2012 has come and gone and it was quite a year for movies. Instead of focusing on just the movies that were released in 2012, Josh and I decided to do something a little different. This pseudo-debate is about the best movie each of us saw for the first time, regardless of said movie’s release date. Curiously, we both picked movies that were, in fact, released in 2012, however we each have a movie or two in our honorable mentions category from years past.
Christmas is nearly two weeks away. Josh and I wanted to do a themed Christmas debate. However, instead of doing a dry “What’s the best Christmas movie” debate, we decided to get a little more conceptual. Red and Green are the colors of Christmas, so we decided to use that as the basis of debate. When Josh first picked Crimson Tide, I knew that the only honorable choice would be the Hunt for Red October.
Without further delay, here is our Christmas Submarine Debate:
Harrison: Of the two Christmas submarine movies, The Hunt for Red October is clearly superior. It’s best quality is that it’s a tight, taught thriller movie. It’s a movie that preys on the fear of the cold war but subverts it in the process. It’s not a movie about Russians attacking us, it’s about a Russian who wants to defect to the United States.
Josh E: Let’s get one thing straight. Crimson is a type of red. Now the debate proposed to me was best movie with the color red in the title, not best movie with “red” in the title, so before anyone disqualifies my movie realize that i do fall within the rules of the debate. Interestingly enough, we are debating two movies with the color red in the title, two movies about submarines, and two films about nuclear war (basically every submarine film post WWII has to be about that on some level). What makes Crimson Tide superior is its engagement with the American position in the Nuclear world. The film asks the question: “So what does that make us, since we’re the only nation that’s ever dropped a nuclear bomb on anybody?” Tony Scott who is one of the most underrated filmmakers of all time has made a action film (thriller) that condemns the action about to take place.
Well Folks, it’s November and the election has come and gone. Whether or not you’re a fan of the result we here at MovieDebaters would like to keep the Presidential debate season going. We’re going to switch the focus of these debates from the economy to cinema and examine the Best President portrayed on film. Sure there is a plethora of great candidates including such respected actors as Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Sir Anthony Hopkins but we’re going to pick out two maybe lesser known choices: Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day and Peter Sellers’ President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
It’s October and time for another thrilling debate. Since this will be our only debate before Halloween we wanted to look at one of October’s favorite genres: zombies. This month’s theme is the best use of Zombie’s onscreen so in lieu of a traditional Friday debate Harrison and I wanted to time this with the Walking Dead season premiere. Harrison will be defending the romantic comedy with zombies, Shaun of the Dead, while I’ll be defending AMC’s the Walking Dead.
Harrison: First off, full disclosure. I’ve seen and read a lot of zombie fiction. But what I realized while deciding on what fiction to defend is that I don’t really like zombies. To me there isn’t enough variety in the genre. Most zombie fiction is about how humans are savages once society beings to break down. Most zombie fiction is about a rag tag group of people (most of which are not the types to prepare for disaster scenarios) who survive through awful experiences. That’s why I decided to pick Shaun of the Dead. It’s a zombie movie that has something to say that bucks the trend of most other zombie movies.
Josh E: I have to admit I’ve thought about that before, but I think there’s something to be said about the consistency of the zombie genre. These movies became popular in turbulent times when we were scared of the dissolution of society and they are resurgent now. What I think most zombie films lack is the essential element of time. The zombie apocalypse is forever and that’s why I think the Walking Dead is the best use of Zombies in television right now and the best use of Zombies on a screen.
This past week saw a limited re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX. Next summer, Jurassic Park is slated to be re-released in IMAX 3D. This is a trend that Josh and I are very much supportive of. Movies are meant to be viewed in theaters. Certain movies greatly benefit from the IMAX experience. Additionally, IMAX re-releases allow fans to revisit their favorite films and spawn new generations of fans. So which older movie would be most worthy of a re-release? I’ll be defending Akira. Josh will be defending Blade Runner.
You may have noticed that MovieDebaters has been spending a lot of time talking about TV lately and you would be right (hint hint Another TV article is in the works). We have been focusing on the small screen more these days because though we love the movies, Harrison and myself are devotees to good narrative, whether that’s on the silver screen, the tv screen, or the computer monitor. With that, Harrison and I bring you tonight’s debate The Best TV Show Cancelled too Soon. Harrison will defend Terriers and I will defend Sports Night.
Harrison: I don’t think there’s been any other show in the past 10 years, hell, ever, that pains me to think about as Terriers does. It was such an amazingly written show with deeply defined characters and rich plots. And it got cancelled after one season. We only got 13 episodes of the adventures of Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond James). But they are 13 of the most awesome hours of television ever. The main reason it pains me to think about this show is because at its core, it is a detective show. There are limitless possibilities. Maybe under different circumstance the show would have outstayed its welcome. As it stands now, we only get a fleeting look into the universe of Terriers.
