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PLAYBACK_ Top 10 Peter Weller Movies

 
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Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:22 am Reply with quote

Happy 70th birthday to Peter Weller, the original and best Alex Murphy. Happy 67th to Nancy Allen too! To mark the occasion, I thought I’d do a little rundown of Mr Weller’s best movies imho. Obviously Peter's done some notable TV work too, both in front of and behind the camera as well as video games, but I'm concentrating on acting performances in movies for the purpose of this list.

10 Of Unknown Origin (1983)



Peter Weller is… Bart Hughes
IMDB: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%


Let’s start at the beginning by starting with the earliest film on the list and Weller’s first ‘starring’ role. This low budget home invasion horror starts with Peter thinking he's got a rat infestation problem. Then things escalate. Based on the novel "The Visitor", this won two awards at the Paris Film Festival. Directed by George P Cosmatos before he went on to do Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra and Tombstone which featured Peter's Robo successor Robert John Burke.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1FQwasriys

9 Shakedown [aka Blue Jean Cop] (1988)



Peter Weller is… Roland Dalton
IMDB: 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%


One of the movies Peter did between R1 & R2, and one I have a lot of affection for, as I used to have a VHS with RoboCop and this both recorded of Sky Movies. Looking at it today, it's a bit messy tone-wise as it feels a bit like a TV-movie in places, then has some action sequences that justify its cinematic release. Peter plays a lawyer defending a dealer who has shot an undercover cop. Teamed up with Sam Elliott from Mask, they uncover police corruption. A few ludicrously fun action scenes, some bad cops, and some 80s-tastic power rock, make it a fun watch. Peter’s definitely very watchable as Jimi Hendrix-singing Dalton in this one. Incidentally, Patricia Charbonneau (Linda Garcia from R2) also stars as the prosecuting lawyer and Weller’s love interest.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9qfcM3m3S4

8 Screamers (1995)



Peter Weller is… Joe Hendricksson
IMDB: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%


Adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story called ‘Second Variety’, Screamers is not as great as other adaptations (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau), but it was pretty popular on VHS and gained a bit of a cult following – enough to spawn a non-Weller-starring sequel in 2009. The screenplay was written by Dan O'Bannon of Alien and Total Recall fame.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WksPMueXkP4


7 Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)



Peter Weller is… Admiral Marcus
IMDB: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%


The best of J.J. Abraham’s Star Trek reboot trilogy, and the only one featuring Peter. He actually has more screentime than I expected him too, although it's definitely an ensemble affair. Star Trek had always passed me by. This film made me respect it.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAEkuVgt6Aw


6 Ivans Xtc (2000)



Peter Weller is… Don West
IMDB: 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%


A low budget but entertaining black comedy. If you’ve only seen Peter in film’s as the good guy, it’s great to see him here a bit more cynical and morally-ambiguous. It’s something that he plays so well, I couldn't help thinking I'd love to see him play a full-on gangster in a Tarantino movie. Or maybe Clarence Boddicker in a RoboCop remake? There’s also a slightly improvised feel to some of the scenes, which is interesting to see him in. Peter once said, he’s done some films he’s proud of and not-so proud of. This one should definitely fall into the former category.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-8IuOduS58


5 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2 (2012)



Peter Weller is… Bruce Wayne/Batman
IMDB: 8.0 / 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%


Alongside Watchmen, Frank Miller’s legendary comic book redefined its genre for adults in 1986. 26 years later it was brought to life in two critically acclaimed animated films. Weller voices an aged and cynical Bruce Wayne/Batman, and it turns out to be inspired casting choice. It would be cool to have him do more voice-work. Maybe in a RoboCop animated movie? In the meantime, this is essential viewing. And Part 2 is a better Batman v Superman movie than Dawn Of Justice!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0H7Du2txOE


4 Naked Lunch (1991)



Peter Weller is… Bill Lee
IMDB: 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%


