Holiday Movie Showdown: New Year’s edition

James Cameron fails yet again, Schwarzenegger does what he does, Cusac et al are in need of some writers and a flick Cory remembers from when he was a kid turns out to be the winner of the New Year’s Holiday Showdown because of it.

Cory Hope, Arts and Entertainment Editor  Ω

New Year’s Eve is a time for making promises to yourself that you have no intentions of keeping.

Whether it be to quit smoking, get fit, write a novel, or kill fewer rabbits by means of accidental vehicular homicide, New Year’s Eve is the reset button for many people.

The promises one makes to one’s self on this night, with the knowledge in advance that these goals will, in all likelihood, go unfulfilled, make New Year’s Eve the perfect scapegoat for movies based on an apocalypse of one kind or another, so this week I have decided to submit myself to a few and compare them.

On the roster this holiday (if you want to call New Year’s a holiday instead of an excuse to imbibe, which is a more realistic description) are:

The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Strange Days (1995), End of Days (1999) and 2012 (2009).
I know that 2012 isn’t technically a New Year’s movie, but as we’re headed into this dreaded year I thought I’d add it in there.

(As a side note, I came up with a theory that the Mayans actually didn’t bother hiring a new calendar person when the last one passed away, because they figured they had it covered for a while.  Then, after the Mayans moved out of the temples and some became tour guides, they found it was to their financial benefit to simply let paranoid people continue to visit and study why it was that they stopped the calendars at that point.)

So let’s start with 2012.

This was the first movie I’ve ever watched on Blu-Ray, despite having had a Blu-Ray player for months now.

Because it has been my feeling that buying a high definition TV set, an HDMI cable and a Blu-Ray player actually makes movies look worse than they do on a regular DVD, I only ended up with the Blu-Ray player because it was on sale.

2012 probably wasn’t the right place to start with this format, as my brain cells began systematically shutting themselves down as soon as I pushed ‘Play’, probably in an effort to preserve themselves for something worth absorbing, like beer.

2012 was one of those movies that I knew had been all hype, with millions upon millions of dollars spent on special effects, production and advertising.

This usually doesn’t leave too much in the budget left over to hire people like screenwriters, and as a result the spectacle of visual effects goes on and on without ever taking a pause long enough to develop much in the way of plot.

Also falling by the wayside were the characters.

None of them were developed enough to care about in the slightest.

I had a greater emotional investment in whether or not I would get a late fine returning the movie than I had in the death of any of the characters, and the level of suspense was never elevated because the central characters were always gathered together.

You knew the plane was going to make it because John Cusack was on board.

What they should have done was incorporate other movies into 2012.  “2012: Snakes on the Plane” would have added to the tension.

With a running time of 156 minutes, there was plenty of time to add some character development or some plot.

I’m going to have to award 2012 a total of minus two points for wasting so much of my time without so much as making me laugh once along the way.

Next up on our list is going to be End of Days.

Watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is a little bit like picking up at a bar: there’s a chance it might be fun, but odds are you’ll end up hating yourself the next day, and you’ll hesitate before telling your friends about it.

End of Days, much like 2012, should have been a good movie.

To quote the movie Taps, “it was the wrong execution of the right idea.”

A plot that the devil possesses a human who needs to mate with a beautiful young girl on the last hour of the millennium in order to take over the world?

The Catholic Church conspiring to kill her in order to prevent it?  This should have been great.
While it was better than 2012, I’m not entirely convinced that this wasn’t simply a matter of the overall running time of the film.

It clocked in at a mere 121 minutes, thus wasting half an hour less of my time.

The only advantage to Arnie making films like this abysmal turd is that it keeps him out of politics and away from the nanny.

Total score: zero points.  I would have rated it a minus one, but Robin Tunney was really cute in this flick.

While Arnie is known for making bad movies (by my own standards), James Cameron wrote Aliens.

Yeah, that’s right.  Aliens.  And he wrote The Abyss.

And I’ll never forgive him for not stopping Avatar from being produced.  The whole thing should have been made into a 20-minute short showcasing what was possible with the technology they had developed, rather than a three-hour rehashing of stories that amounted to nothing more than Dances With Ferngully.

Maybe he’s just been in a rut, but it would appear to be a long one.

Strange Days was the one movie I thought might actually be good out of the ones I rented for this review, which had me a little bit scared.

What would I do if I really like it?

Could it be that I’d sit down and watch Titanic?

I still haven’t seen Titanic, and after seeing Strange Days, I think I’m going to give up on having any expectations out of a James Cameron movie.

I will award this one a few points, however, for some good-looking girls and decent overall production values.

What do you think that’s worth?  Three?  Four?  I’m going to say three, and not bother subtracting points from this one out of spite.

Avatar… really, Cameron?  Really?

Last up on the list for my New Year’s Movie Showdown is The Poseidon Adventure.

A classic that was remade a few years ago, I remember watching this movie when I was about 10 years old, and I was excited about seeing it again.

I’ll have to tell you about it next year, though, because I fell asleep before the boat got flipped over, so my current review would sound like an ominous episode of The Love Boat.

I won’t bother scoring this one, but my ten-year-old self is telling you to check this one out.

Happy New Year.