Josh E: The same thing that makes television great is the same as it’s weakness: they extend the length of the narrative to allow you to build and maintain compassion for its characters. The problem with television, you must produce the ratings to stay on the air. Some of the better shows on television don’t build the ratings quick enough and die a quick death. The best example of this is Sports Night. It’s the pinnacle of Sorkin’s writing: a romantic comedy series about sportscasters that has its roots in production code era quick talking classics like His Girl Friday. It had a bigger run than most television shows, but I believe if it was given a bit more time it would have become a high watermark in broadcast television.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
I find that Summer Blockbusters are a fairly contentious part of the world of cinema. Some people deride the blockbusters as the prime example for the downfall in current quality. I, however, love these types of movies. The best Summer Blockbusters are like theme park rides/roller coasters/exotic trips all rolled into one. Of course, I’d like to point out that this isn’t an admission that all I want out of a Summer Blockbuster is cheap thrills and loud explosions. Story matters too. Story matters because without it, the Summer Blockbuster does feel like an empty experience. With a good story you remember the action scenes in context to a story you have immersed yourself in and have bonded with.
And then, of course, there’s the idea that a Summer Blockbuster is an event. Audiences line up outside the theater. Billboards, commercials, tie-in products reach a critical mass. The movie becomes so ubiquitous that it is inescapable. This sort of culture does not lend itself to high dramas like Atonement.
Keeping this in mind, there’s no better Summer Blockbuster than Terminator 2: Judgment Day. T2 has a lot going for it as a Summer Blockbuster.
One, it is a sequel. Right now sequels, prequels, franchises are a bit tiresome because the market is over saturated with them. But flash back two decades ago, and the idea of a sequel was exhilarating. The idea that you were going to get even more adventures with characters from a pre-existing movie was awe inspiring. And as a sequel T2 understands a basic rule: bigger and better. The villain of the previous movie is now the hero? Awesome. The hapless waitress is now a badass militant? Amazing. The new villain is even scarier than the previous? Perfect. Story-wise instead of preventing one person’s death, now the plot is about preventing nuclear Armageddon. I’d argue that T2 is the movie that absolutely perfected the idea of sequels being bigger and better.
Two, the special effects in the movie were revolutionary. Not only was T2 a bigger and better sequel, but as James Cameron is wont to do, his movie was a showcase for a new paradigm shift in computer effects. Every couple of years a movie comes along that reinvigorates the idea that cinema can take you to new worlds and show you new things. The CG involved with the T-1000 character was nothing short of mind blowing. The T-1000 could be considered the baseline test for our CG. If the CGI in a movie is worse than in T2, it has failed miserably. If it’s better then it can be considered a success. Of course, having good CG isn’t indicative of a good movie, but if 1991 technology can make the T2, then a modern movie better be at least at the same level.
Three, its epic scope. As mentioned before T2 is a great movie that feels like a ride. The story is about protecting the eventual savior of humanity, John Connor, and stopping a corporation from setting down a path leading to the apocalypse. As the story unfolds, the movie takes on this presence that feels enormous. As an audience member you are going along on this adventure to save humanity. Because the action feels mostly grounded (no spaceships, superheroes, or future tech; the action is all about guns and explosions), you feel such a strong connection to the movie. You feel like you are helping to save humanity.
What separates T2 from Jaws is simple: T2 was intentionally created to be a Summer Blockbuster. Jaws was a very, very happy accident. I have nothing against sleeper hits. I think it’s great when movies unexpectedly become massive hits. Even if I don’t particularly like the movie, it shows that you can never predict what sort of movie is going to strike a chord with audiences.
That said, I feel like the act of intentionally developing a movie to be epic in scope with lots of action, and a great story is much harder than making a movie that happens to become a huge hit. The former requires skilled filmmakers to craft a movie that hits all the requirements for a Summer Blockbuster. The latter is about making a movie and putting it in the hands of the audience to promote. No matter what type of movie it is, making a movie is hard, hard work. I just can’t help but think using a 100-200 million dollar budget to make a movie that does not suck is infinitely more challenging.
Jaws may be the granddaddy of all Summer Blockbusters. Just because it’s first, doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is the movie I use to check against all other Summer Blockbusters. It’s the perfect blueprint to follow. The action is bold, the story is sublime, the thrill of movie is unparalleled. It’s the ultimate Summer Blockbuster.
It’s very hard to root against Jaws as the best summer blockbuster. Not only was it one of the first summer blockbusters, (I’m going out on a limb to say that) it was one of the best films of all time.
Spectacle literally means anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind, Jaws succeeds. %%SPOILER ALERT%% The shark is something that modern film audiences take for granted but it was amazing when it debuted. It allowed people to observe a 20-25 foot shark devour a human being. It was amazing.
Jaws is one of those films that happens every once and a while where it puts its fingers on the pulse of a culture. It’s an amazing escape from the summer heat into a summer environment where man is pitted against nature in a fight to the death for the right to swim in the ocean.
There’s lots and lots and lots of movies that are not well liked. They’ve got bad reviews. Audiences sneer at the mere mention of their title. They probably (but not always) bombed at the box office.
But which movie with a bad reputation is the best? That’s what Josh and I are here to figure out.
We’re splitting up this debate into two parts. First up we’ll be discussing Jersey Girl.
To those celebrating Easter and Passover this weekend we’d like to wish you a happy holiday. In an effort to stick with the holiday theme Harrison and I have thought up a much softer and cuddlier debate: Best Cinematic Rabbit
In recent years the “Comic Book Movie” has become a regular event during the summer blockbuster release schedule. Often times these films feature classic superheroes and beloved icons like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man et al. We’re interested in examining the phenomenon of the “Superhero” movie in order to decide which Superhero movie is the best.
Note: Our reflections upon the superhero movie are focusing on the “movie” and do not reflect, in any way, our favorite superheroes.