Saturday, April 21, 2012
THE "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE" DILEMMA! WHEN DO YOU STOP WATCHING A SERIES? WHEN DO YOU START? IS IT EVER OK, TO START IN THE MIDDLE?
Every Saturday Night, usually some time after watching "SNL," I go online and type in www.netflix.com/AllNewReleases , and update my Netflix queue, almost immediately after they update the list for the new films they get that week. Okay, I realize how depressing that is, but nonetheless, with last week came, one of the movies they put in stock was "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol", a movie that was very highly praised by critics, did very good box worldwide, and in many ways, it was considered a major technical achievement. Clearly, by any basis of selecting what films I should watch, I had to consider this a film that I should see, so by necessity, it was then placed on my Netflix queue. But where on my Netflix queue? Yes, I periodically bump movies up, but I never push a movie up to the top until it's at least number 25, on my queue. (It's part of an elaborate system I worked out, that's too insipid to begin explaining, as it only underlines how pathetic my Saturday nights are) Anyway, I decided on 200 as a reasonable starting point for the film. Why so low, for a film that seems so critical to be seen? A few reasons. One, I have other avenues to get movie, so forcing it's way up on Netflix isn't essential and/or the only way to watch the movie, but more importantly, it gives me time, and now, a reason, to go back and watch the second and third "Mission: Impossible" films, which until now, I didn't find any purpose to watch.
Well, maybe the words "reason," and "purpose," are a little wrong here. There's no real reason for me or for anybody to watch any particular film, of course. However, I have typically found ways of avoided sequels to certain series. The "Mission: Impossible" films are a good example, but hardly the only ones. I've actually seen the first film, maybe ten times, from renting and repeated viewings on television that I've sat through. Saying that though, to this day, I don't know what-the-hell actually happened in that damn movie. I couldn't give you a play-by-play, a plot synopsis, an recap of the story..., I can tell you a few scenes I remember. Tom Cruise scouring the internet for some reference to Job, the break-in scene, but how any of these things related to each other, I don't think I knew then, and I'll be damned if I know now. I didn't think I was particularly alone in that feeling about the film either, since many reviews of the movie mentioned similar confusion over it. (Granted, oftertimes, when I watch reruns of the original "Mission: Impossible" TV show, I often don't know what's going on there either, but they didn't make the movie more worth-watching to me). Frankly, I was baffled that they even bothered to make a sequel yo something so nonsensical, and when that film, and then the third in the franchise got mixed reviews, I felt they weren't particular essential for me to watch, so I didn't bother. I mean, who was watching them to begin with? There's a lot of franchises out there in film, some I've seen all of like "Rocky", "Planet of the Apes," "The Matrix," "Back to the Future," .... others I haven't, and many are extremely popular like "Star Wars," and "The Lord of the Rings", but I've never met anybody who was a really big fan of the "Mission: Impossible" movie franchise. Frankly, I was wondering who-the-hell kept watching these movies enough to keep making them? If I was an actual paid film critic, I'd be forced to watch the third "Madagascar," and the fourth "Ice Age," but since I wasn't beholden to any such regulations, then or now, I didn't see a purpose in it. As much as I do consider popularity a factor in what films I watch, it's not the only factor. I still haven't seen any of the "Transformers" movies. Frankly, I thought the original cartoon was stupid when I was young. Frankly, I thought the toy was stupid when I was young, and Director Michael Bay, yes, in many ways a talented guy, but I've pretty much hated everything I've ever seen by him. On top of the mostly bad reviews that the movies have gotten, I really had no incentive to see the "Transformers" films. I tried watching one of them when it was on TV, coming in at the middle, but I didn't last five minutes.
