So this weekend Battleship comes (boat pun)ing its way into theaters, and I'm sure we all have our excuses ready for why we won't be seeing it. Now as you know by now "Why Did I Watch That" is a feature where I focus on some of the worst films I've seen, or at least the ones that caused the biggest sighs and made me pull the most hair out, or the ones that just made me laugh out loud at how ridiculous they were. So for this week I decided that in honor of Battleship, I should pick another flat out crazy looking movie that has to do with alien invasions... but there were just too many of them. So instead join me for the first lightning round WDIWT, as I run through this gauntlet of movies that did not come in peace.
Now let me start off by saying that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be, in fact most of the hatred for this movie comes from the fact that its such a big disgrace by comparison to the other films in the series and if you have never seen an Indiana Jones movie before then yes, you might actually like this movie... That being said it's still pretty bad. Now taking Indiana Jones into the world of aliens wasn't that far off from what they had already done, and it was an homage to the time period they were going for, but somewhere along the way the idea goes awry. And by "somewhere" I mean almost immediately, because in the previous movies Indiana would start off just on a regular mission, just looking for an item of great importance that had a mystery around it, and slowly he drifted from the world of reality into one of fantasy and science fiction. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starts off with them in Area 51 chasing down a magnetic alien skull. So right off the bat this movie kind of lets you know just how much thought went into the story. "How should we get to the aliens?" "Who cares, just get it over with already." After escaping Area 51 Indy escapes a Nuclear Blast by hiding in a refrigerator, and I could go into detail about this scene, but honestly what can I say that everyone else already hasn't? Just the fact that "Nuke the Fridge" has come to replace "Jumped the Shark" as the phrase to mean something has gone on too long and become too insane to be enjoyable anymore, should tell you everything you need to know about this scene.
From here we meet Mutt, Indiana Jones's illegitimate son, who is played by Shia Labeouf, and the character he creates can best be described as a cross between Sam Witwicky and Shia Labeouf. We learn that he is the son of Indy and Marion Ravenwood, last seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and this all leads into Indy marrying Marion. Which hey, if that's how they want to send Indy off, fine, whatever, nothing wrong with the hero settling down. However, the first Indiana Jones film ends with a giant mysterious warehouse storing a powerful artifact inside, ooooh mysterious and intriguing. The second one ends with a elephant rearing up and everyone laughing, oh what a fun way to go out after that wild and crazy ride. The third one ends with Indy and his father riding off into the desert, heck yes, no better way to let us know that the legend will never die and the adventure will never end. But the fourth and final film ends with a bunch of old guys slowly walking out of a church. That's how they decide to end this franchise, with a bunch of retirees waiting for the valet to bring their car around. The only thing good about the ending of this movie is that it scares the hell out of you by having Mutt almost put Indy's hat on, but before he can Indy comes back in and reminds the audience that they might have screwed up but they're not that stupid.
I could go on about this movie, but as I said, it's not as bad as some of the other movies that I focus on here. Especially when you consider the two other movies I have to move onto. Compared to them Kingdom of the Crystal Skull looked like The Last Crusade.
I'm going to ignore the fact that this movie was made by two guys who had been hired to work on almost an identical film, then quit halfway through to make this film so quickly that they could get it in theaters before the original movie in order to steal some of the cash away from it. I'm not going to focus on how these two unoriginal douche directors just stole a movie right from under their employer's nose and then called it their own. I'm going to ignore it because out of all the things wrong with Skyline, that isn't even in the top ten. Skyline is about a group of friends who are trapped in an apartment during an alien invasion, which honestly I think is kind of a cool idea. I think you could do a sort of horror film that delves deep into some psychological territory with this setting, a bunch of people seeing the world fall into chaos and they have to hide in their apartment and wait it out with each other. But that's not what this is. Sure there are some pretty cool moments in this movie when they try to run outside or the air force comes in and you actually get to see the aliens tearing stuff up, but aside from those moments its the most boring alien invasion film you've ever seen. The majority of the film outside of these action scenes consist mostly of a man walking over to the blinds, looks out there, goes back and sits down, everyone waits for something to happen.
But maybe there's at least some witty dialogue or clever moments in all this sitting around, right? Or at least some strong and dynamic characters to follow? Nope, because not only are these the least likable characters to be stuck in an apartment with, they're also some of the dumbest characters of any film that year. I'll give you an example of the level of competence we're dealing with, the protagonist looks out over the ocean and notices there aren't any aliens out there, so they're going to run to the docks, steal a boat, and then live on the ocean until things cool down. I'm not saying I have a plan ready in case of an alien invasion, but even just spitballing and consumed by panic, I doubt I'd come up with something like that. And as for relatability, likability, or just give-me-a-reason-to-not-hate-these-characters-ability goes, the movie starts off with all of them at a massive party where one of them cheats on his girlfriend and films himself doing it, and the other heroes spend the evening spying on people in other apartments using a telescope they have hooked up to the TV. So you've got a room full of peeping toms and cheaters and you want us to follow them through an alien invasion? I wouldn't even come over to their apartment for a cup of sugar, let alone to stay safe from aliens. And almost no time was put into building these characters up or making them three dimensional. In the beginning of the film one of the characters goes on and on about how impressed he is with how successful his friend is, and the directors of the film have gone on to say that his friend works in special effects, that he is a big Hollywood Special Effects mogul. However they never once say this throughout the film. What they do say however, is at one point his friend asks the main character to come out and work for him, to which he replies "Man do I look like a banker to you?" So this whole time the directors think his character works in special effects, and the writer thinks he's a banker, and nobody is listening to anyone on this set. And not to add another straw to this camel's back, but as far as the talent behind these rolls go, you know you're in trouble when your biggest star is "That guy from Scrubs... no not that guy, the other guy... no not him either, the other other guy... yes that one, that guy from Scrubs."
