Never See A Bad Movie Again

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gigli is universally accepted to be just plain awful, even by the actors in it
It used to be that all you could judge a movie by was its title, trailer and how many thumbs Siskel & Ebert were holding up. And that worked pretty well. If the directors can't put together a good thirty second preview for the movie then what hope do they have on a full length production? But these days, they're getting tricky with those trailers, handing them to outsiders and showing all the good stuff up front. And of course we lost Siskel, though Ebert and I still agree more often than not, but it's close. Of course, these are still good ways to decide whether you want to see a movie, and certain arts to see through these latest tricks. Luckily, dear reader, movie prejudging is a skill I have worked into an art, and with the lineup of remakes and unoriginal stuff facing us in 2006, you're going to need all the help you can get...

The Trailer
What a way to preview a movie
Whatever the critics may say, the fact is that nobody has quite the same tastes as you do. And the only way to prejudge for yourself is to see the trailer, the most important part of the judging process. Luckily, thanks to high speed internet, you don't have to go see one bad movie to see the trailer for another potentially bad one. Sites like Apple and ComingSoon.Net have lots of trailers. But the question remains, how do you know if a movie is going to be good - or more importantly, bad - from the trailer? Obviously there's no definitive guide since taste is subjective, but let me offer my top five show stoppers - I can't tell you what you'll like, but I know what bad is.

1) Floored or Bored? - Most people won't bother to see a movie that they find the trailer boring for, that's just common sense. But I say, don't go see a movie unless the trailer really engages you. If a two minute clip doesn't leave you wanting more, then you probably don't. Also, if you can, try to watch the trailer the same day you go to the movie (unless you've already decided in advance you want to see it, in which case, you probably do) - that way your mood will dictate what you like and you will have a better chance of seeing something you want to.

2) Bare Skin, Bare Bones - If you're going to see a movie because the trailer looks hot - ESPECIALLY if that hotness is the focus - be assured that under no conditions will the movie itself be anything of the sort. Any steamy scene that cuts too soon in the trailer probably does so because the movie itself cuts there as well, and then the great selling point for the movie is gone leaving it an empty husk and you wondering why you went to see it in the first place. This also applies to movies where the whole trailer is the lead character wandering around scantily clad. This can save you from debacles like Tomcats or Catwoman.

3) Bad Titlature - Not as related to point two as it sounds. Face it, if the creative mind that produced a plot can't even string together a couple words into a compelling title, they probably can't string together a whole bunch into a compelling story. Be wary of movies titled "The Something" where something is a boring everyday object - You could be saved from such travesties as Dark Water or The Avengers. Well, OK, so "Avengers" is not a boring everyday word, but I just want to have it known just how awful that movie really is. I should've known. What non-Tarantino movie with Uma Thurman has been any good? She's in three of my top 10 worst movies of all time.

4) No Flow? Go - If the trailer is a bunch of disjointed scenes and you're never quite sure what the movie will be about, it's probably because the movie isn't about anything and the director can't even venture a guess. This is a tough one to find examples for, but check out Nine Lives for an example of a movie I'd NEVER go see.

5) The Sign Of The Devil - If you see the sign - MTV Films - at ANY point in the movie, run! You could be saved from such crimes against mankind as Aeon Flux or Napoleon Dynamite.

Two thumbs up, started by Siskel and Ebert and continued by geeks the world over
Life sure would be easier if we could believe everything we heard, but liars and people with bad taste abound in this world - after all, who do you think is making these awful movies we're trying to avoid? Even Ebert and I disagree sometimes (though he usually calls and apologizes afterwards). So why take one source when you can sample a bunch? And fast. If you're using Google to search for movie times (like I told you about, then you've probably already seen that it also gives you the average rating with a link and the number of reviews accumulated. That's one way to get a bunch of opinions fast. You can also use a site I really like called Rotten Tomatoes, which gives a bunch of nice one-liners on the movie in question. Here's how it saved me from seeing Aeon Flux. After all, if two heads are better than one, surely a bunch of rotten tomatoes are better than... one... too?

You may need to resort to this in order to afford the cinema
Motive Operandi
The final and sometimes first nail in the for any movie is its raison d'etre, the reason it's being made. There are plenty of movies out there that are quite entertaining and serve no purpose other than that (the James Bond series comes to mind) and there are some with an agenda or opinion to express (usually the movies you'll either love or hate and also the movies the critics will love at any expense, especially if its a controversial opinion). And there are some, plain and simple, out there to make money. Many. More and more every year. Hollywood rivals the music industry for its sheer buck-lust. If a movie strikes you as 'cashing in' or looks somehow like it was made solely to get you to spend half your life savings on popcorn at the local cinema, it's a safe bet that the people involved in making it from actors all the way up aren't going to be staking any of their soul in it. The results are rarely pretty. Look at what they did to Batman, taking away Tim Burton years ago to make it sell better and be more 'kid friendly'. Batman & Robin is number two on my list of worst all time movies. Of course the series has been redeemed by starting at the beginning again with spectacular Batman Begins.

