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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Has Hollywood made us so jaded that we no longer “give movies a chance,” and is that a bad thing?

Peter Hall at Hollywood.com yesterday posed a befuddled question to movie fans: “What Happened To Giving Movies A Chance?”:

Skyline is by all measure a bad film. But, in the aftermath of its release I noticed something even more alarming than how terrible of a film it was. Hordes of people online, almost all of whom hadn’t actually seen the film, took up a very bitter, very determined attitude of, “You’re surprised Skyline sucks? I knew it was going to be the Worst. Movie. Ever. just from the trailers!” And it got me wondering… what happened to giving movies a chance?

Exactly what was so wrong with the Skyline trailers that turned everyone on the Internet into an instant curmudgeon? People getting sucked up into the sky by the thousands isn’t exciting enough for you? Giant monsters ripping helicopters out of the sky with their tentacle-like tongues is too dull? I’m sorry, but I thought we were geeks. Aren’t those precisely the kinds of things we’re supposed to be all about?

I think Hall doesn’t realize that the answer to his question is right there: Yes, Skyline sure looks like the stuff we geeks are supposed to love… and it looks like precisely the kind of thing that Hollywood knows we love, and believes it can hook us in with regardles of a film’s quality. Skyline, even from the trailers, look calculated to pander to us, and we’re on to that now, and we don’t like it. And when the film wasn’t screened for critics, that seemed to confirm our suspicions: Skyline is a bad film that was designed to take our money and give us nothing in return.

Of course, it costs just as much to make a bad movie as it does to make a good one, so you have to wonder at the mindset that says, “It doesn’t matter if our movie sucks as long as it makes money.” But that does seem to be an SOP for many people who work in Hollywood.

Still, Hall believes we own something to Hollywood that Hollywood doesn’t owe to us, its customers:

It’s much easier to expertly crap blindly on a film – or anything, really – than it is to approach it with an open mind. Why bother entertaining the notion that a movie might surprise you when you can take a cursory glance at it and then pretend like you know everything about it? Giving films a chance is for the birds, apparently.

I realize this may sound like me saying, “Don’t believe me that Skyline is a bad film, go see it for yourself!” because, believe me, Skyline is a baaaaad film. The difference here is that so many people had taken up the notion that there was absolutely no way it could be anything but a steaming pile of poorly rendered special effects before the film had been seen by anyone — and that is a truly cancerous way of looking at things. How can you expect Hollywood to take risks on backing smaller, original films if all people are willing to do is shit on them from the get go?

There was no risk involved with Skyline. It was cheap to make — small, that is — but hardly original, and was pretty much guaranteed to draw in enough suckers over its first weekend to earn back its small production cost.

And you know what? If it turned out that despite the unoriginal and poorly edited trailer and despite the fact that the film was not screened for critics, if the critics and fans who ventured out to see the film once it opened reported that it was good, all the detractors would have run to see it, and, I’m sure, been delighted to be proven wrong about their expectations for the movie. The only way Hollywood loses in this scenario is in making a bad film… and in reinforcing our own spidey-sense about what looks like a bad film.

It sounds like Hall is saying, however, that we should all have run out opening weekend to see Skyline — or any movie we suspect will be garbage — because we owe something to Hollywood! Which is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

Has Hollywood made us so jaded that we no longer “give movies a chance,” and is that a bad thing?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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