I often hear people say ‘I hate that movie’, or variations of this interspersed with swearing. Personally, I think it is a bizarre sentiment. Hatred is a very powerful emotion. To hate a piece of art or entertainment is baffling to me. Oh I get angry at films. I swear at how stupid or predictable they are. I have shouted at movies. But hate them? No. The type of movie I might hate is just not worthy of that level of passion ie. poorly made films shouldn’t make you mad.
But, let’s talk about movies that put me close to hating them, and why.
I was thinking about this recently and the film titles that came to mind were the Vanishing, Battle Royale 2, the Ring, the Departed and the Thing.
Actually, I’m removing the Departed from that. I watched it last night and it just irritates me by how flat it is in comparison to Infernal Affairs, the Chinese original. Essentially, the lead performances of Andy Lau and Tony Leung are far superior. It also depresses me to think that THIS is the film Scorsese won an Oscar for. Ergh. I think that movie just reminds me of how little I care about Oscar nominations and how strongly I wish others did too. But the Departed doesn’t belong with those others I listed. Not even with that stupid moment of the rat at the end. It is poor but not aggravating.
No, we’ll go back to the Vanishing, Battle Royale 2, the Ring and the Thing.
Why these ones? They are all bad movies, but the reason they piss me off so much is for reasons outside of the films themselves. Three of them are remakes. Now, I’m not against remakes. One of my favourite films is the Thing, which is a remake (you may be confused right now, but fear not, all shall be cleared up). But this trio of remakes irk me due to their complete failure to capture anything that worked in the originals, as well as not even needing to exist.
Disclaimer: one remake I refer to is actually a prequel, but it is essentially a remake, so sod it.
The one non-remake is Battle Royale 2. That’s a sequel, obviously. If you are a fan of Battle Royale, may I take this moment to urge you never to see the sequel. No, it isn’t so bad it is good, nor is it worth watching to catch up with the characters, world or themes from the first. No. Just no. Don’t do it, don’t think about it. Stop it right now. I mean it.
Battle Royale was a fast and violent film with Japanese schoolkids forced into killing each other on an island as part of a government attempt to control the unruly youth. It showed us how these kids were troubled and how they troubled others, what they did right and wrong, and it used school social hierarchy to good effect.
Battle Royale 2 does none of this. It is one big rant about the USA, in essence. I have bitched about this movie before, in a post called ’28 Weeks Later and Other Pointless Sequels’. I won’t bother to do so again. But what I will say is that this film takes nothing that worked from the first. We have one character who returns, yet I wish he hadn’t. There is no school or teenager analysis. Many characters are slaughtered early on. The terrorism of one group of kids seems to be excused due to the behaviour of the big bad adults. It is just a weak, pointless film that does nothing to add to the first, and I loved the first. It is a cash grab, but hell, I’ve seen cash grabs that have some level of entertainment or thought put in. This does have one thought in it, I admit, and that is to blame America for everything going wrong. As a Brit, blaming Americans for anything is a favourite past-time, but this is tedious, clunky and over the top. This sequel sickened me. Still not worth hating though.
So we have the Vanishing. The original is a film I came across late one night. I used to stay up watching all kinds of weird and wonderful movies. I was an avid fan of Moviedrome. One night, I saw the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The one directed by David Cronenberg and starring Donald Sutherland. It has a great ending, which is also a shocker, and after seeing that I didn’t feel I could just go to sleep. So teenage me (not sure how old I was exactly) stayed up and started watching a French/Dutch movie called the Vanishing. In this, a couple are driving about, the woman goes missing, the man spends years searching for her – ruining a new relationship in the process – until he meets a strange man who claims to have kidnapped his girlfriend. In order to find out what became of her, he has to drink a cup of coffee with a drug in it. Having incessantly searched for her, having ruining his life in this pursuit, he concedes and downs it.
Now, the ending is more of a shocker than Body Snatchers, and how I got to sleep that night after seeing it, I don’t know. I won’t give it away. But the film was intense to watch.
The remake is made by the same director but has ‘Hollywood ending’ written all over it. Starring Keifer Sutherland (an odd link to my personal experience of watching the original) and Jeff Bridges, with a brief appearance by Sandra Bullock as the missing woman, this film follows along the same route for the most part. Then we get to the end. It hurts me just thinking about it. We need a happy ending so the new girlfriend sticks around and helps save the day. That is fine. In truth, it was an interesting development with how she plays mindgames with the strange man. But we get this awful ending where the happy couple are offered coffee, which they instantly reject, then laugh about it. Laugh! After what they have been through, they laugh! It is this awful, ridiculous, inappropriate bit. People died, they were both nearly killed, but let’s have a giggle about no longer drinking coffee. Because, you know, drugs and murder. Tee hee hee.
Do I hate the film? No. Overall, it may not be that bad. I’ve only seen it once, I think. The original definitely only once. But I get angry at what it represents. An American remake failing to capture any of the atmosphere of the first, yet more importantly, blotting out the original work. Looking up originals and finding only references to the more widely distributed and advertised remakes can be such a depressing experience.
Speaking of which, that brings me to the Ring. I also saw this one recently, but it has been on my shit-list for some time. It is just boring. I find the original, Ringu, an intense watch with an impending sense of doom that keeps ticking forward. I don’t watch it often, I can’t bear to. I have the book, which explains a lot of the background of Sadako and makes sense of the supernatural phenomenon. But the remake is as if someone watched the original, chose to make the exact same movie yet thought that all that suspense and mystery just slowed things down. What we need is insects, jump scares and eeewww, girl with gross face!
Again, I feel no hate toward this movie. It isn’t worth it. It isn’t an atrocious film, I guess, just bland and obvious. But again, it bugs the shit out of me that films like this get made. Ringu was a huge international hit on DVD. But noooooooooo. We need a dumb, American version. And that’s not to say, ha ha, Americans are dumb and they need dumb things. No, it is the opposite in truth. People who make entertainment in the US seem to think their audience is dumb and treat them as such. My experience is that Americans get more passionate about the source material from abroad. Yes, some want the dumb shit, but that happens in all countries. Yet many are fine with foreign films, weird movies and art/entertainment that challenges them. The Ring is none of those things. It panders. It is stupid and predictable and trundles along. Harumph.
Okay, seeing as I still have plenty more to moan about, I’ll stop here for now and put up Part Two in a couple of days time.