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"The 'Schindler's List' of sci-fi"
March 29, 2010 4:52 AM   Subscribe

I penned the suckiest movie ever - sorry! Writer J.D. Shapiro apologises for Battlefield Earth the recent winner of the Razzie for Worst Picture Of The Decade.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (193 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Putting the CoS connections and other externalities aside, I've never gotten what was supposed to be so terrible about this movie. It had a plot. It had an interesting alien (i.e. they weren't just One Feature Of Humanity Writ Large like in so many Star Trek episodes). It was a pretty cool vision of a future Earth.

The only sin I can see that it committed was that the main character was different than the main good guy. Too confusing?

I kinda liked the book, too. Maybe I'm just a sucker for after-the-fall-of-civilization action stories?
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never gotten what was supposed to be so terrible about this movie.

I guess you have no taste. Sorry. The acting, directing, and writing (dialogue, story structure) are all horrendously (and hilariously) bad.
posted by gonna get a dog at 5:02 AM on March 29, 2010 [17 favorites]


Two words: KISS boots.

Hey, it made me laugh.
posted by bwg at 5:03 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The acting, directing, and writing (dialogue, story structure) are all horrendously (and hilariously) bad.

I guess what I should have said was: I don't get what was so supposed to be so terrible about this movie. ALL action movies have terrible acting and writing. (Almost) ALL SF movies have terrible acting and writing. Why was this movie in particular singled out as being "the" bad one?
posted by DU at 5:04 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Johnny patrolled on his patrol patrol, taking a moment to eat his nutrition food.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:11 AM on March 29, 2010 [26 favorites]


Why was this movie in particular singled out as being "the" bad one?

To make the other sci-fi movies look good by comparison. Which is no mean feat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:11 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you have no better idea for what to do with your Netflix queue: Wikipedia's list of films considered worst.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a movie theater I used to frequent in the mid-to-late 90s because the films were a buck, they had air conditioning and free drink and popcorn refills (and if you grabbed a popcorn box from the trash, free popcorn!).

I have memories of seeing this film there two or three times. The green filter and canted angles especially.

The thing is, I moved away from there in 97. I was *sure* I saw this film at that theater; but apparently I was living 600 miles away. Human memory is weird and frail. Too bad that wasn't the theme of the film.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:18 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got to say reading this guy's cheesy joke laden apologia its obvious that he is sort of responsible for the movie being terrible. The cringe to word ratio is so off the charts.
posted by I Foody at 5:19 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Roger Ebert's half-star review: "The director, Roger Christian, has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why."
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:21 AM on March 29, 2010 [27 favorites]


I think that what makes Battlefield Earth worse than the usual schlock sci-fi movie, is that John Travolta made it as a trubute to his sleazy guru, L. Ron Hubbard.
posted by grizzled at 5:22 AM on March 29, 2010


I've never gotten what was supposed to be so terrible about this movie.

Dude, cavemen learned to fly fighter jets in a week.
posted by Evilspork at 5:34 AM on March 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've never gotten what was supposed to be so terrible about this movie.

Have you ever seen Howard the Duck? Remember watching that and thinking, "Goddamn, what the fuck is this piece of shit?" That was better than Battlefield Earth.
posted by chillmost at 5:35 AM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


On the one hand, I'm already well-known (to myself and the world at large) to have terrible taste.

On the other hand, if I had to watch a Travolta vehicle1 again, I'd watch Battlefield Earth twice before watching Broken Arrow again.

1Pulp Fiction was not a Travolta vehicle.
posted by DU at 5:37 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The original book was written with the explicit intent of being the longest SF novel ever penned. Not the best, or the most interesting, merely the longest. And it delivered; I remember that he devoted about a page and a half to the character taking a hatch off some aircraft by figuring out to loosen each bolt a little at a time.

Now, that was actually good information for a young geek that had never worked on anything, and it's been useful in later life, which is why I remember it. But it took eight or ten paragraphs, which should give you an idea of just how little actual content was in the original 1000+ pages.

It was surprisingly readable, though. It took a long time, and didn't deliver much of substance, but it flowed well. I've read worse books.

I've never seen the movie, because of the Scientology connection, but it could have been at least passable, in better hands. Sounds like this guy has plenty to apologize for. :)
posted by Malor at 5:37 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's certainly one of the worst of the decade, but I'm not sure it's the worst. That Wiki list has some real stinkers. Ecks vs. Sever? That one is so bad that it doesn't even have the "so bad it's fun" patina. Battlefield Earth can, at least, be a good campy watch, given enough beer.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Battlefield Earth did teach us the phrase "crap-lousy," so it's not all bad.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:49 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was a teenager (and knew nothing about Scientology or Hubbard), I read all the Hubbard science fiction stuff, including Battlefield Earth. As Malor said, it is surprisingly readable. Unlike him, I did go see the movie, as I'm a sucker for adaptations of books I've read.


The acting, directing, and writing (dialogue, story structure) are all horrendously (and hilariously) bad.
-gonna get a dog.

And that pretty much nails it. The basic story theoretically could have worked, but the execution was simply awful. Granted, it wasn't Uwe Boll awful, but there are some SyFi Saturday movies that sometimes best this movie.
posted by Atreides at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Battlefield Ham: The worst bits of the movie.

/the prosecution rests
posted by Ljubljana at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


And then she said as a Sea Org member, you can't have sex unless you're married. I asked her if she was married. She said yes. So I said, "Great! That means we can have sex!"

Wow, this article is one shitty joke after another. I'm surprised the guy isn't admitting he wrote Ishtar.
posted by fungible at 5:55 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It had an interesting alien (i.e. they weren't just One Feature Of Humanity Writ Large like in so many Star Trek episodes)

Um... weren't they an absurdist view of corporate/government bureaucrats?
posted by grubi at 5:56 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


To make the other sci-fi movies look good by comparison. Which is no mean feat.

Yes, exactly. For me, Battlefield Earth was not just a bad movie and an unpleasant experience, it became an essential tool for those times when I need to accurately determine how bad a given movie really is. It recalibrated my taste, so to speak, and made me understand that the dynamic range from bad to good was significantly wider than I'd previously thought.
posted by The Mouthchew at 5:58 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If laughter is good for the soul, Battlefield Earth was like a multivitamin for mine.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:59 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The acting, directing, and writing (dialogue, story structure) are all horrendously (and hilariously) bad.

Even the fonts were bad.

