learn, they just aren’t very good at it. But I think they also allow them to be “smart” in their own way that doesn’t make it a betrayal of their ridiculous lunkheadedness. I love the childlike rules of time travel in the last act, which mixes sci-fi cleverness and dumb comedy. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised one of the two writers, who used to play these characters for stand-up shows, is the son of sci-fi legend Richard Matheson (who was the one who recommended taking a script of sketches and just doing the one about the dummies travelling through time).

I still think of Abraham Lincoln this way. - Bulgakov

Hero’s Journey: Bill and Ted learn about history by meeting and talking with figures. Anyone can learn, with the right motivations and opportunities.
Trivia
Alex Winter claimed that he gets two types of letters from teachers; positive ones from history teachers for encouraging students to learn about history, and negative ones from English teachers for affecting the way students speak.
Ready, Set, Piece

 
I thought about including this one, but I do prefer the second film, so I'm saving that one in my back pocket in case we ever do Top 50 Journey Movies.

Johnny knows I've already undermined my own treatise here, but let's pretend for a while, okay?
 

Purple

(She/Her)
Bogus Journey is definitely the better movie, but I think I ranked it slightly below this one because I mean, we ARE trying to put together a list of excellent adventure movies.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
19. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Hehehe... Ni

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
111 Points, 5 Lists, #7 Adrenaline
Directed by:
Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Starring:
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam​

Arthur, King of the Britons, shortly after assembling his knights of the round table is tasked by God himself to find the Holy Grail. But to find the cup of Christ, the knights must split up their resources and each face their own challenges. Temptation of the flesh, evil monsters, cruel knights, mind boggling riddles and impenetrable castles all stand in the way of their holy quest but are the llamas brave and wise enough to find the llama and llama the llama, thus becoming the one true llama?

Sorry, the writer of that synopsis has just been sacked.


Monty Python made four major films but the two biggest are the Holy Grail and Life of Brian. It’s easy to see the latter one, being a biting satire of religious fervor, as the one with more of a more direct point-of-view but rewatching this, I realized what this movie, which is essentially a series of sketches, is really about; the complete deflation of myth. Starting with the scene where a peasant completely deconstructs Arthur’s whole deal, the idea of the movie is that as much as we love myth, it’s meant to be taken with a particular mentality and not literally or at face value or it all completely looks ridiculous, even without jokes. Legends exist in a very particular headspace and one of my favourite forms of comedy is meeting the fantastic with the mundanity and weird specifics of real life. This film might be overquoted by nerds in the 80s/90s to its detriment but there’s no getting around it is a very smart, funny film where there’s no hope of a legend like Arthur to hold respect like he holds power.

Hero’s Journey: Arthur journey’s to achieve the task set before him and is arrested by the police.
Trivia
Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Genesis all contributed to this movie's budget.
Ready, Set, Piece

 
This one is on my list. I pretty much feel the same re: it being almost ruined by nerds 30 years ago but damned if it isn't still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
 

Lokii

(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I feel like the outlier as I think Adventure is a lot stronger than Journey and I'm world's biggest fool for forgetting it when making my list. If I had it def would have placed in the top ten, probably top five. Maybe even... #1?

...

images
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Excellent choices all around, thoiugh i'd be hard pressed to think of #19 as simple adventure. The mere prescence of Sir Not-appearing-in-this-film
sirnotap.jpg

elevates the entire production.

As for #21; I mainly collect Droid and Ewok figures from the SW toy lines.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
18. Spirited Away
Allowing myself to be crushed by coal is also how I get out of my own chores.  Which is weird because I live alone.


Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can't remember.
113 Points, 4 Lists, #2 Issun
Directed by:
Hayao Miyazaki
Starring:
Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki​

Chihiro is a young girl travelling with her family to her new home but they end up getting lost along the way. Her family investigates a weird little abandoned market in the middle of nowhere and begin eating some food… only to be turned into pig. The market begins to come alive with spirits and Chihiro soon finds her self working in a bathhouse in order to avoid being attacked by it’s owner, the witch Yubaba. Chihiro has lost her parents, her freedom and even her name but with the help of some of the residents and being able to grow as a person, Chihiro must turn things around to escape.


Another Miyazaki on the list, this one might be the first of his own works to feel specifically like a fairy tale. There are lots of similar elements in his other films to be sure but I mean in the classic structure of vulnerable characters being put in a scary place and having to grow and navigate their world and use their wits and empathy to outwit the monsters. And it really is a film about growth and maturity. Chihiro begins this film as someone who hasn’t had to look out for themselves and even with some guidance, must grow for herself. I know that’s classic storytelling to begin with by Miyazaki manages to make it feel effortless and organic when I’ve seen so many films really stop to point it’s finger and say “THIS IS THE TURNING POINT.” And I’m not even slagging on those movies but this imaginative, gorgeous movie really does feel like it moves in a way that doesn’t really point to its own structure, instead allowing you to get lost in a world that’s exciting, fun and a bit scary and unsafe.

