Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 55

Wow, that stunk. I really thought it would be better. . . so much better.

What film disappointed you most?

Panelist: BevfromNYC

The Kids Are Alright – for all of the hype and super liberal message – it was just an ordinary Hallmark Movie of the Week with an A-list cast.

Panelist: T-Rav

Oh, there have been so many, most of them sequels. But as for original(s), I have never been able to make it through any of the Mission: Impossible movies. I don't even know why, because they're clearly not bad movies, but I've never been impressed with them. They just aren't very interesting to me. Maybe that says more about me than the movies.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

I don't want to go with a film that had impossibly high expectations going in, so I'll say Get Low an indy regional pic starring Robert Duval about an East Tennessee moonshiner who held his own funeral as a party before he died. This had great potential, but was so damned slow.

Panelist: ScottDS

At the end of the day, I found I Am Legend to be very disappointing, especially after all the positive comments I'd read about it. I've never read the original story but it's obvious that the movie was gutted prior to release. That and the zombie CGI effects left much to be desired. It's a shame since there are great ideas on display and Will Smith is entertaining as always.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

I've got to with the granddaddy of disappointments: the Star Wars prequels. Seriously, how could they be that bad? Was this a joke? Did we offend George Lucas in some way? I don't understand.

Comments? Thoughts?


Tennessee Jed said...

looking at the picks:

The Kids are alright - couldn't disappoint me since I had zero interest in seeing it.Super lib messages tend to do that to me

Rav - I am just the opposite with MI series. I expected to be disappointed, and was pleasantly surprised.

Jed - That is all well and good, but how can you expect the other panelists to give a rat's ass, let alone be disappointed in, a little regional indie film?

Scott - I can see how that might be a big disappointment. I had a relatively low expectation level, having long ago gotten over Wil Smith as being "all that" or anything else for that matter. Ali boom baya indeed.

Star Wars - Nothing wrong with the choice, Andrew, except as I said, it would be hard for me to pick as the biggest disappointment, something that was so doomed by high expectations from the get go

Anthony said...

The Dark Knight Rises.


I loved the Dark Knight (that and the Incredibles are hands down the two best superhero movies ever made) but from scene one the Dark Knight Rises just didn't work for me.

The intro of Bane was just meaningless. No one with two brain cells to rub together thinks that the villian is going to check out in his first scene, so the Joker's crime mask was a nice, needed, touch, as was his orchestration of the deaths of most of his fellow bank robbers (he killed the last guy himself). But DKR just shows Bane and a couple suits holding him, then it has this no doubt very expensive scene where his guys rescue him and the guy with him in mid-air. There's no surprise and we never labour under the delusion that the faceless suits who hold him are going to live more than 5 seconds, so it doesn't work.

Also, I didn't buy A) that a law could magically wipe out all crime in Gotham City and B) that the death of Rachael would just push Bruce into a years long (8 IIRC) sulk rather than spur him on to further action. There are circumstances I could buy Batman retiring (at the intro of the the tv series Batman Beyond, Batman has a heart attack while fighting crime and is compelled to pick up a gun to end a vicious beating a thug is giving him) but the death of a loved one isn't one of those circumstances. Then there was the knee trouble (another reason he was sidelined) and the superpowered knee brace (one could shattered concrete with it) that never factored into the story.

I could go on, but the movie just didn't work for me at any level. It joins X-men 3, Spiderman 3 and Blade 3 as a third superhero movie that failed to live up to its predecessors (the first Nolan Batman took a bit of time to get going, but even it was better than DKR).

Outlaw13 said...

I would say personally I was most disappointed by the film Clear and Present Danger. Having been a fan of the book I was disappointed to see the film take a veiled swipe at Ronald Reagan and change the villain completely where the film became Ryan fighting the CIA. William Defoe is a very good actor but he is not the character of Clark (a Navy SEAL).

Starship Troopers was also just great disappointment for anyone who enjoyed the book and messages contained in it about personal responsibility and citizenship.

Tennessee Jed said...

Anthony - I haven't seen DK rises yet, but your comments sound extremely reasonable to me.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - that is an excellent pick. As a rule, except for the Hunt for Red October, the film adaptions of Clancy's excellent Jack Ryan novels have been disappointed. I agree about Dafoe-- he is a fine actor, but not Mr. Clark. In a way, this reminds me of Andrew's picks. I was such a fan of the books, it would have been really tough not to have been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

3 out of 4 Mission: Impossible films are actually pretty good. (IMHO!)

The first film came out when I was 13 and was the first movie I saw with actual friends (as opposed to with my parents) so I'll always be partial to it. It's probably Brian De Palma's last really good movie, despite the convoluted plot. I know fans of the original series were disappointed considering it was an ensemble while the movie became The Tom Cruise Hour.

The second film is a mess and I actually feel bad for director John Woo - God only knows what the studio and/or Tom forced him to include or cut out. It's a forgettable movie with a bland cast and the only one I don't own on DVD or Blu-Ray.

The third film by J.J. Abrams is pretty good. He does a slightly better job of using the ensemble cast and we get some really cool gadgets and an actual look at the process they use to execute their missions. (We see how their masks are created, for instance.) The ending, on the other hand, is more like something out of 24.

Now the fourth film, directed by Brad (The Incredibles) Bird making his live-action debut, is an absolute blast!! Good use of the whole ensemble, cool gadgets, the best camerawork in the series since the first film... I saw this film in the theater and I hadn't had that much fun seeing a movie in a long time! It's not rocket science - just two hours of entertainment.

Tennessee Jed said...

Say what you will about "Sum" . . . . Ben Affleck < Jack Ryan

Anonymous said...

^(I deleted my comment to rework it.)

