Friday, May 20, 2016

Film Friday--Three Movies I Like That Most People Hate

I Don't Care What They Say About You...
When it comes to entertainment I can be a bit cranky. There will be a variety of things it seems like everyone loves but I believe to be hot garbage. The fact that this appears to happen a lot makes it noteworthy when the opposite occurs--there is something I really like and everyone else just seems to despise it. There are three movies that come to mind as being flicks a lot of people hate but I have quite enjoyed.

I now present you a list of them from the least reviled to the outright mocked, starting with, "Terminator Salvation," then, "Predator 2," and closing with, "Movie 43." Yes, I did notice that two of the films oddly have featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in other franchise installments but don't have him in these entries.

The Mocked Quarter-Dozen. Get it? There's Three!
Terminator Salvation
I wasn't sure whether to consider this less-hated or more-hated than Predator 2 so I referred to the sometimes-useful website, "Rotten Tomatoes," and saw this had a 33% rating to the other film's 25%, so there ya go. This is by no means to claim, "Terminator Salvation," is a good movie, because it has some serious flaws. The man who made the franchise famous--the aforementioned Schwarzenegger doesn't even appear outside of a CGI cameo, making this the only flick in the franchise to lack the man most people associate with the brand. I mean, he even came back for that much-loathed, "Genisys," movie that came out recently, but let's just ignore that, everyone else did.

Considering how this movie lacks the face most people think of when they hear, "Terminator," it is kind of awkward. The best metaphor I can think of is if you were to make a film about all the popular Disney characters going on an adventure and you left out Mickey Mouse. Mickey is Disney and Arnold is the Terminator, so the movie already has that stacked against it. That major flaw makes it all the more remarkable how I kind of think this move actually works out pretty well in the end.
The plot has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, with the machines somehow orchestrating having a human-machine hybrid to meet a young Kyle Reese, have Reese kidnapped, and then the hybrid (played dully by a tired-sounding Sam Worthington) infiltrate the base and trick John Connor (Christian Bale) into going to rescue Kyle Reese from the machines so they can kill Connor and prevent him from sending Reese into the past--because as fans of the franchise know, Kyle Reese is the father of John Connor. If upon reading this you said, "Wait, if the machines have kidnapped Kyle Reese why don't they just murder Reese to stop John Connor from even being born, e.g. the whole point of the first movie?" then you my friend have noticed just one of the plot holes which I mentioned plague the movie and are thinking too hard about the plot, because this is not a movie I like for the plot.

What I find fascinating within this movie is how we finally get to spend a bunch of time in the future that the other movies had long teased us with glimpses of, and what a dark and twisted future it is. Full of barren highways patrolled by machines, bases with huge metal monstrosities that scoop up humans, eel-like water-robots, and all other sorts of fearful electronics, the atmosphere alone makes me enjoy this movie more than I should. The oppressive air of a world that humans started to ruin before the machines took over and finished the job carries with it an air of such sorrow that I can't help but be fascinated by the imagery on the screen. Sure, the story-line is a wreck, but God this movie looks good with its destroyed planet and big explosions during action scenes.

Predator 2
Mocked with glee by a variety of people, there actually have been more and more articles defending the film as being quite good, or other folk admitting they can at least agree it isn't too bad. As for everyone else who hated the movie? Fuck them, this is a great flick (although I will admit the whole "Jamaican Voodoo Posse is a bit of a silly cliché).

I won't argue the claim that the first movie is stellar piece of work, and the expectations from that unquestionably put, "Predator 2," at a huge disadvantage. Plus, the lack of stars from the first one has been viewed as a problem, but I would say this sequel still has a great cast with actors such as Danny Glover (I always feel he doesn't get enough credit) and Bill Paxton giving us some great scenes. Oh, and it has Gary Busey before he started looking as crazy as he does these days or as my wife put it when she saw him whilst I re-watched the movie recently, "Wow, he actually looks okay, not all insane."
Glover and Busey
I also appreciate how this film expands the mythos, further explaining where Predators like to hunt, how they have been at this for years, and of course that Alien-head in the trophy room at the end cleverly planted the seed for the,  "Aliens VS Predator," films which were so terrible even I won't defend them (still, it's cool the hint was dropped this far in advance). I also like that while this is an action film, its first half is kind of a slow-burn mystery. Yes, the audience already knows a good deal about the Predator (assuming they've seen the first film), but it is exciting to watch the characters realize just how big of a threat they are up against.

"Predator 2," suffers the curse of having great expectations thrust upon it to the point that when it was so different from the first movie it caused audiences to react with unfair disgust. I agree that, "Predator 2," is different from its forebear, but will disagree with all my might with anyone who states they think it is a bad movie, as of the three movies on my list this is probably my favorite and the only one I would claim is in fact a great film in general despite the haters.

Movie 43
If, "Terminator Salvation," is a mediocre movie with stellar atmosphere, and, "Predator 2," is an under-appreciated gem, I will admit that, "Movie 43," is crass, gross, and stupid. That said, I  feel it has some charms. The A.V. Club did a piece recently discussing just how terrible it is in their eyes, but many of the points they use against the movie I actually like. It is a cast of amazing talent doing really idiotic jokes just long enough that as soon as the joke begins getting old we're on to the next bit. I'm pretty alone in this opinion though, as, "Movie 43," has a cringe-worthy 18% on Metacritic and astonishingly terrible 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, should you put much weight in review aggregates.

The excuse for the various skits that populate the movie is that a producer (ably played by Dennis Quaid) is pitching his film ideas with increasing desperation, and the result is some absurd comedy. We get Hugh Jackman with testicles hanging from his chin, Terrence Howard delivering an inspirational speech to a basketball team that suddenly takes a wild turn into silly race-jokes, Johnny Knoxville fights a Lepruchan, Chris Pratt gets asked by real-life wife Anna Faris to poop on her, it is gross, dumb, and in some bizarre way fun.
The scene where Faris asks Pratt if they can take their relationship further.
By that, she means she wants him to poop on her.
I once discussed another sketch-comedy movie I despised, so it is fair to ask why I like this one. I guess the key is that the Farrelly brothers (who directed this movie) give us something not as good as their hits like, "There's Something About Mary," but not as bad as some of their most recent works. This is a film that so, so many people thought was a tasteless wreck, and while that is true, it is a tasteless wreck that weirdly has some heart. A lot of credit for that goes to the talented actors and actresses who inject some gravitas into the most disgusting scenes, and without the acting-skills on display this could very well have been a simply atrocious excuse for entertainment. Somehow though, the mixture of low-brow humor with incredible acting results in a movie that is--as I admitted--a mess, but a weirdly fun and enjoyable mess, at least in my eyes.

See? They Aren't Too Bad!
Should you have seen any of the three movies I just discussed and found them awful, I wonder if I've changed your mind or simply made you think, "What's wrong with this guy?" That said, you probably have some movies of your own that it feels like everyone hates yet you hold some affection towards. These were my three, and I'm sticking to them!

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