Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 81

You know, there's always that moment where you just go too far.

What “shark jumping moment” ruined a film for you?

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

If the question was phrased as "prevented you from seeing a film," I'd say Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer or Cowboys and Aliens. As it is, I guess the first time Roger Moore got to go into space and do battle on a space station. Talk about killing off respect for a franchise.

Panelist: ScottDS

Probably the awful CGI surfing scene in Die Another Day. To be fair, I haven't seen the film in years and I'm usually pretty forgiving with this stuff but my God, what an awful sequence, in both concept and execution (mainly the latter). It's not Pierce Brosnan's fault, though, but it's easy to see why the creators went in a completely different direction with the Daniel Craig films. [This was written before we started the Bond retrospective, but it's still my answer!]

Panelist: T-Rav

Okay, so despite The Day After Tomorrow being totally hackish leftist propaganda and everything, the disaster-movie element of it managed to keep me interested and involved in the action part of the movie—until about two-thirds of the way through. The people at that point are trying to actually run away from the wave of super-cold air like it’s an army or something, which kills you the moment you come into contact with it—that’s not how it works. Then, they’re shouting “Run! Shut the doors!” and then “Burn more books!” Agh. This offends my intelligence on every level.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

I still haven’t seen the 3rd Back to the Future movie because I felt Spielberg just jumped the shark for me. I felt cheated into having to pay for a third one.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

Honestly, Fonzy jumping the shark never bothered me. Anyway, so many sharks, so much jumping... most action films do it in the last twenty minutes. If they did a fourth Indiana Jones movie, I'm sure they would have jumped the shark. They probably would have dropped a nuke on a fridge or something. So what film did I enjoy until it jumped the shark? How about Eraser when Arnold's boss, turns out to be a traitor for no reason that makes any sense. Or even better, Magnolia. It's raining frogs? Are you kidding me?

Comments? Thoughts?


Backthrow said...

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, when they trot out Denise Richards as a 'nukular phyzzisasst'. I wonder if Kathy Ireland and Anna Nicole Smith were in her graduating class at MIT.

The climax of the original TOTAL RECALL. Instant breathable atmosphere? Really? And it fixes your popped-out eyeballs immediately, with no residual ill effects?

The climax to SIGNS. Oops, spilled a glass of water... global catastrophe averted!

When lame CGI zombies emerge to attack Will Smith in I AM LEGEND.

And I think I speak for everyone here when I say... Ewoks.

Tennessee Jed said...

those all seem to be solid answers to me. Interesting there were 2 Bond film references. No question there was a point in that franchise when they needed to tear it up and start over. Still, I like Andrew's reference to the fact most action films flame out at the end. And Bev, you touch a chord with me on most all sequels past the number 2. Rav - I think I have seen a part of Day After Tomorrow, but I can't remember. That may say something, though I'm not entirely sure just what :)

Tennessee Jed said...

Ewoks, yeah!

PikeBishop said...

OK, don't know if this qualifies, and its a long explanation, but here goes:

"Speed" (1994)

I was totally engrossed in the pulse pounding action of the Bus that couldn't slow down until the following: After they get the passengers off the bus, they put them on ambulances to take them to seek medical attention. Keanau Reeves, who is already developing sparks with Sandra Bullock's Annie gets on her ambulance to ride with her.

They then make a detour to set up the fake money drop to trap the bad guy. The ambulance stops and Keanau basically says, "You wait here honey while I go catch the bad guy. I'll be right back." Did you get that the ambulance does not complete its task of taking Annie to the hospital but stops.

And this is all so Annie can do what??????? C'mon boys and girls, you've all watched films before! So she can NOT DO WHAT SHE IS TOLD TO DO AND WANDER OFF TO GET CAPTURED BY THE BAD GUY, just like every brain dead stereotypical female in just about every bad horror or suspense film.

I remember when she stepped out of the ambulance, my date and I looked at each other, shook our heads and said, "No, they are not going to do THIS, are they?"

Took me right out of the film, did not care a bit about the ending.

Tennessee Jed said...

