Welcome to the next CHUD List.
We've tackled our essentials list and the continued revelation of our Kills List from 2003, and now that we've begun the beguine, we must continue. Behold:
The CHUD.com Top 50 Disappointments.
quick word on the criteria. We could very easily have spent this whole
article discussing sequels and prequels and adaptations of television
shows and called it a day. Instead, we tried to go a different route.
Also, from a master list of over 100, the involved parties (Devin,
Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and myself) all killed off a choice for each one
we claimed. As a result, we'll run a big list at the end of this of the
'ones that got away'. So, here is day one of many where we chronicle
the 50 Biggest Disappointments. Two a day, every week day for five
weeks. In no particular order:
#32 - Tideland (2006, dir. Terry Gilliam)
Over the course of this series we have been documenting the many kinds of disappointments. There’s the This Was So Fucking Overhyped disappointment (see below), the Everything Indicated This Would Have Been Better disappointment, the You Got It Right The First Time disappointment, and most damaging, the Oh Jesus How You’ve Let Me Down After All These Years disappointment. Today we will be exploring the most annoying of all disappointments, the I Really Should Have Known Better disappointment.
Tideland isn’t disappointing because it’s a bad Terry Gilliam film – The Brothers Grimm had been unrelenting garbage. But with Grimm there was the vague suspicion (or general knowledge, really) that Harvey Weinstein had gotten his stubby little fingers into that pie. Tideland is disappointing because it sounded like it was yet another chapter in the Gilliam Legend: the gifted, resolutely non-mainstream director followed his muse and found that the money people – in this case, the distributors at the Toronto Film Festival who didn’t pick the movie up – just didn’t ‘get it.’
Except that this time the money people were right. Gilliam followed his muse right into an abandoned house where hobos have been shitting in the corners since the Johnson administration and where the femurs belonging to at least three missing persons from the next county could be found under a festering heap of pizza crusts. The movie that he came up with is an ugly mess, a vile disaster that goes nowhere and takes the most pointlessly creepy path there.
But here’s why this was am I Really Should Have Known Better disappointment: the reports out of Toronto (by the reputable people, anyway) were uniformly dismal. But like many of you I dismissed those canaries who died in that coal mine, and I walked into Tideland hoping to find the next great – and greatly misunderstood – Gilliam classic. Instead I found myself fighting the urge to walk out of the movie, hoping that some sort of third act twist would make the retarded man getting into sexual situations with a little girl something more than skin-crawling. At the very least I thought it would be skin-crawling with a point, or a reason of some kind. But there was nothing there, except for a final scene that took everything unpleasant about the previous two hours and amped them up to 11.
The I Really Should Have Known Better disappointment isn’t a travesty – the signs were all there so you’re not shocked or horrified. You just feel stupid, like the guy who goes back to the girl who used to cheat on him all the time and ends up with gonorrhea. Smooth move, Ex-Lax, as we used to say. - Devin
Travesty Scale (1-10): 4 out of 10 #31 - Godzilla (1998. dir. Roland Emmerich)
Size Does Matter.
Travesty Scale (1-10): 4 out of 10
#31 - Godzilla (1998. dir. Roland Emmerich)
If ever a slogan were to sum up the disrepair of summer moviemaking, that's the one. In many arenas, size is tantamount to victory. Boxing. The Highlander Games. The world of Movie Webmasters. Midget Tossing. Giant Tossing. I have it on good authority that the Fred Grandy Fan Club awards its largest member with a wreath on the eve of the solstice. In summer movies, size is typically what gets people into trouble whether it be the kitchen sink approach that creatively [not financially, this isn't an article about that] dooms projects or the untrue belief that every competitor must be trumped on the bombast meter in order for a film to be the dominant champ.
Roland Emmerich's incarnation of Godzilla was very large. Much bigger than the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and much more polygon-assisted than The Herculoids. After ID4 has wiped the wallets of the world clean, the Emmerich/Dean Devlin machine had pick of the litter. If they'd wanted to they could have made a big budget The Great Space Coaster and perhaps they should have. Not even being a fan of the original Godzilla films, Emmerich chose the American version of the beloved kaiju eiga, treading where James Cameron and Jan De Bont had unsuccessfully attempted to tread.
Tread they did. All over our dreams.
Godzilla is as big a missed opportunity to me as the Star Wars prequels. The big green lug was almost as much a part of my childhood as the Jedi Knights, and I often had battles where the Kenner toys would team up against the Japanese scourge, only to have his inexplicably jettisonned fist take them out in a volley of unbridled rubbery fury. Godzilla the franchise had survived bad films [no way King Kong beats Godzilla in a fight, no way], a run of lame comic books though the helicopter blade headed thing he fought in like the 3rd issue of the Marvel book was astounding in that its Achilles Heel was its entire existence, and Godzookie. The franchise had endured Godzookie and continued to live. Godzilla battled Charles fucking BARKLEY and the franchise endured. Nothing short of Godzilla going public with his hatred of Jews was going to stop the big green machine.
Emmerich's orders were simple: Make a great film but respect the tradition set before. I envision Roland lighting a stogie with a million dollar bill and then taking a shiss [85% shit, 10% piss, 5% unknown matter] right on his contract. As a vacant summer movie, I don't mind Godzilla 1998 as much as many do. If the creature were named Paulie and I was in a dark theater watching Paulie 1998, I might have felt that it was a worthy six dollar endeavor. A giant CGI reptile is rarely a bad thing. The main difference between the American version and Japanese version was simple: The would be no man in a monster suit. As for the design, the plot, the intention, the tone, the battles, and the heart behind the story... that shit was supposed to honor our Nipponese founding fathers.
What we were given was seriously bad jokes, sight gags, MATTHEW BRODERICK and MARIA PITILLO, a pussified Godzilla, Jurassic Park wannabe scenes, and virtually none of the destruction of property and human endangerment so vital to the series. This was a pacified and creatively neutered film. At its base, all the American version had to do was feature a giant reptile ripping shit up and it would have gotten a pass. But, the filmmakers chose to have an abandoned Manhattan as the big set piece and emotionally uninvolving Death Star Trench action beats instead of having fun and using their clout to make a legit monster movie. This and Mighty Joe Young killed the idea of theatrical monster movies for some time, and it's simply because they liked the idea in concept but didn't have the passion or respect to follow through. It's like saying you want to make a really great rock and roll album and then hiring an emo band.
Size mattered enough to make the film a little money but the merchandizing was treated like David Dukes on Crenshaw and the film disappeared into the footnotes. The folks at Toho hate and disown it. The American fans who got behind it feel like Jodie Foster in a pinball arcade. And ol' Godzilla will likely never get another chance to walk on the big stage stateside again. There have been some great subsequent Japanese films but Devlin and Emmerich ruined this one for all of us.
Travesty Scale (1-10): 10 out of 10 Previously Disappointing:
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Bram Stoker's Dracula
New York, New York
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Art School Confidential
Bonfire of the Vanities
The Black Hole
The Last Castle
Love on the Run
The Replacement Killers
Travesty Scale (1-10): 10 out of 10