Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan ‘Unbreakable’ stars Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a security guard, who after barely surviving a horrific train crash, finds himself possessing superhuman powers. While educating himself about the powers, he comes across a helpful but disabled comic book shop owner named Elijah Price, essayed by Samuel L. Jackson. The film unravels the nature of Price, as discovered by Dunn. The film is shot by Portuguese cinematographer Eduardo Serra, edited by Dylan Tichenor and the music is scored by American composer James Newton Howard.
The Shyamalan directorial is delightfully twisted and suspenseful. The film blends the narrative elements of a thriller and superhero genre to create an original piece of work. ‘Unbreakable’ was produced on a budget of $75 million, and grossed $248.1 million at the box office. The commercial success spawned a thematic sequel, titled ‘Split’ (2017) and a third film ‘Glass’ (2019), which comprises of Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy.
For this list, I have taken into account films which have a similar narrative structure. The selected names on this list primarily blend different genres with the tropes of superhero flicks. In addition, I have not included projects directed by M Night Shyamalan in order to have a more diverse selection. So, without further ado, here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Unbreakable’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Unbreakable’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
9. Swamp Thing (1982)
Written and directed by Wes Craven, ‘Swamp Thing’ stars Ray Wise as Alec Holland, a scientist, who somehow transforms into the monstrous figure due to purposeful laboratory sabotage engendered by the evil Anton Arcane, essayed by Louis Jourdan. Although completely shattered by this reality, he undertakes the moniker of “Swamp Thing” to take on crime.
Adapted from the DC comic book series of the same name by co-creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, ‘Swamp Thing’ blends the genres of superhero and horror to create an engaging piece of work. The movie, upon its release, received positive reviews from critics and audiences. Roger Ebert scored it three out of four stars, establishing its quality. ‘Swamp Thing’ was also a box office success, and the profit spawned a sequel titled ‘The Return of Swamp Thing’ in 1989.
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8. Brightburn (2019)
The most recent release on this list, ‘Brightburn’ follows Brandon Breyer, a young alien boy raised on Earth who after realizing that he has superpowers, woes to terrorize his town. ‘Brightburn’ takes the narrative and thematic structure of Superman, but turns the tables to formulate a superhero horror hybrid.
Directed by David Yarovesky and co-written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, the movie is a perceptively crafted work. It uses the stylistics of other horror films such as ‘Alien’ (1979), i.e. the suspense of a superior extra-terrestrial creature, to create an engaging experience. While ‘Brightburn’ its own shortcomings with the screenplay and the direction, the cinematography, the sound design and the performance help sail the boat to success. Produced on a budget of $6, it grossed $32.4 million, which has spawned a sequel releasing in the foreseeable future.
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7. Watchmen (2009)
Zack Snyder has always been criticized for his indulgence in style over substance. However, with ‘Watchmen,’ the filmmaker managed to find the balance between the two to great extents. Brought onto the big screen from the comic book series of the same name, co-created by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, ‘Watchmen’ is an alternate history during the Cold War in 1985.
The film follows a group of retired superhero vigilantes who resurrects from hibernation to investigate the murder of one of their own. What unfolds is dark and deadly conspiracy which the group find themselves enmeshed in. While the movie has its own critics, which criticize it to be overindulgent, ‘Watchmen’ has gained a special status in among R rated superhero films. The period setting allows the narrative to steer into interesting views on the historical event. In addition, the performances and the cinematography aid the quality of the flick.
6. Blade (1998)
The first installment of the ‘Blade’ trilogy, this Stephen Norrington directed film stars Wesley Snipes as Blade, a half-vampire and half-mortal man who uses his supernatural powers to become the protector of the human race. However, this causes an upsurge among the evil vampires who now want to decimate the human race along with their protector.
‘Blade’ creates an engaging narrative by infusing horror with superhero films. It also boasts of interesting visual stylistics. With inventive use of bloodshed, the film causes an exciting adrenaline rush through the action sequences. The cinematography by Theo van de Sande is haunting and adds to the horror quotient. The direction and cinematography are aided by the brilliant performance by Snipes who disappears into the role as if were tailor-made for him. While ‘Blade’ received moderate reviews at the time of release, it has grown over the years to gain a massive cult following.
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5. Mystery Men (1999)
A superhero comedy, ‘Mystery Men’ features a band of incompetent, amateur superheroes who have to swoop in to save the day when a supervillian threatens to destroy a legitimate superhero and further the city. Directed by Kinka Usher and co-written by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden, ‘Mystery Men’ is based on the comic book series ‘Flaming Carrot Comics’ which is created by Burden.
While the makers induce elements of comedy in the piece, the overall tonality does not feel frivolous. The inventive narrative was complemented by the critical reviews, but it did not help in the commercial prospects. Against a budget of $68 million, ‘Mystery Men’ ended up with a meager $33.5 million, making it a commercial disappointment. However, through the passage of time, the movie has seasoned to be considered as a cult classic.
4. The Crow (1994)
Adapted from the superhero comic book series of the same name, created by James O’Barr, ‘The Crow’ follows Eric Draven, a rock musician who after being murdered, is brought back to life as an avenger. With the supernatural capabilities, he now takes the name of the titular Crow to avenge the brutal murders. of his and his fiancee.
Directed by Alex Proyas and co-written by David J. Schow and John Shirley, ‘The Crow’ is dark, grimy and violent. What makes the film such a great watch is the narrative structuring, the visuals and the atmospheric storytelling. The director brings in the stylistics of a noir and horror film and coats it with the fanciness of superhero flicks. ‘The Crow’ stars Brandon Lee as the protagonist and the actor brings in all of his potentials to essay the part. While the movie was marred with many challenges during production, the quality helped it achieve critical and commercial success. The monetary success led to four sequels, all of which could not do well as ‘The Crow’ at the box o
3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Guillermo del Toro is one of the few filmmakers who love the spectacle of cinema and is quite evident in the films he directs. A sequel to the ‘Hellboy’ (2004), which is an adaptation of the comic book character of the same name, created by Mike Mignola, ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ follows a rebellion orchestrated by the mythical world against humanity to invade Earth.
Now, Hellboy and his team have to take it upon themselves to save the world from the recalcitrant creatures. While ‘Hellboy’ was a great movie, the sequel ups the quality by developing on the characters with dexterity. Like a quintessential del Toro piece of work, the film brings in fantastical elements within the narrative of a superhero. A critical success, ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ scored big at the box office, grossing $160.4 million against a budget of $85 million.
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2. RoboCop (1987)
Designed as a cyberpunk action film, ‘RoboCop’ is set in a dystopian and crime-ridden futuristic city of Detroit, Michigan. Alex Murphy, a committed policeman, is ruthlessly murdered by a gang of mobsters. Presumed dead, his body is revived by the mega corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) who infuse it with the framework of a cyborg.
Now, reincarnated as a law enforcer, he takes upon the name “RoboCop” to fight crime and find the people who mercilessly destroyed his human life. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and co-written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, ‘RoboCop’ isn’t just a violent superhero film. The narrative is teeming with a socio-political commentary which is aided by the adrenaline rush of the aforementioned genre. With style as well as substance structuring the movie, ‘RoboCop’ is a classic of the genre.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed by Christopher Nolan and co-written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, ‘The Dark Knight’ follows Batman, Police Lieutenant James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, who join forces to completely break the corrupt structure of organized crime in Gotham City. However, their deeds as challenged by an anarchistic mastermind who calls himself the Joker, who has just one aim, i.e. turn the city completely into a chaotic.
‘The Dark Knight’ has often been cited as a realistic film, which is seemingly the reason for its success. However, what the film does is brings the elements of a drama to sharpen the edges of the stylistic world of the comic book character. While it has its own critics, with many categorizing at as an “overrated” film, ‘The Dark Knight’ is a special piece of work. With a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic, ‘The Dark Knight’ is not just a classic of the genre but a towering achievement in world cinema.
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