5 Movies I Used to Hate But Changed My Mind On
Watching movies and tasting foods for the first time are visceral experiences. Love, hate, indifference, disgust; there are many gradations of response once the end credits roll or you take that first bite. An interesting thing happens though as you grow older–your tastes change. For example, I can distinctly remember despising eggs as a child. Now if I’m out for breakfast you better believe I’m ordering an omelet. The same concept applies to movies as it does food. What you regarded as awesome at fourteen looks atrocious at forty, and vice versa. Gfunk’s recent article regarding beloved movies that he hates, got me thinking. What films did I used to hate that I changed my mind on?
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Of all the ones on this list, this might be the one readers will find the most surprising. The consensus among movie fans, and specifically Indy fans, is that this movie is atrocious, an abomination of a film that should never have seen the light of day. When the film released 7 1/2 years ago I was firmly in that camp. In fact I wrote the most scathing review I’ve ever done for a film. At the time I felt it was a betrayal of everything I knew and loved about Indiana Jones. There were actually people who CLAPPED at the end of the film. I was appalled. How could anyone think this was a good movie?
Often times it takes some prodding to change your mind on a film. In this case it came in the form of my friend Andy who urged me to take a second look. Reluctantly I trotted off to the Dollar Theater (I wasn’t paying full price again) and gave the fourth Indy film another go.
I’m glad I did because the second time around I found myself liking it a lot. In fact it’s actually become my third favorite Indiana Jones movie behind Raiders and Last Crusade. (I’ve never been a fan of Temple of Doom.)
The main reason I hated Skull the first time was I didn’t realize what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were trying to do. Whereas the original films were inspired by the serials of the ’30s and ’40s, Skull‘s inspiration came from the B-movie science fiction films of the ’50s. When you view Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull through that lens it becomes a much more enjoyable film.
Granted the fourth Indiana Jones flick is far from perfect. The “nuking the fridge” scene is ridiculous, Cate Blanchett’s Russian accent reminds me of Boris in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, constantly referring to Indy as Henry was annoying as Hell, and Indy sinking into a sandpit and insisting on calling the snake he’s rescued with a rope is a bit much. However, there’s a Hell of a lot to love about this movie too. The opening sequence in Hangar 51 is awesome, I loved the actual details behind the crystal skulls, Shia LaBeouf was great as Mutt, and the final third of the movie (barring the flying saucer) was a blast. Overall I prefer this film much more than Indiana Jones and Oh My Fucking God Kate Capshaw Won’t Stop Screaming.
Sometimes you don’t appreciate true genius when you see it. When I first saw director Wes Anderson’s second feature film in the theater seventeen years ago, I didn’t know what to make of it. The story of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and his relationships with millionaire Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and love interest Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) came across quirky and discordant, almost surreal. I didn’t realize at the time that this was Anderson’s signature motif. He creates worlds that are just a bit off-center from the real world but based enough in reality to be understandable. Anderson’s proven it time and again, most recently with The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom. Looking back now there are a ton of funny moments in that movie, everything from the extracurricular activity montage, to Murray randomly beating his boorish sons, to the classic line about Dr. Peter Flynn’s (Luke Wilson’s) OR scrubs. Anderson has become a truly unique and excellent director who continues to distinguish himself with each new film. It’s true now and it was true with Rushmore.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
This one had to deal with timing more than anything else. As I recall, I first saw this movie when I was twelve years old. I was still a few years away from high school and thus incapable of relating to people who seemed very stereotypical and boring. Also it didn’t have Batman, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, et al, in it. I didn’t get the jokes. Who the Hell was Barry Manilow ? What was pot? Why did Judd Nelson look like a forty-year old? It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when I re-watched The Breakfast Club that it finally clicked. The decades may pass but high schools will always have brains, jocks, criminals, princesses, and basket cases. However, there are also real people behind those stereotypes which is what John Hughes’ film demonstrates. I especially connected with Anthony Michael Hall’s character Brian because that’s the type of person I was in high school. The Breakfast Club serves as social commentary on how and why teenagers gravitate to cliques, and how it’s so difficult to break out of those cliques. Clothes and styles may have changed in the three decades since the film’s release, but the themes are timeless.
Coming from someone who just gave Creed a stellar review and stated how seminal the Rocky films were growing up, this might come as a shocker. Whereas The Breakfast Club was a matter of timing, Rocky was more about having my dessert first (Rocky III, IV, and the second half of Rocky II) and then having to go back and eat my vegetables. Unlike the sequels, which became increasingly bombastic, the original is a slower more introspective film, long on story and character development. In other words, it wasn’t Ivan Drago or Clubber Lang throwing haymakers so I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until my twenties that I appreciated Rocky for the brilliant film it is. In the decade of Vietnam and Watergate, Rocky was a true American Dream film at a time when people needed inspiration. The fact that AFI ranks it as the second greatest sports movie ever made (behind Raging Bull) tells you all you need to know about Rocky‘s importance to the history of cinema.
Blade Runner (1982)
It’s a happy coincidence that my fifth and final film is Blade Runner. I say this because I just finished the Philip K. Dick novel that the movie is based on, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? While there are similarities between the two, they are vastly different stories. In any event, Blade Runner wasn’t just a film I disliked, it was a film I LOATHED. The pacing was ponderous, the scenery gloomy, and the story boring–at least to my fifteen year old brain.
When I looked at the syllabus for my science fiction literature class in college and saw that the film was on the agenda, I groaned. I didn’t want to sit through another two hours of maudlin torture. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Tyrell Corporation, I ended up loving the movie on the second go round. The dirty cyber punk future Los Angeles was stunning, the criminal noir theme juxtaposed with a science fiction story melded well, and the acting performances that I once viewed as stagnant, possessed a greater depth upon a second viewing, especially Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty. And the music by Vangelis was awesome. Plus there’s the overriding theme of what it means to be human and the enduring question of whether Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, was actually an android. Over thirty-three years later Blade Runner still stands the test of time and remains one of the most important science fiction films ever made.
As I said at the beginning of this article, tastes change over time. Often for the better. What often brings this about is critical thinking. And as Peter Capaldi says in Doctor Who, “Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.”
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