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Old 06-14-2015, 08:30 PM
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Default Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

It seems to me that we need a thread for movies that aren’t really bad, but that don’t really deserve to be called “good,” either. You know, the kind of movie that you can kind of enjoy if you’re willing to shut off your brain, ignore the stupidities, and enjoy the spectacle.

Tonight’s entry: Jurassic World.


In the Jurassic Park series, there have been three distinct trends that I’ve noted. In each new movie, 1.) the dinosaurs (the Velociraptors, in particular) get smarter, 2.) the humans get dumber, and 3.) the dinosaurs’ behaviors and capabilities get less believable.

Well, Jurassic World follows that proud tradition. When it comes to trend 1.), the Raptors and the Indomitus rex are clearly smarter than are all but a few of the humans depicted in the movie. As for trend 2.), it often seems as if many of the humans in the movie are actively trying to win Darwin Awards. And where trend 3.) is concerned, Jurassic World has jumped headlong into the premise that “Genetically engineered dinosaurs are magic, and can defy the laws of logic and physics whenever they please.”




Before I continue, let’s go back for a bit and look at the previous movies in the series. First, of course, was Jurassic Park. It might as well have been subtitled, This Movie Will Blow Your Mind. Because when it came out, the special effects were simply amazing. Seeing people interacting with photorealistic CG/animatronic dinosaurs really was mind-blowing.

The original was followed by Jurassic Park 2: The Adventures of Sarah Harding, World’s Most Idiotic Paleontologist, and Her Ecoterrorist Buddies. Seriously. For someone who was supposed to be intelligent, the main female protagonist in the movie is a freaking idiot. And after the second or third viewing, you suddenly realize something disturbing: every single person who dies during the course of the movie dies as a result of the actions of the characters who’re supposed to be the Good Guys.

Finally, to round out the original trilogy, we had Jurassic Park 3: Look, We’ve Got CG Dinosaurs Eating People – Who Cares About Plot or Characterization or Believabliity?. Yeah, there was a definite downward trend.


So, what can I say about Jurassic World? Well, let me think. Okay, the CG dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and mosasaur look pretty good. And … uh … some people get eaten. Yeah, there’s that. Otherwise? Well, it’s really a pretty dumb movie. The human characters are, for the most part, either completely uninteresting or downright annoying – to the point that you’re often rooting for the dinosaurs.

But hey, it features photorealistic dinosaurs running around, so I’m in.



According to the press, Jurassic World is supposed to be a direct sequel to the original Jurassic Park. Presumably, that’s why there are so many homages to the original movie. By “homages,” I mean “scenes copied pretty-much shot-for-shot from the first movie.”



Anyway, while it is kind of dated now, I quite liked the original Jurassic Park. A big part of the reason was because they actually went to considerable effort to make the dinosaurs believable.

Are the dinosaurs in Jurassic World believable? Not in the slightest.


Of course, the original Jurassic Park took quite a few liberties here and there. With the Velociraptors, especially.

“Raptors” belonged to the family of theropod dinosaurs known as the dromaeosaurs, as you probably already knew. The real Velociraptor mongoliensis was much smaller than the “Velociraptors” depicted in the movies – a real Velociraptor would have weighed perhaps 30 pounds when fully grown. There were larger dromaeosaurs, to be sure, so I’m not sure why Michael Crichton insisted on calling these critters Velociraptors. Perhaps he just liked the name.

In any event, the “raptors” in the movies are somewhere between the real dromaeosaurs Deinonychus antirrhopus and Utahraptor ostrommaysorum in size. In short, they were much too large to be called “Velociraptors”.


Still, that’s forgivable. Velociraptor sounds impressive, and rolls off the tongue much better than do the names of larger dromaeosaurs like Deinonychus or Austroraptor.


The first movie took quite a few liberties with Tyrannosaurus rex, as well. For instance, multi-ton animals simply do not move and react that quickly – it’s basic physics. As such, it is extremely unlikely that an adult tyrannosaur could have run at speeds of 40+ miles per hour. (According to a biomechanical analysis I once read, for an adult Tyrannosaurus rex to run at speeds anywhere near those depicted in the movie, its leg muscles would’ve had to comprise more than 75% of the animal’s total weight – and its leg bones would almost-certainly have been incapable of handling the stress.)

