Tuesday, 4 October 2011

CRAIG'S 100 MOVIE HEROES - THE TOP 10!

After months of planning, I have finally completed my Heroes list with 90 contenders having come and gone. The Villains list is out soon but for now its the good guys who dominate the post today. We've had various heroes dominating the list with men, women and even children and animals getting mentioned but I am pleased to present the Top 10 Movie Heroes of all time, with an explanation about their inclusion on the Top 10 being explained. Sit back and relax, whether these guys will save you from trouble or inspire you, they are the definitive of how good some people really can be whether fictional or not....


#10. HARRY POTTER (DANIEL RADCLIFFE)
HARRY POTTER SERIES (2001-2011)
 
"C'mon, Tom... let's finish this the way we started it. Together!"

The hero with the most recent film makes it to No. 10 as boy wizard Harry Potter left us spellbound in the popular film adaptations which started way back in 2001 with Philosopher's Stone. It was his final outing in Deathly Hallows Part Two though which allowed us to urge him on as the good guy as his chronicle showdown with Lord Voldemort came to a ferocious conclusion in the last film of the series. Throughout the films though, he provided plenty of wizardry highlights including the clash with Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets, his involvement in the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire and winning his team Gryffindor the House Cup and Quidditch league. Oh and eventually defeating the dark lord. Busy, busy lad although there were plenty of other heroes from the franchise that could have been mentioned on the list from Hagrid and Ron to Hermione and even Neville who proved to be the unsung hero of the final film! But for Harry himself, after surviving throughout the 8 films he certainly was the boy who lived!



#9. JOHN MCLAINE (BRUCE WILLIS)
DIE HARD (1988)

 "Yippee Ki-Yay Motherfucker!"

As a struggling young actor who'd only appeared in a couple of TV shows, the late 80's was to become life-changing for then unknown Bruce Willis when he was cast in the lead role of summer blockbuster Die Hard. Despite the daft idea of a film set on Christmas Eve being released in the warmest month of the film, the film proved to be a mega-hit and launched Willis's Hollywood career which would include the likes of Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense. His rogue cop must rescue his estranged wife and other civilians from a group of German terrorists led by notorious Alan Rickman, and so provides one of my favourite film characters, who with his cocky attitude and his no-nonsense tactics manages to save the day despite being bare-footed throughout! His personality continues to get the better of him in the three sequels which followed clashing with fellow cops and sidekicks, and though none of the predecessors were as hugely popular as the first film, Willis's rise in the major cornerstone of film culture was enough to justify him as a big star. He certainly was welcomed to the party!  


#8. JUDAH BEN-HUR (CHARLTON HESTON)
BEN-HUR (1959)

"You may conquer the land; you may slaughter the people. But that is not the end. We will rise again"

In one of cinema's most impressive epics, Charlton Heston gave an Oscar-winning performance as Judah Ben-Hur, the Jewish prince who is betrayed by his former friend Messala and cast off as a slave where he overcomes battles at sea, gains revenge in the ferocious chariot race and tries to help Jesus in his final moments before the crucifixion. The journey he goes though during the colossal 3 and a half hours all comes from his dedication to his family as he vows to be reunited with his mother and sister and he also stands up for his beliefs when it comes to his religion. But despite having to suffer for it throughout the film, he is helped along the way by Jesus with the water thirst scene providing a tear to my eye. He suffers a lot throughout but shows great courage and determination to fulfil his quest and in the film's very satisfying climax, gets his reward for such bravery with his family's illness being swept away allowing them to be together once and for all. Heston's handsome prince became popular with audiences as Ben-Hur set the standard for the swords-sandals epic which would follow on with Spartacus a year later!



#7. ATTICUS FINCH (GREGORY PECK)
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

"If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

Not only is Atticus Finch the greatest lawyer in film history but also one of the best father's too as proven by Gregory Peck's courageous performance in the adaptation of the beloved novel. In 1930's America, Atticus shows concern and love to his two children and wants to protect them from the shallowness of the real world, but his decision to defend a black man accused of raping a white girl, only causes problems on that part as most of the town turns on him leading to his kids being exposed to the racial tension around them. Peck's performance comes into full flow properly during the electrifying courtroom scenes as slowly but surely he manages to reveal to the court (and us the audience), the flaws of the case start to prove that the accused man is innocent whereas the woman is not being truthful, but in a racial-motivated society, the wrong verdict is given but the fact that Atticus shows great courage to ignore his critics and help another race proves even more why he's such a great character. Peck deservedly scooped the Oscar for the role and gained extra respect for playing a character with such warmth. Even the American Film Institute named him their greatest Movie Hero!


