Category Archives: The Critics Were Wrong

The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

When something goes wrong in our lives, it is easy to wish that the memory could be wiped from our brains.

The 2004 movie, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind explored this idea.

Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have just broken up. To relieve herself of the memories of her broken relationship, Clementine has undergone a procedure to wipe her memories of Joel. When Joel hears about this procedure, he hopes it will have the same effect on him. But as the memories of his relationship begin to fade, Joel realizes that he is still in love with Clementine.

The critics loved this movie. I wanted to like it, I really did. I like seeing Jim Carrey playing dramatic roles and I love when Kate Winslet steps out of the box and plays an unconventional character. But truth be told, I did not get this movie.

Are the critics wrong? I say yes, but then again, I enjoyed some movies that the critics hated.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)

The myth of the vampire is part monster, part seducer.

In 1995, a multi-cultural spin was put on the vampire myth in a Vampire in Brooklyn.

Maximillian (Eddie Murphy) is the lone survivor from a race of vampires who once lived on a Caribbean island. He must find a mate and produce children, otherwise the line will cease to exist upon his passing. Aware of a child born to a vampire father and a human mother, Maximillian travels to Brooklyn, NY to find her. Detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett), does not know that her father was a vampire. All she knows is that her mother died in an asylum and she is having strange, vivid dreams.

After finding Rita, Max set’s his sight on seducing her and bring her vampire side out. But Rita’s partner, Detective Justice (Allen Payne) has feeling for Rita that go beyond the professional realm. Will Max bring out Rita’s vampire self or will Detective Justice speak up before it is too late?

Loosely based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula, the film tries put an Afro-Caribbean twist on the novel that we all know.

Were the critics wrong? The movie is not totally bad, the plot for the most part, adheres the plot in the novel.  It’s nice to see actors of color continue to stretch their wings. And unlike Mina in the original novel, Rita is a strong and capable woman. But even with those qualities and the late Wes Craven in the director’s chair, the film is sadly teeters between half decent and bad.

Were the critics wrong? To answer the question, no.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Inspector Gadget (1999)

In the 1980’s, one of the more popular cartoons was Inspector Gadget.

Inspector Gadget was a half man, half machine, detective who was not all there. With the help of his niece, Penny and his dog, Brain, they fought against the evil machinations of Dr. Claw.

In 1999, the cartoon made into a film. Stepping into the mechanical shoes of the title character was Matthew Broderick. Brenda (Joely Fisher) is the robotic surgeon who provides the inspector with the mechanical parts. Rupert Everett, as British actors often do, played the villain. Rounding out the cast was Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny.

Were the critics wrong? Unfortunately, they were not wrong. In transferring the cartoon into a live action film, something was lost along the way. The wacky charm and suspension of disbelief that existed in the cartoon was nowhere to be found in the film. And, as usual, Brenda was the classic damsel in distress who has to be rescued.

Do I recommend this film? No. Just stick to the cartoon.

 

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Anaconda 1997

Ever since the garden of Eden, snakes have both terrified and captured the interest of human beings.

The 1997 movie, Anaconda, is about a team adventurous enough (or foolish, depending on your opinion) to find and capture the world’s largest and deadliest snake: the Anaconda.

Led by Paul Serone (Jon Voight), the team includes Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and Danny Rich (Ice Cube).

Can the team find the snake and take it into captivity or will nature win out, as she often does?

Were the critics wrong? If your afraid of snakes,  then yes. But if your not afraid of snakes and your laughing because the story is ludicrous and the special effects are shoddy, then no.

Do I recommend this film? No.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

The people in Hollywood know a good thing when they see it. In 2003, when Pirates Of The Carribean: Curse Of The Black Pearl was released, it was a massive success. That gave movie makers the green light to continue with the franchise. The problem is (as it is if often the case with most sequels) that as each consecutive movie was released, the reviews were not so full of praise and the audiences began to stay away.

Such is the case with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are out of the picture. Making strange bedfellows/pirate odd couple are Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).  Their quest is locate the fountain of youth. But they are not the only ones who are eager to locate the legendary fountain. Blackbeard  (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are also on the same path. It’s not just a question of who will reach the fountain first, it’s a question of will the past and relationship that Jack had with Angelica come back to bite him in the behind?

This movie attempts to recreate the magic of the first film. Attempts is the key word here. Even without Bloom and Knightley in the cast, something is missing. Whether it is the fact that Jack Sparrow is becoming old or that the filmmakers attempts to inject a period appropriate character like Blackbeard, just something is missing.

Were the critics wrong? No.

I do not recommend this film.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Pearl Harbor (2001)

December 7th, A Day That Will Live In Infamy- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Every generation has that event that forever alters their collective lives. For the Greatest Generation, the event is Pearl Harbor.

The 2001 film, Pearl Harbor, is the story of America’s forced entry into World War II. Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) are best friends. Rafe falls in love with Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale).  Rafe is then transferred to England while Danny and Evelyn are transferred to Pearl Harbor.  Things become complicated when Danny and Evelyn’s relationship becomes more than platonic. Then the Japanese attack.

This is a typical Michael Bay movie. The action and special effects are wonderful. The plot needs some tweaking.

Were the critics wrong? Not entirely. Comparisons to Titanic are inevitable (semi weak story, poorly written dialogue, major historical event, incredible special effects, etc). But where Titanic succeeds, Pearl Harbor fails. 

