Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Ask Erik: Episode Thirty-Four
Here at Ask Erik we've spent a lot of time reading novels and comic books, playing video games, and watching television and movies in order to amass a deep vault of pop culture knowledge. While constantly trying to still gather new information, it only seems prudent to share some of what we have learned to help solve some of the world's greatest questions.
Who invented the spiral notebook? How hard is it to get your own patent? Is selling "Hello Kitty" brand beer an attempt to market alcohol to children or just a reach-out to the adult fans?
Once a week Erik tackles a question asked to him and tries to answer it in a method that handles the topic with the respect and attention it deserves. Failing that, he'll at least try to make it funny so you don't regret reading it.
Despite my appreciation for terrible things on a completely ironic level, I- wait, let me rephrase that, it's too hipster-ish and not accurate-ish.
In the past, I've been able to find enjoyment in things that are typically really terrible. Either it goes so over the top that I simply laugh at the ridiculousness of it, I can tell that the people involved are just having fun making it, or it fully embraces just how dumb it is and pushes through with a straight face (I call the last one the Snakes On A Plane treatment). However, I haven't actually seen that many movies that air on SyFy (I really hate that name) without showing up anywhere else. There always just seemed to be something, anything else I could be doing besides watching a movie like Mansquito or Ice Spiders.
I mean, my sock drawer won't reorganize itself, and someone needs to watch that paint dry.
In fact, even the ones that have become notoriously famous like Megashark vs. Giant Octopus or Sharknado are still on my "to see" list, simply because while I would love to be able to sit down and watch them, I just can't justify making either one a priority over anything else I have to do.
There is one I've seen recently, though, is the retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. It was late, I was in Seattle suffering from a bit of jet lag, and just needed to veg out and this was really the only thing on besides programs whose titles are all initials.
I was rather surprised at first, since initially we saw a lot of men running around dealing with a "creature" that was loose out in the woods. I wasn't even really sure what the program was (or even what channel I had tuned to), so I tuned in wondering if maybe I stumbled onto a free HBO viewing of a "Game of Thrones" episode or something similar. The costumes were rather well-made, and so far there wasn't any gratuitous sexuality displayed by any women...
And it's at about that point I realized what I was watching.
That's Estella Warren, who you might recognize from things like... um... man, I don't recognize much of anything off of her IMDB site except for Kangaroo Jack and I'm pretty sure that movie was supposed to be repressed in the nation's memories under law.
Estella Warren spends most of the movie running around back and forth trying to figure out if the "Beast" she meets is actually a murderous monster (spoiler alert: he's not) or if there's a darker plot afoot (spoiler alert: there is). She also spends most of the movie with more cleavage than I think most peasant women could imagine having back in that time period to the point it's a wonder every man around her wasn't walking into trees and falling into pits.
What I'm trying to say is she's a very attractive woman, though her acting talents leave something to be desired.
For the most part the plot was completely predictable, with betrayals and plot twists laid out in such a way that I could actually predict the exact moment each would happen. The special effects were ridiculous, the dialogue was said with almost no real heart behind it (except for the Beast, who seemed to growl through every line like he wanted to fire his agent), and it brought back one of the things about medieval movies that always bothered me.
What we have is a tiny kingdom with a limited number of guards. One person takes off into the woods in a random direction, and guards on horseback are "almost" able to spot her several times as she makes her way deeper and deeper in, and at no point do the guards decide "you know, if we were to draw a circle using our point now and the point we started as the radius, we have a significant area to cover that we've already passed by, perhaps we should instead go back and then head out in a spiral pattern to best cover the ground."
Why do guards in fantasy movies always just head out in a straight line that will, of course, inevitably take them right past the person they're looking for or place they need to find? If I left my house and just started walking into the woods in the direction I think I'd have to go in order to find a town that's fifteen minutes away by driving, I have no guarantee I wouldn't swing wide to either side and miss it completely. Of course, I'm also not a medieval guard on horseback, but I was a boy scout, so I do know how to use a compass, something I'll note they didn't have.
But back to my point, which I think I need a minute to try to remember.
Oh, right, the movie was bad. But it wasn't terrible. It was actually more enjoyable than, say, the Dungeons and Dragons movie that had a full theatrical release. I spent more time laughing at the behavior of characters doing dumb things in the movie than I did feeling any concern for them (the death of one character close to Belle had me laughing so hard my side hurt), and that's more laughing than I did during Knocked Up.
So awesomely terrible or terribly awesome? Neither, really. In at least this one instance, it wasn't at all good, but it was fun to watch as both an instruction video on "basic steps to making a movie" (Rule 7: Always do close-ups of the female characters at such a point where you get to glimpse the upper curve of their chest, even if it means they stand up behind the cover they've ducked behind or have all windows built low) and because at a certain point in filming you could see that they knew what they were making wasn't very good but they were really trying, so it had that same sense of pity that you get from a high school production. You watch because you don't want the actors to think they wasted their time and you don't want them to feel bad.
It's probably a terrible reason to watch a movie, now that I think about it, but it was enough to get me through that one.
I still really want to see Sharknado.