Apparently the catering was good. Word is John Travolta brought his personal chef.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:01 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not the worst picture of The Decade, though. It's not even The Worst Science Fiction Movie of The Decade. "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," anyone?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:03 AM on March 29, 2010


The acting, directing, and writing (dialogue, story structure) are all horrendously (and hilariously) bad.

I have always believed that it was intentional. I was shattered when it was "awarded" the Razzie.
posted by Duke999R at 6:03 AM on March 29, 2010


> "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," anyone?

*crickets chirping*
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:08 AM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


This article and the guy's web site are painfully unfunny.

Wow, this article is one shitty joke after another. I'm surprised the guy isn't admitting he wrote Ishtar.

Have you seen Ishtar?
posted by dobbs at 6:17 AM on March 29, 2010


The tragedy of Ishtar is that it was written (and directed) by someone who is genuinely funny. Which goes to show how difficult comedy can be.

My wife and I rented Battlefield in 2001 because we didn't think it was possible for it to be as bad as everyone said. We were wrong.
posted by jscalzi at 6:32 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related: SA interview with the original screenwriter of Alone in the Dark about his experience working with Uwe Boll.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:36 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


When does he apologize for the awful writing in the article? Pro tip: not every paragraph has to be about how you want to get laid. You like girls, we got it.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:44 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


How about "Hot Tub Time Machine"? Worse sci-fi movie or worst sci-fi movie?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:49 AM on March 29, 2010


(I consider Pulp Fiction a Travolta vehicle, but he wasn't driving, and he wasn't the only one in the car.)
posted by wobh at 6:54 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


As I've said elsewhere - I'll watch any old crap with aliens and spaceships, but I've never finished watching Battlefield Earth. Maybe I should one day, to be assured of it's badness, but that would require significant pushing through the boredom barrier.
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on March 29, 2010


His willy wonker? Ugh, I hope he doesn't talk that way in real life.
posted by pinky at 7:05 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah but did you see where he implied that his penis thinks instead of his brain? Sheer genius.

This guy totally wrote Battlefield Earth.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you have no better idea for what to do with your Netflix queue: Wikipedia's list of films considered worst.

Ugh. I know it was a schadenfreude meme par excellence (three! three divergent etymologies! ah-ha-ha!), but SHOWGIRLS WAS NOT A BAD MOVIE.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:11 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Y'know I keep watching Verhoeven films because people keep talking about how good they are and time and again I feel like I've wasted two hours.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair, the guy isn't claiming that he wrote a hilarious first draft, just a gritty and intense one. His claim to comedic fame is apparently Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Aaaand this defense has run into a brick wall. Carry on.
posted by No-sword at 7:15 AM on March 29, 2010


Terrible terrible movie, but it's no The Room.

You're tearing me apart, Lisa!
posted by arcticwoman at 7:16 AM on March 29, 2010


I couldn't read the guy's site once I saw that Warhol treatment of him with his XBox360 headset on. Then I realized it wasn't the mic of an XBox360 headset; it was in fact a pull on the wooden blind behind him, just floating there looking weird and making an already terrible shot much worse. It is the kind of thing that I would LITERALLY KICK SOMEONE IN THE BALLS FOR–LITERALLY! if it happened on a shoot for one of my clients. And that made me want to read the site even less.

Having said all that, I do think I will watch Battlefield Earth because I love awful stuff like this, especially when there are aliens involved. And apparently cavemen, too? Is this possible? Are they alien cavemen? Because that would be off the hook.
posted by Mister_A at 7:17 AM on March 29, 2010


but SHOWGIRLS WAS NOT A BAD MOVIE.

No, it's terrible. We own the special edition complete with David Schmader's commentary. You can't watch it without the commentary. WITH the commentary, it's brilliant.

As for Battlefield Earth, we have the Riff Trax version. Pretty much the ONLY way I'll ever watch the damn thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:19 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Battlefield was on tv a while back I lasted about ten minutes.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2010


Battlefield Earth is the worst movie I have ever seen in the theater. It was even worse than Waitress.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:36 AM on March 29, 2010


DU: "On the other hand, if I had to watch a Travolta vehicle1 again, I'd watch Battlefield Earth twice before watching Broken Arrow again."

Well, yes, obviously. Battlefield Earth completely qualifies as "so good it's bad". I've probably seen it three or four times now, foisting it upon different groups of friends. It's fantastic in it's awfulness. Some highlights: It's awful. Complete trash. A perfect example of an actor's largesse and ego, and a great film film to mock.
posted by graventy at 7:42 AM on March 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think it's considered the "worst" because it takes itself so very seriously. It was a high-budget movie with a genuine movie star not only in the lead, but as its biggest advocate. John Travolta considered this a labor of love, and also a very important film with A Message.

It also, for better or for worse, was considered The Scientology Movie. I think this was the first movie to really be considered "endorsed" by the Church of Scientology, so it had the extra weight of people on both sides of the Scientology debate watching it closely to see what it would say, and how it would do at the box office.

Movies like Ecks vs. Sever and Pluto Nash may be worse, but they weren't considered, for lack of a better term, as "important." The fact that Battlefield Earth was so laughably bad, so awfully directed, so hammily acted that it was laughed out of the theaters wasn't just a bad movie showing up, but a condemnation of vanity projects, of Scientology, and of major movie star John Travolta.
posted by xingcat at 7:51 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have not seen Battlefield Earth. I have not seen Pluto Nash. Or Ecks vs Sever. But I have seen the cinematic adaptation of Lost in Space, and my friends, that movie is awful. As thorzdad aptly puts it, it doesn't even have the "so bad it's fun" patina.
posted by adamrice at 7:55 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Probably the only thing I have in common with Mitt Romney is thinking that Battlefield Earth is a "very fun science fiction book."

The book may take paragraphs to describe what could be said in a few words, but it does make the narrative much more coherent. There's also a second half whose plot isn't touched in the movie.
posted by djb at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2010


Reading this guy's essay, I just knew he'd also be a stand-up comic. I bet that Willy Wonker line kills.
posted by ook at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2010


On the other hand, if I had to watch a Travolta vehicle1 again, I'd watch Battlefield Earth twice before watching Broken Arrow again.

Dude. Swordfish. Halle Berry's bare boobies excuse a multitude of sins.
posted by jonmc at 8:02 AM on March 29, 2010


xingcat, I must disagree. Flat out, Ecks vs. Sever was just worse. No need to grade on a curve, here. I think the big difference is that Battlefield Earth got a lot more publicity, due to its pedigree, and thus was seen by a lot more people. For instance, I can't comment on Pluto Nash, because I haven't seen it. I can, however, discuss EvS, and that was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It was like the Stallone/Banderas vehicle Assassins, but with none of the spastic energy. In other words, it's like a pork soda that's gone flat.
posted by Edgewise at 8:03 AM on March 29, 2010


And then she said as a Sea Org member, you can't have sex unless you're married. I asked her if she was married. She said yes. So I said, "Great! That means we can have sex!"

