Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stuff I Didn't Watch All the Way Through This Week

It's been a long week at work and in the news.  I was bemoaning one of these projects on twitter, and when I told CanadianSimon I'd quit watching the movie and two other things this week, he did point out - hey, it's been a weird week for Planet Earth.

Still, my patience was a bit raw, and that meant I didn't make it very far into a few things I'd been meaning to check out.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 

I didn't see this movie when it came out, mostly because I didn't really like much of anything about the first one.  Highlights included the casting of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Stan Lee's cameo, but I didn't really get where Peter Parker as mouthy, non-nerdy teen-ager was coming from, and I was super-annoyed that they were trying to go down the 1990's path of exploring Peter's parents' death as integral to his history (dude got bit by a radioactive spider.  We don't need to heap 30 years of back story into it).  To top it off, their Spidey was never actually *funny* when quipping from inside the mask.  He came off a bit more like someone bragging while playing a video game against a hopelessly outclassed opponent.

I kind of knew we were in trouble when the first ten minutes of the movie included a seemingly five minute portion wherein Spider-Man's parents fight for their lives and die on screen.  Why this wasn't 10 seconds of parents seeing a guy enter their plane's cabin with a gun, then slam cut to modern day, I don't know.

But every scene in the movie is like this.  There's a lot of talking and things occurring, but nothing is happening.  Jamie Fox spends a scene talking to an imaginary Spider-Man as if Spider-Man brought him a cake.  There had to have been 87 better ways to convey that this scientist who works at OsCorp is a big fan of Spider-Man that wouldn't have felt lifted from a You Can't Do That on Television skit, but...  If you're making a movie for kids, maybe not spend 10 minutes killing off the Parkers on screen, too?

My suspicion is that Sony had a lot of money to put into this sequel, didn't give enough passes to the script to get it before the camera, figured they'd fix in post, but had they cut the movie to make it leaner and meaner, it would have run about 25 minutes.

It's also a movie where a clearly high 19 year old Harry Osborne is suddenly running his daddy's company because bio-med pharma companies run like medieval monarchies.

Anyway, I'd kind of started looking at my phone more than the movie, but when Jamie Fox falls into one of three tubs of electric eels (I have no idea) and emerges as Electro, I finally turned it off.


This one falls into the category of "I am not the target demographic".  But that doesn't mean it wasn't genuinely bad or full of missed opportunities.  And while it was kinda amusing to see the Archie Comics characters translated to CW sexy teen murder mystery characters, it's hard to ignore how formulaic and generally bad actual sexy teen murder mystery shows on the CW actually are.

The Riverdale kids are transformed into high school sophomores (making them 15 at the start of the show), and from here we get immediately into that confusing world of teens on television where they are adults without jobs to go to but parents who are there solely to trip them up and act like teens themselves.

Further, why is there always a character whose primary function is to spout pop culture references that are clearly from the pen of a 35 year old (in our case, Veronica Lodge, just arrived from NYC)?  Or are there really that many high school sophomores out there with a deep knowledge of the works of Truman Capote?  Because this show posits that they're all ready to name drop his books at the drop of a hat.

Once again giving mixed messages to the kids, Archie spent the summer between his Freshman and Sophomore year sleeping with Miss Grundy.  Yeah, I know the papers are full of stories about kids sleeping with teachers, but it seems odd to make a 15 year old sleeping with his teacher something that's just sexy fun.

suddenly the name of this episode takes on new meaning
Archie doesn't want to be a jock anymore (apparently he's a football prodigy, although we never actually see that, but they do riff on the Friday Night Lights music during the football sequence - ie - Archie standing there in pads).  He doesn't want to work at his dad's company.  He just wants to play music!  Or study music!  Or something!

Also - literally every girl wants to be in his pants.

Why the action of the murder starts before the action of the show seems like a missed opportunity.  Get your cheerleading tryouts in.  Get your romantic triangle started.  Then kill the guy off.  All the petty stuff is in motion, not occurring when someone dies.

I dunno.

I know teen soaps are not going to be for me - they weren't for me when I was a teen and become increasingly less so each year.  And I know I've got 40-odd years of Archie stamped in my brain that should have made this hilarious.  But it wasn't.  It was just riffing on Mean Girls and a thousand other things you've seen before.  If you're thinking this is going to be Twin Peaks II with Mister Weatherbee, well...  It's generic teen show #8756, but it's starring Archie characters.  That the show couldn't stay focused on a murder rather than cheerleader tryouts is probably about right for the 13 year olds who will be watching this, in terms of levels of importance.

But then there's all kinds of sex going on, too.  So...  I am now as confused by TV as my dad was when he would look over my shoulder when I was a kid.


This one I less turned off than skipped through the remaining final hour of the movie to confirm my suspicions.  They were confirmed.

I'd wanted to watch Nurse (2013/4 - depending on where you look) since it came out and got not just bad reviews, but ANGRY reviews.  I mean - what makes reviewers hate a movie this much?  These things keep me up at night.

And I used to kind of wonder why people seemed to hate actor Paz de la Huerta.  She was by far the weakest link on Boardwalk Empire, but she got written out and went on to star here, and within ten minutes, I got why people seem to roll their eyes at her.

The premise of the movie seems straightforward - a crazy person is a nurse, and spends her nights at da club picking up married guys and then murdering them for straying.  All of this is explained via a grating voice over and action that takes place prior to the credits.

But once the film starts, she gets her new mentee, whom she decides to take away from her boyfriend and even that seems in line with the over the top sexuality of the film.  But then it just sort of turns into a stalkery spurned lover sort of thing, and what could have been clever becomes rote late-night cable stalker movie stuff of the dullest kind.

The film has appearances from Kathleen Turner, Niecy Nash and Judd Nelson - all of whom seem to have signed on thinking they were in for a John Water or maybe a Roger Corman-esque sort of movie.  But instead it just devolves into a sort of half-baked horror film with a story arc that barely crests the horizon before crashing into the desert.  All of it feels terribly intentional, but for intentional camp, it fails.  For being just bad, it's not bad enough to wring out any joy of that ironic viewing sort of thing.

Why they dumped the serial killer bit for "just crazy murderer" is puzzling at best.  Because it sure feels like there were 2 or 3 paths they could have followed from there and maybe had a genuine cult movie on their hands.  The over the top "sexiness" also just... stops, which... I don't want to tell anyone how to do their job, but if what you're selling is Godzilla, and you stop showing Godzilla 30 minutes into a film never to bring him back...


Groboclown said...

The main reason I didn't touch the new Spider-Man films was due to the giant "Sony" word attached to it. The films they've produced in the last few years have all seemed like cash grabs with no concern for quality.

The League said...

I do not think this movie or its predecessor would disabuse you of this notion.