My book The Victorian Planning System: Practice, Problems and Prospects is now available from Federation Press.
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Tag Archives: bad movies
Eighteen months ago I posted about Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, the latest opus from the folk at Asylum, the studio noted (until now) for basing its whole business model on getting people confused about which DVD they’re renting. Incredibly, it’s turned up here in Melbourne at the Nova.
What’s even more impressive, however, is now they’ve made a sequel: Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. While there’s nothing in this trailer quite as hilarious as the final shot of the previous trailer, overall it actually looks a lot more fun.
2012 (Roland Emmerich, 2009)
In his book Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster, Mike Davis notes the particular enthusiasm in popular culture for destroying Los Angeles, and categorises the different ways in which the city bites the dust. Nuclear weapons lead the way with 49 surveyed works. Earthquakes: 28 works. Invasion: 10. Monsters: 10. Pollution: 7. Gangs or terrorism: 6. Floods: 6. Plagues: 6… and so on. What nobody, so far, had seen fit to do was just tip Los Angeles over and throw it in the ocean.
Enter Roland Emmerich.
Until this evening the work of the low budget studio The Asylum had not made it onto my radar. According to a disconcertingly authoritative entry on Wikipedia – and it is precisely for things such as this that Wikipedia emerges as the most reliable source – the studio’s specialty is low-budget, direct-to-DVD movies that are extremely close in their conception and / or titles to major studio blockbusters. The business model seems to be to rely on legitimate crossover interest, or just plain confusion, for their profit. It was this outfit that made the rival War of the Worlds back in 2005, along with The Da Vinci Treasure, Pirates of Treasure Island, Transmorphers, Allen Quartermain and the Temple of Skulls, The Day the Earth Stopped, and The Terminators. It shows a certain nutty chutzpah that I have to respect, and they fit in with a long tradition of pseudo-shyster filmmakers such as (in their very different ways) Edward D. Wood or Roger Corman.
They were drawn to my attention by Ain’t It Cool’s posting of the trailer to their latest epic, the title of which I won’t give away. Let’s just say nobody will complain they weren’t warned.
Snakes on a Plane proved that even big studios aren’t above this kind of batshit marketing. Of course, Asylum went and made Snakes on a Train to exploit that, just reinforcing the symbiosis between these guys and the majors. And at least they’re getting films made: good filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron came out of Roger Corman’s exploitation factory, so I don’t see why they couldn’t emerge from Asylum, too. And frankly, it would be nice if a big Hollywood blockbuster would feature some imagery as insane as the shark eating the Golden Gate Bridge, or the very last shot of this trailer.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)
Man, this is some bad movie.
And keep in mind; this is from someone who managed to enjoy some of the Star Wars prequels.
When I saw Terry Gilliam’s Tideland at the Melbourne Film Festival last year, my immediate reaction was that the film was unreleasable. Its appearance in Australian cinemas has obviously proven me wrong. Yet its exposure to a wider population allows the opportunity to see how many, like me, find the film virtually unwatchable. Gilliam is an enormously talented filmmaker, and Tideland isn’t bad in any of the usual ways. It’s not reprehensible, or stupid, or poorly made. But it’s a deeply unpleasant experience that just doesn’t work at all.
The Day After Tomorrow (Roland Emmerich, 2004)
One of the principles I try to hold to when reviewing films is to avoid simply savaging a film. The smugness of smart-arsed critics who can do nothing but pick apart a movie always irritates me. Which isn’t to say that bad movies shouldn’t be criticised. It’s just that the best reviews of bad films are those that also stop to note the good points amongst the bad. Likewise, most classic films have their share of flaws, and defining why these films succeed despite their problems is often difficult. Critics need to appreciate the elusiveness of the strange alchemy that makes a good film. As they say, nobody sets out to make a bad movie.
Nobody, that is, except Roland Emmerich.
The Phantom Menace (George Lucas), 1999
I guess you have to start any review of the new Star Wars movie with a little prologue explaining how excited you were to see it, how you had opening night tickets, how you queued for hours, how much Star Wars has meant to you, and so on… Well, yeah, I had opening night tickets, and yeah, I was excited, and yeah, I grew up with Star Wars and am amongst those who think that George Lucas wrought a great and marvellous thing back in 1977. I also, for the record, think The Empire Strikes Back is an even better film: one of the truly great works of fantasy cinema. But I don’t want to give the impression I went into the cinema sucked in by the hype and expecting a masterpiece. I don’t want my negative comments about the film written off as the sour grapes of someone who had waited sixteen years and could never have been pleased by Episode 1.