David Thompson
Subscribe
Blog powered by Typepad

« Elsewhere (251) | Main | Elsewhere (252) »

October 29, 2017

Comments

Spiny Norman

Not your favorite film of the year, I take it?

The trailer looked like another example of "How much CGI can we cram in here?" Was I wrong?

David

Was I wrong?

For a film repeatedly described as zany and comedic, it was by far the least funny, and least charming, of the Marvel Studios films. Most Marvel films are bright and sugary confections that evaporate from memory once you’ve made it to the car park; but this is the first one where I’ve been actually hoping for it to end soon. There’s a moment about fifteen minutes in when you realise, “Oh dear. This is its sense of humour – this is as funny as it’s going to get.” At the screening I attended, no-one was laughing. An occasional muted titter was about it.

Spiny Norman

Most Marvel films are bright and sugary confections that evaporate from memory once you’ve made it to the car park

Maybe it's because the comic book superhero universe never took hold when I was a youngster (by the time I was 11, the "comic books" I was reading in bed, under the covers, by flashlight, was Mad magazine), they've never much appealed to me. The only one of the recent superhero movies I've watched all they way through was the first Iron Man, mostly because I like Robert Downey Jr., and it was on HBO when they had a "free weekend" promotion.

David

It’s not quite terrible – the retro-80s aesthetic isn’t without its merits – but it’s not a good film. If you imagine a glib, disjointed, largely unfunny parody of a Marvel film with an emphasis on predictable and puerile gags, and in which half the cast are acting out of character, that’s the general area. In case there’s any doubt, I’m not above dumb, puerile humour – I enjoyed Battleship, a trashy film based on a board game. But this was just… flat and grating, and unengaging, and the humour got more grating as it went on. As I said, the film seems to think it’s a comedy, and is pitched as a comedy, but the audience I saw it with weren’t laughing.

Daniel Ream

imagine a glib, disjointed, largely unfunny parody of a Marvel film

I stand vindicated.

David

If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen most of the half-decent jokes. With Marvel films, there’s usually a tricky balance of bombastic drama and quipping, and it’s easy to lose that balance and end up with the humour kicking the legs out from under any dramatic tension. Here, the gags are piled high, but they’re much more miss than hit, and very predictable, and so the whole thing gets boring, quite quickly. The best bit, I think, is the all-too-brief Doctor Strange cameo, early on, which did make me laugh. (Strange is determined to get Loki off of Earth as “promptly” as possible, which leads to a neat visual gag about jumping forward in time erratically.) After that, it’s pretty much downhill.

Richard Cranium

As I said, the film seems to think it’s a comedy, and is pitched as a comedy, but the audience I saw it with weren’t laughing.

Oh, like Desperately Seeking Susan.

David

Even the end-credits stinger is perfunctory and flat. I’m genuinely baffled by the film’s 96% Rotten Tomatoes score.

bgates

Since you were disappointed by the actual Marvel offering, perhaps you'd enjoy this?">http://americancaptaincomic.tumblr.com/tagged/comic/chrono">this? "American Captain", a comic by Steve Rogers. While the end comes on suddenly (as you might expect from a tumblr comic visible only through the Wayback Machine), it's an interesting and unusual take on the Avengers until that point.

David

Your HTML appears to be on fire.

bgates

It's not me! I checked preview and everything. Typepad is upset at the idea of a link that has another "http" in the middle.

Tell you what, get there from here, which is how I found it anyway.

pst314

...by the time I was 11, the "comic books" I was reading in bed, under the covers, by flashlight, was Mad Magazine...

So Mad gave you Horrifying Cliches, but Marvel only offers boring cliches?

Chester Draws

It's presumably very funny. But only to North Americans.

"Airplane", which I thought juvenile and un-funny even when I was a kid, also gets 97%. Americans love that type of humour.

Microbillionaire

Here, lemme try some HTML magic:

American Captain. Mind the "Next" button at bottom right for more.

pst314

Americans love that type of humour.

Benny Hill used to be popular here, too

David

I think one of the problems is the lack of subtlety or variety. It’s much too predictable, a one-note forced zaniness. Some gags are repeated - big monster has tiny voice - and jokes that might have been sharper if brief or underplayed – Hulk in a hot tub, naked - are just done in an obvious, on-the-nose way, sometimes outstaying their welcome. I haven’t seen Taika Waititi’s other, smaller films, but I gather he’s known for offbeat comedy. Based on this film, he doesn’t seem very good at it.

