Friday, September 12, 2008

Movies Never to See, Despite the Critics

Last night, after a long day, I thought I would enjoy a good movie and slowly crawl into bed. I had hopes of wine to go along with the movie, but in hindsight, I'm glad my judgment regarding the rather pathetic movie I ended up seeing wasn't clouded.

Last night, I saw "I Am Legend." It certainly did seem interesting and I think a lot of people were excited to see something along the lines of a Doomsday movie (it probably has something to do with the general pall overhanging the United States at the moment). It didn't take too long into the movie to realize, however, that all my hopes for the movie--a reflective autobiography on the last man's quest to reestablish humanity--were going to be crushed. What ended up happening for the next 93 minutes or so was a terribly ineffective hybrid of Resident Evil and Castaway, both of which I had already seen and didn't need to see again. If you want to see the internal struggles of a man who has been taken away from his friends and family, watch Castaway. If you want to see some really creepy creatures created by a mutated virus, watch Resident Evil. But I would strongly recommend not trying to watch both at the same time. It just doesn't work.

Another movie that I saw and would not recommend is "Wall-E." Now, I might be establishing myself as a pariah for even mentioning the fact that Wall-E was a bad movie, but I think it's worth the sacrifice. I can only say, first of all, that Robots are not Humans--nor will robots ever be able to be human and any movie that attempts to break that ontological barrier will fail miserably. I suppose that that was the irony: that the robot was more human than the thousands of tubs of lard floating in space, but again, I challenge the idea that a human being would ever allow themselves to grow so distant from virtue without feeling like a worthless human being. Where is Aristotle when you need him? One could argue that the movie was just being fantastical, but I counter, saying it was just flat-out offensive to humanity. It might be a cute movie for a kid to see--ultimately, the robot does em-metal some pretty heroic virtues--yet I would have to express that no machine will ever be able to be more heroic, on its own initiative, than a human being. At least, this is what I would make sure my kids knew.

Have a good day! If you have any suggestions for really good or really bad movies, please do comment. I love a good movie!


Darragh said...

I disagree with the Wall-E commentary because I don't think the point of the movie was to portray a robot as more human than human themselves. I also don't think it was offensive to humanity because humanity is redeemed in the ending. I took it as a social commentary - that today, too many people are concerned with brand names and are too reliant on technology. I think the movie took both issues and played them to a hypothetical conclusion to raise awareness among its viewers. I am by no means "green", but after watching that movie, I am much more conscious of what I throw away because half of what I actually toss could be reused or recycled. As far as the technology thing goes, when I lack internet access, I get restless and begin feeling purposeless (no joke) and I know the same happens to others in our generation.

My favorite part of Wall-E was the credits. I hope you stayed for them. The credits run while images play in the background, beginning with stick figures that look like cave paintings. The figures are telling the story of the humans as they re-inhabit earth. As time progresses and they develop their new society, the background images progress through all the major periods of Western Art to parallel their new age of humanity. So at the same time they develop complex tools and machinery, the images reflect the Renaissance. It's like, the progression of their society told through a progression of their ancestors' art, which reflected their ancestors' development of culture.

Here's a link to the credits

It begins with Prehistoric, to egyptian, to byzantine, to pre-renaissance, to high renaissance (including the architecture), to monet, to seurat to van gogh,

Ben said...

I am with Dan on this one. I didn't like the movie at all. It attempts the kind of social commentary of better PIXAR movies such as the Incedibles which I loved, but Wall-E falls flat becuase the message was too simplistic and heavy-handed. Most of all though I didn't like the movie for perhaps more shallow reasons. I thought the robots were annoying and overly cute. And there just wasn't enough dialogue.

Darragh said...

i agree with the dialogue part, ben. and I had some serious issues with character development and parts of the plot where the humans were concerned. It was not the best PIXAR movie as far as plot goes, but in writing my last comment, I've realized I view the entire movie as a prelude to the 2 minutes of end credits. go figure

Rachel said...

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I saw both of these movies with Dan, and share his sentiments.

"I Am Legend": My main problem with it was the many 'undead' rabid humans who had no sign of humanity left in them. Will Smith shot them or mowed them down with his station wagon without a second thought, yielding a cacophony of disgusting thuds (and shrieks). Ick.

It brought up all sorts of disturbing questions I didn't want to think about, and really confused the concept of human dignity. I couldn't just cheer on the main character and hope for his survival--I had to root for him against the "bad guys" who were bad for no fault of their own. Are they people, or did the virus which turned them into rabid monsters take away their personhood?

Not what I signed up for when I sat down to watch the movie.

On a sidenote: Will Smith is doing a lot of those "I'm immune" / "I live forever" type sci-fi/dramas lately. What's that other unfortunate superhero film we saw this summer with him and Charlize Theron (I think) in it? "Hancock." Strange niche there...

"Wall-E": I was excited to see this because I had heard all the raves about it earlier in the summer (one of the top 10 bestselling movies, or something like that, right?). I was irritated by the lack of dialogue, even though I guess I might grudgingly say that Wall-E was cute. I found myself very irritated by the whole movie and just wanted it to be over. I'm not a softie--I don't think robot romance is cute (there's nothing there! beeps and clicks! where's the gift of self? c'mon!).

And all the humans were stupid and fat...great. Yeah, Darragh, Wall-E saved humanity...but at the end of the movie (I'll admit, I didn't stay for the credits), I was wondering "What for?". The Pixar people certainly didn't do a great job of showing why it was important/good for humanity to be saved during the film itself...we just came off like a bunch of consumerist sheep who destroyed the planet once (and will probably do it again).

Has anyone seen a good movie lately? I can't say that I left any movie I saw in 2008 thinking "man, I want to see that again!"...with the possible exception of "The Dark Knight." But I'd even categorize that as an "intense" rather than "good" movie.

Kelly said...

2008 movies? I thought Ironman was pretty good, and I'm not usually a superhero movie kind of girl.

Dan Amiri said...


I too am generally surprised at how great those movies based on comics turn out to be. Usually, this is because they really have a strong "good vs. evil" theme, the protagonist has both great virtue and vice, and, more simply, they are not so dependent on sex and gore. They are usually just very "human" movies. I think Superman is a great example of what I'm talking about--notwithstanding the overtly Christian themes, and so is Spiderman.

I have not yet seen Ironman, but I will on your recommendation.

Brandon said...

As usual I stand in defiance of the Rover party line--you might call me a maverick. I love Wall-E. I love Wall-E so much that I went at 12:01 AM on the day of release so that I would be the first person to see it.

Not enough words? Cmon Amiris. Tell me you can't look at each other and convey a deep feeling without words.

Darragh, I have to admit that I too feel useless, naked, scared without the internet. There are only two things in life that I need: wireless and olive oil.

Darragh said...

brandon - isnt it a horrible feeling?? I thought I was above this techno-dependence sweeping the world, and then my computer died. It was like withdrawl - headaches, nausea, cold sweats, finding new and creative ways to get a technofix.