Category Archives: Top 5


Top 5 – Pigs in Cinema

Honestly, can’t think of a reason why we’re publishing this today of all days

Spider-Pig (The Simpsons Movie)

It remains a mystery to me why “the spider-pig” hasn’t become a bigger part of the movie critic’s vocabulary. It could conceivably be used as a generic coverall term for the one good bit of an otherwise terrible film (e.g. “the opening scene of Terminator: Genisys shows great promise, but turns out to be a complete spider-pig”, “Paul Bettany’s performance in Mortdecai is a spider-pig stranded amidst a sea of nude skateboarding montages”). Long after the rest of The Simpsons Movie has been filed away in the same rarely-accessed mental folder as the last 15 series of the television show, Spider Pig, and the accompanying song, still worms it’s way into my subconscious on a regular basis. Relive it in all of it’s glory above

Babe (Babe, Babe: Pig in the City)

Babe, adapted from Dick King-Smith’s adorable children’s novel, caused bacon share prices worldwide to plummet upon it’s release in 1995. It would have been a good time to invest, what with the internet causing it’s popularity to surge back with a vengeance shortly afterwards, but you live and you learn. Twenty years on it’s still enchanting family audiences, the at the time groundbreaking animal lip-syncing holds up surprisingly well, and people are still mentally appending the word “pig” whenever they use the phrase “that’ll do”, even if they no longer remember why

Porco Rosso (Porco Rosso)

Studio Ghibli have a bit of a thing about pig-based curses. 2001’s Spirited Away, in which a young girl’s parents were turned into pigs, was something of a Western breakthrough for the company and remains the best-known example. But the seeds were sown nine years earlier in Porco Rosso, Hayao Mayazaki’s tale of a World War 1 veteran fighter pilot who just so happens to have been cursed to look like a pig. Cue light-hearted family action and dozens of “pigs might fly!!” jokes

Piglet (Winnie the Pooh)

In a previous Top 5, I discussed at length the steps that Disney need to take in order to stop their proposed live action reboot from being a disaster. One of them could very easily have been to keep the tiny, terrified, stripy-pyjamaed porcine in a supporting role where he belongs. Piglet’s Big Movie is perhaps the biggest stain on Winnie the Pooh’s frequently-blemished cinematic legacy, but when he’s playing the harmlessly stupid foil to the rest of the harmlessly stupid ensemble, you can see why he deserves a place on this list of great cinematic swine

Miss Piggy (The Muppets

The second-most newsworthy pig of recent weeks, Miss Piggy’s recently-acquired status as Kermit the Frog’s former squeeze does nothing to diminish her incredible contribution to cinematic history. Did you know that was her playing Yoda in the Star Wars films, under a heavy layer of makeup? One of cinemas most remarkable chameleons, as well as pigs

Who are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!


Top 5 – number fives

After Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation unexpectedly bucked the trend established by Terminator Genisys and A Good Day to Die Hard of fourth sequels being underwhelming – and, perhaps not unrelatedly, bucked the trend of fourth sequels starring Jai Courtney – we’re looking back at the other number fives which have actually been worth watching over the years

X-Men: First Class

Sandwiched between an underwhelming Wolverine spin-off and a downright terrible Wolverine spinoff, the fifth entry in the X-Men canon was easily the best since X2 and worthy of consideration as a choice for the best in the series overall. A strong plot, a great cast capable of continuing the series well into Sir Ian McKellen’s dotage, and capable direction from Kingsman‘s Matthew Vaughn are among the resons why the series is still going strong after the missteps that were The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine

Fast Five

The fifth entry in Vin Diesel’s popular series of feature length hip-hop videos marked the point where it went from being a series of street races rigorously obeying the law of diminishing returns, and started to become the ridiculous, overblown and immensely fun box office phenomenon that it is today. It also marked the first appearance of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, establishing what appears to be a direct correlation between the number of muscular bald men on screen and box office success. Fast and Furious 8 starts filming next year, adding Randy Couture, Michael Chiklis, Grant Mitchell and a steroidally enhanced Telly Savalas to the cast in order to rake in box office takings of all the money in the world

