Throughout its history, cinema has presented priceless gems that we all know and adore today, although it is also true that for those films to shine, others have to take a step aside.

That’s when we come to the term underrated, those films that either were a commercial failure upon release, indie films that were poorly received by critics, simply had bad luck, or cinematic underdogs lost in time. But thankfully there are passionate cinephiles who keep their legacy alive.

Every decade has its collection of underappreciated gems, but in this case, we go with one of the most brilliant collections, that is underrated 90s cinema!

Characterized by its youthful heyday, the independent filmmakers boom driven by Tarantino, numerous technological advances in ambitious blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Toy Story, bestial box office records like Titanic, and a host of other important events that explain by themselves why many films were left behind.

Join me in remembering…

The 10 Most Underrated Films of the 90s

Falling Down (1993)

Falling Down (BD) Blu-ray

Dir: Joel Schumacher

His reputation as a filmmaker may be somewhat tarnished by “Batman & Robin” but Joel Schumacher was a great action film director with films that combine entertainment and drama like “FFalling Down” (from Amazon), starring Michael Douglas in one of his best roles, and that’s saying a lot when we’re talking about this actor.

The story presents Bill Foster, an ordinary citizen who lives immersed in his quiet routine until one day, tired of the weight of the environment and the human crisis of society, he decides to react violently against everything. 

In other words, it is a sort of “Breaking Bad” from the nineties with a risky political message in which Schumacher unloaded all the frustration, anger, despair, and other negative emotions that perfectly reflect the situation that practically any person lives, in any city, and that could be any of us.

In addition, the madness of Michael Douglas is accompanied by the iconic Robert Duvall, who as usual in his characters, serves as an emotional balance in the narrative.

Ultimately, Falling Down is exactly what its title implies, a story that critiques the American dream and reflects the lives of those who failed to achieve it. This interesting script comes together with mostly overwhelming scenes, forming this genius that will leave you sitting there breathless.

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Small Soldiers (1998)

Small Soldiers 1990s kids Movie

Dir: Joe Dante

I’m not sure if you’ll support me with this choice, but Small Soldiers (also from Amazon) was one of the movies I enjoyed the most growing up. It may not have aged that well, but it has that nineties aura that we love so much.

After starting the decade with the entertaining Gremlins 2 and Matinee (films that could also have appeared here), the underrated director returned to his favorite job: subverting the clichés of “family-friendly” movies, and what better than using the war genre?

For this, he introduced us to the character of Alan, a restless teenager who was expelled from school for a prank. To redeem himself in the eyes of his father, a toy merchant, he takes it upon himself to renovate some old-fashioned figures that were gathering dust in the store.

But what Alan didn’t know is that the toys have an advanced technology chip inside, which not only provides them with life, but they are as intelligent as humans.

The showdown between the elite super-muscled commandos and the Gorgonites, a race of peaceful monsters, is one of the most epic things every kid can see, and even though it’s in miniature, you can understand why war is such a destructive and traumatic thing, but let’s face it, the battle scenes are hilarious.

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Desperate Measures (1998)

Desperate Measures DVDfrom the 90s

Dir: Barbet Schroeder.

Here is one of those films that are rare nowadays. With a devilish pace and an uncanny ability to hold our attention, the thriller unites Michael Keaton and Andy Garcia with terrific direction by Schroeder.

The plot revolves around Frank (Andy Garcia), a police detective who makes an honest living and tries to help his son, afflicted with a spinal cord disease.

Frank, therefore, finds his only salvation in Peter (Michael Keaton), an incarcerated serial killer who qualifies to donate some of his spinal cord. But like any criminal, Peter sees the perfect escape opportunity during his trip to the hospital…

This premise resulted in an exciting story with incredible handling of tension, as there is a conflict of interests between the protagonists that will take them through the most dramatic situations. 

As for the performances, both are phenomenal, although Keaton steals the show, so much so that at times he convinces you of his selfish crusade.

Desperate Measures went a bit under the radar on its release, perhaps because it tried to put a more dramatic spin on what up to this point was shootouts, explosions, and testosterone, but for that very reason it’s worth a watch.

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Addams Family Values (1993)

Addams Family Values is a 90s cinema hidden gem

Dir: Barry Sonnenfeld.

