Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Memories Through Movies (Or, A Defense For Bad Movies)

On Saturday I spent most of the day watching a show I hadn't watched in years: "Pokémon." This is either a good indication that I am not as mature as I think I am, or an indication that the summer movie season can't start soon enough so that I actually have work to do.  While watching the show there were two things that crossed my mind.  The first was that the show, while certainly made for kids, was still rather funny and help up much better than I thought it would.  The second thing was that the episodes I was watching were seventeen years old.  SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!!!!  That means I was THIRTEEN when I first saw these episodes!  Well, after having a laugh about how parents could swear that this franchise was going to die in a couple of years being way off base, I started thinking about who I was when I first saw this show.

I don't know if this is just me, but I tend to be a very nostalgic person.  The reason I am is because I love remembering good times.  I have no idea how other people watch shows and movies, but one of the reasons I like to watch some older things is to remember things.  After watching the show a little more I ended up popping in my pan & scan DVD of "Pokémon: The First Movie" (yes, pan & scan was actually a thing at one point).  I haven't watched this for a long time because the dub is a very, well, loose adaptation.  It has lots of deleted scenes, a replaced soundtrack, and core elements of the story were outright rewritten.  The English version we got changed the main antagonist from being a misunderstood creature who was looking for his place in the world into a villain who wants to rule it, and there was this bizarre choice to put an anti-violence message in it (seriously).

It's hard to watch the dub when the original version is vastly superior in every conceivable way.  Yet I watched it because I was just watching the show and remembering times I spent with friends watching it, and I decided to remember the day I saw this in theaters.  On the day of release this movie was one of the biggest events for us kids at the time.  I remember me and my brother got together with longtime friends of the families, conspired to get our moms to bring us (the dads had the excuse of having to work and provide for the family, so they got to skip out), and we watched this movie that we had been waiting for weeks to see while our moms were just bewildered by what it was they were actually watching.

Despite the fact that the movie was the main event, it was afterwards where all the warm fuzzy memories came into play.  We went to Burger King (which was running a Pokémon movie toy promotion).  We discussed the movie (one thing we were all in agreement with was that we were shocked at how dark and violent it was).  We ate food.  For the first day movie theaters gave out random Pokémon cards for each ticket bought (my mom got Mewtwo, so she was officially the most popular one in our group and even she could understand why).  After lunch we went to the house, pulled out our new cards, and played a few rounds of the card game.  On a random side note, it occurs to me that one of the friends I went to was having his birthday on the day I was watching all this stuff.  Weird.

Getting back to the movie, it's clear watching it now that it isn't very good.  If there was nothing else to compare it to I could actually see where all the complaints were coming from.  Now that I can see the original movie the dub I saw in theaters all those years ago looks all the worse.  Yet I still watched the English version, knowing it was bad and knowing I had easy access to the original Japanese version.  So why watch it?  Because movies are a way to relive good memories sometimes.  That's why, I think, Disney's animated "Robin Hood" is thought on so fondly by many of my friends.  See, "Robin Hood" is a pretty bad movie.  There are many, many reasons it's terrible.  When they try to explain why they like it, I just sort of shake my head and laugh at the attempt.

Like "Pokémon: The First Movie," you have to grasp at straws to really be able to say it's a good movie with a straight face.  And yet... deep down, I understand it, and I know what they are really talking about when they say movies like these are good.  They are talking about the memories of watching these movies with other people.  How watching them brings us back to good moments in time that we want to remember more vividly.  These movies help with the memories, long after the delusion that they were ever good has faded.  I wish we could be more honest that when we enjoy some of these bad movies we are really enjoying the memories that surround the movies, but ultimately that's what we are doing, and there's nothing wrong with that when all is said and done.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Don't Watch Trailers...Seriously

I don't watch trailers.  You shouldn't watch trailers.  Trailers are a bane on the movie going experience that just keeps getting worse and worse as time goes on.  To base your movie going choices on trailers is a mistake at best, moronic madness at less than best.  Let's make one thing perfectly clear up front so that you can understand why I am saying all this (and why I am about to say what is coming up):

Movie trailers are NOT your friends!

They are not.  They act like they are, but they are your own worst enemy.  A trailer does not care about you.  A trailer does not care about your tastes.  A trailer does not care about the truth.  A trailer is not objective.  A trailer is, has always been, and always will be, a commercial.  A trailer is selling you a product.  A trailer is about as subtle a commercial as a Fruity Pebbles commercial.  Yes, there is a moment of entertainment to be found from it, but it is still trying to sell you something that you may or may not even like.  Heck, it might be selling you something that may or may not even be any good.  Take the trailer for "Fifty Shades of Grey" as a perfect example: The trailer advertises the movie as a romance film.  While there is a moment at the end that hints at the sadistic nature of the movie in the long run, it is selling you a love story.

This is not factual, honest, or even remotely close to what the movie actually is.  Let's also take a look at the trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises," in which big action is highlighted above everything else in an attempt to make it look big.  Now, in this case the film that is being advertised IS in fact big in some seasons, and has a slew of really memorable actions sequences!  The movie itself, however, is more of a crime drama than it is an action film, with character interaction making a bulk of the film and the action sequences making up only a small portion in the grand scheme of things (about thirty minutes in a three hour movie to be exact).  If you were going to the movie based on these previews, whether you liked the movies or not, you didn't get what you were really promised in the grand scheme of things.

The trailers were cut in a way that marketers thought would best sell what they were shilling.  Audiences, for all their cynicism about how marketing works, seem utterly clueless to this fact.  They base their potential date nights on something that is meant to sell them something.  This is one of the reasons you shouldn't base your movie going choices on trailers.  They only have their own self interests in mind, and you are not one of them.  If you want a good example of how this works, just watch the full fledged trailer of "Frozen" and compare it with the movie you saw.

Tell me, does any of THAT remind you of the movie you saw?!  I mean, yeah, obviously that footage DID come from the film, but if you went to see a movie based on that trailer you were probably expecting more of a comical romp!  There is no sign of the sister relationship, the drama, there is no sign (surprisingly) of Oscar-winning song "Let it Go"... in fact, watching that trailer, we got something MUCH better than what we were promised!  Yet, if you were basing seeing that movie on the trailer, I doubt you would see it because that trailer impressed virtually no one when it hit the screens.  The marketers cutting the trailer thought that's what people wanted to see though.  If that's what the people really wanted, then the movie would have been a huge failure, because they didn't get that.

This is why you need to read reviews.  Because critics, believe it or not, do have your interests at heart.  Yeah, there are some critics who are snobs and act very elitist, but even those critics just want to watch good movies.  You rarely see a critic calling for more movies like "Norbit" and "Batman & Robin" to be made.  We gain nothing from you paying to see a bad movie.  Yet more and more we are being overlooked and undervalued, traded in for the almighty trailer that is about as much as a door-to-door salesman as you can get, and not only do you open that door, you let him speak on your Facebook page.  The sad thing is, this is only PART of the reason you shouldn't watch trailers!  The other reason I'll discuss in a future post.