I Hate Movies pt. I


bridesmaid director lucas mike bay

 

Why bother with another pop-culture bitch-fest? Because I really used to enjoy going to the movies.. and now, I don’t. Growing up a significant part of my childhood involved going the theater and seeing stuff like: Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Weird Science, Vacation, and so forth. And I still enjoy these films, and not merely because it’s all Vintage Store-ironic and reminiscent of my childhood, but because these are endearing, well-made movies that have aged well. And no, none of these examples are amazing, revelatory works of cinematic art. They’re just good, fun, well-made movies with well-developed characters and simple, easy to follow story arcs. And of course maybe I’m just becoming the embodiment of Dana Carvey’s SNL Grumpy Old Man with all this shit. If so, enjoy anyway.

 

Flibbity Floo

 

I guess it took what a self-absorbed semi-hipster would call “introspection” to explain why for the past 10 years I could list off all the times I went to the movie theater on less than my 10 fingers. It sure sounds like arthouse dickery to proclaim that modern film-making has become formulaic schlock…  pandering attempts to reel in the widest audience possible, coherent story-telling be damned. But a recent slate of “indie” movies are some of the worst offenders, offering their own brand of pointless formula and cliches that offer infinitely more style over substance (How many n’er-do-well 30 something protagonists with existential crises do we need?)

 

2 words… Fuck… You

 

But enough with the pseudo-intellectual justification for my avoidance of movies. Here’s why they suck, very simply put:

1) Shitty, self-absorbed characters

Red Letter Media hit the nail on the head in the very first 5 minutes of the very first Star Wars Prequel review (yea, I’m going here again) in explaining why it was impossible to emotionally connect with these movies. The characters fucking sucked. Was there anything remotely relatable about Qui-Gon fucking Jinn? Sarcastic and bored Obi-Wan? Natalie Portman with a weird British robot voice? That annoying kid playing Anakin? Need I mention cocksucking Jar-Jar?

 

Meesa fuck your eye sockets with schlock

 

Maybe unless you’ve been lobotomized, it should be pretty obvious that Storytelling 101 involves a character or characters one can relate to and then invest into emotionally. So who does anyone relate to in any of the 3 prequels? Even my friends who claim they actually liked these films can’t answer that question. It’s because it can’t be answered, because the characters suck.

The SW prequels are an extreme example, but it’s part and parcel of way too many recent movies.. particularly ones geared at young people, which is troubling on many levels. For instance:

The “Paranormal Activity” movies. I’ve now seen the first 3 of these, and several knock-off straight to DVD versions. (which incidentally, are basically impossible to tell apart because of the very convenient dirt-cheap productions costs of this style of “movie”) The first one was clever and different, kinda, if you forgot Blair Witch. But then since it was successful –  and oh joy – cheap as all fuck to produce and cast, they now crank out the same shot again and again in form of sequels, offering basically nothing new from the 1st one.

 

This is so exciting I’m not sure I can contain my bowels..

 

While I was mildly entertained by the 1st one, I was bored stiff from the rest. And there are 500 reasons, not the least of which is that literally 90% of these movies involves watching home security camera footage of literally nothing, waiting for the next startle to occur.

But they could be at least a bit more compelling if you cared about the characters. And I guess maybe you kinda do, a little, in the 2d one, because it involves little kids and kids in movies are generally innocent, if gratingly fucking annoying. But the rest are upper-middle class suburbanites that prattle on about suburbanite shit like new sedans and needless crap their kids want them to buy. None of which is central to the plot. Really compelling shit.

That doesn’t even get to the horrific slate of rom-coms and raunch comedies. Where vapid, self-centered, mean-spirited one dimensional characters are celebrated. And that’s troubling. Are Bridesmaids and The Hangover movies popular because these insipid child-like narcissistic assholes portrayed on-screen somehow connect to these large audiences? What about Adam Sandler films, where cruelty, racism, and physical harm at the expense of others is celebrated like fucking Christmas?

 

When my shrink asks why it is I seldom venture outside my house, I cite the example that this man is considered by millions of Americans to be “funny”

 

Keep in mind I’m not even talking about the pathetic scripts, plots, and bad acting. Just the very nature of the characters. I’ll get into very specific examples of why characters and character development is so important, citing 2 legendary modern films, and comparing them to, yes I am fucking going here again, the good old Star Wars prequels. Then I will follow-up this new (I just decided) “Fuck Movies” series with explanations of why bad scripts, bad blocking, and cheap production keep me away from the theater. As if you cared.

No, my dick’s bigger..


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Well look out. George Lucas and Jim Cameron are in a pitched battle to one-up each other, re-hashing 15 year old movies by making them nearly unwatchable in dark, fuzzy, manufactured “3-D.” At least Titanic was more watchable than The Phantom Menace, and Kate Winslet’s boobies in 3D might just be worth the price of admission.

Let me look upon them.. with my OWN eyes...

But it is amusing, watching these guys’ egos battle it out like two aging sumo wrestlers throwing their tired, broken fat slovenly bodies around, with nothing new or original in their arsenals. And what a trend, this re-release everything in 3D crap. It’s only a matter of time before the Matrix, Fast and Furious, Inception, Batman, and the King’s Speech all get shat back out into theaters in dark, grainy, migraine-inducing fake 3D. Ohhh goodie.

