11/21/2006

Top 6: Disappointing Movies

Posted in Top 6 at 5:00 am by Sam

Our Top 6 list for Episode 8 is about movies you were excited about seeing but ultimately disappointed you. They may not necessary be bad — all of Sam’s picks are of bad movies, but some of Stephen’s are actually good, just less than what he was hoping for. What’s interesting about this topic is it says more about our expectations than about the movies themselves.

What movies disappointed you?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

Stephen
  1. Stargate (1994)
  2. The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
  3. Brazil (1985)
  4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
  5. Ocean’s 12 (2004)
  6. L’Avventura (1960)
Sam
  1. Wild Wild West (1999)
  2. Armageddon (1998)
  3. Father’s Day (1997)
  4. America’s Sweethearts (2001)
  5. Spy Hard (1996)
  6. Cliffhanger (1993)

28 Comments »

  1. Eric (44) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 7:08 am

    I watched Brazil and I hated it. I think the biggest reason was probably just Gilliam’s bizarre shooting style. I don’t even know what specifically it is, but the way movement looks on screen in his movies (of which I’ve seen two and parts of a third), and the way they’re edited, and the way the camera works in relation to the characters, it just throws me out of the movie completely. It’s unceasingly distracting and it bugs the crap out of me. I think the only reason I was able to even stand Twelve Monkeys was because he toned down the, uh, whatever you call it. And, like Stephen, I saw Twelve Monkeys first; if I had seen Brazil first, I never would have watched Twelve Monkeys at all. (And I only kind of liked it, and it hasn’t sat well with me as I’ve had time to digest it and think about it.)

    Brazil had a few things that were OK about it. I liked Michael Palin’s character towards the end. I was talking about the movie to Stephen recently, and he had mentioned Al Pacino’s character; I kind of remember liking him, but I don’t really remember anything about him. And I guess the main character’s typewriter was cool. But on the whole the movie just absolutely rubbed me the wrong way. (Also, Brazil has absolutely the least interesting love interest I’ve ever seen. She is SO BORING. She has basically no reason for being in the movie at all.) I think the movie was too outlandish for me — and coming from a David Lynch fan, that’s saying something.

  2. Ferrick (140) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    I was too young when I saw Brazil so I need to see it again. I wonder if I’ll like it.

    My list would include The Rock and Congo. I went into both movies just expecting fun action movies but the absurd dumbness of each movie ruined any fun I was expecting. In fact, I have heard other people who had a similar experience with Congo and reference it when they see a movie that they were disappointed by after expecting it to be at least decent. If it happens, you’ve been Congoed.

    As for Spy Hard, I never saw it but when I saw National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon, that is pretty much what demonstrated how crappy these movies could be. It was terribly boring. I didn’t laugh once. I can’t think of any I’ve seen since then.

  3. Stephen (221) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    Eric: It’s actually De Niro’s character that I like. Pacino’s not in the movie.

  4. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    -By the way, I ran and saw The Gods Must Be Crazy this week because it was on the top 6 last week and Dad said, “Oh, that was good, you should see it.” I thought it was quite fun.

    -I was not nearly as crazy about Ocean’s Twelve as everyone else was. In fact, I remember very little of it, except that the first one was significantly better.

    -Most of these I’ve never seen, but that’s probably a good thing. :-)

    -Ah, mais oui, the Matrix Revolutions. Didn’t hate it as much as you guys did, but definitely disappointed.

    -Sam should have moved “America’s Sweethearts” up to #1, because that way they would have been in order of when they were released and that would have been cool.

    My list of 6 random movies that disappointed me, in order of how much I disliked them:

    1. The Family Stone. Looked like a potentially interesting flick, started out good, but about forty minutes in it hit me that I hated every one of the characters, and by the end of the movie I hated it itself. Played as a drama all the way through, with a random slapstick comedy scene that really felt completely out of place. Some sites claim it’s a comedy, which I suppose it’s possible, but… I guess it was mostly the fact that I hated each and every character in the movie. That bodes well for neither drama nor comedy.

