Why Do We Watch Films That We Know Will Be Bad?

Quentin Tarantino can be recognised as one of the few great film directors that has developed a uniquely focused style. One of the reasons Tarantino has been able to produce films such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs is because he had a vision and didn’t sway when the bucks started rolling in. Tarantino focused on the art that he wished to display to the world, and has even limited his work to a mere ten films (since Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 count as one), all to avoid the travesty of making one regrettable film that could tarnish a director’s reputation. So now, why do we, the audience, still to go see films we know are going to be beyond bad?

These abhorrent films have caused me to take the time in rounding up three categories and the films that may fit within them.

The first category is sequels and how, for some reason, 80% of the time they’re made, it’s only to appease the crowds with a semi-decent plot whilst still presenting below average execution (need I mention Michael Bay’s Transformers sequels?).

The second category resides within the remakes. In recent times the film industry has seen an upsurge of remakes – most notable nowadays is Disney’s decision to recreate classics such as Cinderella and Snow White, and, more recently, Beauty and the Beast.

The final category has me ambivalent because this one is just the charity case. What I mean by this is when you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the marketing grappling amidst the YouTube ads, and with all the loathing you may have for it, you understand that buying a ticket and watching it is your civil duty to the industry of film.

Shall we begin?

It seems everyone always needs that last hit of closure, no matter how bad you know it’s going to be for you”

There exists an abundance of bad sequels, including Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), a couple of Pirates of the Caribbeans, Dumb and Dumber II (just why…), The Matrix: Revolutions, and however many Saw sequels that exist after the third. The ability to rage on with this list is endless. The reason audience members want to see the sequel, even when they know the original could never be topped, is because of their admiration for the original and desire for closure. The Matrix changed the game, the special effects amazed audiences worldwide and caused us to question what pill to take: the blue one or the red one? The third installment was there for closure of course, and each installment was still directed and created by the very same Wachowski brothers, a rarity in the world of sequels.

Another example is the Dumb and Dumber sequel that was so beyond awful you most likely burned all and any evidence that you went to see it. After the huge commercial success of Dumb and Dumber, starring the once funny Jim Carrey and his rather talented sidekick Jeff Daniels, it was probably one of those top films everyone loves to quote. This 2014 sequel can be summed up as a throwback for the followers of an almost-cult-following comedic film, that probably should have just thrown the idea back into the bag. It seems everyone always needs that last hit of closure, no matter how bad you know it’s going to be for you.

“Films the audience should know quite well to avoid but decided to purchase tickets for regardless”

Moving on to the next category: remakes, or reboots. This is a power Hollywood absolutely loves to abuse. You may be familiar with reboots such as Arthur, The Karate Kid, GhostBusters, The Lone Ranger and so on. For some reason directors in recent times have been further fueling the fire of inarticulate storytelling, a form that destroys the essence of why films are produced. The reboot of Ghostbusters with the all-star female cast is beyond reason – why couldn’t they write something different that emboldens the female role in a standalone original rather than relying on something that was a cult classic?

Remakes can make or break someone’s acting career, speaking of which, the 2010 Karate Kid starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith put a halt to decisions being made without his dad in regards to choosing acting roles. The film relies on Jackie Chan carrying all the weight, and most likely caused Ralph Macchio to cringe once the credits began to roll. Overall these remakes may be examples of films that audience members may have enjoyed watching, but all I ask of them is to watch the original before the more-often-than-not atrocious remake.

Finally there is the charity. Not every blockbuster film is bad, but there are the occasional flops that are just bound to occur. The exclusion of Suicide Squad from this category must take part on the grounds that its trailer fooled us all, but we will nonetheless include films such as Ben-Hur, I, Frankenstein, Blended, another Adam Sandler creation, and finally After Earth. These are a few examples of films the audience should know quite well to avoid but decided to purchase tickets for regardless.

The reasoning within this category fluctuates. You may have been dragged along with your significant other, younger and uncultured sibling, or that one friend you decided to unfriend on Facebook as a consequence. But for those other rare moments, the moments when you feel like nothing else may be out at your local cinema, that’s when you open your wallet to make an unconventional charity donation to the cinema that had to put that forsaken film up on the projection reel. Some filmmakers being unable to cohere a decently stimulating storyline to add to the history of artistic work of film does not mean you won’t enjoy eating extra-large popcorn in that cushiony cinema chair.

Not everyone is a film expert or media geek, but the majority of us just want have that 2 to 3 hours of escape into something that might possibly inspire or make us feel something different. Of course, this doesn’t always happen.

Throughout the past century films that add to our pile of garbage have been pumped into our culture, and will only continue to stack up. However they are necessary to accentuate our feelings towards the inspirational, unforgettable and original stories, that gratuitously give us back those 2 to 3 meaningful hours of escape.

Matthew Johnson

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