Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Film Friday: The Core (2003)

I’ve got a film on my mind: The Core. The Core isn’t horrible, but it’s not a good film either. Strangely, The Core has generally good writing, good special effects, some likeable characters, an interesting plot, and decent production values, but it's still not a good movie. Why? Because it’s lazy.

** spoiler alert **

The Core is a high-budget ($60 million) disaster movie that pretty much bombed, though it eventually turned a profit. It is the story of a group of people who must travel to the Earth’s center to restart the Earth’s core, which has stopped spinning. Without that spinning core, the Earth’s magnetic field will fail and we will be exposed to solar radiation, which will kill us all. In the meantime, the intermittently good/evil US military is planning to use a secret weapon to try to restart the core. . . the same weapon that stopped the core spinning in the first place.

Oh, where to start. If you look at the movie on paper, it should be a pretty good film. The story is interesting and isn’t packed with filler, nor do inexplicable things happen. There are some likeable characters and some good actors. The writing sounds good when heard in isolation and some of it is quite witty. But it never adds up to much because it’s just so lazy.

The first tip off about the laziness is the acting. At no point do you ever get any sense that the actors know who their characters are or that they care about what they are doing. For example, Aaron Eckhart plays a generic scientist who solves the riddle of what’s happening. I like Eckhart, but he doesn't seem to realize he’s a scientist or that he’s the lead character. It feels like he just showed up on set one day and started reading some lines. Tchéky Karyo, who I also like, plays another generic scientist and Eckhart’s friend. We are meant to see these two as fairly close, but there’s no chemistry between them because neither actor acts like they are anything more than acquaintances. Stanley Tucci plays another generic scientist who is also the half-hearted villain. He’s kind of bad, but not really, and Tucci doesn’t bother establishing him as more than just arrogant but helpful. Delroy Lindo plays Tucci’s “nemesis.” Lindo invented both the ship they will use to get to the center of the Earth and the “unobtainium” out of which the ship is made -- a deus ex machina material that solves all possible problems. Tucci stole credit for Lindo’s prior inventions, but Lindo doesn’t care and remains quite civil.

Bruce Greenwood plays an assh~le space shuttle commander who will pilot the ship, and Hilary Swank plays the “super smart” shuttle co-pilot who will go along. They couldn't have less chemistry. Greenwood is bland except when he’s reading insulting lines at Swank. Swank (a high school drop out) is unbelievable as someone with even a middling brain and basically stares at things. Meanwhile, back at HQ, the military is represented by lifeless Richard Jenkins who gets about as worked up over the end of the world and his role in causing it as if someone told him the lawnboy was coming Wednesday instead of Tuesday. “Oh, really? Ok, I’ll mark my calendar.”

Even when the scenes call for emotion, these actors don’t seem to care. For example, in one scene, Swank is supposedly upset because she killed Tchéky. Yet, she delivers her lines like she’s ordering lunch and almost giggles. When Rome is about to be destroyed, their hacker lifelessly says “Rome does not look good.” When Jenkins learns that friend-of-the-family Swank won’t be fired by NASA, he sounds about as happy as if he learned the lawnboy will now be coming on Friday. And at no point do any of them seem all that upset the world is ending. It’s like these actors didn’t bother reading the script ahead of time and are just winging it line by line.

What’s more, this same laziness pervades the writing. The characters have no backstory -- what you see is what you get, and their relationships never rise above the level of acquaintances tossed together for an uninteresting weekend, i.e. there is no urgency, there is no emotion. In fact, the one time Tucci shows emotion comes across as perhaps the worst moment in the film, as he delivers lines so poorly written that you can almost see him begging the others to cut off his ridiculous tirade so he can stop speaking the lines: “You wanna be a hero? You wanna be a martyr? What do you want to be? You're out of your minds! Thank you!” Also, when things need to be done, they just sort of happen without difficulty or explanation. Oh, you need a hacker, here he is. Oh, you need to build a spaceship in three months that hasn’t been designed yet, will take 10 years to build, and is not like anything else on Earth? No problem, we’ll take care of it while you go get lunch. . . don’t worry, we have “scientists” who can do this sort of thing. Oh, you need to find the secret government project? No problem, it's on the map.