You Only Live Twice

You can argue over the relative cinematic merits of Sean Connery’s fifth outing as Ian Fleming’s debonair killing machine until the cows come home, but just look at what it contributed to the popular culture lexicon. Evil bases inside hollowed-out volcanoes. Pools of pirhana. Blofeld. Borderline incomprehensible schemes involving rockets. Indirectly, Robbie Williams’ “Millennium”. Roughly 80% of the jokes in the Austin Powers movies. 100% of the good jokes in the Austin Powers movies. It’s not the best Bond, but it’s right up there with Goldfinger as the most iconic

The Dead Pool

Clint Eastwood’s fifth outing as “Dirty” Harry Callahan is perhaps more interesting as a time capsule of 80s filmmaking than it is as an actual film, featuring, as it does, a pre-fame Jim Carrey, cameos from the five original members of Guns ‘n’ Roses while they were still talking to eachother, and one of the silliest San Francisco car chases you’re likely to see any time soon. Exploding remote control cars!

The Empire Strikes Back

Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of cheating we need to resort to in order to fill out the list. We all know that this was the second of George Lucas’s epic space operas, but there’s a great big roman numeral five in the title so that’s good enough for me. Already widely regarded as one of the finest sequels ever made, the drama exploring the dark secret at the heart of the Skywalker family looks even better when you think of it as the fifth entry in a franchise which was largely pretty crap for it’s first three films

What are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – Pixar short films

Inside Out is one of the best films of the year so far, and definitely Pixar’s best since Toy Story 3. I wanted to do a Top 5 Pixar films, in order and everything, but it turned out to be too controversial and difficult – instead, here’s our pick of the five-minute vignettes that have preceded each of the acclaimed studio’s cinematic outings

Lava (precedes Inside Out, 2015)


Just to make sure that everyone is ready for the gruelling emotional journey that Inside Out puts you through, Pixar were good enough to accompany it with a five-minute microcosm of despair, hope and infectiously catchy ukulele music. It’s a millennia-spanning volcano love story – what’s not to love?

Presto (precedes Wall-E, 2008)

temp536This charming tale of a magician’s rabbit manages to pack more imagination and wit into five minutes than some leporine animated films cram into their entire running time – isn’t that right, Hop? A perfect balance of physical comedy, magic and carrot worship

The Blue Umbrella (precedes Monsters University, 2013)


The only Pixar short I’ve felt compelled to watch through more times than the film it accompanied, this charming tale of the love between a pair of umbrellas manages to compress the entire emotional sine wave of the archetypal romantic drama down into seven minutes, without a single line of dialogue or recognisable human character. A remarkable piece of work which put the generic origin story after it to shame

Boundin’ (precedes The Incredibles, 2003)

boundinUntil recently, this tale of an adorable dancing sheep and the jackalope who restores his confidence after an unfortunate shearing had the most memorable song of any Pixar short. Despite losing that title to Lava, it’s still a toe-tapping favourite with a lovely message

Partly Cloudy (precedes Up, 2009)

Partly%20CloudyThe Dumbo influences are strong with this lovely tale of an embattled stork tasked with delivering a sad cloud’s bitey baby creations. And hey, if you’re going to be strongly influenced by something, there are many worse choices

Those are our favourites… what have we missed? And just for fun, where does Inside Out rank in your personal Pixar Top 5?


Top 5 – films to keep you cool on the hottest day of the year

It’s officially the hottest day of the year so far in the UK, with beaches packed, train lines disrupted for some reason, and even reports of old ladies thinking about taking their cardigans off. Experts recommend drinking lots of liquid, panic buying desk fans and lying awake all night on top of your duvet in a horrible, sweaty mess

We are not experts – we are a movie blog. We’ll be keeping cold by watching films with as much snow and ice in them as possible, hoping that the frostbitten imagery on screen will have some kind of psychological cooling effect. Films like…

March of the Penguins

Snow, ice, howling winds, thousands of black and white birds huddled together against the cold – cinematic imagery doesn’t get much more bleak and chilly than this. The effect is slightly undermined by the voice of Morgan Freeman warming your very soul like a freshly-prepared mug of cocoa, but even so you’ll be reaching for a scarf by the halfway mark


