Worth Avoiding: The Losers

I almost want to apologize for using The Losers as a springboard to talk about a bigger perspective, but it is pretty deserving of any criticism to follow.

Firstly, I want to talk about a perspective recently adopted by yours truly. Its called “The First Reel Contract”, it can be found in its entirety here.

One of the first things you gather in the first 10 minutes or so of a film, or as Mr. Epstein says, “the first reel”, is what genre the film is. Genre, aside from being what aisle of the movie store you’re walking down, is a set of “goods” you are expected to deliver as the filmmakers. If you don’t deliver the goods, your movie fails, maybe not in the box office, because there’s plenty of people who are content with turning their brains off to watch a “hot” girl and listen to loud noises (*cough* Transformers…*cough*), but in the hearts of us who love good movies and were led to expect more from your film.

Take the example of The Losers. The trailer gave me so much to look forward to:

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, and Idris Elba. Done. I’m sold already.

Cheesy 80’s music and a joke about an “80’s Classic Car” ha. This should could be a funny movie.

Good premise, good characters.

All of this = “Yes, I want to spend some of my hard earned money to watch this movie.”

From the trailer I gathered that this would be a comic action movie, with some fun action scenes, lots of explosions, guns, cars, and a bad guy who probably wants either a gazillion dollars or some amount of power, or both.

The first 10 minutes of the movie fell into step nicely. We’re in Bolivia, they’re a group of army soldiers, and they have a mission. There’s some jokes, stuff goes wrong, and we have the premise of our movie. I’m intrigued, I feel a little bit like the writers were lazy with the dialog, but I’m ok with it so far.

Now, skip through the movie to the end, and me walking out of the theater in a small outrage, grunting “that was just NOT GOOD”. How did we get from A to B? Let me explain.

If you are writing an action comedy, you have to explain that that’s what your movie is in the trailer and in the first 10 minutes of your movie. Check.

You ALSO have to deliver the goods. What are the goods? In this case, you have to have interesting action sequences, preferably ones that move the plot forward and show/tell us something about the characters, and you have to make me laugh. Now, is that such a tall order? Apparently, yes.

The action sequences were ok, there were a few moments of “oh, that was kinda cool”, but nothing groundbreaking. I’m ok with not being groundbreaking. Really, I am. But if you have an action scene just for the sake of an action scene, I immediately lump you in with such directors as Michael Bay, you know, the “awesome for the sake of awesome” guy. Ultimately, they did not deliver the goods.

Now, you’ve got another saving grace. If your action isn’t that good or doesn’t fit well into the plot, you can get by with being funny. Take Tropic Thunder: the action scenes weren’t “OMG you have to go see this movie its so AWESOME!!!!!!”, but they served their purpose, and the movie was hilarious.

The Losers, on the other hand, fell short. You’ve got some incredible actors pulling out so much from flat, boring, lazy dialog. It just goes to show how great Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Evans are, but how much better would the movie had been if the writers had just taken another month to rewrite the dialog and make it the best it could be.

So, the movie in my opinion failed. It broke the contract, did not deliver the goods, however you want to explain it, it failed.

Now rather than just leaving it at “Verdict: Worth Avoiding”, I’m going to ask for a favor. Its a favor that benefits you as a movie goer, as well as myself and others who are both movie goers as well as film makers. The favor is this:

If a movie breaks its contract, i.e. does not deliver the goods, i.e. is a crappy movie, DON’T SUPPORT IT! Actively tell your friends, as I am telling you now, to wait until it comes out on video, or wait until its in the dollar movies, or at very least see it during a lower priced matinee. Because, and this is crucial, if you support crappy movies and they make buttloads of money (ahem), they will make more of them (ahhheeeemmmm). (At that rate, the third one will have a freshness rating of -17%, and will be quite deserving of such a negative rating). We must demand more from the studios and filmmakers that are making movies. It is our duty, and its our right.

So, if you’re like me and you are a fan of great movies, support them. Help them make money. If the movie sucks, don’t let others make the same mistake you did when you gave them your $10. Deal?

Crappy Movies: Worth Avoiding

    • Vikki Miller
    • April 25th, 2010

    I watched the trailer. I think I’d seen it before at the start of another movie. I noticed something straight off, which actually gave a giant clue to the movie’s inconsistency and the ‘type’ of producers/art department that is responsible for this movie. I went back to check to make sure I was correct. The way the trailer is cut at the beginning when it introduces words like CIA, etc etc was fine, the last time it uses that format of text appearing behind a person and freezing the frame was when the screen said ‘Kill Them’. Now ‘Kill them’ is not a person’s name nor a title. It is in fact completely random and, as a designer it says to me inconsistency. Now it might not be the fault of the designer, 9 times out of 10 it’s someone in charge that doesn’t have a clue about creativity saying ‘Why don’t we add this here and do this here.’

    For that reason I would totally not see this movie. The other reasons I wouldn’t see it are that it just isn’t my style, there doesn’t seem to be anything redeemable about it, other than Robert Downey Junior who stole my appreciation and has kept it since A Scanner Darkly.

    However, I do think that the movie industry needs terrible movies.

    Everyone has different tastes, and although this movie did not appeal to yourself, it will tickle someone else’s funny bone, and be a source of great entertainment to someone that wants explosions, and basic dialogue that they can understand without having to work out what words mean and explosions might be missed. 🙂

    Without the high budget, ridiculously made, and unentertaining movies, the other ‘independent’ movies that seem to fall into one huge genre rather than defined genres within the ‘independent movie’ scope, wouldn’t get funding. That’s kind of the bottom line on this one.

    An investor receiving 300% profit on investment is more likely to invest in other movies in the future, and possibly more of them at the one time. Therefore lower budget movies that we all know and love, because they are art, and have had a lot of creativity and thought put into them to make up for the lack of budget and special effects, will receive more green lights.

    I do like your passion, but without the bad movies, the good movies can’t exist… in my opinion.

  1. Well, allow me to clarify/elaborate. I LOVE summer action movies. I’m ridiculously excited for Ironman 2, for example. My intent was to say that BAD summer blockbusters need to be better, not go away. It would literally cost another $30k on the very low end, and maybe a few hundred thousand on the high end to do another rewrite, or to have better writers to begin with, and voila! You get a great summer action movie with all of the explosions car chases and fight scenes, but you have characters that you care about, and a plot line that keeps you engaged the whole movie, and wanting more. That’s what was lacking in The Losers, and why I refused to see other summer blockbusters in theaters. But thanks for the comment, I completely agree with what you say.

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