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It's the Booze Talkin': Have movie going audiences become too cynical?

May. 20, 2014by: JimmyO

Ah summer! Once again it’s time for a slew of blockbusters and heavily anticipated feature films to battle their way to the top of the box office mountain. It is also that time of year when the enthusiasm some fans have been building turns to bitter disappointment – and even heartbreak. Why did Superman have to destroy an entire city in MAN OF STEEL? What in the world were they thinking with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS? And of course there have been a slew of questions with the recent GODZILLA. If it’s called GODZILLA, why do we not see enough of GODZILLA? While these may be legitimate questions for some movie goers, a bigger question may be are we forgetting to find the pleasure of going to the movies?

During a recent conversation about Gareth Edwards’ take on GODZILLA, a pal of mine and I began a very intense discussion. While we covered a few bases it all started off with JAWS. Do you remember the first time you saw this masterpiece of cinema? I know I do. I didn’t care that the shark looked fake. I didn’t care that the final sequence is an improbable scenario. I did care however that it terrified me. I didn’t want to go swimming in the ocean afterwards, yet it sparked my own obsession with great white sharks. Of course very few blockbusters can measure up to this classic Spielberg adventure. This incredible film changed the very nature of the way we see summer movies. Yet if JAWS came out today with updated effects but everything else the same, would people be complaining about the lack of shark time? Would snide Twitter comments run rampant that the shark doesn’t have enough bite?

To be fair, GODZILLA is no JAWS. To this day, the aquatic thriller still holds up thanks to an amazing script, great performances and iconic characters – not to mention fantastic direction. Yet in Edwards feature, he was assigned the task of making a fun summer flick and frankly I feel he succeeded. Sure the character development is not one of the film’s strongest attributes, but as the Arrow himself said in his review, this is not a character study. Hell, the script includes the line, “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” The characters here are miniscule to what was coming and they simply helped keep the story moving, and frankly I was okay with that. Although when a trailer promises a ton of Bryan Cranston and you don’t get that, you do feel a little cheated. Even still, I was entertained by GODZILLA exactly the way I’d expected to be.

For that film - as well as most summer flicks - there is certainly a level of excitement built up for audiences, but is this where we go wrong? With the constant clips, teasers and trailers do we find ourselves giving into the hype of it all? With social media taking over, it is nearly impossible for fans to not inundate themselves with what is yet to come. A simple shot of Ben Affleck in his Batsuit sent Twitter and Facebook into overdrive as movie lovers poured their thoughts into post after post. Positive or negative, good people that populate movie websites – myself included – begin to base their opinion on a movie well before it is actually seen. As impossible as it may be in this day and age, I still prefer going into a movie with little to no knowledge of what is about to transpire. Sometimes knowing too much can take away all the awe and wonder that is involved.

Some simply say that movies just aren’t as good as they used to be? Technology has given filmmakers the ability to create the impossible. And we all know that the bigger the budget and effects are, the story can suffer from what is essentially all flash and no substance. However, not every movie from the Seventies is a classic work like JAWS either - I love TENTACLES (1977) but it’s far from great. The only way to truly discover the features that will stand the test of time is to wait. You could argue that a number of sub-genres have improved over time. Superheroes, wizards and hobbits have all found a level of success that they could not have years ago. While the original SUPERMAN with Christopher Reeve is still perfection, back then a great superhero flick was rare. The level of skill that populates many of these films today is astounding.

What about the audience? Is it not okay to just go see a movie for the fun of it? Hey, I write film reviews for this site – as well as JoBlo.com - so I go in with the intention to break it down. For many of us, this may be how we show our love for film. Yet, do we sometimes give into ripping apart a movie just to make a snide comment on Twitter or just to feel a little superior to somebody simply looking for mindless entertainment? Or are we just too damn cynical to really enjoy the movie going experience altogether? Has the joy of pointing out plot holes, or questionable dialogue with lousy effects replaced the ecstasy of film going? Or maybe the sheer pleasure of going into the forum section on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB and complaining about how much a film sucks is too much to resist for some.

Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but are audiences getting too cynical when it comes to movies? Not every genre, sub-genre or summer blockbuster is meant to be a game changer, but it seems many are treating them like they should be. Clearly some movies are bad and may even be worthy of scorn. I just wonder whether it is more fun to rip what doesn’t work to shreds as opposed to celebrate what does. Movies are meant to be a communal outing that brings people together, not to publicly humiliate somebody that doesn’t enjoy the same thing. Agree, disagree, debate, we should do all these things. Yet don’t forget one of the most important aspects of going to a movie… and that is simply to enjoy the cinematic experience.

Extra Tidbit: What is your favorite movie going experience?

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1:53PM on 07/01/2014
Best experience I ever had was opening day for Jurassic Park in 1993. I was 10 years old. The t-rex attack was the greatest scene I had ever witnessed at that time and still gives me chills. I loved seeing Star Wars in 1997, the Jaws re-release, TMNT in 1989 and Independence Day, but they don't stick in my head as much as Jurassic Park does. I also think some really underrated picks would be the Wachowski's Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas films and the first Transformers, which were amazing to me
Best experience I ever had was opening day for Jurassic Park in 1993. I was 10 years old. The t-rex attack was the greatest scene I had ever witnessed at that time and still gives me chills. I loved seeing Star Wars in 1997, the Jaws re-release, TMNT in 1989 and Independence Day, but they don't stick in my head as much as Jurassic Park does. I also think some really underrated picks would be the Wachowski's Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas films and the first Transformers, which were amazing to me on the big screen purely for their visual aesthetic, but JP wins all the way.
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8:42PM on 05/22/2014

One problem

We did not see the film that the trailers were advertising... The tone was very different from those "end of the world" because Godzilla is coming trailers to the "Yeah Godzilla is the good guy" movie that was released. Very frustrating and false advertisement all the way.... I want to see the film those trailers were showing us.

Nothing should be compared with JAWS.... JAWS is brilliant and one of the best films ever.
We did not see the film that the trailers were advertising... The tone was very different from those "end of the world" because Godzilla is coming trailers to the "Yeah Godzilla is the good guy" movie that was released. Very frustrating and false advertisement all the way.... I want to see the film those trailers were showing us.

Nothing should be compared with JAWS.... JAWS is brilliant and one of the best films ever.
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11:57AM on 05/21/2014

Great Article!

I think it's people trying to feel superior. Like a bunch of early 20 something film snobs that think they are "above it all" and think looking down their noses at something the masses enjoy means they are smarter and more versed in technique than the average person. In reality, they come off like stuck up morons trying too hard to be "cool".

I did that for about a year or so in my early 20's and on a HUGE surrealism film kick. But as I have gotten older, I enjoy films for what they are.
I think it's people trying to feel superior. Like a bunch of early 20 something film snobs that think they are "above it all" and think looking down their noses at something the masses enjoy means they are smarter and more versed in technique than the average person. In reality, they come off like stuck up morons trying too hard to be "cool".

I did that for about a year or so in my early 20's and on a HUGE surrealism film kick. But as I have gotten older, I enjoy films for what they are. And if I can have a good time and excitedly watch giant monsters or Superman/ Zod beat the crap out of each other.....then I am perfectly happy to overlook small little nitpicks. Hell, not that long ago on this site...about 5 years ago, we celebrated our love of films. Now, it seems to celebrate picking apart everything. Maybe it's the new generation of moviegoers. Can't wait until they grow out of it.
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11:01PM on 05/20/2014

I Liked "Pompeii" But... (Spoilers)

While you bring up excellent points, and I agree with the base argument, "Jaws", if updated today, with the exact same script (only changed for modernity, not to change characters or anything like that) and same great direction/ sense of atmosphere would be amazing. The problem with "Godzilla" is that while yes, it attempts the "Jaws' approach to it's titular monster, fails because the characters are all one-note bores. You could have cut out about 1/3 of all the major supporting characters and
While you bring up excellent points, and I agree with the base argument, "Jaws", if updated today, with the exact same script (only changed for modernity, not to change characters or anything like that) and same great direction/ sense of atmosphere would be amazing. The problem with "Godzilla" is that while yes, it attempts the "Jaws' approach to it's titular monster, fails because the characters are all one-note bores. You could have cut out about 1/3 of all the major supporting characters and change nothing about the story or character arcs therein; this unfortunately includes Elizabeth Olsen's wife character and the son.. It's not an issue to have slow build-up, it's an issue to have terrible characters, and all of "Godzilla" 's characters are boring/ useless save for Cranston, whom is so unceremoniously dumped early on. He is set up for such an interesting arc, and then the movie kills him to follow the military. That's boring.

I enjoy the act of watching movies, it's one of the reasons I watch at least one movie a day. I also write reviews for 'so bad they're good' movies (shameless self promotion- sobadbooks,com) and have a great time with those, because despite whatever issues those films might have they aren't masquerading as anything else. "Pompeii", which I saw in theaters and now own, had amazing 3D and solid effects, and it was also a slow build until the volcano erupts. I was okay waiting there because, despite being generic characters and stereotypes, I was able to invest in their plight in some manner. You can't cut out 1/3 of the major supporting characters with fundamentally altering a lot of the film is wait I am saying, I guess. And for me, that's good enough.

Side note for the record- Say what you will about Paul WS Anderson's silly scripts, the man is a great visual stylist and the action in "Pompeii" was awesomely fun (chariot chase during the eruption = cool as hell!). "Godzilla" 's fight scenes were so poorly edited together and had so many scaling issues throughout, there was no enjoyment for me when the action beats did hit.
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11:26PM on 05/20/2014
So you praise a movie that was universally scorned by the critics as being a piece of crap, and completely ignored by the audience, then you use those credentials to explain to us how bad the fight scenes in Godzilla were?

You might have chosen a decent movie to praise if you were trying to sound like someone serious.
So you praise a movie that was universally scorned by the critics as being a piece of crap, and completely ignored by the audience, then you use those credentials to explain to us how bad the fight scenes in Godzilla were?

You might have chosen a decent movie to praise if you were trying to sound like someone serious.
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10:12PM on 05/20/2014

You are absolutely correct.....

I went into the movie sure I would enjoy it, but feeling nervous about all the negatives I'd heard from fanboys. I didn't understand because the critic response (normally much lower in this type of movie) was actually pretty good (still at 72% and with a respectable average). So I went, and was kind of shocked to find that I liked it. I really enjoyed Cranston's intensity. I like Watanabe's circumspect delivery (although I thought some of his conclusions weren't warranted based on the
I went into the movie sure I would enjoy it, but feeling nervous about all the negatives I'd heard from fanboys. I didn't understand because the critic response (normally much lower in this type of movie) was actually pretty good (still at 72% and with a respectable average). So I went, and was kind of shocked to find that I liked it. I really enjoyed Cranston's intensity. I like Watanabe's circumspect delivery (although I thought some of his conclusions weren't warranted based on the information we were given), I thought Olsen was solid as the wife (although obviously underused), and I thought Johnson was fine as the lead. Seriously, after enduring Sam Worthington, Charlie Hunnam, Guy Pearce, and an avalanche of boring and/or one-dimensional characters in fantasy/sci-fi/horror movies, I'm honestly shocked that anyone was especially annoyed by Johnson, who was perfectly fine (albeit nowhere near as awesome as Cranston).

As for the monsters, there wasn't a lot of Godzilla screentime, but the MUTOs did have a lot. Altogether there was probably 45 minutes of monster time in a 2 hour movie, which is as much or more than you get in most of these kinds (Pacific Rim had three big fights, but a full hour of dialogue between the first and second).

It wasn't a perfect movie and I don't begrudge people who say they were expecting more, but if I'd gotten this movie when I was a teen I would have lost my mind at how much better it was than everything else like it.

Oh yeah, and Jaws was great in almost every way, but Close Encounters (which came out with the same level of fanfare) was a crap movie that had paper-thin characters, stupid plot-leaps, and very little explanation or justification for the things that happened. We used to forgive a lot in movies that are supposed to make us walk out of the theater feeling elated.....
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12:06PM on 05/21/2014
It's not real "fanboys". It's people thinking that is what fanboys do. Actual Fanboys/girls, like myself, appreciate these films and enjoy seeing new takes on or our characters come to life in a great way. These "Fanboys" who put everything down or praise everything even if it does suck are the type who will be passing film fans later in life. It's just their thing now and I'd bet you a million dollars that they will not be going to Comic Cons, buying comics or reading sci-fi books in about 10
It's not real "fanboys". It's people thinking that is what fanboys do. Actual Fanboys/girls, like myself, appreciate these films and enjoy seeing new takes on or our characters come to life in a great way. These "Fanboys" who put everything down or praise everything even if it does suck are the type who will be passing film fans later in life. It's just their thing now and I'd bet you a million dollars that they will not be going to Comic Cons, buying comics or reading sci-fi books in about 10 years. They have jumped on the bandwagon. Just like Motor City Comic Con used to be fun and only the REAL fans were there. Now it's packed with people who would have never had gone to something like that but do now because it's "the cool thing to do".
4:58PM on 05/20/2014

My .02

2 things about movies today - 1)Back in the day you had to actually WAIT for a movie to come out.In todays media overload I think some of the mystery is gone from movies. 2)In your thoughts about JAWS you said it had amazing script,great performances,iconic characters and fantastic direction (all true) but,how many movies do we get like that today ?It seems Hollywood is very happy to put out crap and say,we don't care if you like it or not as long as you pay to see it.
2 things about movies today - 1)Back in the day you had to actually WAIT for a movie to come out.In todays media overload I think some of the mystery is gone from movies. 2)In your thoughts about JAWS you said it had amazing script,great performances,iconic characters and fantastic direction (all true) but,how many movies do we get like that today ?It seems Hollywood is very happy to put out crap and say,we don't care if you like it or not as long as you pay to see it.
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10:19PM on 05/20/2014
And you don't think Hollywood put out a lot of crap in the 70s & 80s? Exactly what decade had this amazing renaissance of movies that were all well-acted, had great plots, beautifully shot, and had great effects?

The only difference I see today is the volume of sequels and reboots as opposed to original stories.
And you don't think Hollywood put out a lot of crap in the 70s & 80s? Exactly what decade had this amazing renaissance of movies that were all well-acted, had great plots, beautifully shot, and had great effects?

The only difference I see today is the volume of sequels and reboots as opposed to original stories.
1:04PM on 05/20/2014
One of the things that irks me in reviews of Godzilla is when someone says "there are one dimensional characters" "no character development". This is a MONSTER movie. Monster movies have monsters causing violence and mayhem. Monster movies don't need complex plots and characters to be good. If you're looking for that you don't watch a Summer action blockbuster. Go watch Inception.
One of the things that irks me in reviews of Godzilla is when someone says "there are one dimensional characters" "no character development". This is a MONSTER movie. Monster movies have monsters causing violence and mayhem. Monster movies don't need complex plots and characters to be good. If you're looking for that you don't watch a Summer action blockbuster. Go watch Inception.
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6:42PM on 05/20/2014
Monsters Movies don't need complex plots but they don't need humans as well. I felt like Gareth Edwards putted way too much attention to follow the point of view of the humans that it became ridiculous, especially when he lets an entire central battle, being shown only from a small TV.

Monsters Movies don't need complex plots but they don't need humans as well. I felt like Gareth Edwards putted way too much attention to follow the point of view of the humans that it became ridiculous, especially when he lets an entire central battle, being shown only from a small TV.

10:47PM on 05/20/2014
It should have been a monster movie, but it choose to focus on the human characters, and since they were all one dimensional, it's a failed character study (or drama if you'd prefer), with some monster action. That's the exact opposite of what it should have been.
It should have been a monster movie, but it choose to focus on the human characters, and since they were all one dimensional, it's a failed character study (or drama if you'd prefer), with some monster action. That's the exact opposite of what it should have been.
12:41PM on 05/20/2014
Great article JimmyO. I think for the most part, we have lost the pleasure and excitement of seeing movies simply to be entertained. Not that debates and disagreements aren't necessary, it's just that things need to be put into perspective. I saw Godzilla and loved it for what it is--a monster movie. Just plain fun at the movies. It is possible to become too cynical and nit-picky. However, if a director makes a film that is intended to showcase complexity and requires audiences to think (e.g.,
Great article JimmyO. I think for the most part, we have lost the pleasure and excitement of seeing movies simply to be entertained. Not that debates and disagreements aren't necessary, it's just that things need to be put into perspective. I saw Godzilla and loved it for what it is--a monster movie. Just plain fun at the movies. It is possible to become too cynical and nit-picky. However, if a director makes a film that is intended to showcase complexity and requires audiences to think (e.g., Inception), then more discussion may be appropriate. All in all, I agree with this article.
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11:03AM on 05/20/2014
I think good, revolutionary movies come along once in a while, say Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, The Matrix and The Avengers. What I just typed have one thing in common: it blew audiences away when it was released. However, nowadays movies rely too much on special effects instead of storytelling and gripping the audiences. I'd say Godzilla combines special effects and gripping audiences (at least me) very well. Like Jaws, you fully see the shark in the third act. Same
I think good, revolutionary movies come along once in a while, say Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, The Matrix and The Avengers. What I just typed have one thing in common: it blew audiences away when it was released. However, nowadays movies rely too much on special effects instead of storytelling and gripping the audiences. I'd say Godzilla combines special effects and gripping audiences (at least me) very well. Like Jaws, you fully see the shark in the third act. Same goes with Godzilla. I like it for what it is - great monster movie fun.
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10:40AM on 05/20/2014
I agree with you on this one. Fans ripping Godzilla are forgetting they are seeing a Godzilla movie. Sit back and have fun, there is fun to be had. I mean, one of the worst movies of all time is Sharknado and people LOVE Sharknado precisely for its badness. I loved Godzilla. I thought it was fun. And I felt like there was a Jaws influence.
I agree with you on this one. Fans ripping Godzilla are forgetting they are seeing a Godzilla movie. Sit back and have fun, there is fun to be had. I mean, one of the worst movies of all time is Sharknado and people LOVE Sharknado precisely for its badness. I loved Godzilla. I thought it was fun. And I felt like there was a Jaws influence.
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3:55PM on 05/20/2014
Agreed, there were definitely a ton of nods in Godzilla to Spielberg!
Agreed, there were definitely a ton of nods in Godzilla to Spielberg!
10:23PM on 05/20/2014
And you had to appreciate how much he tried to make the movie exactly for us.....the fans. It never talked down to us, or treated the monsters disrespectfully (or comically) to appeal to a broader audience. Even when he missed the mark, I could feel how everyone involved was trying to make this good for us.

So while I might not have liked everything about it, I never felt insulted or taken out of the movie.
And you had to appreciate how much he tried to make the movie exactly for us.....the fans. It never talked down to us, or treated the monsters disrespectfully (or comically) to appeal to a broader audience. Even when he missed the mark, I could feel how everyone involved was trying to make this good for us.

So while I might not have liked everything about it, I never felt insulted or taken out of the movie.
10:01AM on 05/20/2014

!

Amen Brother!
Amen Brother!
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