We’re deliberately keeping the list clear of overtly Christmassy films, because what kind of weirdo would watch those at this time of year? Who even keeps their Christmas DVDs outside of the darkest corner of their loft for months January through November? With that in mind, our second pick is the world’s snowiest film that isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life, Coen Brothers masterpiece Fargo. Pressing your face up against the TV screen while it displays the beautiful Minnesotan permafrost can lower your core body temperature by up to three degrees Celsius*

*source: scientific papers which exist only in my heatwave-induced hallucinations

Touching the Void

This critically-acclaimed mountaineering documentary is packed with icy crevasses, brilliant white glaciers, frosty blue skies and a guy crawling around shouting “SIMOONNNN!” for what feels like hours on end. The last one of those isn’t really relevant to the theme, but forewarned is forearmed and all that

The Thing

Cold War paranoia with the emphasis on the cold, Antarctic-based shapeshifting alien horror The Thing (1982 Kurt Russell version only, please) is guaranteed to bring a shiver to your spine one way or the other. Brr


Animation has been a good source of snow and ice for a good while now – maybe all that white saves on their colouring in budget or something – so there had to be a representative on the list somewhere. Happy Feet has far too much sunshine, all that mammoth fur in Ice Age looks awfully snug, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is full of creatures that breathe toasty, warming flame, so they’re all out. 101 Dalmations has a few too many roaring log fires. Beauty and the Beast is a couple of snowball fights in the middle of an altogether warmer whole

Frozen opens with a bunch of ice harvesters in the ice, singing about ice. Jackpot

To top it off, we recommend that you watch all of them while drinking a cool, refreshing Coors Light. Isn’t that right, JCVD?

What are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – Films with James Horner scores

As a tribute to the prolific composer, who tragically passed away earlier today, we pick our five favourite films which featured his distinctive work on the soundtrack

Note were picking our favourite films rather than the most memorable soundtracks. My Heart Will Bloody Go On has been stuck in my head for most of the day, but there’s no way Titanic will be making any Top 5 of mine


I remember Edward Zwick’s thoughtful, moving Civil War drama being one of the few bits of school history lessons that I actually enjoyed. Believe me, that’s high praise indeed

Patriot Games

Horner composed the score for both this and fellow Jack Ryan story Clear and Present Danger. There’s little to separate the two Clancy adaptations in terms of quality, but Patriot Games gets the nod for this list as Horner’s work did a mighty fine job of distracting the audience from Sean Bean’s dreadful Irish accent

Apollo 13

Hands up if you’ve never, at any point in your life, slipped the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” into casual conversation? Yeah, I thought not

The Mask of Zorro

The 1990s was something of a second golden age for swashbuckling adventure, and Zorro firmly kicked anything with a Bryan Adams-based soundtrack to the kerb. Horner’s score married perfectly with the fabulous horse stunts and mismatched Antonio Banderas va. Catherine Zeta Jones’s blouse sword fights to produce a hugely entertaining whole


Jake Gyllenhaal’s upcoming pugilistic paean is one of the final films that Horner worked upon before he died. It already had some great festival buzz and Gyllenhaal’s frankly ridiculous physical transformation going for it in the promotional stakes, and I wouldn’t bet against a posthumous Oscar nomination being added to that

Who are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – Movies starring your favourite dead Game of Thrones characters


If you’ve watched HBO’s superlative adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic for any length of time, you’ll know that familiar sinking feeling that you feel in the pit of your stomach when a favourite character dies. Fortunately, more often than not, the actors involved are still very much alive and go on to have flourishing movie careers. Here, we compile five of the most memorable dead characters from the last five seasons, and recommend a movie for each where the actor in question lives on

Note – everyone already knows who Sean Bean and Charles Dance are, and what movies they’ve been in – we’re deliberately aiming for the somewhat less familiar

Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) – Bloodsucking Bastards

Where else to start but with Oberyn Martell, one of the finest characters and most violent deaths to yet grace the series. If you’re still mourning the explodey-headed departure of the Red Viper of Dorne, perhaps watching his similarly swashbuckling performance in what must have been pitched as “it’s Office Space, but with vampires!” will help to ease the pain

Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) – The Full Monty

Before Mark Addy became the wine-soaked, bastard-siring monarch whose heirless demise led to the whole mess that the Seven Kingdoms finds itself in, he was unemployed steelworker-turned-stripper Dave in the smash hit comedy The Full Monty. It’s a role that most British viewers will be familiar with, but as a treat for our American followers, here’s a clip of the last proper King of Westeros practicing some pretty swish dance moves in the unemployment line

Robb Stark (Richard Madden) – Cinderella

Disney’s re-adaptation of its own animated fairytale was something of a pointless exercise for the most part, but it did serve one purpose at least – we got to see Robb Stark have a wedding where things went well for him. We also got a look at what kind of kingly attire he might have sported had his quest for the Iron Throne not been cut short – given the state of those trousers, perhaps Walder Frey did us a favour after all

Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) – Goal!

Before embarking on his four-season campaign of army-leading, grammar-correcting and relative-burning, Stannis the Mannis spent two-thirds of a deservedly overlooked sporting trilogy dragging a promising young footballer from the obscurity of the Argentinian streets to the mediocrity of Newcastle United. It is thought that Ser Davos Seaworth’s Geordie accent originated as a subtle way for Liam Cunningham to remind him of the role, kickstarting what was basically a 21-episode pisstake

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Okay, so it’s an animation, and Harington doesn’t use his familiar Snow accent to voice it. In all honesty, you’d never know it was him. But he had to be on the list somewhere, and have you seen the rest of his movie credits?

Oh, and spare me the “OR IS HE???” nonsense – of course he’s really dead. Kit Harington has had a haircut!

Who are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – Box Office Embarrassments

After United Passions took a pitiful $607 over the course of its opening weekend – including playing to a theatre with one guy in it at one point – we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s Top 5 to looking at some of history’s other biggest box office embarrassments

Run For Your Wife

UK gross: £602
With a cast including Danny Dyer, Lionel Blair and the blonde one from Girls Aloud, this 2012 “comedy” didn’t exactly have the ingredients needed to succeed. And succeed it most definitely did not, averaging a little over five tickets sold at each of the 18 (18!) screens showing it. A DVD copy will set you back £7 on Amazon – as a proportion of the total box office take, that’s equivalent to paying $10 million for a copy of Titanic

It’s not Danny Dyer’s worst-performing film by a long way – the £95-grossing Deviation holds that distinction – but Run For Your Wife‘s gross becomes all the more notable when you browse the extended cast list. For example, Judi Dench appears in a cameo role. Judi Dench!

Trojan War

US gross: $309
Jennifer Love Hewitt is generally considered to be the biggest movie star never to have actually starred in a hit movie, with every single one of her big-screen outings performing considerably less well than the cleavage-mesmerised executives responsible for signing them off would have anticipated. The veritable Marianas Trench of her depth-plumbing career is Trojan War, a 1997 romantic comedy about one guy’s epic quest to buy a condom so that he may safely bone Jennifer Love Hewitt. It cost $15 million to make, which is odd as I know several guys who would happily do that for free

Dark Tide

UK gross: £97
For some reason, the marketing for Dark Tide decided to focus on the “look! Halle Berry in a bikini!” angle. Swordfish had Halle Berry in half a bikini and nobody went to see that, so I’m not entirely sure what they were expecting. Maybe an approach of “it’s got sharks in, and it’s ****ing terrible!” would have been more successful. Sharknado is on it’s second sequel, after all


UK gross: £88
A few fun Uma Thurman facts for you. My phone wants to call her Unable Theremin. She was married to Ethan Hawke. My phone wants to call Ethan Hawke Ethanol Hawker. In 2009, she starred in Motherhood, a film which hold the dubious distinction of being the lowest-grossing film in UK cinema history. Throughout it’s one week run at a single cinema, eleven people went to see it. Even more unimpressive when you realise that Quentin Tarantino was eight of them

