This is a weekly, monthly, yearly, I’m not sure what yet, column dedicated to random musings around the world of film. Some of it may seem mental but when you’re drunk on film you don’t worry about these things until the morning after.
Expectations are a bitch!!!!
Let me phrase that with some context. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while but only sort of crystallised after I saw Suicide Squad the other week. On leaving the darkened room, my eyes adjusting to the light and my brain adjusting to sanity, I contemplated how expectations are nothing but a pain in the ass to a movie fan.
We’ve all had it; that one film that hooks you. The one that you drink everything about it in. Every trailer you watch and re-watch. Every image you zoom and zoom in further trying to catch every detail. Every online article that’s filled to the brim with ‘rumours’ that you know are either full of shit or are so spot on that your enjoyment of the film will only be affected. But dammit I’m still excited. I’ve had this feeling numerous times, but the one I remember at the start of it all was Star Wars Episode 1. Across the world every SW fan can regale you a story of that first screening, of that moment they left championing it as a fantastic addition to the franchise, and of that sudden realisation that what you’ve just seen, just might be a bit shit. But no Darth Maul was cool, the podrace was cool, it’s Star Wars it cannot be bad, can it?
Sadly time, that great eye-opener, gives light to the obvious. Yes that was not a good film!!! But you do not learn, it happens again. And again. And again. For every The Dark Knight, there is a Matrix Reloaded. For every Star Wars The Force Awakens, there is a Jurassic World. Therein lies the problem. Sometimes expectations pay off. I never forget the excitement I felt for The Dark Knight. Batman Begins was a triumph. The marketing for TDK was superb. The pre-release buzz was huge and positive. Sitting down on opening night I was waiting to be blown away. What I got was even better. A genre defining piece of filmic brilliance, its effect still reverberating in the ‘dark’ blockbusters we see now. This is a rare occurrence.
There are also those times when your expectations are so high they blind you to not just how bad it is but also how good it is. Force Awakens is one such example. Midnight showing, fans cheering, best mate with me, it was a wondrous experience. But we both left feeling deflated. “Was that it?” You spend so much time discussing, debating, playing the film out in your head just based on trailers and expectations, that when the film isn’t that you feel cheated. It was only on second watch with the weight of all those hopes and dreams gone that you can actually watch what is there. And you know what, what is there, is pretty damn good. This is also, sadly, a rare occurrence.
Alas the most common is The Phantom Menace scenario. It needs to be good because you’ve told yourself it’s going to be. It needs to be the best film ever because how can it be anything less? It is a crippling affliction. Even now there are films I tell people aren’t as bad as I know they are deep down. This year has had plenty of examples already. Batman V Superman is a notable choice.
The trailers looked stunning, Man of Steel was great, Affleck looked spot on as an older grizzled Batman and I love the Bat so much I just knew it couldn’t be anything less than brilliant. Once again I sat down for the midnight screening ready and willing for amazement to enter my eyeballs. The film begins. Bruce Wayne speeding through Metropolis as it crumbled to the ground. This is amazing. I am loving this. Then it goes on. And on. And on. It all becomes a little dull. But no I want it to be great and it is. I will stuff into being that doesn’t even exist. I leave knowing I’ve seen something brilliant, only because I’ve told myself it is.
I watched it again and still forced myself to say it’s good. It’s Batman, how can it not be great?!! And he’s fighting Superman, c’mon that’s awesome!!
Suicide Squad has changed all that. I’ve finally awoken. Squad is shit and BvS is shit (Yes I have watched the Ultimate Cut of BvS, and it is a slight improvement) It should have been great. Once again the trailers were stellar, the buzz was strong, everything about it looked promising. But on leaving that darkened room of lost hopes I just felt tired. Tired of fighting against what my sane mind tells me is bad for me. The film is a mess. They’ve fundamentally misunderstood characters you love. Stop defending a movie of complete and utter failure. Harley Quinn is great, yes, but that is not enough to save something inherently broken.
Expectations are killing movies!! But I know the anticipations will rise again. Already I’m salivating at Rogue One, chomping at the bit for Dr Strange and hungry for Dunkirk. It is hard to call yourself a movie fanatic if you feel no excitement as to what’s coming. However something has changed, no longer will I deny what is front of me. No longer will I stubbornly refuse to accept the truth. I will see the light in the dark!
Actually that bit where Batman beats the shit out of all those goons was awesome….ah dammit!!!