Vs. Movies: When Legends Go to War, We Win

One thing I’ve learned from watching Barney as a child is that sharing is caring, so I have come to all of you to share a list of my favorite Vs. movies from the world of cinema.

All of these movies contain a little bit of what makes movies so awesome and impactful, even though these movies vary massively in quality from the great, to the good, to the not so good. But what makes Vs. movies so entertaining is that they can be action-packed, cheesy, brilliant, hilarious, thought-provoking and most of all teeming with epic battles.

Now go forth with the knowledge that these movies are not ranked or listed in any order except for the order I watched them in preparation for this piece. I hope all you fine folks have as much fun reading this list as I had putting it together. Now, my friends, the time has come, let the battle commence.

AVP: Alien Vs. Predator

A movie poster with the letters AVP over the words Alien vs Predator
Alien Vs. Predator

Although admittedly AVP is far from the strongest entry in the franchise of either, it had some interesting takes on the mythos from the past movies. Even though it is not a great movie, it manages to contain one of the best scenes from any of the movies in either of the franchises when the hieroglyphs are being deciphered and it switches back to what looks like Mayan or Aztec type pyramids.

We see the sacrifice ritual, the horde of Xenomorphs surrounding and overrunning the city, taking out the Predators before the last Predator wipes out everything by setting off his nuclear device—what an incredible scene. If the entire movie was like that it would have been epic, truly unique and out on its own in the franchise but it wasn’t unfortunately.

What we did get was a little predictable and generic but pretty entertaining. The action is fast-paced, the thrills and spills come thick and fast, the fight scenes between the aforementioned Xenomorph and Predator are awesome and forceful if not over a little too quickly. Teaming the human protagonist up with the surviving Predator was original (if not a little silly) and singular onto this entry in the series.

One really strong concept that was at the center of this movie was the initiation ritual: that a group of “teenage” Predators, coming of age in a right of passage fight to the death against the most vicious killing machine the entire universe has ever seen. What an awesome concept. The crossover event had some excellent ideas that were just poorly executed, which is a damn shame.

Instead of what should have been a seminal event on a par with Captain America: Civil War, what we get is entertaining, tries to be original but lacks in any real zest. It is still a worthy entry even if it should have been so much more.

Although Alien Vs. Predator was a little bit of a disappointment overall the end was still excellent, when that Xenomorph/Predator hybrid bursts out of the chest of the dead Predator, it made everyone so excited for what the future may hold for the franchise.

AVP2: Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem

A movie poster with the letter AVP attached to the number 2 over the words Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem
Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem

The follow up to the first entry in the Alien Vs. Predator crossover series, picking up straight from the end of the first installment after we see a Predator ship depart from the main ship and return to his homeworld, we finally get to see what happened with that little hybridized critter that burst its way onto our screens at the climax of the first AVP.

After an excellent action scene where the Xenomorph/Predator hybrid summarily dispatches of the entire crew of the Predator ship, it then crashes lands on Earth even though it seemed like it was way far away. Anywho…

After crash landing we see the story take place on Earth in the suburbs, which are surrounded by a gigantic forest but the story hardly ever ventures out there. The whole movie might have been better off taking place in the woods or staying in space. There is actually a lot of the subject matter from this movie that seems to have been rehashed in Shane Black‘s bland The Predator.

I think a lot of these movies pick the wrong setting which takes away from the overall piece. The only saving grace of this movie has to be the re-introduction of the Xenomorph/Predator hybrid. Unfortunately, we never get a great look at it, but the concept was cool.

It came across as such a powerful force of nature, being the Alpha at the top of a pack of Xenomorphs. It was interesting to see how the two species interbreed and the characteristics they decided to keep from either of the two.

The Predator that had returned to its homeworld flies to Earth and does battle with the Hybrid and its pack of Xenomorphs. These battles really give us a glimpse of the mastery of the hunting techniques of the Predator, really doing a good job to put all its strengths on show. They also give us a chance to see the full array of weapons the Predator has in its arsenal.

The set pieces were cool and happen in a real flurry, moving the weak story along nicely before we ever get too bored. The major problem is the lighting: it is so dark and hard to see some of the finer details. But in the end, this still managed to be a fun if not a little bit of a run of the mill mid-level action movie.

Ford V Ferrari

Kenny Miles and Carroll Shelby standing alongside a Ford touring car.
Ford V Ferrari

Ford V Ferrari tells the story of the legendary battle between two of the most famous car brands in the history of the automotive industry as they go head to head for brand dominance at Le Mans in a race that takes place over a mind-bending 24hrs.

