5. Tigerland (2000)
Widely accepted as being the breakthrough role for Irish heart-throb turned off-kilter comedy leading man Colin Farrell, Schumacher’s Vietnam war movie Tigerland was the first of three collaborations between Farrell and Schumacher in as many years at the turn of the century, thus christening a successful artistic partnership that realised the likes of Veronica Guerin (no. 8) and Phone Booth (no. 6).
Perhaps the most underrated film on this list, Tigerland is a gritty exploration of the mindset of young men training for battle towards the end of the Vietnam War and has a sense of unpredictability that in many ways mirrored the war itself. An oft-forgotten war movie released in the midst of a slew of war films after the success of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), this is certainly a Joel Schumacher that deserves more eyes.
4. A Time To Kill (1996)
Sandwiched between Joel Schumacher’s two Batman movies is A Time To Kill starring Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer defending a black man (Samuel L. Jackson) accused of the murder of the two white men who raped his daughter, a premise that proves the foundation for a violent response from the Klu Klux Klan.
This is the sort of movie that most directors would have avoided in the midst of a run at the mainstream with major Warner Bros property Batman, but in bringing A Time To Kill to the big screen, Schumacher reinforced how capable he is of presenting moving critique on the silver screen even within the shackles of Hollywood’s studio system.
Watch this one for the qualities of McConaughey’s and particularly Jackson’s acting work, but hold a thought for a director who was brave enough to tackle real issues in between making the two worst Batman movies ever.
3. The Client (1994)
In 1994, Joel Schumacher pitted the acting talents of Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon against one another in his court-room drama about an innocent kid projected into a world of tension and violence after witnessing the suicide of a member of the mafia.
The Client, like much of Schumacher’s best work, featured his somewhat signature presentation of moral ambiguity and his ever-present critique of social, political and cultural norms, all the while maintaining a fast and exciting pace ripe for Hollywood.
Sarandon is a powerhouse under Schumacher’s watchful eye, yet the whole cast feels involved if not important, and the picture painted by the film’s end is one of darkness for the innocent young boy at its centre, leaving you ponderous as to the nature of your own allegiances and all that you take for granted.
2. The Lost Boys (1987)
If Flatliners is “one of” Schumacher’s most iconic movies, then The Lost Boys (1987) is certainly taking the cake. This archetypal 80s movie, starring the likes of Alex Winter (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Kiefer Sutherland (of whom Schumacher would collaborate with again on the likes of Flatliners and Phone Booth), Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, is a vampire movie unlike any other yet hugely influential to the vampire movies that followed it.
This “not very Twilight” 80s vampire picture is somewhat timeless in how attached to the 80s it is, and though that seems like a contradiction in statements, The Lost Boys is just one of those movies you have to see to believe. There’s a reason Schumacher headed into the 90s with a lot of New Hollywood steam…
1. Falling Down (1993)
Undisputedly the greatest movie directed by Joel Schumacher is 1993 capitalist critique Falling Down starring late-80s/early-90s megastar Michael Douglas as a man so overcome with the inconveniences of modern life that he sees his mental state, and life prospects, spiral over the course of an overwhelming day in Los Angeles.
This is a start to finish rollercoaster of a thriller that features all of Schumacher’s most iconic traits, not least the moral ambiguity on offer in following a desperate man as he steals and murders his way into notoriety. As sad as it is tense and unmissable, Falling Down is about as underrated of a gem as there gets and is the crown jewel of Schumacher’s filmography; the number one movie of his long and established career.
So there you go, 10 utterly watchable films from a director who is perhaps unfairly associated only with his work on the mid-90s Batman atrocities Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, but; what do you think? Have we unfairly left off any of your favourites? Would you have chosen a different order? Let us know in the comments below!