#6. ROCKY BALBOA (SYLVESTER STALLONE)
ROCKY SERIES (1976-2006)

"But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"

The first of two boxers to make the Top 10 and controversially I chose to place the most popular sportsman in film lower than my favoured choice. Fact had to triumph over fiction but with regards to the fictional boxer, Sylvester Stallone's Hollywood career was about to be launched by the release of the first film back in 1976 which like the humble hero himself, overcame the odds to scoop a trio of Oscars including Best Picture. Stallone's Rocky Balboa would face the monumental challenge of tackling the Heavyweight Champion of the World Apollo Creed and although he would lose, he still managed to go the distance while getting support from his sweetheart Adrian. The popularity of the first film spawned 5 sequels with II allowing Balboa to reach his glory by beating Creed to become Champion. III and IV saw him overcome tough opponents while losing friends along the way while V (the most disappointing film of the series) saw his career change by him becoming a coach. The last film from '06 was a welcome return to the ring for Stallone as his 60 year old boxer comes out of retirement to face a younger and fitter opponent which like the first film would see him go the distance. Rocky proves his love for boxing throughout the films adding to the loyalty from Adrian and from the harsh setting of the first film to the very end, no matter what obstacles he would face, he would always pull off the impossible and achieve everything he could wish for. He truly is The Italian Stallion!



#5. MARTY MCFLY & DOC. EMMETT BROWN (MICHAEL J. FOX & CHRISTOPHER LLOYD)
BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY (1985-1990)

"Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?
"The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?"

In one of the most popular films of all time, contains my favourite duo in film with teenage Marty McFly and eccentric scientist Doc Brown the unlikely pair who would become part of 80s culture on the big screen. Marty gets involved with Doc's time machine which sees him travel back to 1955 leading to mass chaos as he seeks the help of the 1955 Doc to help him travel back home but faces compromise with trying to get his parents in their younger form together. It is to the great credit of director Robert Zemeckis that these two actors would become part of a memorable team with TV star Fox and B-Movie actor Lloyd immersing themselves into their characters with great chemistry and becoming household names. That would later transcend into the two sequels which again weren't as quality as the original but still allowed us to enjoy their scenes together as they faced more perilous situations. That also didn't stop them from sharing various things in common such as phrases, attitudes and even women. Heavy indeed. It was of course sad for Fox though with his Parkinson's Disease effectively ruining his film career and potentially ruling out any chance of a long-awaited sequel Rocky/Rambo/Die Hard style. But it's great to at least be relaxed knowing that surely if anyone did try to remake the film, nothing can beat the great 'scot' partnership between the two leading heroes!



#4. LUKE SKYWALKER (MARK HAMMILL)
STAR WARS ORIGINAL TRILOGY (1977-1983)

"Chewie, I'll be waiting for your signal. Take care, you two. May the force be with you"

We have another hero who could easily have been snubbed in favour of other heroes from that particular franchise. However Luke Skywalker justifies his positioning on the list ahead of other popular characters from the Star Wars series including Han Solo, Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi with the journey he goes through from being a farm boy in the beginning of A New Hope to earning his rightful title of a Jedi in the ending of Return of the Jedi. He saves the day in the first film by blasting the Death Star into smithereens and follows that up in Empire by learning the ways of becoming a warrior before facing a epic duel with Darth Vader that leads to one of the great twists in film history. But that doesn't stop Luke from following in his father's footsteps of becoming the Jedi he was set out to be, as he and the Rebel Alliance make one final mission to wipe out the Empire once and for all. This ultimately means having to face his father in a last showdown which could change the fate of the galaxy forever. Though Mark Hammill never reached the heights of other Hollywood roles, Luke Skywalker still remains as popular with fans as ever and goes through many challenges but manages to save the day and provide one of cinema's iconic heroes.



