Feeling Contrarian

Because I’m feeling cranky this week, mostly because I despise the holiday season and this one’s been especially grating, I’m going to do a bitchy column. And as it happens I have just the listicle meme to hang it on.

There’s this thing going around the internet where you list five unpopular opinions you have about pop culture. I have quite a few opinions about pop culture and I think I can manage to list five of the unpopular ones without too much difficulty (really, it’s more about deciding which five.) Some of these I’ve referred to before in other columns and there’s been grudging agreement in the comments, so I don’t know how unpopular these things truly are. But sure, I’ll play. Why not?

To begin with– I really don’t like the 1989 Batman movie.

Seriously. It’s just a mess. Part of my dislike is rooted in the fact that there was a whole chase scene in the second act that was cut, and so the scene in front of it, with Bruce and Vicki and the Joker in Vicki’s apartment, makes no sense at all– and that was just one of many, many casualties when it was rewritten half to death to accommodate a lot of stupid stuff. Sam Hamm’s original script was bootlegged around quite a bit in 1988, and that was brilliant. They should have just shot that one, and cast Ray Liotta for the Joker the way Hamm was recommending. Nicholson was too old, too fat, and too hammy– yes, even for the Joker– to really pull it off. And that insanely over-padded rubber suit they put Michael Keaton in… Look, I know that what’s in the comics is almost impossible to show on screen, but for Chrissakes, Batman should be able to turn his head. For that matter, a Batman movie ought to have amazing fight choreography, the fights should be showpieces. Even the Adam West version understood that back in 1966. But not Tim Burton, no, that’s too comic-book for him. Blow right past THOSE scenes and instead linger on the vapid love-story stuff with Michael Keaton looking vaguely embarrassed through most of it, playing opposite Kim Basinger, a blank-faced charisma vacuum. And on and on and on. It just makes me sad to see that lumbering patchwork Frankenstein of a movie when it was so close to being wonderful.

Here’s an opinion of mine I discovered was an outlier when we were taping an episode of Radio Vs. the Martians not too long ago…. I don’t care about Star Wars.

Mike and Casey both looked at me like I’d sprouted horns or something when I said it. But it’s true. I just don’t. I don’t dislike Star Wars, I’m not hostile to it, I just…. I dunno. Not that big a deal for me. In my circle I think I’m the only one that shrugged at the idea of seeing Rogue One this last weekend.

We’ll catch up to it eventually, but… it’s not opening-weekend exciting for us the way the new Star Trek or the new Marvel movie or the new James Bond would be. To be honest, of the upcoming movies we’ve seen trailers for, probably the one I’m most excited about is John Wick Chapter Two.

Although the original John Wick was pretty much my ideal one-off kind of story, and I had real doubts about the feasibility of a sequel, the trailer sold me. I’m in. That one, we probably will try to see opening weekend. They just better not kill the dog.

Speaking of James Bond, which I sort of was… I really don’t get why everyone loved Skyfall so much.

Am I the only one that noticed that James Bond fails at everything he is supposed to do in this story? The villain pretty much owns him for the whole movie. Bond doesn’t retrieve the stolen list. He disobeys direct orders at great cost to his organization. His capture of the villain turns out to be something the villain staged himself so he can assassinate a bunch of government bigwigs, and then Bond manages to get the one person he is sworn to protect killed, through his own arrogance and incompetence. (Because, y’know, he decides to abandon all the state-of-the-art hardware in the underground MI6 bunker and instead hide her in an old barn up in Scotland, deeded to his own name so it’s ridiculously easy to trace, with no electricity or help except an old guy with a fowling piece.) The agent who IS successful, smart, and competent, Eve Moneypenny, gets relegated to a desk job for her trouble, while Bond making a trainwreck of his assignment is treated as a victory. James Bond is supposed to be a the baddest guy out there. Instead, in Skyfall, he’s a stumblebum, and even though he literally proves the MI6 assessment of him as being unfit to be correct, nevertheless he is rewarded and everyone acts like he won.

But critics adored it and said it was a return to greatness. Now, no one knows better than me that what reviewers write about any Bond film has little or nothing to do with its actual merits– Trumbull’s already mentioned On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and what a bad rap it gets, and I’ve done an aria or two about the underrated Timothy Dalton Bonds… but why Skyfall is so celebrated escapes me. (Don’t even get me started on Spectre, which I’m still kind of getting over… I’d prefer not to discuss it…*sob*)

….okay, even for a bitchy column, this is getting too negative. Here’s a couple of things I liked a lot that apparently no one else did.