Naked Lunch is a challenging watch even by today’s standards. And this is coming from someone who watched Weller get blown to bits when he was ten. Some of the effects haven’t aged brilliantly, but it's still as disturbing as you'd expect from director David Cronenberg. Based on William Burrough's cut-up novel, the film draws on some of the events in the book and weaves them into a narrative that is a partial biopic about Burroughs but totally trippy and mental. Incidentally, if the film is too much for you, read Wikipedia's attempt to summarise the book's "plot". It's a good indication of how nuts it is.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVC7sQhzMk0


3 The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984)



Peter Weller is… Buckaroo Banzai
IMDB: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%


Full-on family sci-fi action adventure, and one that, according to the Flesh + Steel documentary, helped bring Peter to the attention of the casting directors on RoboCop. Peter is the hero, rock star and neurosurgeon Buckaroo Banzai. Although it’s undoubtedly 80s, it has quite a unique feel to it that means it still holds up as a cult classic today. And Peter makes an even better bowtie-wearing hero than Matt Smith's Doctor Who.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdanCNK4ayo


2 RoboCop 2 (1990)



Peter Weller is… Robo
IMDB: 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 32%


I was gonna put this below Buckaroo Banzai and Naked Lunch, but who am I kidding?! Which one would I rather watch right now? RoboCop 2 was a rush to finish but it doesn’t show technically, even if the screenplay is a little unfocussed but brimming with ideas. Even in a world where Robo is told by OCP’s lawyers (in the first ten minutes) that he can no longer be a husband, it’s impossible not to love the only opportunity to see Peter return to the suit, this time in garish blue.

Even though Murphy and Lewis’ characters were undeveloped, both Peter and Nancy make the most of the material they are given. Peter’s performance in the aforementioned scene is devastating. He also plays Robo with a sly wit, indicative of a human awareness still there, as Lewis compliments him on his eyesight. “Good as money can buy,” he replies wryly.

It’s a shame we don’t get to see more of Robo unmasked, although Peter probably and understandably wasn’t keen on the length of time to put on the suit AND the make-up, giving the illusion of Murphy’s head grafted onto a metallic head.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxumzn82V9s


1 RoboCop (1987)



Peter Weller is… Alex Murphy
IMDB: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%


Never heard of it.

Oh yes, I have. Sorry.

Peter does a frankly amazing job of ensuring we sympathize with Murphy 's plight throughout the movie, despite being encased in metal with only his jaw showing for the majority of the film. When you think how wrong that could have gone in a lesser actor’s hands, it’s nothing short of a cinematic miracle. The moves Peter devised with Moni Yakim have become iconic, and intrinsically linked with the character. It's a movie that stands the test of time 30 years on, and at the heart of it all, is Weller's performance.


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tC_5mp3udE


Honorable Mentions

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

Decent Woody Allen movie, if you like that sort of thing. Peter’s billed quite high. Shame he only has a handful of scenes.

Beyond the Clouds (1999)
Arthouse drama that got pretty good reviews. His character doesn't even have a name. But then neither does Ryan Gosling in Drive or Michael Douglas in Falling Down, so he's in good company.

Fifty/Fifty (1992)
Post-R2 (and pre-R3) action comedy in which Peter teams up with fellow mercenary Robert Hays for a coup. Hard to find on DVD, and I don’t condone this for a moment, but it’s actually on YouTube in pretty good quality.

The New Age (1994)
Peter playing a charcater called... Peter! Comedy drama reuniting him with his Naked Lunch co-star Judy Davis.

Cat Chaser (1989)
The last of four theatrically-released movies Peter did between R1 & R2. Directed by Abel Ferrara of notorious once-banned-in-the-UK video nasties such as The Driller Killer and Bad Lieutenant, Peter stars alongside Top Gun’s Kelly McGillis in this adaptation of the novel by Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Out Of Sight). In some ways the best of the movies Weller did between RoboCops. Still, he and Ferrara hated the finished version apparently.

Skin Trade (2014)
Peter hasn’t made it to The Expendables franchise (yet!) so you’ll have to make do with him here alongside Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Michael Jai White (Spawn), even though those guys pretty much handle the action here.


Dishonorable mentions

Leviathan (1989)

Special effects by late legend Stan Winston, co-starring Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters 1&2. This film reunited Peter with his Of Unknown Origin director George P Cosmatos. The trailers made this look like Aliens on a submarine. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Really disappointing then that ‘threat’ never feels very scary and Weller looks thoroughly bored throughout.