#3. JAMES BRADDOCK (RUSSELL CROWE)
CINDERELLA MAN (2005)

 "I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them"

Into the Top 3 we go, and as I revealed before, this was a tough decision to place Braddock above Rocky but you can't take away the fact that as much as Rocky can overcome great obstacles by defeating heavyweight champs and Russians, what Braddock did was real, a true story from the 1930s. Yes Rocky came from a tough, poor neighbourhood but what Braddock and his family went through was all real. Ron Howard's boxing masterpiece Cinderella Man was considered a disappointment by some but Russell Crowe, who despite his notorious reputation, put in a humble and gentle role as the boxer whose career seemed over after the Great Depression occurred, leaving him and his family on the verge of falling apart. However thanks to the solid support from coach Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), Braddock was to turn his life round through a one shot chance by defeating heavyweight contenders, and if that wasn't enough, was to face the Rocky challenge of trying to beat the Heavyweight Champion of the World Max Baer in a titanic duel. Like Balboa, Braddock goes through a lot of tough obstacles but manages to earn the support and love of his family by preparing to get them out of financial trouble and rebuild their lives through his success in the ring. He does human things that make him more likeable whether it be triumphing against the odds or doing something small but grateful like offering his daughter his piece of spam. However his comeback in the ring fully justified his tag as the 'Cinderella Man' going for his 'fairytale' ending!



#2. ARAGORN (VIGGO MORTENSEN)
LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (2003)

"My friends. You bow to no one. "

Missing out on the number one spot, I'm not going to deny how close this was as I knew that SOMEONE from the Lord of the Rings films would have to make the list but that wouldn't be enough to squeeze whoever it was into top spot. Originally Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) was on my drafted list but although he is the unsung hero of the final film, I felt it should go to a character who has demonstrated overall heroics in the trilogy hence why Aragorn got the nod. Frodo whilst the leading character almost destroyed the fate of Middle-Earth by being corrupted by the ring whilst Gandalf has similar parallels to Obi-Wan Kenobi. When we first saw Aragorn in Fellowship Of The Ring, he was seen as this rogue ranger with dark influences but from the moment he rescues the hobbits from the Naz-Guls half-way in the film, you know he is one bad-ass hero. He proves to be a natural leader throughout the trilogy whether it be to lead the Fellowship on their quest or to help defend Helm's Deep in The Two Towers AND for me his finest hour in Return of the King to lead a small army of men on a last mission to distract Mordor from the sight of Frodo and Sam edging towards destroying the Ring. His honour in the film's climax was a fitting reward for a men dedicated to saving Middle-Earth with Viggo Mortensen's average CV in Hollywood getting a much needed boost.



#1. INDIANA JONES (HARRISON FORD)
INDIANA JONES SERIES (1981-2008)

"Mola Ram! Prepare to meet Kali... in Hell!"

A scholar, an archaeologist, a lover, a warrior....and sometimes a complete git. Having made his name as Han Solo in the Star Wars series, it was initially feared that Harrison Ford wouldn't take the role of Indiana Jones because of his working relationship with George Lucas but fortunately he and director Steven Spielberg managed to convince Ford to join up. And boy did it work out. From the first moment we see his rugged appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark, we know that Indiana Jones is going to be one tough nut to crack after 10 minutes we already love him for his cocky attitude, sense of humour and his athleticism plus his hatred of snakes. Hell he's even good at dodging giant boulders! From then on we become more intrigued by what Jones will do next as over the course of 4 films, we see him battle Nazi's, Asian gangsters, an Indiana cult, Nazi's again, Russians, animals and yes the occasional woman and even his own father. He loves the women but loves the artefacts that he pursues just as much. As a hero, he is a real character, not a superhero, he gets hurt but always manages to get back up and fight back no matter what predicament he finds himself in. He shows compassion as well and tries to overcome his troubled childhood to prove that. One of the best castings made and makes us wonder, would Tom Selleck really had been a better casting? I don't think so. Ford's character is the true embodiment of what a hero should be which is why he deservedly wins this list. Is he the greatest hero in film overall? Yes.

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