Pike - I had totally forgotten about that one, but you are so right. Shhesh!

Dave Olson said...

Speed had me until they "jumped the bus", which I think is a better term than "shark". Funny thing is that once they got over the jump, and I'd said "Oh, come ON!!", I was able to get right back into the movie.

Speaking of that magnificent thespian Keanu Reeves, he did a movie called Johnny Moronic (or something) where he was a futuristic data courier who loaded too much information into his brain. Go figure. Anyway, from what I haven't blocked out of my own memory, he had to download all that info into the one outlet that could handle so many megabytes. And it turned out to be...a frickin' dolphin. Again I said "Oh, come ON!" and just walked away.

Waterworld was actually a pretty decent film. Its worth as a movie gets lost in all the hoopla over its "enormous" budget of $175 million, which is now pretty much the standard in the industry. So anyway, the first half was a pretty good sci-fi dystopia action flick, then it started to bog down. When the climax finally came and the name of the Smokers' ship was revealed, one more time I said "Oh, come ON!" and got up to leave.

Looking back, I didn't see any of these in the theater. I've never actually walked out of a movie because I thought it was so bad. By the time I was old enough to have a job and a car to go see movies, it was the late 80s and the cable and home video revolutions were already well underway. There were plenty of films I wish I'd seen on the big screen (Speed among them), but none that I actually left early from. It seems to be much less commitment to stop a tape halfway through and take it back to the video store the next day having not watched it to the end, which I have done plenty of times.

Dave Olson said...

Just thought of another one, which should have made us all realize that George Lucas was going to screw up the prequels: Greedo shooting first. Star Wars is dead to me, especially now that it's in the ham-hands of J.J "Lens Flare" Abrams.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow and Jed, Before rlaWTX comes along and kills us all, let me point out that some people do like Ewoks.

And at least they're better than clone stormtroopers... a whiny bratty Vader... Samuel L. Jackson Jedi Mothaf*cka... Kung Fu Yoda... yeah, we never knew how good we had it at just Ewoks.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, For whatever reason, most action movies seem to decide that the last twenty minutes need to be mind-blowingly stupid. I'm not sure why, but that seems to be what the Plot Computer 3000 always spits out. Maybe there's a programming error?

As for Lincoln... uh, yeah. I actually love the concept as kind of a joke, but the film was a dud.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, What kills me about that scenario, besides how often it happens, are the odds that the girlfriend or child of the hero would just happen to randomly find the villain. Seriously, how many cops or spies or whatever happen upon their family during shootouts? Outside of Hollywood... none. In Hollywood... 92.5%.


AndrewPrice said...

Dave, Jumping the bus was really stupid. Films should never ignore the laws of physics in a situation we've all experienced. We've all drive cars. We know that bus could never do that, nor would it keep its momentum. So it was a really bad idea to do that on screen because everyone in the audience knew right away that would never happen.

Johnny Moronic was so bad it not only tried to jump sharks every few minutes, but it kept failing and getting eaten. Seriously, I don't think there's a scene in that film that makes any sense.

K said...

when they trot out Denise Richards as a 'nukular phyzzisasst'....

Unfortunately, I think the gender feminists have finally caught on to these obvious send ups of affirmative action.

= Charlie's Angels 1

K said...

Matrix 2: The Merovingian slips a digital "spanish fly" to the woman in red.

After the amazing Matrix 1, this is the exact point where I became positive the sequels were going to be crap.

BevfromNYC said...

Why CAN't a 'nukular phyzzisasst' be model gorgeous, blond with an IQ of a tomato? That's Edu-misogyny! I must protest...

shawn said...

When Indiana Jones, Short Round and Willy Scott survive jumping out of a plane with nothing but a life raft. (sighs).

shawn said...

Also, at the beginning of Highlander 2 when they say "Hey everything you found out in Highlander is WRONG!! They are actually aliens from another planet and have been exiled to Earth. (sighs again).

Anonymous said...

Bev -

Of all the movies you could've chosen, you picked one:

a.) that is actually pretty entertaining, and
b.) whose presence was known in advance and was not just a cash-grab?!?!?!


