Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Talk about underrated, this movie never gets the love it deserves! Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer in a pulp noir comedy written and directed by Shane Black? For my money, it's hard to find a better time at the movies. This movie concentrates on characters and story, something I think big budget blockbusters sometimes lose track of among the special effects. This was before Downey's big comeback, so I think it's not on many people's radar, but I'm urging everyone to check this out if you haven't seen it. I loved it, and I can't wait for Shane Black's next directorial effort.
Batman Begins: You didn't think we could make it through a whole year without a superhero movie making the list, did you? Christopher Nolan changed the game with this ultra-realistic take on the Batman mythos and gave us a look into a Gotham City that we've never seen before. There's not much to be said about this one that everyone doesn't already know, so let's just take a moment to recognize how badass this movie was before we move on.
Serenity: 2005 must be my year for hyping underrated flicks. Joss Whedon's feature film debut was a continuation of the brilliant sci-fi/western series "Firefly," a show cancelled prematurely but with a large enough fan base to warrant this film. The movie serves as a great companion piece to the show, and also a really effective introduction to the characters for those who haven't seen the show before. I watched this movie, fell in love with the characters, and decided to check out the show; in retrospect, I wish I would have seen the show when it was on the air and given it a better chance of survival. Regardless, Serenity is a fun sci-fi flick that has some incredible action sequences and is filled with enjoyable characters.
Sin City: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino gave audiences a visual treat unlike anything we'd ever seen (OK, maybe except Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow). Each vignette was entertaining, violent, over-the-top, and funny. I love the film noir genre, and this movie takes the conventions found in those old movies from the 30's and 40's and kicks them into overdrive, courtesy of Frank Miller's influential source material. And that cast is something directors dream of.
Transporter 2: As far as cheesy action movies go, you'll be hard pressed to find one that combines utter cheese with fantastic action quite as well as Transporter 2. This is my standard for Jason Statham movies, and, outside of Tony Jaa films, I don't think you'll find a more entertaining action sequence than the one here in which Statham's Frank Martin dispatches bad guys with a fire hose. If that sounds intriguing to you, trust me: there's more where that came from, and it's all epically ridiculous.
Brick: This one isn't exactly "underrated," but Rian Johnson's indie noir set in a high school is without a doubt one of my favorite movies of the decade. Johnson's writing evokes hardboiled novelists like Dashiell Hammett, the dialogue seems straight out of a Bogart flick from the 40's, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives one of his best performances as a high school detective trying to solve his ex-girlfriend's murder. Watch The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon, and then throw on Brick - if you like the first two, you'll love Rian Johnson's movie.
The Island: Seems like there has to be an unpopular choice on every year's list from me, but I'm taking a stand. I really dug Michael Bay's The Island. Yes, it's incredibly derivative of Logan's Run, and yes, it's slick and stylized and glossy as hell. What can I say? I think it's Bay's best-executed film, and the performances from Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, and Ewan McGregor were pretty entertaining. The highway chase was a blast, Scarlett Johansson has never looked better, and it delivers on all fronts with the exception of providing an original storyline. All I'm saying is if somebody had to make this movie, I'm glad it was Michael Bay.
Green Street Hooligans: As I mentioned in regards to Shattered Glass, I'm a sucker for journalism movies. This one is a variation on the genre, featuring Elijah Wood as an American who gets sucked into the lifestyle of English soccer hooligans. This one doesn't disappoint and it's one you can watch with a group because chances are you probably haven't seen it. For all you brawlers out there, don't worry - there are plenty of bare-knuckle fight scenes between hooligan firms and enough action to keep you going strong the whole way through. A phenomenal movie about loyalty, brotherhood, growing up, and belonging.