Zyzzyx Rd

US gross: $30
Released in 2006 – although “released” is used in the loosest possible sense, mainly to comply with American Screen Actor’s Guild regulations – Zyzzyx Rd was seen by a grand total of five people during it’s one-week, one-cinema run. It is the lowest-grossing film in US box office history, and with average ticket prices rising all the time it’s a record that’s unlikely to be beaten. You’d think that the cast and crew of most films would be able to rustle up more family members than rising Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl managed

What have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – Fantasy Band

Inspired by the release of Whiplash on DVD and Blu-ray, for this week’s Top 5 we’re putting together a fantasy band of movie characters

Drums – Garth Elgar (Wayne’s World)

He likes to play

Bass – Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)

Okay, so our pick for bass player ends the clip above blasted through a wall by a superpowered vegan – we’ve all been there – but before that he gets to show off some impressive bass guitar skills. And hey, it’s not like he’s up agsainst a vast amount of competition in the film world

Guitar – Marty McFly (Back to the Future)

From the very first scene of the film, when an ill-advised experiment with a high-powered amplifier blasts him across the room, it’s clear that there could only ever be one possible choice for a fantasy movie band’s lead guitarist. The face-melting, 50s-scandalising performance of “Johnny B Goode” at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance seals the deal

Vocals – pretty much any character Jack Black has ever played (pretty much any film Jack Black has ever been in)

Jack Black is almost as famous for his regular gig with the band Tenacious D as he is for his cartoon panda-centric film roles, and always finds some way ensure that his film characters showcase some form of vocal ability whenever the opportunity presents itself. In the clip above he’s ostensibly playing Barry in the movie High Fidelity, but don’t let the multiple excellent band names fool you – he’s really playing Jack Black in A Film Where Jack Black Gets to Sing A Lot

Jazz Flute – Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)

No self-respecting five-piece band would be complete without a jazz flautist, and there’s only one sensible choice for that position. Okay, plenty of self respecting bands are complete without a jazz flautist, but not this one dammit

Think you could do better? You’re almost certainly correct, but how so specifically? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 – films set on Greek islands

We’re back from holiday, after a relaxing week in the Greek islands. With a view to extending the memories for just a bit longer, this week we’re counting down our Top 5 films set in and around that area

Before things kick off in the comments, I’d like to point out that films set in ancient or mythological Greece have been deliberately overlooked in favour of more contemporary depictions. And quality of scenery is generally more important than quality of film, hence Mamma Mia!‘s inclusion

Shirley Valentine

Adapted from a one-woman stage play, this 1989 film uses the beautiful whitewashed backdrop of Mykonos to great effect. And uses a contrasting backdrop of Liverpool to make the sun on the Greek island shine even brighter by comparison. The setting is basically what makes the transition from stage to screen worthwhile, even managing to compensate for Tom Conte’s embarrassingly one-dimensional performance as a Greek lothario

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

This film makes the list for three reasons – the beautiful background of Kefalonia, the equally beautiful foreground of Penelope Cruz, and its notable role in one of my all time favourite quiz question answers, wherein a Weakest Link contestant hilariously and technically correctly stated that the “title role” was performed by a mandolin, rather than the answer on the card of Nicolas Cage. Insert own “one is an expressionless, inanimate wooden object, the other is a musical instrument” joke here

The Inbetweeners Movie

Set in the resort of Malia on Crete, the spinoff from the popular Channel 4 series presents a somewhat different but no less accurate side of the Greek islands. The clear blue seas and beautiful beaches are still there, but you have to squint a bit and ignore all of the drunken British teenagers who are obscuring it. It even resurrects the lascivious multi-timing Greek holiday boyfriend trope that our first entry made popular 22 years earlier!

For Your Eyes Only

The beaches of Corfu don’t quite rank up there with a hollowed-out volcano or the Moon as Bond’s most memorable locations, but it’s a fine backdrop nonetheless. And where else would you find supervillains with such a marvellous and authentically Greek name as Aristotle Kristatos?

Mamma Mia!

