When in the course of human events… wait, wait, that’s not right. Ah, here we go. When we finally get a moment of free time, those of us who love film often choose to rewatch our favorites. What is it about these movies that draws us in? Many times it can be the smaller things, such as a director remembering the continuity of a hand when staging and editing a scene, or a screenwriter never mentioning the existence of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, within the deep and meaningful subtext of their script. More than not, with movies we don’t like, we don’t look for these qualities because we hate the film so much it doesn’t matter. So let’s step back at look at some of the best parts of bad films.
Clever Music Cue – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Is this the worst space adventure film ever made? Perhaps. Although through all of the poorly written dialogue, and plot holes, there’s one moment near the end of the second act that uses the film’s score wonderfully. Throughout the film, many characters question Rey’s decision-making. The moment where she’s clearly had enough of this comes when Finn says, “I know you.” Quickly, Rey cuts him off saying, “People keep telling me they know me. I’m afraid no one does.” As she says this, Kylo Ren’s theme plays over the scene. This tells the audience what Rey fears, that the only true connection she feels is with her greatest enemy. This moment would have been a lot better if they didn’t shove it down our throats in the film’s final trailer, but if you pretend the trailer doesn’t exist then yes, it’s a good moment.
Character Development – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The first entry in The Hobbit trilogy is easily the best, which ‘unexpectedly’ is not saying much. What makes this film watchable for many is Martin Freeman’s portrayal of our lead hero, Bilbo Baggins. His character development is what we’ll be focusing on here. Bilbo consistently doubts his abilities, one moment comes when Gandalf gives him a sword as a means to defend himself. At first, Bilbo refuses this, then Gandalf says something that stays with the audience and Bilbo, “True courage is not knowing when to take a life, but when it spare it.”
Later in the film, Bilbo has the opportunity to kill the creature Gollum, even putting his sword up to his throat. Then, Bilbo pauses and it’s clear he remembers what he had been told before. Then he leaves Gollum to live. This is an awesome moment to show how Bilbo turns into someone who starts to believe in himself because he knew someone else did all along. It’s also a nice moment because it doesn’t use Gandalf’s line for an unnecessary use of diegetic audio. Much like Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers did, diminishing what could have been a cool moment near that film’s climax.
Ending a Character Arc… with Music – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Listen, I know I’m the only person on the planet that likes this film, but because the masses think it’s bad, that means it can have a spot on the list. Did you even read this article’s title? The end of Crystal Skull leaves much room for debate, but maybe none more than the film’s use of Indiana’s dad theme from Last Crusade, this moment comes just as the alien’s UFO leaves and right as Mutt asks Indiana, his father, “I don’t understand, why this legend of a city of gold?” Why play this theme playing over this moment if Indiana Jones Sir isn’t there?
Let’s backtrack somewhat, in Last Crusade, after hearing his dad discuss how the film’s villain didn’t get the true meaning of the quest for the Grail, Indiana asks his dad “What did you find, dad?” To which he responds, “Illumination.” In Crystal Skull, It plays this theme because it took him years to understand, but through this final adventure, Indiana finally got what his dad meant.
He responds to Mutt, “The Ugha word for ‘gold’ translates as ‘treasure.’ But their treasure wasn’t gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure.” What this is saying, and what his dad was trying to teach him, was that it’s what the treasure represents that matters, and what one is willing to do in order to obtain it. In Raiders and Crusade, each treasure represents Ignorance. In Doom it’s power, and in Crystal Skull it’s knowledge.
Tying Fan Service into the Story – Twilight: Eclipse
Adapting a book series about a teenage girl who is in the middle of a love triangle between a 100-year-old vampire, Edward, the type of guy who watches you as you sleep, and a childhood friend, Jacob, the opposite side of the coin who has feelings for you and turns out to be a werewolf, in a universe where werewolves and vampires are at war with one another, can be a tough challenge. Yet by the 3rd entry in the film series, Ecplise somehow manages to successfully have moments for both #TeamEdward4life and #TheJacobLoserFanClub, and have them tie into the plot. For example, the film spends about half its runtime with the main character Bella, having just enough moments with both Edward and Jacob to keep fans happy and have it make sense within the script as to why these events happen. Yet further proof that we do indeed live in a society.
Spinosaurus – Jurassic Park III
The way the script handles its threat the Spinosaurus is extremely cool, this is because Jurassic Park III is written as a slasher film, but instead of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Cruger, the slasher here is a DINOSAUR. For those not in the “know,” this is epic. One of the best moments in the entire Jurassic Park franchise comes from this film and the way it sets up an awesome entrance for its villain, with the use of a ringtone.
In the beginning, the Spinosaurus eats someone who’s holding a satellite phone with a very distinct ringtone. Later in the film, when characters that had been spilt up run toward one another when they hear the ringtone, just as the characters in the film remember what happened to the phone, so do we. It quick-cuts to a wide shot of the Spinosaurus standing there watching them, as they realize where the ringing is coming from. This moment was so cool in my mind, that yes, I made the ringtone from the film, my personal ringtone. Totally worth it.
Even your least favorite film could have elements within its filmmaking that are more than subpar. We should just be thankful that there is such a large amount of entertainment for us all to consume, to appeal to what each of us enjoys. But seriously, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties? What was that about Hollywood? I mean come on, at least add aliens.