I was all set to write in my blog about a couple of bad movies that I saw last week when I heard the strangest, full blast whiny 'meow' from my cat Sam. He meowed and growled several times, the kind of sounds that he gives when he's really annoyed when I pick him up to pet him. Sam likes to be petted on HIS terms and if I pick him up when he doesn't want to be held, he lets me know by growling, meowing and occasionally hissing at me.
The thing is...he was *sleeping* at the time. And I was on the other side of the room, so it wasn't me he was reacting to.
Now, I've seen dogs have dreams before, but I've never seen a cat dream, have you? I don't know what was going on in his dream, but Sam's tail was bouncing around and beating on the table like he was REALLY annoyed at something, but dead asleep.
After a couple of minutes, his tail stopped swishing and he stopped meowing/growling in his sleep. I hope he got whatever it was that was bothering him or he chased it away.
Anyway...that's not what I wanted to write about tonight. Just a strange tangent. DO NOT GO SEE THESE MOVIES:
If you've seen the previews for either of these movies, you probably thought "hey, that looks good, I can't wait to see that when it comes out." and maybe you missed the opening weekend and are thinking of seeing either (or both) of these movies this weekend. Don't do it.
Seriously. Save your money and spend it somewhere else.
I love a good preview trailer and can usually pick a good movie based on its trailer. A good rule of thumb is that the longer a trailer runs, the worse the movie is. A good preview should last 30-45 seconds and tease you to want to see more. If you see too many action sequences or get too many good lines so that the trailer entertains you, then the movie sucks. They are showing you all the good stuff and the actual movie isn't going to get any better. If a preview lasts more than a minute, the move REALLY sucks.
It's as simple as that.
Now, just because a movie has a good trailer doesn't mean it's a good movie. But a bad preview ALWAYS means a bad movie. Remember that--if the preview trailer lasts more than 45 seconds, the movie sucks.
In this case, though, they tricked us. The previews for Lakeview Terrace and Eagle Eye are both really good, and they offer a good premise for each movie that is enticing.
The problem is, neither movie delivers on the the promise of the premise. Eagle Eye:
This film starts with a really cool premise--what if some unknown person contacted you, an ordinary person, via your cell phone and gave you instructions to follow and you would be in really, really big trouble if you didn't follow the instructions?
The idea of a random, unknown force controlling your life and forcing you to do action/adventure/illegal things holds a lot of sway with many audiences, since many of us feel sort of powerless over grand events going around us anyway.
I mean, how many of us REALLY have had any personal contact with a terrorist or an act of terror? If someone kidnapped your child, what types of things would you do to ensure their safety? What if someone you didn't know called you on your cell phone and told you to duck because a construction crane was going to crash thru the window in 10 seconds?
Would you duck? And when it DID come crashing thru the window, and the same voice on your cell phone told you that people were going to start shooting at you in 15 seconds and you had to jump out of a 10 story window to get away from them, when people started shooting at you...would you jump and start to follow the instructions?
The rest of the movie should be about finding out WHO is the voice on the other end of the line, right? As you get manipulated by the master puppeteer, the dramatic tension exists in finding out who is pulling the strings and why...and what can you do to cut the strings.
I don't normally give too many details about a movie so I don't spoil it for people who go see the movie. In this case I'm going to--I WANT to spoil the movie for you so you DON'T go see it.
In Eagle Eye, the voice on the other end of the phone is a super-computer that has been developed to track EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the world. The computer stores every single electronic transmission EVER. All cell phone calls, emails, phone calls, closed circuit tv transmissions, every image ever sent on tv, radio, uploads to YouTube, and every voice transmission.
The computer was designed to track bad guys and terrorists (we are now far enough removed from terror events on our own soil that terrorism is now considered fair game as a form of entertainment.) and provide ironclad recommendations on who should be assasinated. When it is over-ridden by the President who incorrectly orders the death of a suspected terrorist against the computer's recommendation, the computer decides that all the top leaders in the US Government must die because they are not responsible enough to listen to the computer.
The computer then selects two ordinary people with all the right pyschographics to carry out the mission of arranging the assasination of most of the members of the US government for our own good.
It's a "master computer goes amok" story, preaching against the evils of giving too much control to computers. But the humans DO make stupid mistakes, so there's no redeeming qualities there either.
That's pretty much the movie--no redeeming qualities. The story starts good and gets more and more implausible as it goes on. You start off enjoying the flick, and by the end, you can't wait for it to be over.
If you want a MUCH better movie on this theme, rent 2001: A Space Odyssey. Lakeview Terrace:
Again, another film with a great preview, and the flick stars Samuel L. Jackson, so it's GOT to be good, right?
The premise is fantastic--a young interracial couple moves into their first home and it turns out that that Samuel L. Jackson is not only the neighbor from hell, but he's a cop too. So it seems like there's nothing you can do about it.
The first half of the movie lays that foundation--Jackson shines security floodlights in the couple's bedroom at night, 'jokingly' threatens a carjacking while the new neighbor is sitting in his car smoking a cigarette, is invited to a housewarming party and is a real buzzkill, catches the couple fooling around in their own swimming pool and generally lets them know he disapproves of them living next door.
The hip twist on the story is that the guy is white and the woman is black. (I'm being sarcastic, btw, although it's true that in movies, most interracial hookups involve a black man with a white woman) SPOILER ALERT:
(just to be polite, but same as before, I WANT to spoil the film for you so don't go see it. If you go anyway, you're going to think the movie sucked and I'm going to say "I told you so.")
The first half of the movie takes too long to establish the premise. The second half of the movie takes too long to get to the thrust of WHY Samuel L. Jackson is being such an ass for a neighbor.
Turns out his wife died 3 years earlier in a car crash. While driving with her white boss in the middle of the day on the 101 in SoCal far from where they worked. The subtext is that they were having an affair...so THAT'S why he hates his new neighbors. Cuz he's white and the wife is black. And...I don't know...that reminds him of his own wife, and chasing these people away is going to make him feel better?
The movie ends with Jackson getting shot by cops. I think that was meant by the director to be artistic irony. There is also a constant (and overdone) reference to fire--a not so vague reference that racial tension in Southern California is hot and about to overcome the valley in an out-of-control inferno.
As an audience, you're kind of glad when Jackson gets shot because all sympathy for the character has long evaporated and it means the movie is over.
So there you have it. I wanted to see BOTH of those movies based on the previews. And I enjoyed about the first 20-30 minutes of each movie, and as each story 'developed', got less and less engaged with the story and how it was being told...to the point where the first words out my mouth at the end of each movies was:
"...well, THAT sucked."
So, seriously...hold on to the $30 you would spend to see either of these and buy 2 new CD's, or a couple of books...or go see a comedy show...or live music...or give the money to your local food bank. Hollywood doesn't deserve your money if they are going to put out crap like this.
Wait til they come out on Netflix, because you KNOW you're not going to blindly take my word for it that these movies aren't worth seeing. And remember this review then...and don't forget to leave me a comment saying "whoa, you're right. That sucked. I'm glad I didn't pay $30 to see THAT in the theater."
I never get tired of hearing "hey Mark....you were right!"