Monday, July 11, 2005

Where have all the good movies gone?

I watched I, Robot for the first time last night. Yes, I know I'm behind the times. I had to wait for it to come on cable, because I will not spend money to watch a movie unless it involves Hobbits, Student Wizards, Narnians, or Johnny Depp in some smokin' hot black eyeliner. I've been burned too many times at the theater to ever believe that Hollywood is capable of doing much of anything besides vomiting forth a never-ending parade of computer-effects laden dreck. Reign of Fire? Dragged to it by my husband. It blew chunks. Spiderman? Rented it. Hated it. Titanic? Never seen it, never will. I already know how it ends. Now if James Cameron had inserted a CGI giant squid that emerged from the inky depths and dragged a screeching Celine Deon down to a watery oblivion (along with Pretty-Boy Dicaprio and Kate Winslet and Cameron himself and the scriptwriter and the executive who greenlighted that whole crapfest and any other perpetrators it could grab with its six remaining arms) I might be able to watch it.

I was talking about I, Robot, wasn't I? The book was wonderful. The movie sucked muchly. I wonder why in the name of guacamole anyone would ever think that book would translate into a movie. The book covers the history of robotic development over several years, and in so doing explores the nature of thought and humanity. The movie covers Will Smith whuppin' ass over a couple of days. And stuff blows up. And there's a plot twist. The end.

How come it seems like every movie that comes out is nothing more than a bundle of cliches wrapped up in over-used CGI? (Yes, I know this contradicts what I said earlier about a CGI squid improving Titanic. Shut up.) Even when Hollywood manages to get its hands on a good imaginative idea, they corrupt the living hell out of it until it sucks. A Prayer For Owen Meany was an incredible book and had the potential to be an incredible movie. By the time they got done making Simon Birch out of it, they had horrificated it so much that John Irving, the book's author, refused to let them use any of the character's names from his book. I just made "horrificated" up. It's a good word.

I can't even trust myself to speak about the glut of end of the world movies that have been released on an unsuspecting world. Deep Impact? I was rooting for the comet.

Bring back the old movies! Bring back Bogie telling Bergman that they'll always have Paris. Bring back Gloria Swanson reminding herself that no one leaves a star - that's what makes one a star. Bring back Godzilla stomping Tokyo. Bring back talented actors and imaginative scripts and glorious sets that exist in reality and not just on a computer screen. I want to see a movie that makes me take a deep breath and smile at the end of it, instead of rolling my eyes and thanking Og I didn't pay money to see it. I want a movie that makes me imagine how the characters might continue on with their lives after the credits roll, not one that makes me imagine the actors lined up in front of a firing squad.

Come back, Cecil B. DeMille. Your country needs you.


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