Saturday, March 7, 2015
How Many Bad Movies Can a Director Make Before You Give Up?
Neill Blomkamp's Chappie is in theaters this weekend and is being almost entirely savaged by critics (I have not yet seen it). Between their disdain for Elysium and now this film, many of these writers are declaring Blomkamp's District 9 to be a fluke -- a work of accidental greatness from a filmmaker with no ability to recreate that success.
Putting aside your own feelings for Blomkamp, Chappie or District 9, are these critics overreacting? Should a director be given more than three chances to really find him or herself before being declared a hack -- especially when one of those three movies was very well received and nominated for Best Picture?
How many chances do you give a filmmaker before writing him or her off? Do you ever? If you once liked a director like Kevin Smith or Tim Burton (I picked them because they're both directors who seem to have fallen out of favor with a lot of people who were once fans) but no longer do, at what point did you bail? And is it too soon to suggest that Neill Blomkamp will never make another movie that people like?
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Very good question. I do watch all Kevins movies, even Cop out! And I keep hoping to see bits of what I originally loved in them. Im a glasses half full kinda guy and I like to live in hope, you just never know....ReplyDelete
Great question and I'm going to predict that most of the answers from my fellow F-Heads are going to be the same as mine: a resounding NO! I was just saying yesterday to someone that I'd heard Chappie was crappy (note to filmmakers - if you're going to give your movie a title like Chappie or, say, Smitty, make sure it's fucking good) and I hadn't cared much for Elysium, but I really liked District 9 and I would forever give him a chance based on that movie alone. Like, I'm already looking forward to whatever he does next. Same goes for the Wachowskis, for example.ReplyDelete
It's been discussed here before - the fact that so many so-called movie lovers seem to root for failure - I don't expect it but, like Dennis, I hope every movie is going to be great, even if I've been "burnt" by a particular director in the past. Hell, I'm prepared to have Patrick tell me one of these summers that the latest Adam Sandler movie had him rolling in the aisle - you just never know...
I'm with Sol (I think I need that on a t-shirt). I try to stay optimistic. Hell, I still list John Carpenter and Wes Craven among my favorite filmmakers despite the fact that arguably neither one of them has made a decent movie since the 90s. The Ward and Scream 4 are lousy (sorry Heather) but if either one of them had a new movie out this week, I'd have been there to see it.ReplyDelete
To use Kevin Smith as an example as well, Spoilery Movie Star Guy was my least-favorite element of Tusk, yet I'm still going to see Smith's next movie even though Spoilery Movie Star Guy is playing the same character and has apparently been promoted to the lead. If that ain't faith that someone can still do good work, I don't know what is.
Without a doubt, the answer can only be Zack Snyder. I've given him too many chances, and been disappointed too many times. 300 was OK, but he biffed the ending of Watchmen, Sucker Punch sacrificed the basics of storytelling and character in favor of "doesn't this look cool," and there has never been an adaptation that so thoroughly ruins the source material as Man of Steel did. Every single scene in Man of Steel has something in it that is so reprehensibly moronic and misguided that there is way in HELL I'm ever going to see anything Zack Snyder ever makes again.ReplyDelete
See also Michael Bay. I still like The Rock, but the Transformers movies continue to be idiotic and unwatchable, but the masses keep going to see them for some reason.
As for Tim Burton and Kevin Smith, I believe there is still good in them. Burton keeps talking about wanting to get away from greenscreen and CGI and start "real" filmmaking again, which I hope he does. Tusk wasn't good, but I'm fascinated with how completely non-commercial it is. It's a movie that doesn't care what anyone thinks of it. Heck, even fandom's favorite punching bag George Lucas says he wants to make a documentary and "smaller" films, which I would totally go see. (This was me hoping to end my Snyder/Bay rant on a positive note.)
