McGinnis: Movies I like that no one else seems toWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One concept I really hate is the idea of “conventional wisdom,” specifically when it is applied to moviegoing.
When it comes to people’s opinion of the quality of a film, often the public’s view can be as influenced by what they hear about a movie as much as what is actually in the movie itself. Example: “Gigli” is a horrible movie, right? That’s what conventional wisdom says, anyway. How many people have actually seen it to make that conclusion, do you think? I haven’t. And I bet most folks haven’t, either.
The problem with this is that conventional wisdom can often be influenced by exterior factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the work. Inflated expectations, a desire to spurn those involved, lack of success or resentment when a film is successful — I have seen these unfairly color the public’s reaction to a film, whether the movie deserved it or not.
As such, I got to thinking about movies that maybe didn’t get a fair break. Movies which “conventional wisdom” has long since turned against. Here are a few films I like that many others have long since written off. Not all of them are great, or even necessarily very good, but I believe there’s more quality stuff here than people give credit for.
“The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions.” Yes, I am going there. Most folks I talked to seemed to really have liked “Reloaded” at the time — and after “Revolutions” turned out to be a disappointment, revisionist history tells us that both “Matrix” sequels sucked.
Not the case, in my opinion. “Reloaded” is a fabulous action picture with some utterly unforgettable effects sequences — the fight with the hundreds of Smiths for one, the epic freeway chase for another. And thematically, the film is an entertaining and successful set-up for the third film.
Yes, part three was a disappointment, with a major change in tone toward the end that wasn’t set up properly earlier in the film. But I contend that with a couple of small changes, people’s memories of “Revolutions” would be much more positive. And “Revolutions” also contains the same remarkable effects and spectacular action sequences (that last battle gets me slacked-jawed whenever I see it), and, overall, the sheer audacity of its undertaking makes it worthwhile, in my opinion. They may not have hit the ball outta the park, but they swung for the fences, and in my view, that can count for a lot.
“Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Yes, oh yes, I am going there, too. From the day it first came out, I liked Episode I more than most everybody else seemed to. I won’t go so far as to say it is even close in quality to any of the original trilogy (or “Episode III” for that matter), but at least this one felt more like a “Star Wars” movie than the bland and uninteresting Episode II.
Yes, it has Jar-Jar Binks. But it also has Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, the typically superb visuals, some amazingly imaginative characters, great action, the Podrace, etc. For my money, there’s more quality here than most fans seem to want to admit.
“Titanic.” One of the biggest movies of all time is one of the most hated films ever. I can’t help but think that these two facts are related somehow. If the film hadn’t made all those millions, surpassing such favorites as “Star Wars” and “Jurassic Park,” would the reaction to it be as universally negative as it seems to be right now? I don’t think so. (Give it time, and opinion toward “Avatar” will turn in the same way — and already has begun to, in fact.)
In the end, I can only evaluate the film based upon my reaction to it the first day I saw it — which was the first day it opened in November of 1997. Before the hype, before the success, before the awards, before anything, I saw the film — and judging it on its own merits, I thought it was a masterpiece.
“Titanic” was one of those rare movies based on real life that actually captured for me a feeling of what the actual event consisted of — and that feeling was only made possible through its focus on the love story, making its characters into sympathetic conduits through which the audience was able to experience the event firsthand.
You can make all the arguments for how sappy the romance was. I can only say that for me, it worked, and that I felt it was crucial to the success of the film. Without that, you’re left with an incredibly accurate film historically — and a relatively unsuccessful film artistically, and probably financially.
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.