11 Movies That Use Pop Culture Better Than Ready Player One

first_imgStay on target Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. 10 Best Worst Items in Hot Topic’s Clearance SectionReal There You Guys: Ready Player One and Nostalgia as Generational Poison center_img Ernest Cline’s paean to everything 80s is poised to make a lot of noise at the box office, but this certainly isn’t the first time that Hollywood has looked to pop culture to inform a movie. And while fans are already pitching a fit at some of the more incongruous appearances (the Iron Giant gleefully slaughtering foes earned a much-deserved WTF), we thought it might be nice to think positive and look back at some other flicks that took the mash-up approach and paid homage to what went before.The Monster SquadThe stable of Universal monsters are some of the most iconic takes on the public domain bestiary ever – Boris Karloff’s unforgettable bolt-eared Frankenstein, Lugosi’s sneering Dracula, Chaney’s tormented Wolfman. And even if the “dark universe” never happens we already have one of the most satisfying pop culture crossovers of all time in 1987’s The Monster Squad. Written by Geek fave Shane Black, the flick follows a group of tweens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who come up against the forces of evil led by Dracula as they try to retrieve a mystic amulet. It’s a surprisingly timeless romp that still holds up well 30+ years later.Alias Jesse JamesIn many ways, the Old West was sort of the Marvel Cinematic Universe of its day. Colorfully-named violent men roamed the expanse, getting into trouble and fighting for their lives. In 1959, Bob Hope starred as an insurance agent in Alias Jesse James, a comedy Western that featured a climactic gunfight featuring dozens of the era’s most identifiable Western actors – Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, James Arness as Matt Dillon, and even Roy Rogers as himself. It’s one of the earliest multi-franchise cameo crossovers in cinematic history, and some later home video releases have had to cut a few of the cameos due to IP rights issues.The LEGO MovieIt’s almost unfair that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were able to work so much magic with a movie based on little plastic bricks, but The LEGO Movie captured the glee of mashing your Harry Potter and Superman sets together in an orgy of construction fun. The flick took its multiple cameos and made them all fit into the LEGO universe, and if we had to we could make a very good argument that LEGO Batman is the best Batman movie ever made.Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldBased on the comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is rife with references to the pop culture that surrounds us. From the name of Scott’s band, “Sex Bob-Omb,” to the various video game power-ups and status effects that bedevil him during his battles with Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes, this is one movie that’s steeped in geek culture like a good cup of tea. It would take all day to run through the references in the flick, so go watch it yourself with one finger on the pause button.My Name Is BruceBruce Campbell is one of cult film’s most iconic actors from his role as Ash in the Evil Dead series. In 2007, he directed and starred in a movie that blended his real-world personality with his most famous character to hilarious effect – My Name Is Bruce. In it, Campbell gets kidnapped by a fan who wants him to battle a reanimated Chinese god in an Oregon mining town. It’s an absurd romp that lets Campbell work against public perception of him even as he embraces what made him famous.The Last Action HeroOne of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rare 1990s flops, The Last Action Hero cast him as fictional LAPD detective Jack Slater, who meets a young boy from the real world when he’s magically transported into the film. It’s got the same gleeful mash-up aesthetic as some of the other flicks on this list – the fact that a cartoon cat works at Slater’s precinct and nobody cares is a perfect touch – but many of the references it pulls are to properties made up for just this movie. There are a few brilliant cameos, though, including Sharon Stone revisiting her Basic Instinct role. It underperformed at the box office, but history has been kind to it in hindsight.Who Framed Roger Rabbit?When Who Framed Roger Rabbit hit theaters in 1988, it was a miracle of Hollywood deal-making. For the first time ever, representatives from the animation industry’s greatest franchises shared screen space in Toontown. Disney, Warner Brothers and MGM characters were all in the same movie for the first time – and since, actually. It’s a technical tour de force and amazing to watch Donald Duck and Daffy Duck go head-to-head, for example. The negotiations were insane, with each studio having a list of demands as to the amount of screen time their characters needed. Sequels have been long-rumored but never materialized.City HunterThe majority of Jackie Chan’s 1993 comedy City Hunter doesn’t trade in retro references, but one scene in the flick is so legendary it puts the whole movie on our list. Jackie, as detective Ryo Saeba, is investigating the disappearance of a girl. He gets into a fight (because this is a Jackie Chan movie) in a video arcade, and is thrown into a Street Fighter II machine, which causes him to imagine that his foe is Ken and he’s first E. Honda and then Chun-Li. It’s a hilarious homage to the video game that ruled the world at the time.Die Another DayReleased to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise, Die Another Day was filmed with homages to all 19 previous Bond films. If you look around Q’s workshop you’ll spot the jetpack from Thunderball, the magic rope from Octopussy and other gadgets. The scene where Halle Berry walks out of the surf in a bikini is a direct throwback to Ursula Andress’ aquatic entrance in Dr. No. We could go on for paragraphs, but it’s pretty interesting to watch a Bond film that acknowledges the character’s cinematic history in such a blatant way.Wreck-It RalphA couple of films have dabbled in the influence video games have had on pop culture, but we’re not going to talk about Pixels on this website if we don’t have to. Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph took place in the liminal electronic world of video arcades, where the characters from myriad machines got together after the last quarter dropped. Although the flick revolved around a few fictional franchises created for it, we also got cameos from Q-bert, Zangief, and the bartender from Tapper just to name a few. The sequel, in which Ralph enters the Internet at large, is set to drop later this year.ExplorersJoe Dante has tapped into the vein of pop culture many times throughout his career, but one of his warmest paeans to the 50s science fiction that formed him was 1985’s Explorers. A young Ethan Hawke stars as Ben Crandall, a suburban teen who gets inspired by the old flicks he watches on late night TV to construct a spacecraft out of an abandoned amusement park ride and with his friends take off on a journey into the universe. It’s a forgotten sweet little film that bombed at the box office because it was released the same week as the Live Aid concert for Africa.last_img

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