Moreover, few of the technical aspects are explained to any degree. . . “we go, make boom, core start, movie end.” And what science they do give is horrible. It's so bad that a poll of scientists voted The Core the least accurate science fiction movie, and Dustin Hoffman actually led an initiative of the National Academy of Sciences to get Hollywood to start getting their science right and to stop making movies like The Core. What's worse, “unobtainium” is used as a catchall explanation to solve all problems the writer didn’t want to bother thinking about. How do they get through the Earth’s crust? Unobtainium. What protects them from the planet crushing forcing? Unobtainium. Where do they get power? Unobtainium. How do they save themselves once they lose their engines? Unobtainium. It slices, it dices, it cuts a planet in half. . .

But what really kills this movie is the overall laziness of the story. The story happens just as you expect, and that's it. There are no surprises, no interesting twists, no memorable moments, and no variances at all from what you would expect from your average low-budget disaster film shown on the Sci-Fi Channel. And that is truly disappointing.

Now in truth, I enjoy this film enough to watch it, but then I'm a fan of bad science fiction. But if you're looking for anything more than "Mega Storm 4" or "Attack of the Giant Killing Thingy," you will be disappointed. And that's too bad, because with the money and the cast invested in The Core, this one had potential.

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AndrewPrice said...

By the way, for science fiction/Doctor Who fans, Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith, died yesterday. She was 63. Very sad. RIP.

Tennessee Jed said...

O.K., Andrew - Bruce Greenwood, Hillary Swank, Delroy Lindo. Miscasting galore, here. Not that these actors can't be good. Stanley Tucci is a wonderful actor, but Greenwood is essentially a Disney only kind of a guy, save the occasional J.F.K. (For a terrific JFK, see Greg Kinear in "The Kennedy's.) You can sense they are going to mail it in, before you they even utter a line.

But, I digress. The story is is, as you say, predictable. In other words, BORING. I have yet to watch this all the way through with at least two attempts.

It is funny how this reminds me of the movie I watched last night, John Dahl's "Unforgettable." Great cast (Ray Liotta, Linda Fiorentino, and Peter Cayote {there is a bay area name for you, Hawk}) who actually do a half way decent job acting.The plot had some potential (e.g. experimental injection from a murder victim can allow you to share their memories. In the end, though, like the Core, it telegraphed just about every punch.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have to agree on the cast. It felt entirely miscast. I like Eckart, but he's more of the "dumb action guy" or the romantic lead than a scientist. Karyo is good, but isn't given much to work with. Tucci is normally excellent, but doesn't seem to care here -- mails it in, as you put it. Greenwood is just entirely indifferent. Swank is a bad choice for almost anything, and certainly can't play someone supposedly brilliant. I do like Lindo and I think he does a good job here, but he is generally better as a mobster and they really don't give him much to work with either. And the supporting cast just felt like they were going through the motions as well.

It strikes me that something went wrong from the get-go here, like everyone got the memo that no one cared about this film. So no one really tried too hard to give their roles much, to give the writing anything extra, or even to make the scenes more lively. In fact, in scene after scene, it seems like they are just standing around looking at their watches waiting for the next scene.

It really is like they said, "hey, who cares, let's just make a quick, safe movie and get the heck out of here with our paychecks."

It would be very interesting to see if any of the actual people involved got that sense?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, P.S. You aren't missing much by not finishing. I'd tell you what happens, but you probably can guess.

FYI, the thing that fascinates me about this is that SciFi has been running disaster Saturdays lately and it struck me how easily this $60,000,000 movie fit right in between all of the movies made for $600 without any real change in quality. Could you imagine saying the same about Jaws wedged between Shark Attack and Shark Swarm 2?

rlaWTX said...

I saw a msall part of it on SciFi and didn't realize it wasn't one of their regular odd movies - except that there weren't any SciFi actors (they keep their guys busy!) in it... I figured it was one of those "in between" movies that actors seem to pop up in - in between the real ones. [I thought Swank landing the shuttle in a CA culvert was kinda entertaining]

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, The first time I saw it was on HBO several years ago and I also thought it was one of those quick, cheap films they sometimes make where they round up a bunch of people about to get famous and hope to score a surprise hit. I had NO IDEA they spent $60,000,000 on this film.