This wasn't Spielberg's call. While Robert Zemeckis was off directing Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bob Gale was busy writing a Back to the Future sequel but it ran way too long so they went to the studio and presented the then-revolutionary (now commonplace) idea of shooting two sequels more or less back to back.

Ironically, they never intended to make a sequel in the first place. The ending of the first film ("Something has to be done about your kids!") was a joke. The filmmakers have said that if they really intended to make a sequel, they never would've put Marty's girlfriend in the car. The first thing they do in the second film is knock her out and leave her in an alley!

Anonymous said...

Backthrow -

Yeah, I can't get into Signs for the same reason. Considering their weakness, the aliens sure picked the wrong planet to land on!

Anonymous said...

Pike -

I still think Speed is one of the great action movies but, yeah, I'd forgotten about that little contrivance.

This might be a case where the preceding 90 or so minutes are so good (bus jump notwithstanding) that I'm a little more forgiving by the end.

Anonymous said...

Dave -

I saw Johnny Mnemonic for the first time a couple years ago and when the dolphins show up, my first reaction was, "This movie just got awesome! I have to tell my friends about it!"

Thankfully, they already knew and we just laughed and laughed... :-)

I like Keanu but for months after I saw this movie, I kept repeating his dumb monologue: "I want room service!! I want a club sandwich! I want my shirts laundered!"

And it's the future but Ice-T tells everyone to fire up their VCRs - whoops!

Anonymous said...

K -

With the exception of the freeway chase and Monica Bellucci's decolletage, I've literally forgotten everything about the Matrix sequels.

They're proof that the human brain can only hold so much so some information needs to be deleted now and then!

Anonymous said...

shawn -

As this site's resident Temple of Doom defender... I got nothin'. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Speaking of model gorgeous nuclear physicists, don't we see them everyday in real life? In kind of a shark jumping genre moment, I have often decried on these (pages?) pages, the tendency for every hot up and coming actress to get to star as a cop, particularly episodic t.v. shows. Think Lisbon on the Mentalist or Detective Kate Beckett in Castle, but I'm sure there are loads of feature film examples as well.

Andrew has assured me this is not part of some galactic N.O.W./Hollywood P.C. plot to push "I am Woman, hear me Roar; I can do anything better than him" mime including beating up 6'8" bad guys with kitchen knives. Nor is it strictly designed to placate the "A" list hot babe actresses so they can get top billing in movies that put fannies in the seat. Well, maybe it isn't strictly about placating the actresses per se, but definitely about putting fannies in the seat which translates to placating hormonal fan boys.

Point is, it is such a cliche by now, it is l.o.l. funny. Job description. Hot model/actress with a bod to die for. Skinny low cut jeans with the gold shield clearly visible attached to the belt loop. Tailored designer blazer with slightly padded shoulders over a colorful tank top, and the ability to flip your hair like Farah in her prime all while karate chopping bad guys twice her size, and ordering around her slightly stupid, eunich like male reports. If that isn't MACRO shark jumping, I don't know what is.

Tennessee Jed said...

although not a shark jumper, there is an opportunity for film buffs to complete an interesting academic exercise. TCM channel is showing the 1939 film "Jesse James" starring Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda followed by it's sequel the 1940 "The Return of Frank James" starring Fonda and Gene Tierney. This comes from a time when westerns were as common as cop films, and the actors became have become considered as iconic.

Particularly for our younger viewers, I urge you (as an academic exercise if nothing else) to try and view both films, even if you have to DVR them. Try and answer questions such as: "can I get past the fact the films are nearly 75 years old and objectively judge things like screenplay, directing, and acting?" How has the Hollywood tradition of romanticizing outlaws changed over the years, if at all? Are Power and Fonda convincing or are they merely ridiculous pretty boys. Does B&W give a different perception? Positive or negative?

Does the fact Fonda spawned Hanoi Jane grate in your mind as you watch? (just kidding, but it DOES impact you to see actors in early roles when you know their future, and it probably colors how you think of them, at least subconciously.) Anyway ... just a thought--carry on.

tryanmax said...