Outlaw -

I saw all the Jack Ryan films after the fact and while the politics don't bother me (even though they're pretty obvious), Clear and Present Danger is the one I watch the least (if at all)... so I guess that's something. :-)

And I agree about Defoe - say what you want about what they did to The Sum of All Fears but I thought Liev Schreiber made a great John Clark.

Anonymous said...

Jed -

I must confess I've never seen Get Low but with that cast, I can see myself watching it in the future.

I just watched The Hunt for Red October the other night - man, it's nice when a movie fires on all cylinders! It's just so damned entertaining, even after all these years.

And while he didn't quite pull off Jack Ryan, I was never an Affleck hater - I'm glad to see he's become a very good director.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - great cast, but if you are disappointed, don't say you weren't warned:) Actually, I have never been quite as high on ridiculing Affleck as some. Let's face it, Team America World Police stripped away pretty much every last shred of dignity from him, so I kind of feel a little sympathy

Floyd R. Turbo said...

In terms of looking back... Citizen Kane. Meh... it's a very good film, but better than Casablanca, Ben ur Singin' in the Rain (or insert movie you'd see over and over and over again) -- it's not even Orson Welle's best picture (that would be Touch of Evil).

In terms of looking forward to seeing a movie and then being disappointed...Quantum of Solace was a stinker. I loves me some James Bond movies and Casino Royale had me stoked for the new Bond.

The War Horse too... from the hype this was the new Citizen Kane and was going to sweep the Oscars. It didn't even sweep its own stable.

Green Lantern was a big turd also and it could've been a whole lot better.

Lastly... The Avengers. I was holding out hope for Lou Ferrigno. :-)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Ben Hur, Singin' in the Rain... :-)

T-Rav said...

Welp, I knew I was going to catch some flak for that one. :-)

I'm not saying they're objectively bad movies. Lots of people say they're great and everything, and I'm sure they know what they're talking about. But for me personally, I've never been able to enjoy them. Personal reaction, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Floyd -

I only saw Quantum of Solace once and, since I received my James Bond 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray box the other day, I am now doing something I never thought I'd be doing: owning a copy of Quantum of Solace!

I'm willing to give it another chance - but I can't forgive them for the editing and camerawork. Jason Bourne should be trying to emulate James Bond and NOT the other way around!

I've heard a few theories re: the subpar quality of the film, including the WGA strike and the need to re-write on set. I've also heard rumors of a director's cut which, so far, hasn't happened.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I rather liked I Am Legend. There are parts which could have been more fleshed out--and now that I've read the book, it's way different, even by the normal book-to-movie standards--but as for the on-screen story itself, I can't say there's any gaping holes in it or anything that takes me out of it. And given that it depended entirely on Smith, I give them props for taking a risk.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

I'll give them props for taking the risk as well... but my friend and I had an interesting conversation after the film. When you watch enough movies, certain things tend to seep in through osmosis and you instinctively know when something is "off," whether it's an awkward cut, a bad line reading, or a cheesy bit of dialogue.

This film came off as something that had been sliced and diced at some point, with many interesting ideas left by the wayside, including the origin of the title itself...

From Wikipedia:

Having hitherto seen the destruction of the infected survivors as a moral imperative to be pursued for his own and mankind's survival, he failed to realize that the infected have come to view him in fear and awe. To them, he was an invisible killer who moved by day, killing their loved ones as they hibernated. He realizes that even as vampires were legend in pre-infection times, he, a remnant of old humanity, is now a legend to the new race born of the infection. He therefore remarks to himself as he dies: "[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend."

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - how can one fault their actual honest reaction to a movie series. It is what it is. That said, if you get the chance, check out episodes of the original t.v. series. The first year, the team leader was a young Steven Hill (who went on to play D.A. Adam Schiff on Law & Order. But Peter Graves replaced him as Jim Phelps (long before he played a pedophile airline captain) and defined the role. It was great action/drama episode in the 60's and never given enough credit.

Outlaw13 said...

TN Jed, the TV series was interesting to me because they always seemed to have a Twilight Zone moment were the team revealed to their mark that he had been had, right before he gets his. It was a cool TV show the concept of which the movies actually lack.

When I first heard they were making a Mission Impossible movie I was really excited about it, because the TV shows were for the most part clever and interesting. They weren't knock-off James Bond which is what the films became. IMO.

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry I'm late folks. :)

PikeBishop said...

Hands down, "The Departed." a B minus at best, the lifetime achievement Oscar for Scorcese. Goodfellas, Raging Bull and he wins for this?

Not bad, just uninteresting.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, For me it wasn't just a matter of living up to expectations, it was that the film was a complete and total failure -- it wasn't even a good movie, much less what I would have expected from the Star Wars franchise.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, So I take it you disagree with the critics. LOL!

BIG MO said...

So many disappointments. One of the biggest was the 2000 "Godzilla." I loved the idea of making the mutant lizard attack the Big Apple instead of Tokyo, and rendering it with (then) modern F/X instead of a man in a rubber suit.

But they rushed it to the theaters in time for the promised Memorial Day release, instead of taking a little more time to make a much better film.

The worst: How large was the monster? Big enough to get tangled in the Brooklyn Bridge but small enough to hide in the subway system? Good grief.

The second worst: The final act was too much like "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," which was a much better popcorn flick. (And Jeff Goldblum plays a nerdy scientist much better than Matthew Broderick.)

(The third worst: The "Size Does Matter" tagline was stupid.)

Another disappointment: Anything Harrison Ford has done since his last big hits, "Air Force One" and "The Fugitive." Seems like his career essentially tanked after he divorced his long-time wife and hooked up with Flockhart.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I hadn't read the books first, so I didn't have the huge disappointment factor you do, but I thought Clear and Present Danger was just all around dull. Nothing about the film got me involved in it. The villain was too pointless and remote. The story seemed weak and predictable. I just didn't like it.

