I can’t say how many movies I’ve watched. Thousands. When I was at film school I watched 6-8 features a day for at least two years. In that time I learned to appreciate those productions which weren’t mainstream, either presentation or style.
I even sat through some, but not all of Andy Warhol’s 1964 classic, Empire. The eight-hours-and-five-minutes version, not any cheap six-hour knock off.
But some productions have challenged even my filmic constitution, here are my comic candidates!
Dick Tracy (1990)I’m almost certain there aren’t words to describe how bad this movie was, but I’ll have a try. Based on a comic and radio show that few outside the US knew, it combined the dubious acting ability of Madonna with a frightful comic colour scheme and a script that didn’t occupy the half of the fag packet it was written on.
It was created when Hollywood was going through a particular phase where each conversion of another medium came along with a tick list (are we out of that phase yet?).
So it was original comic colours – tick! Twenty One villains from the Chester Gould comic strip in the movie – tick! Leading man and chief villain who have previously done successful gangster movies – tick! Youth identifiable personality, Madonna – tick! Young person with stick out ears – tick!
Unfortunately, getting a full set of ticks a wonderful cinema experience does not make. I could go on to detail the awful ham acting, forgettable music, tensionless action, but it’s just too abysmal to recount. It comes from an era where the idea of a wrist radio was radical.
In some poor movies I hold out a hope they’ll get better at some point, but with Dick Tracy I knew 30 minutes in that it would be consistently uninteresting, and actually thought about walking out then!
What I find even more worrying in retrospect was that this drivel was nominated for seven Oscars, and got three! Can anyone point me to an equally nominated film, without legal entanglements that is virtually never screened on TV?
Someone, who needs slapping very hard, recently suggested a sequel! Please, no.
Catwoman (2004)I didn’t actually go to the cinema to see this, but instead caught it on Sky. If I’d paid hard cash for this I’d have walked, and demanded a refund. Even though they share a common comic basis, unlike Dick Tracy this one seemed to have such little to do with its original material that I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I was enduring.
What’s it got to do with Bob Kane’s original character? Sod all. The title, perhaps. Yes, they both get killed by power crazed employers and are brought back to life by cats, but any other similarities are accidental at best.
What it boils down to is a bizarre competition between Halle Berry and Sharon Stone as to who can give the most over the top performance. Berry does the sort of cat impression that three year olds produce when encouraged at playgroup, while Stone delivers some of her lines like she’s channelling Ethel Murmen.
It doesn’t really help that the effects aren’t well executed or even conceived. a wasn’t Shakespeare, but at least it had a few decent visuals. And the Catwoman costume is an abomination that rivals even the infamous ‘Bat nipples’ regalia that George Clooney sported. It looks like something she got on the way to the studio from some bondage boutique.
This film is so bad it actually borders on becoming entertaining, in a cliché ridden self parody type way. But it isn’t.The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) My frustration with this stemmed from many factors, not least that I’d read the comic novels and enjoyed them. The director, Stephen Norrington, took an excellent cast, massive budget and interesting source material and flushed it headlong down the pan.
Where did it go wrong? Top of my list would be the script, which diverges massively from the comic source in a number of significant ways. Originally Allan Quartermain was an Opium addict, and the story is much about his redemption. But the Sean Connery’s version isn’t an addict, which entirely changes the premise of what LXG is actually about. The revelation at the end of the novel is a genuine surprise, where in the film it’s so telegraphed that they might as well have put it in the opening credits!
And, where did Tom Sawyer come from? Oh, I see, American audiences are so dim that unless they can have a character from a book they’ve read then they won’t understand what it’s about. Tosh.
Although, it does remind me of that story about The Madness of King George, which was originally going to be called The Madness of King George III, until the American company marketing the company said that was a bad idea. Because people would wonder why they’d never seen King George I and II.
What it does have is some great production design, and a few nice set pieces, but the overall result is horribly inconsistent. Unlike Dick Tracy, it annoyingly held out the hope that potentially it might get better in the final quarter, but it failed to live up to the initial mediocre promises. When it finally ends it’s a relief rather than a conclusion.
If any of you meet Mr Norrington on your travels, please kick him from me.