    2. The Notebook. I am *not* a fan of chick flicks. Most of them are just sappy and stupid. But I did actually like the book. It took an average, but not stupendous, love story, and put a slight twist on it at the end that made it much more interesting. The movie felt some bizarre impulse to put the twist in the middle of the story and also insert a ridiculous, sappy ending. Maybe they felt the original was just too darn sad and they had to make it sadder in a noble way or something. Most of my chick flick watching friends are in love with this, but I just have to shake my head and say, “Well… no.”

    3. Bee Season. This movie was truly bizarre. It came out around the same time as Akeelah and the Bee, and so I thought it was the same kind of deal. There was almost no spelling bee in this movie, they just had a lot of fun detailing all these different religions and beliefs and then showing how generally messed up the family was and that they never talked to each other. I might have seen it differently if I had realized it wasn’t going to be about spelling at all, but about . . . erm. I’m not sure what.

    4. Save the Last Dance. I probably wouldn’t have watched this on my own, but a few friends whose movie opinions I trust highly recommended it, so I thought, “Okay, there’s got to be something to it, then,” and sat down to watch it. I was so busy thinking I should like it that it wasn’t until the movie was over that I realized it really WASN’T as good as people said it was. It was *all* over the place. It tried to be a dance movie, and a prejudice movie, and a girl-dealing-with-her-mom’s-death movie, and a showing-up-the-mean-girl movie, and a fitting-in-in-a-new-place movie, and a girl-learns-to-interact-with-her-father movie… a mixture of a few themes is fine, but this one just couldn’t make up its mind. Plus it wasn’t that interesting anyway. So my expectations weren’t SUPER high on this one, but… yeah.

    5. Cold Mountain. I like much of the cast, critics loved it, and several people I know loved it. So I was all ready to like this movie… But it was long, and dry, and by the end of the movie I didn’t care enough about the characters to care about the movie. Visually pretty, though.

    6. Night of the Hunter. I initially had Shadow of a Doubt on here, but when this movie was mentioned in the podcast a minute later, I decided I had to include it, because I just saw it about three days ago. I was so ready to like this movie. *So* ready. So what happened? No one in it made sense, is what happened. It had some nice images, and it had a nice premise, but character shifts happened abruptly. Plot points were glossed over. I got the feeling that someone went through, said, “Oh, this isn’t scary, let’s toss it,” and edited out every single transition moment, which, for me, made what was left much less interesting.

  5. Jaguar (22) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    I was really looking forward to Signs, and was really disappointed. I recognize it as a good movie now, but my expectations were WAY off. I was expecting a huge plot twist in the end, like… there were no aliens, it was just an elaborate hoax. Or something like that. What did happen was good, my expectations were way too high, and way too far off.

  6. Sam (405) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    Night of the Hunter is sort of an oddball. It’s basically a German silent movie from the 1920s, except that it’s American, sound, and from the 1950s. Plot points are glossed over largely because they’re irrelevant. The movie is essentially a thriller set in a nightmare, which plays by the rules of a nightmare, where we are on the run from an evil force that somehow keeps up with us. It doesn’t matter how; what’s important is that it does. It’s only upon waking that we might go back and scoff at how silly some logistical detail might be.

    The other one I have to talk about is The Notebook. I absolutely loved it. But here’s the key: you read the book. For just about any movie based on a book, if you read the book, you’re going to be disappointed by the movie. I can’t help but think you’re steering people wrong by turning them off it, though, unless they’ve also read the book. I mean, Stephen is probably never going to like a movie like this, but it’s got an 8.0 on the IMDb, which suggests to me that it really delivers to its target audience. In any case, it worked for me, and I can go hot and cold on the genre myself.