I quite like both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. On the whole, a lot of the time I prefer them to The Next Generation, which is blasphemy in some circles.

Both shows came out of the gate with more interesting character dynamics and more interesting premises than TNG, and Voyager, especially, felt a lot more like old-school Star Trek a lot of the time. I really enjoyed Kate Mulgrew’s Janeway, I liked a lot of the stories, and even if they did do possibly the dumbest hour of Star Trek ever broadcast on television, well, the fact that it was so spectacularly bad obscures the fact that their overall batting average was a lot better than TNG, which took two and a half seasons to get warmed up.

And Enterprise, I am convinced, was sabotaged by the imbecile decision to put that insipid pop song over the credits. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and I bet that scared off a lot of viewers right there. Take that away and it’s not nearly so terrible as fans complained it was, especially the final season when you had Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens doing a lot of the writing and really digging in on the idea of it being a prequel series to the Kirk-Spock era. The Mirror Universe episodes, especially, were a delight. If someone had the wit to go ahead and GO there when they were designing the opening credits and had given Scott Bakula an inspiring voice-over about the first-ever voyage of the Starship Enterprise to accompany that montage of exploration, I think it would have been a whole different ball game. But even as it is I think they did a lot of good episodes, and again, the overall batting average for engaging and interesting stories was higher than for TNG.

Here’s an opinion I had to revisit. For decades I said loudly that The Exorcist should never, ever have had a sequel, it was perfect as it was. I said over and over that to do a sequel to the story of Regan McNeil and Father Karras cheapened the original. But I have to eat those words because The Exorcist TV show on Fox, the ten-episode arc that just wrapped up, was wonderful.

Apparently not many people watched it, which is a shame. Because it was terrific, a wonderful homage and extension of the original story, and it was genuinely scary. Everyone in it was outstanding but Geena Davis, in particular, just killed it. Never would have guessed she had those kind of chops back when she was doing stuff like Earth Girls Are Easy. I don’t know how the showrunners can pivot off these ten episodes to a new story– demons can’t keep tormenting this same poor family, it gets ridiculous, so they have to come up with some other rationalization to keep Geena Davis and Alan Ruck around or else let their big stars go and gamble on the relative unknowns playing the priests. But then, I was the guy that said they couldn’t do a decent sequel to the original movie, let alone a whole TV series. And they pulled it off. Chances are, given the ratings, this one’s all that there’s going to be, but it works just fine as a ten-episode mini-series to binge on and I recommend it whether you’ve seen the original movie or not. (But it’s way cooler if you have.)

So there you go. There’s five contrarian pop culture opinions for you. Feel free to agree or disagree or jump in with five of your own. Me, I’m going to go find somewhere to hide out till all this Christmas crap is over with.

Back next week with something cool.

28 Comments

  1. frasersherman

    I liked Batman better than you did (and I like Kim Basinger) but yeah, the fight scenes are a travesty, with Batman marching around like a tin soldier. Then again, it’s vastly superior to the sequel.
    Rewatching Skyfall, the big problem for me is that Silva is a)really annoying until the end, when Bardem’s No Country for Old Men nastiness shows; b)for his plan to work, he’d have to be a Mad Thinker class precog. Q opens the briefcase at any other time, it fails. Bond rushes after Silva when there isn’t a train running overhead, it fails (and there’s no way anyone but a precog could have known that).

    Yes, the treatment of Eve is poor, but it generally reflects the sexism of the Craig run (Brosnan’s did a lot better with women)–as witness despite being a trained field agent, she sits in the office in Spectre while Q and M are in the field). Severine doesn’t do much better (comes to Bond for help, gets killed, he just sneered). And there’s a strong note of M’s fate being her own fault (“You lost your nerve.”).

    However On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is still a stinker.

    I enjoyed Voyager (though I was depressed to be told by an early teenage fan when that show was on that “I hear Next Gen was better, but it was before my time.”). Enterprise is … frustrating. I like it, but it’s never whole-hearted. I don’t know quite what it is though. Definitely not the song, which I enjoy. But I much preferred the temporal cold war and the stuff playing with classic Trek (look, Vulcans can play hardball politics while Andorians can be nice!) to the Xindi arc.

