Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ten Disappointing Movie Experiences

Reposted from YesButNoButYes.

The summer movie season is upon us. Hollywood is shipping out the bloated, over-hyped, market-research-tested, Happy-Meal-tied-in, tent pole “blockbusters” to local cinemas as we speak. Uh, read. And write. You know what I mean.

I may be a snob, but I do enjoy many a popcorn flick. For me, the most enjoyable film season is October to December, where most of the “important” films are released to the more discerning masses. The summer schedule is a lot like Nicolas Cage’s IMDB credits; wildly divergent with hits and misses. Nevertheless, the studios give us enough passable $300 million monsters that entertain the masses to justify the occasional stink bomb.

Going to the movies is one of my favorite activities. Has been since I was a child. There were many times in the 80’s that I would beg my folks to drop me off at the Sea-Tac Mall AMC 6 to see “Ghostbusters” or “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” for the seventh time. I still get excited as the lights go down and the coming attractions start. I take out the candy and snacks that I’ve smuggled in like Red getting contraband into Shawshank, sit back and experience a wee bit of escapism for 120 minutes.

Inside my pea sized brain lies a fairly good barometer of what film I will enjoy and what film I should avoid. I usually know. But there are times that I am wrong. Way wrong. Where I thought I would enjoy a movie and ended up feeling like I was going to become Linda Blair in “Exorcism.” I begin to squirm in my seat. Then cringe at bad dialogue and awful “special” effects. And finally start whine like a little boy. “I wanna go home! Johnny no likey Michael Bay!”

The following are the worst movie going experiences I’ve ever had. Times that I wished I had some rotten fruit to chuck at the silver screen.

You’ll notice many of these are sequels. I wish Hollywood would notice that many of these are sequels.

The Dishonorable Mentions:

Pearl Harbor – A great action sequence book-ended by an unbearable “love” story and horrendous acting. It was two hours too long. Nauseating. I still can’t figure out why the attack sequence wasn’t the finale. There was a great scene, then two more hours of nothing. “I love you, but you’re gonna die, but I slept with him when I thought you were dead, but I’m pregnant and who is going to be the father and …” Oh, kill me.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
– A Superman film pieced together by idiot Warner Brothers executives. Painful.

Van Helsing
– A great premise on paper. All the Universal monsters were there. Hugh Jackman is really good. Then the CGI effects started. And kept going. Then Kate Beckinsale’s accent made Kevin Costner look like Peter Sellers. Was it Romanian? Russian? English? Filipino? Still don’t know. The film was the definition of “it’s okay we’ll fix it in post.”

The Good Shepard
– Who would have thought that Robert De Niro, Matt Damon and the CIA could be so dull.

Clerks/All Kevin Smith – I finally gave up on Mr. Smith. I can’t handle it. Rubbish.

The Losers:

10. Marie Antoinette – Nah, just kidding, like I’d go see that. To quote “Young Guns II,” “I’d rather drink turpentine and piss on a brush fire.” Hollywood nepotism at it’s most extreme.

Okay, the real list.

10. Vanilla Sky – The normally enjoyable Cameron Crowe really let this one ride off the rails. By the time the end came and things were beginning to be explained, I had already tuned out. Completely nonsensical.

9. Batman and Robin – “Batman Forever” was really bad. I thought “Well, it is hard to follow the first two, perhaps my expectations were too high.” Maybe this could redeem the franchise. Whoa Nelly was that wrong. A mess from start to finish. Maybe the worst superhero film script of all time. All-you-can-eat cold puns from Mr. Freeze. “You’re not sending me to the cooler!” “Know what killed the dinosaurs? The ICE AGE!” Oh boy. And why was it interesting to watch Robin do his laundry?

8. The Day After Tomorrow – I wasn’t expecting “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” but I thought it might be at least fun. Nope. It turned into a comedy ten minutes in when the poor Japanese guys were getting smacked in the head by chunks of ice. I was trying not to laugh, but no such luck. Granted, most movies require you to have some amount of suspended disbelief, but this set new records in absurdity. The ocean warmed up in 45 minutes? The people are frozen but the wolves are fine in Manhattan? You are forced to burn books (and give a condescending speech about it) when you are in a library filled with wooden tables, chairs and bookshelves? And the best; cold moves at approximately seven miles per hour, so you can run from it and then a wooden door will completely stop it?!? I have a headache just thinking about that.

