on not seeing movies
March 4, 2013
I decided not to go see Jack the Giant Slayer. It seems like I would want to — a big action special effects extravaganza based on a fairy tale, starring the guy from Warm Bodies, plus stealth Ewan McGregor, what’s not to love? There was a time when big special effects were enough to get me into the theater. That time was before Transformers 2. Nothing in the previews to this one interests me. Sure the special effects look nice, but story-wise it’s all stuff I’ve seen before. And then there’s this: according to the previews and IMDB, there’s exactly one named woman character. Now, I’m not keeping quotas or demanding that every movie comply with the Bechdel Test. I mean, I love Master and Commander and that’s got ZERO named women characters. But when I watch the previews for Jack, see that the one woman character is a plucky fighter princess type who nevertheless seems to need to be rescued, I know what the story is without even seeing the movie. Humble Jack will have adventures, there will be lots of semi-amusing sight gags and cute jokes, there will be battles, he will win the heart of the beautiful princess, and the movie will end with them kissing while the music swells, and the bad guys do something to set them up for a sequel. I have seen this movie. The idea of seeing it again, even with great special effects, even with Bryan Singer directing, just makes me tired.
Standard storytelling tropes don’t usually immediately turn me off on a movie this hard. John Carter is also clearly about a plucky fighter princess type getting rescued. But it also had Mars. And it also had Sola, and airships, and the previews made me think, “Wow!” That’s all I want, to get me to see a movie. To not be bored with the previews, for crying out loud. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Jack is a fine, fine movie that I would enjoy immensely. You know what will tell me that I’m wrong? Word of mouth. I’m still waiting…
You know what would have gotten me to see Jack? If it was Jackie the Giant the Slayer.
(I have now heard back from some friends who saw Jack. Their verdict: “It was better than we expected, but it still would have driven you crazy.” And I think, “My God, when did “better than we expected” become the best thing we can say about movies?)