The Order (2003)
Peter appears as a cardinal opposite The Dark Knight’s late Heath Ledger. It’s got 8% on Rotten Tomatoes though so maybe better to avoid.

Decoy (1995)
RoboCop and the T-1000 (Robert Patrick). Sounds amazing. Sadly isn't.


Any I've missed? I see there's a couple of political thrillers he did in the late 90s which I've still to check out. Do you have any favorites?




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Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:26 pm Reply with quote

First off, another fun topic, thanks!

As for the flicks - I borrowed "Naked Lunch" from the university library a couple of years ago, but I couldn't stand it actually. I liked the very minor creature effects, but that was it, it just wasn't a movie for me.

"Screamers" was pretty popular on cable TV back in the day and I remember liking it a lot.

"Dark Knight Returns", especially Part 1, I feel are actually better than the comic itself and I quite liked Weller's performance. I've always imagined he'd make a good live-action (or even animated) Mr. Freeze.

I remember my "Iron Eagle II" VHS tape had a trailer for "Fifty/Fifty", but I never rented it back in the day. I had seen it on YouTube though, so I guess I'll get around to it eventually.

"Of Unknown Origin" sounds interesting, I might have to check it out.
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Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:51 pm Reply with quote

Great topic! Smile

Leviathan is a guilty pleasure. It's a blatant alien copy but i find it oddly entertaining.

I realize now i haven't seen many Peter Weller movies. Sadly Weller has been in a lot of crap, and I'm not sure I'd be able to sit through most of them even for Weller. The way he chooses his films is a mystery.




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Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:38 am Reply with quote

Johan :
Great topic! Smile
...
I realize now i haven't seen many Peter Weller movies. Sadly Weller has been in a lot of crap, and I'm not sure I'd be able to sit through most of them even for Weller. The way he chooses his films is a mystery.


Seconded. I really should watch some of these at least once (more), he's just such a unique fellow that alone makes for whatever piece being that much more interesting. Maybe not enough to save some certain ones but still.
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Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:12 pm Reply with quote

With his great voice he should have done more animated stuff!

I would like to rewatch Of an unknown origin, I saw it once ages ago, still a kid, it had an impact on me but I've always been afraid it won't hold up the test of time.

I also remember having watched Blue jean cop as a kid as well. It did not resound too much with me, as at that time Lethal Weapon or Tango & Cash were at the top of that genre, tough competion.

Screamers I watched it as an adult, and it definitely had some interesting stuff and ideas, as a whole it wasn't great but worth a watch.

Naked lunch also I watched a few years ago, I wanted to see what Weller did instead of R3! I didn't like it but I understand it has its audience, and the book was quite famous.

I would also like to point at his work as an art historian (he has a PhD and has been university teacher), in Engineering an empire TV docs for example, and I've also watched interviews of him talking about history and politics, his life, etc. He is really bright and intellectual, I like this kind of figures that have a multidimensional biography, for him being actor has been one accomplishment and experience among many others, there was much more going on in his life.

I also remember he has been directing some individual TV episodes of some big shows, he enjoys the artisan aspect of that, even if directors in TV don't have the creative power, they're just hired to do a specific job, he has a love for the process of working with actors and telling the story.
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Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:37 pm Reply with quote

artuditu :
I also remember he has been directing some individual TV episodes of some big shows, he enjoys the artisan aspect of that, even if directors in TV don't have the creative power, they're just hired to do a specific job, he has a love for the process of working with actors and telling the story.


Well said. It's clear his true love is with his historical subjects and such but those gigs shows he still has some affection and respect for the craft, there's still some passion there.

That said he is one of the few actors I actually enjoy speaking about things because he is a truly smart and unique fellow with interesting takes on things. As a bit of a history buff I always enjoy hearing his voice and seeing him on those shows and docs, always good stuff.

