The Internet. A new frontier for fans of pop culture. It can be a fun and exciting place. But, the internet also harbors dark energy. Dark energy that lashes out at personal opinions on pop culture-related items. It’s essentially a new type of accepted bullying. I understand that fans often feel entitled to certain properties. While it’s important to stay true to the nature of adapting said properties, there also has to be an original idea behind the property so the director/writer is able to make their own mark. When these movies drop the ball and deliver something sub-par, certain corners of the Internet tend to overreact. The people who work day and night on these movies and their final products get destroyed by by this anonymous, unsatisfied people sitting safely behind their computer screen, armed with keyboards and screen names.
Thanks to the internet, fans are allowed to spew angry rants about “ruined childhood” against people like George Lucas for his Star Wars prequels and his Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t care for the Star Wars prequels. Mediocre acting, overabundant CGI, flat dialogue… All these things are problematic in objective measure, but they don’t warrant accusations of “The worst movies of all time.” They are disappointing chapters of exceptional franchises, but they aren’t among the worst cinema has to offer. If these were the first exposures audiences were offered by the Star Wars universe, well… well, they’d still be pretty bad. Just not monumentally bad. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a clear cash grab through and through. It still has some good moments with strong direction from Steven Spielberg. It suffers from the same problems as the prequels (the CGI and flat dialogue), but the acting is much better. The film might offer a dulled sense of adventure compared to the earlier chapters, but, in the middle of awkward family-centric comedy and monkeys teaching Shia Lebeouf how to swing from trees (ugh), there’s a genuinely great chase sequence through a university with classic Spielberg action and humor.
How about the Peter Parker dance sequence in Spider-Man 3? In a recent discussion with a movie-loving friend, he claimed it was the worst crime in the history of cinema (if Spider-Man starts wearing nipples on his suit, then he and I will talk). But, in truth, Spider-Man 3 has some of the best action in the series. The subway fight with Sandman is a huge modern highlight in terms of superhero spectacle. The film overall may possess the tonal consistency of an opera singer choking on a swan, but considering it as one of the worst movies of all time? Get over yourself. Even in the nonsensical moments, Sam Raimi’s astute direction keeps the film as focused as possible within an excessively haphazard script. This mess of a movie still permits Peter Parker to learn something valuable through his experiences; even it’s as simple as “revenge equal bad,” it’s absolutely serviceable as a comic book moral. Spider-man and Peter Parker still go through changes that could have rippled into subsequent sequels. Now we have a reboot with more studio interference than ever before! Even with my unrelenting disdain towards the new Spider-Man franchise, I wouldn’t even consider the entries in that series to be the the worst of their respective years (that’s another post entirely, trying to tackle that clusterfuck).
All the aforementioned films have one giant common denominator: They’re follow ups to some of the greatest movies of their respective genres (possibly of all time). I think it’s fair to dub these movies as some monumental disappointments, but hardly worth a trip to the Garbage Pile.
Want to know what warrants being called one of the worst movies of all time? Manos: The Hands of Fate, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Freddy Got Fingered, or last year’s Citizen Kane of awful Movie 43. Honestly, try watching Manos: The Hands of Fate and then watch Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you’ll practically find religion in Harrison Ford and Shia Labeouf. You think Spider-Man 3 is a crappy superhero movie for fans and casual viewers alike? How about a trip to Gotham in Joel Schumacher’s unintentional comedy Batman and Robin – a movie so bad the director apologized for the final product. Disappointment can be devastating. It can break resolves. It can break love for a character or a franchise. But you should never let it fill you with such rage to the point of vehemently hating something that really isn’t a complete disaster. In fact you probably shouldn’t hate anything that requires you to exhort more energy than you would by ignoring it. What kind of fan wants to live like that? Let’s just call them disappointments and move on to movies that deserve our time and energy.
Now go watch Godzilla damn it.