While there are exceptions, rule of thumb does dictate that the higher a number on a film is, the worst it'll be. So, it's best to try and watch everything in order if for no other reason than for you to know whether to stop at "Jaws 2" or at "Police Academy 6" or whatever. I tried doing that once with the James Bond films, but I gave up 1/2 hour into "Moonraker". (And frankly, I was a little shocked I got through as much of "Dr. No," as I did, before I fell asleep anyway) Human nature however dictates, that sometimes, we don't have that kind of luck, and we end of seeing films a little out of order. I saw "Return of the Jedi" first, I saw "Rocky III," before "Rocky". The only "Terminator" film I've seen was "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines", I still have to go back to the others. That begets us another question though, should I go back and watch the other films in the franchise first? Yes, most movie sequel could helped with some previous context, but it might be interesting to write a review of a movie from the perspective of somebody who hasn't seen the other films in the series. And for that matter, let me ask another question, should I even bother going back, finding copies of the 2nd and 3rd "Mission: Impossible" films? Seriously, somebody who's seen them, are they worth it, or should I skip them, and is there anything in them that I absolutely need to know/watch in order to fully enjoy "...Ghost Protocol," or can I actually come in anywhere and enjoy the film, separate from the series? The best movies and movie sequels can do that. "The Dark Knight," most recently holds up on it's own. Nobody needs to have seen "Before Sunrise," in order to enjoy "Before Sunset". If you didn't know there was other films, I bet some of the "Die Hard," sequels would be looked on as highly as the original. Maybe the Indiana Jones movies could also have that distinction.
We live in a world where a movie, almost to prove that it was a success, now has to become a franchise, with numerous sequels. I'm frankly okay with that, but I also have the luxury, to not see them, if I don't want to. Sometimes this has led to what some people call shocking omissions on my list. (For those who don't know, I have a list of every movie I've ever seen. You can find a link to the blog with the pdf files of those lists on the bottom of this blog.) Those who check the list closely will notice some notable missing films, and many of them are sequels. Right now, as of the second I write this article, while sitting in the computer room in my local library, I've grabbed a copy of one of those sequels, and plan on checking it out today, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". Yes, I've never seen it until now. I hated the book, and frankly have generally hate Tolkien. (I believe, and can reasonably prove this by going to, well any random page in his books, that he doesn't create a consistent science in his world of Middle Earth, and instead, continually changes the rules of his universe to fit the plot and story that he wants to tell, because of some percieve metaphorical message he's trying to tell. I know, he was trying for mythology, but then, nothing in the world should ever come as a surpise then, and yet, somehow, there's trees that kidnap people that they never knew about before- I'm just gonna stop there; that's for another blog) I watched the first film, which I hated. I watched the second, which I liked a little better, still not nearly enough to recommend it. Frankly, I've been pissed the third won the Oscar over "Lost in Translation," all those years ago, and have been delaying the inevitable of watching it ever since, until now. I still don't particularly want to see it, but if I'm gonna to provide you with a knowledgable and in-depth criticism and analysis of films, I'm gonna have to watch it eventually, and eventually has now come. (Well, I'll still put it off until I have to bring it back to the library, but still, inevitably is fastly approaching...)
Ultimately, this is the thinking that I had to wonder as I determined where exactly to place "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol" on my Netflix. I'm gonna have a similar thought process later in the year, when I have to do the same with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"; I've only seen the first four movies of that series (and no, I haven't read any of the books). Strangely, I actually liked three of them, but still never felt much immediate pressure to see the rest of the films. I probably at some point have to watch the "Twilight" films as well. I only got through the first one of those, and frankly, I was dragged kicking and screaming to watch that one. (Okay, I'm being a little facetious there. It was a trade off, I made my friend watch "Frost/Nixon," and she made me watch "Twilight", and even she admits my film choice was the better part of the day.) I don't know whether I made the right choice putting the film that low on my queue or not, either way, eventually I'll find out. I'll also, hopefully find out if the other two "Mission: Impossible" films are worth searching out and watching before this supposedly great latest one. It'll still mean that there's plenty of films that I still haven't seen and have to catch up with, but that's the same with movies in general, and all art forms actually. Nobody is ever gonna be able to see every single painting or read every novel or listen to every song; it should be okay to not watch every movie. It should be reasonable in fact. Except, there seems to be something unnatural about walking into a room and having never seen (Insert film(s) here, you know which ones they are). I guess I've now just decided to the "Mission: Impossible" films have to be added to that short list. Well, maybe they always were and I'm only just now accepting that fact. Or, maybe I'm completely wrong, and shouldn't be bothering with any of these films. (Frustrated sigh) The sad part is, that until I watch the movies myself, I'm never gonna know. The unfortunate circularness of being a filmviewer. That'll mean I may have to watch a lot of bad films, but... oh what-the-hell, lets go for the pop culture pun, that's the mission, and I've chose to accept it.
This blog will self-destruct. (Okay, it won't, but that would've been so cool if I could do that.)