  2. Greg Burgas

    You know my thoughts on Skyfall (YOU HAD ONE JOB, JAMES!!!), and I still don’t understand how the Craig Bonds seem to be MORE retrograde with regard to women than ones made decades ago (I mean, those weren’t any great shakes, but I thought we knew better these days), so let’s move on to the really important point:

    Geena Davis deserved a MOTHERLOVIN’ OSCAR for Earth Girls Are Easy. YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE!!!!! 🙂

  3. tomfitz1

    As a modern-day Oscar the grouch should say, “Bah, humpug!” 😉

    I liked the Burton/Keaton Batman movies (I agree with you about the costume), not so much the Kilmer/Clooney Batman movies. Truly enjoyed the Nolan/Bale Dark Knight trilogy (Heath Ledger was a far better Joker than Jack Nicholson).

    When it comes to comic book adaptation films, I really don’t bother nitpicking. There’s always going to be creative differences. Some will be good, some will be bad.

    I enjoyed all the Star Trek spin-offs. Movies and reboots.

    I enjoyed Ch. IV-VII of the Star Wars series, not Ch. I-III, and will look forward to the Rogue One. Enjoyed John Wick and will catch the second film.

    Casino Royale and Skyfall still remains my fav Bond films.

    I agree with you that the sequel to The Exorcist was bad, the third one – Legion was a better sequel. Loved the tv series, very intense.
    Haven’t seen the last episode yet.
    This series was much better than Damien series.

  4. John Trumbull

    I agree with a fair amount of these.

    Yes, the ’89 BATMAN is a mess and not as good as the original Sam Hamm script. God, can you imagine if that cast to type and directed as is? As it is, I feel like you could get a pretty good Batman movie if you edited certain scenes of the ’89 BATMAN movie & BATMAN BEGINS together.

    I feel similarly about STAR WARS. I can still enjoy it, but THE PHANTOM MENACE killed off most of my interest in the franchise in the space of about 2 hours. I still haven’t seen ATTACK OF THE CLONES to this day. The main reason I saw ROGUE ONE opening weekend was so I didn’t get spoiled on it (It was good. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. For me and a SW movie, that’s a rave).

    SKYFALL is a freaking mess and anyone who says it’s the best Bond movie should never be allowed to express a critical opinion on something ever again. It’s not even the best Daniel Craig Bond movie.

    I tried, but I just could never get into VOYAGER. ENTERPRISE was a lot better in its last season, but it still had problems. And yeah, that godawful theme song…

    I honestly didn’t even know that an EXORCIST TV show existed until I read this.

    Nice idea for a column. I may do one like this soon (I can think of at least one opinion I have that will inspire much fanboy rage…).

  5. Edo Bosnar

    Man, it’s always nice to find someone else out in the internet ether who appreciates Voyager – it seems like we’re a very small sub-set of Trek fandom. Man, I friggin’ love that show! Yes, it had a few crappy episodes (and yes, Threshold is quite possibly the worst offender), but that’s true of any Trek series and even the movie installments. Voyager also had some of the very best Trek episodes ever in my opinion, including the often unfairly overlooked Distant Origin (come on, people, they met the descendants of dinosaurs!)
    However, we differ on Enterprise; I won’t get into all the reasons I didn’t like it very much, but here’s my brief summary of the whole thing: it starts out as watered-down Voyager, and then finishes as watered-down DS9. And I really hated it that for most of it the Vulcans are portrayed as these condescending a-holes, who actually provoke a war with the Andorians…

    On some of the other points you cover, to be quite honest, I’m not the biggest fan of any of the modern Batman films (yes, the Nolan trilogy included), but of them all I liked Burton’s first one the best. However, I agree about Nicholson as the Joker (I never knew Liotta was even being considered for that role – he would have been perfect!). In fact, I’ll go a step further into unpopular opinion territory and say that with the exception of Easy Rider and Chinatown, I generally don’t like Nicholson in pretty much anything.

    As for Star Wars, I was head-over-heels in love with those movies as a kid, but as I got older their magic really wore off for me. I can still watch the original movies here and there, and I enjoyed the Force Awakens well enough (and I’ll probably get around to seeing Rogue 1 as some point), but that’s about it – it’s far from my favorite pop culture phenomenon/property. An unpopular opinion I have is that I don’t hate the Star Wars Holiday Special as much as everyone else. I have fuzzy memories of watching it on TV as a kid, and I’ve since watched it twice on YouTube, and I have to say that while I certainly don’t think it’s good, it’s got this weird appeal to it – and it makes you wonder how much coke the writers/producers etc. were snorting to think it was a good idea to mash up Star Wars with the 1970s variety show? In some ways, it has that same WTF aspect as the made-for-TV Kiss movie from around the same period.

