Movies: Apparently, I am the anti-Kevin Smith

There have been several movies in my recent past. Half of them were The Avengers, because I liked it a lot and ended up seeing it five times as I dragged other people off to see it.

Tonight was Rock of Ages. The story is weak, and the soundtrack is awesome. Frankly, if you went to this movie for the story… what the hell? I’ll give a pass to people who were not yet alive in the late 1980s, but everyone else has no goddamned excuse. Rock! Anthems! The movie is cheesy and they’ve replaced the “drugs” part of “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” with alcohol to avoid an R rating, but if you’re the type who feels that you can express yourself using songs just as well as words (or used to be during the 80s), it’s a fun flick. Not a *good* flick, but a fun flick. Mind you, it’s a musical: if you’re not comfortable with a movie world where it’s perfectly normal to break into song on a bus and have the rest of the passengers sing right back at you instead of glaring at you and demanding that you shut the hell up… you should probably avoid this movie, because that’s the opening scene. I’m not sorry that I saw it nor that I paid full price, and I’d see it again and still pay full price, just to be able to chair dance and pretend to sing along. (I sing along for real in private spaces, but I recognize that in movie theaters, the other patrons are more likely to glare and/or hit me than cheer me on or sing back at me, bus scenes notwithstanding. So I content myself with lip-syncing.)

Also, I giggled insanely at the very last line in the credits, which is the usual disclaimer of “None of these people are real people, they are all fictitious and not intended to be depictions of any persons alive or dead.” Yeeeeeaaaah. They may not be exactly biographical, but they were very much inspired by real people. Like the music, the characters are mashups of multiple real people, but still very recognizable if you were paying any attention in the late 80s and early 90s.

So I was excited when the big ad plastered all over was for Spoilers with Kevin Smith where the topic of the episode was Rock of Ages. A mainstream(ish) show produced by Hulu (yay, Internet entertainment revolution!)? Starring Kevin Smith? Discussing movies? What’s not to love?

… well, if you are me, Kevin’s taste in movies. Spoilers takes a bunch of people to see a movie on the condition that they talk about the movie afterward. They pretty much hated Rock of Ages. Complaints about the story, I can understand. The one chick who claimed to be the target demographic because she “is a theater major and likes musicals” and then complained because they used a Jefferson Starship song is quite deluded about being the target demographic. I realize it used to be cool to make fun of Jefferson Starship to show how “elite” your musical tastes were, but 1) that was decades ago, and now you’re supposed to be making fun of Justin Beiber to show you have taste, 2) I like the song, 3) it *is* a rock song whether she likes it or not, and 4) the song completely fits the situation. Complaints about not knowing whether the movie is trying to take itself seriously or not are… not terribly observant, because the entire movie is one large parody of the late 80s, and it opens with a goddamned “everyone on the bus is singing at the female lead” scene. Why on earth would you have ever gotten the idea that the movie thinks of itself as serious?

To be honest, I have no idea if they relented later in the Spoilers episode, because I stopped watching it. I was intrigued by the title of the first episode, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, so I switched over to that episode in the hopes that it would be better. It turned out to be about Snow White and the Huntsman, which I saw with my sister-in-law and the kids last Thursday… and which Kevin and crew loved.

Snow White and the Huntsman is not a good movie. The first problem is with casting: Kristen Stewart as Snow White against Charlize Theron as the evil queen leads to a serious problem with suspension of disbelief, because even when Theron is digitally aged, she’s still hotter than Stewart, so that whole “fairest” thing goes right out the window. Part of THAT is with costuming and make-up: Stewart isn’t exactly a horrific monster in the looks department, but the clothing doesn’t suit her and neither does the dark-and-grim setting of the entire effing movie. Stewart also doesn’t do so well at the “naive and pure and innocent” character that they’re trying to make Snow White out to be. A notable problem for me is her smile, which 99% of the time has a strange little lip-curl that makes it look like a sneer (she’s got one nice, sweet smile in the entire movie, and all it accomplished was to make the sneer-smile more off-putting). There are lots of characters I could see that sneer-smile working for. The perfect Snow White they’re trying to push in the movie is not one of them.