7. Juno – “Honest to blog?” Honest to blog??? I nearly walked out there and then. Less than five years from now, there will be an article entitled “the Least Deserving Oscars Of All-Time.” The Academy Award for Best Screenplay going to Juno will be numero uno. I hated it.

6. Lady in the Water – I actually enjoy M. Night’s work. (His upcoming opus “The Penis” looks pretty good.) As a filmmaker, maybe he’s not amazing, but at least he’s interesting. I’m afraid the Lady was a self important dud. Think about it for a moment. What was the story? You saw it, what was the story? I bet many of you are thinking, “Uh, there’s that guy from Sideways, he has a stutter I think. And a guy with one buff arm and one skinny arm. Don’t know what he did. A slutty Korean chick was there. And, uh, a writer and a kid or some crap. Was somebody dead the whole time? And the girl who lives in the pool needs to go … somewhere, uh, crap, the writer is important I think. Hell, I don’t know.” There were Narfs of Nerfs or something. I believe one of the creatures was called a Scrote. I really couldn’t tell you.

5. Planet of the Apes; 2001 – Tim Burton is a genius in my eyes. I even like “Mars Attacks.” It’s hilarious. The visual flair and old school storytelling usually appeal to me. The Apes remake was the exception. Think of the talent involved here. Along with Burton was Tim Roth, Paul Giamatti, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Estella Warren … oops, cancel that last one. Even Mark Wahlberg has grown on me since “The Departed.” All that talent couldn’t save this stinker. “How did these apes get this way?” “Never send a monkey to do a man’s job.” I couldn’t get past those clunkers. I have read that Burton has basically disavowed the film saying there was too much studio interference. I’ll go with that excuse. For me to not like a movie with talking monkeys is quite an accomplishment.

4. Spiderman 3 – The first two are good examples of summer films that work. They’re enjoyable and entertaining. And Sam Raimi is a talented dude. So how did the wheels come off the wagon so quickly in the third installment? Okay, let me see if I got this straight; The evil black gunk gets on Peter Parker and he then joins Fall Out Boy, right? Got it. Makes sense. Did the scene with Kirsten Dunst and James Franco doing “The Twist” in the kitchen really happen? Or did I hit my head on the sink again? I called my brother Drew while he was in the theater and he sent me a text back saying, “In Spidey 3. Wish I wasn’t.” I soon knew what he meant. Is Mary Jane singing again? Again?!?

3. Rocky V – Most fans will be with me when I say that I choose to pretend it never happened. You hear me? It never happened. The Rocky films aren’t exactly artistic, but the formula worked. Rocky struggles through the film, then gets a wakeup call, trains in a montage and beats the better boxer. Chapter five tried to use the equation but making Rocky poor didn’t work. That’s substituting X for Y. It’s still hard to comprehend how they made Rocky dumber and more punchy. Didn’t know that was possible.

2. American Beauty – Wouldn’t have predicted this one, I bet. Critically adored, industry championed and I loathed it’s breathing guts. It’s awful. I felt like I was watching a bad daytime soap opera. Every dysfunctional family cliché in the book was thrown into the pot and stirred around to make a stinky, overrated stew. Depression, failure, homosexuality, sexual perversion, zzzzzzzzzzzz … … Sorry, fell asleep for a second there. It’s the same reason “Monster’s Ball” is unwatchable. After an hour and ten minutes of “Beauty,” I had enough and headed for the exit. Enough was enough. A terrible film.

1. The Matrix Reloaded – The original is fantastic. Revolutionary. Freaking mind blowing. The second Matrix was like being given an extravagantly wrapped present with a big red bow on it and inside is a fresh, wet turd. The inexplicable rave sequence, the creepy albino Milli Vanilli twins, Neo fighting the 337,000 Agent Smith clones (please end the sequence, please end the sequence, please end the sequence …) and especially, “The Architect” explaining the Matrix for six hours. I hated it so much that I refused to see the third one. Still haven’t seen it. It wasn’t a good sign when my favorite part was Rage Against the Machine’s “Calm Like a Bomb” was used in the credits.

Hopefully this list doesn’t jinx “The Dark Knight.” Nah, that won’t happen.

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