    Otherwise, I’m also looking forward to seeing the Wick sequel, and also hoping that the dog trots away from this one alive and well.

    1. frasersherman

      As far as the original trilogy goes, I find it still holds up very well. More than enough for me to forgive I-III though not to actually like them. Looking forward to Rogue One.

      While I’m not a fan of Nicholson’s Joker, I can’t say I liked Ledger’s either. It’s a great performance as some character who happens to be called Joker by a strange coincidence, as he’s obviously a completely different person.

    2. Le Messor

      (and yes, Threshold is quite possibly the worst offender)

      Threshold inspired me to write a fanfic where some of the crew land on a planet, and the primitive natives see Paris beam Torres away. They accuse him of witchcraft. When the local magistrate asked how they know he’s a witch, Janeway says “He turned me into a newt!” … “I got better.”

  6. Le Messor

    I like Voyager, too. Partly, because I’m like that, because of the colour palette. Much richer than any other modern series, less garish than TOS.

    Like frasersherman above me, I think, I don’t think of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight as particularly the Joker. Oh, he’s a great villain, but no Joker. I’d rather they called him Zazz or Beetlejuice or something.

    Hmm… speaking of which… You start with Batman and end with Geena Davis in something involving possession… From Burton you come, to Burton you return.

  7. I sorta liked Voyager at the start, though they went and did some pretty lame episodes. The one where the aliens steal the guy’s lungs so the doctor creates holographic lungs for him as an emergency measures is one that springs to mind. I pretty much bailed on the show when they added Seven of Nine. I prefer my fan-service and cheesecake to be a little less gratuitous, y’know?

  8. Some of these I’m not qualified to have an opinion on – I haven’t seen the second half of Enterprise, I’ll probably never watch The Exorcist as stories about demons, etc are really off-putting to me.

    Many of the others I agree with, in general at least –

    I liked Voyager just fine, though I wouldn’t say more than any of the series that preceded it. I enjoyed the fact that it often had more high-concept and high-action sort of storylines. I just wish Seven of Nine had put on a jacket.

    Skyfall was ok, but I am mystified that people would consider it a great movie, Bond or otherwise.

    And I was with you on Star Wars for a long time (though I loved the originals as a kid, and sitting in the theatre as the lights dimmed for Return of the Jedi is one of my most salient film going memories), but I’ve been won over by Force Awakens and Rogue One (apparently, I’m a fan of post-Lucas Star Wars) even whilst recognizing various flaws. Also, it’s fun to share them with my daughters. Still not my favorite thing out there, but I can no longer feign indifference.

    Burton’s Batman was a film I enjoyed when I first saw it but I find has little to recommend it ever since. I’d be curious to watch it again just to see if I could make sense of the story structure.

    My biggest disagreement, I suppose, is just that I like Christmas a lot.

  9. Burton’s Batman does not age well. I think Jack Nicholson would have made a great Joker about 15 years previously, and I blame Burton for setting that stupid trope that the hero and villain have to be linked in a co-dependent death-spiral because they created each other, which every superhero movie since has insisted on following. I liked it better when Thomas and Martha were gunned down by a random lowlife looking for a quick score.

    That said, Batman is a masterwork compared to the mish-mash that is Batman Returns. That’s where the wheels really came off the franchise. I hated Danny DeVito as the Penguin, hate-hate-hated the insipid back-story about him being raised by feral penguins in the sewers of Gotham, hated Catwman’s entire origin and arc (but I can’t hate Michelle Pfeiffer in anything; hell, I’ll watch Grease 2 for her), hated Christopher Walken’s scenery-chewing in a pointless role, hated pretty much everything in that movie.

    We’re now about 10-11 years away from the inevitable next reboot of the franchise, which happens about every 20 years; they started over in 1943, 1966, 1989, 2005 (I’m considering the Batfleck version to be a continuation of the Nolan reboot), so it’s time to start working on a script, right?

    1. frasersherman

      Christopher Walken’s scheme never makes sense. We never learn it but the implication seems to be he’s going to steal all Gotham City’s power … but then what? It’s not like the National Guard can’t just blow up the plant. And he’s a wealthy, prominent figure, he won’t be exactly hard to find.