    That’s too bad Cold Mountain got you, though. I wasn’t disappointed by it, because by the time I saw it, I was already aware that it wasn’t delivering on the year’s worth of anticipation it had had. (It got the Munich/Flags of Our Fathers slot for 2003, the movie that was penciled in as the Best Picture frontrunner, until people actually saw it.) I didn’t hate it, but it was certainly more pretty than worthwhile.

    But Cold Mountain wins a point from me just for its part in the awards game. The Golden Globes are one of the silliest, least credible award shows out there, entirely undeserving of the attention they get above and beyond what, for example, the guild awards get. Like most of these awards shows, they straddle this weird line between conflicting stances: (1) We are an independent awards body, and our awards have independent merit, and (2) Our purpose is to predict and/or influence the Oscars.

    So Cold Mountain is an awards frontrunner, sight unseen, for virtually all of 2003 (the juggernaut of Return of the King notwithstanding), and everybody expects it to be The Movie that the critics, the Academy, everybody just loves. I forget which happened first, the Globe nominations announcement or the wide release of Cold Mountain, but in any case the Globe nominations come out before the full force of the unilateral rejection of Cold Mountain is established. Cold Mountain gets piles and piles of nominations. Clearly it was nominated because it was expected to be nominated, and wouldn’t the Globes look plain old dumb if they didn’t nominate it at all and it *was* The Movie.

    Then the response comes in, and critics and audiences alike are disappointed with the thing. People are still predicting it for heavyweight Oscar nominations, though, because the Globes did it, and possibly other smaller awards groups jumped on the bandwagon, too. But when it gets to the Oscars, the passion just isn’t there, and it winds up shut out of the top categories and relegated to Best Supporting Actress and technical nominations, where it belonged. The result, egg on the Globes’ face. Of course, the story wasn’t spun that way, but the Globes are always trying to spin themselves as something other than the Oscar prognosticators they are, especially since they aren’t that good at it

  7. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    Re: The Notebook. It’s possible that I was reacting because of the book adaptation bit (although there certainly are book-to-movie adaptations I love and, in a few cases, liked much better than the book). I think it probably still wouldn’t have worked for me, though. Even in the book I was bored with the story until those last five pages or so. And that last bit was interesting to me because, although it’s a wonderful twist, it’s not as dramatic in how it works out.

    Okay, I’m not sure I can discuss this without giving away plot points, so let any people who are worried about it be warned:

    AHEAD THERE BE SPOILERS!

    In the book we’re just given the quiet revelation that Noah has been coming here every day to tell her their story. At the end of the book, he quietly goes back home, with clear plans to come back the next day. And the next day. And the next. It’s beautiful, it’s understated, it’s not as Hollywoodized. I think even without knowing the book, I would have felt that this was too… hmm. Overdramatic. Just that initial twist is enough. If they had cut off the movie right at the point that the book did, I would probably have liked it significantly better. For me it’s like a joke that goes on far too long, and by the end it’s not nearly as funny as you initially thought it was.

    THERE BE NO MORE SPOILERS NOW.

    Another thing that I’ve come to realize is particularly true for me. I can like the story for a movie all I want, but if I can’t connect to and enjoy the characters, I won’t like the movie very much. I never connected to either of the main characters (although this was true for both book and movie) and so seeing their happy ending meant nothing to me.

    As you said though, it delivered to its target audience… which doesn’t actually happen to be me. :-)

  8. siochembio (82) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    I know Sam completely disagrees with me on this one, but Munich was a big disappointment for me.

    I might get run out of town on a rail, but to me, Dead Poets Society was a massive pile of crap for me. After hearing so much about how WONDERFUL it is and what an AMAZING movie, I thought it stunk. I definitely got my expectations up for that one, and it did not deliver in any way whatsoever.

