No.5 JAWS 3-D
Let’s see if I can keep my well-documented fear of sharks under control long enough to finish writing this entry. I’ve taken Yoga classes, my breathing exercises are done and I’ve got more antidepressants flowing through my veins than a guy who’s come home to find the ghost of John Holmes banging his wife. I’m fine. I’m cool. I’m centered. I’m taking a glorious, peaceful swim in my happy ocean of calm, which is both happy and calm because I’m happy and calm and totally unafraid…
While I swim for shore faster than a politician dodges a process server, let’s reminisce a bit about Jaws. The original is a classic in every single sense of the word that matters and several that haven’t even been invented yet. Its sequel is… less so. Ditching the character drama of Jaws, part two aims straight for the dead teenager genre and mostly succeeds if judged solely on that criteria. Part three is, in case you haven’t detected a pattern by now, a laughable attempt at movie making that feels entirely disconnected from previous entries. Gone are all the memorable characters from the first two films, replaced by Dennis Quaid, in his first major film role, an overacting Louis Gosset Jr., and various shark fodder including a pre-Back To The Future Lea Thompson.
Jaws 3D is a pathetic B-movie that likes to puff its chest and pretend it’s a better film. The painfully dated 3D effects have aged about as gracefully as your average mummy. Overall, this is a movie that brings shame to the Jaws name and makes one wish for a viewing of Spielberg’s masterpiece to wash the taste out of one’s mouth. Now excuse me as I crawl to my house, having barely escaped my shark-infested ocean of calm. Ah. Home at last. Perfectly safe.
No.4 Terminator 3
When it comes to action movie making, any time you take a step down from James Cameron, odds are the end result is going to suffer. The erstwhile King Of The World may have an inflated ego, but at least his credentials are in order. When your cinematography boasts such titles as Aliens, Titanic, True Lies, Terminators 1-2, and Avatar, you can kind of afford to be a bit self-important. And so, once fans of the Terminator series learned that Cameron would not be returning to cap off the trilogy, a general sense of unease could be felt throughout the kingdom. A Terminator movie without Cameron at the helm was unthinkable. It would be like Donny without Marie. LOST without unanswered questions. Donald Trump without the hair.
It’s just not the same.
Fan speculation as to an impending doom were justified. Jonathan Mostow, whose career was on the rise following the taut Breakdown and the crowd-pleasing U-571, hasn’t directed any movie of similar size since. No doubt he’s in hiding from the roving bands of fanboys prowling the streets and calling for his head on a pike. Can we still call it a band if it was just me running around randomly and waving a lit lighter for a few minutes before the SWAT team tackled me?
The recasting of John Connor from rebellious, dark-haired Edward Furlong to the blond and confused, deer-in-the-headlights-looking Nick Stahl was horrendous. Throwing Claire Danes into an action movie is like bringing a virginal schoolgirl to an orgy on a first date. (What? She said she was into trying new things!) The cherry on top of this crap sundae? The long-teased war between humans and machines was just that: a tease at the tail end of the movie. Considering that what we later got was McG’s even horrendouser… yeah, that’s the word I’m going with… Terminator: Salvation, maybe the rise of the machines should have ended with the “rising” part.
No.3 Robocop 3
Since we’re on the subject of cybernetic protagonists, let’s check in on our old pal RoboCop. Hey, Robo, tell us all how you’re doing?
RoboCop: Crappy. I got hemorrhoids something fierce, which is odd since I got my ass blown off in RoboCop 1. I got phantom limb syndrome going on in my right hand, which also got blown off. Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with all the medical stuff I’m dealing with. You know what my real problem is? Frank Miller. Yeah, the Sin City and 300 guy. I tell you, that guy screwed me over harder and deeper than ED-209 did that one, wild, unforgettable night in… Uh, you should probably ignore that last part. My vocal… sensor… thing is acting up. Anyway, Frank Miller, the comic book guy, he wrote the screenplay to my last movie, Robocop 3. Apparently, he thought it would be a good idea to make me more, you know, for kids. So gone is my R-rating, replaced by the kid-friendly PG-13. He took out all the gore. He took out the throat-stabbing. And you know I love me some throat-stabbing! He took out Paul Verhoeven’s biting social commentary and replaced with a meek attempt at social awareness of the homeless. Oh the pain! Oh the misery! Oh…
No.2 American Ninja 3
We’re all aware of my fondness for the American Ninja series. If you were a child of the ’80s like yours truly, the first two movies are burned into your consciousness and you probably still own your old VHS tapes of both movies. Whereas I’d be ashamed to have American Ninja 3 share shelf space with the rest of mycollection. American Ninja 3 replaced Michael Dudikoff’s earnest performance as Joe Armstrong with David Bradley’s perpetually oiled Sean Davidson.
While the first two American Ninja movies were ambitious in scope and budget for what were, admittedly, quickie B-movies, American Ninja 3 makes the word cheap sound completely disproportionate to the crap on display. Bradley looks like he couldn’t throw a convincing punch to save his life and the overuse of slow-motion during fight scenes makes one think that this was indeed the case. Oddly enough, Bradley is a trained martial artist while Dudikoff, a much more convincing fighter in his two movies, had no training at all, but compensated with believability and charisma. While that little bit of fortune cookie wisdom sinks in, let’s check in on Robo.
Completely ditching entire casts and concepts when a new entry in a franchise rolls around is a regular occurrence. Usually, there’s a good reason for it. The cast has grown older and fresher faces are needed. The original John Carpenter’s immortal Halloween and, to a much lesser degree, Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween 2 that series creators Carpenter and Debra Hill felt the need to move away from its central conceit? Apparently, the premise of a serial killer paying a visit to horny teenagers on Halloween was too hard a concept to grasp. So, instead, let’s have a bunch of wacky cultists design Halloween masks that kill kids on Halloween. None of that silly Michael Myers stuff for us, no sir.has moved on and the new guy wants to shoot his take on the material. Fair enough. But what, pray tell, was so wrong about
Sigh. Halloween 3 is basically what would happen if you took the Friday The 13th franchise and made it about random bad luck that strikes people dead on the titular date. Sure, the title still makes sense, but you’ve abandoned the central concepts that made the series great. No other movie on this list has veered in the opposite direction of its original idea quite as drastically as Halloween 3 did from its parent movie. And that’s why it earns the top spot on this list!
Your faithful reviewer,
TheMatt III: This Time It’s Personal.