Sunday, December 14, 2008

Between two and three days of my life I'll never get back

I've seen this "Alphabet Movie" meme-thing on a lot of blogs, in which you basically pick one movie for each letter of the alphabet. Here are the rules for this game (as quoted from SamuraiFrog, from when he did the game):

1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.

2. The letter "A" and the word "The" do not count as the beginning of a film's title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don't know of any films with those titles.

3. Return of the Jedi belongs under "R," not "S" as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with "S." Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under "R," not "I" as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Conversely, all films in the LOTR series belong under "L" and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under "C," as that's what those filmmakers called their films from the start. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.

4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number's word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under "T."

5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post so that I can eventually type "alphabet meme" into Google and come up #1, then make a post where I declare that I am the King of Google.

6. If you're selected, you have to then select 5 more people.


Since I myself wasn't tagged, I'm ignoring rules 5 and 6. Also, I decided to do this differently after I saw the twist that "Superwife" put on it: she listed one bad movie for each letter of the alphabet! And hey, it's always fun to rip on movies I don't like, so here we go.

But again, I'm doing bad movies. (By the way, Badmovies.org was a nice resource for browsing through lists of titles of movies I'd forgotten I'd seen, as a way of jogging the memory. Resurrecting bad memories, that is. Gee, thanks, guys!

A is for Armageddon. It's a ridiculous film. As SF, it is complete dreck; for this little scientific accuracy in a movie, you might just as well watch a space fantasy like Star Wars and have done with it. But, as I've noted before, Armageddon is the lava lamp of movies: I can't stop watching the thing whenever I find it on the teevee. Hurg. Bad movie. That I watch every time I come across it. (Earlier this football season I actually ended up watching Armageddon instead of a Bills game, and I suspect those who have paid any attention to the Bills this season won't hold that decision against me.)

B is for Beaches. Treacly garbage that I hated. I saw it in college when they had a screening on campus; everybody told me I'd cry because it was such a tearjerker, but instead, I sat there glowering at the screen because the movie had these two women basically treating each other like crap for two hours. Ugh. (And I could live my whole life without ever hearing "Wind Beneath My Wings" again.)

C is for The Cat from Outer Space. This was one of those live-action Disney movies in the 1970s, the ones that always either starred Dean Jones or Ken Berry. This one had Ken Berry, and I saw it when I was in kindergarten or first grade, and it was complete crap. No need to hash out why; just look at that title.

D is for Dead Poets Society. I've said my piece on this movie here. Didn't like it.

E is for Earthbound. This too came out when I was a kid. An alien family crashlands their ship on Earth and evades the government while taking refuge with a geezer (played by Burl Ives) and his grandson or nephew or something like that. I remember liking it as a kid, but it was probably crap.

F is for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The one part of the movie I like is the destruction of the Corvette. Other than that, I find this movie really dull and not terribly funny. This could be due to my generic dislike for Matthew Broderick.

G is for Gymkata. OK, I haven't seen the entire thing. But I have seen the last half hour, which astonished me in its sheer awfulness. Near as I could tell, some dude with Mad Gymnastics Skillz managed to beat off an entire town's worth of attackers by using his Mad Gymnastics Skillz, at one point even finding a pommel horse in the middle of the town square. Ummm...sure.

H is for Highlander. I've never understood the cult fascination this movie holds for some people. The premise is goofy, and not in the "fun goofy" kind of way either; the acting is dreadful (except for Clancy Brown), with not even Sean Connery avoiding lines like "Are the stars pinpricks in the curtain of night?"; a bunch of guys fighting over a prize that's never revealed until they whole thing is over so we don't even know why we should care. Despite the presence of Connery and Clancy Brown, I still manage to dislike this movie.

I is for Independence Day. It's fun to watch, but there's just not a single plot point in this movie that makes any sense at all. Most famously there's Jeff Goldblum disabling the entire alien computer system with a virus he threw together on his 1995 Apple Powerbook, but this movie also has Area 51 having been a secret for fifty years but also being spotted by Will Smith when he flies over it in his fighter jet whilst in combat; it has a Senior Aide to the President of the United States who keeps her cell phone number listed in the local Washington DC phone book "for emergencies" (huh?!); it has the President being a fighter pilot whose Mad Fighter Piloting Skillz are still good enough that he can outfly aliens in space fighters; et cetera.

