JOPLIN, Mo. —
I like to think that writing these columns does more than just allow me a chance to offer up senseless opinions that are easy to skip over when trying to find the next show time for the latest “Madagascar.” To feed my delusions of self-importance, I also like to think that this column can also act as a public service. Too many innocents have been victimized by the likes of the Michael Bays, Brett Ratners and Ashton Kutchers of the world. If I can do anything, no matter how small, to shed light on atrocities, I feel that all of the “Transformers” and “Killers” and, Heaven forbid, “Tower Heists” that I have suffered through will be for something.
Summer, the time of year when the most egregious of these offenders like to come out of hiding, is now upon us.So, as the season kicks off, here are some guidelines to stick t o when choosing how to wile away those summer hours.Using “Battleship”, the latest big budget inanity foisted upon theaters, as our example, here are some rules to keep in mind when choosing what not to watch:
If it is based on a toy, stick with the toy: Because of Michael Bay’s success with “Transformers,” Hollywood now has it in their heads that anything with childhood memories attached is fair game for adaptation. We saw the atrocious “Transformers” trilogy, the lousy “G.I. Joe” film, and now “Battleship,” a sodden excuse to capitalize on the brand’s good will.
This is especially important to remember this summer, with the upcoming “Joe” sequel on the horizon. And we still get to look forward to the Ouija Board movie in the near future.
- When the premise of the film contradicts the plot, it isn’t a good sign: Let’s say we were seeing two worlds battle. One is a band of super intelligent alien creatures. The other is a race that thinks it’s a good idea to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make a movie based on a board game where blind chance is key to success.My bet goes to our otherworldly visitors.
- The caliber of the film is dependent upon the caliber of actor: In other words, if you go to see a film starring a singer/actor, rapper/actor or model/actor, you’ll generally get what you pay for. In this instance, we get swimsuit model turned actress Brooklyn Decker and singer turned actress Rhianna in pivotal roles. While both do adequately passable jobs, liven the film. In fairness, not all multitaskers are bad at this, as Will Smith can attest to. But always carry this word of caution: Kutcher started out as a model.
- Don’t let the presence of a genuinely skilled actor fool you into thinking you’ve wandered into a good film: Liam Neeson, ever since “Taken,” has signed on to any and every part he’s been offered. Unfortunately, this lack of discernment has resulted in awful movies such as “The A-Team” and “Clash of the Titans.”Neeson may be laughing all the way to the bank, but it is at the expense of those who trusted his choices as an actor.
Check the pedigree: Not every television writer turned movie director can meet with Joss Whedon’s success. When we see someone of Peter Berg’s skills trying to do his best Bay impression, he leaves us with a film that is plodding in parts and listless in others. He begins with a meet-cute with a guy getting tasered for stealing a chicken burrito for a pouty woman who can’t be bothered to leave a bar to walk across the street and get it for herself.
The opening was painful to watch, and not because I had to watch a man get tasered. In fact, he got off lucky. I had to sit through the rest of the film.
- If the characters aren’t likable, the movie won’t be either: Now, this rule only applies to the unintentionally unlikable.Denzel Washington in “Training Day” or Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs” don’t count.But with movie like “Battleship,” the audience shouldn’t root for the demise of central characters.Taylor Kitsch, who plays drunken tased guy/hero of the movie Lieutenant Alex Hopper, is so inconceivably incompetent in everything that he does that there is no way that he would have been put in charge of a paddle boat, let alone a multimillion dollar piece of Navy equipment. And he’s one of the less annoying ones.
- If it stars Taylor Kitsch, back away slowly: Kitsch may be a fine actor, but after this and mega-budget bomb “John Carter,” he appears to be the kiss of death to films. The two films combined cost nearly $460 million dollars to make and combined will probably bring in around $150 million. It appears that America has learned to recognize failure, where mediocrity might win out at times, at least in regards to Kitsch.
- Beware the hack dialogue: Big budget flicks aren’t usually known for intense plots or intelligent scripts, but there are some that are especially stupid. Don’t make the mistake of paying for one of these films and get to the point where aliens have already destroyed the ship carrying the brother of the lead character and the lead then states “I have a bad feeling about this.”
So, keep this checklist handy for the summer flicks. The movies offer a lot of good, but they are also fraught with risk and danger.
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