The story is not just about the collision of the heads of the two motorized behemoths, it actually mainly focuses on the relationship shared by Kenny Miles (Christian Bale) and Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the two men that spearheaded Ford’s assault on the throne occupied at that time by the Italian powerhouse Ferrari.

From the off the story is a rip-roaring thrill ride, filled with near misses, burnt rubber and some of the most awesome cars ever put on the big screen. Every second of the piece is extremely high octane and filled with enough petroleum to fuel a thousand race cars.

The story is so impactful, intense and structured excellently, shifting through the gears so fluidly, it is a tale that is as impeccably pieced together as one of Ferrari’s handcrafted mechanized masterpieces.

The performances from both Bale and Damon are excellent. The duo are so classy and currently at the height of their respective powers. They bear the weight of the piece with ease, moving so seamlessly from comedy to drama to some of the most intense action seen for a long time.

Bale and Damon gel together brilliantly in this one and their chemistry is clearly evident every second they are on the screen. Everything about Ford V Ferrari is perfect from the pulse racing action to the soundtrack right down to the immaculate performances. The two leads are every bit as ferocious and powerful as the cars they drive.

It not only feels like a true classic but it seems to capture every bit of the magic of the motorized world at the time. These brave men boldly going where no man had gone before, true pioneers that left their grease-covered fingerprints all over the cars they loved so dearly and changed the racing world forever.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale standig side by side covered in blood with confused looks on their faces
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is a stupendously brilliant, ridiculously hilarious gore-fest. Each set piece is so intelligently put together, what should be just another drab comedy horror is instead one of the most fun movies of the past decade.

It constantly turns the outdated stale horror tropes on their head. The entire movie is exactly like Dale. It looks like it should be dumb but it borders on the unexpectedly brilliant, It once again proves that to be properly silly you need a touch of genius.

The way it plays with those said horror tropes is so smart and highly original, keeping the audience as much on their toes as bent over laughing. The comedic gold comes as thick and fast as the bodies pile up.

Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk take on the title roles of Tucker and Dale, Labine in the role of Dale and Tudyk as Tucker. The two men’s chemistry is plainly obvious for all to see, playing off each other flawlessly.

The film takes what should be two bland hicks, and turns them into layered, extremely sympathetic protagonists that you root for from the beginning right up until the credits roll.

Labine and Tudyk are each cast perfectly, filling their respective roles like they are slipping on fine bespoke suits (or flannel shirts in this case), bouncing off each with a preposterous level of comedic intellect.

Not only should the leads be commended for the quality of the job they did but so should Eli Craig who took on the directorial duties. Craig did an excellent job of putting this together, making it a far superior movie than it really had any right of being, turning Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil into quite possibly one of the most cleverly crafted silly movies of all time.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

Ecks and Sever standig back to back, Ecks is holding a shotgun that is resting on his shoulder
Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

A slick, stylish action movie starring the legendary Spanish superstar Antonis Banderas and then at the zenith of her powers Lucy Liu, slick and stylish is exactly what the creators of Ecks vs Sever were going for, but unfortunately they missed their mark.

It is a movie that wanted so badly to be The Matrix, like many others that succeed the seminal sci-fi action blockbusting game-changer, but wanting and getting are often two very different things.

Ecks Vs. Sever is not all bad, just most of it is, and to paraphrase Eric Cartman all it takes is most of it. Antonio Banderas does what he always does. He is extremely cool while also burning with red hot Latino machismo (I know it’s a paradox but the man is an enigma), but that wasn’t enough to save this movie.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever (to use its full title) is a film that tries to be cool, smooth, suave and oh so seductive. Instead it comes across as forced and dry. The back and forth or lack thereof between the two leads is so brilliantly bad that it has to be seen to be believed.

Even with all the talents that Banderas brings to the screen, they were nearly made completely null and void when trying to bounce off the incredibly deadpan Lucy Liu.

The pair had little to no chemistry, which just highlighted how awful the script was—it is so cringe-worthy and that makes it that much more fun to watch.

The story actually had plenty potential to expand and be a pretty decent action/drama given the plot but it just never gets going, and the 90 minute run feels a lot longer. The fight scenes are unbelievably formulaic, hilariously comedic (unintentionally so), slow, totally over choreographed and delightfully terrible.