I’m sure you’ll think it’s not necessary for a franchise as well-known as the Addams Family to be in a list of underrated 90s movies, but the truth is that the sequel to the 1991 classic is not so well known. And if we take into account how difficult it is to make a good sequel nowadays, Sonnenfeld did a remarkable job.

In this new adventure of the creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky family, the Addams Family mansion as the couple gives birth to a third child, and because of the burden that entails, Morticia decides to hire a nanny while Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to summer camp.

The problem is that the nanny position is filled by Debbie, a woman with a sinister history of husbands who died in terrible ways, and she already has her sights set on her new victim: Uncle Fester.

If the first Addams Family movie was already pretty good, Sonnenfeld boosted all the elements in this sequel, with a more engaging story with better narrative pacing.

Of course, the sinister but funny scenes are some of the biggest beneficiaries, and the decision to take the Addamses out of their comfort zone was right, giving rise to Sonnenfeld’s critique of American society and how they can reach the limits of toxic joy. 

Sadly, it was the last time we could enjoy Raúl Juliá recreating the best Gomez Addams ever seen on screen.

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First Knight (1995)

First Knight (Special Edition) Blu-ray

Dir: Jerry Zucker.

Nowadays, the medieval genre has lost popularity and we hardly see productions of this kind, but in the 1990s, they were a sensation, giving rise to gems like First Knight, which combines epicness with romance.

This film tells the story of Lancelot (Richard Gere), a famous knight destined to take a seat at the round table. But he cannot help falling in love with Guinevere (Julia Ormond), the beautiful betrothed of King Arthur (Sean Connery) when he rescues her from the clutches of the evil Sir Maleagant (Ben Cross.

Will Guinevere be able to give up the Crown for love, or will she cling to power?

The rivalry between King Arthur and Lancelot has been explored several times in film, here it is given a more adventurous, more modern tone, with clean and neat sets that, as in the case of Camelot, look like something out of a romantic fairy tale.

However, in other aspects, the characters were made less complex and more simple and human.

In addition to this narrative construction, there are beautiful landscapes, incredible costumes, luminous photography, and epic and romantic music at the same time.

In general, the actors that make up the love triangle are quite outstanding, although Sean Connery went beyond, personifying a majestic, credible, and magnificent King Arthur. Undoubtedly, he alone is worth enjoying this medieval journey.

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Very Bad Things (1998)

Very Bad Things underratted 90s movie

Dir: Peter Berg.

Getting to the point, amazon link=”B07Y97FK3F” title=”Very Bad Things”] (from Amazon) is possibly one of the best dark comedies of the 90s, but it was overshadowed by other great gems of the genre. The predecessor of “The Hangover” arrived ten years earlier without making much noise, neither at the time of its release nor during posterity, but here we are to vindicate it.

Like any story of this style, it begins with five irresponsible friends who travel to Las Vegas to celebrate a bachelor party. Drugs mix with alcohol and a high-class prostitute accidentally dies during the party.

Against common sense and following the instructions of the “leader” of the group, they decide to get rid of the corpse, but this is only the beginning of a long chain of misfortunes…

Don’t be fooled by its comic packaging, because it has some disturbing scenes that make you feel the anxiety of its protagonists. Nerves, tension, and lots of laughs, I think that’s the best way to summarize this work of Peter Berg, who boasts an excellent direction and a gripping script.

And if we add to that names like Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater, Daniel Stern, and Jon Favreau to name a few, you have as a result an experience of authentic dark humor that may be too much for some, but it would be a crime not to enjoy it.

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Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Miller's Crossing Blu-ray

Dir: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.

The Coen brothers are more than established in the film industry, but it’s incomprehensible that this marvel doesn’t have a place among their most popular films, and even among the best of the 90s. Oh, I know what happened, it was released the same year as “The Godfather III” and “Goodfellas”.

Miller's Crossing is set in a 1929 town, where a rivalry arises between two friends; Leo (Albert Finney), a gangster who rules the place, and Tom (Gabriel Byrne), his assistant. When the two fall in love with the same woman, an open war between gangs is generated in which betrayals, political clashes, corruption, and internal secrets predominate.