And if a 12-foot tall, 6-ton biped trips while running, it almost-certainly will not be getting up again, as the fall will shatter bones.

But again, a more realistic tyrannosaur would not have been quite so thrilling, I suppose.



Anyway, despite some forgivable liberties, the first movie went to considerable lengths to make the dinosaurs seem believable. And I quite appreciated that.

Take the way that the tyrannosaur would viciously shake its victims before killing them. That’s actually very common behavior in predators. Viciously shaking captured prey like that disorients it and makes it much less likely to be able to fight back. Sufficiently hard shaking may cause debilitating injury to the Central Nervous System or even break the spine.

That’s why you can kill a young child by shaking it too much.

I once read an account of a professional lion-tamer who was grabbed by one of his lions and given a good shake. He claimed that it basically rendered him paralyzed. Fortunately, his assistants forced the lion to let him go almost immediately, but he said that if they hadn’t been there, there’s no way he would have been able to fight back against the lion, because even after he was rescued, it was several minutes before he could form a coherent thought or even make any coordinated movements.


Along the same lines, I liked the behavior of the Gallimimus in the first movie, when they were being chased by the tyrannosaur. The way that flocking animals often seem to move as one, turning and wheeling in a seemingly-random yet apparently-coordinated manner to evade a predator is sometimes called the “chorus girl effect.” And it was nicely illustrated by how the Gallimimus responded to the pursuing tyrannosaur.

And did you notice how, once the tyrannosaur caught one of them, the rest of the Gallimimus stopped running? That was a nice bit of realistic animal behavior that showed the movie-makers were making a real effort. In the real world (as opposed to the movies), predators seldom go after prey when they aren’t hungry. If you watch the behavior of gazelles on the plains of Africa, for instance, when lions or cheetahs take down a member of the herd, the remaining gazelles typically will stop running.

Why? Because the predators aren’t going to waste time and energy chasing gazelles when they’ve already captured one. So it’s similarly a waste of energy for the remaining gazelles to keep running.

In fact, you often see something seemingly bizarre: the prey animals will keep a respectable distance, but they’ll often follow the predators if they drag their catch off to eat it. Or if the predators eat their catch right there, the prey animals will often stick around – at a respectable distance, of course. Why? It’s thought that one reason for this behavior is that it’s safer for the prey animals to stay close to predators that are eating or that have recently eaten – and are thus not inclined to chase them – than to wander off, possibly right into the territory of a predator that hasn’t eaten recently.


Anyway, thought they took some perhaps-understandable liberties, the original Jurassic Park went to some effort to make the behavior of its dinosaurs fairly realistic. And the physical aspects of the dinosaurs were – again, for the most part – pretty realistic, too.

I happened to be in grad school when the original came out, and I saw it in the theater with one of my professors. We were geeking out throughout the movie. “Look,” we cried as the Tyrannosaurus rex walked across the screen, “you can see how the tibiotarsal muscles work!”. There were probably a few people in the theater who were giving us dirty looks.



But Jurassic World? There were so many times when I found myself wanting to shout at the screen.

“No! Chromatophores do not work that way!”

“No! A six-ton animal can not alter its body temperature at will, much less in the span of just a few seconds!”

“Mosasaurs were not the size of Trident submarines!”

“No! Pterosaurs did not have that kind of lifting power!”

“Do the movie-makers have no understanding of the square-cube law?”

Nobody cares about those stupid, annoying kids!



Ahem. Anyway, one thing that bugged me about the movie is that it doesn’t incorporate anything that we’ve learned about dinosaurs since the original was made. For instance, it’s now well-established that most (and probably all) of the smaller dinosaur species were feathered. Even fully-grown specimens of larger dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex probably retained some feathers. The “raptors” would almost-certainly have been feathered.

The thing is, the movie had the perfect opportunity to justify why the dinosaurs in Jurassic World looked a bit different from those in the previous movies. Henry Wu (who you may remember from the first movie; he’s back in this one, and has gone straight into mad scientist territory) explicitly stated that the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park/World are made from incomplete genomes, and so they’ve had to fill in the missing DNA here and there – and as such, a “pure” Velociraptor, for instance, would look noticeably different from the “Velociraptors” in the park.

Perfect! Give the dinosaurs of Jurassic World feathers and more realistic postures, and so forth – and simply have one of the characters mention that the JP/JW bioengineers have “upgraded” their dinosaurs in the light of modern paleontological findings, in order to make them more realistic.



