Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beware the Number 3

A warning to all thinking, feeling, sentient beings:

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES go see the ill-conceived third installments of Shrek or Pirates of the Caribbean. Not that I expect most of you to have even considered it, but I give the warning just in case someone says to you "Hey, I enjoy computer animation and Mike Myers- let's go see the new Shrek." or "Hey, I enjoy swashbuckle-fests and sea monsters, and have learned how to close my eyes and cover my ears whenever Keira Knightley is onscreen- let's go see the last Pirates movie."

I would elaborate, but i really don't feel like using up my vocabulary to describe the heights of folly and depths of stupuidty that were reached in these films' conceptions and executions. If you want a hint as to how absurd, frustrating and jaw-droppingly non-sequitor Pirates 3 was, consider that I had to use "Happy Feet" as a reference point. (And if you don't already know that "HAPPY FEET" is the worst film ever made in the history of cinema, then feel free to give me a call: I can give at least a three hour lecture on the tangential wanderings of sexism, racism, dogmatism, non-entertaining xenophobic rants of the anthropomorphized singing penguin movie made by the guy who wrote "Mad Max".

But at least there was a salvagable experience from last night's unfortuante 10:40 viewing of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"- which should also have been recognized as the harbinger of doom that it was:

So Cabe and I headed down to Bellevue (suburbia) for the late night show. We parked in the mall parking garage, but since it was after ten, all the stores in the mall were closed. So, you could still walk through the mall to reach the theaters, but every store had it's fence gates down, and I couldn't help but be reminded of the zombie film classic "Dawn of the Dead" (though I've only seen the new one, which I enjoyed thoroughly) wherein a group of ill-fated humans set up camp in a mall and try to survive the onslaught of crazed zombies that are marching outside the mall gates. As we wandered through the labrynthine, shiny-floored corridors of the Bellvue galleria, I couldn't help but expect a hockey stick-wielding zombie to jump out from behind a water fountain and eat both of us alive.

Well, we made it to the theater without being killed. But the movie let out at 2am (it's freaking 3 hours long!) and we headed back through the mall to reach the parking garage. The mall doors were open, so we got in just fine and started walking through the now even darker and more ominous corridors. Eerie light jazz played overhead, and pregnant mannequins looked on as if to say "Beware- None who enter here ever depart". At far ends of walkways, we could see silent, isolated cleaning folk pushing janitorial carts- like specters doomed to walk the halls of the galleria for all eternity. They made no eye contact with us, not even glancing our way as if to say "Why are you two walking in an empty mall at 2 in the morning?"

We finally made it to the parking garage doors, and surprise, surprise, they were locked. "Let's try upstairs." Locked. By this point, I'm wondering whom I would call if we were locked in the mall all night. Who would come get us? Does one call the police? Were we breaking the law if the doors we entered were open in the first place?

The irrepressably intrepid-spirited Cabe led us on from floor to floor, door to door, refusing to turn back and go out the way we came, which I would have done from the get go, being that I was convinced that every second lost was one step closer to death and eternal internment in mall-purgatory. Escalators we had just come up. would be turned off by the time we backtracked. I was sure even the door we came in would now be locked. The zombies were going to get us. It was all over.
But finally, after about ten minutes of spooky mall marching, we made it out from an employees-only delivery hallway, which brought us right to the car. It was one of the most surreal experiences ever, which was helped in no way by the Terry Gilliam-esque hallucination sequences in the movie we'd just watched. Also not helping, was the creepy escaltor wall-wiper man who walked right by us once like a ghost, whom we later had to ask for help in getting out of the building. I seriously believe that mall is where souls of the damned reside to be tormented for all of eternity. And they probably have to watch "Shrek 3' and "Pirates: At World's End" three times a night. Don't make the same mistake they/we made!


Keepitmoving said...

Just curious... Spiderman 3?

Kj said...

Needless to say, I will be keeping a safe distance from Spiderman 3 until it's on DVD, mostly because I don't want to curse it. And let's not even start with Ocean's 13- not gonna go there.

i mean, I should've known when X-3 bit the big one, that the number 3 was cursed.

So, unless Peter Jackson made it in an 18th month trilogy process, or if it's part of a seven part Harry Potter series- avoid the number 3. (and as we all know, Harry Potter 3 is not only the best of the bunch, but is in the top 100 of my Greatest Films List. EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!)

Garth said...

Interesting theory about the third movie in series. Maybe the third movie is only bad when the movies weren't intended to be part of a series originally. Return of the Jedi, though arguably the worst installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, was by no measure an abomination, like the films you describe here. Perhaps you could conduct a rigorous a scientific survey of the third films in series to test your theory and post your conclusions for your readers' edification.

I wonder if the theory applies equally to all genres. Perhaps comedies are more susceptible than sci-fi or horror films.

Is it particularly the third movie in series which tends to be bad, or is it simply that series tend to get worse as they go along, and few survive past the third installment. You could test this by assessing each installment in longer series such as Police Academy, Rocky, Friday the 13th, Star Trek, Herbie, Jaws and assessing whether the third is actually the worst. I'd be willing to bet that you'll find a general pattern of decline in any series regardless of length.

Also liked your conception of a shopping mall as hell. I had a dream last night that I was in the movie version of "Paradise" from the Divine Comedy (coincidentally wouldn't that be the third in the series?). I've never actually read Paradise, but the dream/movie was full of unsettling and surprising ideas about the afterlife, and seemed to be less based on Dante than on the book I read in bed last night: a third-rate but completely engrossing work of historical fiction set in Rennaisance Italy, written apparently with a dual audience of middle-aged housewives and teenage girls in mind (please don't ask why I'm reading it).

I'll probably be posting the dream next week at Idle Brains.

Kj said...

A great proposal, Garth, and you do point out an important ingrediant in that neither of the trilogies i mention here were intended as such. That was one of the biggest problems with Pirates, that they unnsucsefully tried to weave in things from way before, that were never meant to mean anything, much less have plot points hinging on them. And Star Wars works because it was meant to be more than one film, though technically "A New Hope" is the third one. And even though Empire Strikes back is the best, Return of the Jedi is my favorite because I remember seeing it in the theater and also because I am an Ewok.

Yub Yub!

Jody said...

Seeing that there is a new post from you is one of the little delights of my life.