Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Can't Judge Movies In The Theater

Title Picture:  Fernando de Sousa

Here I go talking about movies again…

I’ve noticed something about myself:  I can’t adequately judge whether a movie is good or not until I’ve seen it on a small screen like my TV or computer.  When I’ve got that big screen in front of me, with those big speakers blasting me with surround sound, my critical thinking shuts down.  I guess if my seat is rattled by enough big explosions, I’ll accept anything the movie throws at me.  This has led to some odd incidents through my life where I thought a movie was great when I saw it in the theater, only to be disappointed later on when I first saw it on video.

Here are a few examples, though I’m not really giving this post the full-blown list treatment where I blatantly rip off by adding pictures with silly captions and all that:

Wedding Crashers (2005)

New Line Cinema

I saw Wedding Crashers on a midnight opening show with a friend from college.  It’s not so much that I was super-excited for the movie as my friend’s friend worked at a movie theater, so we got to see lots of midnight premieres back then.  I figured I’d be seeing a comedy that was probably enjoyable but nothing special.  I was wrong.  I remember laughing my ass off seemingly the whole time, along with everyone else in the theater.  As my friend and I worked our way over to this nearby diner that was open 24/7 (the best hangout option for those under 21), we were going on about all of the awesome moments in the movie.  It felt like we’d seen the comedy of that decade.  Needless to say, I eagerly awaited Wedding Crashers’s release on DVD.

Well, that November (if I remember correctly), it came out, and I bought a DVD right away.  That night I went home and stuck it in my DVD player, ready laugh my ass off yet again…  and I didn’t.  It wasn’t the same movie.  It wasn’t bad; I’d still rate Wedding Crashers as an adequately enjoyable comedy, but I wasn’t delirious with amusement like I’d been that summer.   This movie stands out to me since it’s not an action movie, but still somehow seemed way better to me in the theater, despite a lack of explosions to cloud my judgment.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is the only “Pirates” movie that I saw in the theater.  I had no desire to see the first movie when it came out, since I thought of it as a Disney movie.  I never liked Disney movies, even as a small kid.  The other nerds I knew in college all told me that it’s not like the Disney movies I was thinking of, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go watch anything with even the slightest stench of Disney on it.  Then I finally saw it on TV in the spring of 2007, and I admit: I actually enjoyed it. 

I kept telling myself that it’s only called a Disney movie because that ride at Disney World happens to be called “Pirates of the Caribbean,” moved on, and saw the next movie.  The second one was all right, though I wondered why Keira Knightley’s character suddenly seemed so different.  My love of giant sea creatures meant that I was a sucker for the kraken, and I found the general concept of Davy Jones, namely the idea of some kind of powerful ocean-themed demon, interesting.  (Maybe he’s the Drowned God from Game of Thrones?) 

Before too long, At World’s End came out, and I saw it in the theater.  It seemed pretty damn epic.  Long, sure, but it had a freaking cool final battle.   Later, I saw it on DVD.  It was like a different movie.  It also suddenly struck me: just about every character in the movie is an asshole!  (Well, they are pirates…)  On top of all that, the movie seemed overly dramatic, if not melodramatic.  I haven’t watched any of the “Pirates” movies since; I think seeing the third one on a small screen even tainted the first movie for me.

Van Helsing (2004)

Universal Pictures

Wow…  I am embarrassed to say this, but I kind of liked this movie when I saw it in the theaters.  I knew it wasn’t perfect; I didn’t think it was as good as The Mummy (1999), but it was fun to watch.  I liked some of the music, I thought it was cool at the beginning when Dracula walks out of the fireplace, and Hugh Jackman seemed to work very well as a werewolf.  Additionally, the concept of putting the classic Dracula, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein stories into one continuity seemed like a new and interesting idea to me.  I’m even going to admit this:  I went back and saw it in the theater a second time.  In fairness: I was bored, and loud music with big monster fights seemed like a good way to kill two hours.

Well, eventually, at college, one person, who I guess truly did like the movie, was playing it on her laptop while several other nerds and I watched it…  and I didn’t know what the hell I was seeing!!!  Dracula yelled all the damn time for no reason, his wives were the dumbest vampires I’d ever seen, and the whole movie in general just seemed off.  I was glad I hadn’t gotten around to buying a DVD copy of my own.  Van Helsing is probably the worst example of a movie that was loud enough to completely eclipse my judgment in the theater only to horrify me on a small screen.

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