Last night I found myself watching a film on network television for the first time over this Christmas… right at the end of the festive season. Which is sort of sounding the death-knell of the old tradition of picking out festive treats to watch in the Radio Times. Its all redundant now; films-wise at least, films are Blu-rays or streaming these days. Why put up with adverts on commercial channels or suffer the vagaries of time-slots and scheduling? Oh well, there’s another childhood tradition dead in the water.
So I ended up watching last nights broadcast of Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the much-maligned and currently final entry in the Indiana Jones series. I can well understand the hate for this film, but I’ve actually always had a soft spot for this movie, if only because I’ll always get a kick out of watching Harrison Ford doing what he does best, in one of his iconic roles, with a rousing John Williams score- the kind of film soundtrack we don’t get to hear much of in films these days. Of course in many ways its a fairly shambolic film but I enjoy it nonetheless. I enjoy its 1950s cold war and Ancient Aliens storyline. I don’t enjoy the over-use of CGI (it just goes to show even Spielberg isn’t immune) which is ageing this film worse than the earlier Indiana Jones films.
Immediately after Crystal Skull I had the misfortune to watch Men In Black 3. Here’s another film franchise well past its sell-by date given one sequel too many. I was never a fan of the MIB series, somehow I was always immune to their charm but this third entry was just an appalling cash-grab. Usually I can watch any film more than once, but having seen this, well, one time is certainly enough and I have no wish to suffer any of this film again. It occurs to me though that the film must have its fans (and I’m told it was fairly well received) which puts me at odds with public opinion yet again- indeed, immediately after me professing my fondness for Crystal Skull, a film universally disliked if you consider the internet a reliable indication of public opinion. What the hell, I guess it just comes down to personal taste and my fondness of its nods to earlier, better films. I never liked any MIB film, so its references to MIB 1 & 2 might amuse fans but leave me nonplussed.
How to judge a movie after all? I guess even the worst movies have their fans (and some of us like some movies precisely because they are bad, i.e. my own love for Lifeforce). I suspect that the best way to judge a movie might be over time. My own ongoing series of Fifty Great Films has made me consider this when thinking of and rewatching fifty films I consider ‘great’. But then again, a film might not age well through no fault of its own, which isn’t to suggest it was bad back when it was made, its just that people/society/film technology has moved on and left it behind. I’m a big fan of the Hammer Horror films, chiefly because of their effect on me when I saw them as kid, but I appreciate that people watching them for the first time now might think them old-fashioned, even quaint or redundant.