Pondering what makes a good film

Having recently watched a couple of films that people have raved about, only to find that I wasn’t as impressed as they were, made me ponder what factors have most impact on the enjoyment of a film:

  • Theme – an overall theme tends to help make a film have a sense of purpose. Even if the theme is basic and the scenes seemingly erratic – but not complete surreal as that is how you make an eventually cult film that turns most people off, for example ‘Lost Highway’
  • Characters – likeable characters are good as audiences tend to like having someone to root for. Equally if the lead character is dreadful that can get some traction with the audience – even if they are still unlikeable at the end. For example most of the characters in ‘The Opposite of Sex’ had a need for massive personal growtyet it was watchable (once)

  • Not too much gore; having too much gore in a film limits the potential audience massively – more so then nudity in most countries. It also makes certain types of nudity more likely – generally in the skinny dipping slutty teen variety. See any horror film aimed at a teen / young adult audience – notable mention to ‘My Bloody Valentine 3D’…
  • Well this isn’t working for me, I can’t explain why I liked ‘Get Out’ but zero interest in watching ‘The Quiet Place’, why ‘Lethal Weapon’ is more fun than ‘Mission Impossible’ although that could be that Tom Cruise is increasingly seeming creepy these days and it’s making the creepy more noticeable in earlier films

Some films are good enough to rewatch a lot over years for reasons you don’t really understand (‘America’s Sweethearts’ of all things) and others are strictly one night rentals (‘Transformers’ and one watch was too many for the sequels), some films I expect to like forever only to outgrow when I wasn’t looking (‘Run Lola Run’), if there was a logic to it someone would be making millions every time

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Film – Kong: Skull Island – “This world never belonged to us. It belonged to them”

When I was very young I used to like the old school monster movies, however most of them look truly awful now to the point where it’s tricky to see them as anything but humorously bad

However more modern monster movies don’t tend to impress me, they show off the whole monster too early and tend to insert unneeded ‘humorous’ characters, which is why I went into ‘Kong : Skull Island’ with some trepidation – although Samuel L. Jackson’s presence was somewhat reassuring

Happily I liked this Kong, the 1970s setting provided an almost instant explanation for various characters motivations, the soundtrack was fun and there were some fantastically thought out scenes – a very early on set piece with Kong silhouetted against the sun batting helicopters out of the sky is a beautiful sequence

It’s not an original film, to a large degree it’s a homage to ‘Apocalypse Now’ thankfully without the poor water buffalo

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Film: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – “You don’t want all of him to survive, that’s the point.”

Certain myths seem to excite Hollywood enough that every few years there is another version of it, one of these is King Arthur where there have been countless versions and yet in 2017 apparently we needed another one

The main things I recall hearing about when it came out were a core plotline with prostitutes and David Beckham’s cameo

As it looked like a generic vaguely-historic action film I felt that it had to be watchable and couldn’t be that bad; I was wrong, it’s basically a rejected script for Robin Hood which someone tried to jazz-up by adding some magic

king arthur

The acting was iffy however the dialogue was so awful that I felt sorry for the actors. The overall script felt like a bunch of set-pieces thrown together with no real sense of continuity or big picture and by far the most interesting part of the film was where Arthur was battling through the Darklands and yet this was rushed through in a four minute montage

For the amount of money  that was spent on this film it should have been far more fun than it ended-up being, even 90 minutes of the Darklands with 30 minute of defeating  the bad uncle would have worked better

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Film: The Angry Birds Movie – “Sometimes, when I get upset, I’ve been known to blow up”

I’ve not played Angry Birds, or Candy Crush or anything mobile games really, so my watching ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ was more because I wanted to watch something silly and ideally funny

Much to my surprise this film delivered both silly AND funny whilst having a half-way decent plot; there is an island of birds who are flightless and mostly happy – Red is a notable exception in terms of happy and has be ostracised by being sent to anger management class. Naturally the anger management class makes him angry too…

angry birds film

Then along come the green pig who initially seem nice  – suspiciously nice, and naturally Red’s anger does come in handy.