Microbillionaire

Huh. I tried posting HTML that was not on fire. It appears the comment form ate it entirely rather than just chewing it up a bit. David, is it visible in the spam filter or something?

David

Freed.

bobby b

Too bad. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) has always delivered a great, understated comic performance that made the Thor series one of my favorites. He's got a great delivery for that. Sounds like the scriptwriters boxed him in into a different role this time.

David

Sounds like the scriptwriters boxed him in into a different role this time.

It’s not a good script, but I suspect the indulgence of improvisation has proved a mixed blessing too. Casting Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster is sort of funny, as an idea, but on film he just meanders about to no great effect, albeit in a very Goldblum-y manner. At least he’s having a good time. There are at most a handful of decent gags, the bulk of which are in the trailers and TV spots – “Hulk like fire,” etc - but the rest is just… lazy and monotonous. And so you end up watching a film that thinks it’s much, much funnier than it actually is.

Captain Nemo

Thank you for saving me from wasting my time and money. Pity, as it looked good in the trailer. The problem with superhero films is that they're either outstanding, like Iron Man, or they suck epically, like Superman Returns. There is no middle ground. Having said that, SR was a very stylish film - its neo-Art Deco aesthetic was very well done. I just wish it had been a good film as well as a stylish one.

David

Pity, as it looked good in the trailer.

It’s a good trailer. But those are the best bits.

The humour is for the most part formulaic and repetitive. A character says something cocky or pompous and a deflating pounding or misfire or pratfall ensues. This is repeated later, and then repeated again, and again. An inter-dimensional portal, into which our heroes have to plunge, turns out to be named The Devil’s Anus and so the name gets mentioned again, and again. This is the joke template of the whole film. And if everything is essentially a set-up for some more rote goofiness, another gag like the one you saw five minutes ago, the stakes and drama ebb away, along with any goodwill, resulting in a film that feels much longer than it actually is.

Uma Thurmond's Feet

Pity, because I like Chris H. and the previous films.

I'm finding, being an old fart, that my sense of humor sometimes runs counter to the RT scores. I loved the two Zoolander movies, for example, and thought "Alex and Emma" was a charming, albiet flawed movie.

Kinda reminds me of the MST3K "Laserblast" episode, where the bots point out that Leonard Maltin gave the movie 2.5 stars (when it was clearly 0.5), and all the other movies it was better than. ("Yes, 'My Dinner With Andre,' worse than 'Laserblast.'")

David

I’m finding, being an old fart, that my sense of humor sometimes runs counter to the RT scores.

Ten minutes in, it did occur to me that I might be having a sense of humour failure, but I arrived at the cinema in a good mood and I haven’t suddenly gotten sniffy about crass humour. I still appreciate a good fart joke. And again, it wasn’t just me, or The Other Half. The rest of the audience wasn’t shaking with laughter either. As the crowd headed out, there was, I’m pretty sure, a muted atmosphere.

ftumch

"Airplane", which I thought juvenile and un-funny even when I was a kid, also gets 97%. Americans love that type of humour.

Surely, you can't be serious?

Richard Cranium

Don't call me Shirley.

You're welcome.

pst314

David doesn't like Airplane?

This was a bad week to give up drinking.

Farnsworth M. Muldoon

David doesn't like Airplane?

No, that was Chester, who likes movies about gladiators.

Daniel Ream

they suck epically, like Superman Returns.

I don't think SR was epically bad. I see exactly what they were trying to do, and I could debate whether it's a good take on the character. I think they failed at what they were trying, in part because of perhaps of being too faithful to the source. But it wasn't epically bad.

I thought Man of Steel was epically bad. Mostly because it had such potential, and because Zach Snyder clearly hates the character. This is something I've observed a great deal of late, is writers/directors working in a medium or genre they clearly hate and want to deconstruct until there's nothing good left.

"Airplane", which I thought juvenile and un-funny even when I was a kid

Like most Zucker Brothers and Mel Brooks films, it's both extremely topical and you have to have a fair bit of familiarity with the things they're lampooning. The modern equivalent would be, say, Hail Caesar. If you don't know a fair bit about the Hollywood studio system of the 1950's, most of the jokes aren't going to work.

sH2

Saw it last night. It's a bit meh.

Wh00ps

The problem with superhero films is that they're either outstanding, like Iron Man, or they suck epically, like Superman Returns.

You could say they're the ginger girl of movies. Or is that racist?

Craig Mc

So, it's no Deadpool then.