I did enjoy Starship Troopers, but as I said, I didn't read the book. So to me, it was just a silly but fun film.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I enjoyed Mission Impossible I a lot. I wasn't expecting much and it really was a lot better than I expected. But II was a real disappointment after I and I didn't like III either. I haven't seen IV.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and Jed, I don't care for Affleck either. He just doesn't have the gravitas for the character.

And I agree about Hunt For Red October, that's an amazingly strong film. Everything about it works and works well.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I need to agree about Citizen Kane. I get it's place in film history, but it's really not that great of a film and it's definitely not something I want to watch over and over -- unlike the others you mention.

I agree about Quantum of Solace the first time I saw it... very disappointing. But it has grown on me in hindsight.

In truth, a lot of the James Bond films have disappointed me. The series used to be so strong, but then fell apart. I have been impressed with Craig though.

DUQ said...

This probably goes without saying, but "Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull."

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, There's no room for personal opinions in film discussions! This is pure science. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, There are a lot of reasons the film had problems, but I'll tell you that in hindsight, it's not really that bad of a movie. It has a decent plot, some good action, and lots of fairly intense character development. I'm starting to like a good deal actually.

Outlaw13 said...

Andrew if you called Starship Troopers something else then I would agree with you.

The fact of the matter is, they took an excellent book and every point the author was trying to make and turned it on its for me that movie is abomination.

I understand completely if someone hasn't read the book how my complaints are meaningless and if you enjoyed it that's fine. I just view it as an opportunity for a much better film with a lot more meaning...lost.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Scott, I have little good to say about I Am Legend. It's production values were good, I like Will Smith, and the premise is fine, but to me it's just one HUGE wasted opportunity.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I was aware of the television series, but never really saw more than an episode or two before I saw the movie. I really liked the movie a lot. It struck me as an excellent film that hit on all cylinders and is the kind of spy movie Hollywood should make.

On T-Rav's opinions, LOL! Of course this is all about personal opinions. 90% of whether or not a film works is a matter of personal taste. So it's hard to fault someone for liking a film I don't or vice versa.

K said...

Andrew: I agree with your choice of Star Warz 1. Reducing the the force to a yeast infection was a betrayal by Lucas.

Outlaw: Yeah, I was really p'ed what they did to Clear and Present Danger after reading the books. Clancy should have maintained some editorial control over how the stories were interpreted, but apparently not. Just one more reason I'm no longer a Clancy fan.

I was also annoyed at Verhoeven's swipe at Heinlein in ST. They should have waited until
the CGI was good enough to do it with powered suits anyway.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Having not seen the television show, I didn't miss that element from the first film. That film struck me as clever, dramatic and interesting -- the sequels much less so.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBIshop, I have to say that it wasn't that different from what I'm used to with Scorcese so I wasn't disappointed, per se, I just wasn't impressed.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, At one point, Harrison Ford could do no wrong, but for a couple decades now, he's done nothing right. It is a little depressing actually.

I had no real expectations for Godzilla but it was a good deal more stupid than I expected. That was a bad movie, not just a campy movie.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Yeah, that one was really disappointing.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I understand. As a film, I thought it was silly but fun, but from what I've heard about people who like the book, it's rather insulting.

BIG MO said...

Agreed, I Am Legend was not that great of a film. Great adaptation update/idea, so-so delivery.

Other disappointments: Gods and Generals had great moments but not enough focus. If it had concentrated exclusively on Stonewall Jackson, it could have been ranked with the great "biography" films like Patton, or been as great as Gettysburg.

AndrewPrice said...

K, EVERYTHING was wrong with the Star Wars 1-3 prequels. Arg. And even putting aside all of the horrible twisting of the originals, they just aren't very watchable movies.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - you are right, they always did have that wonderful moment where the mark learns he has been duped. Somehow, even though that was part of the show's formula, it never became cliché. I just thought it was a fresh format at the time, and one they were able to mine for a lot of good plots before it ends. The films did go off in another direction than the t.v. show, but that seems to be standard procedure. And for some reason, I never was too disappointed that the movie franchise wasn't the same.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I don't disagree with your reasons at all vis-a-vis Star Wars prequels. It was more a question of my own methodology in looking at the question that any film that was set up to be a disappointment would be excluded, even if it subsequently exceeded in disappointing beyond belief.

T-Rav said...

Sorry everyone for my unscientific opinions. ;-)

I've used it before for other subjects, so it didn't come up here, but few films have been as disappointing to me as Spider-Man 3. So, so many things that went wrong there. In fact, I've got most of a film review written on that very subject. Beyond that example, I agree with Anthony's point; threequels in superhero franchises seem to never turn out right.

T-Rav said...

I don't have as much hate for Ben Affleck as a lot of people do. No, he's not a great actor, and yes, he's been in a lot of stinkers (Daredevil, The Sum of All Fears, Gigli, Pearl Harbor...shall I go on?). But I don't think he's a categorically bad actor, either, by any stretch, and he's becoming a pretty good director. As with a lot of people, I think he's matured with age.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Next time we want to see your experimental data. :)

I agree about Spiderman 3... what a weak film.

I've come around to not hating Affleck anymore, but I don't really want to see him on screen.

El Gordo said...

The Abyss. We had huge expections, and the first hour or so is stunningly spectacular. At the time, nobody had seen anything like it. It should have been an awesome movie. Unfortunately, the story derailed, the ending was lame (benevolent all-powerful aliens put everything right) and it didn´t help that Cameron felt the need to work out his divorce issues through the medium of a science fiction movie.

Spielberg´s War of the Worlds was a huge disappointment as well. Munich was worse, but in that case we knew what was coming.

