Monday, July 26, 2010

Why I Haven't Read a TV or Movie Review in Years (SPOILER: Because of Spoilers)

These two "classic posts" still ring true today.  Maybe even truer. (Except that since then I have seen a couple of Harry Potter movies.)

DEFENSIVE MOVIEGOING (12/17/05)

So I don't get to the movies nearly as often as I like to, because I work a lot. (And because I'm busy tracking Japanese women's flatulence statistics.)

But this morning I had to go see King Kong, which was fun. Don't worry, I won't give anything away. And when I say that, you can bet on it.

Because, you see, I had to go see King Kong.

Had
to.

Even though I really didn't have time, I had to engage in what I like to call "Defensive Moviegoing."

D.M. is the necessary shields-up protection against a mass media that seems hellbent on telling you each and every key plot point of every new movie before you have a chance to see it.

Never mind the trailer that tells the whole story. That's the trailer's job. We have to live with that.

I'm going to focus on the critics and reviewers. (And yes, there is a big difference.) They ruin movies for no reason other than... I don't know what it is. Sadism?

I first noticed it when I saw Siskel & Ebert review The Crying Game. Now before I tell this story, remember two things:

1. I'm telling this from a very old memory, so it may not be exactly right, okay, Comic Book Guy?

2. Revealing that there IS a twist in a movie IS THE SAME AS REVEALING A TWIST.

Okay, so: Roger (an actual critic) reviewed the movie, careful not to mention that there was a twist at all. Good for Roger.

Then Gene mentioned that there was a shocking twist. (D'oh!) Roger -- I like to think a little exasperated -- admonished him not to tell what it was. Gene assured him he wouldn't, but "suffice it to say, it's a twist that will make you question your beliefs about sexual identity."

Gee, thanks, Gene.

Here's a typical, modern-day example. It's made up, but I'm sure you've read sentences like this one all the time in reviews:

"Sinise is fine for much of the movie, but it's only in the last act, when a plot twist calls upon his character to take a darker turn, that he really gets to let loose."

WTF??!

Or the more subtle variation:

"Hackman is effective, as a cop apparently helping Jackman track the missing gold."

Now what on Earth would motivate the reviewer to add the word "apparently"? Is it to prove to us that he's smarter than we are? That he really saw the movie?

Is he afraid that if he didn't add that word, that we'll see the movie, be surprised that Gene Hackman turns out to be the bad guy, and then write a mocking letter, "Hey Reviewer Asshole! Didn't you see the whole last half hour? Gene Hackman was the bad guy!!"

Trust us, Reviewer Asshole. If anyone writes that letter, you don't have to print it.

Maybe -- and this more likely -- someone just held Reviewer Asshole's head in the toilet in high school, and he swore then and there that he'd never let anyone ever have fun ever again.

I swear to you, I am going to start a "burning torches" club. And I need your help.

The next time a reviewer mentions that an actor is excellent as a "doomed" character, let's go down there with burning torches.

The next time a reviewer says any movie "has an ending reminiscent of The Sixth Sense," let's go down there with burning torches.

The next time a reviewer mentions how delightful such-and-such is in a "surprise, unbilled cameo," let's definitely go down there with burning torches.

Until then we'll have to practice Defensive Moviegoing.


HERE'S HOW PERVASIVE AND UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS HAVE BECOME (8/12/07)

I have never read a Harry Potter book nor seen a Harry Potter movie.

Nor have I ever read a single article ever about Harry Potter, nor watched a single news report about Harry Potter. I've never talked Harry Potter with a fan.

Nothing against all of you, I simply have no interest. But I instantly turn off anything about Harry Potter because someday I might want to read the books.

So I deliberately avoid everything Potter-related.

And yet, I KNOW HOW "DEATHLY HALLOWS" ENDS!!! By sheer cultural osmosis!

How is that possible???

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