Do I recommend this movie? If the audience is looking for historical accuracy, no. If they are looking for a typical Michael Bay film, yes.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Eddie Murphy Double Feature- The Haunted Mansion (2003) & Norbit (2007)

Eddie Murphy was once one of the most respected  and successful comics and actors in Hollywood. Unfortunately, that reputation has gone down the tubes in recent years.

In 2003, he starred in the Haunted Mansion. Based on the Disney ride of the same name, Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) and his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason) run a successful real estate company. But the business is successful because his family comes second to work.  When they receive a call about a new property, Jim cannot resist the offer. But the property’s owner, Master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker) and his butler, Ramsley (Terence Stamp) are an odd pair. Jim will discover that the house is haunted and Master Gracey has specific reasons for his invitation.

 Were the critics wrong?No. This movie tries to bridge the gap of action/comedy/family movie genre with a message of what is really important in life. But in reality, this movie is just plain bad.

Four years later, in 2007, Murphy jumped from plain bad to awful/atrocious/offensive in Norbit. Norbit is an orphan raised by Mr. Wong (also Murphy). He is engaged to Rasputia (again played by Murphy). Then he meets Kate (Thandie Newton), who is the woman of his dreams. Can he find a way to end his engagement or will be spend the rest of his days with Rasputia?

This movie is so bad it’s good. Rasputia is offensive as a character. Loud, extremely overweight, domineering and manipulative, she controls Norbit, who is without a backbone, with an iron fist. On the other side is Kate, who is sweet, caring and thin. Were the critics wrong? Absolutely not.

I do not recommend either movie.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Eat Pray Love (2010)

Sometimes we need to get away from it all. The job, the family, the constant stress that life brings.

Elizabeth Gilbert did just that. In her 2007 book, Eat, Pray, Love, Ms. Gilbert got away from it all. Traveling to (and eating through) India, Italy and Indonesia, she used her time away from every day life to find the balance she was looking for.

In 2007, the book was made into a movie with Julia Roberts in the lead role. Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) thinks she has everything a modern woman is supposed to have. She  has a thriving career, a loving spouse and a comfortable home. But all is not what it seems to be. When her marriage ends, Liz is unsure on what to do next. Taking a chance, she leaves her life behind to find the peace and and sense of self that she thought she had.

Were the critics wrong? To be fair, I never read the book, so I can only go by the movie. Unfortunately, the critics were not wrong.  While the scenery was gorgeous and the food looked mouthwatering, the movie was not what it could have been. The message of letting go and allowing yourself to not be weighed down by life was lost somewhere in between the book and the movie. Every performer has a movie or two that despite the best effort and intentions of all involved, it is just plain bad.  This movie is in this category.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Timothy Dalton Double Feature-Brenda Starr (1992) & The Rocketeer (1991)

If they are lucky enough, a performer will have a live long career. But that does not mean that every project will be a success.

Over years, Timothy Dalton has played many roles. In the early 90’s, he played two very different roles.

Brenda Starr (1992), based on the comic strip of the same name,  stars Brooke Shields in the lead role. Mike (Tony Peck) is comic book artist who draws the Brenda Starr cartoon for the local newspapers.  Inside the comic, Brenda is feeling unappreciated by her creator and leaves the strip. To keep his job, Mike goes into the comic strip to get Brenda back. He follows Brenda in her job as Ace Reporter for the New York Flash. Mike also meets Basil St. John (Timothy Dalton), Brenda’s on again/off again boyfriend.

Were the critics and audiences wrong? Not quite, but they were onto something. The movie is a little hokey, but it has a comic book sensibility. It is colorful, over the top and not even close to reality.  But that is why we read comic books.

A year earlier, he starred as the villain in The Rocketeer. In the 1930’s Hollywood, nice guy Cliff (Billy Campbell) stumbles upon a rocket pack. Putting on a mask, he becomes The Rocketeer. Adding to the equation is the villain Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton), the love interest Jenny (Jennifer Connelly), Nazis, gangsters and the roots of the Aviation industry as we know it today.

This movie harkens back to a simpler time with simpler plots and characters. Were the critics wrong? Not entirely.But we have to consider the era that the movie is set in and the origin of the plot. Compared to today’s  superhero movies, this movie looks rather simple. But it’s not a bad movie.

I recommend both, but if I had to choose one, it would be The Rocketeer over Brenda Starr.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Adapting a film based on a novel is like walking a tight rope. The screenwriter or screenwriters and the production staff must be true to the novel and it’s fan base, but the movie must also be appealing to audiences, regardless of whether they have read the book.

In some cases, the movie succeeds. In other cases, the movie is a failure and readers, especially traditionally minded readers are reminded why the book was and still is the better medium.

In 1995, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter was adapted for the big screen.

In 17th century Massachusetts, the Puritan lifestyle is law, spoken and unspoken.

A newcomer, Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrives in the colony. She believes her husband Roger (Robert Duvall) has died at the hands of the local Indian tribe. Relishing her independence, she starts a secret love affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale  (Gary Oldman). The result of the affair is a child. Refusing to the publicly name her child’s father, Hester is forced to wear an a scarlet A (for adulteress) on her outer clothing. Then her husband reappears and starts to stir up trouble.

Were the critics wrong? In this case, no. The screenwriting and production team tried very hard to walk the fine line of being faithful to the book while attempting to fill in the seats at the cinema. But try as they might, the film is not very good.  The other issue with this film is casting. At the end of the day, Demi Moore was not only wrong for Hester, but her accent was questionable. Robert Duvall did not give me the chills that a villain of his sort would normally give. The film’s only saving grace, cast wise is Gary Oldman.

Do I recommend this movie? No.

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