The worst type of film to see at the cinema


I have seen many films at the cinema over the years, but I don’t regard my worst experience as necessarily associated with the lowest-standard films I’ve seen there.

For example, the 2009 film ‘Love and Other Drugs’ is one of the worst films I’ve seen at the cinema in recent years – possibly ever – and was painful to sit through. But in its own way it was so insultingly bad that at least it provided a vivid demonstration in my mind of what bad modern filmmaking is.

Similarly, back in 2003 I went to see Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ and was so repelled and repulsed by it that I haven’t bothered to watch any of his films since. But as much as I hated that film, it certainly left a vivid impression on me (something that Quentin probably would be quite satisfied by).

I think the worst film experience to have is to see a film and for it to virtually evaporate from the memory the instant you leave the cinema. In some quarters that’s promoted as an acceptable cinema experience but if that’s going to occur, why bother at all? Especially with the ever-increasing cost and effort associated with going to the cinema. Films that leave no impression at all do more to dissipate the passion of going to the cinema than films being churned out like that.

By that criteria, two films I’ve seen at the cinema that I recall (that I can’t really recall actually) stand out.

Bored one day in 2008, I decided to see the the Shia LaBeouf thriller ‘Eagle Eye’. As I recall I thought the film was an OK timewaster but it faded from memory as soon as I left the cinema and now looking back, unless I put great effort in I can remember virtually nothing about it.

Topping that though was when I went to see Tim Burton’s remake of ‘Planet of the Apes’ in 2001. Being a major fan of the original POTA (and even the first two sequels to a lesser extent), I eagerly anticipated this one and was majorly disappointed. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a waste of time and despite a “twist ending”, the film dissipated from my mind not long afterwards and now I have virtually no substantial memory of it. And considering the iconic nature of the original film, that’s even more unforgivable than making a memorably misguided remake.

Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ is hardly the worst film I’ve seen at the cinema. But it is the most insignificant and irrelevant, and imo there’s nothing worse for a film to be than that


11 responses »

  1. Phantom of the Opera, the Schumacher version. Total waste of time, and on top of it embarrassing to have paid and seen on a big screen.

    I’m sure there’s something worse, but I’ve apparently blissfully forgotten it.

  2. Captain America would fall into that category for me. It wasn’t good or bad, just kind of “there”. I doubt I could recall more than a minute or so of the film a year later. I wasn’t angry about having seen it at the time, just indifferent.

    Really, all of Joe Johnston’s films fall into the same category. He’s the King of the “Forgettable Blockbuster”.

  3. First of all, I loved Kill Bill. Secondly, the worst types of films are generic genre pictures. Eagle Eye is a good example–the generic action picture is such a waste of time that I rarely go see them, waiting to rent them, if even then (I still haven’t seen that one). Romantic comedies are another. That genre, which once upon a time was one of the best kinds of films, has been thoroughly ruined. I’m looking at you, Kate Hudson.

  4. I think you’re making an important distinction here, Marco, between bad movies and simply forgettable ones.

    On the other hand, I think that your description of Burton’s Apes pretty much fits just about every big blockbuster these days. It got to the point where I realized I needed to keep a list of movies I’ve seen, just so that I could remember what I had seen and what I hadn’t. Then I realized that was only so much help; I actually needed to log my opinions (in the form of my blog) so that I could remember what I thought about the movies I saw.

    So, I dunno. Every now and again something will come along that I really hate, but most of what’s out there is simply mediocre, not worth getting upset about watching but at the same time, not exactly worth seeing, either.

  5. Yeah, I agree with Brian.
    There is *so much* product out there now, and so many options from which to view it, and so much has already been done and so much of it is simply so mediocre and everyone has access to a video camera that it’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick.
    Used to be one new release every what, three weeks? Now we get three new releases a week. It’s all a ‘disposable culture’…none more than our entertainment.

  6. There’s been a minimum of 2-3 major releases every single week going back as far as I can remember (the mid 80’s). I don’t think quantity is a bad thing, as I’m thankful to have so many choices, but certainly the major studio stuff is largely forgettable.

  7. Used to be one new release every what, three weeks?

    If you’re talking summer specifically, I’d agree, that it seems like there used to be a handful of blockbusters every summer – one per studio – and now we’re getting something that’s expected to open to $50 million+ every week (or at least, it was expected to open to that when it was greenlit).

    But there was never a time as far back as I remember when there wasn’t new studio product of some kind every week.

  8. There’s probably fewer releases now then there have ever been. Back before television there were probably ten or more releases a week–people averaged two or three movies a week. James is right, though, there has always been at least one Hollywood release a week, going back to when I started paying attention–the mid 70s.

    I also think Marco’s question was what “type” of movies are the worst to see, not what individual movies. But that was how I interpreted it.

  9. Okay, take a look at that tidy little release schedule and then look at the madness of all these releases:
    That’s not counting VOD, direct to video, or any other titles vying for attention. And I believe this has a lot to do with what Marco is saying. When you have to compete with this much product…how does *anything* stick?

  10. A lot of those titles are micro-releases and same-day VOD fare. They can’t compete unless they’re good or distinguish themselves via marketing. Fact is, the vast majority of titles on that list will outright suck or make no impression at all. Hopefully they spent conservatively and will make back their investment.

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