Anyway, I don’t want to get into too many details, in order to avoid giving away too much of the plot. So, what did I think of it? Well, if you can ignore the fact that most of the humans in the movie are annoying and/or idiots, not to mention ridiculously incompetent; the really bad science; and the really bad logic – it’s enjoyable enough. Just sit back, turn off your brain, and enjoy the spectacle.

Chris Platt plays one of the two more or less interesting human characters; here, he’s playing a slightly calmer, slightly more intelligent version of Starlord. So he can be fun to watch. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the other more or less interesting human character. They really should have given him a Snidely Whiplash-type mustache to twirl, though.

Oh, and did I mention that there are CG dinosaurs (and pterosaurs, and a mosasaur) running around and occasionally eating people? There’s always that to keep your interest up.

Just don't expect much in the way of a plot, interesting or well-developed characters, or remotely-realistic dinosaurs/remotely-plausible dinosaur behavior.
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2015, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

From the previews I figured it was Deep Blue Sea and Jurassic Park had a basted child.

Sounds like that might be the case, I can't wait to see it.
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Old 06-14-2015, 10:29 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Despite a near record opening weekend, Jurassic World is getting savaged critically. While skimming several reviews I couldn't help but think "Oh, The Lone Ranger isn't going to enjoy this movie very much." The good news, I guess, is that Pixar's Inside Out is opening soon so that may help wash away some of the bad movies you've been torturing yourself with.
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Jurassic Park (1993) was filmed before Utahraptor ostrommaysorum was discovered. Initially they were going to name it Utahraptor spielbergi after the famous director offered to fund research, and because it was similar in size Spielberg's Velociraptors (maybe they were adolescent Utahraptors). The deal fell through, and the rest is very ancient history.

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Originally Posted by TLR
“Mosasaurs were not the size of Trident submarines!”
The movie trailer scenes of the display of feeding the oversized beast put me off wanting to see the film.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

There were many things about the movie that I found annoying. Like, for instance, the fact that the park was evidently designed by idiots. I mean, seriously? Did they learn nothing from the first park?

Here's a thought: Electronic locks can fail when the power goes out. Keep this in mind when designing your security system.

Here's another thought: It's really not that hard to build an enclosure that a 6-ton animal cannot escape from. Step One: Do NOT put a door in the side of the enclosure through which the animal can easily egress if the door is ever opened.

Here's yet another thought: When you've got a great big swimming pool with a giant carnivorous lizard* in it, safety rails are a REALLY good idea.


*Contrary to popular belief, mosasaurs weren't dinosaurs. They were actually aquatic lizards, fairly closely related to modern-day monitor lizards.


Why is this park, despite all that they've supposedly learned from the first park's failure, even more obviously a deathtrap just waiting to happen? They don't even have the excuse that a hurricane hit the island and made everything go haywire. Everything bad that happens is a direct result of human stupidity.



But perhaps the most annoying thing about the movie was how ridiculously misogynistic it feels. I mean, not one female character was portrayed as being intelligent or particularly likable -- not even Clair, who was the female lead. And is it a coincidence that the character who gets by far the most protracted and gruesome onscreen death -- while she screams in terror the whole time -- is female?


And what the frak is wrong with Clair that she thinks high heels are appropriate attire for trekking through dinosaur paddocks? I get that she's a corporate executive, but part of her job is to slog through plains and jungles to keep tabs on the dinosaurs. And her attire of choice for this is high heels?

"Surely," you're thinking, "when she's actually being chased by large carnivorous dinosaurs, she'll get at least two or three brain cells functioning and realize that it'd be a really good idea to ditch the high heels, right? After all, they're not really suited to sprinting through the jungle. So what if she has tender feet and gets a few bruises as a result? Surely that's better than being eaten. Right?" Wrong.


In fairness, it's not as if the male characters come across a lot better. Still, you're left with the slightly disturbing feeling that the writer(s) really don't like female characters.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:53 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

The heels were at the insistence of the actress.

