Hollywood Drives Me Nuts, Again

I been seeing a bunch of filums lately. Well, okay, two: Batman Begins and Land of the Dead. The first was okay, definitely the best Batman movie thus far (but, frankly, that’s faint praise, and I will always prefer the campy tv show), the second was a most excellent zombie film and a perfect end to Romero’s zombie quartet (though, I admit it, I hope there’s more). I enjoyed it greatly.

However, no matter how far above Hollywood’s average these films are (and Land of the Dead really really is) they still had at least one thing that drove me crazy. In Batman Begins it was Batman’s whole I-will-not-kill thing, which seemed to only apply to direct killing. Indirect killing? No worries. He can blow up buildings, leaving only one survivor (not to mention all the innocent creatures housed therein) and drive his car like a maniac destroying many other vehicles, and people-populated structures with impunity. And back in the bat cave is there a tally on the wall listing all people killed in the course of his batman do-gooding versus those saved by his do-gooding? No, there is not. How does his head not explode from that contradiction?

In Land of the Dead it was money. So here we are in this future zombie-overrun world (it is, indeed, the end of the world as we know it) and the small pockets of survivors in electric-fenced enclosures still use paper money. What’s more they plot and scheme to take that money out of their small enclosure to other survivor populations that may or may not exist. What use would those people have for paper money? Or even for gold? Wouldn’t antibiotics, food, water, guns, alcohol (and other substances that take you away from the horrors of zombie world) be the real currency? It was particularly annoying because so many aspects of Romero’s zombie future made sense. And genre films that make sense are such a refreshing rarity.

Judging from Cherie Priest’s review, I will not be going to see Bewitched. This makes me sad (though Cherie’s review made me happy). I loved that show when I was a kid. I worshipped Elizabeth Montgomery. And, frankly, our Nicole? She is no Elizabeth Montgomery.

So how come characters always get a whole lot dumber when given the Hollywood treatment? Bridget Jones, Samantha and, um, I can’t think of any others, but I’m memory-challenged. I’m sure there are thousands of others. Anyone?

I go write now. About smart teenagers.


  1. razorbilly on #

    Batman Begins, you nailed it. I haven’t see Land of the Dead yet, but looks interesting. And certainly, the currency would be quite different in that situation.

    Saw Bewitchd, it was actually more fun than I was expecting. you are right, Nicole is NO Elizabeth Montgomery — for some reason, the older she gets, the more Nicole gives off the perception that there is nobody at home. And Samantha was SO aware — that was a big part of the fun on the TV show, how she would be in on things that nobody else had yet figured out. It was a little odd seeing her played as clueless as Nicole’s character — though, technically, Nicole is NOT Samantha, but an actress portraying an actress portraying Samantha. Still kinda fun, and Will Ferrel wasn’t too annoying. Probably his best flick to date, though I haven’t seen Anchorman.

    I’m looking forward to War of the Worlds (one of my favorite all time flicks as a kid, and I still love the sound those Martian Death Ray machines make.

    Too bad the Pistons didn’t make it. They tried hard, just not quite enough there.

    You one the James Tiptree, Jr. Award! I’m in love…(don’t tell Scott)

  2. janet on #

    Hmm. Characters made stupider by Hollywood? Let’s start with every character ever Disneyfied, except perhaps Winnie-the-Pooh, who, let’s face it, was always a bear of very little brain. On the other hand, Milne’s Pooh was wise, in his way.

    Y’know, Justine, one consequence of your “no capitals” policy means none of what some friends of ours call “pooh caps.”

  3. Justine on #

    razorbilly: i haven’t ever been nominated for a Tiptree Award let alone won one. But here’s hoping you’re predicting the future! You’re not confusing me with Kelly Link or Gwyneth Jones, are you? If so, not to worry, it happens all the time.

    Yeah, it was sad about the Pistons, but it was a fabulous series. So I can’t be too sad, especially as Australia is back to normal form in the cricket. [wipes brow!]

    Nope, still not going to see Bewitched. Maybe I’ll flick to it on tellie during timeouts and the taking of free throws.

    Janet: Oh yea, pooh’s a fab example. I know there are gazillions more, but the braincells are old and knackered.

    What are “pooh caps”? I’m really really against caps. They always make me feel like I’m being shouted at.

  4. lili on #

    pooh caps are where you use capital letters to emphasise a word, rather than just cause it comes after a full stop. so if (a) represents a capital a, pooh might say that pooh caps are a (v)ery (g)ood (t)hing.

    i use them (o)ften. with a (v)engeance.

  5. Justine on #

    Lili: I apologise for thwarting you. (Sort of.)

  6. niki on #

    yes I know my post has nothing to do with anything but it’s a movie and I’m goin to be on it soon – yippy !! :)) – is bragging alowed justine ? Just read your rules seems to be ok – though I might write something about elvis now ….

  7. marrije on #

    niki, do i understand you correctly that you will be working on king kong? that is deeply cool! methinks you need a blog of your own…

  8. Shelly Rae on #

    So here’s a little math problem for you…
    If, when “batman begins,” bruce wayne and the little girl are pretty much the same age, then how come when they’re all grown up bw is suddenly 8 or 9 years older than the katie holmes character?
    I’m just asking.