  9. Sam (405) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    siochembio: I won’t be the one to run you out of town, although if I’m lucky, maybe we can get tied to adjacent wagon wheels and keep each other company. I guess I didn’t think it totally “stunk,” but I really don’t think it’s a very good movie. Robin Williams is likeable (in my admittedly debatable opinion) in the role, but he doesn’t exactly play a realistic character, and that’s a real problem in a movie that seems like it’s trying to be realistic. And everything else is just this mercilessly unceasing sequence of melodramatic events that just don’t at all connect to an overall purpose.

    What’s weird about why this movie is so revered is, there are so many other movies that do basically the same thing. There is seriously no shortage whatsoever of movies about charismatic teachers that inspire kids to break free of the dead-end lives thrust upon them. Goodbye Mr. Chips, Lean On Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, To Sir With Love, Mr. Holland’s Opus, School of Rock…even Sister Act 2, which is not the best retread of the formula but at least has fantastic music. I’d love to hear from someone who likes Dead Poets Society who can explain why this is such a superior version of the story. Sometimes I feel like I’m just plain old missing something.

  10. wintermute (157) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Stephen’s right about Revolutions.

    The problem was that Reloaded and Revolutions were basically a single movie in two parts, and the first half was OK. To be fair, I remember coming out of the cinema, and being quite excited to see how it ended, but I now cannot look back on Reloaded and think of it as anything other than a big, steaming pile of horse poo, because the Wachaoskis (sp?) clearly revealed that they had no idea what they were doing, and just threw in a whole bunch of metaphors and mysteries to make themselves look smart. And then, in the second part of the movie, they do absolutely nothing to tie up all these loose threads, and many of them end up having no connection with the plot whatsoever.

    The really annoying thing is that there’s no shortage of good stories that could be told about the Matrix. But they just phoned it in, in exchange for a dump-truck full of money. One of the shorts in The Animatrix, for example, involved humans capturing and reprogramming machines, so that they’d fight against the Matrix. I remember thinking that surely that was what the “Revolution” of the title referenced. But apparently, that would have made too much sense.

    I maintain that my unborn daughter could have written a better Matrix sequel than Reloaded/Revolutions.

    My top (bottom?) 6 not-as-good-as-I-thought-they’d-be movies, off the top of my head:

    6) Signs - I was looking forward to this, and I expected good things from it. And it made me laugh, and it wasn’t a bad movie. Until the last 10 minutes or so, which I had to watch several times to even get a sense of what was happening. And even after I understood the narrative, it was, frankly, stupid. There are at least two distinct rants in there (how the theology makes no sense, and how the aliens would never, ever have invaded Earth), but this isn’t the place for them.

    5) Dracula 2000 - It seems to be a rule of thumb that any vampire movie with a title of “Dracula” followed by a year is going to be not worth seeing. I was expecting this to be a moderately silly schlock, but it turned out to be just dull. There was some very odd exegesis on the Dracula’s appearance in the Bible, but that was probably one of the most coherent plot points.

    4) John Carpenter’s Vampires - Again, it looked good (but had Carpenter made a good movie since the 70’s?), but turned out to be one of the most boring films I’ve ever sat through. I saw this in the cinema, back when I was a smoker, and I think it’s the only time I’ve ever thought “right, some plot just happened, so I have time to leave and have a cigarette, and get back before I miss anything”. I was right, too.

    3) Cube - I’d heard that this was an existential masterpiece that spoke of the human condition, but it turned out to complete rubbish.The characters are all one-dimensional cyphers (the “master thief” has precisely one trick for finding out if a room’s trapped), and the plot is literally nonsensical. There’s never any explanation for why these people are in this situation, and nothing ever actually happens, beyond the random and meaningless deaths of most of the cast.

    2) Lost in Translation - This is the only movie in this list that I wouldn’t characterise as a bad movie - I just don’t quite understand what everyone else saw in it. I mean, it was OK, and the acting and characterisation were up to par, but it never grabbed me in the way that it seems to have done with everyone else.

    1) Matrix Revolutions - See above.

