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

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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: Falling Down – “I’ve passed the point of no return”

‘Falling Down’ came out in 1993, yet in many ways it still feels remarkable current and relevant; the annoyances that trigger William Foster’s angry day are very normal and understandable to most people.

Even over 20 years later the ‘normal’ measures of worth in mainstream society are having a job and a family, losing either, let alone both, tends to have a powerful effect on anyone – with rage  being an instinctive emotion.

falling down

Not that I’m suggesting that losing these ‘norms’ plus a bit of bad traffic should inspire someone to decide to ignore a restraining order put in place by their ex-wife (who also has custody of their child) and go across town causing increasingly violent mayhem in response to situation that are inconvenient or aggravating – but I understand the urge

Michael Douglas is a very convincing man well over edge and gives the depth of a role that could easily have been someone doing bad things for no reason.

Unfortunately whilst, or perhaps because, the film captures a certain zeitgeist it also faithfully depicts that usual outcome for someone rejecting all societal norms and rules – it doesn’t tend to end well

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Film: Grimbsy – I can find nothing safe to quote…

Sacha Baron Cohen does have a knack for comedy that could offend and ‘Grimsby’ is no exception – for starters it wasn’t even filmed in Grimsby

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In the interests of keeping this post family-friendly there isn’t actually much that I can say about ‘Grimsby’ other than it’s about a spy and his long lost brother, it also really isn’t family friendly!

I did watch some parts of it with my hands covering my face and it was surprisingly that some of the ‘jokes’ didn’t get cut at the insistence of the censors – although there were some actually funny moments in between all the shock value bits

If you can watch it legally without it costing you any additional money – for example it appears on a streaming service that you subscribe to, then it’s worth watching just to see how high your tolerance of the unnecessarily vulgar is – apparently mine isn’t high enough to not hide for at least some of the film …

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