For me, the Star Wars prequels don´t count as a huge disappointment. Not because they are any good but it was like a six year slow motion crash. First I was in denial, then came the slow realization that something was going horribly wrong ("I hate sand") but then I was still waiting for the third one to redeem the trilogy and it didn´t happen, and then it was over. And only then did I get angry. Guess I was the kind of sucker Lucas was counting on.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I understand your reasoning and I was hesitant to pick it for the same reason. Obviously, they were going to be a letdown in some way. But I still chose it because it was such a stunning letdown. In other words, it wasn't that this wasn't the film I expected or hoped it would be... it was just a horrible film.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, I went through the same thing with Star Wars. My first thought was: "Could it really have been as bad as it seemed?" And then I figured he would adjust in the next two films, only it never got any better. I've watched them many times trying to figure out where the good movie is in there and I just can't find it.

I agree completely about The Abyss. The first hour is spectacular and riveting. But then it all falls off the rails.

PikeBishop said...

El Gordo: I'm kind of with you on the six year, slow-mo train wreck thing. I actually saw Phantom Menace twice in the theatre, started having misgivings in Clones and was bored to tears with Sith.

My biggest problem with Sith is "Screenwriting 101." There is ZERO dramatic tension in the film. We know how every single plot thread we care about is going to turn out, so the film is one giant CGI filled waste of time. Yoda can't kill the Chancellor, Anakin can't kill Obi Wan, Padme has to die in childbirth, the children will be hidden, Anakin becomes Vader...........YAWN!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

El Gordo... I took my kids to see the prequels in the 3D re-release..... rite of passage I guess. My then 8 year old daughter turns to me half way through and says, "Daddy there's a lot of talking in this movie."

She nailed in that one sweet and true sentence.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I'm glad to hear people finally talking about how boring Sith was. When it came out, I remember so many people claiming that the intensely lame and way over-done 45 minute lightsabre fight at the end "was worth it alone." Uh... no. Talk about a boring film! No tension. Nothing interesting. Little of it makes sense except in the most rudimentary ways.


AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, LOL! She's very perceptive.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew and others: It was during Phantom Menace (the second viewing) that I literlly had a film going epipheny. I was watching that boring robot battle scene (notice how PC chicken shit Lucas had become, we didn't have humans fighting and dying anymore, so no human connection) Anyway, as I was watching this parade of pixels on the big screen, I literally said the following, thinking out loud, so that my friend and his wife actuall turned and said, "What did you just say?"

"It's official. Special effects no longer wow me!"

And since then, with two notable exceptions (the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings flims), all of these over-blown, CGI laden, jet engine decibel sound level, poorly plotted, horribly acted blockbusters have held no interest for me.

Pick the list: Transformers, Avatart, Pirates of the Caribean, etc. A giant yawn from me. I was forced to sit through PIrates 2 and wanted to pour acid in my eyes. I was that bored. Remember Pirates 2? Remember the water wheel scene? It was cute until it went on for 25 minutes. I actually began checking my watch.

T-Rav said...

It's a bit early to judge, since it just came out this year, but everything I've heard from people suggests that Prometheus was a huge disappointment.

On the Star Wars prequels, I liked Sith better than the first two, since there was some kinda interesting action going on at times, but...yeah.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I get that feeling too. There's no buzz left, no rush to get it on television, no one talking about it. And the people who saw it all said, "uh... it was ok." That's not a ringing endorsement for something that people expected to set a new standard.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Lucas certainly pushed special effects to the breaking point and beyond. From the fake, sterile worlds he created to the uninteresting battles and the unlikable characters, he turned his films into an aversion therapy for CGI.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I'll save the spoilers, but yes, Prometheus was a huge disappointment. In short, all the marketing for the film was a lie.

Anonymous said...

This one's for the room:

Re: Godzilla - I remember going to see it with my brother and afterwards, we both agreed it wasn't as bad as the critics said. Anyway, I watched it again recently (Encore's been airing it non-stop for the last year)... and it doesn't hold up. Jean Reno is always entertaining but Broderick is such a milquetoast, the love interest is bland, and it's obvious why they filmed most of the movie at night and/or in the rain: to hide the flaws in the CGI.

Of course, 2012 makes it look like Casablanca by comparison!

Re: the SW prequels - I'm quite indifferent to them at this point. I even remember seeing the first one back in '99 and afterwards thinking, "Well, that was... okay... I guess." Good FX**, good music, good design, mostly horrible acting, by-the-numbers directing, and first-draft screenplays... yet if they come on TV, I still keep them on in the background. :-)

**I don't blame ILM for Lucas' excess. Andrew, I know you've seen the RLM reviews and whent hey cut to the DVD documentary footage, you can see the expressions on the FX guys' faces when Lucas is talking about how "it's like poetry." :-)

Re: Starship Troopers - I never read the book and I understand the criticisms but I can accept the film for what it is: a dark comedy... with bugs. (Which reminds me, I need to see the direct-to-DVD sequels one of these days.)

Anonymous said...

T-Rav and tryanmax -

Prometheus comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD soon and I hope Andrew reviews it because that's a discussion that needs to be had!

In short, I found it disappointing. Technically brilliant but definitely lacking in every other department. I've read some interesting analyses of the film online but: a.) they require some leaps in logic that the film doesn't offer, and b.) I shouldn't have to read filmmaker interviews in order to connect the already-nebulous dots.

It'll be interesting to see if any of the deleted scenes, commentaries, etc. help in this regard.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm not surprise. The reaction to the film told me people weren't happy.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The expressions of doubt and horror on Lucas's entire team are amazing. And yet, no one said anything. They knew they were making crap.

I thought Godzilla was awful and I think you are right that Broderick was a big part of the reason. He just can't carry a movie at this point.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I will review it as soon as I see it. :)

As an aside, I watched Girl With a Dragon Tattoo last night and absolutely hated it. I may need to watch it again before I review it though because I can't believe it was as awful as it seemed.