  11. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I was bored by Lost In Translation while I was watching it, but after I finished I realized that it was, on the whole, a very satisfying movie, although I’m not sure I could put my finger on why.

    I agree with Signs. I liked the movie, but I liked it less than I was expecting to.

    And I have a brief Dead Poets Society story. When I was four, my family didn’t even own a TV because we had just about no money. One night my parents were going out and a girl from across the street was babysitting me and my brother (the only other sibling at that point). On seeing that we had no TV, she walked back over to her house, got a little portable TV, brought it over here, and watched Dead Poets Society with me. Then she sent the TV back before my parents got home. My parents were a little freaked the next morning when I asked them all sorts of questions about suicide. When I saw the film again a couple years ago, it was very surreal because I remembered *just* the suicide scene, which actually haunted my dreams for a short while when I first saw it. So that kind of freaked me out.

    But back on topic, I’ve also always been a little confused as to why Dead Poets Society is looked on as the best teacher story. I liked it only as well as most of the other fairly-well-done teacher stories. I have one friend who adores it, but she also adores Robin Williams, so that is, I think, the primary reason.

  12. Sam (405) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    The suicide bit in Dead Poets Society is one of the best examples of the basic problem I have with it. I can understand if the scene made an impression, but my problem is, what’s it for? That whole subplot just doesn’t seem to have any place or purpose other than to supply a moment of tragedy at a point in the movie right where convention says there should be one. But nothing really seems to come of it, other than making us crank through some obligatory scenes of mourning, also played mechanically. It doesn’t fit into a larger whole; it’s just this completely random aside. It’s like listening to somebody tell a story over lunch, and he just keeps getting sidetracked from the point.

    On the other hand, though, maybe if the reason is, “I like Robin Williams,” that’s good enough. By definition, this sort of story is about a teacher with a particular kind of charisma. That’s the appeal for the students, and that’s the appeal for the audience as well. So if you like Samuel L. Jackson, your choice is going to be Coach Carter. If you like Timothy Bottoms, your choice is The Paper Chase. If it’s Julia Roberts, it’s Mona Lisa Smile. If it’s Sean Connery, it’s Finding Forrester.

    Clearly, some of these are better than others, but maybe it’s me who is missing the point by quibbling over plausibility and dramatic cohesion.

    Interestingly, in about the same time it took me to think up 12 such movies, I only managed 2 that are about really awful, anti-inspiring teachers: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Matilda. Although maybe 10 of the 12 are pretty good, maybe even great movies, are the two “bad teacher” movies better than any of them?

  13. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Just a few more random thoughts jumping around in my head. Not sure how well they connect, but here goes:

    I’m surprised there aren’t more instantly-thought-of horrid teacher movies. There are plenty of movies where breaking free of authority and society’s rules are key themes… I’d expect a lot of that to extend to school movies as well.

    Another thought connects to a thought I had earlier, but didn’t express, about The Notebook. There are definitely genres that appeal to various people. Romantic comedies, inspirational teacher dramas, musicals (mine), stories about people who die nobly. Each one has its own expectations to fulfill and goals to accomplish. So there can be good and bad movies inside a genre. If that genre accomplishes its goals well, then even though it may not be a good movie in general, it’s good within that genre. It gives the audience exactly what they want. I’m trying to think of examples but they keep escaping me. Sometimes a genre movie will not only give its target audience what they want, but will have something extra that appeals to people who are not fans of the genre. I don’t like romantic comedies, but I liked While You Were Sleeping. I don’t like action flicks, but I liked The Matrix.

    That was all really scrambled and I’m not sure it actually connected to the discussion, but… if not, now you have a bunch of observations from me on a random topic. I think I was relating that last bit to Dead Poets Society in that even as a genre piece, it must be one of those that appeals to some people who aren’t fans of the inspirational teacher movie, although it’s certainly not hitting that chord with me.

