In 2017 do we REALLY know what bad movies look like?
It seems people didn’t like Alien: Covenant.
Among the unfavorable reviews, a chorus line of “Horrible” and “Terrible” adjectives began to fly and a wave of hardened critics threw up their hands in frustration at Ridley Scott’s apparent failed attempt to breathe life back into a beloved franchise.
Look, it has its faults, but “Horrible” and “Terrible” are not words I would use to describe Alien: Covenant. Compared to George Lucas’ Caravan of Courage or Cannon Films’ Death Wish 4, Ridley Scott’s latest venture is akin to a long lost sonnet by Lord Byron.
I don’t say that because I think people are overreacting for the sake of controversial column inches, it’s because I genuinely believe that in 2017 we’ve truly forgotten what a bad movie looks like.
An overly ripe, can’t watch without a peg on your nose, honest to god stinker.
To lay my cards on the table here, right off the bat I have to admit to enjoying movies that other people seem to take offense to – I adored Prometheus, Batman vs Superman is in my top 5 list of favourite superhero movies and I rank Star Wars Episode VII almost as highly as The Empire Strikes Back.
I’m not exactly sure why, part of me believes it’s because I’m just happy that these movies exist at all, while another part of me harkens back to the video store lottery I played every Friday night as a teen when I rented cheap weekly videos from my local ‘Video Hitz Rentals’. Lemme tell you, Mutronics was a stinker. Of course that was something I didn’t know until I got the video back home, popped it into my VCR and watched the whole sordid affair from start to finish. Sorry Mark Hamill.
It begs the question: Are $150M blockbusters REALLY as bad as we think they are, or are we reacting more to the broken promises and unfulfilled expectations that Alien: Covenant was supposed to live up to? I’d put my money on the latter, especially when it’s become fashionable to find small intricacies and nitpick them until they become open festering wounds. There is genuinely a whole generation of young movie-goers that are willing to write off DC’s entire upcoming movie catalogue over the name “Martha”.
And not just upcoming movies, ever since BvS the sentence “DC are playing catch-up” has bounced around the internet more and more with thunderous ferocity, a sentiment that seems to completely ignore the fact that Batman was a billion-dollar-equivalent movie franchise way back in 1989. We play off the Nolan Batman movie trilogy like it was a now long-forgotten part of DC’s ancient history, however in reality the Dark Knight Rises cracked over a billion dollars for DC and Warner Brothers only a month apart from The Avengers in 2012.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, BvS really isn’t a bad movie at all. In fact, when you compare it to ACTUAL bad movies it’s practically Shakespeare.
Ever watched The Man who saves the world (Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam)? You may also know it as Turkish Star Wars because of its blatant use of unauthorized spliced footage from the original Star Wars movie A New Hope. The film features an infamous training montage complete with a soundtrack ripped directly off Indiana Jones. See how long you can last before you want to turn it off.
How about Savior of the Earth? These days it’s also affectionately known as Korean Tron. It’s a 1983 animated feature from Korea about a man sucked into a computer where he is forced to play video games until he dies. Sounds familiar. So does the music from the trailer. Give it a whirl and see what you think of this little cheeky number.
In the end it comes down to our own inability to differentiate quality and expectation. The 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters was a pretty prime example of this theory in effect – Before the first frame of the movie was filmed it already had some pretty heft shoes to fill and therefore not only had to entertain us, it also had to justify its own existence. When that autopsy-disguised-as-a-movie had finished, I walked out of the cinema shaking my head and proclaiming to anyone within earshot that I had just watched one of the worst pieces of cinema ever made.
But it really isn’t. Truth be told it simply didn’t live up to my heavily weighted expectation. It was unfunny, the acting was terrible and the end fight scene was ridiculous and unnecessary, but one of the worst pieces of cinema ever made? C’mon dawg. That was a knee jerk reaction on my part.
Now Zodiac America: The Super Master, aka Zombie Rival the super ninja master, aka Zombie vs Ninja, THAT’S a real stinky turd of a movie.
Call it a theory, but I think our desire to be bipartisan cinema goers is ruining our own enjoyment of movies. In an effort to appear less sheep-like and set ourselves apart as knowledgeable guru’s we suspend our suspension of disbelief and start to quibble over the number of civilian deaths in Man of Steel or stroke our chins and ponder over why a white guy would be walking around with a bow and arrow on top of China’s Great Wall.
But what’s wrong with high expectation? Nothing, I guess, it’s just that it’s kind of an own goal. It’s the movie going equivalent of a meme where someone puts a stick in the spokes of their own bike, falls to the ground, then shakes their fist and screams “Damn Zack Snyder”.
To be fair it’s only natural – I’ve been watching Ghost in the Shell in various TV and movie formats since 1996, so when the live action version muscled its way into cinemas in March 2017 I was looking to relive and experience a high that I’ve been riding on the coat tails of for 21 years. I was chasing the dragon and when it finally hit my veins it didn’t give me the high I thought I deserved.
Hence, when I first saw it I claimed it was a dumpster fire masquerading as a movie. But is it? Take away the name Ghost in the Shell it stands alone as a pretty cool sci-fi action movie.
For all its faults it still towers above really terrible movies – in comparison to Easy Rider 2, yes, Easy Rider 2, it’s a glittering diamond tiara in a pawn store window that’s filled with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.
It all really makes me ask myself; in 2017 do we REALLY know what a terrible movie looks like? I genuinely don’t think so.
- Andrew Archer