T-Rav said...

Scott, basically that's what I heard from every friend of mine who went and saw it--though not as eloquently as you put it. ;-)

When it came out, I think I said, based on what I put together from previews and all, that if there was such a thing as a generic Ridley Scott movie, this would be it. "Technically brilliant"? Absolutely. A let-down in story, characters, and other necessary features? You got it. Honestly, it's kind of surprising that a film with such a renowned director and such good actors could be so...blah.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, nothing against the Swedes (well, that's a lie), but you had to know something about it going in. Were you really that shocked?

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

My friend put it like this: "At no point did any two characters just have a simple conversation!" Plus they throw common sense out the window, crewmembers (and the captain!) disappear for no good reason, and...

SPOILERS the end when the ship is crashing, I just wanted to yell at the screen, "Charlize, run to the right or left - stop running straight!!"


Michael Fassbender was great but on more than one occasion, I wondered if his actions were genuine or the result of bad screenwriting.

Alien is sheer elegance in its simplicity and Aliens might be Cameron's best-structured screenplay and everyone is accounted for. This film is a mishmash.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Not only was the film unbelievably complex, but it was needlessly so. There were dozens of characters with no apparent relation to the plot who all go screen time. They all had similar names that were hard to distinguish. Everything was dark and dull looking. And I still don't know what the story was about... people talking and some unpleasant chick. That's about all I got out of it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, "elegant" is a great way to describe Alien. Everything about the writing and direction is pitch perfect.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

I look forward to your future Dragon Tattoo review. I liked the film but it's nothing I need to see ever again, and I say that as someone who thinks David Fincher is a genius (albeit a cold one).

One thing I noticed about the film was the editing. As a general rule, editing is one of those things you only notice if it's bad but even in the first scene, the camera is never given time to linger as the characters say their lines. Every shot is cut to the bone, like Fincher had a specific frame count in mind beforehand or something.

I feel like a broken clock here but the film is technically brilliant though, knowing Fincher, there are no doubt a ton of tweaked shots that we don't notice. (No such thing as a simple Fincher movie!)

(BTW, I never read the novels nor have I seen the original films.)

T-Rav said...

I haven't seen the movie, and frankly I don't intend to. I browsed through the original book once and--look, despite being a bit puritanical, I can take a certain amount of graphic stuff (preferably blood and violence), but the kind of stuff going on here is a bridge too far. If it's well-made, then it's well-made, but I'm not going to watch.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I wouldn't call it technically brilliant. I thought the images were generic (and too similar), the dialog was hard to follow, the story had no pace, the plot never came through. It was just a bunch of films of actors pretending to be in Sweden as they talked about the history of some family we don't care about.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I haven't read the book either, but when even the fans admit that it's too graphic and nothing but sex, blood, violence and rape, you know you have a problem.

Anonymous said...

Andrew (and T-Rav) -

That's why I didn't call it "narratively brilliant." :-D

As for the graphic stuff, I'm not a prude but I'm glad I didn't see this in the theater... in public. It's one thing to see some of this stuff in the privacy of one's home; it's another to see it with other people and, yes, I admit I feel weird when watching a sex scene in a movie theater.

And if I were a director, I couldn't see myself doing a lot of sex scenes. I think Ridley Scott once said sex is no fun unless you're having it! (This doesn't apply as much to comedies, though, but that's another conversation for another day.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's very, very true -- sex is no fun unless you're having it. LOL!

T-Rav said...

I've often wondered, what is the big deal about sex scenes? Really. In and of themselves, they do little to advance the story, except maybe to occasionally clarify minor details, and really, you don't need to put it on screen to get the point across. Two people were knocking boots. Got it. Is there a reason they're made so explicit, besides physical gratification for the audience?

(This is largely rhetorical, I'm sure I already know the answer.)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That is indeed a rhetorical question as I'm sure you already know the answer. It's meant to excite the audience because audiences like it.

Jason said...

Here's probably my biggest disappointment: Alien 3. Talk about a letdown. Trashes the hard-won victories of Aliens (Hicks and Newt's fates) and basically rehashes much of the plot of the first movie without adding much new to the mythos. No wonder so many fans lobbied to have it just be a dream in Ripley's head.

Most of my other picks are ones I saw coming or didn't age well (the Star Wars prequels, for one)

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I can see that. And I agree with all the points you raise. For me though, it was just a shockingly un-clever film. It was just a video game blood bath with no story. I wasn't expecting that at all.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to disagree with Jason... :-)

My love of Alien 3 has been well-documented both here and elsewhere. I'm sympathetic to the criticism and while the theatrical release was butchered (the studio put David Fincher through Hell on this film), the extended "Assembly Cut" is pretty good. My official line on the film is "...a conceptually-flawed, visually-stunning masterpiece."

The documentary on the Blu-Ray release goes into quite candid detail about what went right (not much) and what went wrong (nearly everything).

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I knew you were going to say that! In fact, I almost mentioned that you would be along to disagree, but I got lazy in my comment. :(

Anonymous said...

God, am I that predictable? Anyway, I have to defend my darlings. :-)

Look, I can't argue with anyone who was disappointed by the killing of Hicks and Newt - I get it and one wonders what the film might've been like had the characters been allowed to live (even if it meant hiring a different actress to play Newt).

There were various scripts written by a variety of writers: some with Ripley, Hicks, and Newt; some with Newt missing; some with Hicks missing... even some with Ripley missing (in a coma) because they didn't know if Sigourney would do it.

The version that got the closest to being made was by Vincent Ward - Hicks and Newt were still killed and instead of a prison planet, it was to take place on a wooden planet populated by Luddite monks. (Really!) Anyway, the studio managed to f--- over Ward and they brought on Fincher... after set construction had already started. There are still remnants of Ward's idea in the final film but it's all in the background.