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I know. I mean, look, I had that conversation with her so many times, and she insisted on wearing those heels. They meant something to her personally. She felt like, this is her talking, that those heels were her shield in a certain way as a woman. That’s just how she felt. She felt like surrendering the heels felt like surrendering the femininity of the character, even though women are — I don’t want to say forced to wear heels — but you’re expected to wear heels in certain environments.
I mean, I still don't understand it, but it is what it is.
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Well, I guess I'll have to respect her choice. I mean, if she really thinks that maintaining the femininity of her character is important enough to make the character behave like a complete moron, that's her business.



Besides, that's just the tip of the iceberg. It really does seem at times like the writers just plain dislike female characters.

For instance, when Clair and Owen first meet, we learn that -- Movie Cliché Alert! -- they have a past. Specifically, they went on a date once. There was no second date, at the insistence of Clair. Owen just will not let that go. And it seems pretty clear that we're supposed to sympathize with Owen and believe that there's something wrong with Clair, because she didn't immediately succumb to The Hero's charms. This, despite the fact that the movie has clearly established that the only thing these two people have in common is that they both breathe oxygen.

I mean, how dare she turn down The Hero's lewd advances? Who does she think she is?


Practically the whole first act of the movie seems to be dedicated to establishing that there's something fundamentally wrong with Clair, because she has put her career ahead of settling down and having a family. Nothing like this is suggested where any of the male characters are concerned, of course.

Indeed, in a telephone conversation with her, Clair's sister (the mother of the two annoying kids) comes this close to saying, "Clair, you aren't a real woman until you've pumped out a kid or two." The notion that Clair might not want to have kids -- and that there's nothing wrong with this -- is never given any serious consideration.



When Owen discovers that Clair doesn't know her two nephews' ages, he's appalled. He acts as if he'd just learned that she likes to barbecue kittens.

This despite the fact that Clair lives thousands of miles away from her sister and nephews, and she has a career that keeps her quite busy. Theres is clearly not a close-knit family, and I don't see how it makes Clair some kind of horrible person because it has been a few years since she's seen her nephews. [For what it's worth, I don't know the ages of every one of my nieces and nephews off the top of my head, either. Somehow, I don't think that makes me a horrible person. Besides, I'd be willing to bet that the movie wouldn't condemn me for not knowing, since I'm a guy and all.]

And frankly, if they were my nephews, I wouldn't want to spend much time with them either. The older one, at least, is just a straight-up jerk. He's one of those movie teens who sulks all the time, treats his parents with barely-concealed contempt, bullies his younger brother, and generally acts like a self-centered, spoiled brat. When he meets Clair, he treats her with no more respect than he'd treated his parents.

But again, we're supposed to believe that Clair is a bad person because she has an important business meeting to attend, and so leaves the two kids in the hands of her assistant. Not a great thing to do, admittedly. But then again, the movie implies that the kids' parents dumped them off on Clair with little advanced warning. If so, I don't see how it's Clair's fault that she didn't have time to rearrange her busy schedule to accommodate them.



There is one point where it's hinted that Clair actually has some hidden depths. She's quite handy with a gun, as it turns out. But immediately after Clair demonstrates that she's actually quite good with a gun, Owen snatches the gun from her, and she doesn't use or even hold one for the rest of the movie. Really? There are dozens of ferocious meat-eaters running/flying about, snatching up hapless park visitors -- and there are plenty of guns lying about for the taking -- but nobody thinks to let the girl have a gun, even though she has just demonstrated that she knows how to use one?

And immediately after that scene the two kids insist that they don't want to be left alone. Clair immediately reassures them that she will not leave them. Instantly, both boys respond, "Not you -- him!"

Really? I suppose that was intended to be funny, but it just seemed mean-spirited and insulting to me.




And of course, in the end, Owen pulls Clair into his manly embrace and kisses her. Because, of course, The Hero must get The Girl in the end -- even when a relationship between them makes no sense at all. Of course, the whole movie has been not at all subtly making this point: what Clair really needs is to get kissed good and hard by a manly man.

Feh.
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Old 06-17-2015, 02:39 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

She probably needed a good John Wayne slap at some point, too.
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Old 06-17-2015, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

I don't know my nieces' and nephews' ages. That's what eldest sisters are for. I'm the youngest. I don't have to remember shit. There has to be an upside to having a crowd of siblings treating me like I'm still a child.
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Old 06-18-2015, 03:43 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

I had a bad feeling about Jurassic World for about a week so leading up to the premiere. Enough so that I ended up skipping the movie for Spy (which totally is a good movie and belongs in the other thread). I'm glad to see that I dodged a bullet there and didn't waste a date night on this movie.