I'm no Andy Rooney, but I know what I hate
Final Rant
And speaking of greed, you know what gets me fuming? Paying $11 to go see a movie, while a little on the steep side, I don't mind for big event shows where atmosphere and a massive screen with great sound are important. And while popcorn prices could be halved and still be unreasonable, I will even fork over the cash for that once in awhile (though it would be nice if they'd at least give you remotely fresh stuff when you're paying that much). But what bothers me like nothing else, is that even AFTER I've paid all that money, they force me to sit through commercials. This is old news, I know, but lately there seem to be more and more - the other day I counted 20 MINUTES (!!!!) of commericals. I'm not talking about movie trailers, we need those (see above). I'm talking about car ads, Five Alive ads, Insurance ads, whatever. What the 5^@%@#$%(* am I paying for if you're making money on me sitting and watching this garbage? Nevermind that I vow with each viewing never to purchase any of the products displayed.

At least they could list the time the TRAILERS start instead of the commercials so I can choose to miss them. Really, think about it. I ask you, what kind of business charges its customers more than most people think is fair, gives them a product that really isn't any good (yes, I dislike old, cold popcorn), bases all of its income on said inferior product, and then goes out of their way to ensure an unpleasant experience? A business that probably isn't going to do so well, right? And go figure, they aren't. Most of the cinemas are struggling to stay alive. It's easy to blame Hollywood's greed in raking the profits out of the cinemas (we've all seen the DVDs with commercials, don't get me started), but this is a clear case of the cinemas themselves being excessively greedy.

Sadly, I can't change that. But I hope that I've helped give you what you need to at least enjoy the movie once you've spent your retirement fund for admission. If not, you can always go vent at sites like The Stinkers or Tom Cruise Is Nuts. Happy movie-going.


the_dutch said...

great post. Napoleon Dynamite is flippin' sweet though.

I have a problem with Trailers that give away too much i.e. The Island, Red Eye. Take "Castaway" in which we already know Tom Hanks makes it back home. When you watch the movie it's like sitting through the plot waiting for the movie to catch up to where the trailer left off and at that point there is maybe 30 minutes left.

Unrelated rant: movie are too long these days! Seriously, I can only fake that I'm enjoying most movies while I'm really thinking about a bathroom break.


1) The ape dies at the end of Kong
2) the ship sinks in Titanic
3) Bruce Willis is a Ghost

Anonymous said...

Hey Deaner,
Like the updated blog site. It is refreshing with a twist of lemon. I don't know what the means. However, on my computer the text fro your images is blend in with the text from posting. Made it dificult to read. But then again it is probably my computer and the res setting.

Anonymous said...

Great post by the way. You should submit to the Star Pheonix. Although like the Dutch, your judgement on Napoleon Dynamite was way off. It was very funny and entertaining. You must of been in the wrong mind set. I mean, it brought back to my childhood. The 80s rule!!!

Anonymous said...

I was agreeing with the Dutch, I missed a word and made it sound like I was knocking the Dutch's judgement, which isn't the case. Dutch you were right, Napoleon rules.

Dean said...

John, what browser are you using? I have a problem right now with the footer bar not moving down when things go longer than the sidebar but otherwise it all looks good on IE/Mozilla browsers (Firefox).

Glad you both enjoyed the post, and moreover that you actually stopped by. :) I plan to make weekly posts like this from now on, maybe more often, definitely not less. It's too bad we can't agree on Napoleon Dynamite being the third sign of the apocalypse, but oh well. :)

Dutch, I agree on the trailers that give away too much and you made me think of a cool idea - a trailer that actually has no content from the movie IN it but leads up to where the movie starts. I wonder how that'd work?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dean! I really like your page. I wouldn't expect anything less from you though:) I like how you have half the blog and if you want to read more you click read more. It's like a movie preview! If you don't catch me in the first paragraph, i don't read the rest! Tee hee! Later
PS Napolean is a funny movie, it brings back memories

Anonymous said...

hi still look at your webb site all the best den the chap on the train in the uk

Dean said...

Thanks for popping by, Steph and Dennis! And of course, hope all is well on that side of the pond, Den.