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March 5, 2014

What’s Your Favorite Movie?

That sounds like the dumbest question over, but I bet that half the people reading this will struggle to come up with an answer.  Call it a hunch.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on this blog for a while, you may have noticed that a while back, I did a post naming my top ten favorite movies.  If you’re not in the mood to check the link, I’ll save you the trouble and say it’s a list that includes some smart movies, and some movies so unapologetically stupid that they almost warp back into being brilliant.  Let it be known that I’m no hoity-toity elitist.  As evidenced by my use of the phrase “hoity-toity”.

In any case, one of the reasons why a blog like this exists is so I can try and figure out what a story does that makes it work.  It’s true that I’m just as likely to find something that doesn’t work, and have to spend time with that nonsense, but it goes without saying that I prefer “proving the case” of something good.  It’s something done for readers’ benefit, but it’s also something for my benefit, too.  If I can understand WHY I liked something besides visceral thrills, then I’d wager that I’m more likely to incorporate those good elements into my writing, and my stories.  I’m already starting to see it take form in my writing adventures…even if that does demand a complete annihilation of years of work.

But like the title says, this post isn’t about me.  This is about you.

One look at this blog’s header will tell you that my competency zone is with video games.  That’s the medium I know fairly well, if not the one I know best.  What I don’t know?  Movies.  As I’ve said here and elsewhere, I’ve missed out on many, many, MANY “classic” movies, and missed out on even more recent fare.  (Case in point?  I haven’t seen a single RoboCop movie.  Nope, not a single one.)  Likewise, my DVD collection -- if one could call it that -- is absolutely pathetic.  The last one I bought was Safe starring Jason Statham, and that was only as a gift for my brother.  To say nothing of the fact that -- as per a buddy’s swift vengeance -- I’m a co-owner of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

There’s a lot that can be taken away from movies, be they good or bad.  There’s a lot to be learned; whether you’re a would-be writing hero or not (or just one of those creative/artsy types), you can get up from your seat after watching a movie and say “Yeah.  This.  This is what it’s all about.”  And that’s awesome.  That’s what good art should do.  And that’s why I want to give you guys a chance to sound off.  So let’s create a scenario. 

Let’s say that one day you’re just walking around, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you get abducted by aliens.  But don’t worry, they’re cool aliens that know and speak fluent English for some reason.  Anyway, they just want to take a sample of human culture back to their home planet -- something they can show to their people over the span of, say, a few hours.  Something they can show in the comfort of their new home theater systems back on the planet Krarbgorp.  That’s why they’ve called upon you.

That brings us to the question at the center of this post: If you had to pick one movie to show off as your number one -- the proof of what a movie can be -- then what would you choose?  Assume that there are no “wrong answers” (i.e. you can name your favorite movie, no matter how dumb or low-quality it may be), and the Krarbgorpians will accept it with open tendrils.  Also, for argument’s sake let’s go ahead and assume that A) you can only name ONE movie, so no wishy-washy waffling -- and B) you should at least try to explain why you feel the way that you do about it, however objective or subjective you want to be.

And there you have it.  One simple question, wherein the fate of the world is (not) at stake.  Think you’re ready to act as an ambassador of art?  Then you know what to do.  Ready?  Set?  Take a dump all over RoboCop (2014), because it’s terrible and it should be ashamed of itself!

Still not happy I saw that.  Not at all.


  1. I can answer fairly easily - my favourite movie is Lord of the Rings if I'm allowed to count all three instalments as one choice. If not, my favourite is American Beauty :)

  2. Well, that's certainly a way to abuse a loophole...I like it. I'll allow it.

  3. My favorite movie, completely serious here, is the "Speed Racer" movie by the Wahowski Bros. It managed to be an enjoyable popcorn movie special effects fest while respecting the source material rather than mocking it. I had a lot of childhood memories tied to Mach a Go-Go and they did it right.

    Also they made this knowing they would probably lose money on it. Everyone in that movie (including the hand rolling, muhaha saying, bad guy drivers) looked like they had a blast participating in it. Not like (used for example not comparison) Batman and Robin where certain actors were clearly there only for a paycheck.

  4. I'd quickly rat off one of the Harry Potter films, but you kinda need all eight of them to truly appreciate the story. So I will humbly - and sadly - not discriminate against the others by picking one. (That being said, I'd tell the aliens to skip Halfblood Prince in a heartbeat, but I digress.)

    For some reason, I'd either pick the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice (the one live-action film I've watched the most) or Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame (my MOST watched movie ever). Neither of them are stellar in their genres or styles, but I always go back to them.

    Pride and Prejudice is probably the only romance-heavy story outside of anime that I really and honestly cared about. The whole misunderstandings between Dracy and Jane are reasonable and understandable since we all have mislead impressions of someone else, and their dialogue was really witty and fun. Not to mention that the setting was very homely in an attractive way. Some critics claimed that the 2005 version was too "refined and gorgeous" since it wasn't "gritty and dirty" enough considering the time period and setting. That and that since Kiera Knightly was in it, she and everything around her has to look pretty. But I thought the set created a nice balance between an organic, dingy British countryside while still showing the Bennetts were relatively healthy and respectable despite their lower economic standing. It's funny how I often see films where the overall tone is too sterile or too filthy, too elegant or too brutish, too smart or too dumb. This movie seemed to hit a nice balance for me. It related well to me - who is not the most avid literature reader - while I felt that the core aspects of the fiction were still addressed in a respectful way. Now I said that, I have to read and finish the original book. >.<

    As for the Hunchback of Notre Dame? It's a damn good kids movie that knows how to handle dark themes in a manner that doesn't scare. When I was younger, appreciated the tale because I liked the good guys and how they were likable. Now I'm older and I can see why Frodo was a memorable villain, why "Hellfire" is such a fantastic song, and how overused and pointless the gargoyles were. Hunchback was one of the first movies that took me seriously as a child viewer, and it still takes me seriously as an adult. Its my definition of a good family movie for anyone to enjoy if they so desire.

    Either one of these would be my choice. I dunno which to pick. I love them both. A lot. *sobs*

  5. Speed Racer? Wow. Did not see that one coming.

    I haven't seen it for myself (not entirely, at least), but I haven't heard very flattering things about it. Still, you've made a preeeeeeeeeeeeetty good argument for it. A movie based on a recognizable franchise that isn't just a cynical cash grab, and actually tries to capture the essence of the property without its creators acting like the original version was something to be ashamed of?

    Yikesy mikesy. Clearly, this movie is completely terrible and deserves every word of scorn it gets. HnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngSARCASM!

  6. Breathless gasp! Skip Half-Blood Prince! But that's the one with everyone doing...uh...stuff! Important stuff! Things that are incredibly vital that I can't really remember right now!

    Then again, I'm of the opinion that the HP canon would be 4000% better if Neville Longbottom was the star. But I could be biased.

    So, Pride and Prejudice, huh? I expected Hunchback to show up in some capacity, but you definitely threw me for a loop with this one. Been a while since I read the book, but it should go without saying that it's still got plenty of juice for modern audiences...at least if a five-minute scan of it on TV Tropes a month ago is to be believed. Speaking specifically about the movie, it's good that you found a balance that suited you; keeping those elements in order and in check is something that any story should strive to do.

    I would say more, but I'm worried I might spoil the scene in Pride and Prejudice where everybody goes to the moon and fights an army of killer robots.


  7. Or the one with Zombies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride_and_Prejudice_and_Zombies ;) Its actually a great alternative read if P + P isn't your cup of tea.