Finally, double ditto about VO work, really would be nice to see.. err, hear more, not just animation but I think in games as well would be good. His voice does have such a unique quality that it's both recognizable but also usable in many cases, I can see for instance voicing like quasi-aliens or unique humans or something, shit like that. Would just be great. That and there's of course the geek factor to be had there as well with both his recent Star Trek appearance and of course with us fellow Robo fans. Conan's second-latest Clueless Gamer bit (one of his best ones) where he tries the Oculus Rift features the game 'Wilson's Heart' has the amazing tones of Mr. Weller, which Conan's Clueless Gamer compadre Aaron Bleyart evens says "it's Peter Weller, y'know from RoboCop.." Conan granted makes a joke about the voice but nonetheless it just added that much more to it for me.
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Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:42 pm Reply with quote

An honourable mention must go to Firstborn (1984). Peter played a particularly nasty villain in this movie, a drug dealer who had wormed his way into a sweet suburban family headed by Terri Garr. His scenes with Corey Haim were disturbing as he apparently got too physical with him but there was some great action near the end as he had a final confrontation with Haim's older on-screen brother. Recommended. I reckon Peter should have been cast as a villain in a Joel Silver action flick. Perhaps he could have been Joshua in Lethal Weapon (after all, he knew martial arts), Vorstedt in Lethal Weapon 2, Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2 or Peter Keyes in Predator 2.



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Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:13 am Reply with quote

Hey, cool list, but as a huge Star Trek fan I have to disagree with you about Weller's role in Star Trek: Into Darkness. It isn't the best of the trilogy, and I would say it's the worst given that it is a watered down remake while the other two are original stories at least. I would take that off the list and replace it with Weller's absolutely perfect role as John Paxton in "Demons" and "Terra Prime", the penultimate episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. He played the leader of a xenophobic organization that was trying to remove all aliens from Earth and isolate humans from the rest of the galaxy. He was one of those great villains where you relate to him and almost come to agree with him by the end. And it was much more than the bit part Weller had in Into Darkness. Also, Enterprise's last episode was a very poorly received crossover with The Next Generation that did not do the show justice, so many look at Terra Prime as the true finale. Weller's Paxton is the final obstacle the Enterprise crew must face before forming the Federation of Planets, which is an essential tentpole of every other Star Trek show or movie. While it might not make a ton of sense to people who don't know much about Star Trek and haven't watched the rest of Enterprise, I still recommend checking out those couple episodes and reevaluating the list. Weller was just kinda there in Into Darkness, but in Enterprise he was the main attraction.
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Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:21 pm Reply with quote

AlexRobo :
An honourable mention must go to Firstborn (1984). Peter played a particularly nasty villain in this movie, a drug dealer who had wormed his way into a sweet suburban family headed by Terri Garr. His scenes with Corey Haim were disturbing as he apparently got too physical with him but there was some great action near the end as he had a final confrontation with Haim's older on-screen brother. Recommended. I reckon Peter should have been cast as a villain in a Joel Silver action flick. Perhaps he could have been Joshua in Lethal Weapon (after all, he knew martial arts), Vorstedt in Lethal Weapon 2, Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2 or Peter Keyes in Predator 2.


I also saw that movie "Firstborn" as a kid just because Peter Weller was in it. It was disturbing watching him as a bad guy and in a more realistic film than usual, but for some reason it stuck with me for years.

It's interesting what you say he could have done bad guys in action movies at the time, he definitely can be menacing, although the examples you picked I wouldn't replace Gary Busey ones, he added something to his characters that made them look nuts as well Laughing
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Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:22 pm Reply with quote

Are any of these the one in which he destroys a guy´s pee-pee? And no, I´m not talking about Robo1. I saw a film with him ages ago. I remember that scene because it was "too much" when I was a kid: the suspect, handcuffed naked on a shower, and Weller ends shoting him in the balls. Could it be "Rainbow Drive"?



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Posted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:59 am Reply with quote

ChAnOoD :
Are any of these the one in which he destroys a guy´s pee-pee? And no, I´m not talking about Robo1.


Sheesh, no wonder he didn't want to get typecast!
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Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:40 pm Reply with quote

RoboPimp :
Sheesh, no wonder he didn't want to get typecast!


At least he had to wear a regular suit for his cop role instead a fiberglass one Laughing




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