  14. siochembio (82) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Yay for being run out on a rail together!

    The suicide scene in Dead Poets Society always feels like a tremendous deus ex machina for me. Wah wah wah - rich boy’s daddy doesn’t like his son acting, so what’s he going to do? Oh wait, I know! He’ll kill himself! It’s like Sam said - it comes out of nowhere and only exists to make the audience cry.

    The melodrama of the film as a whole is a big reason why I don’t enjoy it. I react very negatively to overt melodramatic sentimentalism; it’s just a genre I cannot enjoy - too many eyerolls. And Dead Poets Society is pretty much the pinnacle of that type of movie.

    Very good point about other, better done “good teacher” movies. Stand and Deliver takes the cake any day over Dead Poets for me.

  15. wintermute (157) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    The best “good teacher” movie that I can remember seeing recently was The Ron Clark Story, a made-for-TV (TNT, I think, but don’t hold me to that), inspired-by-a-true-story vehicle for Matthew Perry. I really didn’t think I’d like it, but it was top notch.

    So there you go.

  16. Eric (44) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    I just have to say about Cold Mountain that Renee Zellweger did not deserve that Oscar. She has never been an interesting actress at all, but she was especially horrible in that movie. That character was so badly written, and her performance was so awful. When she won the Oscar for it, I was shocked. It would be like giving a Best Picture to Sinbad of the Seven Seas.

  17. Sam (405) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    Eric: I don’t go that far — I thought she was genuinely good — but I can get behind an argument that she won the award more because of the movie than because of her. Because Cold Mountain is so confoundedly dry and dreary that Zellweger, bursting on the scene and exhibiting some actual character, was like a breath of fresh air. Or, well, I guess you wouldn’t see it that way, but I bet you can see what I’m saying. If the movie itself had had more character, perhaps she wouldn’t have stood out so much.

  18. KTSlager (55) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Ooh, boy. “The Hulk” movie, perhaps? I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, but when I was watching it I kept glancing at my watch and wondering when the agony would end.

    And “Easy Rider”, I think. I had to watch it recently for a research paper, and found myself saying “Whaaat?” at the end. Although I loved the LSD trip bit, at the end it felt like nothing had happened. Maybe that’s the *point*.

  19. Dave (130) said,

    November 21, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Well, number one on my current list of “Movies that I really thought I was going to like but ultimately didn’t” is Casino Royale. Head over to that thread for my spoilerific explanation of why. Hopefully, this is one I can still salvage, though. Time will tell.

    It’s hard for me to really remember now, since it was long enough ago and the movies came out so close together, but I *think* I was slightly disappointed by the second Matrix movie. I recall it just being a little too surreal for me. However, I have *vivid* memories of defending the movie to a guy at work who was dissapointed by it by saying “Just wait until the third one! It’s all going to be explained! It’ll freaking rule!” Oh man was I wrong.

    I was going to mention Fargo here, but it doesn’t really fit, since I didn’t have any expectations for the movie before I saw it. I saw it completely cold, having no idea what it was about, who the Coens were, or anything. And I hated the movie. I remember telling Sam about it, and he was all “What? That movie RULES” and I was all “NO WAI” and he was all “SRSLY.” We argued, and he never did convince me it was good. I sort of appreciate it now for what it is, but I still don’t much like it.

    Another one I remember now, though, is The Devil’s Own. I remember thinking “Hey, Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt together in an action/thriller. That should be pretty good! Again, man was I wrong.

  20. L3 (3) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Spider Man 2, would be high up on the list for me. It was supposed to be so good but I think the special effects where bad and it was all just really stupid, the plot.

    Also Lord of The Rings: Return of the King, it’s not a bad movie but it was a very disappointing one, it’s much to long, they clearly didn’t know which ending to use and so they used them all and it seems that they really didn’t need to push the giant spider into this one, they had enough plot.

