Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Take On Today's Movie Industry (It Sucks): A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Movies today are terrible. Oh sure, every once in a while the industry gets something right, such as "Rocky Balboa" and "Rambo IV" (thank you, Sly!!). But all in all, major motion pictures today are crap.

And you want to know why? Because somewhere along the line, someone got it their head that movies had to have a message. Suddenly, movies weren't about mindless entertainment. They were about educating us, teaching us something, making us think.

So out went the Lethal Weapons, funny sports movies with bad language, and martial arts films with nothing but fight scenes, cheesy dialogue and half-naked women. In their place were "political thrillers" and "gripping documentaries" and "independent films about traveling to India and finding yourself."

Well, you know what? I don't want to play $10 (well, $8.75 since I kept my student ID from college) to learn something. I don't want to think. I want to be amused, entertained, given a two-hour escape from my daily life. And every time I watch a "Syriana" (a boring fuckin' film about oil), "March of the Penguins" (a boring fuckin' documentary about penguins walking in the snow) or "The Namesake" (a boring fuckin' movie about a boy who was born in America but whose family was from India, and who doesn't give two shits about it until his father dies, and then all of a sudden he decides "I'm Indian, and that means something" and then shaves his head) I want to puke.

With that in mind, recently I shuttled back and forth between two classics of American cinema that personify the greatness that movies used to be:

1) "The Wizard", a 1989 film about a traumatized 8-year-old boy named Jimmy who hardly speaks and never smiles, but has a knack for video games. Now, with the help of his 11-year-old brother (I don't know his name, but he's played by Fred Savage -- of "Wonder Years" fame -- so we'll call him Fred) and some 11-year-old redheaded girl named Haley, Jimmy is bound for the video game championships at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he'll compete for a $50,000 prize.

2) "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," where Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion continue their fight against Darth Vader and the Empire.

I now take you to the ending of both films, my trusty remote in hand, starting with "The Wizard":


Jimmy, Fred and Haley make it the Championships just in time, with Ninja Gaiden (where you're a ninja whose goal is to defeat...well, bad guys) the game that contestants will be playing in the preliminary rounds. Also in the competition is Jimmy's rival, 11-year-old Lucas, whom Jimmy refused to battle in an earlier run-in. Can Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, look deep enough within himself to beat his rival and win it all?


I love Darth Vader!! The man just personifies kick-ass evil. He and Luke are about to fight. Darth is just toying with him; he's not even holding his lightsaber with both hands as he easily blocks Luke's pathetic attack. You half-expect Darth to shout, "Is that all you got, you punk-ass bitch?" It's that cool.


Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, got through the preliminary round and will face two other competitors in the finals: A girl named Mora, who has glasses and pigtails; and Lucas, the aformentioned rival. The three will find out in 15 minutes which game they'll play to determine the $50,000 winner.


Darth pushes Luke down a shaft, but Luke jumps out before Darth can close it up. Luke goes on the offensive now and manages to knock Darth down some stairs. C'mon, Vader, defense!!


HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT: The three video game finalists will play a game that's never been played before. This causes the redheaded Haley to hysterically scream, "YOU NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT A NEW GAME!!!" And that new game is:


(note: I know that means nothing to several of you, but believe me: In 1989 in the video game world, this was truly a "HOLY SHIT!!" moment)


Good news: Darth is mad. You can see it in Anyways, Darth starts using the Force to toss boxes at Luke, and the strategy is working. Luke takes a few boxes on the back and falls; he's now hanging by a thread off a ledge.


Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, takes an early lead. This causes older brother Fred to shout, "C'mon Jimmy!! Score!! Score!! Score!! SCOREEEE!!! I check to make sure that this movie is indeed rated PG.


OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Darth chops off Luke's arm!! That's gotta hurt. The end is near, I think.


Oh no!! Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, is struggling on World 2 and is now falling behind. Rival Lucas has a smug smile on his face as he easily handles World 2, and even nerdy-girl Mora has overtaken Jimmy. Fred and Haley look worried. Jimmy is expressionless, as is his way.


Darth and Luke start talking about family.

Darth: Luke, I am your father.

Luke screams. I guess he didn't see that coming.


Good news!! Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, is starting to make his push. He's beaten World 2 and is slowly but surely catching up as Lucas and Mora start to struggle.


Darth makes Luke an offer:

Darth: "Join me, and we'll rule the galaxy as father and son."

I think Luke will take the deal. It's the smart thing to do.


Mora is fading fast. She just died in the game and the crowd booed. They actually booed!! Video game fans are fickle, you see.


Stupid Luke. Rather than accept Dad's generous offer, he lets go of the ledge and starts falling to oblivion. But by sheer dumb luck, he lands in a shaft and rides it to safety. Punk bastard.


Jimmy, who hardly speaks and never smiles, has found the magic flute. This prompts Haley to shout the following:


Gotta love 80s movies.


Darth goes back to his ship, pushing his men aside. He's mad. I sense another movie coming.


Jimmy uses the magic flute, warps to World 4, and that gives him enough points to overtake rival Lucas and win the championship!! But they leave before they get the $50,000. It's not about the money, apparently.


The Wizard: As Jimmy, Fred and Haley drive away, Jimmy -- who hardly speaks and never smiles -- starts pointing out the window and saying: "California!! California!!" He's been in the state 10 hours and has just now realized it.

He then smiled.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Both Darth and Luke know that they will face each other again. And in the third movie, they do. Luke wins. Personally, I think he was juicin'. But that's just my opinion.

Personally, I would rather watch movies like this than a documentary in which Al Gore tells us we're all gonna die.

Plus, my kind of movies lend themselves to sequels.

As for sequels with Al?

"A Really Inconveninent Truth."

See? It just doesn't work.


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