Sep 10 2013
I don’t really have guilty pleasures. Well, except for Tron: Legacy.
Exceptions aside, most of the “bad” movies I like are movies that I think a lot of people are genuinely missing out on. I’ll get back to reviewing those soon, probably, but for now I’d like to take the time to highlight the franchises I fund in spite of their objective mediocrity.
These are movie franchises that I’d never really bother trying to change anybody’s opinion on, but somehow they’ve managed to come by enough virtues to satisfy at least this watcher.
THE “RIDDICK” SAGA
Like I said, these aren’t necessarily bad franchises, or even all bad movies. Pitch Black is great fun, like an eighties alien action movie that accidentally fell through a time-warp and landed in 2000. By that, I mean it fits snugly in with the likes of Predator, Alien, and Conan the Barbarian. This is macho sci-fi, and what it might lack in thematic resonance or character development it more than makes up for in attitude.
Unfortunately, the momentum stalled in the second entry. With Chronicles of Riddick, we find the series stranded somewhere between the islands of fun and epic, desperately paddling towards both but never being able to reach either. To its credit, it’s a sincerely flawed movie, as it seems director Twohy and Diesel really wanted to take advantage of their expanded budget to expand the universe as well. Diesel in particular seems like a huge nerd, and I believe is an avowed fan of Dungeons & Dragons, but in this case he couldn’t quite get everybody on board with the world they were spinning out.
Still, I gotta respect the effort. The movie honestly isn’t dreadful, and I have a thing for filmmakers who are willing to branch out instead of rest on their laurels and crank out a few minor variations on their first success.
Riddick; in theaters now. I unfortunately haven’t made it, but I’m going to. Apparently Vin Diesel fought so hard for this movie he had to put his house on the line. So, Riddick is whatever the opposite of a paycheck movie is. That’s the appeal of this series, really. Goofy and pulpy though these movies are, they appear to be the work of people who really like them. It’s like an actual B-movie, as opposed to an A-movie putting on a B-movie mask.
THE “OF THE TITANS” MOVIES
Though I’ve alluded to this a time or two in the past, I’ve got a soft spot for the remake of Clash of the Titans, and even more of one for the sequel that many of you have probably forgotten existed. Sure, there’s a by-the-numbers rote quality to the whole affair, and there are some bizarre decisions made with some of the characters — particularly in the (semi) controversial first entry — but these movies have something a lot of contemporary dumb action movies lack: economy.
While Michael Bay adds something like forty minutes of extraneous “comedy” to each of the Transformers movies,* the Titans franchise understands that the best way to go about their business is simply to move from one action scene to the next as quickly as possible. When you have some solid-to-great action to back the formula up, plus the undeniable intrigue of Greek mythology, you’ve got yourself a perfect series to enjoy with appropriately checked expectations.
Supporting players like Mads Mikkelsen, Ralph Fiennes, and Bill Nighy don’t hurt either. In fact, they nearly make up for Worthington’s admittedly underwhelming turn as the lead character. But what the hell, I don’t mind his character either. Whatever his name was.
Agh, it’s on the tip of my tongue.
I know at one point they were thinking about making another one of these, but I don’t see it on Worthington’s IMDB page right now. I think he’s indicated at one point or another that the series is done with. Honestly, it might be for the best if they are, but if they make another I’ll be there with the rest of the fans. There are, literally, dozens of us.
Surprise! This is a franchise now. Also, you’re adopted. Sorry you’re having such a rough day. Anyways, apparently Tom Cruise is moving to produce a remake, reboot… Whatever, if it means I get to include it on the list I’m gonna roll with it.
Like all the movies on this list, Van Helsing carries some sizeable flaws. The biggest, and by far the most damning, is its complete lack of a compelling lead character. Hugh Jackman rarely misses, but this movie utterly wastes him on a character who, in all honesty, barely exists.
Kate Beckinsale doesn’t fare much better.
Fortunately (at least for me), the supporting cast comes in and just rocks the hell out of the rest of the flick. David Wenham scores big laughs as the 1800s version of James Bond’s “Q,” and Shuler Hensley actually manages to lend this goofball version of Frankenstein’s monster the air of real tragedy. Well, sorta. If you squint.
And, most of all, Richard Roxburgh just destroys the part of Count Dracula. He embraces the cheesiness of the movie head-on, and turns what could be a TV-level baddie into one of the most camptastic villains of the decade. I’m really not kidding; I love this performance.
Not the best scene, but the only one I could find. This guy’s a quote machine.
Plus, the idea of Abraham (um, excuse me, Gabriel) Van Helsing taking on the classic Universal monsters is a good enough concept to still be cool even if they kinda botch the execution. Killer music by Alan Silvestri, too.
Like I said, as far as I know the reboot with Cruise is still underway. I’d be concerned if a) I wasn’t a Cruise fan and b) he wasn’t really excellent in Interview with the Vampire. Still, I don’t expect anybody ELSE to get excited. I’ll let you know how it is.
THE “DA VINCI” THRILLERS
I’m think I can confidently refer to myself as a minority, really on almost everything movie-related, but especially in in terms of how excited I got upon hearing that the adaptation of Inferno is proceeding. I can only attribute this to the sad reality that Dan Brown’s books, somehow, are popular. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to digest an airplane novel in movie form than it is to actually read one.
Not that the movies don’t have their own problems. The (faux) history lessons littered throughout the pages of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons try a reader’s patience, but get genuinely tedious in the movies. Particularly in Da Vinci Code, there is a LOT of talking. Furthermore, the level of conspiracy needed to bring off these schemes takes us far beyond the borders of “contrived,” and squarely into “goofy.” Oh wait, that one’s actually Dan Brown’s fault.
That said, these movies do have a certain appeal. Maybe I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing, but I’m kind of a sucker for this sort of thing. There’s something extra spooky and cool about religious fanaticism that really suits the high-art murder mysteries Dan Brown (sigh) concocted. Plus this series allows Hans Zimmer to really go all-in on the music. In fact, the two scores Zimmer delivered for these films may well be my two favorites from him.
The Da Vinci movies also do a nice job with casting; for instance, the brunt of the first film’s exposition was handed off to master thespian Ian McKellen, who somehow made the material downright entertaining in what can only be called a Hail Mary of a supporting performance. Likewise, Ewan McGregor and Armin Mueller-Stahl do a rather nice job in the sequel.
Like I said, Inferno is underway. Look for it to appear sometime in 2015. I don’t think anything else is coming out that year.
What about you guys? What movie franchises have serious issues you’re willing to overlook? Anybody else looking forward to the upcoming installments in these series?
*I absolutely love how that franchise has become shorthand for “terrible Hollywood movie,” by the way.
More Unreal Posts