More on that story here.

Jason said...

I have an old issue of Cinescape magazine that goes into detail the long run of scripts the studio pushed, for example one draft written by William Gibson, with the whole progression to the final product. I think just about any of those older versions, from the shopping-mall-space-station idea to Vincent Ward's monastery setting, would have made for a better movie. Frankly, I'm stunned that Fox, which knew it had a goldmine sci-fi franchise on its hands, screwed it up so royally by rushing out an inferior product.

If there's a recut version that shows the movie in a better light, I'd love to see it. I've heard my share of people who do love the movie in spite of its flaws, and I'm okay with that. It's not a horrible movie by any means. It suffers more from one really bad decision (Hicks and Newt) a lack of ambition in the storytelling where it was needed, and probably the fact that Aliens did set the bar pretty high.

Anonymous said...

Jason -

I think I still have that Cinescape issue!

They did an extended cut for the Quadrilogy DVD boxset in 2003. Fincher refused to be involved - which is why it's not referred to as a "Director's Cut" - but the DVD producers had access to everything, including the film's original editor Terry Rawlings (who also cut the first film).

The cut also appears on the 2010 Anthology Blu-Ray set. This time, they managed to tweak a couple things that they didn't have time for in 2003. They even brought back Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance, and Lance Henriksen to loop a few lines for scenes where only on-set production audio existed.

It's a vaaast improvement on the theatrical cut. It does drag in a few places but everyone gets more face time, most notably the crazed Golic (Paul McGann).

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I wouldn't say predictable so much as. . . well. . . um.... predictable. ;)

I heard there were lots of script problems. Thanks for the link.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Godzilla... if they had put Harvey Firestein in the lizard suit... Broderick would've been just fine.

Of course, then it would have been Sid and Marty Krofft's Godzilla.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, LOL! Yeah, somehow that would work.

K said...

Andrew:As an aside, I watched Girl With a Dragon Tattoo last night

Strange, so did I - the extended Swedish version with subtitles. (This new fangled download thing is pretty cool!)

Based on the movie, it must be pretty danged dangerous in Sweden for young ladies. They're all being murdered by the dozens, beaten up on the streets or raped by insane perverted capitalist father figures.

It was a pretty good murder mystery, but I mostly I figure it gives a pretty good insight into the sex fantasies of the radical Swedish male.

AndrewPrice said...

K, That's a good way to look it, like radical porn. And you're right, if we believe this story, the Sweden is a horribly dangerous land crawling with murderous, rapist capitalists all with Nazis in their families.

Anonymous said...

Two things come to mind. I remember how intrigued I was when I first heard about the Blair Witch Project.It sounded so fresh,so new,so different.(You have to remember that this was before the found footage thing had been done to death) My wife and I waited in line for it and when our turn came they only had one seat left so we had to wait for the next show. We finally got in and it just sucked.When it was finally over,the house lights came up and there was just silence for 10 or 15 seconds while we collectively absorbed our dismay. Then the woman behind me and one seat to my right said"That was kinda dumb." That was one of the most accurate film reviews ever given.
The other was The Village. Sure Unbreakable was a little slow,but the genius responsible for The Sixth Sense and Signs could do no wrong,right? Boy,was I wrong.All I remember is the slow sinking from hope to disappointment,like a ship going down.
Those are my two biggest film disappointments that come immediately to mind.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, Good call on both!

I was really disappointed in The Village. I'd been impressed with everything Night had done before that and this seemed like an amazing premise. And it started with such great mystery... and then it totally fizzled.

I think it would have been a heck of a romantic film or heck of a horror film if he'd gone one way or the other, but he kind of took this middle path of not being either. And the result was a film that never clicked and where the twist which he thought would be so powerful turned out to be quite lame.

I had a similar feeling about Blair Witch. I heard so much about it, but it just wasn't very interesting. I kept waiting for the really impressive moment to come and it never did. Kids go into woods... die. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

AndrewPrice, I agree hands-down on the Star Wars prequels. They missed out on important key aspects on the original trilogy that made it entertaining. Among the biggest of the elements in the classic trilogy was the fact that they had an antihero for all three movies, or Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, who also gave a little bit of a Western feel to the films. There was another antihero, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who offered some entertainment value because, let's face it, you know you would feel envious, at least I would, of a guy who plays the equivalent of a Vegas casino owner in outer space, plus is a jack-of-all-trades as you come to see him pull it off through the remainder of the trilogy after he is introduced in episode V. Then, not only do you have the antihero duo, but Lucas actually managed to put some suspense into both of them by having both keep their bag of tricks fairly full, and with raised levels of intensity, as the trilogy progressed.

With the prequels, that token antihero seemed largely absent from the film, I can hardly recall finding characters who were both scoundrels and proud of it, much less a subplot to such characters, it was all focused on a fairly predictable plot regarding how Anakin fell from grace. The old trilogy had it's share of bad acting, but at the same time, Ford and Williams made it entertaining by not exactly being all that serious throughout the classic trilogy, but rather adding some punch lines to the mix to play along with the comic-book esque nature of the films.

Anonymous said...

Scott, I agree about the Alien films post Aliens. I was just disappointed about how they failed to deliver much closure to them.