I love it when a movie tries to be so cool and fails miserably. It is nearly as satisfying as watching a movie that is actually cool.

Sitting in the backseat of the bus trying its best to chat up the pretty girl and even though it is clad in the very same leather that the cool kids wear with style, it is not long before the imitation is found out to be just that and when that realization comes it is so glorious.

It tries so hard and even though it fails to live up to expectations it does not fail to entertain in all the ways that it never meant to.

Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment but there is nothing I love more than a movie that finds itself firmly entrenched in the realms of “it’s so bad that it’s good,” which is where Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever firmly plants its flag.

The People Vs. Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt with the American Flag covering his mouth
The People Vs. Larry Flynt

The fight for freedom of expression and the assault on people’s civil liberties could not be any more relevant as if it was made today. The People Vs. Larry Flynt really does a good job in capturing an extremely important moment in time.

Just like in today’s society, there is and there were giant questions over what people should be allowed to say or do in the view of the public eye.

How much influence can the government have in intervening in a person’s right to not only privacy but also free expression, social, sexual or otherwise? These are important questions that are constantly at the forefront of the social zeitgeist in one form or another throughout the history of modern society and free civilization.

When tackling such a hefty and important subject matter a movie has the ability to stay relevant in the social consciousness long past its initial release date.

This is clearly why the story of Hustler’s founder Larry Flynt, a man that was gunned, costing him the use of his legs and nearly his life along with them has lived so long in the memory.

After surviving the attack, which his lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) was also injured in, Flynt would use his enormous wealth to fight and buck the system that opposed him at every turn.

Flynt’s fight would bring about a long-lasting fight for the right of free expression that would go all the way to the American Supreme Court.

Woody Harrelson is cast in the role of Larry Flynt, the self-confessed smut peddler, whose story is so important and to be told correctly it needed someone with the talents and range of an actor like Harrelson.

Harrelson, who I believe is a very underrated character actor, excels in the role of Flynt, thriving in the task at hand, taking on each challenge that the role offers with tremendous glee and with all his well-honed skills.

It was not an easy job bringing Flynt’s larger than life personality to the screen without looking silly and oafish. Harrelson accomplishes it like the well-rounded character actor he is, handling the task of portraying such an important figure with an assured hand.

Larry Flynt’s journey and struggles have left a very real mark on many 1st amendment cases that followed it. His win was a landmark victory of monumental proportions.

Even though many find Flynt to be eccentric, off the wall and an incredibly outrageous character, people like him are so important, especially people of means that can take on the system in our stead.

When the system that has sworn to protect its people and all of their innate civil liberties goes back on its word whenever it pleases them, then sometimes we need an outrageous person to stand up and be the dam blocking the oncoming tsunami of social injustice so we don’t have to.

That is exactly what Larry Flynt did and even though his methods were less than conventional they were highly effective, undeniably important and helped Mr. Flynt cement his place in  American history forever.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim strumming a guitar
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Edgar Wright brings us a star-studded, quirky, hilarious, offbeat and the gloriously odd Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World tells us about Scott Pilgrim and his quest to win the hand of the new mystery girl in his life Ramona Flowers by defeating The League of Evil Exes (a group consisting of Ramona’s six evil ex-partners)

This movie is so all out balls to the wall spectacular—the way the imagery is paired up with a crazily frantic soundtrack that booms out from behind the manic action sequences is amazing.

Wright blurs the lines between movie, comic book, and arcade game whilst constantly somehow managing to capture the magic from all three art forms, which is no small feat.

The way Wright pairs imagery with music is so perfect, it is a huge talent of his and it is on full display here. It is a skill of his that he has honed with astonishing effect, and it seems to grow with every project. The very same talents that were still being honed here were used to their ultimate capacity in a later outing in the shape of Baby Driver.

This movie is so out there, insanely tongue and cheek and never misses an opportunity to break the fourth wall and poke fun at itself, boasting near Deadpool levels of self-awareness.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World never takes itself too seriously, but it never allows us to forget how high the stakes really are for Scott.

Even though it is cookie and packed with over the top silliness, it never allows itself to be dumb. It is silly, not dumb and there is a huge difference between the two.

Every single second of Scott Pilgrim’s story is put together flawlessly, and each role is filled by an excellent actor, which takes the goofy content matter to heights that it maybe has no right being at.

Everywhere you look there is a bevy of acting talent from Michael Cera as Scott to Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona, to Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, even Brie Larson makes an appearance.

