Movie Malcontent RANT
July 2002

It's been a bad couple of months for movie sequels, folks.

Last month my wife and I, like the proverbial lemmings marching instinctively and blindly to our deaths, followed the hordes of wide-eyed Star Wars fans to see Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

The dialogue was weak, the acting flat, the directing absent, the editing mediocre, and even the digital animation was a bit disappointing given the months of hype preceding it. 

The movie ran almost two and a half hours, during which the wincing audience was subjected to the lecherous performance of young Anakin Skywalker, who persistently leers and paws like a serial rapist at the horrified former Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman).  The script fails with predictable misery at building up the absolutely non-existent chemistry between the two.

The only thing that could possibly have saved this movie would be if Natalie Portman were filmed stark naked and being thoroughly violated with light sabers while gagging on Obi-Wan's copious loads of Jedi jism, pearls of his Force glistening on her full, pouting lips.  No such luck though.

Amazingly, Roger Ebert gave this movie an absolutely glowing review.  Now Mr. Ebert is surely entitled to his opinion, however wrong it may be, but I can't help wondering if he saw the same movie that we saw.  Or perhaps it was the way I viewed the movie.  I mean, I probably would have found the movie more enjoyable too, if George Lucas sent me four teenage virgins to gobble my prong, fondle my balls, play with my nipples and sit on my face while I was taking my notes.

Attack of the Clones was dreadfully boring and Portman didn't make my helmet twitch even once this time around.  I witnessed at least two people in the theatre fall asleep and one of them was snoring like a fog horn.  All in all, I give Star Wars Episode II "two thumbs up my ass."

Yet another disappointment, this time from the deserted, echoing halls of Columbia Pictures, was Men in Black II.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones coast through their roles in this outright rehash of the original MIB, Lara Flynn Boyle looks rode hard 'n put away wet, and tasty screen morsel Rosario Dawson doesn't even give us a satisfying cleavage shot.  Frank (the pug dog) has the best lines in the whole movie and offers the audience their first good laugh, but only after waiting TWENTY minutes (not including previews) to reach it.

The original MIB succeeded on its novelty as well as the hard work and chemistry of Will, Tommy Lee and Rip Torn.  This sequel no longer has the benefit of novelty, and the flat acting and mediocre gags leave you looking at your watch and wondering if you've somehow been "neuralized".  Even the soundtrack, by the usually imaginative Danny Elfman, somehow seemed ordinary and monotonous.

Brad says "Two thumbs up my ass. Save your money and wait for cable TV."  That's right folks, don't even bother renting the DVD.

Side note:  I depended on Moviefone.com to locate a suitable movie theatre to view MIB II but someone was asleep at the wheel on their web site.  More than half the theatres shown were missing show times and the few that did list times were well known as crap theatres.  I chose what I thought was the least of the evils and bought the tickets on-line.  Actually that's not true; I tried to buy the tix on-line and the web site failed at the very end of the transaction, AFTER taking my credit card info and everything, so I bought the tickets by telephone instead.  After all that, I drove past a perfectly good theatre that was playing the movie on three screens, that wasn't listed AT ALL by the web site.  Gee, thanks Moviefone.  Finally, what I thought was the least of all evils turned out to have a screen about the size of some of the newer Phillips home theatre projection LCD's in a 220 seat room whose floors were so sticky that you could turn the entire theatre upside-down fully occupied and nobody would fall out of place.  Yech.

This leads me to the corrollary rant for this month...  movie theaters!

The past year or two pretty much all the theaters, following Sony's lead, have been jacking up their ticket prices toward the $10 mark.  This is the insult added to your injury when you then have to pay at least $3 for about 5 cents worth of Cola syrup, a 2-cent cup, some fizzy water and the 15 seconds it takes the pimply minimum-wage teenager behind the counter to pour it for you.  But the truly amazing aspect of this conspicuous price gouging is the complete inattention to product quality and the laws of supply and demand.

The greedy bastards at Sony/Loews and United Artists seem to think that the product is merely the movie and that the venue - the theatre - is superfluous.  Oh, they do make an improvement or two to help sell the seats, but the effort is designed mostly to distract you from the fact that you're being crammed in tighter and tighter so that you come out of the movie feeling like you just flew coach from New York to Bangladesh, non-stop, three times in a row.

It costs the same exact $16 per person to sit in a filthy little theatre with cramped, worn seating, a fuzzy miniscule screen and scratchy sound, cradling your overpriced soft drink and oily popcorn between your knees, as it does to sit comfortably with room to stretch your legs in an airy theatre, enjoying an impressive wide screen and DTS sound from a stadium seat with a convenient cup-holder to secure your overpriced beverage.

And that my friends is why I now visit National Amusements cinemas almost exclusively.  My first visit to these wonderful theaters was in Edgewater, New Jersey.  Another one much closer in Whitestone, New York is nearly as good.  You get a comfortable seat that is noticably wider, LOADS of legroom, decent size screens and sound even in the smaller theaters within the multiplex, and special trays designed to hold your drinks and food.  Of course the stadium seating (and substantial handicapped facilities too) guarantee happy seating for everyone.  The comfort and overall experience is so superior to their competitors that I can't understand how anyone else manages to remain in business.

 


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