Thursday, December 16, 2010

Roger Ebert's Greatest Mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes. Even Homer nods. Normally Roger Ebert is my go to guide for what's happening in the world of movies. His brilliant review of Peter Jackson's Lovely Bones was a treat. But sometimes the Great Cham of Chicago doesn't have his bap screwed on right. This is the first in an occasional series of blogs about movies that I disagree with Sir Roger about. I picked 8 because I couldn't think of 10 off the top of my head.
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8. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Ebert says: "[it] must have looked like a natural on paper, but, alas, the completed film is slow and disappointing." He complains about the casting, the famous 'who are these guys' chase scene (!) and the ending. If it's so bad why do we all watch it when we catch it on TV? Explain that.
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7. Millers Crossing. Ebert says: "This doesn't look like a gangster movie, it looks like a commercial intended to look like a gangster movie. Everything is too designed. That goes for the plot and the dialogue, too." He mostly complains about Leo's office and the fact that the dialogue is too good! Yes, you heard me right. And no, I don't know why he has that comma before too either. 
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6. Full Metal Jacket. Ebert says: "i[T]s more like a book of short stories than a novel. Many of the passages seem self-contained, some of them are masterful and others look like they came out of the bottom drawer. This is a strangely shapeless film from the man whose work usually imposes a ferociously consistent vision on his material. The movie is about Vietnam and was shot on stages and outdoor sets in England. It's one of the best-looking war movies ever made on sets and stages, but that's not good enough when compared to the awesome reality of "Platoon," "Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter." Ebert's comparing schlock like Platoon and The Deer Hunter to FMJ? Wow. In a notorious appearance on At The Movies, Gene Siskel nearly lost his shit when Ebert gave a thumbs up to Benji The Hunted and a thumbs down to Full Metal Jacket. Just think about that for a minute. Or better yet, watch it.
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Batman: The Dark Knight. Ebert gave this film four stars. The maximum. This is what he said:"Batman” isn’t a comic book anymore. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy. It creates characters we come to care about. That’s because of the performances, because of the direction, because of the writing, and because of the superlative technical quality of the entire production." The writing? The writing? The plot of this film was such an insult to the intelligence that I walked out before I had a heart attack from sheer annoyance. Very silly story telling, ghastly plotting and dialogue that made me laugh out loud in all the wrong places. Roger Ebert proves that he's in love with Christopher Nolan or something by giving four stars to every one of his films, even the childish teen fantasy Inception.  
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4. Dark City. Ebert gives this four stars too. Clearly science fiction is his achilles heel. He has no compass to navigate his way through the genre. Ebert says that Dark City "is a great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like ``Metropolis'' and ``2001: A Space Odyssey." No it isn't. It's got no story, no original ideas. Its all about the set design. A set design that dated faster than a Flock of Seagulls haircut once The Matrix came along
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3. Blade Runner. Roger Ebert famously hated Blade Runner. He's been scrambling to explain himself ever since. Hence the over praise for things like Dark City which he hoped would redeem him among the Geekverse. Ebert says of Blade Runner: "The movie's weakness, however, is that it allows the special effects technology to overwhelm its story. Ford is tough and low-key in the central role, and Rutger Hauer and Sean Young are effective as two of the replicants, but the movie isn't really interested in these people -- or creatures. The obligatory love affair is pro forma, the villains are standard issue, and the climax is yet one more of those cliffhangers, with Ford dangling over an abyss by his fingertips." Jesus, he hated the scene on the roof with Rutger Hauer. Can you imagine? Your hate killed Philip K Dick, Roger. Killed the poor bastard! I hope you're happy!! (editor's note, PKD died well before the film was released and Ebert wrote his review). 
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2. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Three and a half stars Ebert gives it. It just missed perfection by half a star. I wont even quote Ebert here. His review is a travesty. The science fiction blind spot again or fear of being seen as uncool? Who cares. Look at RedLetterMedia's review on YouTube for the full magilla.
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1. Avatar. Another Four Star review. Honestly am I the only person who found this to be absolute drivel? Were you all hypnotised? Body snatched? Clunky acting, stupid plot, predictable story, embarrassing love scenes? Smurfs in a tree. WTF? Ebert says: "not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult." This is supposed to be a good thing? Sheesh...