  9. niki on #

    Yes marrije you understand correctly – I’ve just got work at weta but it’s only for the last 2 months – so it will be manic – hence I would never have time for my own blog – I’ll just keep abusing my sisters blog – much more fun !

    shelly – didn’t you know ?! men take a lot longer to master acting that women … that’s why holiwood have to keep placing older men with younger women becasue their acting ability is more comparable and also why there are so few older women actors becasue they are just too good and out shine everone else on the set …

  10. CAAF on #

    mmm, had the same thought while watching the Batmobile barrel along: How may innocent people are being taken out by that thing?

    still, was so happily surprised by the movie. loved the texture of the cinematography, and the psychology was more satisfying than the previous ones.

    am madly looking forward to the new Willy Wonka. just read an interview with Depp where he says he wanted to play the character with “unbelievable cha-cha heels.” hoping it will buck your trend of hollywood dumbing down.

    or at least we’ll get to see some great cha-cha heels.

  11. anne i on #

    re: characters who are dummer on film than in their “original” manifestation:

    Tank Girl
    spawn (in live action)
    bertie wooster and jeeves (lame-o in that BBC show, i think)

  12. Justine on #

    marrije: yup, my sister is the cool one in the family. She’s worked on at least one of the Matrix films, The Quiet American and a slew of other big movies. She’s amazing. Getting a job at Weta is quite the coup. Peter Jackson’s Weta is one of the best in the world. Plus working on King Kong—how cool is that?

    Shelly: I like Niki’s response, but we both know what the truth is, don’t we? Killing innocent people ages you horribly!

    CAAF: I was bit terrified by the previews for Willy wonka. Johnny Depp looked deeply deeply scary. Plus chocolate creeps me out! (Though, the kid playing Veruka Salt? Perfect casting! And cha cha heels. There’s only good to be said about cha cha heels.) The one film I’m pining for is Serenity and September is such a long, long way away. Sigh.

    Anne: Tank Girl! Oh my god! Perfect example. Though, did the BBC really manage to make Bertie Wooster dumber than he is in the books? Hard to imagine.

  13. Josh on #

    just saw the batman movie, which brought a smile to my eek, in part on accounta its superiority to previous batfilms. they make it pretty clear in the dialogue that the cops chasing the batmobile were (m)iraculously (u)nkilled; and batman gets a lecture afterward for prioritizing an individual life over justice. it is a bit of an ethical dodge, though, for batman to actively refrain from saving the one character whom he ends up allowing to seemingly die. i guess I was impressed by the huge advance over the 1989 batman, who pretty much threw people off tall buildings remorselessly.

  14. Justine on #

    Josh: Yeah, I guess. It was indeed better than the other Batman movies. But it was so humourless . . . I miss zap! and pow! and biff! I miss Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar. And what was up with Christian Bale’s scary Darth Vader voice when he was Batman?

    I missed the dialogue about the cops not being dead. How lucky for Batman. And that doesn’t account for the incident at the beginning of the film where rather than execute a man Bruce Wayne takes out an entire building full of people and fails to save the man he wouldn’t execute. I’m just saying . . .

  15. ron on #

    heya justien!

    was just catching up with your blog & saw niki’s comments about working at the weta workshop on king kong… you remember cath & jack in sydney? cath’s sister virginia’s husband matt(! – oh author, how should that all be punctuated to sound less awkward?)is also working at weta onnit… wonder if they’ll meet? (they’re really lovely people!).

    at any rate – no shortage of strine accents there by the sound of it 🙂

  16. ron on #

    …and for the most part I’ve just given up on big, blockbuster – and even not so big – hollywood fillums. they give me the shits because they are so often stupid and full of plot holes and are aimed at (i can only assume) really stupid people. not being up myself – just bored by it all.

    i went to the dvd shop the other the day and couldn’t see a single recent release fillum that appealed (our local outlet isn’t that big and tends to just have mainstream stuff). i had an inspiration and asked ’em if they had firefly in stock (cos you’ve raved about it so much), but alas, no. they didn’t have it in that branch. will go and buy it in town next week… big sighs.

    wot a pity that bewitched also looks such shite – i also loved the series & worshiped at the shrine of elizabeth montgommery.

    …and who can forget the fabulous pandora spocks who played serina? 🙂

  17. cherie priest on #

    Hi there – and I’m glad you liked the review. Writing the review was the only pleasure I was able to wring from that film, so it’s nice to know that I’m sparing others the horror.

    I just surfed in here because someone saw you mention me, and that you were a writer, and wanted to know if I knew you. The answer is no, it would seem, but you look like a hip sort of soul (what with you linking me and all 😉 ) and I love your blog.

    So consider this a [:: wave ::] and hello.
    Nice to bump into you on teh 1ntarw3b.


  18. Justine on #

    Ron: all the very best people have a thing about Elizabeth Montgomery. She was so much smarter than everyone around her. Sigh. If you want a good Hollywood film stick to teen movies. Check out Mean Girls and Saved. Rewatch Bring it On and Clueless!

    Cherie: thanks again for the lovely review. And for your blog which I find endlessly amusing. Here’s me waving back at you!

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