Okay, I know someone here must have seen this movie and loved it and shed tears and used lots of kleenex, but War Horse lost me after the barbed wire scene. I may be a city boy, but my family isn't so far removed from the farm that I don't know what happens when a horse gets tangled up in barbed wire. I had to call "shenanigans" at that point.

Tennessee Jed said...

tryanmax - I know it is petty of me, but Spielberg eventually worked his way on to my "No watch" list. I just don't want my money to line his pocket, however meager it might be. So, this one never had a chance to disappoint.

AndrewPrice said...

K, That does seem to be a good marker for when the Matrix sequels suddenly turn to crap... and boy do they ever after that.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You wouldn't ask such things if you'd seen the movie. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Yeah, that moment was a huge clue to me that Temple of Doom was not going to be Raiders all over again.

And yeah, Highlander 2 is one of the worst sequels ever.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, In modern Hollywood, only hot babes need apply and the moment they turn 35... they can stop applying.

And yeah, it's ludicrous to believe that these hot, over-dressed women can beat up trained thugs.

AndrewPrice said...

But Jed, let me add that it's the same thing with all the martial arts stuff. The hero throws one punch and screams "eeyowwww" and the bad guy drops like a rock... dead.


AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Haven't seen it.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew, remember Susan Sarandon's oh so true comment about an actresses career in Hollywood.

Three stages: Hooker, District Attorney, Miss Daisy.

That's about it

T-Rav said...

Jed, it says that you have good taste in movies.

Andrew, good call on a fourth Indiana Jones movie. That would have totally jumped the shark. Lucas would have probably ruined it like he ruins everything, and there would have been bizarre CGI aliens, and the irrelevant return of a love interest, and also Shia LaBoeuf. In fact, I think I dreamed I watched something like that once,'s nothing.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - I saw War Horse on stage and it was truly one of the most visually stunning shows I have seen in years. All the horses were life size puppets and the puppeteers faded away after the first few minutes and the horses became real. It was beautiful, engaging, and wonderfully rendered story. And heart wrenching.

Since I knew the movie would be very graphic where the stage production was not, I opted not to see the movie.

BevfromNYC said...

Three stages: Hooker, District Attorney, Miss Daisy.

Pike I have heard that complaint from actress forever. My response had always been, well, if you don't like it, write the scripts and produce the movies/plays. It actually has CHANGED and there are meaty roles for sexy older women acting their age. More older female writers and producers have helped.

K said...

Bev:Why CAN't a 'nukular phyzzisasst' be model gorgeous, blond with an IQ of a tomato?

The physics conferences would be a hell of a lot more fun, that's for sure.

My favorite depiction of a woman scientist who also just happens to be gorgeous is from the 1954 pre feminist Sci-fi "Them" and was played by Joan Weldon. Totally believable with no PC subtext.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I do remember that quote and to a degree she's right, though I think that's changing outside the blockbuster pictures today.

But let me note the irony that the same aging actresses who make the complaint didn't complain when they were benefiting from it and pushing aside the older women before them.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I've had that thought too at time and then I realize that no one would be dumb enough to make a fourth Indiana Jones film!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think there have been two responses. On the one hand, more women writers have created better roles for women. But those are still small budget films.

On the other hand, the Hollywood machine has tried to define male quasi-porn as "strong roles." Thus, you see a lot of women running around in S&M gear throwing punches and pretending they are "role models for young girls."

AndrewPrice said...

K, Having spent time in engineering school, I wonder if it would really change anything? Science nerds are not exactly known for their skills at handling the opposite sex.

K said...

As a former physics TA, I can assure you that any attempt to "handle" a comely physics student was a definite "no no". In such cases that I am aware of it was generally met with extreme violence.

Usually by her pre-med boyfriend.

Backthrow said...

Andrew said: On the other hand, the Hollywood machine has tried to define male quasi-porn as "strong roles." Thus, you see a lot of women running around in S&M gear throwing punches and pretending they are "role models for young girls."