      Personally I think Cesar Romero would have made a wonderful homicidal Joker, precisely because it would contrast with his clownish manner. But not by 1989, I imagine.

    2. John Trumbull

      As badly as the ’89 BATMAN has aged, BATMAN RETURNS has aged worse. Even saying that it operates by dream logic is being kind. I’ve had fever dreams more coherent than that movie.

      I’ve come to think that Burton returning for the sequel was a bad thing for the Batman series in the long run. If it had been another director who did the sequel to the ’89 BATMAN, he or she would likely have done something more or less in the same vein as the first movie. Burton reinventing so much of it for BATMAN RETURNS gave Schumacher the license to reinvent it in HIS style for BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN & ROBIN, and we all know how THAT turned out.

  10. Caanan

    My unpopular Star Wars opinion is that I like Empire Strikes Back the least. Yes, Star Wars first, then Return of the Jedi.

    I feel like the people saying Empire is the best one are the same people who tell their friends and family “they’re not comics, they’re graphic novels!”

    Lighten up. Embrace fun. Embrace an Ewok.

  11. Hal

    To quote Noddy Holder of British 1970s glam rockers Slade… “IIIIITTTT’S CHRRRIIIIIIISSSSTTTMAAAASSSS!” Bwahahaha!
    Mr Hatcher I’m really sorry that your family’s poor behaviour cursed you with a damaging childhood which left such deep scars, it is heartbreaking, sir (and I mean that, it’s not meant to be patronizing.) Christmas was always the opposite of what it was and is for you, it represented escape and joy. Today, what hacks me off are those people who whine about things being different at Christmas (that is very different to loathing it for the reason you do), is it so terrible for these berks that things not be the same every f***ing day forever and ever, amen? Boring s***weasels. I think the world could do with a whole *lot* more goodwill, that’s what Christmas is about, that’s the real spirit of it (yours sincerely, Kris Kringle!) and the world would be a better place if so many people around it weren’t jerks, assh*les, delusional narcissists, f***wits, or just plain monsters! Ahem.
    Ach, Voyager. A stick-up-her-ass Captain (and one who didn’t change and grow like Picard – tho’ Patrick Stewart was interesting even when Jean Luc was at his most stuffy, alas Kate Mulgrew tho’ accomplished elsewhere was unlikeable and grating in Voyager) and a crew of blandroids played by actors who were – mostly – dull as a butter knife’s blade. The notable exception was, of course, Robert Picardo’s EMP Doctor who was a riot and more emotionally engaging than any of the fleshlings. (One thing, I didn’t find Neelix particularly irritating and I really felt for Jennifer Lien and Kes. Both badly treated.) The series had its moments but was almost entirely devoid of spark, it squandered its premise and failed to present anything new. Them came Enterprise…and it was even worse! Insipid, moronically out-of-place schlock ballad, dubious racist depiction of the Vulcans (Star Trek always had a problem with portraying Vulcans though… Abram’s 2009 effort took the cake tho’. Ugh. And that’s without mentioning the sexism concerning Kirk’s and Spock’s mothers. Bleurgh.) Berman, Braga, and Co.’s played-out ideas, an *incredibly* dull crew save for Phlox and T’Pol (Ah, Jolene Blalock. I must admit to finding her superhot in the final season and especially in the mirror universe episodes. *coughs*), and, like Voyager, an awfully bland aesthetic… Mostly Crap. Well, sometimes mediocre; so mediocrap. Shran *ruled* tho’! I will voice the unpopular opinion that Deep Space Nine is rather overrated and that it blew it in the final season as the overweening sense of smugness and “ooh, aren’t we adventurous and ever-so-adult?!” led to the show collapsing in on itself as the makers reach exceeded their grasp in much the same way that Babylon 5 had and Battlestar Galactica would. Boy howdy, was the show bland-looking too! And, hey, there are things I like about it but the praise seems overheated and slightly silly especially given the show’s logic issues and the struggle to make Starfleet equivalent with the Dominion in terms of horrific behaviour in Season 7. Pretentious baldercrap!
    I must also admit to thinking that there are elements from The Next Generation’s much-maligned first season that should have been developed, particularly as regards Beverley’s character and her relationhip with Picard. Gates McFadden drew the short stick, even tho’ they brought Doctor Crusher back they failed to capitalize on the elements presented in the freshman year. I could care less about Riker and Troi…but not much!
    Return of the Jedi was entertaining but vacuous. A toy commercial overflowing with the effluent that is the American obsession with fathers, even when dear old Dad is a mass-murdering nutcase. Empire *is* mostly great, marvelously well-made despite some logic flaws (and The Force Awakens is a rerun of various parts of the original trilogy but with neither Soul nor Mind) but the famous revelation torpedoes the series and condemns it – and *us* – to endless repetition of the same tropes. And no way was Leia supposed to be Luke’s sister! Bwahahaha!
    I, like, Le Messor have a liking for Batman Returns and don’t see Heath Ledger’s Joker as particularly Joker-ish, instead he is precisely the type of perverse psycho that you would expect to find in an early 21st Century Batman movie (the actor who played Mickey in Doctor Who described the Heath-Joker as a definitive Joker on-screen at last… Silly! He was no more *definitive* than Jack and I find both performances pretty good if not great.).
    Are fans of John Wick called “Wickheads”?!