A Children's movie that puts most other children's movies to shame because it believes children can think on their own. - Bulgakov

Hero’s Journey: Chihiro grows into self-reliance and can help others with her wits and empathy.
Trivia
Despite having a rich plot with developed characters, Spirited Away (2001) was not made with a script. In fact, Miyazaki's films never had scripts. "I don't have the story finished and ready when we start work on a film," the filmmaker told Midnight Eye. "I usually don't have the time. So the story develops when I start drawing storyboards. The production starts very soon thereafter, while the storyboards are still developing." Miyazaki does not know where the plot is going, and he lets it happen organically. "It's not me who makes the film. The film makes itself and I have no choice but to follow".

Ready, Set, Piece

 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I spent an entire month of Junior High School lunches gathering outside with friends while we took turns reading/performing the Monty Python script (like, an actual full physical copy of the script. This one, I think). At the time, I hadn't even seen the film. It was, in retrospect, very weird.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Cynthia Matheque's house is surrounded by the police. She's missing and the place is trashed. I don't know if I was set up or it was an unhappy accident, but I gotta get out of here. The cops burst in and surround me... but out of nowhere, a motorcycle crashes through the skylight and implausibly makes a perfect landing next to me. The shattered glass stings but I can barely register when the biker unleashes a flurry of kung fu kicks, disarming all the cops and leaving them completely disarmed in two senses of the word. But not three because their arms weren't physically removed. The biker takes off her helmet.

arts_feature1.jpg

I decided this character will be played by Cameron Esposito, a comedian who implausibly has never been cast in an action movie. Even in Brooklyn Nine-Nine she was just a girlfriend. What gives Hollywood. Make Cameron into the new Knight Rider! I would pay so much for that.

She stares into me, looking through me. She puts her hand on my throat. "Who are you?" She loosens it enough for me to answer. "Look, I just wanted to talk to Cynthia... about the theatre. Are you--" "No. But I want to find her, too." "How did you're bike end up falling through the skylight." "From a helicopter." Made sense. It turns out she was Abby Singer, Cynthia's significant other. She's actually been missing for a while, meaning there's a chance whoever ruined her house is either not the cause of her missing or was missing something that was at the house.

"No one has done more research on that theatre than her." Abby says. I tell her my story and aside from finding it improbable, poorly paced and badly structured, she believed me. "She's been spreading clues all over for people to find. For some reason. Probably poor writing. All the same, I know she had some notes here." "Well, I'm worried someone else got to it first." I respond. But then Abby gestures to me to follow her... where she unveils a secret panel leading to a secret room. Inside is a mountain of film cannisters.

"The Day the Clown Cried"
"Magnificent Ambersons, original cut"
"Batgirl"

It's a trove of lost film (what, they put the new Batgirl in cannisters?)

"She was an archeologist of film but then she became a thief and a hoarder, afraid to share her findings and loose her treasure. Seems her selfish ways caught up with her. But I don't care, we are going to find her."
We find a map... a map leading to the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
"Either she's going there or whoever took her will be there. And I want to get there first, whether it be to save her or avenge her."
She was clearly a much more compelling and dynamic protagonist than I so I just said "Yup." I really added little to her comment. But at least we have a destination. Now how to get there.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
17. The Mummy
It's funny to imagine those within eyeline of a pizza hut, like the ones in Cairo.

Oh, my God. It's a... it's a sarcophagus. Buried at the base of Anubis. He must have been someone of great importance. Or he did something *very* naughty.
114 Points, 5 Lists, #5 Purple
Directed by:
Stephen Sommers
Starring:
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah​

Millenia ago, the priest Imhotep and the pharaoh’s mistress Anck-su-namun had a secret affair and decided to assassinate him to avoid his retribution when he discovers the truth. Anck-su-namun kills herself but not out of fear but because Imhotep has a plan to resurrect her. But after Imhotep is captured, he is cursed for his crime, mummified alive to suffer forever… until he is freed, at least. And in the 1926 he is after Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan decides to seek out the tomb with the help of adventurer Rick O’Donnell who stumbled onto it years prior. To find the tomb, Rick and Evelyn must escape a mysterious group of vigilantes, unaware that the closer they come to discovering Imhotep’s tomb, the closer they come to unleashing a terrifying evil.


I remember having a great time with this at the theatre, expecting a monster movie (and there are monsters) but it’s really an Indiana Jones knock-off. And after the 80s were inundated with those, this one came AFTER the fad and it came with Brendan Fraser in tow. I think only know do most directors know how to use Fraser and while they did try to take advantage of his broad comedic potential, they kept sticking him in animated reimaginings that mostly… just didn’t work. But this is the film the film that show’s Fraser probably works best in campy or goofy adventure movies. The CGI… looks pretty poor now but the set pieces are pretty fun still. But for me, this film is about the Frase.

Hero’s Journey: Rick beats up a mummy.
Trivia
Brendan Fraser nearly died during a scene where his character is hanged. Rachel Weisz remembered, "He [Fraser] stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated."

Yikes.

Ready, Set, Piece

 
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