Is this guy for real?
posted by blucevalo at 8:08 AM on March 29, 2010


SHOWGIRLS WAS NOT A BAD MOVIE

Seconding that. It's quite well made and has a specific vision that's seen out through the whole film. And watching Kyle Maclachlan fall so far in making that film, it's heartbreaking. Did he have a few bad cocaine years then or something?

I've yet to see Battlefield Earth, I'm saving it for the right set, setting, and dosage. But I loved the book as a 13 year old boy, as I imagine all 13 year old boys did. I also learned a useful life skill from it. When removing the screws from a tight panel, loosen each screw a quarter turn first before removing any completely. I wonder what level OT you have to be before they clear you on that tech in Scientology?
posted by Nelson at 8:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really, all you need to see is the snippet of the Rifftrax in which Mike, Kevin, and Bill give up on making comments and just play a laugh track during a conversation between the aliens.
posted by Scattercat at 8:16 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


When the only reviewer blurb you can put on your DVD cover is "great scene transitions and some of the better special effects of the year" from JoBlo's Movie Emporium, might be in trouble.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:28 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


My script was very, VERY different than what ended up on the screen. My screenplay was darker, grittier and had a very compelling story with rich characters.

Uh, huh.
posted by ignignokt at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie at B-Fest several years ago. It was a really freakin' good time, maybe the most enjoying viewing I've ever had at that event. It was generally terrible, but what put it over the top, at least in front of a big crowd, was the crappy "evil" laugh of the Psychlos. Every three sentences, they'd bust out this stilted "HA! HA! HA!"

And in that auditorium, 200-300 would respond with "HA! HA! HA!" Mocking laughter with mocking laughter in a huge group is ridiculously fun.
posted by ignignokt at 8:33 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's one level shot in the whole damn movie, and it's a CGI number.

Starting several years ago, a friend of mine went through a series of surgeries for two unrelated health issues. All of them needed some recovery time at home on the couch with some heavy-duty narcotics. To help her pass the time, we developed the concept of the Suck-Off.

It's not what you think. Or, more accurately, probably not what you hope.

A Suck-Off is where we pit two movies, similar in theme, against one another. One is a Sci-Fi Pictures Original; one is a big-budget Hollywood screen-release. At the end of the day, we decide which sucks more. Some of our Suck-Off pairings included Megasnake vs. Anaconda, Deep Shock vs. On Deadly Ground, and Decoys 2 vs. Incubus. The most memorable, though, was Alien Express (starring Lou Diamond Philips, and a helicopter crash that was almost literally done by throwing a toy helicopter in from off screen and then using MS Paint to make flame-looking things) vs. Battlefield Earth.

At the end of the viewing, we all sat in stunned silence for a while, before the neurotoxic effects of BE wore off enough that we were able to gape, stunned, at one another, and we quickly came to the unanimous conclusion that Battlefield Earth was the worst, by far, of all the movies we had yet seen in this series. It was to the point where we felt bad for the folks who worked in Craft Services, because they had been professionally associated with this disaster through no fault of their own. It was worse than Event Horizion, worse than Dungeons and Dragons, worse than that Hellraiser movie that has Pinhead In Space. It was just. . . gah. It was so bad.
posted by KathrynT at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hey, I didn't think Event Horizon was all that bad.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:03 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Really? It was so predictable that I spent most of the movie shouting "BANG!" about 2 seconds before the random BANGs would actually occur.
posted by KathrynT at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2010


A Suck-Off is where we pit two movies, similar in theme, against one another. One is a Sci-Fi Pictures Original; one is a big-budget Hollywood screen-release. At the end of the day, we decide which sucks more.

Holy crap. I'm definitely doing this.
posted by brundlefly at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first line of that Ebert review is one for the ages:

"Battlefield Earth" is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way.

Almost enough to justify the movie that made it necessary. Almost.
posted by philip-random at 9:27 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


My high school film club watched Event Horizon as part of a scary movie night for Halloween. It was suspenseful and scary, right up until the point where we found out that the big secret was that hyperspace sent you to hell. And that there were apparently demons on the ship, or something. I don't remember, because we all started laughing too hard, and were no longer able to suspend disbelief in the name of being scared.

Then again, from what I've seen of Battlefield Earth, the laughing would have started right at the beginning, so maybe by that standard, Event Horizon wouldn't have been all that bad.
posted by Katrel at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The AV Club of course weighs in.

Apology For Battlefield Earth Somehow Worse Than Battlefield Earth
posted by Skot at 9:32 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The worst of Netflix

Who knew that Adam West had a naff Twilight Zone rip-off?
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on March 29, 2010


It was suspenseful and scary, right up until the point where we found out that the big secret was that hyperspace sent you to hell.

The curse of all deep-space mission movies - the shitty third act twist.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not even The Worst Science Fiction Movie of The Decade.
+
Movies like Ecks vs. Sever and Pluto Nash may be worse, but they weren't considered, for lack of a better term, as "important."
+
The fact that I never actually saw Battlefield Earth

=

STAR WARS EPISODE ONE - the worst sci-fi movie I saw in the Zeroes.

Final episode of the MATRIX would have beaten it but I gave up before it was over (watching the DVD at home) and ended up catching a Seinfeld I'd only seen once before.
posted by philip-random at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Battlefield Earth" is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way.

And god forbid it makes a rest stop that isn't on the schedule.
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2010


Event Horizon is fun, but then I generally enjoy PWSA movies. He pays attention to the bits and pieces that idiot fanboys like me care about, and they're usually shot pretty well. Of course it's predictable; it's a horror b-movie. It's not so much "SPACESHIP WITH DEMONS!!" as it is "Anti-Solaris."

Also, Incubus may be goofy and experimental, but as I recall it's pretty good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:43 AM on March 29, 2010


Reading the Ebert review (thanks, Faint of Butt), I'm struck by this line:

"I watched it in mounting gloom, realizing I was witnessing something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies."

So, is Ebert simply prescient? Or is he in fact so influential that his pronouncement set the idea in the public mind (the ultimate "Thumbs way, way, downTM"?