It's really perplexing now that Blomkamp was given the reigns to a franchise like Alien. I can't remember if he's directing AND writing that, but I fear for that movie mostly on a script level.ReplyDelete
That being said, I'm still oddly interested in how that will be. Not so much at this point because it'a Neil Blomkamp movie, but because it's another Alien movie.
Yep, I'm with Sol as well. A good example for me is Brad Anderson. That guy frustrates the shit out of me because he has shown that he can make an effective horror/thriller AND a great love story and has done so with films such as "Session 9", "Happy Accidents", "Next Stop, Wonderland" and "The Machinist". Nowadays though? "Vanishing on 7th Street", "The Call" and "Stonehearst Asylum" - all garbage but I'll watch anything he does. DePalma is actually THE perfect example. I love that fucking guy - please stop making shitty movies!!ReplyDelete
If a director makes even one movie I like, I usually will watch all of the rest of their stuff in hopes they will make another one that I find interesting or enjoyable.ReplyDelete
Sam raimi did not pull it off with Spiderman 3. We all know it was not totally his fault but that's another story but then he came back with Drag me to hell which I really enjoyed. Theres always hopeDelete
For me, I might continue to track that person's output, but if the movies keep getting bad word of mouth, or I just keep disliking them after I see them, eventually I won't bother anymore. I can only waste so much money and time, but I guess that's the whole point of what we're taking about here.Delete
i've seen every chris nolan movie except the prestige (which i plan to watch at some point), so it looks like that answer might be infinite so long as the director keeps being culturally relevant.ReplyDelete
i've also seen every michael bay movie. though i used to like some of them. considering i watched and hated both transformers 4 and interstellar i don't see any reason why that trend won't continue into 2017 or whenever their next movies come out.
and i keep watching those marvel junks even though i don't like any of them (winter soldier came the closest i guess). i'll be there within the first week for avengers 2 even though i thought the trailer was terrible.
i guess the answer is as long as people are talking about it i want to see it. even if i'm pretty sure i'm going to hate it. and i kept giving guillermo del toro chances and then ended up kinda liking pacific rim, so i guess it's not always a waste.
i have given up on kevin smith, tim burton, andrew niccol, whatever gareth evans' new project is i'm out, same with gareth edwards. i guess if your name is gareth i'm not interested in your movie. ditto todd phillips, ron howard, gaspar noe, robert rodriguez, and judd apatow (though i'm still watching girls even though i hate every episode more than the last).
Do you know what a relief it is to find out I'm not the only one who was thoroughly unimpressed by the Age of Ultron trailer?Delete
guess you should hang out with me and my friends. none of us liked it!Delete
I'm excited about the movie and everything and I know I'll see it opening day, but not because of the trailer. I didn't really like it either. It's not fair to judge a whole movie on the trailer, but it's all DARK and ANGRY and that's not why I thought the first movie was so fun.Delete
But don't you know it's supposed to be The Empire Strikes Back… Because that's what filmmakers do now. Every sequel has to be tougher, darker, grittier which to internet movie fiends means "BETTER". LOL.Delete
To borrow a line from F This Movie, I could less about an another Avenger film. I'm more interested in seeing the next Joss Whedon film because the guy is a storytelling genius.