And when it was on last weekend, it really struck me that this film just wasn't all that different than the cheap movies surrounding it.

You're right about keeping the SciFi people busy! I've noticed that Lance Hendrickson, for example, seems to be in a movie a week on the SciFi Channel! Good for him. And I have to admit, that I do enjoy those films. I'm not sure why, but I do.

Anonymous said...

I actually remember the trailer better than I remember the actual film, especially these little bon mots:

Stanley Tucci: "We're going to hack the Earth." and...

The nerd: "I'm gonna need Star Trek tapes and Pop-Tarts." Seriously? (In the film, Pop-Tarts was changed to Hot Pockets which, in my case, still doesn't help the stereotype!)

As for "Attack of the Giant Killer Thingy", I believe they made that movie already: it's called Teeth and I will never watch it. :-)

I'd love to get your take on something like Armageddon. My opinion of it has gone from "Awesome!" to simply, "Stupid but fun."

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The thing about The Core is that it has a few clever moments, but they never amount to much.

For example, I thought the "endless supply of xeno tapes and hot pockets" was very funny given that the hacker had just given this speech about how much more important he was than everyone else. It really made his arrogance seem kind of funny and endearing. I also really liked the line about putting the ship on a credit card to earn airline points. But a few clever moments don't a good film make.

The problem I sense with the plot is that it has no continuity, no coherence. It literally feels like they wrote it scene by scene in isolation and possibly out of order because there's no carry-over, no foreshadowing, and no referencing back. And that's the problem, each scene is ok, but they don't build up to anything because they don't connect.

Teeth? I haven't seen that one, but the description on Wikipedia looks downright awful.

Armageddon. Oh boy. I hate that movie. That was at the height of Jerry Bruckheimer's mind-control powers and swaths of humanity were going to see his visual pabulum and walking away swearing they had seen the greatest movie of all time. I honestly felt like it was time to arm up for the zombie apocalypse, which seemed to be starting all around me.

Not only is Armageddon a stupid film, but every one of its scenes is stupid -- everything from the primitive, nonsensical dialog to the visuals that make no sense except that they are bright and shiny and distracting. The film also was the first to truly offend me with its editing -- there isn't a camera shot that lasts more than 8 seconds in the whole film (yes, it was so annoying I began counting).

And I think history has made its judgment as that film has slowly vanished into the mists of "what were we thinking."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was "Xena tapes." I guess "Star Trek tapes" was from a different take.

Sorry for mentioning Teeth. :-)

And I'm sorry I asked re: Armageddon! I guess it falls under the guilty pleasure category for me, and I mean veeery guilty. The last time I saw it, my LA roommates and I spent two hours making fun of it. On one of the Criterion DVD audio commentaries, two NASA consultants point out all the flaws with the film. (At least, as far as the science is concerned.)

Check out this site for more info about the National Academy of Sciences initiative. The site itself hasn't been updated in a while but the blog has.

Tennessee Jed said...

Got about three quarters through Ronin this afternoon before other duties called. The re-watch tends to support your conclusions in the main. The story is still the driver on making a good movie, and director, acting, cinematography, etc. can enhance or detract.

For example, we have a McGuffin in Ronin; the case. We have sparse character development which is a device we both like. As with with "Without a Hitch" there is that fine line, usually the plot, that gets you to care about the characters. In "The Core" we develop no back story, but really don't care about the characters. Realism goes along way with helping Ronin, but the other huge difference between Ronin and Core is the plot. You really don't know how Ronin will play out, but are compelled to find out. In The Core, you can guess how it turns out and simply don't care.

I suppose the more I criticize The Core, the more I slip into the relm of "Is this truly brave or merely rotten? (from Sherlock's Smarter Brother") instead of your more charitable "it isn't horrible." Ronin is definitely an above average movie, possibly even more than that, but I allow for the possibility that the quality is intensified by the number of boring or semi-dreadful competitors in the action genre such as the awful "the Expendables."

T_Rav said...