David

So, it’s no Deadpool then.

No. And the thing’s bad in a strange way. It’s gaudy but boring. Basically, there’s a balance problem. Instead of the usual juggling of Earth-rumbling drama and clever quips, Ragnarok leans too heavily on comedy, and the comedy on offer is just too weak to take the load. For each of the four or five decent gags, most of which have already been seen, there are a dozen really feeble and repetitive ones that just fall flat and should never have made the final cut. I generally forgive a couple of misfires, but when the misfires are well into double figures, and half of them are variations of ‘stepping-on-a-rake-and-being-hit-in-the-face,’ then something’s gone wrong.

Chester Draws

I need explaining about the Gladiator reference. I loathe the film Gladiator with the heat of a thousand suns, but I wasn't aware it extended to all gladiator films.

And I don't care how much you like Airplane, or that I am meant to because it is a classic. I don't like it. Each joke might be OK but I prefer films to have structure. Coherence. Extended skits in such broad humour wear me down.

Lancastrian Oik

@ Chester: Here is the gladiator reference, at around 1.44.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Like most Zucker Brothers and Mel Brooks films, it's both extremely topical and you have to have a fair bit of familiarity with the things they're lampooning.

Airplane!, aside from lampooning all the Airport movies, was also lampooning Zero Hour! the plot of which they stole nearly completely.

Meanwhile, doing it wrong, but way better than ours - Russian feminist protester. [borderline NSFW]

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Words sometimes have more than one meaning.

Alex deWinter

I run an MCU RPG on line, so I'll probably have to go watch the thing just to keep au courant. Depressing, as this confirms my suspicion from the trailer that it's aimed at 12-year-old boys.

Daniel Ream

I need explaining about the Gladiator reference.

My point exactly. If you don't know what Airplane! is lampooning, the jokes don't work.

When the pilot asks Billy an assortment of unusual questions, the implication is that the pilot's gay and is grooming the kid. In the 1960's and 1970's, there were a lot of very schlocky Italian "sword and sandal" gladiator and Greek myth B-movies shown as the second feature at the drive-in - the various Hercules movies, and an assortment of other forgettable ones. These movies starred bodybuilders with no body hair, wearing little more than leather straps, loincloths and copious amounts of oil, leading to the inevitable camp homoerotic insinuations.

In short, "do you like movies about gladiators, Billy?" translates to "do you like watching muscular half-naked men covered in oil".

And I don't care how much you like Airplane, or that I am meant to because it is a classic.

I thought it was funny when I was 14. It and its ilk - Hot Shots Part Deux, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Spaceballs, and the Adam Sandler ouevre - leave me nonplussed these days.

Although I will admit Sandler's much better as a producer than a comedian. Hotel Transylvania? That's a movie about post-holocaust Jewish persecution in drag as a kid's film. o_O

I run an MCU RPG on line

Free text, MWP's Marvel Heroic, or Classic TSR MSH?

Hal

Suggestions and reactions . . .

Chester Draws

My point exactly. If you don't know what Airplane! is lampooning, the jokes don't work.

OK. But that doesn't explain Rotten Tomatoes 97% rating. Because I don't imagine all those ratings are from people who are equally au fait with the jokes' underlying meaning.

I work with a really nice Canadian guy, and he loves movies like Airplane! He's well read and intelligent, but there really does seem to be a different sense of humour in North America. Hence the success of Adam Sandler movies.

MC

No surprise. The entire superhero genre in all formats and in all its history has about 3 ideas. You can throw in as many stars and as much CGI as you like, the result will still be arse-flavoured soup. Sure, you might get the odd good character or film or performance every now and then but mainly you get utter utter guff.

I only watch them on planes when I can't sleep or forgot my kindle. I am always disappointed.

In my darker moments I see them as a signifier of the decline of Western Civilisation. We can blame Muslims and Marxists, but if you enjoyed Thor: The Dark World, it is your fault too. May God have mercy on your soul.

David

but if you enjoyed Thor: The Dark World

I’m not at all sure that anyone did.

Hal

I’m not at all sure that anyone did.

There was one amusing bit . . .

Jane Foster: [Darcy and Ian appear through a portal while kissing] Darcy!

Darcy Lewis: [She drops Ian] Jane!

Dr. Erik Selvig: Ian!

Ian Boothby: Selvig!

---Mjolnir blurs out of another portal while being summoned by Thor.

Darcy Lewis: Mjolnir!

Richard Cranium

[...] there really does seem to be a different sense of humour in North America.