It isn’t a highbrow film, however it was perfect for a Sunday night when I was in denial about work looming

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Film: Baywatch – “Wow. This is gonna take a while”

I’d never seen any of the Baywatch TV series, however there was a really sleazy kid at school who was obsessed with Pamela Anderson despite his being way too young for it to be even vaguely appropriate

So basically I associate Baywatch with sleazy perverts and poor parenting… Although I’m assured that wasn’t the main aim of the show

Anyway it’s years later and Hollywood desperately needed something easy to write that would make money at the box office, so Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and some ladies in uncomfortable looking swimsuits try to break up a drug ring

The plot was paper-thin and incidental: there was far more focus in the script about dick jokes and how many times everyone could say “f**k”- it was a lot of times

My favourite part of the film was that beginning credits which were in a colour and font that looked like it wanted to drip blood, it was a perfect horror film font and utterly wasted on this film

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Film: Pirates of The Caribbean 5 – “No shame in that, dear. We all have to make a living”

Depending on your geographic location Pirate of the Caribbean 5 will have been either ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ or ‘Salazar’s Revenge’ – which seems a stupid way to market a film but maybe they felt the Americans prefer dead bodies to foreign names?

Sometimes it feels a bit of a mystery who the target audience for a film is, for example is there really a huge market of people wanting to pay money for the fifth instalment of Johnny Depp playing an inept drunk pirate who inexplicably ends up coming out on top of any situation?

As IMDB list the cumulative worldwide gross as being $794,861,74 then yeah I guess there are, admittedly I wasn’t one of them, I just found the film on a streaming service that I already have a subscription for and had enough curiosity to press play on

pirates of caribbean

The first hour is watchable in a hammy sort of way; Will Turner’s son Henry is all grown up and looking for a way to break daddy’s curse – he thinks that way might be Poseidon’s Trident.

Henry meets the semi-zombie Captain Salazar who Jack Sparrow managed to trap in a Devil’s Triangle a few years ago.

In Saint Martin a young woman, Carina, who has an interest in astrology (that links to her currently unknown father) and is promptly accused of witchcraft. Jack is also on the same island and is being generally daft, after some hi-jinks he trades his magic compass for alcohol – which is a bad idea as somehow this frees Salazar from the Triangle and he isn’t a happy zombie so decides to hunt down Jack

zombie shark.jpg

The hunting down part takes a while and gets rather dull, apart from the underused zombie sharks. A surprise-free summing up of the entire last hour of the film is: Jack wins, all the named cast fulfil their guessable fates, everyone else is irrelevant and are treated as such.

Much like the last couple of films in the Pirates franchise there is absolutely no point or character development and only mild entertainment. Maybe they should just open another theme park ride based on the next script, it might just about work for a 5 minute ride.

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Film: Hollow Man “C’mon guys. That’s funny”

As a general rules I find that films from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s with a rock/metal soundtrack aren’t very good; they tend to be horror/thriller films that have surprisingly large budgets given how poor the script is.

For example if I pick on Powerman5000 in that time period their tracks have featured on the soundtracks of ‘Spawn’ (1997), ‘Bride of Chucky’, ‘Dead Man On Campus’ (1998), ‘End of Days’ (1999), ‘Universal Solider: The Return’ (1999), ‘Dracula 2000’, ‘Scream 3’ (2000), ‘Freddy VS Jason’ (2003), ‘Alone in the Dark’ (2005) and ‘Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave’.

hollow man

This means that if I hear a rock/metal track obviously in a film score early on then fearing the worst feels reasonable; to be fair Powerman5000 don’t have a track present in ‘Hollow Man’, however there are a couple of cringe-inducing inserted rock/metal tracks that Google tells me are Skunk Anansie’s Charlie Big Potato and Sunna’s Power Struggle

So early musical warnings aside even as a concept it seems a bit ropey to make a film inspired by H. G. Wells The Invisible Man but not so inspired that you want to admit it. It was direct by Paul Verhoeven, yet features little of the social commentary or satirist depth present in ‘Robocop’ or even ‘Starship Troopers’; instead ‘Hollow Man’ is more a generic thriller / horror film about a scientist who makes himself invisible and truly embracing the creepy pervert aspects of his personality where were heavily hinted by his visible behaviour

powerman5000

Since the scientist was such a creepy pervert to start with the film doesn’t have any shock value to utilise when he goes completely off the rails, nor does it really know what to do with him within the confines of a laboratory and a small pool of potential victims, so it’s not massively interesting.

If I hadn’t been doing other things whilst watching this film I wouldn’t have made it to the half way mark, maybe it needed Powerman500 on the soundtrack after all

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