Special exemption granted retroactively for Diana Rigg as 'Emma Peel'. But then, her character was smart, confident, competent and sophisticated, and had a sense of humor about herself, which makes all the difference... as exemplified by the failed attempt to pass off Uma Thurman as Peel in the ill-conceived AVENGERS movie in 1998. She was a better Emma Peel as Beatrix Kiddo, than in that reboot travesty.

I don't want to get into the film too much right now, since it hasn't been covered yet for 'Bond Thursdays', but... seeing how it's inevitable that a female scientist co-star in a Bond film is going to be both stunningly beautiful and will get involved in crazy action scenes, just think how much better THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH would've been (despite its other problems), if 'Christmas Jones' had been played by oh, say, a pretty, decent 30-something actress, like Connie Nielsen or Linda Fiorentino, rather than a seemingly 20-year-old bimbo (even though she was actually 27 at the time) type, like Denise Richards*.

* who was well-cast and did a good job in WILD THINGS, so I'm not totally against her.

AndrewPrice said...

K, LOL! Yep.

Backthrow, Rigg was before the time Hollywood really got bad. In the 1960s, you didn't yet have to be 20 and made of silicon to get a role on film as a woman. That's a more modern situation.

As for TWINE, I agree. If they'd cast a 30-something actress or just one who doesn't scream "moron," then it wouldn't have been a problem. But Richards comes across as brain dead.

T-Rav said...

K, apparently the physics department has stricter morals in that regard than its history counterpart. :-P

K said...

T-Rav: What morals? Those strange creatures with the interesting bumps and curves just scare the dickens out of us.

shawn said...

I don't hate Temple of Doom but I find I don't rewatch it like I do the others of the initial trilogy. To me it was the beginning of Spielberg's "Bigger and MORE!" phase.

An almost jump the shark scene for me was the Kobiyashi Maru scenario in the Trek reboot. Kirk all but announces "Hey,I'm cheating here!!" I Hate that scene. The rest of the movie is a choatic mess, but it is entertaining.

Anonymous said...

shawn -

Oddly, I think Spielberg learned a lesson about "bigger and more" after 1941 and, as a result, Raiders was a very economically-produced movie.

Yeah, that didn't last long. :-)

As for Trek, I just saw Into Darkness yesterday. Beautiful to look at but it reminds me of the famous quote after the Apollo 1 fire:

It was "a failure of imagination."

A review will come from either Andrew or myself later in the year.

rlaWTX said...

Andrew, you beat me to the Ewok-defense! :)

Most recently, I went to see the new GIJoe. I enjoyed the first one for what it was - explosions and bigger than life based on a cartoon.
However, I am a bit ticked by the second one.
[spoiler alert - maybe - I didn't know gong in]
They began introducing The Rock's character and had some pretty good chemistry w/ CTatum's character and then BOOM - They killed Duke! And nearly every other Joe. SERIOUSLY!?!?!?
Apparently, I should have read up on it, because this was not a surprise to most viewers. But, they killed off one of the integral members of GI Joe and all but 4 active duty Joes. I am still annoyed by this. They could have done many other things so that a small group of not-in-the-last-movie characters could rescue the world. Having Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow helped, and as long as I pretended they hadn't just killed all the rest, I could get back into the movie and enjoy it for its cartoony self.
But that had to be the laziest "I can't afford the actors who were in the first movie" fix ever.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, Scott,

I think most of the best 'shark-jumping' moments have been mentioned. But to be honest, I think the 'Matrix' sequels and 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' belong in a category of their own. Each caused me so many facepalms that I practically had a bruised forehead and had one of those "odd moments."

But, seriously, can there be any greater jumping the shark moment than this? (If it doesn't start at the right place, just fast forward to 11:28 and let 'er roll.)
Also, if you liked that one (or found yourself reduced to be a dry husk where laughter and joy once dwelt), then this is the follow-up for you!


AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I figured that somebody had to defend them. :)

I haven't seen the second Joe, though I did like the first.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Most of the films MST3k's did never jumped the shark, they got eaten by the shark at the starting line.

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