I want my money back!

Warning: The following rant contains spoilers to several movies. Though I am probably the last person in the free world to have seen these movies, the possibility exists that you may be even later to the gate than I. In any case, you have been warned!

Of late, I’ve been catching up on all of the movies I’ve missed over the past few months. I’ve had baths that were deeper than The Bucket List (to borrow from a character in the movie). Henry Pool Is Here was surprisingly good, with no easy answers. Kung Fu Panda and Space Chimps were both great for their in-jokes (especially the dead-on impression of Al Gore in the latter). And Star Trek only mostly sucked (pretty scenery, fair acting, plot holes large enough to fly a spaceship through [1]).

Now I’m just back from G I Joe, and I want my money back. Why? Because it demonstrates just how low the appetite for movies has gone [2]. Looking at the movie objectively, there are a few things that seem designed to insult your intelligence. I’m not speaking of the sort of “suspension of disbelief” that you have to use to watch, say, Star Wars [3]; I speak of full blown, no holds barred, the director screaming in your face “This whole movie is a great big piece of shit (yeah!) but I’m the guy singing and your the jerk who paid to find out (of yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah!) [a]”.

What bothered me so much wasn’t the fact that the US President had a distinctly British accent. And it wasn’t that they had five or six flashbacks (it was hard to keep track) to tell us why the characters were so screwed up. And the obligatory herky-jerky cinematography, designed to conceal that they ran out of money for CGI [4], was only mostly annoying.

No, what got my goat at the end was the way the evil guys decided to get rid of those pesky submarines that were plaguing their immense underwater lair [5]. Picture this – hundreds of tiny submarines that were dispatched from Egypt and make their way to somewhere near Greenland in under ten minutes [6] and are now making hash of the secret Cobra base. What is a villain to do? Why (and I’m not making this up), he blows up the ice pack, sending bits and pieces of iceberg raining down on the GI Joe subs. And that, to quote Robinson, is where my suspension of disbelief bust a mainspring. It appears to have passed the attention of Mr. Sommers and his entire CGI crew that ice freakin’ floats! So breaking up the ice pack does exactly nothing.

Which is what the movie ended up doing for me. I don’t mind a stupid movie [7]. And I don’t mind plot holes, per se, if they help to move the plot along [8]. What I do mind are stupid plot holes that could have been patched by anyone who bothered to look at the glass of ice water that they were drinking.

So avoid GI Joe at all costs, even if it means watching Star Trek again. Though it isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen [9], it is certainly the worst movie to come out so far this summer.

John

[1] OK, so the Romulan captain gets sucked back in time 154 years and never once thinks to send a note to the Vulcans saying “Hey, guys – this star is going to blow up soon. Do us all a favor and leave a week earlier or Romulus bites the big one”? They spend 25 years lurking about and never once impinge on the Federation, except to destroy Kirk’s life? And what’s with their magical lightning field? I thought Prince Barin shut that thing off before Flash started his run!

[2] As has been said before, we are in a race to the bottom and both sides are winning.

[3] “Stop the film! Things don’t go ‘vroom’ in space!” [a]

[4] And that the director has no earthly idea of how to stage a good fight scene. Compare the fights in Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean if you doubt me! Sadly, this style of faux cinema verite is likely to be regarded as this decade’s signature, just as saturated colors were for the 70’s and long shots were for the 80’s.

[5] Three points on that one: (i) If you can afford to build a huge underwater lair, then you are too rich to be stupid enough to want world domination [b]; (ii) If you build a huge lair anywhere on Earth, it is going to get noticed – do you think we don’t have damn good maps of the Arctic circle by now?; and (iii) If you are going to build an underwater lair, why build freaking huge missile silos to the surface – haven’t you ever heard of the Polaris, Poseidon, or Trident?

[6] Another major problem with modern movies – they have no sense of scale. It takes days to move a sub from one place to another. And it takes hours to get from Moscow to DC, even in a plane traveling Mach 5 (1.2 hours to be exact), not minutes. So there is no way the Ripcord [c] could have gotten both missiles.