So, for me, the summer movie that best fits in here is Avengers: Age of Ultron. I'll start with a general feeling of "I didn't like it" It's tough to pinpoint exactly why I didn't like it because it just wasn't good. And it's not like it wasn't good at one thing, it wasn't good at a bunch of things. Everywhere. All over the movie.

It starts off with a huge waste of potential. Captain America: Winter Soldier established the threat that is Hydra and how it has been here all along. How the only effective difference between Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. is choice of targets. Their methodology does not differ, only their ideology. I won't go into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because I haven't watched it at all this season, but from what I hear, it doesn't exactly continue this premise.

Now we come to Age of Ultron, it starts off with the Avengers mopping up the last of the Hydra bases. Baron von Strucker is defeated, captured and then killed in a brusque manner that is unbefitting of a pretty big heavy bad guy. It's as if the Avengers needed to wipe the slate clean of Winter Soldier so that they can start telling their Ultron story.

I think this may be a flaw in having multiple directors across different movies. This is further evidence by Tony Stark. He seemingly quit after Iron Man 3. He had his arc reactor removed and had lost all his suits. He quit because of the need to deal with a pretty severe case of PTSD. And yet here is, in armor again. I assume this is because we need to sell toys. But, this betrays the character development he goes through in Iron Man 3 (such as it is).

But, even this doesn't really get to my reasons for disliking the movie. Rather it's the fact that I found myself focusing on these details or writing what I felt was a better version in my head or nitpicking myriad other plot details, characterizations and other bullshit I didn't like.

I only do this when a movie does not engage me and this movie did not engage me. Ultron felt like a toothless threat. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver only worked because comic book fans could fill in the blank. Non-readers were probably bored and confused by these two. The set up for Civil War felt forced. Thor was pointless.

I wanted to like this more, I really wish I did.

On the plus side. I liked Black Widow and Hulk together. I thought Vision was awesome.
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Old 06-18-2015, 04:59 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

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There were many things about the movie that I found annoying. Like, for instance, the fact that the park was evidently designed by idiots. I mean, seriously? Did they learn nothing from the first park?
Earlier today, I finished the Nerdist podcast with Chris Pratt and the director.... Colin Trevorrow.

When Trevorrow and Spielberg were trying to work out why there should be a Jurassic Park 4, the answer was, "to make a big corporation a lot of money."

So, they ran with that idea--that big corporations will do really stupid, short-sighted things if they think it will make them a lot of money. I thought of you when I heard that, because Trevorrow was basically saying the company in the movie didn't learn anything from the first park, and that was an intentional choice of the people producing the movie.

I don't know if that excuses all of the stupidity in the movie, but it might make me more forgiving of gaping plot holes. For instance, some guy in a suit figured he could save $50/dinosaur by purchasing 2nd rate electronic locks....
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:00 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

All very reasoned opinions of not just Age of Ultron but of the MCU overall.

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It starts off with a huge waste of potential. Captain America: Winter Soldier established the threat that is Hydra and how it has been here all along. How the only effective difference between Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. is choice of targets. Their methodology does not differ, only their ideology. I won't go into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because I haven't watched it at all this season, but from what I hear, it doesn't exactly continue this premise.
From the first Avengers title through Winter Soldier and Agents and now Avengers 2, this is never addressed head on. The loyal Agents never question their own methods or structure. There's still wry speeches and hedged allusions to being a different or better SHIELD but as yet there aren't any real changes to secret keeping or not telling the right people the right truth. The only people who seem to care at all about any of the spy-hero world saving business are Cap and Widow. And even then their actions don't seem to have any permanence outside themselves.

I think the MCU is burning through 60 years of comics continuity way too quickly. Something like Age of Ultron could have been spread out over a couple of years, so approximately four movies. Much like there was this build to the first Avengers but better. And then the actual attacking and big bad blow out should have taken two movies. According to sources there's a lot of material that was left on the floor simply to cut the movie down to two and a half hours long. So of course cramming too much stuff into too little time is a problem - and not just with Age of Ultron.