Andrew, as luck would have it, I actually watched this over the weekend on SciFi. (Shocker, right? Bad science fiction movie on a bad science fiction channel.) So with it fresh in my mind, I want to pick at a couple of things in your analysis:

1. If Richard Jenkins is who I think he is, I don't think Swank's character is his daughter. I think he addresses her near the beginning and she says, "Only you and Dad call me that." Obviously, this implies she's been close to him for a long time--kinda like a daughter--so I guess this isn't much of a difference.

2. I didn't see Bruce Greenwood's character as the jerk you apparently did. I mean, he was stern and all, but he did compliment her on her past accomplishments, and gave her a lecture on what leadership really meant, which came in handy later on. That said, neither of them impressed me much either way.

I do agree about the laziness argument, though I think it's more evident in how corny some of the dialogue comes across as. For example, we get the hint of a romantic attraction between Eckhart and Swank when they first meet, but as you say, they don't really try to make it work, so it seems too obviously contrived. And near the end, when the hacker (DJ Qualls?) says of the earthquake following the mission's success, "The Earth's healing itself!" I just want to laugh at the cardboard quality of that line. Or maybe throw up. Or maybe both.

Like you, I don't have anything against The Core. It's enjoyable if there's nothing else on, and I'll watch it. But no, it's not a great movie.


(takes deep breath, braces self)

Armageddon is not a bad movie.

(tosses computer under desk and waits for it to explode)

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: I think Coyote should stick to narrating National Geographic and History Channel documentaries. That way, we don't have to listen to his goofy opinions. But you're right, it's a perfect San Francisco name.

I have used The Core as background noise occasionally (it sounds good in surround sound with the subwoofer turned up), but the one time I actually tried to watch it, I spent most of the time yelling at the script, the science, the plot, and the acting (if you can call that acting). I liked Aaron Eckhart in Black Dahlia, but I guess anyone can look like a good actor next to Josh Hartnett. He held his own pretty well in Dark Knight, too. Hilary Swank gives me the creeps. She looks like the dead people in Sixth Sense. The best she ever looked was when she played a girl posing as a boy.

Armageddon had excellent (if totally unbelievable) special effects. Unfortunately, it also had a bad script, silly science, preposterous story line, and worst of all, Ben Affleck. The other cosmic disaster movie that year was Deep Impact, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and have watched occasionally since. It has held up much better that its competitor.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought The Expendables was horrid. Blech. Especially for the build up it was given, it was just such a small film.

I think Ronin and The Core are in entirely different leagues. In Ronin, as you note, the plot is what pulled you in. You didn't know what was going to happen, but you really wanted to find out because it was so well constructed, it offered intrigue and fascinating characters, and it had a really strong atmosphere that sucked you in.

The Core offered none of that. Plus, in The Core, you could probably guess the whole plot from start to finish about two minutes into the movie with 98% accuracy. But since you don't care about the characters, and the danger doesn't feel real -- it's largely a CGI experiment in blowing up a couple cities, and you know there's ultimately no danger things won't work out in the end, it's impossible to care. It would be like starting a shootout by announcing "no one will get hurt in the following scene" -- that just kills the drama. By comparison, in Ronin, you have no idea if things are going to work out or if that's even the point to the film.

In terms of minimalism, The Core strikes me as a movie that didn't even try the concept. There is indeed minimal character development, plot development and backstory, but it doesn't seem to me that this was a conscious decision by the writer to try to make the movie more than the sum of its parts or to pull in the audience.... it just strikes me as laziness. In other words, in Ronin, when something was left out, it was left out intentionally and then suggestions were given to make you fill in the pieces. In The Core, when something gets left out, it's because the writer just didn't bother thinking about it. I can literally see the writer asking himself, "what do I need to put into this scene to get to the next one" and doing nothing more for the story.

So it's hard to see the two movies as even in the same league. In the end, Ronin is like a smart drama disguised as an action film, and The Core is like the dumbest action film disguised as somewhat thoughtful science fiction.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Good point about Swank not being the daughter, you're right, he's just a friend of the family. Still, he's far too indifferent for someone who theoretically cares about Swank.

