Thursday, March 12, 2015

I'm Not Angry...Just Disappointed

[Great idea that completely went out the window.]

Eye-catching advertisements or buzz worthy word of mouth can build excitement for just about anything.

I've been known to become bewitched with anticipation (heart pounding, blood pumping) very easily, but especially after seeing a gorgeously made movie trailer or a commercial for a new delicious sounding Blizzard flavor at DQ. Once the fervor is there,  nobody could convince you that ____ (fill in the blank with something you are looking forward to) isn't going to be the greatest thing that ever happened to your eyes/mouth/brain.

Sometimes though, there is a downside to having extreme enthusiasm - not a whole lot will be able to match your high expectations. That snap back into reality is what we call the eventual let down.

That sounds semi-negative, but I've become an expert when it comes to disappointment from movies. Maybe I'm a sucker for movie trailers, because when they're made real well, I could get hooked into heading out to the theater anytime, anywhere. And we all know that a good trailer does not necessarily lead to a great flick. 

The best example of me being tricked by a trailer is a throwback to high school. My friends and I saw a trailer for a comedy that we deemed just about the funniest thing to hit the Earth. I will never forget the endless amount of time - for serious, it was months - we spent laughing and talking about how hilarious this movie looked.

When the film was finally released and we raced to the theater, in utter surprise to us, it turned out to be a major stinker (terrible pun once I reveal the movie).

Jack Black, Amy Poehler, Ben Stiller, a product called Vapoorize - what's not to love about that? This was the magic makings of a total bomb called Envy. Remember it? All I know is it almost became the first movie I walked out of and demanded a refund. But, like all good people flummoxed by how wrong they were about something, I sat and watched until the end hoping it would get better. It never did.   

I'm almost positive that Envy was actually called Vapoorize originally. Now, a title like that would obviously explain why my friends and I were expecting a ballsy work of dark comedy brilliance. Or we probably should have known it would be terrible...

I still haven't learned my lesson, since now-a-days, I still see all of the movies and never stop watching, no matter how bad the experience. On the other hand, I no longer  allow time to be spent reading a book I don't find interesting or keep watching a television series just hoping it will get better. It's never worth spending your time doing something you don't enjoy, even if it means admitting defeat about something you had been hoping would be truly genius.

Since I do tend to be over excitable, I am destined to be let down quite often. Just in the the last couple months, a small list of true disappointments have been stacking up.


Gotham City, aka Batman's home, is a place that exudes darkness, where most of the residents are villains who are always causing trouble.

When I heard word that FOX was adapting a show that would use Gotham City as its backdrop and focus on Batman when he was a child, it sounded like an unstoppable idea. With the recent success of Christopher Nolan's take on the Dark Knight, it seemed like that was the direction the show wanted to take. Seedy, gloomy, edgy - based on the early trailers for the show, Gotham looked like one of the large television networks had finally figured out how to make a stylized drama like the one's the cable channels have been making for years.

Based on all that, the word "excited" was an understatement when it came to me awaiting the premiere of Gotham. I was pumped months before its debut. After sticking it out for about 10 episodes though, I had to let it go.

The visual look of the show, especially all of the details for creating Gotham City, is terrific. There is something really interesting about how the show is set in an unknown time period. Both old and new technology (some offices have type-writers, while others use fancy computers) are even thrown together, giving the show a mysterious touch.

Even the best sets and props that create a world really well can't help when the writing and execution of the stories are flat out terrible. The plot is continually jumping around. During the numerous episodes I watched, I was often frustrated at ridiculous sub-plots to the point that I would exclaim out loud, "No one cares about this!"

If it wasn't for Robin Lord Taylor (who plays the young Penguin), I would have bailed out of the show after episode three. He is very fun to watch, which is why I am a little sad for not sticking it out. No, they should just retool the whole show to be focused around him instead, then I'll be back.

Maybe it will turn around. Who knows. It is baffling to me that with such a perfect set up, the writers couldn't come up with consistently interesting stories, instead of the same old stuff we see in any other procedural cop show. Such a waste.

American Horror Story: Freak Show

Carnival tricks, a frightening clown murderer, a polished psychotic gentleman, 1950s costumes, and giant festive tents - American Horror Story: Freak Show had all the makings to be the best season yet!