Unlike you I enjoyed the movie. The thing is, I don't know that I'd enjoy multiple viewings of it - unlike the first Avengers.
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

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Originally Posted by wei yau View Post
Enough so that I ended up skipping the movie for Spy (which totally is a good movie and belongs in the other thread).
I was expecting Spy to be just another Melissa McCarthy movie. So far every reviewer I've read or watched has enjoyed this movie.
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Old 07-16-2016, 04:14 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

So, I saw the new Ghostbusters tonight.

It wasn't bad. But it wasn't particularly good, either.


Aside from an occasional chuckle here and there, it just wasn't funny. I've never much cared for Melissa McCarthy (except for her performance in the surprisingly-good Spy), but I've always liked Kristen Wiig. Sadly, the two of them can't quite make this movie work.

Kate McKinnon was mildly entertaining at times. Leslie Jones' character seemed like a walking, talking stereotype; at times, it's almost uncomfortable to watch.


Then there's Chris Hemsworth. To say that his character was one-dimensional is to be entirely too generous. The joke wore thin very quickly. At least he and Kate McKinnon seemed to be having a bit of fun with their roles.



I don't think that I'm spoiling anything by revealing that Bill Murray has a small role. He was criminally under-/mis-used, however. Seriously, did he agree to the role only because someone was threatening to blackmail him or something?


The movie might be worth seeing if you're really in the mood for a movie, and if you don't mind seeing something that can engender an occasional chuckle, but that's utterly mindless and completely unoriginal.
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Old 07-16-2016, 04:32 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

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Seriously, did he agree to the role only because someone was threatening to blackmail him or something?
Yes! The sony hack revealed they were going to pursue, "aggressive’ litigation counsel" if he backed out. Murray is part owner of the ghostbuster franchise and some sort of legal clause says that if he chooses not to appear in the next installment he forfeits his share of the franchise.
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Old 07-16-2016, 04:42 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Really? I meant that as a joke, but it explains a lot about his role in the movie.


Hemsworth and McKinnon at least seemed to be having a bit of fun. The whole time Murray was on the screen, I kept thinking, "He looks like he really doesn't want to be in this movie."
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Old 07-16-2016, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

I'm amused it was noticeable.
I wonder what takes they didn't use!

It's also partly why Dan Akroyd claimed this film was funnier than the original (besides I'm not sure he knows what's funny anymore) he has a financial stake in the film.

The history behind the film is pretty interesting, sony execs had a hand in the film and it seems to show. Not to mention the CEO of Sony Pictures has odd white-feminist beliefs which is partly the reason for both the all women main cast and the occasional racism.

It's also interesting as there is both a backlash from dumbass MRAs and Sony stoked the fire of the backlash to polarize the issue and paint all dislike of the film as sexism.
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Old 07-21-2016, 12:29 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Personally, I thought Chris Hemsworth stole the film. I found him consistently hilarious. I was laughing hours later at him putting his fingers in his eyes because the gong was loud. That was such an absurd bit of business, it went beyond being a stupid character into a surreal near insanity. I found it ironic that I liked him best, after the MRAs made such a fuss.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:03 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

This is my favorite interview clip for the Ghostbusters promotional tour. It's the Ghostbusters talking about Chris Hemsworth.

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Old 07-23-2016, 05:37 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Star Trek: Beyond. I've mentioned it before, but I was not a fan of the first two Abrams-Trek movies. They're perfectly good mindless action-adventure movies, but they're not Trek. They may feature characters named "Spock" and "Kirk" and "Uhura" and a ship named Enterprise -- but these movies are in no way Star Trek.


So, now we have Star Trek: Beyond. It's pretty-much the same. The movie (like its predecessors) relies on our knowledge of and affection for the characters from the original Star Trek in order to make sense of what's going on. But you can't have it both ways: if the movie doesn't really make sense unless you know the characters and their motivations -- you can't have the characters behaving completely unlike the original characters that we know and love.


Then there's the old saying: show, don't tell. The movie tells us several times that Kirk and Spock are supposed to be really close and that they work really well together -- but they never show it.

The movie says that Spock and McCoy, despite their bickering, like and respect each other -- but they never really show it. Indeed, McCoy doesn't sound like he likes or respects Spock at all. His needling of Spock typically sounds a lot less like good-natured banter and a lot like just plain bigotry* and downright nastiness. Especially when he makes a completely serious (and completely unevidenced) accusation against Spock that -- if it were true -- would make Spock a pretty nasty person.

