Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Jordan Hoffman
Everybody loves Liam Neeson. It’s impossible not to. He’s a badass, he’s handsome, he’s got the cool accent, he seems like a smart guy and he’s starred in some of the best movies of the past quarter century. Even when he shows up for a quick and dirty paycheck like in Battleship it’s hard to begrudge the guy. (Given the recent tragedy in his personal life, my inner Jewish grandmother says “it’s good he should keep busy. And why not make a few dollars at the same time?”)
I won’t suggest that you skip Battleship this weekend. With friends and some smuggled-in tall boys of Coors Light you’ll have a fine time. But don’t expect that much Liam Neeson. In fact, it may leave you wanting more, so here are eight films of his you probably haven’t seen.
Note – Darkman isn’t on here. I’m giving you enough credit and assuming that you’ve seen that one already.
Excalibur (1981); John Boorman, director.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this one hasn’t caught on with the younger generation like some fantasy pictures of the era like Dragonslayer, The Beastmaster or the other one with Liam Neeson in it, Krull.
I think that may be because Boorman’s Excalibur misrepresents itself a little bit – it isn’t a traditional three-act story, more of a collection of Arthurian legends – and it is really long.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t marvelous, plus it features a laundry list of awesome English and Irish actors. Neeson plays Sir Gawain – one of the Knights of the Round Table, but not an important enough one to be seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (He is killed offscreen by the rabbit.)
Excalibur didn’t just give Liam Neeson his first major exposure, it was the film that brought Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” into pop culture, as heard in the awesome trailer above.
The Bounty (1984); Roger Donaldson, director.
I will fully admit the fact that seeing this movie at the influential age of 9 perhaps gives it an emotional heft that may not exist up there on the screen, but I still say this is one of my favorite films of all time. (And one that made me a little bit obsessed with the days of British sail.) The mutiny on HMS Bounty is juicy yarn that has interested fascinated people for over two centuries, inspiring three feature films and a large shelf of books.
In this version (based on the research in Richard Hough’s Captain Bligh and Mr Christian from 1972, which was considered the best book on Bountyania until Caroline Alexander’s brillaint doorstopper The Bounty: The Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty) Mel Gibson is the privileged Fletcher Christian whose bestial passions are riled up by Tahitian sun to steal the ship from the bootstrapping, stern Captain Bligh. Liam Neeson plays the pugnacious, lower deck seaman Churchill, Christian’s main muscle when the mutiny happens.