Having listed numerous films that I do like, in my tour around the World of Cinema, I thought it appropriate to also let you know about the types of film that I never watch, and just don’t like. These choices are unlikely to gain me many friends, but I will stand by them, and try my best to plead the case for the prosecution. No clips with these, as they are generic, not specific.
Comic Book Franchises. I do not refer to the recent trend for filming graphic novels, as seen in ‘Sin City’, and ‘300’. This is an entirely different subject, and I have some time for these efforts. In particular, I am launching my attack at the filming of the heroes of Marvel, and DC comics. The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Superman, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Captain America, and of course, Batman. There are many others, and you will no doubt be aware of them all. These comics all originated during the 1930’s, and were still very popular when I was at a comic reading age, during the 1960’s. As comics for young people, they are very good, providing escapism, lessons in right and wrong, and showing a fantasy world so different from the one in which we live. Unfortunately, as films, they are no longer targeted just at children, but at the mass market of multiplex film goers, and the collectors of spin-off products, such as figurines, and model vehicles. Huge budgets are ploughed into them, and A-list stars queue up to be the next big thing. Special effects, green screen, 3D, and every imaginable action film cliche is all trotted out, in the name of bringing these characters to ‘life’ on our screens. Film magazines, Internet Forums, and supposedly important film critics, all rush to discuss and review the latest offerings. I don’t watch them, because I am an adult. They are for children, and should have been left on paper.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. How many men dressed as elves, CGI battle scenes, and fantasy forests can you possibly watch? Do you actually care about Hobbits, and whether or not Gandalf gets killed? At least the Orks look suitably evil, but the rest is just a load of tosh. The whole point of high fantasy novels, is to imagine the characters in your mind, and despite some illustrations accompanying Tolkein’s work, most of us did just that. I also read these books when I was 11 or 12. They were OK, nothing special, and far more important books have been written. So, literature for children to read, I think. Hardly the thing for grown men to discuss at the pub, or to queue outside a cinema, to be the first to see it. In case you are wondering, yes, the same thing applies to Harry Potter, so there!
Pixar animations. Disney films are great, as are the cartoon films made by other companies. Who can forget ‘Dumbo’, Pinocchio’, or ‘Snow White and the seven dwarfs’? But they couldn’t leave it alone. Year on year, they had to strive for more realism, until the animated characters almost took on human form, or began to look like they were never drawn at all. (Because they weren’t) The days of vividly coloured cartoons, with their flat appearance, great soundtracks, and memorable characters, are gone. What do we have instead? ‘Toy Story’, ‘Cars’, ‘Shrek’ and all the rest, in the strange, almost but not quite, seamless realisation that is Pixar. The stories are OK, for the most part, and some of the characters are pretty good. But they need to be cartoons. Don’t you get it?
Modern US Comedy films. Consider this to include romantic comedies also, and anything starring Steve Carrell, or Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller too, with the exception of some things he has done. I have only to hear the name Adam Sandler, and my bum cheeks involuntarily close. ‘The Hangover’? Even the thought of being in a room where it is showing makes me annoyed. Jim Carrey, star of some of the worst films ever made, is actually a good actor, so what is he doing? He is taking the money. Like all the others, providing mindless fluff for the popcorn munching hordes, that are mostly not even watching. They even make sequels, so presumably they are doing something right? No, they are doing nothing right at all. The great tradition of comedy in American Cinema has been flushed down the toilet, and the legends are spinning in their graves. Or maybe I am just getting too old…Pass me that W.C. Fields box set, will you?
Pointless sequels. You know the type of thing, a film you love has a sequel, and surprisingly, it is sometimes better than the original. Then they catch on to this, and make a third, fourth, even fifth, trying to suck you in. They get worse after the second one, they always do, it’s a rule. I don’t need to list all the examples, you know them. But for the sake of this argument, I will comment on a few. ‘Alien’. Great film, original, exciting, first class science fiction. The sequel? ‘Aliens’, actually very good. More people. more Aliens, bigger bangs. All downhill after that. ‘Star wars’. Silly, fun, and something different. Escapism of the highest order, silly robots, and nasty villains. Great for kids, and a diversion for some adults. Then they started to take it seriously. Pretentious claptrap from there on. ‘Godfather’, one of my favourite films, and ‘Godfather II’ was arguably even better. But number three! Come on, what was the point of that? ‘Jaws’? Say no more, I think you get the idea.
There you have some of my cinematic pet hates. I don’t buy into the hype, wear the costumes, or collect the figures. There is no harm in any of it really, as long as it is not heralded as great Cinema. Trouble is, all that money, the time and effort, and obvious talent, could be put to so much better use. (I’m putting on my flak-jacket now)