    1. Le Messor

      “To quote Noddy Holder of British 1970s glam rockers Slade… “IIIIITTTT’S CHRRRIIIIIIISSSSTTTMAAAASSSS!” Bwahahaha!”
      In my head you sound like The Nostalgia Critic. 🙂

      “I will voice the unpopular opinion that Deep Space Nine is rather overrated and that it blew it in the final season as the overweening sense of smugness and “ooh, aren’t we adventurous and ever-so-adult?!””
      I agree there, but still like it… but not as much as other Trek, for that reason.
      Anything that takes a fantastic premise and decides to tone it down, make it low-key, more “realistic”, darker, etc… is automatically going to lose points with me ~ which is why I like Burton’s Batmans more than Chrises’, and am no fan of the Daniel Craig Bonds.

      “I could care less about Riker and Troi…but not much!”
      I love that you used the wrong version of that saying, then pulled out of it at the last second. 🙂

      “Return of the Jedi was entertaining but vacuous. A toy commercial”
      … oddly enough, I always liked the toys from The Empire Strikes Back the best as a kid.

      “Are fans of John Wick called “Wickheads”?!”
      ROTFL! I’ll be quoting that.

      1. Hal

        Thank you for the kind words, Le Messor. I hope that you saying that in your head I sound like the Nostalgia Critic is a compliment…but I’m prepared to take it as one!

        I largely agree with you about that statement, it’s a great problem with many modern superhero comic books and many of the movies (which are virtually never as good as the source material anyway even if some are pretty enjoyable. In truth either we seem to get either material that is either self-serious flattering to the unimaginative and to morons but fundamentally morally/intellectually/narratively vacuous works or would-be “comic” pseudohip yet superconventional at the core ones (“Fun, FUN, isn’t this FUUUUUNNNNN?!?!”, Me: “No. No, it’s not. It’s puerile and poorly written, now **** off… No need to thank me, you’re welcome! Make a gif of that if ya like!” Bwahahaha! ). Again, some of these things are interesting to a point but they lack true wit and intelligence and storytelling. Still it is amusing to see writing on the internet singing the praises of things that have their moments and *some* nice ideas but often are guilty of not developing things properly and being dog’s breakfasts at a narrative/logic level. I’d recommend taking a gander at Philip Sandifer’s Eruditorum site for a laugh at haute pretension in his analyses of Doctor Who and other matters (the narcissism and self-flattering self-righteousness is hilarious too. He takes lots of marvelous things about humaneness and liberalism and somehow makes them unpalatable with his sense of moral purity and superiority, his overindulgence in buzzwords and ejaculating of terms like “privilege” whilst stroking his ego and possibly other things. There are plenty of goobers who whine about “political correctness” but this fellow and certain of his chums really do appear like brilliant parodies of the most clichéd depictions of it! I would defend him as well-meaning but the apparent ideological stainlessness he believes himself to possess – apart from when he’s referring to himself as a cis white heterosexual male – makes that impossible. Bleeurgh! Um, off-topic digressive parenthetical rant ends, I hate extremists!) it’s almost the perfect example of valuing something for the “ideas” but not caring how they are developed or noting when the storytelling us for the boids whilst getting overexcited (to give him credit not everything he writes is completely blah tho’ he tends to be nailed to the present and a rabid ideologue!).
        I like, say, The Dark Knight Rises for the look of it but the story? The “plot”? The “logic”? The dubious politics? (I’d be on Sandifer’s side on this! I certainly don’t disagree with all he has to say, it’s just the ridiculous extremism, smugness, and pretension I loathe!) The weird combination of “realism” and utter absurdity? Yech. Stupid. I have similar problems with the Craig Bonds (tho’ I like them more than you, Le Messor) and the overpraise of Casino Royale and Skyfall (The deaths of women in those films is repulsive too) despite their better points. The obsession with “realism” (no matter how UNrealistic that “realism” *truly* is) and the catering for the unimaginative is a plague as is the similar obsession with adolescent notions of “cool”. Jeepers, I do go on!
        I agree with you about Empire’s toys! Taun taun!
        Ha! You should hear what I wonder fans of Donald Duck are called! (Awful pun involved!)
        Happy Christmas, Le Messor!