I do think Greenwood is meant to be a jerk. I say that because he's very curt with people and he really seems to have a chip on his shoulder regarding Swank. In the end, it doesn't really matter though because he's a nonentity in the film. I'm also not so sure his lecture made much of a difference because there was again little feeling in how she acted -- she just flipped the switch and then almost joked about it afterward, "gee, I feel really bad because I basically killed him twice. . . nyuk nyuk." And then the whole "fight" between her and Eckhart with the "could you have made that decision" stuff just felt pro forma to me. Neither one really meant what they said, at least, that's how it felt.

Yeah, the "the Earth is healing itself" line is incredibly stupid and more deus ex machina. Oh, so after being blasted with killer microwaves and cities being leveled, and earthquakes and volcanoes going off everywhere, the earth just resets to "fine" so we can rest assure that the heroes really did fix everything? That's convenient.

In the end though, I like the movie enough to watch it in the background as I'm doing something else or when I'm watching SciFi's end of the world Saturdays (I watched it last weekend as well), but I can't recommend it or call it a good movie. And I certainly have to say that it squandered $60 million in potential.

In terms of Armageddon, oh boy. I see I've got some work to do here. Were did I go wrong?.....

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I thought I submitted a reply but I guess it disappeared. I'll wait a bit before writing it again.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk and Jed, Coyote does have a good voice. And the one film I actually liked him was Sphere.

Lawhawk, I think "background noise" is a good way to see the value of The Core, which is sad for a $60,000,000 film. I like Eckhardt too and have been pretty pleased with his acting in most films. He did an excellent job in Dark Knight. Swank, on the other hand, really strikes me as a horrible actress. She doesn't seem to have any sense of rhythm, she reads poorly, and she doesn't seem capable of playing off other actors.

Armageddon did have excellent effects, but most of the visuals are faked. Take a look sometime at the scene where they are walking to the space shuttle. Check out the fake collection of uniforms, the helicopters flying right over the crowds' heads and facing each other -- in what would be a highly dangerous maneuver if it were real (Bruckheimer loves rotating blades and fans), and all of the other silliness in the staging. It's the pageantry equivalent of putting naked girls in the background to distract from poor writing.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It was in the spam filter. It's out now.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Thanks for the link. They actually make a good point. On the one hand, it's fiction, so who cares. But on the other hand, as they point out, people internalize this information and begin to think it's real. So when it comes time to talk to people about real science, you end up having to cut through all the garbage before you can even begin discussing the truth.

It's actually a similar problem with legal thrillers, though I would argue legal thrillers are even more insidious because people tend to base their views of the justice system on what they see in the films. There almost isn't a film (including the "based on a true story" legal thrillers) that are anywhere near real. They create fake conflict using fake law and fake procedures. So when people internalize that, they end up opining about how unfair our system is when they are really talking about the fake system created by Hollywood.

FYI, I'm still working on a guilty pleasure's list. I'm just not sure how to rank them at this point. And, for the record, The Core might even creep onto that list, but I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

At work earlier (and this should show you just how exciting it is), I was thinking of my own guilty pleasure list, should I later decide to write an article on the subject. I would limit it to 5 and explain my reasoning (Armageddon wouldn't be on it).

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Five would be very hard to do. The problem is the criteria. I can't think of a criteria that doesn't get me around 20 films pretty quickly.

My current top, by the way, would probably be Predator 2. That's an awful, awful film full of horrid cliches, bad acting, repeated contradictions, loss of continuity, inexplicable moments, and downright stupidity.... but I watch it whenever it's on television. Go figure?!

What are you using as criteria? Nolte's criteria, if I remember correctly, was just "bad movie that I really like."

T_Rav said...

Okay, look. I don't think Armageddon is a great movie by any means; if all the characters had been subjected to those Ben Affleck/Liv Tyler romance scenes, I think they probably would have been okay with death-by-asteroid.

But my problem with all the rips on the movie is this: it was never designed to be a four-star epic, it was designed to be a summer action flick. Within the parameters that inevitably sets, I think it works. The basic story line obviously has holes in it, but it's set up in a way that's not too unbelievable if you're anything other than an astrophysics wonk. It is Hollywood science, I admit; but it follows the rules of that science.

Also, you'll have to admit that some of the actors give their characters more feeling than is the case in "The Core." Bruce Willis is, well, Bruce Willis; but the relationship with his daughter is kind of touching, and you also get that gruff-but-loving vibe between him and her boyfriend (ironically, Affleck and Tyler relate to Willis better than they do to each other). There are a few other characters for whom this is the case, but more generally, Armageddon does do some of the things you dock "The Core" for not doing. Is it a great film? No, but it's not the bomb so many people like to say it is.

Finally, riddle me this. Per the movie-to-TV rule you laid down some time back, why is "Armageddon" still easy to find on the tube twelve or thirteen years after it's release, if it's that horrible?

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, You are correct that callin Armageddon a bomb would be entirely unfair. It was meant to be a mindless summer film, and in that context, it does what it is supposed to do quite well. It pulled in a lot of people with its glitz and made Bruckheimer very rich. So it is indeed, impossible to call it a bomb.

And you're right that it still remains on television, so it's got some staying power -- though less so as the years pass. And while I would normally use that as a measure of it being a great film, there is another category of films with longevity that are not great films -- guilty pleasures. I would put this in that category (though I personally don't count it as a guilty pleasure).

And I agree that it compares favorably to The Core, but that's not saying much.

That said, I personally cannot stand the film. Here are my reasons. (1) I see it as promoting attention deficit disorder. The constant quick edits were so annoying that I actually found myself motion sick at times -- kind of like with the vomit cam they use so much these days. And sadly, its success made that style more prominent. (2) I see the film as uber-cynical. Each scene is literally built to give you shiny distractions, none of which make sense. You basically have to turn your brain off to enjoy the film, and I can't do that -- it requires a level of disbelief I can't achieve, especially since I get the feeling the whole movie was made by marketing people rather than creative people like some paint by numbers painting.

And my biggest complaint is that this crown jewel in the Bruckheimer empire was really the film that opened the door to mindlessness in films. Before this, even summer films had to have some story to keep you watching, even when the main point was to see stuff blow up. But Bruckheimer (especially through this film) opened the door for Hollywood to abandon plot entirely and just go with an assault of imagery. In other words, I trace the current horrid state of summer blockbusters back to this film.

So while I can't call it an bomb, I also can't call it a good film, and on a personal level I despise it.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

It's tough, actually. So tough that this is my second attempt at a reply. At the end of the day, I guess it's all about movies where the general consensus is that the movie wasn't good or memorable or, to put it another way, it failed to meet expectations.

I keep coming back to Executive Decision and Trapped in Paradise. Neither is well-remembered (E.D. ain't exactly Die Hard) but I find both immensely entertaining in their own ways. E.D. airs on TV all the time.

And don't get me started on my love of the much-maligned Alien 3. (Extended cut only.) :-)

Ed said...

I don't mind having this film on in the background, but I can't sit and watch it.

Are you still doing a review on Friday?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That seems to be the general consensus.

Yep, I'm working on something for Friday, but first I need to put together an article for tomorrow morning... nothing is coming to mind yet.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - Coyote is a stage name. His real name is Jewish as I recall, something like Mosha ben Coen. My point about San Francisco and you is he was a friend of Emmett Grogan and a member of his his acting troupe the Diggers as well as the S.F. mime troupe. I figured that since that was back in your radical 60's Berkley heyday, you might have been familiar with him.

Andrew - yes I think your distinction between the two films are spot on, and I agree that the minimalist technique was not purposeful. As I mentioned, it can be a thin line . . . give just enough information to draw the viewer/reader in to draw while leaving plenty of room to either wonder or make up their own backstory.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The problem is there may not be any more criteria than (1) was it considered a bad movie and (2) how much do you like it despite realizing it's a bad film.

I wasn't a big fan of Executive Decision, but it seems to me it was pretty popular. Alien 3 would sound more like a better candidate as it was roundly panned, yet it lives on these days on cable.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. It seems to be a very thin line indeed and I don't honestly know exactly how you define it. It's probably one of those things were you will know it when you see it. I guess it depends on what is truly essential to understanding the story?

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Just for the record, the five guilty pleasures I came up with earlier are Executive Decision, Alien 3, Trapped in Paradise, Dick Tracy, and The Stupids.

Hmm... I guess the operative phrase is "Movies I like in spite of myself." :-) We all try to seek out great films but when one comes along that is less than great but we react as if it were great, well, maybe that's the key idea here.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That might be as a good a definition as any -- a film you personally think is not good, but you like nevertheless.

In truth, The Stupids and Trapped in Paradise made no impression on me.

Others I would consider include Alien Resurrection, Predator 2, Beerfest, Krull, Congo, Blue thunder, Xanadu, Hackers, Leviathon, Doom, Deep Blue Sea, Commando, and more.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about Congo!!! That would be #1. I even went to a sci-fi convention and sat in on a Bruce Campbell Q&A but I didn't even think to ask him about his little cameo until I was in the car on the way home.

I'll have to stop this conversation now or we'll be here all night. I guess what I'm asking is, should I wait for your article or write my own (presumably in the next week or so)?

P.S. I saw Commando for the first time just last year. When I read that Schwarzenegger's character was named John Matrix, I knew I'd be hooked!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Bruce Campbell! Now there's a man who could populate the list all by himself! LOL!

Give me a couple weeks and I'll put something together.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I never meant to imply Coyote isn't a decent actor. I was merely drawing on an eery similarity between your viewing experience with "The Core" and my experience last night viewing "Unforgettable." He also played a role in a film about one of the most gripping murder case in the history of suburban Philadelphia, "Echoes in the Darkness." Developed from a true crime book by Joseph Wambaugh, it involved the slaying of a high school teacher Susan Reinhardt and her two children by fellow teacher William Bradfield. Coyote can do "creepy" really well.

On the character information thing, it is hard to define, but I actually think you once put your finger on it correctly. In addition to a compelling plot, you have to develop just enough information about the characters to at least somewhat rationally and believably explain their actions.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks! And I think that's right, I think you need to give the audience enough to believe what they are seeing and all the rest is negotiable. I'm not sure there is a particular bright line that always needs to be drawn, but I would think the rule should be "when in doubt, include."

I haven't seen "Unforgettable" or "Echoes in the Darkness," but like I said, I did like him in "Sphere." I think he does do creepy well and he does angry bureaucrat well. I've also heard him do the voice work in numerous documentaries.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, that's fair. But I still like the movie all right. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Back to The Core; there was a really funny South Park episode some years spoofing it. I think the most hilarious part was when they selected Chef for the "mission" because they needed a token black guy to die heroically halfway through; sure enough:

Cartman: Chef, you don't have to do this.

Chef: What are you talking about? I didn't volunteer to sacrificing myself!

Cartman: Good luck, brother. We'll never forget this.

Chef: This is bull$#%&!

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I remember, it was the episode where they had to get through the hippie crowd to put Slayer in the CD player so they would disperse. That was a good one! LOL!

On agreeing to disagree, ok, we can agree to disagree this time.... but I've got my eye on you! ;-) (just kidding)

Kosh said...

Can't believe you're so down on Armageddon. There are so many more films I would rather stab my eye with a pencil than watch, including Deep Inpact. It was soooo boring. Sort of a bad thing for an "action thriller." In Armageddon, the heros are regular working guys with all their faults, not some muscle bound hunk with inhumane abilities or some politician. As for Ben, my favorite part was Bruce trying to shot him in the beginning. Brainless? A little, ok, ok, alot, but at least put Americans in a positive light. We saved the world while still giving it to the French. The finale is probably the cheesiest ending of all time. Favorite line: "Get off the nuclear warhead."

AndrewPrice said...

Kosh, Agreed about Deep Impact, I was cheering for the apocalypse in that one or just the magic words "the end."

On Armageddon, you're right that its heart was in the right place, it was just the execution that killed me. But I do have to admit that I did like the idea of shooting Ben Affleck a lot. :-)

Ed said...

Andrew, I like Armageddon, but I agree it's not a great movie. I just like it. It's on my guilty pleasure list. I can't wait to see your guilty pleasure list. Is Scott going to do one too?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I'll have to ask. I know Scott's been wanting to prepare a list.

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