The island of Skopelos provides the glorious background for a festival of sun, sea and Streep. Crank that mute button up to full, bury the memory of Pierce Brosnan breaking into ‘S.O.S.’ as deep down into your subconscious as possible, and enjoy the scenery as best you can

What are your favorites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!


Top 5 – reboots/remakes/sequels we’re not looking forward to

After somehow managing to find five sequels, remakes and reboots that we’re actually looking forward to for last week’s Top 5, we come to the easier side of the coin – which of the plethora of upcoming re-quels are we most dreading?

Terminator: Genisys

The alarm bells started ringing when somebody decided to give the new Terminator film a subtitle that is probably also the name of a hipsterish Silicon Valley tech startup specialising in holistic efficiency solutions. Actually scrub that, the alarm bells started ringing right around the time Terminator 3 was released. Very little in the post-1991 history of the Terminator franchise has made sense, from the constant technological upgrades which are yet to yield anything even remotely close to the T-1000’s level of sophistication, to the can’t-change-fate-oh-yes-you-can flip-flopping of the time travel principle, to the Sarah Connor Chronicles‘ fundamental rewriting of several rules that the films previously established. Genisys‘s solution to this appears to be rebooting the whole thing to whatever point in the timeline feels most convenient, then just sort of making it up from there. Hopefully they’ve remembered to include a good explanation for why a supposedly ageless humanoid machine has weathered like Keith Richards’ drinking buddy

Untitled Neill Blomkamp Alien project

The internet collectively seemed very excited by the prospect of the South African director helming a reboot of the beloved franchise, but I’m yet to see any obvious reason for why that is. There hasn’t been a good Alien movie in three decades. Bad Alien movies comfortably outnumber good ones, especially when the vs. Predator spinoffs are taken into account. The release of Chappie rather failed to solidify Blomkamp’s reputation as a solid director, instead pushing the hype needle very firmly back towards possible one-hit wonder. Put it this way – you wouldn’t be excited about a Matrix reboot directed by Richard Kelly, so why expect this to be any different?

Tim Burton’s Dumbo

Reasons why I’m not particularly optimistic about this forthcoming live action reboot could fill a Top 5 on their own, so I’ll try to keep this brief. I simply don’t see why live action Dumbo would ever occur to someone as being a potentially good idea, and I don’t see how it can possibly work. The original is a small, perfectly formed 60-minute masterpiece which expertly balances dark subject matter (bullying, social humiliation, parental imprisonment, utterly terrifying alcohol-induced hallucinations) with light presentation (the cutest darn cartoon baby elephant of all time). Making it live action and handing over the reins to Tim Burton means all of that darkness will be counterbalanced by weird-looking CGI, inevitable PETA protests and Johnny Depp. There is no way that this ends well

Anything involving the Transformers cinematic universe

A thought occurred to me during Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I briefly touched on during my review – it separates itself from and elevates itself above superficially similar CGI slugfests like the Transformers series by giving care and attention to what happens between the action bits. Characters bond and joke around in a human, believable manner which makes you care about what’s happening when the explosions start to fly. Compare and contrast that with Transformers: I Can’t Even Remember the Title of the Last One: between the action scenes, there are unsettling rape ‘jokes’, gratuitous product placement and more action scenes. The thought of a whole cinematic universe filled with that sh*te fills me with dread

She’s All That

Remember this 1999 high school comedy starring the erstwhile Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar? It’s okay if you don’t; I suspect you’re not alone. The reasons I include She’s All That on this list are twofold. Firstly, it’s an entirely generic Pygmalion-a-like which could quite easily be made under a different title without having even the slightest trouble with copyright, unless someone is desperately clinging on to the rights to use paint-flecked shoes as a key plot component. Secondly, has it really come to this? I totally get the commercial imperative behind Hollywood mining our collective childhood memories to try and come up with a proven formula that can succeed by nostalgia alone. But are they now mining our collective subconscious to find things that were pretty good for five minutes before being promptly forgotten? And if that’s the case, when can we have an Idle Hands reboot next, please?

Are there any reboots, sequels and remakes you’re particularly looking forward to/dreading? Let us know in the comments!