  12. Louis Bright-Raven

    For some reason, I did not remember you not liking the holiday, Greg, although I feel reasonably certain you’ve said as much before.

    Let’s see…

    I have to agree on the Tim Burton BATMAN (and really just about every live action BATMAN movie ever done, for that matter). Costume was bad, the Batmobile looked stupid as hell, Keaton just didn’t really speak to me as Batman (though really nobody does… Bale was closest, but even he doesn’t really pass muster). Nicholson for me is one of the most overrated actors to ever grace the screen, so I really couldn’t have cared less about him one way or the other. (Note: Overrated doesn’t mean untalented or that they don’t ever put in a good performance. It just means too many people rate the performance as better than it actually is, based upon personal preference and reputation of the performer.)

    STAR WARS ROGUE ONE – It’s kind of, “We’ll get to it.”

    JOHN WICK 2 – Couldn’t care less. Tired of Keanu Reeves, unkillable superfighter.

    SKYFALL – Rather unmemorable. As in, I know I’ve seen it but can’t remember much about it. Which is kind of how I feel about all the Daniel Craig Bond films. I have never seen Daniel Craig’s Bond as a bad ass, but instead a rather moronic incompetent. I mean, keep in mind he also fails repeatedly on various levels in CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, and in SPECTRE as well. Craig’s Bond is more brutish, doesn’t have the charm or wit of previous versions, and the writing of these films takes the character and the genre to a much darker, often far too somber / serious tone.

    RE: STAR TREK VOYAGER and ENTERPRISE – That’s not the theme song that made people hate ENTERPRISE; UPN was being arguably the crappiest network ever*, and the writers’ constant need to throw sexual relationships into the mix, instead of telling legitimate STAR TREK stories. That was a big part of why I didn’t care for either Voyager or Enterprise, because they just HAD to go into those kind of story elements. The Temporal Cold Wars on ENTERPRISE left me cold. I didn’t care about Seven of Nine or Janeway’s sexual relationships. I didn’t care if Tucker and T’Pol were ever going to hook up. That to me was not what mattered. I didn’t like Tom Paris as a character, given that it was a rehash of Starfleet Cadet Nick Locano, played by the same actor Robert Duncan McNeill in ST:TNG. I presume there was too many years between stardates for it to be Locano, and I realize they tried to cast the role with hundreds of other actors before they brought in McNeill, but it always bothered me that the Paris character was clearly built around the Locano template. I didn’t like what the writers did with Kes, although I’m not sure that was all their doing, or a situation where things between the producers and actress Jennifer Lien dictated some of it.

    That having been said, I don’t think either show ‘sucked’ as much as they didn’t really resonate with me. But for me, Trek as a franchise has progressively worsened since about the second season of DS9.

    * = Keep in mind, they kept killing all their SF shows – MERCY POINT, LEGEND, NOWHERE MAN, SPECIAL UNIT 2, JAKE 2.0… all before they could really build an audience. If VOYAGER and ENTERPRISE didn’t have the Star Trek brand name, neither series would have lasted a season.

    1. Le Messor

      You’re right about it not being the theme song that was the main problem with Enterprise (though it was a big one!); stomping on continuity was a pretty big thing for me.
      I agree with you about Locano… but who doesn’t? (Was Locano’s father an admiral? Does it matter?)
      I also hate that they shoved the Maquis into Starfleet uniforms in the second episode. Made no sense and destroyed their own stated premise (one of them anyway).
      Still like the show. 🙂

      Batman:
      “Note: Overrated doesn’t mean untalented or that they don’t ever put in a good performance.”
      I’m sorry you have to explain that. But you do. :/ (ruddy binary thinkers.)
      As for the ’89 Batmobile, I’ll follow this up with another comment with links, but in case that doesn’t work:
      Look up the Thrust 2, world land-speed record-breaking car, driven by Richard Noble. (Oddly, looking up speed-record-breaking cars, one of the images that came up was the Tumbler.)