Maybe this line is the answer to DU's original conundrum: It's so bad because Ebert said it was so bad.
posted by dust of the stars at 9:44 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. Hard to take my eyes off it, even knowing the carnage it left in its path.
posted by Gungho at 9:46 AM on March 29, 2010


Adam West's Tales From Beyond is even available for streaming! Thank you, Artw! (qv)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:00 AM on March 29, 2010


The Wicker Man.
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz raises a good point.
posted by Mister_A at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hmm... Does Pay It Forward (2000) fall within our remit? Because that was a very, very bad viewing experience.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2010


The best part of the Wicker Man is that he's still wearing his bear feet through the entire dark ending, which... detracts from the dark a bit.

*people holding Cage down*
"You can't do this! You can't do this!"
*shot of comfy bear slippers*
posted by graventy at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not so much "SPACESHIP WITH DEMONS!!" as it is "Anti-Solaris."

I thought it was pretty explicitly the horror remake of Solaris.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2010


It was a better Hellraiser In Space than the actual Hellraiser In Space movie though.
posted by Artw at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sunshine wasn't bad, but the third act was a bit of a let-down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 AM on March 29, 2010


Yeah Sunshine was OK. I thought that the one lead actor was way too young to be an astronaut, but whatever.
posted by Mister_A at 10:28 AM on March 29, 2010


Sunshine wasn't bad, but the third act was a bit of a let-down.

I'd say it had a better first two acts and consequently a way more disappointing third act.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on March 29, 2010


I hear terrible things about Pandorum, but there's a lot of hope for Cargo right now, even if it sounds like the same movie.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2010


The worse film I have ever seen at the cinema is probably the worse film I have paid money to see and is almost certainly the worse film I've watched to the bitter bitter end... take it away Ebert
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:35 AM on March 29, 2010


Xenu H. Hubbard, the article reads like Leisure Suit Larry VII: Gone Master Thetan.
posted by condour75 at 10:35 AM on March 29, 2010


fearfulsymmetry - that does take some beating.
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2010


I thought the Star Trek movie last year had more re-watchability than Avatar. But both were good (space opera) movies, and I wish there are more that do as well or better.

In the area of non-opera sci-fi, I saw Moon. It wasn't as good as Primer. Still dominating them all is Solyaris, but I refuse to ever watch it again alone.

What does this have anything to do with Battlefield Earth? Nothing, because that's how terrible it must be.
posted by polymodus at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


While we're complaining about movies, From Dusk Til Dawn set up a classic crime family drama/thriller, until the second-half ruined everything with a vampire grindhouse fest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anti-Solaris would be some kind of malevolent space-faring planet of evil, like Ghroth.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on March 29, 2010


Pretty sure you have your good and bad parts of Dusk Till Dawn mixed up there...
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


And another vote for Sunshine being 2/3rds a good film. I got the impression from interviews and that that they sort of ran out of money/basically just screwed up the sfx re the bad guy forcing Danny Boyle into not making the film he intended.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:48 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. "Rumour has it Elron was dead when he wrote the Mission Earth books. It shows."
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on March 29, 2010


Wow, way to blame writing a bad movie entirely on your dick. Ladies hate guys like this, btw, so that's not helping your cause any.

So if he'd managed to actually lay a $cientologi$t, would the movie had been better? Could he have perhaps written it with another organ instead? Inquiring minds want to know.

But seriously now, I am not surprised to hear that the $cientologi$ts came up with all the fucked-up stuff in the movie.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2010


From Dusk Til Dawn set up a classic crime family drama/thriller, until the second-half ruined everything with a vampire grindhouse fest.

What a strange misuse of the word "ruined."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The worse film I have ever seen at the cinema...

How can Siskel & Ebert possibly review a movie which was never made???

La la la la la Ican'thearyouIcan'thearyou.

While we're complaining about movies, From Dusk Til Dawn set up a classic crime family drama/thriller, until the second-half ruined everything with a vampire grindhouse fest.

Tarantino has stated that he wrote that film to be such that someone flipping channels late at night might come across this thriller drama and get sucked into it, and then have the biggest WTF moment ever once the vampires reveal themselves.



FWIW, I thought Battlefield Earth was a fun, fun book when I read it in high school. Well, except for how once the main plot had resolved itself, Hubbard then took to the formula of writing for 50 pages, getting to a point where the plot resolved again, and then throwing in a twist which kept it moving for another 50 pages, resolving the plots, throwing in another twist, etc.

I also thought it would make a GREAT movie.

The movie that was made is not that movie. Maybe in a few years someone will try again doing it right -- giant purple furry monsters, non-shit dialog, etc. (Yes, that's right. The Psychlos were actually giant furry purple monsters, not John Travolta with dreadlocks.)
posted by hippybear at 11:13 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Travolta was basically a cyberhippy raver type from Camden Town circa 1999, complete with ridiculous shoes, only evil and from space.
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on March 29, 2010


re: SUNSHINE's final act. Spoiler warning.

What pissed me off about it was it got down to just being some melodramatic crazy bad guy (human or other) behind it all. Like, here's this story full of weird slow brewing tension and the closer they got to the sun, the weirder and more tense things got -- all very cool. That's what Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke got so right with 2001. Deep space shouldn't just be weirder than we think, it should be weirder than we CAN think. And Sunshine had me thinking, cool, this thing's going to take me down some deep wormhole of imponderable strangeness that will excite my curiosity and keep me thinking about it for days, weeks, months ...

But nah. Just some evil bad guy, a showdown and then a bogus resolution back on earth. To be honest, this discussion is the first time I've even thought about it since ... a day or two after I saw it.
posted by philip-random at 11:19 AM on March 29, 2010


And that whole annoying shakey-cam device that just doesn't work.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on March 29, 2010


"Apology For Battlefield Earth Somehow Worse Than Battlefield Earth"

That pretty much sums it up.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2010


MORE SUNSHINE SPOILERS


What pissed me off about it was it got down to just being some melodramatic crazy bad guy (human or other) behind it all. Like, here's this story full of weird slow brewing tension and the closer they got to the sun, the weirder and more tense things got -- all very cool. That's what Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke got so right with 2001.

