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Tuesday, 10 January
Baddington Station

Here in Seattle, as we enter the ninety fucking billionth day of rain, it seems proper to reflect on how we coped over another rainy weekend.

We stayed home and watched TV. Yay!

More specifically, I watched football while the wife watched . . . anything else on her shiny new portable DVD player. The secret to a happy message? Separate media delivery systems. But in the evenings, it might gladden your heart to learn that we came together in the spirit of no more football being on and watched us some movies.

Standard warning for the spoiler-sensitive: if you don't want these bad movies ruined, don't read on.

War of the Worlds

It's sort of unfair to lay the "bad movie" blanket on WotW, honestly. I was talking earlier today about this thing with some online friends--yeah, shut up--and it's true that I described Spielberg as "the worst kind of hack," backing this out-of-ass observation with the opinion that he isn't a hack because he lacks talent. To the contrary, the guy is a dazzling filmmaker and brimming with talent. It's that he constantly betrays his gifts--and his audiences--by routinely crapping all over them with his weird, nannyish tendencies.

His filmography is a gruesome thing to behold, really, if only for all the depressing lost promises lying around like corpses on a battlefield. To just use recent examples, he runs from films I like, such as Minority Report--which was marred by its idiotic ending, whose tone seemed schizophrenically opposed to, I don't know, the rest of the movie--to films I hated right down to my DNA, such as A.I.--whose jaw-droppingly idiotic, insulting, sanity-testing ending seemed to be at odds with rational thought.

I guess WotW falls into the former camp for me, despite--what do you think?--its credulity? schmedulity! ending. (Hey, here's the big spoiler! Everyone "important" lives, even the wayward son who is apparently immune to cataclysmic explosions! Also, the aliens were tasteful enough not to level a perfectly lovely Boston brownstone.)

Spielberg, when the aliens start to play their Alien Games, makes for some good, tense watchin'. And when they're not . . . well, then you've got Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning a'grimacin' and a'screamin'. I leave it to you to figure out who does what, but I did turn to the wife after one particularly filling-loosening shriek, "Why couldn't the little girl have run off instead of the dopey kid?"

At one point, the movie does turn deeply bent, when Cruise and Fanning find some shelter in a farmhouse . . . somewhere. Hey, farmhouse! All right. Anyway, the owner of the farmhouse is--hey, it's Tim Robbins! What's up, Tim? Tim doesn't respond, probably out of confusion, because he doesn't appear to be in the same movie as anyone else; in fact, he appears to believe that he's in a remake of Deliverance. Tim crazies it up as best he can while Tom and Dakota stand warily back, waiting for him to bark something alarming about dropping his pants. Then Tom Cruise slaughters him, and everyone relaxes.

Really! And to be honest, it really was a lot more relaxing once he got killed.

The Fantastic Four

Obviously, this movie was nothing at all like WotW. It didn't have a crappy, idiotized ending. It had a crappy, idiotized beginning, middle AND ending! I'm pretty sure even the craft services on this movie were crappy. "Who wants nut loaf?"

TFF literally has nothing even remotely redeeming about it; not as a movie, not as a comic book movie, not as a shiny disc to cut people with. This movie is a failure on a cellular level; my bones still ache from watching it. It is a cataclysmic embarrassment for everyone involved, and should only be shown to violent inmates who seem to exhibit any remote glimmer of hope or optimism about our race. It is a chillingly irrefutable document of the nonexistence of God.

Naturally, I loved it.

I was telling my friend K. about this nauseating little bit of digitized claptrap, and he said, "Doesn't Jessica Alba take off her clothes in it? That's not bad. She's hot."

Yeah. Fucking great. You know what qualities I want in all the hot chicks I look at? Invisibility. Hey, that incredibly pneumatic babe is taking off all of her clothes! Oh my God! This is . . . HEY, WHAT THE FUCK? This is why Braille Hustler is really burning up the sales tallies. PEOPLE! She is INVISIBLE GIRL. INVISIBLE NAKED GIRL. Woo woo! This is like going to the carnival to see the ping-pong ball woman only to discover that they're not ping-pong balls, it's popcorn, and it's being served by your Aunt Doris, and she's wearing Osh Kosh B'Gosh coveralls.

Jesus, people, go rent Sin City, for Christ's sake.

TFF honestly has nothing going for it, nothing at all. Poor Michael Chiklis as the Thing looks like an animate sack of nectarines and his voice has been digitized so that it sounds like he's been resequenced through a chorus of digeridoos. Actually, my favorite moment of the film involves good old Ben Grimm, the poor soul who has irrevocably (THOUGH NOT IN THIS FUCKING MOVIE) been shorn of his humanity: he discovers that he is too heavy to be carried by an elevator. He gets off and fixes the Unfantastic Other Three with a soulful hearbreaking look of a man who has not only become The Other, but also has to take the fucking stairs all the time.

Why even go on? This film manages something I hadn't really thought possible: it is genuinely dumber than an actual comic book. I should know. I read them. (For this I thank those fucking online friends who got me hooked on them again. Turds.) Even the stupid really mainstream ones, sometimes. (Hint: if the phrase "The Ultimates" is even remotely familiar to you, go seek the help that I am too weak to find.) And this movie betrays even its source material, which, considering its fan base is suicidal in the extreme. There is nothing to recommend about it whatsoever.

Naturally, I recommend it highly. In fact, I'm rooting for a sequel. I'll go so far as to suggest a plotline!

Jessica Alba loses her powers! Come on. Do it, Marvel. Bring on Visible Girl.


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Comments

Minority Report [...] was marred by its idiotic ending, whose tone seemed schizophrenically opposed to, I don't know, the rest of the movie [...]

Aha! But see? That ending? Didn't happen. You're welcome.

Comment number: 005844   Posted by: Michael Montoure on January 10, 2006 08:54 AM from IP: 24.19.26.141

I recently saw the 2005 adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which pulled off a similar feat. It managed to completely negate the first two-thirds of the movie (not to mention the whole point of the books) with a series of weird third-act reversals, throwing in a perfunctory love story and then neatly tying up everything with a bright, red sparkly bow. A bright, red sparkly bow tied around a flaming bag of dingo crap!

Somebody did, however, make an excellent film version of the Fantastic Four. It was called the Incredibles. The Jessica Alba movie of that title... dear god, no.

Comment number: 005845   Posted by: flamingbanjo on January 10, 2006 01:44 PM from IP: 64.65.181.81

Mmm...nut loaf.

Comment number: 005846   Posted by: Cat on January 10, 2006 01:55 PM from IP: 208.27.203.128

Jesus, god, flamingbanjo --- thank god someone else felt that way about HGttG. I have been a raving fan of the book(s) since I was, I dunno, like 12 or something, and I must have read it(them) like 100 times. I went with a group of friends, who are not pushovers, but who had never read the book. They thought it was "fun" while I narrowly escaped eating my face off in agony.

Comment number: 005847   Posted by: Peggy on January 10, 2006 05:23 PM from IP: 128.95.169.35

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