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Festivale online magazine
A Reel Life film section
October, 1999
Go to the front page of the film sectionsee the latest additions to Festivale The First Commandment
Do Not Bore Your Audience

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I've read negative reviews of films like The Matrix and Gattaca from the same chaps who gave films like Independence Day and Terminator 2 positive reviews. One review of Gattaca complained that as a science fiction film it failed dismally and its plot concerning the search for a murderer was badly thought out. He missed the point entirely because the movie's essentially about the triumph of the human spirit. The murder sub-plot is pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of things. How come I spotted that with an education that goes to Year 10, but this guy (who probably went to university) missed it?

The same critic complimented Independence Day on its action and special effects.

The first question I ask myself is "Was I bored?" A film can be bad but hugely entertaining. Why else would films like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Terminator 2 still play to packed cinemas? Both have leads who can't really act, one has an original story poorly told with bad special effects, the other is a virtual remake lacking the heart of its predecessor but it sure looks pretty. They are both fun to watch.

After the initial question, my next is "What were the makers of the movie trying to achieve?" Was it meant to be a drama, a comedy or an action film? Were they just trying to entertain me, or make me think? I laughed at Ace Ventura, felt suspense during Scream, was completely caught up in the first faltering steps into space in the Wings of Honneamis, got turned on during Behind the Green Door, watched with dismay as a good man went bad in Treasure of the Sierra Madre and left the South Park movie singing the songs.

They all did what they set out to do.

After those first two questions, I can look at the rest of the film. Now I know that many of you are shaking your heads and tutting loudly, but this is the way I tend to work. It does have a major problem though, and it's this…

I'm only human.

Which means as much as I want to stick to my self imposed rules, when a film like Independence Day comes along and I see an interview with Emmerich and Devlin where they say that they don't do homages because "It's pointless to re-invent the wheel. We aim for complete originality." I find their disdain for the intelligence of the cinema-going public offensive, I get bloody annoyed and all my objectivity goes right out the window. I hate that film and them with a passion that outshines the sun. They are not good film-makers, they're just good advertisers.

I went to see Godzilla expecting a poor imitation of the original. It was worse. It took the best bits from films like Gamera - Guardian of the Universe, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Jurassic Park and transformed Godzilla from a force of nature into just another big lizard.

And I now find that I look forward to hating their next film in the same way. Which is kind of a shame 'cause I really enjoyed Stargate.

I guess when it comes down to it, I'm just another critic.



(Danny appears live every Tuesday night on his couch where he actively annoys his wife and his friend by telling them things he's already told them and talking during Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

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