I was disappointed by that as well. Most of the film is beautiful to look at and centered around a man vs technology dynamic, similar to 2001. It also focused on the struggles to complete the mission, rather than the struggle to stay alive. In fact, I didn't realize that it wasn't a suicide mission for a while until one of the characters mentioned going back to Earth (I know it's just a movie, but how exactly were they going to make the giant bomb hit the Sun, and not get sucked into it themselves or at least get burned into a crisp?). So when the horror twist comes, a random guy running around stabbing people who were doomed anyway wasn't very satisfying. I'm not sure what other third act would have fit with that setup, but there was definitely no reason for the film to go the direction that it went.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:55 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, and bear in mind this is from someone perfectly happy with the "singularity does hyperspacey stuff!" hand waving of Event Horizon, the whole idea that a big nuclear bomb would have much of any kind of effect one way or another on the sun never really sat that well with me either.
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am deeply disappointed that this thread has progressed so far without the use of the phrase "man-animal." So here it is: man-animal

"A man-animal, getting leverage with a Psychlo?"

If only the production houses had shown the kind of disdain for the book and its derivative products that the Psychlos had shown for the man-animals, we might never have suffered like this. Someone, somewhere, had leverage.
posted by adipocere at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just wait till Manimal teams up with Automan and Street Hawk!
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2010


The Nostalgia Critic (link) did a review for Battlefield Earth. It's a bit corny at first, but I swear you'll enjoy it.
posted by johnstein at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2010


Battlefield Ham: The worst bits of the movie.

Jesus, I couldn't even get through that. There's no way I'm getting through the real film.
posted by davejay at 1:12 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If [B.E. director Roger] Christian can get a job as a Sears portrait photographer after this movie, Congress should make the use of cameras punishable by death."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 PM on March 29, 2010


I tried watching Battlefield Earth while sick in bed with a nasty case of the flu. Even with a fever, and a hefty dose of Nyquil, I only managed ten minutes before I had to turn it off.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:37 PM on March 29, 2010


Related: SA interview with the original screenwriter of Alone in the Dark about his experience working with Uwe Boll.


Oh, man. I forgot about that article. Hilarious stuff.
posted by brundlefly at 1:58 PM on March 29, 2010


On the other hand, if I had to watch a Travolta vehicle1 again, I'd watch Battlefield Earth twice before watching Broken Arrow again.

jonmc : Dude. Swordfish.

Travolta is like Cruise. I disagree with them unilaterally when it comes to their religious choices, but I frequently have to admit, they can act.

From Paris with Love, Travolta's latest film, by way of example, was actually a lot of fun.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, those who intentionally seek out bad movies in order to laugh at them should take great caution in their choices, for beyond So Bad It's Good lies So Bad It's Horrible.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:05 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was talking about Sunshine just the other day with another MeFite. Basically, I thought it was great until it turned into a slasher film.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:33 PM on March 29, 2010


I have to say that the title of this thread is very true. That Schindler's List movie was really a pile of shit. "Ooh! But it's about Nazis! That means we don't need good acting or a compelling story!" Bullshit.
posted by koeselitz at 5:39 PM on March 29, 2010


I have to mention my old saying, what's worse, the movie you thought would rock, but sucked or the movie you thought would suck and did?

I'd rewatch Battlefield Earth a hundred times before rewatching Matrix Revolutions. Or Donnie Darko. Or Southland Tales.
posted by CarlRossi at 5:44 PM on March 29, 2010


koeselitz: Schindler's List is not a pile of shit, certainly not due to poor performances or lack of a compelling story. On the other hand, it did manage to give the Holocaust a happy fucking ending which is all kinds of weird ...

But that's a whole other kettle of monkeys.
posted by philip-random at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2010


How about "Hot Tub Time Machine"? Worse sci-fi movie or worst sci-fi movie?

I haven't seen it, but I believe it's as true to the genre as Weird Science. On the plus side, wacky oversexed teen comedies are back in style. Where is John Hughes now that we need him again?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:31 PM on March 29, 2010


I'd rewatch Battlefield Earth a hundred times before rewatching Matrix Revolutions. Or Donnie Darko. Or Southland Tales.

Donnie Darko was not great as far as modern existential films go, but not as bad as Battlefield Earth. It was sort of like Garden State - came on as something intriguing and possibly deep, but in the end it was about as profound as a plastic bag blowing around in the wind. Still, the directing was serviceable, and the acting was not nearly as bad as Battlefield Earth.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Deep space shouldn't just be weirder than we think, it should be weirder than we CAN think. And Sunshine had me thinking, cool, this thing's going to take me down some deep wormhole of imponderable strangeness that will excite my curiosity and keep me thinking about it for days, weeks, months ...

But nah. Just some evil bad guy, a showdown and then a bogus resolution back on earth.


Yeah. Ever see Stargate? That's exactly the problem with that film. Great premise, but they do nothing interesting with it, and the fundamentals were severely lacking all around, except it was big-budget. God awful. I saw it in the theater, as my partner at the time wanted to see it - I knew it was going to be bad but thought it might at least be amusing, and it was indeed terrible as soon as they went through the gate, but only occasionally amusing. The audience also laughed at inappropriate moments, which at least let me know nobody else took it seriously. She thought it sucked, too.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:50 PM on March 29, 2010


Interesting timing for this article and fpp. Just last Friday one of my friends hosted a Cheese & Cheese night. We drank, ate raclette and watched Battlefield Earth/Howard the Duck.

Tarantino has stated that he wrote that film to be such that someone flipping channels late at night might come across this thriller drama and get sucked into it, and then have the biggest WTF moment ever once the vampires reveal themselves.

Sometimes I do this to unsuspecting friends with 'Audition.' Telling them it's kind of like 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father.'
posted by Tenuki at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I do this to unsuspecting friends with 'Audition.' Telling them it's kind of like 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father.'

Haha oh lord that's mean. MEAN
posted by graventy at 8:07 PM on March 29, 2010


Geez, he apologized? What an amateur. He should take a lesson from John Rogers, screenwriter of the highly scientific tour-de-force The Core, on how to publicly deal with those who would impugn the dignity of your sci-fi masterwork:
I love sci-fi. Sci fi has suffered too many bad-science movies. It's my responsibility to my fellow sci-fi fans to make sure the science is as close as I can get it.
I don't really care about a bunch of guys sitting in their underwear in their basements taking time off from their on-line stroke photos of Jessica Alba to bash something because they're ignorant. I hate to even dignify this with a reply.
posted by churl at 8:40 PM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd rewatch Battlefield Earth a hundred times before rewatching Matrix Revolutions.

The film you name here was never made. Never ever. La La La La Ican'thearyou.
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on March 29, 2010


DO YOU WANT LUNCH?
posted by beardlace at 11:55 PM on March 29, 2010


Sometimes I do this to unsuspecting friends with 'Audition.' Telling them it's kind of like 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father.'