    2. Le Messor

      The promised links, hoping this comment goes through, and at this stage I’m just typing so there’s actual comment rather than just link in hope that it does help it through:
      http://www.landspeedrecord.org/thrust-2-richard-noble/
      http://www.wyntercon.com/batmobile-replica
      http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/06/take-a-ride-in-the-batmobile-around-sydney-with-groupon/

      For the record, I’ve seen the last one at a convention (and possibly the ‘real’ one in a shopping mall once). It was weird seeing it with rear-view mirrors (which didn’t look like the ones in the picture.)

  13. Louis Bright-Raven

    Le Messor:

    Yes, I’m aware of the inspirations for the 1989 Batmobile. The Batmobile for the Keaton film was designed and built off a fused Chevy Impala’s chassis with a V8 engine with special effects to make it seem like a ‘jet powered enginge’ – the center intake design aesthetic and the Corvette’s curve lines is what Furst took from the Thrust 2, but in terms of actual functionality, it wasn’t designed off the Thrust 2’s Rolls-Royce Avon model whatsoever. And sorry, but the Thrust 2’s design looks dumb to me also. YMMV.

  14. Other Chris

    Batman 89 still holds a special place in my heart. Made before Burton became a parody of himself, the tone between dark and camp is just right, and Keaton is easily my favorite actor in the role. There’s no excuse for Batman Returns, though.

    Otherwise, I mostly agree with the rest of the list. I was a huge Star Wars fan for a decade or so, but the Disney reboot feels like a good jumping off point and it doesn’t look like I’m missing out on anything special. It still baffles me that comic nerds and cartoon/anime fanatics can’t find something enjoyable in the prequels, but I’m already seeing signs that the Disney films are causing some folks to see them in a new light. Given enough time, and after everyone has burned out on lightweight superhero movies, I guarantee that the prequels will become cult classics.

    The warm initial reception of Skyfall and Spectre didn’t baffle me. It’s obvious that if you package your movie in the right way and give off the impression of depth, audiences will assume and lean into the idea that there’s more to it than there is. Marketing plays a big role as well, but don’t get me started on that rant. As much as I dislike the last three films, it’s very easy to purge them from my own personal canon, but it’s still disappointing that they couldn’t follow through on what they started with Casino Royale. Prequels and reboots are killing creativity, and these studios choose to—-nope, not gonna rant.

    I had heard such bad things about Voyager and Enterprise before watching that when I finally did get around to it, I was pleasantly surprised. Enterprise is still mostly a dud, and some of the stupid writing decisions involving the temporal cold war and the Xindi stuff pretty much kill those story arcs, but it looked like they finally got it together in the final season. And as awful as Threshold is, it’s at least entertaining on a “what the hell am I watching?” level, which is more than can be said for a lot of Star Trek stinker episodes. I’d rather have crazy awful than boring.

  15. John King

    I enjoyed Batman but felt it was flawed and I preferred Batman Returns
    (In response to frasersherman’s comment, to me Christopher Walken’s character was simply stealing energy from Gotham’s power grid and storing it away with the intent of selling the power (and maybe sabotaging other people’s power plants to increase the price) to make money for his son’s inheritance (the son being not bright or avaricious enough to steal for himself on that sort of scale) – the real threat in the film was the Penguin and his twisted vengeance scheme against the city)

    I have not been particularly impressed by any of the Daniel Craig Bond films (and have not seen Spectre). I think with Skyfall, the makers took the idea of tearing down and destroying all the defining aspects of the series and then rebuilding in a more “down-to-earth” “gritty” approach and took the unusual approach of actually doing all the destroying within the story. This approach is of course not going to appeal to the people who enjoyed the regular aspects of the series.

    I wasn’t that keen on Voyager – some good episodes but I felt the writers weren’t too clear on what they were doing in the early seasons underusing characters (to the frustrations of the actors) and plot ideas – so we had 2 seasons of the Doctor show before 7 of 9 took over.
    While Next generation was weak for the first 2 and a half seasons, it got better and became the best Trek since season 2 of the original.
    Enterprise was okay for 2 seasons perked up in the third’s storyline and became variable in season 4.

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