Lists

20 Movies to get hyped for down the back half of 2017

Believe it or not, we are already halfway through 2017! So far we’ve seen some truly great flicks and though the summer movie season has been off to a sluggish start, things will definitely pick up down the back half of the year. To help mentally prepare you for the coming greatness, we’ve assembled a brief look forward to our most anticipated movies of these last six months!

JULY

1.) Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Totes obvi, right? Not only will Spider-Man: Homecoming be one of the biggest films of the summer (if not, the biggest), but it’s also one of our most anticipated and for some good reasons. First off, it’s the third cinematic interpretation we’ve had of the character since Sam Raimi’s original back in 2002 and after the bump in the road that was The Amazing Spider-Man films, it’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond to yet another reboot. Then there’s the casting of Tom Holland. We got a taste of his take on the Web Head in Captain America: Civil War and, needless to say, we want more. Plus who doesn’t want to see Spidey swinging around with Ironman on the big screen?!

Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters July 7th.

2.) War for the Planet of the Apes

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes took audiences and critics by surprise with how good it actually turned out and then Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was even better. These films somehow have us rooting against our own race! Motion capture guru Andy Serkis owns the role of Cesar and gives arguably his best performances in these films. ‘Dawn’ Director Matt Reeves returns to helm this third entry in the reboot and if it’s anywhere near as good as the previous film, this trilogy belongs in the discussion as one of the all-time great movie trilogies ever.

War for the Planet of the Apes will ravage a theater near you July 14th.

3.) Atomic Blonde

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Before Deadpool 2, Director David Leitch (also co-director of the first John Wick) is taking on another comic book property: Atomic Blonde. Leitch shoots some of the most exciting action today and his choreography is brutal so casting is important. So when you don’t have someone as hard working as Keanu Reeves in front of the lens, it’s important to secure equally committed talent. Charlize Theron fits that bill perfectly, having completely changed her model appearance (and winning an Oscar) for Monster (directed by Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins). Slap some supporting talent like James McAvoy and Sofia Boutella on the side and we’ve got one of our most anticipated movies remaining.

Atomic Blonde busts into theaters July 28th.

AUGUST

1.) Detroit

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Kathryn Bigelow is the only female to ever win Best Director at the Academy Awards. She did so back in 2008 with The Hurt Locker (which went on to win Best Picture that year). Her subsequent film, Zero Dark Thirty, was also nominated for Best Picture in 2012. Bigelow continues her streak of hard-hitting reenactments with Detroit, based on the city’s infamous string of tragic protests in the late 60s. A powerful true story with immense talent behind the camera deserves equal talent in front of the camera and that’s just what we’re getting. John Krasinski, Will Poulter, John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, and Jason Mitchell all headline this tremendous cast.

Detroit hits theaters August 4th.

2.) Logan Lucky

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Steven Soderbergh  (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich) hasn’t made a movie since 2013’s Side Effects. After mid-ranged film budgets seemingly went extinct in Hollywood, Soderbergh declared his retirement from directing. Naturally, his resurgence alone is reason enough to include his next project on this list. Imagine our excitement then when we found out who’s in it: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, and Hilary Swank. As if that weren’t enough, they’re going to try robbing $14 million from the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a race! You don’t have to steal from me, Soderbergh. Just take my money now.

Logan Lucky steals into theaters August 18th.

3.) Death Note

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Thanks to Ghost in the Shell, moviegoers shudder when “anime” and “live-action” are used in the same sentence. Couple that with the fact that, outside Beasts of No Nation, Netflix hasn’t exactly been hitting it out of the park as far as their original films are concerned (their television on the other hand… So good!). Those two things considered, we understand if you’re not high on Adam Wingard’s upcoming Death Note reimagining. We, however, maintain optimism that the man who brought us You’re Next, The Guest, and the underappreciated Blair Witch sequel, will do the hit anime justice. Because, if he doesn’t, that’ll put a damper on Kong vs. Godzilla.

Death Note falls into your Netflix queue August 25th.

SEPTEMBER

1.) IT

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In the 90’s, Stephen King’s cherished novel was made into a television miniseries starring Tim Curry as the iconic killer clown. Now, over twenty years later, the scaring source material is finally receiving its big screen dues, only this time Bill Skarsgard is dawning the red and white makeup. And while Mama wasn’t one of our favorite horror movies of 2013, it’s a solid step above par. As long as Director Andrés Muschietti can nail the tone and let his young, talented cast take care of the rest, IT could become a Halloween staple. Not to mention the first trailer broke the YouTube record for most views in a single day. Clearly we’re not the only ones hyped.

IT crawls into a theater near you September 8th.

2.) Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Director Matthew Vaughn first sent up the superhero genre with Kickass, based on the little-known comic centered around a group of kids who come together dressed as superheroes to fight crime. After making more of a traditional superhero flick in X-Men: First Class, Vaughn set his sights on similarly small ‘Kingsman. Now we’re getting the sequel. Not only is Kingsman: The Golden Circle reuniting Vaughn with beloved cast members from the first film, but it’s also introducing the likes of Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore as the villain. If those names alone don’t get your blood pumping, nothing will.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle explodes into theaters September 22nd.

3.) American Made

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American Made has intrigued us ever since we learned that Tom Cruise was attached to star as real life U.S. commercial pilot-turned-drug-smuggler-turned-DEA-informant Barry Seal. It’s an insane story and one definitely worthy of the silver screen treatment and Cruise’s talents. Not long after, Doug Liman joined to direct. Liman previously directed Cruise in the understated sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow and also directed The Bourne Identity as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith. So something like American Made seems right in his wheelhouse. Adding to the hype was the equally bonkers trailer that dropped today which perfectly encapsulates the insanity of this high-stakes dramedy.