Oh man Audition

Oh man

kiri kiri kiri kiri

Audition is one of two films on the list of "Awesome, incredibly made, fantastic movies that I can never recommend to anyone ever." The other one is Requiem for a Dream.
posted by KathrynT at 12:21 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Donnie Darko was just meh. Donnie Darko 2, though? I'm not sure that it was Battlefield Earth bad, but it got pretty close.
posted by bokane at 2:10 AM on March 30, 2010


Dude, cavemen learned to fly fighter jets in a week.

It's not like they uploaded a virus to an alien network using a Mac.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:10 AM on March 30, 2010


Worst sci-fi films I've ever seen: Battlefield Earth, Event Horizon, Howard the Duck, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Starship Troopers.

Just to preempt the ST apologists:

NO IT'S NOT PARODY OR SATIRE. IT'S A SHIT MOVIE.
posted by grubi at 7:43 AM on March 30, 2010


Starship Troopers is Verhoeven's JFK.
posted by Nelson at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2010


Starship Troopers isn't shit, it's satire.
posted by philip-random at 8:08 AM on March 30, 2010


Can't it be both satire and a shit movie?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:10 AM on March 30, 2010


It's shit. It's not satire. Shit, shit, shit. I've seen better film on teeth.
posted by grubi at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2010


Also, Lawnmower Man.
posted by grubi at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2010


Can't it be both satire and a shit movie?

whether it's a satire would be an entirely seperate question from whether it's any good or not. On the other hand, it's basically a fun sci-fi action movie with a sense of black humour and some satirical elements. - if that sort of thing doesn't float your boat you're not going to like it.

Me, I think it's fantastic.
posted by Artw at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now, if you want to see something that was supposed to be a fun sci-fi action movie with a sense of black humour and some satirical elements that fails utterly see Judge Dredd.

I actually feel a little sorry for Danny Cannon on that one - Robocop stole it's thunder, and the thing was clearly doomed once it became a Stallone star vehicle. On the other hand Stallone did Demolition Man, which was way more 2000ad and actually worked.
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on March 30, 2010


I walked out of Starship Troopers. At one in the morning. When it was playing in my own home. The final nail in the coffin? when the beautiful heroine, dying, looks at our hero and says "I'm dying. *cough* But it was worth it, because I got to have you."

The nearest Home Depot had just gone 24-hours, so I went there to look at paint chips instead. I'm with grubi -- the book may have been satire, but the movie was just terrible.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


One day people will finally see Demolition Man for the prophetic piece of work that it is.

I mean, just look around you... It's all coming true! Hell, I'm wearing armor made of tires right now!

Mark my words, the 3 seashells is next.
posted by quin at 9:08 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Starship Troopers is hilarious and awesome.

whether it's a satire would be an entirely seperate question from whether it's any good or not. On the other hand, it's basically a fun sci-fi action movie with a sense of black humour and some satirical elements. - if that sort of thing doesn't float your boat you're not going to like it.

QFT
posted by brundlefly at 9:20 AM on March 30, 2010


I'm from Boynuss Aries and I say kill 'em all.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:13 AM on March 30, 2010


I love black humor and satire. That film has none of it.
posted by grubi at 10:41 AM on March 30, 2010


grubi: “It's shit. It's not satire. Shit, shit, shit. I've seen better film on teeth.”

You are being ignorant. Have you even seen any of Verhoeven's other movies? De Vierde Man, for example? Did it not seem odd to you that Starship Troopers was directed by a Dutch art-house geek who randomly became associated with American thrillers in the 80s? Every single one of the Verhoeven's American films is a satire. He's been quite clear about this. I don't see what's so hard to accept here.
posted by koeselitz at 11:59 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


(And this is true, by the way, regardless of your idea of their quality. You might think Total Recall and Robocop and Starship Troopers were utter shit - this is your subjective right, I suppose - but you can't objectively claim they aren't satire when their creator has been very, very clear that they are. Hell, Verhoeven obviously hates the kind of military state depicted in ST. If you'd read any of his work or watched any of his (many) non-American films, you'd know this.)
posted by koeselitz at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every single one of the Verhoeven's American films is a satire.

What was Hollow Man a satire of? Evil rapist scientists?
posted by burnmp3s at 12:20 PM on March 30, 2010


Hollow Man is a satire of Kevin Bacon's career.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hollow Man certainly feels a little empty and lacking the edge that other Verhoeven films have... still, I like the bit where Elisabeth Shue decides that every single problem is solvable by setting things on fire.

Ooh, looks like he's in town reading from his new book about the life of Jesus. I would totally be going to that if I was free for it.
posted by Artw at 12:47 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Basic Instinct was a satire of a good thriller.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:51 PM on March 30, 2010


Hollow Man certainly feels a little empty

Heh.
posted by Skot at 12:54 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the bit where Elisabeth Shue decides that every single problem is solvable by setting things on fire.

I've found that there are very few circumstances in which this world-view doesn't hold some degree of merit.
posted by quin at 1:06 PM on March 30, 2010


I'm a big fan of Black Book. It's like the Inglorious Basterds version of Anne Frank.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


While Hollow Man is certainly one of Verhoeven's weakest films, what I love about it is that it's an extremely well crafted, big budget take on what is essentially a B slasher story. It's a weird mix.

I like the bit where Elisabeth Shue decides that every single problem is solvable by setting things on fire.

Not true. She also covers the floor with blood.
posted by brundlefly at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus of Nazareth

Who was the historical Jesus? Here veteran movie director Paul Verhoeven’s lifelong fascination with the facts and fictions surrounding the life of Jesus of Nazareth culminates in a work of brazen scholarship. Combining his passion for the subject with an in-depth knowledge of the history gained through rigorous study, Verhoeven paints a portrait of Jesus the man and Jesus the radical prophet. Verhoeven constructs a new vision of Jesus as a child born from the rape of Mary by a Roman soldier, as a spiritualist who performed exorcisms by screaming and spitting in the mouths of the possessed to drive out demons, and as a militant revolutionary who urged his followers to arm themselves.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on March 30, 2010


It's an interesting book, I can attest. Mostly weird hogwash, but interesting. A sort of 'de-fictionalized' The Last Temptation of Christ.

Verhoeven's always been obsessed with Jesus.
posted by koeselitz at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2010


...and Hitler. He's been threatening to do a biopic of one or another of them for ages IIRC.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2010


Best Worst Movie, a new film celebrating Troll 2.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2010


Verhoeven's not the only artist that does a crap movie from time to time to pay the bills, buy houses, etc.

Verhoeven's always been obsessed with Jesus...and Hitler.