J is for Jaws IV: The Revenge. Jaws II isn't that bad a movie, really. III is downright bad. But IV is legendary for its awfulness, including the end where the shark stands on end while a boat runs it through. Ouch.

K is for The Karate Kid Part III. The first Karate Kid movie is fantastic. Seriously, it's a very, very good movie. The second one isn't bad either, although it is obviously nowhere near the same league as the original. But the third? Oy. It's just a disaster. More wisdom from Mr. Miyagi, more troubles for Daniel-san, and another fight at the end where it turns out that Daniel-san's karate is better than the other guy's. Why did they make this movie? I have no clue. (And while Ralph Macchio could pull off the sixteen year old kid in the first movie fine, and the seventeen year old kid a little less fine in the second one, here he looks like a thirty-year-old playing a seventeen year old.)

L is for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. What a terrible sequel this is; I can't believe Steven Spielberg went from Schindler's List to this. It's full of one implausible sequence after another, it kills off Richard Schiff, it has a thirteen girl fending off velociraptors by using her Mad Gymnastics Skillz, and so on. The last half hour is better because of the "T-rex on the loose in San Diego" stuff, but this movie is bad.

M is for Mission to Mars. This is one of the worst SF movies I've ever seen. It's boring, it tries to have it both ways with 2001-like hard SF combined with some "Face on Mars" mystical nonsense, and its score (by Ennio Morricone) is downright unpleasant.

N is for Nell. It's just physically impossible to take this movie seriously. I'm sorry. It's a neat idea for a story, but as filmed, I always wondered how many takes it took certain scenes to be filmed due to actors breaking out in laughter at the stuff the script had them saying. (I wrote this post a while back and have been sitting on it; since then I learn that it's one of Belladonna's favorites. Oh, forgive me! I really wanted to like this one; it's got a killer cast, for one thing, and it has some great ideas behind it. But about the fourth or fifth time somebody said "Taaayyyinnn innn daa weennnnnddd", or whatever it was Nell said over and over and over again, I just mentally checked out of the movie.)

O is for Ordinary People. I had to watch this in school, my sophomore year. Other classes were reading Mark Twain, while we were reading Judith Guest and watching this movie, which had the effect, ironically enough, of making me want to do myself in. Luckily, I got better. It took three consecutive viewings of Star Wars the weekend after we finished this one to get it out of my system. (By the way, I know I've griped over this before, but one of the great educational travesties of my youth is that my English teacher that year made us read Ordinary People while the other English classes were reading Mark Twain. Heckuva job there, Mrs. Whatever-Your-Name-Was.)

P is for Predator II. I enjoyed the first Predator movie; it was an effective "monster on the loose" kind of movie, good for watching with a couple of friends and some beers on a night in college. Not so the second movie, which was little more than an excuse to use the same monster again. Bad.

Q is for Quest for Camelot. Someday an indisputably good movie will be made from the Arthurian legends. (Excalibur is pretty close, but its pacing is too sluggish and its use of Wagner and Orff in the soundtrack too distracting.) Until then, we'll have to live with all of the bad movies about Arthur and Camelot that have been made, and there have been a ton of 'em. Here's one, an animated piece of crud. Not recommended.

R is for Rambo: First Blood Part II. Or any of the Rambo movies, for that matter. (Maybe not First Blood, which I haven't seen and I've heard the best things about.) Rambo was embarrassing macho crap for the macho-men of the 1980s. Jerry Goldsmith wrote some good music for these flicks, but other than that, they're crap.

S is for Scream. What terrible dreck this movie is. There's nothing plausible about it, and it's a terribly confused movie, too: what is it? Spoof? Horror flick whose main notion is that other horror flicks should be taken seriously? It's just a stupid, stupid movie, filled with dumb characters who behave in ways no ordinary person would behave. And it had two sequels. Yuck.

