It's getting harder and harder to find the time to watch movies these days, so you'd think my criteria for the films I DO get to watch would improve, right? Like, I should probably make the decision to ONLY watch movies that have a chance of being actually good, and to stay away from films I've heard are terrible. Right? Right.
But where's the fun in that?
Besides, adopting such a sensible attitude to movie-watching would have robbed me of the delight of realising that two films I expected to be absolute rubbish turned out to be surprisingly good fun. Let's take the first one— a sequel to one of the worst films I've seen in the last few years.
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra was an awful film. I mean, it was just dreadful. It was so bad that I felt compelled to talk about it on this very Blog, way back in 2009. Here is what I said about it:
"I now hate this movie, for it is awful. It is worse than X-Men 3. It is even worse than Transformers 2. I have not hated a film so much since I saw Van Helsing. Van Helsing was directed by the same man. There are lessons in life I should learn, and yet learn them I do not."
Ah, good times. This was back when I was writing Dark Days. What a fantastic book that was.
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes.
The first GI Joe was horrible. It had a stupid story and stupid action and stupid characters and everything was stupid. It had the worst CGI I'd seen in a long time and they'd taken a monumentally dumb approach to the whole thing. They gave the Joes super robot suits, for god's sake.
So naturally, knowing how much I hated the first one, I went ahead and watched the sequel. And maybe it's because I expected it to be every bit as bad— but it was actually pretty cool.
The story was still dumb. COBRA'S ultimate plan was just daft. But there were so many cool bits in it. The ninjas on the mountain. Adrianne Palicki jogging. Cobra Commander's AWESOME outfit. Adrianne Palicki in the red dress. Bruce Willis and his house of guns. Adrianne Palicki doing stuff.
And the two best scenes were between the Rock and Channing Tatum. The video game and the sharpshooting. Funny writing, funny performances- if every scene was as good as these two, it would have been an amazing movie. As it was, it was fun, action-packed, quite stupid, but there is NOTHING about it you'd hate after watching it.
Oh, but there is ONE moment I should mention. To show how high tech the Joes are, they're given all these cool gadgets at the start. One of these gadgets is a pair of gloves that MELTS THROUGH a chainlink fence. Melts THROUGH it! How awesome is that?? No more waiting around for the extra few seconds while they cut through the fence with stupid, old-fashioned fence cutters! No way! Now they save VITAL SECONDS by using these gloves! And the best thing? THEY GLOW BRIGHT ORANGE! So instead of dumb soldiers cutting through a fence with stupid fence cutters in the dark, being all sneaky and stuff, now the Joes can cut through the fence and alert any enemy within a five mile radius to their presence at the same time! Yippee!
(But apart from this moment of dumbness, it's not a bad movie. I swear.)
And the other film I thought would be awful was Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
I heard this was diabolical. It's not. There are parts of this that are SO COOL. The witches are the best witches ever in the world EVER. They're evil and hideous but no two are alike. The make-up is brilliant. Famke Janssen is the head witch, and it takes guts to turn one of the most beautiful women in the world into a hideous monster, but they do it, and she's utterly brilliant.
It's a lovely idea at its core— what would Hansel and Gretel be like when they grew up?— and while it's set in a vague time, hundreds of years ago, the language and the music are modern day, which adds to the anarchic quality of it all. That said, the American accents sported by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are a tad distracting, especially seeing as how everyone else has a thick European accent. But come on... Renner's cool and Gemma Arterton is Gemma Arterton. Mmmm Gemma Arterton...
Word of warning, though. This looks like a family film, like a slightly dark fairytale, but it's not. It revels in bad language and gore. There are exploding heads a-plenty. So naturally I loved it.
I don't know if I'd ever watch either of these movies for a second time, but they were pretty damn good the first time out. Which was a really nice surprise.