Sunday, January 23, 2011

Awesome (except not really)...

The only thing worse than a truly, truly awful story is one that has so much potential, but squanders it and falls flat on its face. This is worse, to me, because it makes me get nitpicky. A bad book or movie is just bad. You see it, you  laugh/cringe at it, and then you move on with your life. You tell jokes with your chums about how terrible it was and you're done.

Wasted potential, however, gets under your skin. There very well might be something about it you liked; character archetypes, set up, art design, production crew, something. There's something about it that looks promising, only for it to be snatched away and thrown into a pit of soul-sucking lampreys.

It's drives you crazy, because it's like someone took a perfectly good chocolate cake

and dropped it into a blender, added corned beef,

lo mein,
and then a healthy scoop of the scum from the underside of your trashcan lid.

 The cake is still there. You know it, but you can't get around all the other stuff that's mixed in.

Too graphic? Too graphic. Here, enjoy the lampreys again.

Obviously, this is a bit of a rant-filled subject for me. My point is, there's a reason why you shouldn't tease the tiger at the zoo.

A prime example for this (y'know, based on my own preferences - feel free to disagree) is Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

I wouldn't call myself a fan of everything Burton's done, but I do genuinely like a few of his movies. I love the visual design and nearly every single member of cast for the film and Carrol's Alice books are obviously some of the strangest, most influential pieces of literature in the English language.

And yet, this movie sucked. Despite everything, the story has no life to it. The whole thing is supposed to be about how Alice comes to grips with herself and her choices in life, but there was only ever one real option in Underland (unless, y'know, she's chill with being partly responsible for genocide). There's no conflict. She had more opportunity for finding herself in England. She did more to find herself in England (codfish vs. corsets, anyone?).

Gah, too much to get angry at.

The thing that really drives me crazy is that I have this weird, unfounded urge to want to like this movie, despite having seen it enough times to have supposedly purged myself of that notion. Yet every time I see the cover for this film, I have a moment of excitement, as if it were one of my favorites. But it's not. I seriously don't like this movie. I'm not in denial about it. I am comfortable with not liking it. I just want to know why I want to like it.

And then yesterday, I think I figured it out: it's the music.

The score of this film is just gorgeous. I actually bought the soundtrack recently, it being so easy to write to. I mean, just listen to this hero theme:

Gah, so pretty and epic and inspiring and all that. 

And because music is, as I've ranted about before, a glue to make a movie stick, I keep wanting to like this movie just because it has a good score. And, inevitable,y when I end up watching it, I end up pulling my hair out at all the wasted potential.

Do you guys have a particular movie or book that just drives you crazy because it could have been so much better? What is it's redeeming quality that makes you care (however small)?

1 comment:

  1. I really detested this movie, which made me sad. I do love the books, and a few of Burton's movies. Pee Wee's Big Adventure should be mandatory viewing for depressed people.

    But yeah, I do like that music. For writing purposes, at least. At least you found one redeeming feature?