Edgar Wright shows us once again that his eye for talent is as keen as his ability to tell excellently unique and fresh stories in each and every outing. He not only has a seemingly limitless supply of ways to make silly stories compelling and interesting but also fun, heart-warming and strangely enough with some incredibly realistic relationships hidden away in a mountain of frenetic madness.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a crazy action-packed zany movie bursting with color, spectacle, brilliance, and tonnes of battles and even though Scott Pilgrim ran out the victor in the end and won Ramona’s heart.

As long as Edgar Wight keeps making awesome content like this for us all to enjoy we the audience will be the real winners in the long run.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman and Superman standing face to face
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

For the first time ever Batman and Superman would not only share the bill but also the big screen, in what has to be one of the most epic but also extremely divisive superhero events in the history of cinema.

Not only did DC’s top two titans go head to head in this outing, but we were then treated to the first appearance in the DCEU of the ridiculously cool and supremely badass Gal Gadot as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.

Even though a lot of fans were unhappy when Batman V Superman first came out I think it has aged well apart from the two Marthas of it all, which came across as fairly lazy storytelling. More than a few found it shocking that the creators could not come up with something a little less tenuous to bind our heroes together in the fight against evil.

When it comes to movies like this with such a huge and expecting fanbase, the details are where it counts but if you can’t grasp the minute things then you better grab the spectacular things, which is exactly what this movie did, it embraced the grandeur.

The scale of Batman V Superman is gargantuan—everything about it is turned up to the nth degree, moving along at a ferocious pace, introducing plot points and new characters continuously.

This was Warner Bros. trying with all of their might to catch the runaway freight train that is the Kevin Feige led MCU over at the kind folks at Disney. Because of this attempt to catch up maybe, it was too much too soon, putting all their eggs in that metaphorical basket. Pushing so much at once can be off-putting but for sure not as off-putting as Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor.

I know Ben Affleck being cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne sent everyone into a frenzy. In many corners his performance in the role is much maligned. I disagree with those assessments because I think he does a character that comes with so much baggage justice.

Affleck comes across as gritty, grizzled and battle-hardened, a man that is almost completely without remorse, someone that has forgotten who he is and what he means. Affleck’s Batman is a man that no longer abides by the very same tenants that he asked everyone else to uphold, which I thought made his version of both Bruce Wayne and Batman compelling.

Henry Cavill I believe is the best and only Superman out there right now—there is no one that fills those gigantic red boots like the Brit, apart from looking like he is carved out of granite. Cavill is charming, confident without being arrogant and very likable, which is what the Man of Steel symbolizes—the best in all of us. Just like Chris Evans in the role of Captain America, he is nigh irreplaceable.

The contrast between the two leads is what makes Batman V Superman tick: one man totally without hope for the future and the other man setting out to build a better tomorrow.

Both men are hell-bent on fulfilling the destinies that they set out for themselves long ago, believing the other to be an enemy while not realizing that deep down they want the same thing: to protect their loved ones and the world they live in against the greatest of threats.

When it comes to threats there are few bigger than Doomsday who also makes his (or its) long-awaited cinematic debut. Unfortunately, the way Doomsday’s origin story is handled was possibly the most disappointing thing about this movie as a whole—his origins from the comic point of view vary greatly from what we see on screen.

Doomsday’s introduction to the story might have been a little bit of a letdown, the action that would follow was far from it. The climax comes at us at breakneck speed, just like the rest of the movie taking inspiration from Frank Miller’s legendary graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. Some scenes nearly shot for shot, looking like the panels themselves had come to life on our screens.

The imagery and vision for how his projects come to life are really some of Zack Snyder’s defining qualities bringing the source material to the big screen in a way few others have the ability to do. He is also an incredibly brave director never shying away from taking on projects that most would be terrified to touch. Disappointingly, Snyder has come in for condemnation for this, but I think it is high time we start to commend directors for their bravery instead of condemning them.

Monsters Vs. Aliens

(From Left to Right) The Missing Link, Ginormica, Bob and Dr. Cockroach Ph. D. standing ready for action
Monsters Vs. Aliens

What is packaged as essentially just another animated family movie but underneath all of the veneers it uses to lull you in is so much more, Monsters Vs. Aliens is a movie that harkens back to the 1950s, the glory days of the monster B-movie.