[That the writers don't seem to have any real idea what Vulcans are supposed to act like is another complaint, but that would be a long rant.]


A good deal of the "impact" of this movie and the previous two Abrams-Trek movies is supposed to be engendered by our feelings for the Enterprise. Fans of the original Star Trek know that the Enterprise herself is as much a character as Spock, Kirk, Scotty, etc. Indeed, in "Who is your favorite Star Trek character?" polls, people often list the Enterprise as their favorite character.

Why is this so? Because the television series (and the movies with the original cast) always make it clear that Kirk, Sulu, especially Scotty, and even Spock love the Enterprise and think of her as their home. It's also shown that the Enterprise can and does stand up to enemy vessels -- and even if she takes a beating in the process, she always protects her crew and "always brings them home," as even the technophobic McCoy noted.

Do you ever get the impression that any of the characters in the Abrams-Trek movies have any real affection for the Enterprise? No, you do not.

Do you ever get the impression that the Enterprise is well-built, that she could stand up to even the weakest of hostile vessels, that she will protect her crew and bring them home? No you do not.

Indeed, every single one of the movies set in the Abrams-Trek universe features the Enterprise getting its ass handed to it in seconds every single time it encounters a hostile vessel. You get the distinct impression that the Enterprise, far from being a character in its own right, and regarded as beloved by its crew, and far from being a well-built and capable vessel -- is a flying deathtrap that's ready to blow up the instant a bad guy so much as gives a dirty look.

Naturally, this movie features a confrontation between the Enterprise and hostile vessels. It is just embarrassingly brief and one-sided.


But presumably, we're supposed to feel something about seeing the Enterprise get ripped to shreds in seconds. But why? It's completely unearned, because we're given no reason to like the ship, no reason to think that it's an even remotely-capable combat vessel, and no reason to think that the crew feels any affection for it whatsoever.

It is not shocking or affecting -- or even particularly interesting -- to see the Enterprise get its ass kicked ... again. Not when it happens in every single movie.


And instead of ... oh, I dunno, developing the characters ... the writers are mostly interested in showing us really dumb, really loud, really unbelievable action sequences. I mean, there were times when I was tempted to blurt out, "Oh, come on! -- are we supposed to take this seriously?".




Now, having said all that, this is the first movie set in the Abrams-Trek universe in which I felt like the writers had any idea at all about what makes Star Trek work. Watching the first two movies, I can't help but wonder, "Has Abrams ever even seen an episode of Star Trek?" Because if he has, he sure doesn't seem to understand the show, the setting, or the characters.

What the writers of Star Trek: Beyond actually seem to get is that the Federation isn't just an alliance of convenience. And Starfleet isn't just some military organization, it's meant to represent and express the ideals upon which the Federation was founded.

Because the writers seem to have at least some understanding of what Star Trek is actually about, and have made an effort to express the fundamental idealism upon which the show was based, this puts Star Trek: Beyond -- for all its failings -- light-years ahead of the previous two movies, if you ask me.


***


*In fairness, this was something that always bothered me about the original Star Trek. For its time, Star Trek was quite progressive, but by today's standards, it sometimes seems embarrassingly sexist and even racist at times.

Seriously. I'm not saying anything against DeForest Kelly -- who, by every account was one of the sweetest guys who ever lived -- but go back and watch some of the episodes of the original series and pay attention to Dr. McCoy's behavior and attitudes. Dr. McCoy sometimes sounds like an out-and-out bigot. What's more -- oddly enough -- he sometimes comes across as rather anti-intellectual.


Sure, his needling of Spock is mostly good-natured, but sometimes it very-definitely is not. And in fairness, Spock typically gives as good as he gets. And at times, Spock can be pretty darned smug, with his "Vulcans are so superior to Humans that it's ridiculous" attitude -- and thus, is fully deserving of some ego deflation.

But McCoy's constantly insisting that Spock is just plain wrong to control and repress his emotions is just plain bigotry. No?

Keep in mind that while he may be half-Human, Spock was born on Vulcan, he was raised on Vulcan as a Vulcan, and he self-identifies as a Vulcan. For McCoy to continually insist that it's somehow wrong of him to not behave more like a Human is just plain bigotry.

Don't believe me? Imagine if Spock had a Swedish mother and a Nigerian father, was raised in Nigeria, and self-identified as a Nigerian. If McCoy constantly berated him for not acting "White enough," we wouldn't hesitate for one second to call him out as a bigot.