For the first five episodes or so, it wasn't too far off to believe that the season would come out on top. Every viewer though can probably attest to the moment when the show started sliding downhill. It was when the series entirely lost its focus and had nowhere to go.  Just like Gotham, it all comes down to the writing.

Generally speaking for the show as a whole, American Horror Story always tends to ebb and flow with quality. I've talked about this many times in reference to Ryan Murphy, who has great ideas, but never knows how to execute that genius all the way through a project.

With such a high starting point full of truly chilling moments, I don't think anyone could have guessed that this season would somehow mirror the frantic, slapped together final seasons of Lost. In that case, and with Freak Show, it felt like the writers never had any idea where the story should end up. Nothing felt resolved, since numerous plot lines were completely thrown out the window. Mass deaths happened in the final episodes and it felt like it was because the writers simply couldn't be bothered to come up with something better.

When the last moment of the series came to a close, and it cut to black, I was flabbergasted that any show runner could have been satisfied. There were some very well done moments and great characters (Dandy, played by Leo lookalike Finn Wittrock, was a crazed revelation), but once again, strong promise doesn't mean anything without follow through. Writing and story progression is everything, otherwise it is an insult to anyone who is watching and trying to piece it all together.

If you can't tell, I was actually mad about this, mostly because I defended this season for so long, continually telling people, "Don't worry, each season always blows your mind in the end!"  Frankly, the show did not show me the same respect.

Can Lady Gaga and a kind of mundane sounding "Hotel" top the endless possibilities for stories that could have come with a set like a Freak Show? We'll just have to see.


You're telling me that there is a movie set entirely on a futuristic train that never stops traveling around the Earth and it is filled with passengers who became the only survivors once the outside world froze and that over the years these people eventually developed their own class structure, specifically based on where you were in the train when the apocalypse happened? Holy crap! Sign me up! This sounds like the most incredible movie of recent memory!

The extreme buzz for Snowpiercer was endless in the later point of 2014, which lead to my joyous feelings expressed above. Every magazine I read raved and each website and positive tweet further supported the movie's magnificence. How could all of this stellar talk not lead to excellence?

There are people out there that will find me insane, but I'm going to be honest and say it anyway - I detested this movie. Hated. Loathed.

What is it with things that crumble under the pressure of an incredible original premise? A train that replicates our own shameful social structure and the earth's actual rotation (it takes the train 365 days to make one trip around the world), I mean, what an amazing concept!

Yet the idea is wasted, especially once the story focuses entirely on very extended  fight sequences instead of letting the audience learn more about the people on the train. I have no problem with well filmed action packed moments. Of course there had to be some killing sprees, since the overall story is about the poor, suffering people in the back of the train, attempting to rebel against the rich people and make it through the hundreds of fancy cars to the front of the train. (When I type that sentence, the movie still sounds great.)

Although, we can't care about hero man Chris Evans and his other rebels stomping on the man (and Tilda Swinton's magnificent set of teeth) if we don't know much about their characters. Because of this lack of character development, there are no stakes and  I spent the whole time not really caring what happened to anyone, which seems to negate the whole point of the movie. At least I think we're supposed to care about the serf like society taking down the evil royals...

Really the most interesting moments are when these rebels must pass through the hundreds of other train cars. Each one has different themes that support other aspects of life - one is a classroom, another has a sushi chef, and there is even one that is just a party room filled with people doing drugs. To me, these train cars filled with different people is where the story should be focused, but instead they quickly move along (the train is very long afterall). These people just seem magnificent and fascinating and we only get to see them for short snip-its.

Ultimately, I wanted to know much more about this world and the people forced to live within it. How could I be anything but disappointed when that didn't happen?

This movie is bizarre and at times fascinating, but always frustrating. With so much talk I expected this whole idea to be rolled out with perfection and instead found a violent high brow action movie that lacked important story-telling elements. Really, it was upsetting - I very much wanted to love this flick.

Snowpiercer became another fail in my eyes, but it's all subjective. Some people might not care as much about story progression (or wonder how it is possible that those children become train parts??) and just want to see people seeking revenge in ill-planned train wars. And that's just fine. For those people, expectations were met and everything is feeling great.

For me, Gotham, Freak Show, and Snowpiercer were total let downs. I still feel a little betrayed.

Did anything not match your high expectations recently?

Until next time!

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