It feels just like something out of the Universal vault but it is not just classic monster tales that this movie takes its inspirations from, the influence of old spy movies is clearly evident.

There are more than a few similarities to Dr. Strangelove and just like that iconic movie Monsters Vs. Aliens doesn’t hold back on the wartime satire.

The President’s command center definitely took its shape from the same mold as the legendary war room from Dr. Strangelove. Kiefer Sutherland’s General W.R Monger was a clear and obvious nod to George C. Scott’s General “Buck” Turgidson.

His name itself is a puntastic wink to another character, Brig-Gen. Jack D. Ripper, who is the main antagonist from the Peter Sellars led masterpiece.

These influencing factors make what should be a generic computer-generated movie into what is at times borderline genius. The script and chemistry between the lead characters is sharp, witty and full of laughs.

The all-star cast sees Renee Zellweger take center stage as Susan aka Ginormica, sided by Seth Rogen as the voice of Bob. Hugh Laurie as the mad scientist Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. and Will Arnett as The Missing Link, fill out the monstrous quartet who are firmly under the watchful eye of the aforementioned Gen. W.R Monger. Each member of the team seemingly revels in the voice roles that they are cast in.

The pacing is another strength of this movie. It keeps the story moving along at a nice clip, just fast enough to keep the adults interested but never too fast to lose the younger members of the audience.

The tightrope walk that Monsters Vs. Aliens attempts and successfully pulls off is a quality found in so many other cross-demographical family orientated movies. What it does better than most movies of this ilk is the fact that it respects the intelligence of the audience. Too many family movies talk down to viewers but this one never does that.

Every laugh is shared out to great effect, one for the child quickly followed by one for the adult. These types of movies are rare and often don’t have the timing, originality or innovative thinking that makes this a level above most of the other movies that share this space.

Freddy Vs. Jason

Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger facing each other
Freddy Vs. Jason

In the horror showdown to end all horror showdowns we finally got to see Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) pitted against Jason Vorhees (Ken Kirzinger)—two of the most feared and simultaneously loved horror icons in the history of the world of blood, guts, and gore.

I love the juxtaposition that horror fans generally love the most what scares us the most. It’s funny the more the horror stays in your mind after the viewing the more it bores its way into your heart over time.

The meeting between the storied two was originally teased all the way back in 1993 during the climax of the ninth installment of the Friday the 13th franchise: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (it wasn’t, surprise, surprise).

It wouldn’t be until 10 years later that the two tormentors of teens everywhere would finally go head to head in a battle for brutal supremacy.

Before the two horror icons would go face to face, they would each take it, in turn, terrorizing the residents of Elm Street.

Freddy Krueger brings Jason back from the dead as to induce the level of fear that is needed to make the poor folks of Elm Street remember Freddy, who has been redacted from the local history books in one form or another.

When the two nightmarish characters go on the hunt the buckets of blood are never too far behind and in this one there are literally gallons of blood spilled, heads roll, a stoner is cleaved in twain (as they said in the olden days) and one guy becomes a mattress taco (yes, you read that right).

While the over the top gore and near slapstick nature of the first portion of the movie screams A Nightmare on Elm Street, the second part is more dark and gritty in the style of the Friday the 13th franchise.

It was very smart to try and appease both sections of the respective fan bases, which in most fandoms is nearly impossible to do. Not sure if they were fully successful but the attempt that the creators of Freddy Vs. Jason made was smart and with purpose.

Paying tribute to two ridiculously well known and beloved characters whilst updating both franchises for a new audience is no easy task. Maybe it was wasn’t loved in all circles but no one can say that these two demonic masters of terror weren’t handled with the reverence that they so rightly deserve.

Final Thoughts:

So there you have it folks. Tthank you for reading my list of favorite Vs. movies. Even though it is not ranked I’m sure you could tell which ones were my utmost favorites, but if you couldn’t here are my top five in descending order.

Ford V Ferrari, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, The People Vs. Larry Flynt and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you on what your top five Vs. movies are and what movies that you all think should have been on this list and before you all say it I know, I know, Kramer Vs Kramer. I’m sorry it’s just not my cup of tea.

What I really want is to hear about anything you all think I might never have heard of before. I can’t wait to see any of the hidden gems you all may have for me to discover.

Written by Vincent Greene

One Comment

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  1. You forgot Sadako VS Kayako. And the best VS movie does not have “VS” in its title: UNDERWORLD, a film about Vampires VS Werewolves.

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