You don't say?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM5_dgKDsrc

Alex deWinter
Free text, MWP's Marvel Heroic, or Classic TSR MSH?

Purely text-based, no systems/numbers/dice involved. We're all grown ups (and I run most of the villains), so it's essentially a shared-writing party rather than a contest.

I work with a really nice Canadian guy, and he loves movies like Airplane! He's well read and intelligent, but there really does seem to be a different sense of humour in North America. Hence the success of Adam Sandler movies.

I can't speak for all of North America, or even all of California, but it's been my experience that there's no set 'North American sense of humor.' I find bits of Airplane amusing, and on the whole it's less cringe-inducing than most of the raunchy slapstick genre (Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Austin Powers, Benny Hill, Blackadder, etc.). Practically every man or boy I know finds them uproariously funny, though, along with Three Stooges (who just grate on my nerves), so maybe it's a guy thing.

I’m not at all sure that anyone did.

There was one amusing bit . . .

Not in the amusing category, but I liked trust my rage

Pogonip

Hey, Alex! How's Rebecca?

Trevor

... there really does seem to be a different sense of humour in North America.

The apparent popularity of Saturday Night Live is utterly inexplicable.

champ

The apparent popularity of Saturday Night Live is utterly inexplicable.

That show hasn't been good since the nineties...

Ray

I've often wondered why they don't get the guys who do the trailers to make the bloody movies. They seem to know what the audience likes.

champ

Tim Blair brings us more insanity in US colleges...

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/blogs/tim-blair/caution-speech-ahead/news-story/def763c48367c2d9dba0d271ef619ae0

Pogonip

Every house trailer in the U.S. should have one of those safety rooms added on.

WTP

The apparent popularity of Saturday Night Live is utterly inexplicable.

That show hasn't been good since the nineties...

I’d almost say seventies. In the eighties we used to marvel that it was still on and wondered what goods Lorne Michaels might have had on NBC execs.

Hal

. . . less cringe-inducing than most of the raunchy slapstick genre (. . . Blackadder, etc.).

Blackadder as slapstick?!?!?!!???

Blackadder is four seasons of absolutely deadpan delivered wordplay.

Unless you've got some interestingly unique definition of slapstick . . .

As far as Benny Hill, for all the complaints of Ohmighod!!!! He's so crude and disgusting!!!!!!, allow me to present my two particular Benny Hill favorites of "crude" and "disgusting" . . . both of which are absolutely dead on Benny Hill, and both of which I'd put at no more than a half step out from Blackadder . . .

Trevor

As far as Benny Hill, for all the complaints of Ohmighod!!!! He's so crude and disgusting!!!!!!

Thanks for those clips. Benny was immensely talented, just one of the many casualties in the 1980s of 'alternative comedy', a movement mainly of university-educated finger-waggers who descended uninvited to hector the British public out of their sexism and racism. There were an awful lot of babies thrown out with the bathwater, and very little of what replaced it deserved to be there on merit. This was an age when several rather successful comedians' stand-up routines revolved around screeching 'Thatcher!' or 'I hate men!'

Tim Newman

This was an age when several rather successful comedians' stand-up routines revolved around screeching 'Thatcher!' or 'I hate men!'

You mean now, then?

Tim Newman

I have to say, I'm not much of a fan of superhero films. I quite liked the first Spiderman with Toby Maguire and Batman Begins wasn't bad, and I did enjoy Ironman II in the cinema, but otherwise I find them rather silly. The early Batmans I found silly, and when I watched The Dark Knight only yesterday evening, I found it rather childish and silly. I've seen most of the superhero films and I find them dull as hell: a flat storyline with special effects which mean nothing. I reckon they should make a film of Bananaman, then quit altogether.

David

Oh Tim. Have a pickled egg.

Tim Newman

Have a pickled egg.

What will it turn me into?

David

What will it turn me into?

Oh, don’t fuss. There’s a crash cart on stand-by.

Hal

The early Batmans I found silly, . . .

A friend and I strolled out of the first post '60s attempt at a movie of The Batman, with very definite assessments that we could do better blindfolded and with an arm tied behind us. My impression of what's followed is that nothing ever got better, or even tried.

My read is that the HollywoodIsh types keep going with We Are To Be Seen Creating Great Cinema, cue echoes there, and, ah, No. The Batman can wind up getting called Great Cinema, and I expect someone will get it done, but only while realizing and showing the basic and unchanging bit of A Mystery Being Solved By A Detective . . . . The Batman is basically and no more than Phillip Marlowe meets Hercule Poirot, without the scotch or the mustache. The bit about the billionaire doing the funding merely allows the detective to keep disappearing into the shadows.

