Updated: September 27, 2020 9:03:17 am
The 1980s as a decade in American cinema evokes mixed responses. For some, especially those who grew up in the 80s, it was the golden age of Hollywood, while for others, it represented flashy, bad quality, popcorn sort of movies. Whatever the truth, the decade did give us several films that have become classics.
Here are ten great ’80s movies you should watch (or rewatch):
1. The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies is a classic adventure movie involving a bunch of kids who discover an old map purporting to unearth the treasure of a legendary pirate. The kids, calling themselves the Goonies, are determined to save their homes from foreclosure and think this treasure may be the only way out of the problem. Oh, but there is a whole family of criminals on their trail.
2. Predator (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a special forces major who leads a group of soldiers tasked with rescuing an official being held hostage by insurgents in a Central American country. After landing in a jungle, they come across skinned corpses that Dutch (Arnold’s character) recognises as his former comrades who were sent in earlier. Thinking this to be the handiwork of the insurgents, they trudge on, only to be picked off one by one by an almost invisible creature. They counter-attack when they realise the creature bleeds (a green gooey substance). But all of them fail and continue to be killed. This sets up a finale in which Dutch, of course, takes on the creature.
3. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
The Bill & Ted film series is about Theodore “Ted” Logan and William “Bill” S. Preston, Esq., played by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, respectively, who get their hands on a time machine and get knowledge about key historical events and characters first hand from those involved. That knowledge is important for them to be successful in a history class as they would go on to build a utopian future. A third film is out in the US now, so it might be a good idea to watch the first two movies.
4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
There are few filmmakers working today who can even come close to Steven Spielberg, whether be it technical brilliance or a vice-like grip on human emotions. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a tale of friendship between a kid and an alien who is stranded on earth after the others of his kind flee the earth in haste.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indiana Jones lives a life many dream of. There is nothing remotely dull in his life as he fights the Nazis, cult leaders and all manner of scum of society… and comes out of the fray alive and pining for yet more adventure. Raiders of the Lost Ark feels as fresh as it must have felt during the time of its release.
6. Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future is somehow immensely rewatchable just because it is pure fun time at the movies. It is about a high school student and an eccentric scientist, who has succeeded in building a time machine. The student travels back in time and meets his future parents, and inadvertently his mother (much younger then) falls in love with him. He now has to make his parents fall in love to ensure his existence.
7. Die Hard (1988)
While there are at least four good movies in the Die Hard franchise, none of them come close to the original, Die Hard. The film is a great watch for anybody, not just action movie fans, with a superb performance by the late English actor Alan Rickman. A true action classic.
8. Batman (1989)
Tim Burton’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton, was strongly influenced by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. But unfortunately for him (like Christian Bale in The Dark Knight), it is Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, who steals the show. Nicholson had experience playing unhinged men (The Shining, for instance) before he played Joker. Nicholson’s take had a wide, permanent smile that at first seemed almost friendly, but gradually began to creep the hell out of viewers. It was Nicholson who shifted people’s perception of Joker from a goofy prankster to a murderous criminal.
9. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Not just the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back is also one of the best movies of *any* kind ever. In the film, our collective minds were blown away by what is probably the biggest twist in cinema ever. Yes, I am talking about Darth Vader’s “I am your father”. The Empire Strikes Back was an extraordinarily thought-provoking film too with gorgeous visuals that still make viewers wide-eyed with delight. This film is easily also one of the greatest sequels of all time alongside Star Trek’s The Wrath of Khan and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
10. Ghostbusters (1984)
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis play bumbling paranormal hunters who somehow do get things done against all the odds. The film is an absolute classic.
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