T is for Thank God It's Friday. It's a shame this movie isn't better known, because it truly deserves the reputation that seems to have accrued around Saturday Night Fever instead. Whereas that film is a dark and cynical film about the lives of young adults who hang out in a disco, TGiF actually is the campy, goofy movie about the lovelorn adults who hang out in a disco. It does have a saving grace in a nice performance by Donna Summer, who sings my beloved "Last Dance" toward the end of the flick. Other than that, though, it's a bad movie.

U is for The Usual Suspects. Who is Keyser Soze? Who gives a crap? Instead of a gripping movie about the criminals trying to execute a heist bigger than any of them, we get a lame mystery that I found interesting for all of thirty seconds, because that's how long it took me to figure out who Keyser Soze was. I genuinely can't understand why so many people think this movie is a classic.

V is for A View to a Kill. I feel a bit unfair here, because I genuinely can't claim to dislike this movie, even if I grant that Roger Moore was too old by this time to be convincing and that Tonya Roberts was less than good in a part that was also written less than well. But Christopher Walken as a Bond villain? He was terrific! I can't bring myself to hate this movie. But there's quite a lot wrong with it, I'll grant you that.

W is for Waterworld. I actually think this movie wasn't as bad as its reputation at the time made it out to be, but it's not that good, either. For one thing, it's pretty dull most of the way, and you'd think a set that cost something like $100000000 to build would look a bit better than a giant rusting hulk. And while I'm glad there was an SF film that gave a bit of thought to certain survival issues in an environment such as the movie depicts, did the opening scene really have to feature Kevin Costner urinating? Talk about setting an unfortunate tone.

X is for Xanadu. Just because I can't even think of any bad movies that start with X other than Xanadu. Luckily, Xanadu is truly awful.

Y is for Yes Giorgio. It's a romantic comedy starring Luciano Pavarotti as a tenor with confidence issues, and the female psychologist who has to help him regain his mojo so he'll sing at some big concert, or something. It's wildly bad.

Z is for Zen Monkeys in Love. OK, that's not a movie that exists, so far as I know. But I drew a complete blank on movies starting with 'Z' that I hated, and not even some extensive Googling turned up anything (though Zardoz looks pretty bad, though I've not seen it). So, if anyone can jog my memory as to a 'Z' movie I'm missing, let me know. I'm sure there are some, out there somewhere. (We watched Zathura a couple of weeks back because The Kid picked it out at the library, but it doesn't come close to being bad enough to merit inclusion on this list. It's more of a "Meh" movie.)

Why, oh why, did I watch all these? WHY???!!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Roger Owen Green said...

Happened to like Ordinary People, maybe because MTM surprised me so. One of my old bosses said that it was his life, so that informed too.

But my feeling about Wind Beneath My Wings, which my sister sang at my father's funeral to my mother,; yeah, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Wow, The Cat from Outer Space! Now there's one I haven't thought about in about a million years... I liked it when I was nine, and that's about all I can say about that. Remember Unidentified Flying Oddball, another Disney flick that I believe came out around the same time? It was a variant of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court featuring an astronaut instead of Mark Twain... now that was a lousy movie, and I knew it even at nine or ten.

On the subject of Highlander (big fan here), I won't try to convince you to change your mind -- movies either work for someone or they don't -- and I'll grant that there are a lot of problems with the whole premise that none of the subsequent spin-offs have managed to iron out. But what I find appealing about the concept is the romantic (in the classical sense) notion of an immortal doomed to outlive everyone he cares he about. The idea has been done to death over the past 20 years, but when I first saw Highlander back in '86, it was fresh and very moving to me. It hit me at the right time of life, I guess. I still tear up at Connor lighting candles for his beloved wife's birthday four centuries after her death. And I find the idea of living long enough to try out different lives and actually learn something from your experiences extremely appealing. And Clancy Brown cracks me up. And... oh, sorry, I'm going all fanboy on you.

One final note: note to be pedantic, but the car that gets wrecked in Ferris Bueller is a Ferrari, not a 'vette.