Top 5: 80’s Classics

This week’s Top 5 Friday category was chosen by @charlottesaminafilms, give that page a follow on Instagram! If you’d like to pick out next week’s category and get a shout out, be the first person to comment your Top 5 on my Instagram post for this week’s challenge!

This week, we’re taking a look back at our favorite 80’s classics, just for fun! And below, you’ll find my personal top five films, organized by increasing favoritism.

3) The Empire Strikes BackI’ve written about this in my Top 5 Films with Aliens post, so I’m going to use that same paragraph: This film set an extremely high bar for franchise sequels, as The Empire Strikes Back raised the stakes and took the story to heights that the first film wouldn’t have ever dreamed of. In this film, we continue following Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the rest of the gang as they fight with the rebel forces to defeat Darth Vader and the rest of the Imperial forces that threaten to destroy planets in order to rule. At this point, this movie is just a classic work of art, and part of the cultural experience; very few franchises are as popular or timeless as Star Wars, and this being the best movie in that ever-growing saga means it’s a necessity to watch, and that’s no understatement. The spectacle is great, but what stands out about this film is the story, which revolved around some of the most richest characters in screen history, and Empire changes them to their core in ways that effect the story of every film that follows. Plus, there are SO many quotes from this movie that I hear on a semi-daily basis, and a movie this quotable is definitely notable.

4) Lethal WeaponWhat writer Shane Black did to the buddy-cop film genre was revolutionary, and by placing an emphasis on character and story instead of just action (which is what happened with the 3rd and 4th films) made these films much more than simple buddy-cop comedies. We begin with a tormented and isolated Martin Riggs, who becomes a partner with cop veteran Roger Murtaugh, who is close to retirement. This dynamic between them, as one is new and hotheaded while the other is old and cautious allows for a lot of comedy, but also a shocking amount of dramatic character studying to take place in the characters individually as well as as a team. The sequel is also just as good, and twice as funny, and Black also replicated the fun and action-filled buddy crime feel in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys as well; fun fact about Lethal Weapon 2 is that Black wanted to kill Riggs at the end, but the studio made him keep the character alive, which produced two sub-par movies with beloved characters and no good story.

3) The TerminatorJames Cameron‘s iconic and classic indie film, The Terminator instantly became one of the greatest sci-fi films at the time, and 33 years later remains a pillar of cinematic mastery, and now stands as one of the ultimate classics from that decade. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the titular Terminator, who is sent on a mission back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of the leader of the resistance, John Connor. As a film that birthed a franchise, there are some great qualities that carry over in the rest of the films such as the basic plot, but this film has so much more than some of the sequels could ever hope to offer. There is a great story, a lot of horror elements in the way that Sarah is being hunted, a great doomed romance that will mess with your mind in what temporal effects that relationship has (read my Time-Traveling essay here), and some of the best movie quotes in history. If you haven’t seen this film, it’s one of my favorites, and you have to watch it. “I’ll be back” with my number 2 pick.

2) The Princess BrideWhenever I talk about a film that has everything, I always come back to this film as a reference. The Terminator is an example of that, but I didn’t want to mention this film until I revealed it as being in my list. As the first scene tells us, there is: “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” and oh so much more. This is what I call a multi-genre work of art, and it truly encapsulates the best of each genre, especially the fantasty genre. This is the classic “Hero’s Journey,” playing to the best fantasy-adventure tropes in existance, but without ever feeling like it’s being recycled or unoriginal. The Princess Bride was a film that I watched over and over, time and time again as a kid, and there is still so much to love without it ever getting old. One for the ages for sure, and one that any future kids of mine will grow up watching religiously.

1) Aliens. Also from my Top 5 Aliens post: Now this is my second film of all-time, and for many reasons. If you read my King Kong post, you’d know that I first watched this film when I was 11, but I didn’t give much detail as to what that experience was like. I was with my step-sister and my step-mom’s step-father (I have a big family), and he recommended that we watch Aliens. In hindsight, I’m not sure that I would let an 11-year-old watch that movie, but I’m happy that he let us, because I had one of the best movie experiences of my entire life (James Cameron is good at that kind of stuff). From the very first scene, I was terrified but my younger step-sister didn’t seem frightened, so I didn’t think I was allowed to say anything. I was scared shitless for the entire film; the xenomorphs induced nightmares, and the film never let up for its 150 minute run time. The xenomorph IS the all-time greatest alien in sci-fi movie history, and this film showcases that monster from space perfectly (read my essay about why this alien is better than the alien in Predator right here). Man, what a film, and to think that it’s a sequel to another film that’s just as great is an amazing accomplishment. James Cameron is a God of cinema, and I cannot wait to see Avatar 2as well as Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott.

Well, those are my favorite 80’s classics, what is your list? Any films that I missed? As always, thanks for reading, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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