[7] I have Space Truckers in my collection, and have watched it more than once.

[8] I have Jurassic Park in my collection, and have watched it more than once. Heck, I even enjoy The Matrix trilogy!

[9] That would be Starship Troopers. Not only did they get the basic philosophy of the book wrong, they didn’t even get the easy parts right, like fighting with combat suits or having an enemy that made sense (bugs that send flaming farts across the galaxy? Sounds like Verhoeven has issues…).

[a] Geek points for the reference!

[b] Have you any idea what the headaches of that are?

[c] Which, amusingly enough, is the name of a leather bar in Houston.

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10 thoughts on “I want my money back!

  1. Another reason (or forty) that I don't do the whole pop culture thing. Just too much money for so little return. Well, except for Star Trek and GI Joe, those were all movies that I got through Netflix. A month's worth of chum there costs a lot less than one movie at the theater (but still eats up my time and keeps me from doing more useful things, such as reading a book).And the movies aren't always awful. Taken was a great guy-revenge fantasy flick (the male equivalent of Steel Magnolias). And Mama Mia was surprisingly fun for a jukebox musical (though Brosnan really, really needs singing lessons!). It is just that the real stinkeroos are so awful that they leave a hideous taste in your mind for weeks afterward.John

  2. LOL! Pierce Brosnan really CAN"T SING! How on earth did he ever get that part or why didn't they put someone else's voice in there? Ok, so that one I saw at a friend's house. I used to do netflix but since we pay for cable (why again?) I killed it. If it were not for the food network, I would just kill cable and go back to netflix.

  3. How on earth did he ever get that part or why didn't they put someone else's voice in there? I suspect it was because he really couldn't sing; they wanted this to be a "real" musical, instead of one like Oklahoma where everyone can carry a tune. Of course, the whole dancing through the Greek Islands never happens (except when you go with me, but that's another tale…) so there are limits to their "realism".John

  4. John, you might be getting too old for sci-fi if you can't suspend a little more disbelief. I LOVED Star Trek, but you have to watch it on the big screen to get the tears in your eyes over it.I like to waste 10 minutes on metacritic.com before wasting money on movies. They average movie critic ratings so it's evenly balanced. As far as that bar in Houston, that's a can of worms we'll save for another day. Let me know if you make it to Chicago for the big Memorial day convention and I'll meet you there.

  5. Yeah, "Star Trek" wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be, either. Although Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy was pretty good (if underutilized, like all of the supporting players).If you'd seen director Stephen Sommers' other films, you would have been warned about "G.I. Joe". I've only seen "The Mummy" and have completely forgotten the movie. It's mostly lots of CGI effects and running around."The Matrix" trilogy would have been better if they had focused more on Neo's journey as a messiah instead of the philosophy of the Matrix. And if they had cooler fights instead of the CGI cartoon fights."Starship Troopers" is a hilariously bad Verhoeven movie. Wooden acting and most of the nihilistic philosophy stolen from "Robocop" (his own movie).Loved "Kung Fu Panda", though.

  6. I loved Star Trek also. But, then again, I'm so old that I watched it when it was on in prime time. And when I was in high school I could give you the title of every episode within 10 seconds of the opening teaser starting. I dearly loved all the subtleties in the movie that played homage to the original series. I was so busy enjoying them that I hardly noticed any of the weaknesses.

  7. John, you might be getting too old for sci-fi if you can't suspend a little more disbelief. As previously noted, I can suspend disbelief pretty far – but when they decide that ice sinks when it gets blown up but floats when it is in a polar cap, that's a bit too far.John

  8. If you'd seen director Stephen Sommers' other films, you would have been warned about "G.I. Joe". I've only seen "The Mummy" and have completely forgotten the movie. It's mostly lots of CGI effects and running around. That's just it. I loved Deep Rising (completely unrealistic depiction of how ottoia behave, but made up for in the dialogue). And The Mummy was pure fun, despite the rampant ignorance of Ancient Egypt. So I knew he was crap, but expected fun crap that didn't actively insult my intelligence.Shows what I know…John

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