Buddy cop movie!
posted by kirkaracha at 2:59 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


A friend of my wife just had a baby and a couple of weeks ago, we went to visit with them for the first time since she got home from the hospital. We were all sitting and talking when her husband flipped the TV over to a channel that was playing Troll 2 as a part of some cheap horror marathon.

Silence descended, and we all looked on with rapt fascination, unable to turn away from the terrible awfulness that was that movie.

The only positive aspect was that we started pulling it apart on a technical level, and I realized that, if we really wanted to, we could probably do a shot for shot remake of Troll 2 for a pretty reasonable price. The real irony is, that since we could rely on CGI to take over some of the work load, our backyard version might actually end up looking better than the original.

I haven't decided if I think this is actually an idea worth pursuing, or if down this path, madness lay.
posted by quin at 4:22 PM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


quin: DO IT.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:05 AM on March 31, 2010


Seconded.
posted by COBRA! at 7:28 AM on March 31, 2010


I haven't decided if I think this is actually an idea worth pursuing, or if down this path, madness lay.

DOWN THIS PATH MADNESS LAY DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DOOOOO IIIIIIIIIIT
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2010


You are being ignorant. Have you even seen any of Verhoeven's other movies?

I have seen a few. And they don't suck the same way ST does. "OH BUT HE'S A SATIRIST" doesn't cut it -- you wanna use satire, you'd better do it well. And in ST, he doesn't. It fails miserably. "Satire" doesn't excuse "poorly made." ST is poorly made. Poorly acted. Poorly executed.

I don't hate Verhoeven, nor do I think he's an idiot. I just happen to think he made a film that's awful.
posted by grubi at 10:26 AM on March 31, 2010


Again, I think you're missing the difference between something not being to your taste and being bad. It's a rookie move in bad movie discussions.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on March 31, 2010


And I think you're confusing 'something you like' with 'something that is good.'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2010


And I think you're confusing 'something you like' with 'something that is good.'

Certainly lots of room for debate on relative goodness there, but even "not good" would not be the same as "worst".

Mainly that list of movies you give there tells us you haven't watched many movies - everything on that list, even Howard The Duck, is in the stratosphere compared with Battlefield Earth, and there's plenty of movies in between. When it comes to bad movies, you are an amateur.
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on March 31, 2010


"OH BUT HE'S A SATIRIST" doesn't cut it -- you wanna use satire, you'd better do it well. And in ST, he doesn't. It fails miserably. "Satire" doesn't excuse "poorly made." ST is poorly made. Poorly acted. Poorly executed.

poorly made and executed? How so? Are you referring to the design, the cinematography, the FX, the cutting? Starship Troopers is pretty strong in all of these areas. even the CGI compares more than favorably to other films of the time.

... which gets us to the acting. I always thought Verhoven was very deliberate in casting empty, vacuous pretty people for his leads. How better to comment upon the empty, vacuousness of not just the characters in the script but the greater society he was so enjoyably skewering (ie: the buffed up, soulless, self-righteous consumerist western world of the mid-90s).
posted by philip-random at 11:12 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


When it comes to bad movies, you are an amateur.

Artw, I think you're confusing me and grubi. I didn't give a list of movies that included Howard the Duck.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2010


If you want to see actual badness without redeeming features I'd suggest checking out one of the sequels.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always thought Verhoven was very deliberate in casting empty, vacuous pretty people for his leads.

I agree, with the notable exception of Neil Patrick Harris' military intelligence character.
posted by brundlefly at 11:18 AM on March 31, 2010


Artw, I think you're confusing me and grubi.

Ah, fair enough. TBH the point stands for both of you.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2010


I agree, with the notable exception of Neil Patrick Harris' military intelligence character.

I don't know, there's some impressive hammyness from Michael Ironside (which he could oprobably do in his sleep now, because he's Michael Ironside, but still).

Anyway, "It's afraid!".
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2010


Have you even seen any of Verhoeven's other movies?

I saw some shitty thing in Dutch about underprivileged laundresses being sexually exploited by landowners or something.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:26 AM on March 31, 2010


And I think you're confusing 'something you like' with 'something that is good.'

There's an objective "good"? I was under the impression that "good" meant "I think it's good."

These are all statements of opinion, right?

When it comes to bad movies, you are an amateur.

Thank goodness. I don't like bad movies. That's why I say they are bad. If you LIKE the movie, how can it be (in your opinion) bad? I don't want to be an "expert in bad movies" (whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean); I want to enjoy movies.

Mainly that list of movies you give there tells us you haven't watched many movies

You know not of what you speak. I watch an average of 10-20 films a week. And have for a long time. I love film. I love storytelling, I love acting, I love the experience... oh, how I have raved about "experience" being the determining factor when it comes to film. When I watch a film, I am essentially saying to the people who made that film "Take me on a ride." When they fail to deliver, I find the experience distasteful. Duck Soup, which I rewatched last night, took me on a goofy ride. I loved that ride. Teen Wolf Too owes me an apology.

You sound like an adherent of the "so bad it's good" school of film-goers. Well, I don't subscribe to your notions, but that doesn't mean I haven't watched enough films.

Somehow I'm the one who's confused good films/films one likes? HA.

How better to comment upon the empty, vacuousness of not just the characters in the script but the greater society he was so enjoyably skewering

And in the process utterly make me hate the entire experience? WHY THAT'S BRILLIANT. *eyeroll* It makes me wonder why people can't simply admit ST was Verhoeven's big misstep.
posted by grubi at 11:26 AM on March 31, 2010


TBH the point stands for both of you.

Well, sure, but I agree that Starship Troopers is satire (I'm not sure how anyone could see Robocop and not know that Verhoeven does ultraviolence satire. I just don't think the movie's any good, regardless of its satirical qualities, but I'm perfectly happy to disagree amicably on this point, because I think, as you said earlier, it's more a matter of taste.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2010


I watch an average of 10-20 films a week.

Mine is, like, thirteen inches.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:30 AM on March 31, 2010


there's some impressive hammyness from Michael Ironside

Bugs sucked his brains out!
posted by adamdschneider at 11:30 AM on March 31, 2010


Mine is, like, thirteen inches.

Jesus fucking christ. Someone gets all douchey and says "YOU DON'T WATCH MANY MOVIES." SO I point out that I do. I wasn't competing with him; I was correcting him.

Yes, totally the same as a dick-measuring contest.
posted by grubi at 11:35 AM on March 31, 2010


grubi, I like you, but maybe you need to step back for a second. You're getting a little GRARy.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:41 AM on March 31, 2010


grubi: “I don't hate Verhoeven, nor do I think he's an idiot. I just happen to think he made a film that's awful.”