I find it similar to my disappointment regarding the film, Event Horizon, the film started out with shock and surprise, but quickly devolved into pretty much suicide, cannibalism, and gore, thankfully I didn't see the theatrical version, or do a full purchase of the DVD on that one.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of another one-Red River.
I know it's blasphemous on conservative sites to criticize John Wayne movies, but it wasn't his fault,it was Howard Hawks'. In fact,the great job Duke did portraying Tom Dunson is what made the contrived and sappy ending such a slap in the face.
In the Saturday Evening Post story that the movie was inspired by the John Wayne character died. Wayne played Dunson with such single minded intensity that the sudden "You've earned it,Matt" ending was just out of place. I was 17 years old when I saw that the first time and it ruined my mood for the rest of the day.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, That's an excellent point. The prequels lacked the full range of characters. Everyone was either so-good/pure-it-hurts or evil. They were all so serious and dour and there was no joy in their world. Even the moments you're supposed to like, like when Obiwan and Anakin are "teasing" each other in the elevator at the beginning of the second film, feel like two angry people comparing notes more than two friends competing in a goodnatured way.

And there was no one who fit the anti-hero in any of those films. Nor was there any internal conflict as they all did exactly what the plot called for without regret. Even the moments where the characters are supposed to feel torn (like what's her name sleeping with Vader), felt like the conflict was just mentioned rather than felt... "oh, I'm not supposed to do this. I'm a baaaaaaad Jedi."

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan and Scott, The Alien movies just kept getting worse and worse in my book after Aliens, especially the one with the kids in the woods.

Event Horizon, like most Paul Anderson films, was a major disappointment to me too. Totally wasted potential.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, That is not my favorite John Wayne film by any stretch.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Kids in the woods? I assume you're referring to one of the Alien vs. Predator films? The second one (AVP: Requiem) featured a scene with a father and son in the woods and a couple of chest-bursters make their appearance.

Seeing a kid with one of those things sticking out of him actually made me uncomfortable. I don't know if it was because it was a kid, or it was just bad CGI, but the image is stuck in my head and it's another reason I hate that movie.

Kit said...

INDY 4. Not terrible, mind you. But nowhere near as fun as the first three.

I remember the moment I realized that the Star Wars prequels were bad: It was after seeing 2.

X-Men 3: Again, not terrible but nowhere near as good as one and two.

I might say BRAVE, simply because it was not as much of a wowzer as UP or TOY STORY 3 (I haven't seen CARS 3). It was good and the music is great but it wasn't the amazing classics UP or TS3 were.

When I look back, the Star Wars franchise began sliding downhill with one word: Ewoks.
I hate those goddamn things! Watch the climax:
-The Space Battle: It's like Yavin, but BIGGER! The bad guys saw them coming and the heroes have little chance. Oh, its suspenseful! Not to mention "It's a Trap!" :)
-The Lightsaber Battle: The dramatic tension as Luke and Darth Vader fight. Father vs. Son! Luke's desire to bring out he good in Darth Vader while Vader and the Emperor desire to turn Luke to the Dark Side. So many amazing moments filled with suspense ("You are unwise to lower your defenses"), emotion ("Your feelings for them are strong, especially for. . .sister." "If you will not turn to the Dark Side then perhaps she will!"), and "You have failed Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father was before me."
-Ewok Battle: . . . Eh?

Also, I liked DARK KNIGHT RISES, was it perfect or as good structurally as Dark Knight? No. But I loved watching it in the theaters.

shawn said...

The problem with coming so late into a discussion is that someone else has already made my point.

First thought was the Star Wars prequels and my second was Prometheus.

All I can say is ugh.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's the one. The whole film made me think they were cashing in on Scream or something like only with the alien.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, It's still nice to have an added vote. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The Ewoks were just wrong. They never fit into the series/universe. They were there to try to make the good guys seem more sympathetic... and to sell toys.

And they are the direct ancestors of stupid ideas like JarJar Binks... comic relief in Star Wars. Arrrrg.

BIG MO said...

MAJOR war film disappointments: Pearl Harbor and Flyboys.

Joel Farnham said...


The damage done to Starship Troopers is more...

Take your second book, turn it into a musical. Add a scene where for no discernible reason, all the nurses and doctors strip down and take a shower together all the while singing the virtues of physician/nurse assisted suicide. Then have someone who has never read your book see the movie and call it good campy fun.

Starship Troopers the Book is a political polemic on citizen ship. I wanted to like the movie, but .....

Kit said...

Jar-Jar! Meesa so lame!

I'll let the rifftrax guys handle this: LINK

"So he's like Buster Keaton without the agility, the timing, the subtlety, the charm, or the talent?"

Oh, have you heard the claims on the web that he CAUSED THE RISE OF THE EMPIRE!

How wude!

AndrewPrice said...

Big MO, Actually, those were pretty much what I expected, sadly.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I understand. I understand that fans were very upset by it and I understand that it was pretty much an attempt to insult the book and Heinlein. But I never read the book, so the film didn't bother me. The film struck me as stupid, but entertaining. I never felt the insult because I didn't know what was being insulted.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Yeah, that pretty much says it all.

Kit said...

re: Starship Troopers.

Good God what a stupid, pretentious, lame, idiotic, shitty, crappy, dumb, moronic. . . etc. movie!

It's like a really bad Michael Bay movie with its head up its own ass!

It thinks its a commentary on the evils of war yet engenders NO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER FOR ITS CHARACTERS. Which is what an anti-war movie needs.
In fact, the characters are not only unlikeable. They're STUPID. They're IDIOTS, MORONS. THEY! ARE! STUPID!
So, when they die (usually as a result of their stupidity) the audience is actually laughing.
This isn't satire, this isn't anti-war, this is SLASHER PORN!

And this doesn't make us feel bad about the evils of war. Heck, that's not even the purpose! The purpose is so that Paul Verhoeven and the rest of the Hollywood asshats can look at the military and go "What MOE-RONS! We are SOOOOO much smarter than those rubes."
That's the purpose. Its not about war, the guys have no sympathy for the dead soldiers. Heck, in the minds of the filmmakers they got what they deserved for being unenlightened enough to enlist.
The movie is about a bunch of Hollywood schmucks feeling better about patting themselves on the back for being more enlightened than, I don't know, THOSE WHO DIED SO THEY COULD MAKE THAT MOVIE?!?!?!

That being said, it is entertaining, in much the same way PLAN 9 or MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE are entertaining. As a really, really bad movie.

Only read part of the book: Seems more polemic than plot but I'll read all of it before I comment more on it.

Joel Farnham said...


I think the nudity was to make sure the HollyWierd could get into it.

Anonymous said...

Andrew got it in one. Star Wars prequels are the most disappointing movies ever.

As PikeBishop said, that by Sith they had painted themselves into a corner we already knew what was going to happen and they didn't even take us on a interesting journey. They should have turned Anakin into Darth Vader in the first movie (second at the latest) and went from there and Lucas should have been banned from being in sole control of them.

Another one that pops to mind is Get Shorty. It was built up a lot, I read a lot of good
reviews and was very, very looking forward to see it and when I did I was underwhelmed. I
saw it a couple of years later and actually liked it, but it was built up so much that it couldn't deliver. Since then I have avoided reading to many reviews or to much details
about a movie I was about to see which stops me from getting to excited about a movie.


BIG MO said...

Kit, et al: The only thing I truly liked about Starship Troopers was the always reliable Michael Ironside. Usually he plays the bad guy -- quite well -- but it was nice to see him on the good guys' team. (Only other time I can think of is when he played the mercenary "Ham" in V: The Final Battle.)

The rest of the movie? Meh. Once my suspension of disbelief was wrecked within the first five minutes, I enjoyed it as unintentional comedy.

Kit said...

"I enjoyed it as unintentional comedy."

The only way to enjoy it.

rlaWTX said...

the Ever Unnamed Prequels.
(BTW - I loved the Ewoks!)

The Jack Ryan travesties - (I read & Loved the books thru Executive Orders)
Clear & Present Danger was horrible.
Sum of All Fears was just a similarly named, similarly plotted movie that had nothing to do with the true Jack Ryan.

What was wrong with "Singing in the Rain"??? Speaking of rain - we had over 5 inches of rain in WTX over the weekend - Hallelujah!!!!!!!

Commander Max said...

I've had a lot of movies disappoint me over the years.
Alien 3, I've never seen a wide screen movie that looked like it was made for video. But what do you expect from a music video director. Story, plot?
Jurassic Park, the plot of that movie was look at the dinosaurs. It was so watered down PC, to the point of stupidity. Yes, I read the book the first.
The SW prequels goes without saying. Perhaps after Lucas passes we will see a reboot.

The Wrath of Khan, in order to take me seriously you have to take off the ST goggles. Saying WOK is a bad film to a Trekkie, is like telling a Lib corporations are run by people. You will not get a coherent conversation.
Start with Chekhov end with action, along with all of the wholes in-between. You have an Abrams inspiring(that should be a clue) sci-fi action flick.
I could go on, but over the years I have been so disappointed. That I stopped going to movies entirely.

Kit said...

"The Wrath of Khan, in order to take me seriously you have to take off the ST goggles. Saying WOK is a bad film to a Trekkie, is like telling a Lib corporations are run by people. You will not get a coherent conversation.
Start with Chekhov end with action, along with all of the wholes in-between."

Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I liked Get Shorty a lot, but didn't know anything about it when I first saw it, so I had no expectations.

That's a good point about Star Wars, he should have made him into Vader sooner and then given us more than we expected. Of course, that was the least of the film's flaws.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Excellent list! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I do like Wrath of Khan, but there are some serious flaws in my opinion.

I love the idea of a Star Wars reboot! :)

Commander Max said...

WOK could be fixed very easily(besides taking Chekhov out, or putting him in the TOS episode).
All they had to? Put one of those bugs in Khan's ear. Then he would have been slowly going mad. Only his superior breeding(whatever) was keeping him going.

I think a SW reboot will happen, just as we will see the original SW put out. In it's original form. After all they are trying to reboot everything. SW is one that they haven't tried.

I still have my old laserdisk of the original unaltered SW. George hasn't been by to try to break it, yet.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I cling to my laserdisc version as well. :)

I'd like to see a reboot -- especially of the prequels. I'd love to see somebody competent do those.

Anonymous said...

How could I forget the Matrix sequels? Talk about a let down, I went to the last one knowing it would look amazing and have some great action but I knew it would disappoint me.


darski said...

Hate to bring up tomorrow's topics today but ST: Generations was the most disappointing film I ever saw. I talked my two boys into going (yes in the same theatre at the same time)with me and we all walked out with stunned looks on our faces. About the only time my boys agreed on anything.

Kit said...


MATRIX RELOADED was so disappointing I didn't even bother watching REVOLUTIONS.

AndrewPrice said...

darski, That was definitely disappointing on so many levels.

Kit and Scott, I agree about The Matrix sequels as well. What a waste of potential!

PikeBishop said...

Matrix sequels defined awful: Let's take a brilliant idea and a damn fine first film and give sequels that totally destroy the internal logic of that first film.

Also see Pirates of the Caribbean, which took an enjoyable first film and each sequel just got algebraiclly worse, as plot and a coherant story line literally were drowned in a sea of confusing "gotcha" plot twists and CGI overkill. Those weren't scripts they were "A to Z connect the set pieces" road maps.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, The Pirates of the Caribbean films are a pet peeve of mine. The first was surprisingly brilliant. And the next two combined to form another brilliant movie of about 2 hours, wrapped in an hour and a half of utter garbage. If I ever learn to use editing software, I will merge those two films take out the BS and create a truly excellent second film.

Kit said...

I thought the 4th movie was okay, better than the previous 2. I also enjoyed the Syrena/Philip romantic subplot.

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