  21. Dave (130) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    I actually think Return of the King was the only movie of the trilogy that didn’t underperform my expectations at first viewing. I loved all three movies, I think they’re all great, but Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers both ended up slightly disappointing me in some respect. After my first viewing of Fellowship, I left the theater really almost hating the character of Legolas. I’m not a fan of elves in general in most fantasy stories, so that’s understandable, but I really didn’t like Legolas for some reason. Strangely, the second two movies would completely turn around my feelings about the character, to the point where I think he’s one of my favorite characters in the trilogy. And watching Fellowship again now, I get none of that dislike of the character anymore, so it seems that having seen how his character fleshes out in the subsequent movies, I no longer have any problem with him in the first movie. Besides that, the movie really is saddled with setting up the story arc and all the characters for the rest of the trilogy, so it necessarily moves slower and has more exposition. I knew that going in, of course, but that still managed to be a slight dissapointment after my first viewing.

    The Two Towers actually managed to overachive *and* underachive my expectations simultaneously–I absolutely hated the book when I read it, feeling that it’s this long drawn out sequence in which Nothing Happens. Of course it’s not, but that’s how it reads to me, and so just the fact that I was looking forward to seeing the movie means that the movie was setting higher expetations than the book did. But in the end I felt the movie relied just a little bit too much on the huge battle scene, and although there’s some other great stuff I was just ever so slightly disappointed when it came out.

    Return of the King, however, was probably the only one that didn’t underachieve at all in my eyes. It could just be that after having seen the first two, I already knew what the third one was basically going to be like and so I had readjusted my expectations to match, but I still think the movie is generally the strongest of the three (I have changed my mind on this a lot over the years, and I could change it again, but ask me TODAY which one I think is strongest and I’ll tell you Return of the King). It works in the big battle scene without losing focus on the rest of the story, and yeah, it has like nineteen endings, but that didn’t bother me as much because I knew after each one that the story wasn’t over so there was never a sense of “Wait, that’s it? How can it end here?” for me. If you’re not already familiar with the story I can see how those false endings might be jarring, but for me, they weren’t that bad.

    On a completely unrelated note, I was just looking over Sam and Stephen’s Top 6 lists, and I found it funny that Sam ever thought Armageddon was going to be good. See, I have this simple test I apply to all movies with Ben Affleck. I quickly scan the rest of the cast list and look to see if Matt Damon is also in the movie. If he’s not, I know instantly the movie will suck. The reverse is not always true–if Affleck and Damon are both in a movie, that’s no guarantee of a good movie–but I can’t think of a single movie Affleck has done without Damon that was any good. Regardless of what you think of them as actors, I think it’s pretty clear that Damon has some skill in picking projects while Affleck simply does *not*. Damon consistently works in serviceable-to-good movies, while Affleck keeps turning out stinker after stinker.

  22. mindless_drivel (29) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    The movie I was most dissapointed after seeing was 2001: A Space Oddesey. *Ducks from the various objects being thrown.* It’s anything but a bad movie, but I had always been told what a ground-breaking and amazing piece of cinematic work it was, that when I finally saw it, the movie ended up to be extremely underwhelming. HAL is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve seen in a movie and some of the shots are still stunning, but the plot was absolutely horrible and the final scene looked like the director had gone on an acid trip. I read the book afterwards, so I actually know what happened, but they did a very poor job of visualising and explaining what happened at the end. Plus, I was never a fan of spending 10 minutes watching a space ship approaching and docking at a space station.

  23. Sam (405) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    Dave: Was that Ben Affleck heuristic quite so apparent back in 1998, though? I hadn’t even heard of either Matt Damon or Ben Affleck until the very end of 1997, when Good Will Hunting came out and garnered so much attention from critics and awards groups. Armageddon was only released about six months later, and it’s entirely likely I had heard of it and started to anticipate it as early as the previous fall.