I don't mind it if they're going for a different tone. I don't necessarily want the sequel to just be a rehash of the last movie. Plus, I have faith at this point that Marvel really knows what it's doing.Delete
Michael Bay is a great example for this. While I don't think any of his monies are particularly the greatest, I liked The Rock and Armageddon ok. Now, I haven't watched a single one of his movies since Pearl Harbor, a movie I do not like, and I don't plan to start up again any time soon. It's the same with M Night Shyamalan. I bailed after Signs, which I consider the last decent thing he made. I hope Neill Blomkamp doesn't prove to be another M. Night Shyamalan.ReplyDelete
shyamalan is a great choice. i actually haven't seen one since unbreakable, but i have been meaning to see signs for the last 10 years or so.Delete
Simple: when the amount of good-to-great movies a director has done starts being overtaken by bad, mediocre or forgettable films (that you've seen or people whose opinions you trust state so) I bail. I haven't seen a Michael Bay film since the 1-2 punch of "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor," and based on what I've read and heard I did the right thing for me. It takes two good movies for me to jump back on a director's fold, so Tim Burton needs to do another "Big Eyes" and I can start taking his assembly-line-since-"Nightmare Before Christmas" films seriously again. One good/bad film could be a fluke ("Alien 3"), but two's a pattern. Blomkamp isn't quite in movie jail yet, but he's on probation if "Chappie" is as bad as advertised when I get around to seeing it next week.ReplyDelete
There's no hard rules about which directors you give up on and which ones you embrace past their expiration date. We're human, they're human. We like what we like, they like what they like and the complicated road to get a movie made (writers imposed on a project, studio interference, etc.), then the final product being marketed it appropriately and you being in the right mood to see it all contribute whether it's worth it giving a director you've given up on another shot.
I'm not such a hard-core movie buff that I have to see everything any one director makes. With X-Men, X2, Valkyrie, DoFP and exec producing work on First Class, Bryan Singer is probably one of my favorite directors, but I haven't bothered to Netflix Jack the Giant Slayer. There are lots of Spielberg joints I don't mind missing out on, most recently The Terminal and War Horse. Documentaries (and Piranha II) aside, I guess I'm a James Cameron completist, but he's directed so few movies that barely seems to count, and if he were to make a True Lies follow up, even I'd be tempted to skip it.ReplyDelete
In short, I really do take movies on an almost purely case-by-case basis. (The big exception being Marvel Studios joints; I'll see those no matter who directs, what it is, or how it's received, because Resistance is Futile.)
Before the internet, many directors made 3-5 movies before they got recognition. The warm up period no longer exists. You have to be perfect from film one.ReplyDelete
For Neill Blomkamp especially, I don't know about prefect, but I think part of the problem was that he WAS so great right out of the gate, so now there is set a certain expectation for his follow-up movies, and it's one that's tough to live up to.Delete
Or some people claim that District 9 is his comfort level and everything since has been a repeat of sorts.Delete
Indeed. It seems like he had one good idea and then he has just been repurposing it to less success every time. I was thinking that maybe he should try something outside of the science fiction genre.Delete
^ Yeah, I'm inherently suspicious directors who only do one genre, tone, or motif (looking at you there, Nolan!), partly because I know if I were a director, I'd definitely want to switch things up, and challenge myself. Easier said than financed, I'm sure, but I'm suspicious regardless. Blomkamp recently said that he didn't do Elysium's concept justice... uh, granted, I didn't see it, but to me, the concept was the problem, and Chappie's frankly doesn't sound any better. I haven't even seen District 9, because the symbolism sounded so dully obvious and heavy-handed.Delete
Anyway, if lived-in, rusted/ramshackle sci-fi is Blomkamp's one pony trick, seems to me the Alien franchise is the ideal fit for him. Perhaps such a high-visibility project will entail just as much scrutiny on the development side, forcing him to work with writers who'll challenge him to work on his storytelling skills, and not just coast on playing around with the fruits of his concept art.
Regarding repeating genres or tones, though, I guess it just depends, really. David Fincher is a name that comes to mind, where he is basically known for dark psychological thrillers, but he's so consistently good at making those, in my opinion, that I never mind getting another one from him.Delete
^ Aye, Fincher's generally proficient enough to avoid being dull, and he also switches up the kinds of movies he makes, from surreal pulp (Seven and Fight Club) to a just-the-facts procedural (Zodiac) to a corporate deposition thriller (The Social Network). But I'm still not seeing Benjamin Button just because his name's on it. ;)Delete
Fair enough. He doesn't always focus on the same things, so his movies don't feel similar. Maybe that wasn't the best example. You're ok to skip Benjamin Button if you want.Delete
I’ve learnt that it takes me a long time before I finally turn off a director. I was with M Night Shyamalan all through The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening until The Last Airbender broke me… but then I was back on-board with After Earth (despite my better judgement). So sometimes, I just become a masochist at the hands of an inconsistent director. However other times the loyalty pays off… for example Wes Anderson.ReplyDelete
Other directors I’m still latched onto despite my better judgement include Bryan Singer, Bill Condon, Marc Forster, Joe Wright and the Wachowskis. I know, I need to let some of these guys go.