And of course I have to point out the flat out crazy ending to this film, which... I've tried to think of a metaphor to describe it but I just can't, there isn't anything else quite like this ending. As I mentioned, this movie is just flat out boring throughout the majority of it, but at the end of the movie (spoiler alert... I guess, it's hard for me to warn people about the ending of this movie when there is no reason for you to watch it at all in the first place) the main character and his pregnant girlfriend get sucked into one of the alien space ships. Then because she's pregnant she's sorted out and taken to one chamber while he has his brain sucked out and put into one of the robot(?) monsters, with the intention of him being a slave to them, but he takes over the robot and and then goes to defend his girlfriend. He beats up a couple of alien drones and grabs his girlfriend tight as a bunch of aliens close in on them and then.... credits. That's it, this movie is about an hour and twenty minutes of nothing, only to end with five minutes of insane buildup and excitement, only to slam just come to a screeching end. It's like having to eat parsley at a restaurant all throughout your meal, and then at the end they bring out a huge steak and the moment you dig your knife into it they tell you the restaurant is closed. Oh hey look at that, I could come up with a metaphor after all. But this ending is really kind of insulting because as you watch it you realize these two directors didn't have a very high budget (because they stole the idea and had to make it fast) but when you see this ending you realize that this whole film was just a pitch to the studios to give them more money so they could make a sequel. For shame directors whose names don't deserve to be remembered, for shame.
And that brings me to the worst of the worst. For all of you who watched the first Transformers movie and went "Ugh, that was bad, I'm certainly not going to see the sequel," then allow me to fill you in on what you missed. Imagine how bad the first movie was, and then take into account that this movie came out during the WGA strike, meaning they had to make this movie literally with no script. That's right, all the stupidity of the first movie, but now the script is just Michael Bay going "You guys pantomime in the middle of the desert for two and a half hours, then I'll fill in the rest." Because of that you just have to take it for granted that this movie will have no logic and make no sense, so I'm going to ignore all the continuity problems, like how a robot can teleport and then never does it again, or when he does teleport all the way to the other side of the planet it's still the same time of day, or how Bumblebee can't talk now even though he could talk at the end of the last movie, and I'll even ignore all the terrible editing where characters just jump around from one shot to the next. I'm going to ignore all of that because they are a side note in the collage of bullsh$% that is this movie.
Because this movie is now completely in the hands of Michael Bay, we get to see his sense of "humor" let completely off the chain. We see dogs humping (twice), a mom high on pot brownies, testicles on a robot, thongs on John Turturro, a robot that farts, and the two robots who are so racist I can't believe the NAACP hasn't put out a ban on all Michael Bay movies. There are two robots in this movie named Mudflap and Skids, but they are such racist stereotypes that they have actually come to be known in the Transformer community as "Step" and "Fetch." They've got gold teeth, talk in jive, and can't read. This isn't just racist, this is 1920s Disney cartoons racist. Seriously, the guys who made Song of the South would have looked at this movie and said "Uh, this is making us feel uncomfortable." And just a quick side note, I don't normally try to do a psychological evaluation of a director based upon their movie, but Michael Bay clearly has some kind of a liquid or fluid fetish, because these robots pee, puke, sweat, cry, and have every other form of liquid you can think of come out of them. At first you think its simply Bay trying to be funny, but as it goes on you slowly realize that Bay is just putting it in there because he enjoys it... maybe a little too much.
And to all the Michael Bay defenders out there who say "Well you don't go to his movies for plot and writing, you go to them for the explosions and special effects." And yes, there are lots of them in this movie, but there are so many that they no longer have any meaning. I can best sum it up by saying that another critic who loves Michael Bay said that this movie was like having his brain put into the body of someone who hated Michael Bay and now he could finally see what everyone was talking about. There are so many explosions, slow motion running scenes, each one after another that you find it all very cool and you can escape into it, but then it just keeps on going and going and going until you just don't care anymore, and then it keeps going even longer until you can't help but start laughing at it. This stuff goes on so long I expected to see the Energizer Bunny running through the background. And in the first movie people had problems with telling which robot was which and where their heads or arms might be. That was nothing compared to this one, because there was a moment in this film when I actually went "Oh wow, they just killed Megatron and they did it in the background too, that seems like an odd way for him to die... Wait, no, that's Megatron over there... and now he's dead too... wait, now he's over there." In the final battle scene there are about five Megatrons on screen at the same time, like Bay just got tired and decided to copy and paste him over the desert. And when you have a Michael Bay movie and you can't even say that the explosions are good, then you know you're in trouble. If you'd like to hear more about how bad Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is, then listen to the latest episode of the Screened Pups podcast here, or you could just hit yourself really hard in the head and you'll get a similar experience to watching this movie.
Welp, there you go folks, a brief history of recent horrible alien invasion (sort of) films to help prepare you for Battleship. Come back later for my review of Battleship... in about six months when I can see it for a dollar from the Redbox.