With a Neo Noir vibe and a technical section in which photography, costumes, period setting, and a soundtrack that works as a sweet counterpart to what we see on screen stand out, Miller’s Crossing is a real gem full of unexpected twists, a touch of dark humor and dialogues that will stick in your mind. 

A very bold take on the world of organized crime from the Coens, but one that for that very reason should be much more highly regarded.

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The Fisher King (1991)

The Fisher King is a masterpiece

Dir: Terry Gilliam.

If more people had Terry Gilliam’s amazing imagination, the world would be a much more interesting place. His somewhat psychedelic filmography already speaks for itself, although it’s a shame that the poignant story of amazon link=”B00UUOVPMS” title=”The Fisher King”] has gone so unnoticed, especially with Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams in the lead roles.

On this occasion, Gilliam places us in the imposing New York, where Jack (Bridges), a radio announcer, falls into disgrace when one of his programs accidentally provoked a terrible massacre. Tired of it all, Jack decides to take his own life but is saved by Parry (Williams), a drifter who claims to be a medieval knight in search of the Holy Grail.

Just by reading the premise you can already sense that this is a story of spiritual change as the great Gilliam knows how to do, although he also stops to show the worst parts of New York, totally rotten and miserable.

But all with a narrative sense that enhances its morals about love and friendship, something that nowadays we are slowly forgetting the meaning of.

Jeff Bridges plays a great role while Robin Williams manages to bring both comedy and drama in one of his great characters.

In short, a very emotional film with a great ending that will teach a new way of looking at life.

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Jackie Brown (1997)

Jackie Brown

Dir: Quentin Tarantino.

Is Tarantino on a list of the most underrated movies?

Yes, it seems hard to believe. After his big hits with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino wasn’t so lucky with Jackie Brown, but that doesn’t mean it’s on par with his greatest works.

Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who, in need of money, acts as a courier for Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a mobster wanted by the police. Everything seems to be going well until one day she is caught at customs and accused of drug trafficking and evasion. To avoid prison, the police leave Jackie only one way out: to help them get to Robbie.

These two big names in the industry were joined by Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, and Robert de Niro himself. So this is not a mediocre cast of characters.

The whole film’s an ode to cinema in its purest and most authentic state, full of dark humor, great performances, tremendous twists, and an endless string of dialogues that are to be framed.

It doesn’t matter that “Jackie Brown” doesn’t have that crazy and cool touch of “Pulp Fiction”, that epicness of “Kill Bill”, that twisted and sickly of “Death Proof” or that rough and violent of “Reservoir Dogs”, because it is very enjoyable if you give it the deserved attention, and as it goes on it only gets better.

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The Game (1997)

The Game is a 90s film starring Michael Douglas

Dir: David Fincher.

You could say I let my personal tastes rule me this time, but the truth is that this Fincher gem has been lost in time due to the indirect fault of “Se7en” and “Fight Club”. He makes movies so good that they overshadow each other.

Starring Michael Douglas, the story features Nicholas, a meticulous billionaire accustomed to controlling every facet of his life, though everything changes when his brother (Sean Penn), invites him to try a new form of entertainment where there are no rules.

But what at first was curiosity to try something new, soon turns into paranoia because the game is serious, very serious…

Don’t let anyone tell you about this movie, you have to enjoy it on your own. It’s full of plot twists and a narrative that plays with the protagonist throughout, conveying to you his desperation and confusion.

As usual, Douglas shines in this role, showing a remarkable evolution in his character with an ending that brings his chaotic journey to a fitting close.

I’m not going to lie, you might have a hard time watching this film because of its atmosphere of tension and intrigue. You will feel anxious to find out what is happening and what is the real goal that puts the protagonist in such extreme situations, but therein lies the charm of this story, it knows how to involve its viewers as few have achieved.

Fincher, you never disappoint.

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Did You Miss These 90s Movies?

Wow, the 90s were an era full of so many gems that even the underrated ones are redundant, but in my opinion, these 10 are remarkable, with a variety of genres and themes.

But if they all have something in common is that they were brave, presenting new ideas and perspectives that were not valued at the time, but here we are to position them at the top of a brilliant decade for cinema.

Last update on 2024-04-04 at 01:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API