The second problem is with motivation. Nobody seems to have a very good one. There’s a part of me that thinks maybe all the motivations ended up on a cutting room floor, because the evil queen DOES have a backstory that tries to provide a motivation… it just doesn’t really start showing up until the last 20 minutes of the movie, by which point it’s too little, too late. What might have been trying to be hints and setup for that just comes off as bored justification. The Huntsman actually manages to get his story out, so points there. The rest? Not so much. Random people follow or help or bless Snow White and claim that she’s going to be the one to make it all better, but there’s never any explanation as to why they’re so sure.

The third problem is that story elements that could have been interesting just show up when it’s plot-convenient and then disappear (like the village full of scarred women. They do explain why they’re scarred, which is a total spoiler, and why there are no men… but not why there are no young boys, nor how they got where they are, and once Snow leaves the village the women never show back up ever again). Having a vibrant world that exists independently of the main characters is a good thing. Having a bunch of “wouldn’t it be cool if” areas that exist only to help the main characters out of a jam and disappear back into the ether is a bad thing. The difference? You have to see the “vibrant world” pieces again, and have something have happened off-screen. Or have the pieces of the world talk about each other. Or interact with each other. The only acknowledgement from the rest of the world that any given area exists is when the queen’s enforcers show up on Snow White’s heels to capture her, and she has to flee to the next “wouldn’t it be cool if?” area.

I stopped watching that episode of Spoilers when Kevin Smith said that Snow White and the Huntsman is “The Avengers for girls.” No. You know what The Avengers for girls is? The Avengers. Please stop thinking that girls have to have their own kick-ass movies because “boy” movies just aren’t good enough for them, and just make good movies. Chances are pretty good that both genders will like them. If nothing else: despite all the flack about Black Widow “just being there for the T&A”, The Avengers has some amazing eye candy for the ladies. Also, I do not understand the “Black Widow doesn’t have any special gimmick and therefore must just be there for show” complaint. The other characters have to rely on their gimmicks and can be rendered nearly useless by taking away their One Special Toy, whereas Black Widow can kick some serious ass with whatever’s handy, even when she is in an evening dress and tied to a fucking chair.

After the “Avengers for girls” comment, I also didn’t bother watching the second episode, which is about Prometheus. John and CJ saw it; I wasn’t interested enough to go with them, and I was about done listening to people with the complete opposite tastes from me talk about how much they liked what I hated and hated what I liked.

A quick wrap-up for the other movies I’ve seen since The Avengers came out:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Sweet, mostly. The character I most wanted to slap for the majority of the film turned out to be … well, still annoying, but I liked her resolution far better than any of the other options. I didn’t like the one death; not because it was unexpected that there would be at least one death in a movie about retirees heading off to India because they couldn’t afford to live in England anymore, but because the timing was too trope-like. Details would be spoilers, and I know at least one person who still wants to see it.

Pirates!: Better than it had any right to be. Queen Victoria is evil. Charles Darwin is evil. Pirates are masters of disguises. It’s based on a book that I had no idea existed, but CJ had read. (He’s since loaned it to me, and the movie is sufficiently different from the book that part of my interest is just in “what else did they change?” Both are really funny.) The trailer did not do this movie justice, and I’m sad that it went away rather quickly, because I totally would have dragged people off to see this movie.

Men In Black 3: With the exception of the “daddy issues” gun-on-the-mantel for most of the movie (and the resolution of that, which you could spot a mile away), I liked this movie. They had a perfect opportunity to destroy all of the continuity, and they didn’t– instead, they ended up using the time travel to reinforce the existing movies rather than make changes to the timeline. John and I both enjoyed MIB 1 & 2, but I was a little worried about how well it would translate for CJ, who had never seen the first two movies, but he said that everything mostly made sense to him, so that’s an extra plus. (On a related note: we would have made CJ watch the first two movies, except that our copy of MIB 1 seems to have gone missing. If you have any information on where it might have ended up, or if you have acquired a copy of it and you can’t recall how you got it, please let me know.)