Frankly, any film released these days that isn't another tiresome remake or superhero movie is okay with me. I think it's great to have someone interested in making original sci-fi movies with ideas and a point of view. I hope Blomkamp gets more chances -- I don't mind honourable failures.ReplyDelete
2. It takes 2 to get my faith, and 2 can break it. After the Prestige and Batman Begins came out, Nolan had me sold. I'd see anything he made, regardless of genre or subject matter. The Dark Knight and Inception were both great, and I walked out of The Dark Knight Rises a little disappointed, and said "well, no one's perfect." For Interstellar, I never watched one trailer, I avoided reading about it online, so I could go in as fresh as possible to the theaters. Well, needless to say, I'll be checking out the trailer for whatever his next project is, and deciding if I want to see it or not.ReplyDelete
Blomkamp never had that kind of pull with me. Even tho I love District 9 (and like it more and more every time I see it), and think Elysium is good, despite all it's flaws; I'm just not interested in Chappie.
There is one exception though. If John McTiernan ever makes another movie, I will see it opening night. I don't care how bad Basic, Rollerball and 13th Warrior are. The guy made Predator, Die Hard and Hunt for Red October.
Amen to McTiernan!Delete
They are overreacting because CHAPPIE is pretty great. (FYI, I loved D9 and didn't care for Elysium)ReplyDelete
It varies... You have to take into account how much autonomy the director has had.ReplyDelete
I don't think District 9 did THAT well to make Blomkamp's movies tamper proof. On the other hand, when a Tim Burton, a Christopher Nolan or (especially) Lucas fails you can be 99% sure it's all them.
The flip side of that is that when you see the fingerprints of the studio and test audiences all over a movie (ex: Carrie) I'm willing to give that director another chance.
I feel like I am almost finished with Nolan. I've disliked his last 2 films enough to cast the rest of his films into doubt.I also am getting close to a breaking point with Ridley Scott as he hasn't made anything worth seeing for the last 6 years. (although if the Martian gets decent reviews i will undoubtedly come back)ReplyDelete
I definitely think critics are seriously overreacting with Chappie. It's certainly no masterpiece - definitely not as good as District 9, but certainly better than Elysium - but it is undoubtedly a solid and fun sci-fi romp with a great lead character. Yet the reviews I've read for it act as if it's some kind of personal attack to the critics themselves, it's left me very perplexed.ReplyDelete
Maybe it doesn't work as well with non-South Africans who don't get all the inside jokes and references? Similar thing with District 9, because where other people saw a weird quirky sci-fi story about funny looking aliens, me and other people that I know watch the first act feeling a very deep sense of anxiety and dread (because it's practically a documentary).
To contribute to the topic at hand I'll mention Harmony Korine. He seems to be so full of untapped potential; where every good movie he makes still feels like a blueprint of a possibly great movie. Gummo is still my favourite - but it had it's roughness - then Mister Lonely made a strong left turn to great results - yet again so full of missteps and awkward unevenness - and Spring Breakers had some very interesting ideas and sequences - but also not exactly fully-realized and polished. So in short I think he makes decent movies that could be so much more every second time he tries.
This could be said for Ridley Scott as well. Gods and Kings, Prometheus, etc. I believe sometimes a filmaker hits a cold spell too. What of the directors that produce hit after hit then hit a low point in their careers and recover slowly(or not at all?) Too soon to count out Mr Blomkamp I believe.ReplyDelete