Daniel Ream

The Batman is basically and no more than Phillip Marlowe meets Hercule Poirot, without the scotch or the mustache.

You're...not terribly familiar with the history of the character, I take it?

pst314

Oh, don’t fuss. There’s a crash cart on stand-by.

Another British expression I had to look up to confirm my suspicions of its meaning:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_cart

Farnsworth M. Muldoon

Another British expression...

No, they stole it from the US and A.

Fred Z

The fact that there can be a post and multiple comments, from people who can read and compose coherent sentences, about a cgi infested movie derived from a comic book, a fucking jesus h fucking christ comic book, amply demonstrates that western civ is doomed.

I am beginning to hope the muslims win.

Let it fucking burn.

Hal

The Batman is basically and no more than Phillip Marlowe meets Hercule Poirot, without the scotch or the mustache.

You're...not terribly familiar with the history of the character, I take it?

Oh, quite familiar . . . but quite pointedly, take the idea of Marlowe/Poirot and rather contrast that with what's been getting sprayed across movie screens instead of an aggregate of what DC Comics published for years on end . . . The material is available to work from . . .

Farnsworth M Muldoon

The fact that there can be a post and multiple comments, from people who can read and compose coherent sentences, about a cgi infested movie derived from a comic book, a fucking jesus h fucking christ comic book, amply demonstrates that western civ is doomed.

a) It seems you haven't paid much attention to everything else on the site;

b) Lighten up, Francis.

Daniel Ream

take the idea of Marlowe/Poirot

If you're lumping those two together, it seems likely you're not terribly familiar with the history of those characters either.

Si

I enjoyed Battleship

First world problem I know, but I'm trying to think of something that's disappointed me more this year and I'm really struggling
That includes the recorder scene in Alien: Whatever
I'm certainly going to remember this day when you next post a film review

Hal

take the idea of Marlowe/Poirot

If you're lumping those two together, it seems likely you're not terribly familiar with the history of those characters either.

Puuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . . . 'k, filing that link to get back to later.

. . . and Poirot is other than Marlowe is other than The Batman, but we're not discussing the canon of any or either, except that take the idea of Marlowe/Poirot and rather contrast that with what's been getting sprayed across movie screens instead of an aggregate of what DC Comics published for years on end . . . The canon material is available to work from . . .

The ongoing fail of what's on the screen is that the HollywoodIsh ideal keeps being something of Oh, we'll just grab the assorted names like Batman and Alfred and Gordon and Al Ghul, an' stuff an', an', we'll just throw it on the screen and of course. like, it'll totally work just fine . . . . . . . . . and then when it fails, we'll just do it again . . .

Etc. Etc.

As far as Thor, et al, even have a look at the Marvel Comics storylines and compare 'em with the original legends---In the legends, Loki, for one, rather easily winds up being the Asgardian staff lawyer who keeps getting called on to get the rest of the Norse pantheon out of some scrape or another . . . and then what finally pisses them off is that Loki is the one who enforces the law, the statement as command from the Fates that Baldur will die.

David

I’m certainly going to remember this day when you next post a film review

Heh. I’m complicated, alright?

Hal

Heh. I’m complicated, alright?

Oh, so that explains that sooo interesting picture you've got up behind the bar . . . .

Daniel Ream

an aggregate of what DC Comics published for years on end

My point is rather that 1) It's not possible to film an "aggregrate" of what DC comics published for years on end because the character is fundamentally, qualitatively different depending on who's writing him, what book he appears in, and what decade it is; and b) the movies have already been remaining fairly faithful to specific visions of the character at specific points in the publishing history.

a cgi infested movie derived from a comic book

Comic books - well, comic book movies - are a multi-billion dollar global industry. How and why that happened, and how and why it's currently failing, says some rather interesting things about the economy, the zeitgeist, and the politics of entertainment. One could say the same thing about Harry Potter and Star Wars.

Geezer

Did someone violate the First Rule?

David

Fixed.

[ Points to jar of pickled eggs. ]

Geezer

[ Points to jar of pickled eggs. ]

Is that the offender's punishment? None for me, thanks.

Geezer

While I'm on the subject: Is this guy a first offender or a repeat offender? If the latter, perhaps some time in a Correction Booth would be appropriate.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll