I was parsing the quality of some movies with a friend a few days ago. You know how it goes – us consumers often measure things against the standards by which all other things of equal categorization are judged – books to books, music to music, cars to cars, apples to oranges, and… movies to movies. I made the argument that the recent rendition of Dredd was of better quality, better writing (Alex Garland penned the script) better soundtrack, better story, better acting, cooler characters, more faithful to its original canon, and had a far superior ending than The Dark Knight Rises. While I agree that TDKR isn’t a bad film – I have to admit that the ending was a letdown – Dredd simply scored higher ticks on the badass-o-meter, in my opinion. If you missed Dredd in the theaters, I could guess why – the trauma of the Stallone version had probably been etched onto your memory forever. You’re not the only one who thought this – Unfortunately, Dredd flopped in the box-office – too few people wanted to risk their hard earned cheddar on a movie that pinged the entire spectrum of crap-indicators. Unless Dredd turns around and obliterates Bluray/DVD sales-projections, there will be no sequels (there were two planned) which is a shame – it was an excellent movie. If you missed it in on the big-screen, definitely go check it out on Bluray – great movie, and like I said, much better than TDKR.
Anywho, the discussion got me thinking. I wondered what sort of irreverent things people had to say about some of the most highly regarded movies ever made. Talking shit about Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is borderline sacrilege in some circles – but there are people out there who absolutely loathe the franchise. There are folks scattered around who hate Shawshank Redemption. I wanted to know what those people had to say.
It’s a simple process: 1) think of a well-respected film. 2) Look it up on Amazon.com. 3) Select the one-star reviews. 4) Absurd representations ensue:
It’s horrible, I know – but what can I do? It’s also hilarious:
Let’s start with The Lion King.
El Conquistador laments:
Please do not buy this movie, it is anti-american and perpetuates a state where only the elite are well off and lower classes are discriminated agains.
1. The hyenas far outnumber the lions. Even though they wanted Scar as the ‘president,’ the only rightful rulers were from an elitist bloodline. Once Simba comes back, he throws Scar to his death, reminicent of the struggles of the persian Sultans of the 1600′s. I do not want my children to learn such things.
2. There were two characters that could be identified as ‘black’ one of the hyenas, portrayed as low class, filthy and illeterate being. We are forced to hate this character and to chear at their misfortune. Also, you have the baboon, an outcast of society, just left alone to his own non-mainstream (white-society) world view. This shows unabridged bigotry.
4. The evil that is Disney. To try to create an artificial demand for their products Disney only does limited time releases of their movies before they go into the “vault”. This way Disney forces your hand into buying their DVD’s for fear of never having another chance to buy them again. If you think that is symbolic of a fair market then great, but I know that this ploy is not in place to help out consumers, it is there to squeeze out money from the little guys. Those who want it after it’s in they ‘vault’ are forced into an unriliable and unsafe secondary market.
3. False advertising. Disney advertise a great new song for the DVD release. What they provided us with absolute garbage plain and simple.
What the eff? Okay, okay – Moving quickly along, here’s another one for The Lion King from Schieftain:
Does anyone care what kids are unconsciously learning from movies like this? Yes, Disney did a fine job of blending great animation, music, humour, and plot. But what messages are children learning in this movie?
Children love the music in this movie. Just show it to your kid enough times and they’ll be going around the house singing the songs and acting out the characters. Three of the most notable songs are windows into the personalities and agendas of the main characters. There’s Scar’s song when he’s singing to the hyenas about how everything will be great when he becomes the new king, and how he’s going to achieve this by killing King Mufassa. The whole scene is lifted right out of those old news reels of Hitler addressing the Nazi army, right down to a goose-stepping hyena army. What’s a child learning from this behavior? Getting what you want/power through violence.
Another main song is “Just Can’t Wait to be King”, where young Simba sings about how great it will be to finally be king- no one will tell him what to do anymore, he’ll do whatever he wants, and order everybody around. This is a great attitude to teach a child who doesn’t listen to his/her parents, or who has behavior problems.
Another biggie is “Hakuna Matata”, (Swahili for “no worries”). Simba’s new friends Pumba and Timone counsel the grief-and-guilt-laden Simba not to care about the past, or really anything, or anyone else, just live for yourself, “eat, drink, and be merry…” This is a great one for teaching kids about responsibility, and NOT dealing with real-life issues.
Sure, these songs are all done in fun, and yes, in the end, Simba learns what it really means to be a leader (responsibility), and defeats his murderous Uncle Scar, but interestingly, there’s no song to reinforce that. Young kids pick up on the attitudes in the individual scenes and songs- defiance, rebelliousness against authority, power through violence, self-centerdness, indifference… Young kids don’t have the attention span to connect these attitudes with their consequences.
There are several overt tribal spiritual messages in the movie as well, not to mention a couple of violent scenes, which might be too much for some kids.
A lot of people will probably think I’m reading too much into this. But young kids are very impressionable, especially when they’re engrossed in something like a powerful movie that holds them spellbound.
Long story short, it’s important to watch TV and videos with your kids, and screen what they watch first. It allows you to see what they are (unconsciously) learning, and correct any ideas you don’t want them to imitate. And yes, the endless commercials at the beginning of the DVD are rediculous. I don’t think anybody can beat Disney on trying to capitalize on a captive audience.
Man… people got problems. Deep seeded, weird problems.
Alright, here’s what Laughing Buddha wants us to know about Toy Story:
I suppose I am going to be branded narrow-minded and out-of-touch, but I cannot help wondering which people are showing this movie and its sequel to their children without any reservations at all. I, for one, do NOT allow my children to use language like ‘moron’, ‘loser’, ‘dirtbag’ or ‘idiot’, which language is found in this movie by the truckload. I would certainly never allow my children to pretend that they were threatening to hang someone from a gallows, as the toys threaten to do to “Woody”. I guess that when TV/DVDs have become, once again in this generation, the babysitter/parent, we can get fooled into thinking that such a ‘nice’ movie about some ‘nice’ toys can’t be all bad. I guess the people who get sucked into buying the movie for their kids won’t mind if their kids interact with one another using language and scenarios like these I mentioned. The minute I began to even suspect that the world of “Toy Story” and it’s values were going to be reflected in my childrens’ lives, I couldn’t throw the blasted thing out fast enough, and if you want your kids to grow up a little different than the TV-bred cretins around them, you’ll do the same.
I lost it at “TV-bred cretins” – 7up, all over the place.
Alright, on to Pulp Fiction – A Customer says:
When everyone talked about this movie, I had to go see it, and boy was I sorry! It was the worst, there was nothing entertaining about drugs, profanity, violence, murder. What a waste! Not my type at all, and… I am NOT that OLD!!!
Age and taste are not mutually exclusive, my pitiful friend. Here’s another from a different Customer:
It was comforting to read a few negative reviews of this vile film…I truly thought I was alone in my assessment of this moral mess…but what was most disturbing was the audience reaction. It was not possible to escape the imagery of the roman colosseum where human suffering was looked upon as an entertainment event. It was so disheartening. Yes, we can explain it in the “only a movie” terms..or “don’t you get a satire when you see one”..heh, I guess not. Young people really don’t “think” about the trash they allow themselves to digest. Even my own daughters enjoyed the movie. Pulp fiction damed itself on every level, but most especially in terms of its shallowness. I had recently seen “The Player(s)” and was strongly reminded of the ridiculous “group” writing that it claimed is a hallmark of Hollywood motion pictures
That’s right – this movie damed itself. Damed.
Last one on Pulp Fiction, from Dhaval Vyas
Look at me, I am a Quentin Tarantino fan! I am so hip and cool because I sit around and praise his movies like they are the greatest thing ever put on film. I could care less if there are other people who don’t like this movie. This movie is sooooooo cool that other people just don’t get it. They don’t get just how much of a genius Tarantino is. Good God the world is full of so many dumb people! How could they possibly not like ‘Pulp Fiction’? I find if impossible that anyone with a brain cell to possibly not like this movie. What is this world coming to? Look at me, I am a Quentin Tarantino fan! I also like other masterworks such as ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, ‘Fight Club’, and ‘Lost In Translation’. What? You say that those movies are boring and pointless too? Man you people are so dumb. You just have no taste of anything meaningful or worthwhile. You people have no use in this world and I feel sorry for you. How could you not possibly sit around and watch a movie and think that it is cool, hence making you hip and cool in the process. You must lead very sad lives, watching movies that are nowhere near as awesome as ‘Pulp Fiction’.
Look at me, I am a Quentin Tarantino fan. Quentin is going to do an interview on television tonight. I am going to tape it watch it over and over again. Is is just me, or is Quentin the closest thing to GOD on this planet Earth? I am also going to watch ‘Pulp Fiction’ for over the 50th time tonight. I am going to invite my supercool friends and we are going to have a blast. Afterwards, we are going to talk about how cool the movie is and how the rest of the world is so stupid and clueless for not liking this work of art that is greater than the Sistine Chapel.
I refuse to make fun of this guy – it’s like he’s peering into my very soul.
Next one is The Dark Knight.
Remembering Batman Begins I was thinking that Nolan must have done an excellent job once again.
For some unexplained reason (instict?) I waited to see this on DVD. And I was right. From the beginning of the film I had the feeling “something is wrong” but I ignored it. I knew it was long so I waited. But minutes passed, more minutes passed and the film wasn’t getting anywhere. After I saw it, I understood why some users on IMDB rated this supposedly great movie with only one star (and quite a lot of people agreed with their comments).
Except for Ledger, there is nothing good in this movie. It’s not even close to Begins. Hard to believe it’s from the same director. There is simply no action, no darkness, no Gotham, laughable fight scenes, even the Bat-suit (especially the cape) is crap! Can you imagine that there is a scene where dogs chew through the suit and injure Batman ?? What rubbish. I’m still wondering what was the plot (if there was any).
I don’t want to say much, this was simply a boring, empty, overhyped film for sure. ‘Begins’ was definitely on the right track but this feels it fell off a cliff. Maybe next time…
That’s right. TDK is boring, plotless garbage. I bet Perseus is the kind of guy who fuels his existence with the tears of orphaned children. Moving on…
The Dark Knight, according to Thomas L. Bell III:
Ledger must have watched Jack Nicholson as the Joker and realized that his own performance stunk like a skunk run over by a fertilizer truck. This movie was awful, a real stinkeroo. The acting was wooden, the violence gratuitous, the plot disgusting and disturbing. I don’t want to have man’s inhumanity to man rubbed in my nose when I watch a movie for entertainment. I don’t want a 100+ body count or graphic views of a woman being blown to smithereens. Sorry, let’s leave The Smithereens out of this. They rock!
This movie dragged on and on, it had zero humor in it, and the acting was strictly second-rate compared to the benchmark of the original Batman series of movies. I recommend those. Jack Nicholson, Jim Carey, Danny DeVito, Tommy Lee Jones all played GREAT villains and stole the movies. They were evil but believable, and most of all they were FUNNY. Ledger was NOT funny and NOT believable. Sorry, but no insane guy is going to keep coming up with HUGE blow-em-up scenarios one right after the other, particularly when constantly being chased by a badly acted Batman. They made Joker into a super SUPER dooper villain who would have to have the clock-stopping power of Santa Claus to get all of those attacks set up one after another. I could not suspend the disbelief. As for Michael Caine, shame on you for doing this piece of merde’. I hope it is not the last movie you do in your career because I would not want to remember you by this big budget blasphemy of Batman. I rented this for $1 at Redbox. I WANT MY DOLLAR BACK!! I had to rate this one star because they don’t have zero stars or a negative star rating. I would rate this a BLACK HOLE because it SUCKED. PLEASE do NOT buy this movie or even see it for free. If you want the REAL Batman, get the original series. They were good movies. This piece of garbage doesn’t even deserve to be CALLED a movie.
Note to self: avoid using the term stinkeroo from now on. Horrible word.
The Shawshank Redemption:
Here’s Plastic Eggs, wiggling in from the universe of vomit analogies:
I can’t tell you the countless number of lives this film has helped to shape “for the better”, all them folks feeling helpless and all that what not and what have you went and saw this and said “hey, I can change my life around.”
We were better off without them, but not nearly as better off as we’d be without this dull, stale and horribly convoluted trash.
Remember when films could be both positive and seem to have a heart? The Shawshank Redemption has nothing at all whatsoever going for it, not even Deakins’ cinematography could help save this pile of puke.
It’s fluff, it’s that simple, so much fluff, in fact, that I think it would have even made Frank Capra sick.
When the film was first released it was basically completely ignored, which Robbins loves to use as a point to compare the film to one of Orson Welles’ masterpieces Citizen Kane which got the same treatment, but over the years it has gained a reputation, a new found respect, like the equally undeserving Ridley Scott abomination that is Blade Runner; it should have stayed ignored, plain and simple, let it wither away and rot.
It’s # 2 or 3 on the IMDb top 250, a list which in and of itself is a long, unbelievable joke; so, go figure, people are idiots who don’t want to think too much when viewing a film; maybe that’s why Haggis’ Crash got best picture.
And from the realm of latent homosexual repression, I’ll leave J. Hueng with the final word on Shawshank Redemption:
I am writing this only because Shawshank Redemption is the #1 rated film on IMDB.
