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Big Budget Catastrophes of Pure Joy

Thursday 8 October 2009, 17:26

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Some of you objected to my choice of Howard the Duck as the greatest big budget movie disaster of all time but among your own selections, which include Sharon Stone's mighty Basic Instinct 2 and Bruce Willis's ineffable Hudson Hawk, are salutary lessons about the permeability of the membrane between bad and good.

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    Comment number 1.

    Coming from Richard E Grant that's probably a compliment.

    Basic Instinct 2 is absolutely fantastic. The problem everyone had with it is they took it way too seriously and didn't see it for the delightful hyper-reality trash that it was. It also has the best running sight gag, with the London Gherkin, in any film. Which also doubles up as a parody of every modern film shot in London having to feature the gherkin.

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    Comment number 2.

    Oh.... big budget flops.... well you could have made that clearer Mark! I would have saved my LOTR spiel for a more apropriate time. Cos LOTR wasn't a flop...

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    Comment number 3.

    I think that big budget movie that get slated even before they’ve opened might still be worth seeing, even if it is terrible some of the money at least should be visible on screen.
    On that principle I quite enjoyed Waterworld, Cutthroat Island, and the under-rated mid 70s big budget flop Lucky Lady with Hackman, Reynolds and Minnelli.
    One the other hand you also get to see some genuine stinkers: The Postman for example.

    Others such as Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen you just have to see out of loyalty, even if it turns out to be disappointing.

    I agree about the Last Action Hero, the joke involving several Doberman guard dogs forming a dog pyramid for example was both unexpected and very funny.

    Mulitplex movies today all seem to require a big budget. Terminator Salvation apparently cost 200 million dollars; how do we judge its success? By whether it was any good (it wasn’t) or whether it makes a profit? Ditto Wolverine which cost 100 million and was a terrible, terrible movie.

    And no one mentions Ishtar. Did absolutely no one see it?

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    Comment number 4.

    Jay - I think Ishtar's that film that never got released on video or DVD isn't it? To be honest, I hadn't heard of it until I checked a Wikipedia page for biggest box office flops or whatever it was. Never seen it.

    I think it lead to the bankrcrupcy and shutting down of the studio?

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    Comment number 5.

    I loved The Postman. It looks like Lawrence of Arabia next to the shaky-cam, edited in a blender, dirge we have to sit through today.

    Kevin Costner doing Shakespeare with a donkey, gorgeous widescreen photography and a villian called General Bethlehem. Score, I say.

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    Comment number 6.

    I loved Howard the Duck when I was a kid

    But


    I also enjoyed Waterworld, which I think got a lot of backlash because of Dances with Wolves winning best picture(not Goodfellas).
    I couldn't say looking back it's a classic but I think it's watchable and is not the worse film I have seen.

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    Comment number 7.

    Double plus good for using the word 'knackers' - Try and get it into a review before the end of the year please - Thanks!

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    Comment number 8.

    "Steaming hot donkey droppings"? I guess that's me told, then..!

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    Comment number 9.

    I don't know if it was a flop or a hit financially, but this seems as good a place as any to get this off my chest. I really, really like Coyote Ugly, and don't even bother telling me this is an indefensible stance. I'm well aware how bad it is, but from the terrible car crash of sensibilities - teen girly romance on the one hand, Zoo weekly on the other - to the scene where the main character stops a bar brawl by singing Blondie, I just love it.

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    Comment number 10.

    maybe wrong place to ask this...anyhoo..
    been a follower of the blog / vlog for some time now...and been plucking up the courage to ask..as i have a feeling mark will consider me totally daft for the following...
    i really like an often-overlooked film starring robert deniro and wesley snipes called 'the fan'..and would like to know what mark thought of it..
    many thanks.

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    Comment number 11.

    When will you review up man?

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    Comment number 12.

    Get well soon Mark.

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    Comment number 13.

    You were missed today. Get well soon.

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    Comment number 14.

    Did you really have to zoom in on Gordon's gonads?

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    Comment number 15.

    I don't know if somebody has already mentioned this but talking about big budget films that were flops l would like to bring attention to two films.

    Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" and Peter Jackson's "King Kong".

    Besides from being bloated, self indulgent films with some good bits in - persons more intelligent than I please bring up any more similarities - what do these two have in common?

    They were both regarded as flops despite earning pretty OK box office takings. "Successful failures" I think the name is, while "Dragonball Evolution" - a turkey of a film - may have sequels coming up. It seems the difference between a box office winner and flop are not so straight forward nowadays.

    Just thought l would bring this up.

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    Comment number 16.

    P.S. Hope your feeling better Mark, I guess the affect of Transformers 2 has finally caught up with you.

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    Comment number 17.

    Big-budget flops? Bugger! I would have suggested Speed Racer in an instant. Cost $120 million, made $90 million. I love it for all of its flaws, and I understand that you liked it as well.

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    Comment number 18.

    Get well soon Mark :S

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    Comment number 19.

    Although it's not perfect, I liked The Avengers. It succeeded in recreating the pop-art atmosphere of the series and a movie like Danger: Diabolik. I was also baffled by reviews which complained about the lack of chemistry between Fiennes and Thurman, while it was obvious that the director wanted their conversations to be a bit artificial.

    Batman & Robin is a bit of a mixed bag, because on one hand it wants to be a big action movie and on the other it wants to camp it up like the original tv-series and the 1966 movie. If you go along with these shifts in tone (which of course are a bad thing), the movie is not as bad as many people want you to believe.

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    Comment number 20.

    I definitely agree with Last Action Hero. I thought my dad and I were the only people who actually saw some good in it! I think Arnie shows he has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humour, the movie is filled with brilliant little blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, not least of which is the appearance of Sharon Stone's character from Basic Instinct and the T-1000 from Terminator 2. I think it is a movie that appeals to people who see the essential absurdity of big-budget action films. Plus, The Austrian Oak himself shows some surprising depth in certain scenes, calling to mind Adam Sandler's performance in the superb Punch-Drunk Love. Last Action Hero is a movie about the emotional toll that comes with being a typecast protagonist. Finally, who can forget the hilarious Hamlet send-up early in the movie?

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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