I have a novel idea for Lucas and Cameron. Stop paying people to re-release your recent crap in 3D, and go and make a new movie that doesn’t suck. You can even go all old school and do it in 2D, utilizing some old film-making techniques from ancient days of yore like: a decent script, dialogue that isn’t humiliating to recite and hear, character development, tone, and a plot and storyline a typical viewer can actually understand and relate to. But of course this would require some real work and not just writing checks.. so I look forward to the 3D re-release of the Star Wars Christmas Special and  Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. Actually, the last one might not be so bad.

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Fuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkk you

Star Wars Ep. I in 3D. Actually, how about no, fuck you George..


This is galling. Before I expound upon the many reasons why, let me backtrack a bit. I love George Lucas, and I despise him. Despite the onslaught of crap he’s imposed upon me this past decade, I can not deny what a profound effect the original 3 Star Wars movies had on me, and the way they shaped.. well part of everything I am today. Yes, they were that impactful and that meaningful. No, it didn’t mean I became a fanboy and went to conventions or camped out for tickets. And I have never picked up a Star Wars “novel” in my life. But the movies alone did allow me to delve in, heart and mind, into a universe I could get completely lost in. Then Lucas took a giant, steaming crap all over my childhood, with his abominable “prequels.” 3 movies so soul-shatteringly disappointing, I kind of, and I am not even fucking kidding here, swore off even going to see movies afterward. I have been to scant few since.

I wasn’t sure at first what I didn’t like about the prequels. All the basic elements seemed to be there. There were light saber duels, fighting, lasers, space battles, weird aliens, even the windshield wiper scene-fade deal Lucas brought from his nostalgia for the old action serials. But every time, and especially after the Phantom Menace, I left the theater feeling hollow, confused, and sadly.. bored. I am not going to go into much more detail of how and why the prequels sucked donkey shlong, because Red Letter Media has already done an amazing job of that. But I will say I thank them for being able to explain point by point all the failings of these films, which I could not at the time. I only knew there was really nothing memorable, and I had little to no desire to ever see them again. I guess my lack of being able to explain to my friends, who were deep in denial and actually claimed to like the prequels, was something akin to being a little kid and feeling patronized. At the age of 4 or 5, you can feel and experience a complex emotion like that, but you aren’t familiar with the term, let alone able to explain it. You’re just pissed off, and it just gets worse when your mom says “oh he just gets cranky when he’s tired.”

Anyway, in a child-like way, I was unable for a long time to explain why the prequels sucked. They just did. And if you are having a hard time coming to terms with the specifics of why they also left you bitterly disappointed (hint: it’s not JarJar. As annoying as he was he was the least of the problems), check out the brilliant Harry Plinkett’s synopsis by clicking the Red Letter link in the above paragraph. And if you are a prequel fanboy/girl…a) you suck.. and b) noooooo.. I did not “decide” to dislike the movies after seeing the Red Letter reviews. They were merely a conduit for pointing out all the technical reasons from a standpoint of filmology I couldn’t articulate. Now.. onto why George Lucas is an even bigger dick than he was last week..

2 years or so back, while visiting my sister and her husband in Florida, we all went to see Avatar. Despite what all the American critics sucking at the teet of James Cameron tell you, that movie also sucked. But it was, at least visually, amazing. It was also groundbreaking. Almost up there with the Wizard of Oz or the early animated Disney films in terms of innovation. It truly was a surreal visual spectacle the likes of which film-goers had never before experienced. Upon leaving the theater, my sis and I both agreed the movie sucked but looked pretty amazing. Literally the next words out of my mouth were “George Lucas has to be thinking how he can top this.” Well, he could have made an amazing new badass Star Wars flick.. Episode 7.. i.e. the empire reforms, Vader’s secret protege emerges, etc. It all could have been in 3D even more bad-ass than Avatar, and perhaps even Lucas learned from his horrific mistakes from Ep. 1-3 and made a movie whose quality was on par with the first 3 AND IN AMAZING FUCKING STATE OF THE ART 3D!! Or.. he could have just started with a brand new story.. something completely new and nothing to do with Star Wars. Maybe an Indiana Jones type flick, or another sci-fi one, or something. But no, that’s not what happened.

You see, going with any of the above suggestions would have required Lucas to do something he has clearly become reticent to do since the early 80s. That is getting off his fat ass and doing some work. We’ve all seen the outtakes and behind the scenes stuff from the original 3 SW. Lucas is thin, frail, looks worn the fuck out, but he’s directing. He’s on location braving sandstorms, he’s involved in every detail and aspect and pleading with his actors for more energy and intensity. For the prequels, his ass is in a comfy chair, sipping coffee, watching actors or stunt doubles fuck around in front of a green screen where he can observe all the “action” from 4 or 5 huge-ass monitors.

 

Again, I’m not going to go too heavily into this. Go check out the Red Letter stuff for details. But that difference right there should clue you in on some important things about Lucas, and why the prequels sucked so hard.

But here’s why Lucas is a dick. Yea, he’s trying top Cameron alright. He’s also trying to jump in to the new 3D craze. He’s also trying to make more money. I have no problem with any of that, except for the fact that he’s doing it by peddling out the same shitty movie that broke 100 million hearts in 2003 or whenever the fuck the Phantom Shithole came out. That’s right. George Lucas watched Avatar, thought to himself there’s no way he can allow Jim Cameron to have the biggest dick in the room, and decided to pay a bunch of assholes to turn his shittiest movie into 3D and re-release it. What a dick move. I know no other way to describe it.

Yea.. that's Jim Cameron over there. No George, I think he's flicking YOU off.