This movie is about a deep emotional relationship between two men. The entire plot is set into motion by the main character’s (Andy Dufresne) scarring disappointment with a woman, his unfaithful wife. Although he does not actually kill her, a botched confrontation and a farfetched coincidence result in his being imprisoned for her murder. This is better than if he had gone through with the murder himself: it is his hatred of a woman that makes him a transgressive. It is the intent, his sin of thought, not an actual deed, which strengthens prison as a metaphor for his burgeoning homosexuality.
In prison, homosexuality is normalized. This is achieved not only through the characters of “the sisters,” who violently rape Dufresne repeatedly, but also in other ways, such as the inmates’ referral to new arrivals as “fresh fish.” And of course, prison is a space where social intercourse occurs only between men. It is in this context that Dufresne develops his bond with the other lead, Ellis Redding. Through Dufresne’s relationship with Red a distinction is made between what could be called the involuntary or forced homosexuality of “the sisters” and voluntary or romantic homosexuality, such as the unique friendship between Dufresne and Red. After a particularly harsh beating by “the sisters” that lands Dufresne in the hospital for a couple of weeks, Red organizes a return welcome with the gift of several rocks, which Dufresne desires and uses to make figurines.
The movie’s climax, the prison break, also contains some very overt symbolism. The posters of popular actresses that Dufresne obtains from Red and hangs in his cell figure prominently in the film and in the original novella by Stephen King (the novella is titled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption). Many viewers may have taken this as sufficient “signal” that the film is not homosexual. However, Dufresne uses one of these posters to cover up the hole he has picked out of the prison wall and uses to escape through the prison’s sewer. Here, the escape through the sewer is an obvious symbol for anal sex. A sewer is a long tube that contains human waste, like an anus. It is also possible to describe the moment Andy emerges from the prison’s sewer as “climactic,” characterized by a general feeling of “release,” and metaphorically the escape through the sewer allows Andy to “escape” the problems caused by his relationship with his ex-wife. The poster’s role in the film is to conceal this opening to the “sewer,” to the homosexual escape. In the scene leading up to its discovery the warden accuses Red of being “as thick as thieves” with Dufresne (another metaphor of transgression), then in frustration throws a rock at the poster, after very pointedly accusing it of being a party to the “conspiracy.” Dramatically, the rock flies through the poster, exposing Dufresne’s heterosexual utterance as paper-thin, with nothing to back it. Careful viewers will also note that Dufresne’s taste in wall-covering includes many types of posters–Albert Einstein, various maps, portraits, landscapes, etc.–and that the poster concealing the escape route–the specific poster designated to mislead in the film’s plot–is, suspiciously, unique in its depiction of a sexualized woman. To escape the confinement caused by his rejection of women, Dufresne turns to the anus, but cannot do so openly; his homosexuality must be concealed with signs of heterosexuality, in this case Raquel Welch.
Tommy’s subplot is distinct because it triggers the turn in Andy’s character, and it intertwines with Andy’s rivalry with Norton. Tommy is the liminal figure in the film; being a new arrival, a caricature of the virulent male, and possessing information from beyond prison that can free Andy, he straddles the divide between the “straight” world outside and the “gay” world of the prison. This is why his murder is a turning point for Andy. Yes, it destroys his chances of being released, but if you view Norton as representing the perceived heterosexual establishment, which must rule by rational means, Tommy’s murder dispels Andy’s faith in that rationality and the entire legitimacy of the heterosexual power structure represented by Norton and his guards. Keep in mind that up to this point in the film, Andy was happy to use his talents to gain favor within that structure. In this sense, Andy’s payback against Norton carries added meaning. Without being sexual in any way, this is the homosexual fantasy of revenge against a heterosexual power structure which imprisons and confines.
Finally, after breaking out of prison, Dufresne organizes a reunion with his special friend Red by leaving cash and a letter, written in flowing script, in a tin box by a wall on a prairie. He has given Red instructions to locate the box with a compass, and Red uses the money to travel to Dufresne’s secret location in Mexico, where the two men reunite on a sandy beach next to the ocean. This is how the film ends. Dufresne and Red finally find their homosexual paradise: a place where their love can be consumated outside of “prison,” i.e. where their homosexuality does not make them transgressors in the eyes of society.
I fully realize this review is going to ruin my helpful/not helpful ratio as a reviewer. It needed to be said.
Shane Lindemoen is an American author, journalist, and an occasional literary critic; he is also the National Affairs editor of Secret Laboratory. His upcoming novel, Artifact – published by Boxfire Press – is set for an August of 2013 release date. Shane is a self-described “poor white boy from the east side who happens to read about politics and stuff.” Visit him at www.shanelindemoen.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter!