Thursday, December 27, 2007

The LOTR Effect

During my Christmas visit to my parents in Georgia, I saw my second movie in the theater of 2007: Sweeney Todd.

Now if you like Broadway musicals you should just go ahead and see this immediately. Ever since Chicago it seems like Hollywood rolls out a couple of musicals during Oscar season for folks who can't make the trip to New York City to see one in person. Sweeney Todd is getting great reviews and if singing is your thing you will almost certainly dig this.

I, however, fell asleep about 20-30 minutes into it. I think it was right around the time that Johnny Depp starting singing a love song to a razor blade that my brain just shut down defensively. I remember bits and pieces because it is hard to sleep completely soundly in a chair and I think I snored myself awake once or twice, but in one man's opinion this thing was about as dull as it gets.

The last movie I had seen in an actual theater though prior to Sweeney Todd was 300 back around March. The only other movie I really planned to go see in the theater this year was Transformers, but that got derailed due to an impromptu visit to Hades.

I used to go to the movies on a fairly regular basis, and the realization that I had only seen two films all year got me thinking about why it was my zeal for the movieplex has been on the wane. The Christmas season made it abundantly clear: Lord of the Rings.

During those glorious three years when the Lord of the Rings movies would come out around the holiday season, I saw the 3 best movies I will probably ever see on the big screen. That doesn't necessarily mean the LOTR movies are the best 3 movies ever (Editor's Note: They are), but these were legitimate movie-going experiences. Epic in scale. Epic in length. Special effect whizbangery and ass whooping combat sequences. I mean these movies had it all and you got twice as much for your movie dollar due to the length as pretty much anything else out there.

What can possibly compare to that now? When I see a 90 minute movie now all I can think is "Boy I'm glad I didn't shell out the bucks for that in the theater." That's a ridiculous and unfair standard, but that's just the way it is now. Everything is left wanting compared to Lord of the Rings. Even when I saw 300, which I actually enjoyed, I couldn't help thinking when I left: "Not as good as Lord of the Rings."

Again, that's an absurd and unfair standard. But with a decent TV at home and a Netflix subscription, why would I want to shell out the money to go to the movies these days? The odds are very good when you go to the movies now that:

1) The movie won't be as good as LOTR.
2) You will hear somewhere between 5 and 8 cell phones ring depending on the length of the film.
3) You will end up sitting in front of some idiot who will not stop postulating about what's going to happen next in the movie.
4) You will end up sitting next to some idiot who will not stop asking questions about the movie because they are confused.
5) You will sit behind two people making out to complete the circle.
6) The floor will be sticky.
7) You will drink too much soda and have to get up (no pause button in the theater).
8) The whole experience will just be a mess but you won't ask for your money back at the end of the movie because you don't want to be that guy that finishes his entire meal at a restaurant before "sending it back" because it wasn't cooked right.

There's just no angle I can think of that makes sense when it comes to going to the movies as opposed to just waiting for the darn thing to get released on Netflix. Then if it stinks you have the option of fast forwarding it, turning it off, getting up to make a sandwich, or mocking it out loud with whomever is watching it with you.

The amount of pressure on a movie is greatly lessened when you are watching it at home also. After having finally seen Transformers on DVD, I'm pretty sure I would have despised this movie if I had shelled out the big bucks to see it in the theater. But in the comforts of home I was able to just fast forward all of the horrendous exposition (have Turturro and Voight ever been more desperate to cash a check? They must have had some serious gambling debts to have agreed to appear in this mess) and get straight to the part where robots beat each other up real good.

That's not to say there aren't any movies in the theater I'm interested in seeing. There are quite a few I'd like to see (No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and even The Mist come to mind). But I don't know that there are any I can't wait to see like I couldn't wait to see LOTR. And there aren't any I'd rather see in the theater than in the comforts of home where not only will there be no chance of any of those things listed above happening, but I can also make as many obnoxious remarks as I want (unless Julie is enjoying the movie, in which case such a remark would be tantamount to suicide).


sweetflag said...

Sticky floor syndrome happens to me everytime!

I think the last movie at the cinema was The Holiday in December 2006!

I do still enjoy going & am planing to see I am Legend this coming Sunday ...have you read the book?

robustyoungsoul said...

I read the book once several years ago and it was pretty enjoyable. I Am Legend is already saved to the Netflix queue!

Julie said...

Does this mean dinner and a movie date night is being postponed? I notice Atonement was not on your list of movies you want to see. Will a pitcher of margaritas change your mind? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Youk said...

Transformers was better than LOTR. There I said it. Nerd.

sweetflag said...

@ Julie I would like to see Atonement but think I'll wait for it on DVD... Kiera a bit of a favour of mine.

@ robustyoungsoul Have you seen Omega Man with Charlton Heston? Based on the book also...I think I saw it when I was very young but need to see it again.

robustyoungsoul said...

Never seen Omega Man.

We didn't end up going to see Atonement either... not because we didn't want to, but because we didn't get finished dinner until much too late. There's another thing that bugs me: start times. It's not easy to make a 7 PM start time on a weekday.

Neils said...

You've struck an immense chord with me here. The last time I went to the theatre it was to see Spiderman 3 with my girlfriend and an INSATIABLE spiderman fan. We were so dissapointed that we slipped into Hot Fuzz.

One of these movies was worth the full price of admission.

It's not just the length - it's the real feeling that the artistic committment has been fulfilled. You've read Tolkien's "on faerie stories," right? If not, stop what you're doing and amazon the Tolkien reader. Worth. Every. Penny.

I've gotten really into Stargate Atlantis. Not only is the production value roughly equivalent of most cheesetastic screen blunders, but you can over-film yourself all you want. I'm getting really into today's shows - they're a serious step up.

And to brag...

I saw the Return of the King in Wellington, in the theatre where it premiered, a few months after it premiered while I was backpacking. I sat in the absolute center of the leather seating section, and wept at the mere power of the advertisements.

It actually made me laugh out loud in surprise, tears streaming down my face and all.