Fair enough. You may feel this way if you like, I guess. I was mostly objecting to your strong claim that Starship Troopers isn't satire. Paul Verhoeven grew up in the occupied Netherlands - he is very, very wary of militaristic jingoism and the silly acceptance of violence as a necessity.

As far as the acting and 'execution' of Starship Troopers goes: well, again, you're entitled to your opinion, but what's interesting about the movie is that the acting and cinematography are, I think, pretty much beside the point. Verhoeven embraced science fiction wholly, and with it a certain disregard of those things in service of a bigger interest in plot and in the ideas being played out. His movies are wholly satirical, in that they tend to directly depict and even imitate the world they're talking about.

Those of us who are interesting in his movies like them for that quality, not for the acting or the actual framing of scenes. He'd begun to really start satirizing the 'future world' ideals of modern America in Robocop, but that film is not as effective a film as Starship Troopers, I think, because the satire is not complete. In Robocop, the future world is obviously corrupt – this is a plot point on display to every viewer. Whereas, in Starship Troopers, the satire is thoroughgoing because it's never stated explicitly; all through the film, it's 'rah rah rah, go Mobile Infantry!' and 'kill the disgusting bugs!' and 'look, I'm giving guns to small children, what a patriot I am!' It's as though Verhoeven made a kind of movie version of Ender's Game and yet somehow managed to get 90% of the audience to root against the Buggers.

That's what a lot of us think is intriguing about the movie - that we heard frat-boy types enthusing about how awesome it was, and I've met a number of young military recruits who loved it as psych-up stuff. But all of them were missing the point - that it's a firm and resounding indictment of militaristic societies. I can see not thinking that's very interesting, but: in case you're wondering, that's what we see in the movie.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoop - didn't realize this discussion had gotten a bit more fighty. You don't have to like it if you don't want. Sorry, grubi. Not a big deal.
posted by koeselitz at 11:48 AM on March 31, 2010


You make good points, koeselitz. I enjoyed the hell out of Robocop and I understood the "satiric" aspects of ST that you mention (and others: the commercial breaks come to mind). I just feel he didn't do it as well as he could have.

Given peoples' reaction to my statements, I'm almost afraid to point out what I thought of Sin City. Almost.







It was beautiful but boring.
posted by grubi at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2010


Given peoples' reaction to my statements, I'm almost afraid to point out what I thought of Sin City. Almost.

I fucking hate Sin City.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:52 AM on March 31, 2010


Well put, koeselitz. I was just thinking of the scene at the end, after the brain bug has been captured, where Rico (Mobile Infantry), Ibanez (Fleet) and Jenkins (Military Intelligence) are walking through the crowd and Ibanez says something to the effect of, "I have the feeling that, whenever we're together, everything's going to work out."

At first it just seems like a sappy line, but as these kids are representatives of different (sometimes antagonistic) branches of the military, it shows the film totally being in character as a propaganda movie. "We have to band together!" Same thing with Jenkin's inspirational/hilarious speech about people looking back on this day and remembering "a drill sergeant named Zimm who captured a brain."

The entire film is in the form of a propaganda film, not just the newsreels.

Would you like to know more?
posted by brundlefly at 11:57 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sin City is a douchebag of a movie. Which makes sense, since Frank Miller is a douchebag of a writer.
posted by koeselitz at 1:10 PM on March 31, 2010


The main point of Sin City is how utterly mental Miller is. That's why I like it.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. I had no idea others felt that way. I just assumed I guess because I'm surrounded by comic geeks most of the time) that Sin City was "awesome." Until I saw it.

And found it dreadfully boring. I kept yelling at the TV "Hurry UP already!".
posted by grubi at 1:13 PM on March 31, 2010


Good and awesome are two very different things.
posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on March 31, 2010


Artw, that chart loses points both for putting Barry Lyndon on the 'Bad' side of the axis and for misspelling Tristram Shandy.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:26 PM on March 31, 2010


I think the bigger problem with Tristram Shandy is that the lower right hand quadrant of that chart needs to be enlarged considerably to encompass how not-good and not-awesome that film actually is.

(There are a few other placements I'd quibble, but you get the general idea)
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on March 31, 2010


I actually liked it on the same theoretical level that I believe you speak of liking Starship Troopers (although forgive me if the analogy is off).
posted by shakespeherian at 2:34 PM on March 31, 2010


Not sure that liking something on a theoretical level actually counts as liking it.

FWIW If you imagine a graph with a line starting in the top left hand side in the high positives, then sliding down to a low negative in the bottom right hand side, with the horizontal axis being the running time of the movie, then you'd have an accurate chart of what happened to the good will towards Michael Winterbottom that I had previously built up watching 24 Hour Party People.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on March 31, 2010


Artw: “I think the bigger problem with Tristram Shandy is that the lower right hand quadrant of that chart needs to be enlarged considerably to encompass how not-good and not-awesome that film actually is.”

That Tristram Shandy movie made me violently angry, it was so bad. Primarily because the book is so fantastic, and because there's so much they could have done with it if they hadn't been so hell-bent on being inane and postmodern.
posted by koeselitz at 3:39 PM on March 31, 2010


that Sin City was "awesome." Until I saw it.

And found it dreadfully boring.


Add me to to the Sin City thumb's down crowd. I dug the overall style and effect, which kept me interested for maybe twenty minutes and then ... whatever. I think I got high, turned down the sound and put on some Sonic Youth, or maybe it was Black Sabbath.

But grubi, yrrr still wrong about Starship Troopers.
posted by philip-random at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2010


No way is Cannibal Holocaust worse than the Schumacher Batman films.
posted by brundlefly at 5:41 PM on March 31, 2010


But grubi, yrrr still wrong about Starship Troopers.

No, I'm not.

ZOW.
posted by grubi at 5:16 AM on April 1, 2010


If you hated Starship Troopers, I'll bet you thought Space: Above and Beyond was the lamest shit EVER.

My roommates are old-school sci-fi geeks, and love the crap out of that show. They got me to watch it, and at some moments it's as good as some of the mid-grade X-Files episodes, but mostly it's Starship Troopers without the irony.
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 AM on April 1, 2010


Never saw it.
posted by grubi at 9:14 AM on April 1, 2010


Best Worst Movie, a new film celebrating Troll 2.

I had never heard of Troll 2 before, which is kind of odd, because I have a thing for b-movies. But now I have to see it. It sounds incredible. Thank you.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:45 PM on April 2, 2010


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