American Made flies into theaters September 29th.

OCTOBER

1.) Blade Runner 2049

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For sheer quantity, October is our most anticipated month remaining and it starts off with the much-desired sequel to the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Imaginatively titled, Blade Runner 2049 brings back Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) as executive producer and Hampton Fancher as screenwriter. The the main attractions, however, are Ryan Gosling as the star and Director Denis Villeneuve, who is currently blazing one of the hottest streaks in Hollywood with Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival. Then there’s the cinematography. Blade Runner has a specific visual style so it only makes sense to once again pair Villeneuve with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redeption, No Country for Old Men), who was previously lit both Prisoners and Sicario. This film is bringing back all the right people and tossing in some of the freshest talent around. We can’t wait to see the result.

Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters October 6th.

2.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Martin McDonagh is one of the most talented storytellers in Hollywood today. The writer-director’s films, much like Quentin Tarantino’s, bear a distinctive, auteurist style that similarly infuses hyper violence with dark, edgy humor and center on quirky, crime-based narratives. McDonagh also casts his films well. In the case of ‘Three Billboards,’ Frances McDormand stars as a mother who wages an all-out war against the local police after months of failing to make any headway in the case of her daughter’s murder. The equally charismatic Woody Harrelson co-stars as the chief of the aforementioned police force and Sam Rockwell as his second-in-command. In a market saturated by established IP’s, McDonagh is a force of originality and a breath of fresh air.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starts playing in theaters October 13th.

3.) Mother!

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The Hollywood marketing machine has a tendency to overshare footage from upcoming films. Whether through multiple trailers, television spots, posters, prologues, early behind the scenes, studios want to make sure you know exactly what you’re in for ahead of time. This has become so much the norm that films like Mother! almost seem revolutionary. We know almost nothing about it (although the film is still a few months out so there’s still plenty of time to ruin it). All we have to go off are a few tasty nuggets of info. The first comes in the form of the darkly alluring poster (see right). Next is that the film will tell the story of a couple whose “relationship is tested” after “uninvited guests” arrive, “disrupting their tranquil existence” and that it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. We also know that it’s directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) who intends for his film to be a psychological thriller, a genre he has proven skilled in. It’s not a lot to go off but if you ask us, it’s more than enough to secure our tickets.

Mother! makes birth in theaters October 13th.

4.) God Particle

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Last year saw the release of 10 Cloverfield Lane, the surprise second film in the Cloverfield universe which re-ignited the franchise. Originally, a third film was scheduled for release less than a year later in February of this year. It was pushed back, however, to October and has found its way onto our list. 10 Cloverfield Lane, though taking place in the universe of the first film, distinguished itself by taking the approach of a slow-burning psychological thriller. Some deft direction as well as an unnerving performance by John Goodman elevated it above our expectations. J.J. Abrams returns to produce God Particle, which also sets its self a part by taking place aboard a space station while the live-in astronauts fight for survival with reality warping around them. The fresh faced Julius Onah will direct the established talents of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, and David Oyelowo. We’re can’t wait to see if and how Onah takes advantage of this hard-core science fiction idea.

God Particle lands in theaters October 17th.

5.) Saw: Legacy

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We know how dopey this looks. Saw is (no pun indented) a dead franchise that hasn’t put out a good film in a very long time. But we still have nightmares about Billy the puppet and deep down we’ve been yearning for the days where Halloween meant another Saw movie! Maybe we’re just suckers for the genre. Or, maybe, we’re just excited to see brothers Peter and Michael Spierig (Daybreakers, Predestination) take a shot at the series. Their films don’t always hit like they’re supposed to but the duo always bring their A game in terms of creativity and originality. Hopefully they’re the spark that revives R-rated slashers at the box office!

Saw: Legacy starts playing games October 27th.

NOVEMBER

1.) Thor: Ragnarok

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Thor: Ragnarok is not only our most anticipated movie down the back half of 2017 but it’s our most anticipated movie of the year, period. It looks to be taking galactic elements from the establish MCU mythos and mixing them in with bits and pieces of Planet Hulk, which is some of the most fun you can have reading a comic book. Then you get a guy like Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) to direct and spin it with his unique brand of humor. The addition of Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett as the villain are two brilliant cherries on top. We haven’t even mentioned the fact we’re going to see Doctor Strange interact with Thor and Hulk on the big screen! It’s as if though rock n roll itself materialized into a deliciously kickass comic book romp!

Thor: Ragnarok rocks into theaters November 3rd.

2.) Justice League

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Admittedly, we were not fans of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, or Suicide Squad (see our in-depth thoughts and ranking of the DCEU films here). But Wonder Woman blew past our expectations (catch our review here). In light of recent success, we’re more willing to give Justice League a chance. Besides, the casting of our main heroes thus far has been pitch perfect and we can’t wait to see Jason Momoa’s take on Aquaman. Hopefully this film does well and the DC Extended Universe expands further into some of their deeper-cut mythology so we can see some of it come to life on the silver screen. Isn’t that every geek’s dream?

Justice League swoops into theaters November 17th.

3.) Coco

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In Pixar we trust. It’s that simple. Their films eventually wind up on everybody’s “most anticipated movies” list of whatever year. They’re that good. And even after taking a dump with Cars 2, the studio has consistently proven they know how to effectively tell an emotionally compelling story capable of reaching the hearts of viewers of all ages (who among us hasn’t cried watching a Pixar film?). And despite the increase in sequels the studio has put out over the last few years, they’ve still shown with films as recent as Inside Out that they want to expands viewers’ imaginations with creative, original material. Such is the case with Coco and we can’t wait to have our minds blown.

Coco starts playing its tune November 22nd.

DECEMBER

1.) The Shape of Water

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Guillermo del Toro is a filmmaker who isn’t afraid of taking risks and as a powerhouse of imagination, he’s made a career out of doing just that. Of course risk opens the door to potential missteps as much as it does to success. Del Toro has had his fair share of both. However, from what we know so far, The Shape of Water is (pun intended) shaping up to be one of the filmmaker’s most exciting endeavors yet. Star Doug Jones (who is also featured prominently in del Toro’s two Hellboy flicks) described the film as a Cold War-era romance between the last creature of a near-extinct [aquatic?] race (Jones) and a woman (Sally Hawkins) who discovers him held captive inside a secret, American laboratory. Also featuring one of our favorites in Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water could be the throwback to del Toro’s days of Pan’s Labyrinth that, I think we can all agree, we’ve been waiting for.

The Shape of Water takes shape December 8th.

2.) The Disaster Artist

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Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is widely considered the worst movie ever made (if you’ve been fortunate or misfortunate enough to see it, then you probably understand why). A decade after its release, Actor Greg Sestero wrote a book chronicling both Wiseau’s embarrassing failure through the system as well as Sestero’s own experiences on set.  From all accounts, it’s a hilarious, riveting read. Thankfully, Director and Star James Franco knows we don’t like to read, so he’s turning the book into a movie and we can’t imagine a more perfect fit for this material. And get a load of the cast: James Franco, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, Kristen Bell, Dave Franco, Sharon Stone, Adam Scott, and Seth Rogen. Need we say more?

The Disaster Artist will attempt to be a movie December 8th.

3.) Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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We started this list with an obvious pick and that’s how we’re going to end it too. Let’s be honest, the next episode in the Star Wars saga would make this list no matter who was behind the camera. That said, we feel especially safe knowing that it’s Rian Johnson. The man has proven he knows good storytelling, having written and directed films like Brick and Looper. He’s also directed some of the best episodes that Breaking Bad had to offer. Then of course there’s the stress-inducing levels of anticipation moviegoers have for finding out about Ray’s lineage. And let’s not forget we’ll finally get to hear Luke Skywalker talk for the first time in nearly 35 years. What’s he been up to, I wonder?

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi sparks its saber December 15th.

That’s our list of the most anticipated movies remaining this year! What do you all think? And what movies are you most looking forward to? Drop into the comments section below and let us know!

Ranking ‘Wonder Woman’ & the rest of the DCEU movies

Tonight marks the unofficial release of the much-anticipated first film featuring the much-neglected female superheroin Wonder Woman. To add to the hype, the film is being praised by critics and fans lucky enough to catch themselves an early screening (Wonder Woman is currently sitting at a 92% on the Tomatometer at the time of writing this article). However, not all films in the DCEU thus far have been met with the same acclaim.

The first three entries (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad) have been divisive to say the least. In preparation for Wonder Woman and a (hopefully) brighter future, let’s briefly examine the early years of the DC Extended Universe and examine how these aforementioned flicks stack up against one another.

*As with our Pirates of the Caribbean rankings, this list will read from best to worst.

4.) Wonder Woman

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As I mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman is being hailed as the DCEU equivalent of a breath of fresh air. It easily tops the other three films on this list, at least as far as pure enjoyment and re-watchability is concerned. I’ll keep specifics to a minimum for the sake of spoilers, but overall it’s a gorgeous film with sensational, comic book action and a heart of pure gold. Chris Pine and Gal Gadot are irresistibly charming together as a pair of loveable do-gooders enveloped by one of the prettiest movie worlds I’ve ever seen. Boasting dazzling visual effects and practical designs to postcard-esque cinematography, Wonder Woman is, in every sense, a wonder to behold.

3.) Man of Steel

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The best thing to come out of this Superman reboot is the casting of Henry Cavill as, well, Superman. Much like the titular hero himself, the man has a heart of gold. Not to mention he looks like he was ripped straight from the cover of Action Comics no. uno. Unfortunately, he’s bound by a dreary script that never allows him to become the Superman we all know and love (be it from the comics or even the Richard Doner film from the 70s).

It’s also difficult to invest in a movie that spends its first twenty minutes unnecessarily regurgitating the mining politics of a doomed civilization and the next twenty minutes following a scowling vagabond with the personality of a footstool. Man of Steel also relies on a seemingly perpetual green screen to digitize its gloomy environments wherein Wonder Woman often opted to build practical sets, which went a long way towards that film’s complete immersion. There’s just something about good, old-fashioned moviemaking that not even a supercomputer, or Superman, could replicate.

2.) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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I’ve never made the kinds of noises I made in anticipation for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was so ready for this movie. And then I saw it. Words failed to express the gaping disappointment I felt deep in my heart. Thankfully, I’ve since then been able to find things within the film that I positively adore. Such is the casting of Ben Affleck, who perfectly embodies both the snarky billionaire playboy in Bruce Wayne and the vexed vigilante in Batman. Jeremy Irons matches Affleck’s brilliance as Bruce’s hands-on butler/father/partner-in-crime. The pure comic book indulgence of the actual throwdown between Batman and Superman leaves me schoolboy giddy every time I watch it. The problem is you have to slug through more than two hours of a needlessly convoluted setup to get there. And then it lasts a few fleeting minutes.

‘BvS’ also boasts the same muddy visuals and extensive plot holes of its predecessor (Man of Steel). And let’s not forget they shoehorned an entire storyline from the comics into the last twenty minutes just for the sake of setting up the next film (the upcoming Justice League, also by Zack Snyder). Batman v. Superman may be the dawn of the Justice League, but it’s not the dawn of justice for these characters (see what I did there?).

1.) Suicide Squad

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After the heartbreak of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, I figured I was ready for the ultimate disappointment that would be Suicide Squad. Boy was I wrong. Somehow, DC Comics and Warner Bros. found a way to lower the bar even further for their cinematic superhero universe, even with the talented writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) at the helm. Much like Man of Steel, the best thing about this film is the casting. As Deadshot, Will Smith proves he still has the movie star charisma to lead a blockbuster film. Margot Robbie impeccably embodies the unhinged mania that is Harley Quinn. Then there’s Viola Davis, who was born to play the cunning, manipulative Amanda Waller.

Despite the overflow of talent, none of these characters’ decisions make much sense. Moreover, the entire premise of banding together a disposable group of baddies to protect us from the likes of a rogue superhuman is laughably idiotic when you consider the fact that, for all extensive purposes, these baddies are just regular people. Of all the DCEU films to date, Suicide Squad boasts the most obvious plot holes.

Then there’s the whole trailerhouse debacle which ultimately left the film feeling more like a montage of grunge music videos than an actual narrative. And when the climactic final showdown hits, it’s tough to see what’s going on because, once again, the visuals are so muddled. Suicide Squad has all the problems of the first three DCEU films but amplified, plus more. It’s a mess of a film.

What do you think of our ranking? Do you agree? Or would you switch it up a bit? Let us know your ranking in the comments below!

Ranking ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ & the rest of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies

Believe it or not, Johnny Depp actually garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actor with his iconic performance as the goofy Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It’s fourteen years later and we’ve now got five of these things (that’s right, five films based on a Disney theme park ride). Obviously, certain films in this tired franchise are better than others, so with the release of ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ just on the horizon, now is the perfect time to reflect back on the series’ high and low tides.

*The list below is ranked from best to worse. Everybody knows which film is the best in the series so there's no reason to try and hold you in suspense.

1.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

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I’m just going to come right out and say it: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is a perfect film. Now by no means am I asserting that it’s one of the greatest films ever made (although it’s certainty one of my favorites). I’m simply suggesting that the first ‘Pirates’ film is the best version of itself that it could possibly be. It’s funny, action-packed, and frequently heartfelt with strong characterization and memorable performances from its tremendous cast. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and make sure to cross this one off the ole bucket list.

2.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

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To many critics and fans, this is where the ‘Pirates’ films start taking on water. And while I agree that this first sequel marks the beginning of the series’ over self-indulgence, by no means is this a bad film. Not only does Dead Man’s Chest expand upon the mythology of the first movie in new and interesting ways but it successfully grows the three leads beyond where they initially left off: Will and Elizabeth are arrested for aiding the escape of Jack (in the first movie) and in exchange for their freedom, the pair must hunt down their former partner in crime and return him to Port Royal. This film also marks the only time we see Captain Jack truly terrified as he’s simultaneously pursued by fabled infamy himself, Davy Jones. The new villains are equally well developed and Bill Nye as Jones is a strong addition to the already impressive cast. Dead Man’s Chest may not be a timeless treasure, but it’s a worthy follow-up to Curse of the Black Pearl.

3.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Unfortunately, the latest film in the ‘Pirates’ franchise is not the greatest. That said, it’s still one of the better entries (if that means anything to you). There are flashes of inspiration here and there that come close to recapturing the adventurous spirit of the original light-hearted fare, particularly in terms of practical stunt work. And while Captain Jack is as static as ever, we do learn a bit more about his backstory and see just how he became Captain Jack. The series also continues to add talent. Javier Bardem is an outstanding addition to the ‘Pirates’ hall of infamy. Likewise, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario are great as the “new” Will and Elizabeth, though they’re often overshadowed by Captain Jack’s predictable hijinks. Additionally, this film seems uninterested in the established ‘Pirates’ lore and does little to expand it. Essentially, it’s the Diet Coke of the Pirates of the Caribbean pictures. It’s not as sweet as the original but neither is it a detriment to your health… At least in small doses.

*You can catch our video review of the latest ‘Pirates’ here!

4.) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

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If Dead Man’s Chest is where these movies start taking on water, then At World’s End is where the whole thing gives way and sinks under the weight of its own bloated cargo. There are too many concurrent subplots, a bounty of useless characters, a convoluted development of the mythos, and most of the practical stunt work is replaced by special effects noise. Worst of all, this excess of nonsense racks up a total runtime nearing three hours. Thankfully, voyage isn’t entirely hopeless. There are a couple lifeboats. For one, the performances are still top notch despite the fact that most of the characters’ arcs head in some overly-silly directions. And some of the action lends itself to some pretty memorable sequences, particularly the three-way war at the end which features a magical whirlpool. I’m getting a headache just thinking about all this.

5.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Our reflection from first to worst ends here, On Stranger Tides. Before we dive into justifying this film’s ranking, let’s talk about the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. This, the fourth entry in the series, does boast the shortest runtime of the bunch, ringing in at only two hours and seventeen minutes. Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz jump aboard, once again keeping with ‘Pirates’ tradition of bringing in big-name talent. Unfortunately, none of it is enough to keep On Stranger Tides afloat. The film is a dreadful bore. The action is much too tame and Captains Jack and Barbossa are both caricatures of their former selves. This film plays out more like a fan fiction “What if?” scenario than a legitimate chapter in the life of one of cinema’s most iconic adventurers.

Yo-ho-how did we do? What do you think of our ranking and what would yours look like? We want to know! Drop down into the comments section and let us know!

Ranking ‘Alien: Covenant’ among the rest of the ‘Alien-Predator’ films

There is a lot of history to sink your teeth into between the Alien and Predator franchises. Both have experienced their high’s as well as their low’s. Despite the ceaseless debates about what exactly qualifies as what, it seems diehard fans are perpetually bursting at the chest for another chance to live inside this quasi-shared universe (whether it be the movies, comics, video games, whatever). If you’re among them (or just a casual fan of gory sci-fi action), then you’re in luck! Friday marks the release of the latest entry (directed by Ridley Scott, too!) in the series: Alien: Covenant.

To commemorate this surely divisive event, we here at Movie Minutes have ranked the eleven films (including ‘Covenant’) of the Alien and Predator (kind of) shared cinematic universe in an order we consider “worst” to “best.” Enjoy!

11.) Alien 3

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This film is so bad that its director, David Fincher (The Social Network, Gone Girl, Fight Club, if you can believe that), did not even want to be given credit on the project. It’s so bad that the Fox Studios, at one time, had officially announced plans to retcon the film with a Neill Blomkamp installment that was going to take place chronologically after James Cameron’s Aliens. And then there are the fans, who felt sleighed by (among other things) the unceremonious, unnecessary killings-off of two beloved characters in the first scene. Nobody wants this movie.

10.) Predator 2

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This film finds itself as low on our list as it is simply because of how forgettable it is. It’s your prototypical “copy-paste” sequel that plucks the titular extraterrestrial from the actual jungles of Central America and plops it into the concrete jungle of New York City. It’s an interesting idea on paper, but the film offers few new ideas or at least anything that sticks. Plus, Danny Glover just does not have the campy charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger that helped make the iconic first film so much fun.

9.) Alien: Resurrection

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Unlike the last film on our list, Alien: Resurrection is anything but forgettable. It’s a weird, mixed bag of interesting ideas, poor visual effects, and fun performances. It focuses on the hybrid experimentation between the humans and the iconic xenormorphs, which not only revived Ripley but, in turn, granted her superhuman strength. It’s a completely ludicrous concept that actually lends itself to some fun action and some strange sci-fi sequences that almost play out like a send-up of the series itself. Plus it never hurts to put Sigourney Weaver, Ron Pearlman, Winona Ryder, and Brad Dourif in the same movie together.

8.) Alien vs. Predator

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I know already that this is where I’ll be taking the most gruff. You see, I enjoy the Alien-Predator throwdown flicks more than most. I love the idea that the Predators hunt the xenomorphs as a sort of right of passage/sport, though the more specific explanations necessary to bridge the two mythologies are a bit muddled. Regardless, there is a certain novelty is watching these two titans of sci-fi go head to head as they perfectly compliment each other’s weaknesses: the xenomorph with its brute strength and killer instinct and the Predator with its superior intellect and advanced technology. However, I don’t quite understand the math that says two brutally R-rated franchises come together to make a PG-13 film.

7.) Predators

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Slapping an “S” at the end of “Predator” was exciting. They did it to Alien and we got a whole bunch of aliens! What would Predators be like? Well, as it turns out, exactly like the first ‘Predator’ movie only with less believable characters. It’s not all bad though. The film does introduce some unique ideas such as the Predators dedicating entire planets to  the hunt and setting the film on one of those planets is an intriguing idea gushing with possibilities. Unfortunately, the filmmakers weren’t quite able to capitalize on it. Predators does, however, boast some exhilarating action sequences. Those combined with some fresh ideas and some pretty hammy performances (particularly from one Adrien Brody), is enough to warrant at least a once through.

6.) Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

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Here we are again. This is the movie I wanted the first film in this short-lived series to be: xenomorphs, Predators out in the open, duking it out in gory, R-rated fashion. ‘Requiem’ benefits from a simpler plot involving a rogue Predator visiting Earth to extinguish the abominable hybrid of their two species (the “Predalien”). It puts a sci-fi twist on the classic revenge Western. Unfortunately, the humans prove once again to be the weak link here. The dialogue is often cartoonishly unspeakable and the characters speaking it laughably lite on development.

5.) Prometheus

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There’s genuinely a lot to admire about Prometheus. It’s a technical splendor. The cinematography is gorgeous and the visual effects are out of this world (get it?). Scott’s premise of going back and exploring the origins of life within the beloved Alien universe is utterly fascinating. And, of course, there’s the stellar cast: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Idris Elba, just to name a few. It’d be higher on my list if it had answered more questions than it asked. Prometheus was marketed as an Alien prequel but failed to deliver that connection.

4.) Alien: Covenant

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The latest in the long-running franchise is every bit the technical splendor that it’s predecessor, Prometheus, is. Unlike Prometheus, however, Alien: Covenant delivers the extraterrestrial goods. It more closely bridges the gap between Prometheus and Alien seamlessly, answering a lot of big questions while also leaving some big ones for Scott’s next couple installments to tackle. If those next films are anything like this tense, slow burning slasher, then I say keep ’em coming!

3.) Predator

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You know how everyone always says the original is the best? Well, in this case that’s true (at least so far). Like its featured band of beef cakes, Predator‘s savageness is rivaled only by its simplicity. One hyper-intelligent alien warrior vs. a squad of super-macho commandos (think of it as a beefier, sweatier, bloodier Ten Little Indians). Thankfully the film plays up the camp of its own premise and Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the outfit’s commander with just the right amount of tongue planted in his cheek. Plus, the guy knows how to sell an action scene and this film’s full of ’em!

2.) Alien

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This is by far the best true-to-form horror film on this list. Technically, yes, it is just Jaws in space, but who doesn’t want to see that? Director Ridley Scott masters the art of tone with this film. Every prop, set piece, and lighting configuration in every shot is meticulously designed to make you feel uneasy or on edge. That way when things do eventually go horribly wrong (and they do!), it feels that much worse. Alien also features the trippiest-looking shark ever in a space movie. H.R. Giger’s designs are so singular and so powerful that just gazing upon the xenomorph is enough to let you know that, whatever you’re looking at, it can’t be good for your health. Then there’s the fact that every movie about an alien aboard a spaceship ever has tried to be this film and that’s got to count for something, right?

1.) Aliens

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It’s pretty much a tossup between Ridley Scott’s original slow burn and James Cameron’s action-packed follow-up. It more or less depends on the day; however, on this particular day we’re giving the edge to Aliens. It never tries to be Alien. Instead, it takes the core concept of the original film and expands it into the mythology we know and love today by approaching the story through the lens of a different genre and introducing elements that have since become franchise fixtures, such as the xenomorph queen. Cameron also surrounded Signourney Weaver with a strong cast and introduced us to some beloved characters such as Hicks and Newt. Aliens is not only one of the greatest sequels of all time, it’s one of the greatest films of all time.

What do you think of our list? Hit up our comments section below and let us know and don’t forget to share how you’d rearrange this list!

9 Films That Justified the Found Footage Craze

After Blair Witch‘s disappointing box office run last year, the found footage fad has seemingly died down. This might be music to the ears of the many film fans who had grown weary of the overused trope, but it wasn’t all just shaky noise. Before Phoenix Forgotten once again sours moviegoers’ tastes this weekend, let’s take a moment to honor those films that justified the bygone found footage craze.

9.) The Visit

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To many, this film marks the beginning of the Shyamalanissance (you’re welcome): the reemergence of writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, whose reputation as “The Next Spielberg” infamously soured following the critical and financial flop that was The Last Airbender. It’s also Shyamalan’s foray into found footage and a solid thriller at that. Yes, you see Shyamalan’s signature twist coming from miles out, but what elevates this movie above the mass of forgettable found footage films is its charming self-awareness. It has fun with its premise and in turn the audience has fun.

8.) Unfriended

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While The Visit feeds off our fears of growing old, Unfriended gets its kicks from the new. It puts a scary spin on relatively recent technology like laptops, webcams, and social media. Not only does this make for some pretty innovative aesthetics, but the filmmakers take advantage of the medium to effectively stack the tension as the film builds towards its bonkers conclusion. There is also a deeper layer of horror hiding just beneath the surface scares, particularly for millennials.

7.) V/H/S

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Not only is V/H/S one of the most creative, creepy horror anthologies out there, but it’s also one of the best films to come out of the found footage craze. It benefits from being split into a handful of short stories, which means you don’t spend too much time on one thing. Each film introduces its horrifying hook and splits before you get bogged down in too much exposition. It also helps that these shorts are helmed by the rising stars in the genre, such as Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers).

6.) Paranormal Activity 2

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The original Paranormal Activity may not have been the first found footage film, but it was the film that set off the craze in the late 2000’s. Arguably, Paranormal Activity 2 is a better film. It successfully lead the franchise in new directions. It expanded the single shaky cam premise from the first film and introduced security cams that were set up around the house. This allowed for the exploration of the family dynamic in new, exciting ways (let’s not forget about the poor baby!). It also paved the road for some of the most iconic scares, not just in the series, but in found footage as a whole.

5.) What We Do in the Shadows

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Who said a found footage horror flick can’t be funny? This quirky comedy centers around a flat of vampire mates who are desperately trying to fit in with the contemporary social climate. It’s your typical fish-out-of-water story but with a supernatural twist. Their failures result in some hysterical hijinks but there’s something ultimately charming about their undying (pun intended) persistence. Indeed, these guys are fun to watch and easy to root for despite their complicated natures. Though they live in the shadows, they’re moral dilemmas are not so black, nor white.

4.) The Last Exorcism

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This film puts an interesting religious spin on the seemingly played out “recording an exorcism” thing. Patrick Fabian gives a strong performance as Cotton Marcus, an evangelical minister who lost his faith long ago but continues to prey upon the religious beliefs of the families he exorcises by charging them to perform fake, theatrical exorcisms. Before retiring, he gets a letter in the mail from a family desperately seeking to exorcise their daughter. Marcus takes the job on the premise it will be his last exorcism. From there his faith is challenged by the increasingly insane Hell he and his camera crew endure. It’s one half intriguing character study, one half terrifying thrill ride.

3.) Creep

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This film is, well, creepy. Like The Last Exorcism, Creep too functions as an eerie character study. Mark Duplas gives a chilling, charismatic performance as a socially awkward but seemingly solicitous individual who employs the services of an amateur videographer for the purpose of shooting a documentary about his “life.” As events unfold in their palatably plodding manner, it becomes clear that Duplas is harboring sinister intentions. Every time I was sure I knew where this movie was going, the narrative took a sharp, 90 degree turn. And the ultimate ending left me shockingly stupefied and wanting to know more.

2.) The Blair Witch Project

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This movie gets a lot of love and deservedly so. Even after sixteen years, this bare-bones thriller still holds up. It features a simple setup and arguably three of the most deceptively plain performances ever. The kids look and act like kids. Even as the film takes its time building towards its now iconic finish, it’s difficult not to be hooked by the mythology. Every town has a haunted house (or forest) with a darkly fascinating history. Naturally, tales about these locations are handed down through the generations to the point where it’s difficult to separate what’s fact from fiction. In the end, though, the actual events, whatever may have truthfully transpired, are a moot point. It’s what we imagine those events to be that enamor us. The Blair Witch Project exploits this tradition to haunting effect.

1.) End of Watch

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It’s strange to think of the found footage craze and not think horror. I mean, just look at this list. Alas, the best film to come out of the fad was End of Watch. It’s the crime thriller that put Director David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad) on the map. It features two career-highlighting performances from both Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as partner cops who have a gut-wrenching run-in with the cartel. Equally gruesome and gripping, End of Watch represents the pinnacle of the found footage craze and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

What do you think of our list? Which ones did we get right and which ones would you swap out? Let us know in the comments below!

The Movies of 2017 (So Far): The Good, the Garbage, & the Great

If the first quarter (Jan.- Mar.) is anything to go by, 2017 could be a great year for movies and, in turn, moviegoers. Not only have we been getting exciting blockbusters earlier (thanks to expanding Hollywood real estate), but a bunch of them have fared well critically. Of course, we’ve had to endure some stinkers too. Here’s our analysis of the year in movies thus far:

*Although we've seen a lot of movies so far this year, we haven't seen all of them.

THE GOOD

Power Rangers

rangersI’ve always thought that Power Rangers was awful and this reboot’s marketing campaign never won me over. That said, I had a lot of fun watching Power Rangers. It embraced the campy roots of its dopey source material and even though there’s not as much morphin’ time as I’d liked, strong character writing and amiable performances keep the good times rollin’ until it’s time for the rangers to go, go kick some alien ass.

Grade: B

Kong: Skull Island

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This isn’t your grandfather’s King Kong. This rendition of the giant primate is particularly primed to go paw-to-claw with 2013’s revived Godzilla. It’s obvious by his daunting new scale and recreational clobbering of other giant monsters on Skull Island. Throw in a hilarious John C. Reilly and a kickass 70s rock soundtrack to complete your itinerary for a fun, escapist trip to the theater.

Grade: B

Split

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Is M. Night back? Maybe. I’m more concerned with James McAvoy’s haunting performance as a tortured soul suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (more commonly: Multiple Personality Disorder) who abducts innocent girls to feed a sinister impulse. Split‘s a deft, slow burning thriller that kept me guessing all the way through to its unexpected post-title stinger.

Grade: B+

Beauty & the Beast

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After last year’s reimaging of The Jungle Book, I was all-in on this new take on Beauty and the Beast. Still, I was not prepared for how emotionally invested into these characters I got, particularly Belle and the Beast. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens shine in their more intimate moments together. The tremendous supporting cast and magical music only quickened the pace of my fluttering heart.

Grade: A-

John Wick: Chapter 2

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Not since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes have I been so impressed with a sequel. The second revving of this action-packed Keanu Reeve’s vehicle purrs just as loudly as the first. The filmmakers deliver more of the super violent, hyper-stylized “gun-fu” that helped cement the first film as a sleeper favorite. They also delve deeper into the endlessly fascinating underground world of assassins. I can’t wait for ‘Chapter Three!’

Grade: A

THE GARBAGE

Rings

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Nobody was clamoring for another movie in The Ring franchise; however, in the age of reboots it sort of makes sense that the internet would be Samara’s next step. Unfortunately, after multiple pushbacks, Rings reeks of a cash grab. Lazy writing, uninspired performances, and a wholesome lack of thrills make for a two hour snoozefest.

Grade: D

A Cure for Wellness

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Gore Verbinski had flashes of greatness in the past. I loved Pirates of the Caribbean and adore his animated venture Rango. But since The Lone Ranger, Verbinski has been all style, no substance. His latest film  falls in that camp. It slugs around an empty castle for nearly two-and-a-half hours before settling on an ending that just isn’t worth it.

Grade: D

The Boss Baby

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This animated family flick is a diaper full of you know what. Its main premise, a baby who dresses and acts like a boss, is amusing for the total sum of its trailers. That’s it. Once I realized there was nothing more behind that idea, I started sinking in my seat. I’m not sure who this is for. It’s riddled with plot holes and office-themed jokes that don’t work (eg: a three minute rant about how great memos are). It’s also a lot scarier than you’d expect from a kids movie (no, really).

Grade: D

THE GREAT

Get Out

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Classic horror films stick with us not just because they are scary, but because they feed off the fears of a collective subconscious. At the same time, they give us memorable characters. With Get Out, Director Jordan Peele (one half of Comedy Central’s skit duo Key & Peele) prays off mutual, race-related fears held by Caucasian and African Americans. He also gives us an assortment of precarious people to root for and against. It’s fun, scary, and heavily themed.

Grade: A+

Logan

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From now until I die, I will make the case for Logan as one of, if not, the greatest comic book movie of all time. It’s that good. Yes, it benefits from almost two decades of X-Men movies, but it also works as a strong standalone story. Either way you look at it, you’ll be emotionally wrecked. Giddily violent and powerfully written with career highlighting performances from everyone involved.

Grade: A+

Overall, it’s been a strong first quarter and with three more to go, I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2017 has to offer us!

What did you guys think of our list? What are your favorite films of the year so far? What about least favorite? Leave them in the comments below and let us know!

The 7 scariest movie monsters from space!

This Friday marks the release of the sci-fi horror film Life, about an international space crew who discovers life on Mars (IMDb). From the sounds of it, this life may pose a threat to the lives of Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of the seven scariest ill-intent extraterrestrials that have visited Earth (in the movies, of course)! Enjoy!

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Honorable Mentions:

Killer Space Clowns- Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

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Need I say more? They’re KILLER CLOWNS. FROM OUTER SPACE. I mean just look at them! They’re the stuff of nightmares!

The Borg- Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

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The Borg will absorb your identity and your culture. Your body will become an empty shell and your mind a piece of the whole. Your only purpose will be to grow and empower the Borg. You as you know you will come to an end so that this soulless, technological force can thrive. Plus they can time travel, which means if you somehow manage to escape, they can just keep trying! Arguably worse than being murdered by space clowns.

Now that those are out of the way, let the countdown begin!

7. Audrey II- Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

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It starts with a drop of blood here and there. Before you know it, you’re chopping your boss into little pieces and feeding him to smooth talking shrubs. You’re too dazzled by their promise of fortune and fame (and their lovely baritone pipes) to see the threat growing under your nose. Eventually, they’re too big to fail and more of them are sprouting up next door, down the street, everywhere! This charming, cunning chunk of cabbage is scary but not if you read the signs: “Whatever they offer you, don’t feed the plants!”

6. King Ghidorah- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

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Unlike Audrey II, there’s nothing small or cute (or aurally alluring) about King Ghidorah. He doesn’t have to earn your trust to end your life. There is a multitude of means by which this three-headed monstrosity can help you meet your maker: eat you, squish you, whip you (with either tail), or shoot freakin’ lightning at you from any or all of his mouths! To make matters worse, he can fly! This means running away is a near impossibility. Your best chance is praying to God. Godzilla, that is.

5. The Blob- The Blob (1988)

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King Ghidorah is big enough, though, that you could likely get away early if you spotted him on the horizon. The scariest stuff is what you don’t see coming and that’s precisely the blob’s M.O. It’s just colorful enough to find appealing but unappealing enough to not be seen as a threat (you’d think it was garbage before you’d think it was the life-sucking scum of the universe). And once you’re close enough, it pounces and the last thing you know on this god-forsaken rock is the cold touch of its tight, gelatinous grasp. As if that wasn’t awful enough, it grows larger with each meal and that can only mean a bigger appetite.

4. The Xenomorph- Alien (1979)

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You may not see the blob coming, but eventually (perhaps once it’s big enough) somebody will get wise and torch it, which seems to work in the movies. On the other hand, the only effect fire seems to have on a xenomorph is pissing it off and you don’t want to agitate this beast. Not only is it fire-proof, but it’s also scary stealthy. Like the blob, you won’t be alerted to its presence until its too late. By then, its retractable mandible is feasting on your mushy membrane. The xenomorph has been referred to as “the perfect organism.” Its purpose is to thrive and it thrives by eating. It eats by hunting and it’s the perfect hunter.

3. The Thing- The Thing (1982)

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Alright, before you hand me a verbal lashing, hear me out. I know fire is pretty effective against this intergalactic impersonator; however, what makes the Thing scarier than the xeno is this: you can never be 100% sure that you’ve killed it. If you miraculously manage to dispatch a xenomorph, that’s it. It’s gone. But the Thing is a trickster that takes many forms. Even if you torch one of its hosts, it could still be the friend at your side who’s watching along as the carcass blazes out. Or the dog that ran away once the crap started hitting the fan. And once you think it’s over and you’ve finally let your guard down… That’s when the Thing will do its thing.

2. Slither Slugs- Slither (2006)

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This one is pretty simple. Take my rationale behind why the Thing is terrifying and multiply that by hundreds! That’s how frightening the Slither Slugs are! These slimy parasites infect a human host, command their consciousness and then mutate their body beyond repulsion until they reproduce countless more offspring. It’s a never-ending life cycle that will forefit your life.

1. The Predator- Predator (1987)

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Alas! We finally arrive at the most dangerous game! I mean that in the most literal sense, of course, because the Predator is a creature who kills for sport. That’s right. It doesn’t need to rip your spine out of your back with your skull still attached and it definitely doesn’t need to display it in a trophy case or around its waist. It wants to! That alone is more chilling than getting in the way of something that’s simply looking to survive. Add to that the species’ hyper-advanced, technological prowess. They’re smarter than most living things in the universe. So no matter where you run or where you hide, the Predator will track you down, end you, and revel in the glory of the kill.

Well there you have it! Our list of the top seven scariest movie monsters from space! Let us know in the comments below what you think of our list and give us your own list! And feel free to share this post with your sci-fi or horror nerd friends!

Life visits theaters this Friday, March 24th.