  24. Dave (130) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    I can’t tell you when that little test occured to me, honestly. But I do recall knowing in advance Armageddon was going to suck. But I think maybe that was because that was the Year of the Asteroid Impact Movies, and it was pretty clear that Deep Impact was going to be the better movie. And that’s another one of those little truisms I always use. If there’s more than one movie about a certain subject matter (1997 was volcanos, 1998 was asteroids) only one of them can ever be any good. It seems to me like one studio will greenlight a project about a subject, and then word will get around that “Subject X is HOT” and two or three other studios will quickly throw together a movie about that same subject, and do their best to release it around the same time to cash in on the “hottness” of the subject matter.

    So, yeah, maybe you’re right that nobody quite understood the Ben Affleck/Matt Damon rule yet in 1998. But they should have. Because Ben Affleck sucks.

  25. Stephen (221) said,

    November 22, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    mindless_drivel: I agree with you about 2001, though I had a good idea of what I was getting into when I saw it.

    I still love the movie, though very selectively (I don’t think there is a better sci-fi movie if we can crop out the bad parts).

    That said, it’s worth noting that the end isn’t supposed to make sense, and Kubrick deliberately didn’t give the film the same level of narrative cohesiveness that Clarke did the novel. I don’t know that it’s the best choice, though I do admire the audacity of it (since the point is that once Dave reaches the next stage of evolution, so does the story evolve past conventional narrative).

  26. Gharlane (12) said,

    November 23, 2006 at 1:01 am

    Hmmm, I rather liked Brazil myself, although I can see it wouldn’t appeal to everyone.

    As far as disappointing movies go, I’m not sure I can list 6, but I’ll try.

    1 - Wild, Wild West - I enjoyed the old television show and was hoping for something in the same spirit; this thing seemed gimmicky and lifeless in comparison.

    2 - Starship Troopers. I know, I know, I really should have expected no better from Verhoeven, but I was hoping for something at least similar to the book (which, although I don’t agree with all Heinlein’s points, I remember fondly). The ‘bugs’ were laughable, almost as much as the soldiers; I’ll stop there.

    3 - Naked Gun. The movie was alright, but I’d been expecting funnier stuff as it was based on Police Squad! which I loved (all 6 episodes, heh).

    4 - Day for Night. Don’t shoot! I saw this after it had been recommended to me, but it was just….boring. I’ve never really gotten into the “movies about movies” genre.

    5 - The Shining. The main scenes I remember are the silly “Here’s Johnny!” bit, the chase in the hedge maze at the end, and what seemed like a continuous 10 minutes of shots of Scatman Crothers’ character flying in a plane. *Yawn*
    -I should add that the only horror movies I like generally are campy (Army of Darkness), have interesting monsters (Frankenstein, King Kong), or are more sci-fi oriented (Alien).

    6 - Any MI flick, but mainly the first. Changing the television show’s “ensemble cast with the whole team working undercover against the bad guys” formula with a “cocky action-hero who occasionally gets help from ‘minor’ characters” one really disappointed me. (It doesn’t help that I think Tom Cruise is a flake.)

  27. Randy (21) said,

    November 26, 2006 at 9:47 am

    My least favorite movies that I thought were going to be good wereL

    1. Batman and Robin - I know. I thought, for some reason, that it might be fun. How wrong I was. But my friends and I loved yelling Arnold’s lines at each other for a while.

    2. Breakdown - This is a Kurt Russel flick where his wife is kidnapped by an evil trucker clan. Stupid.

    3. The Hulk - I appreciated that it was made to look like a comic book at times, but man, tell the right story and leave all the drama stuff at home.

    4. I hated America’s Sweethearts. I agree with Sam, with the cast it should have been better.

  28. Stephen (221) said,

    November 26, 2006 at 11:07 am

    The weirdest thing about Breakdown is it’s actually pretty good for a while. It definitely has a lot going for it, but never ends up clicking and the climax is stupid.

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