As an aside, I remember reading a Star Trek novel years ago which beautifully illustrated that though he is (rightfully) a beloved character, Dr. McCoy's behavior (at least where Spock is concerned) is often bigoted and sometimes strangely anti-intellectual.

The Enterprise was passing near an unexplored star system, and they were only close-enough for a long-range scan. Kirk asked Spock if the long-range scans provided any information that would make it worth the effort of diverting from their course in order to investigate the system in more detail.

Spock reported the summation of the long-range scans. He noted that the star was a G2-spectral class star, that the 4th planet was orbiting at 0.98 AU from the star with an orbital eccentricity of 0.02, that it had a mass of 1.05 Earth-masses and an equatorial diameter of roughly 8,000 miles, that it had a rotational period of roughly 23 hours and an axial tilt of 12 degrees. At their current range, it was impossible to tell if the planet supported life, but the atmosphere read as 70% nitrogen, 25% oxygen, 3% argon; and the remaining 2% consisted mostly of carbon dioxide and water vapor.


"That's just so much meaningless junk," McCoy grumbled. "Just admit that you don't know, Spock, and stop trying to dazzle us with BS."

Kirk spoke up. "So, Mr. Spock, what you're telling me is that the star is roughly the same mass and output as Earth's Sun. Given the planet's distance from the star, it should be squarely in the 'Goldilocks Zone' and so may well support liquid water, which would make it an excellent candidate for life. Given the planet's rotational period, the temperature difference between the day side and night side should not be extreme. Given the axial tilt and orbital eccentricity, it should have seasons, but they should not be as extreme as those on Earth. Given that oxygen is highly reactive, the fact that there is so much of it in the atmosphere implies that some process is adding it to the atmosphere -- photosynthesis is a likely candidate. Given that terrestrial planets this close to their Sun typically have atmospheres consisting mostly of carbon dioxide, the nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere again strongly suggests the possibility of life. That there is a relatively large amount of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere -- but not enough to suggest a runaway greenhouse effect -- further indicates that the planet may well have equitable surface temperates and liquid water on the surface."

"In short, according to your analysis, the 4th planet sounds like an excellent candidate for closer investigation; it should have Earth-like conditions and surface gravity, liquid water on the surface -- and very likely, life."

"Does my analysis agree with yours, Mr. Spock?" Kirk asked.

"Very much so, Captain," Spock replied.


Kirk then turned to McCoy and pointed out, "We're space explorers, Bones. Just because you apparently never bothered to take any courses in planetary astronomy while you were at Starfleet Academy, don't think that the rest of us didn't."
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  #21  
Old 07-23-2016, 06:26 AM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

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Now, having said all that, this is the first movie set in the Abrams-Trek universe in which I felt like the writers had any idea at all about what makes Star Trek work. Watching the first two movies, I can't help but wonder, "Has Abrams ever even seen an episode of Star Trek?" Because if he has, he sure doesn't seem to understand the show, the setting, or the characters.

What the writers of Star Trek: Beyond actually seem to get is that the Federation isn't just an alliance of convenience. And Starfleet isn't just some military organization, it's meant to represent and express the ideals upon which the Federation was founded.
Simon Pegg's credentials indicate that he is indeed a fan of all Star Trax.
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  #22  
Old 07-26-2016, 12:33 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Just like good old The Lone Ranger I saw Ghostbusters a few days ago.

And I fully agree: "It wasn't bad. But it wasn't particularly good, either. Aside from an occasional chuckle here and there, it just wasn't funny."

Of course, I'm talking about the original which I hadn't seen before for some reason. I really don't get what the fuss is about. :meh:
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Old 07-26-2016, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

For best results, you had to have seen it when you were younger.
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Old 07-26-2016, 02:56 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

Yeah, I thought so. Too late, Stormlight. Too late! You fucked it up! :(
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: Movies that aren't really BAD -- but aren't very good, either

We rewatched the original just before going to see the new one.

The original has some slow parts, some weak jokes and some inconsistent plotting, but it also has Bill Murray stealing the show and some legendary one-liners.

I went and looked at some classic reviews of the original, and it was rated as a better than average comedy, which sounds about right.

The new one is getting reviews that place it as slightly better than average, which is about right, too.
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