Saturday, October 12, 2013

Characters Who Ruin Movies

Some movies are bad from start to finish.

But some movies have a decent chance of being above average.  But then there is that one thing that throws it off.  Maybe its a heavy handed message.  Maybe its an overly intrusive score.  But today I would like to focus on movies where a single character ruins (or nearly ruins) a movie.

Michael J. Nelson: "If Roger Rabbit were designed by Satan."

The most obvious example is Jar Jar Binks.  I am one of the few people who defend the idea of Jar Jar. Lucas never had a true comic relief character in the series.  If Jar Jar had worked, I think that he would have been a great asset.  Think about how all of the laughs in The Avengers help cement that movie's place in your heart.  But the problem was in the execution.  Something didn't translate.  Apparently Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman were cracked up in hysterics on set with Jar Jar actor Ahmed Best.  They told him he would be loved and embraced.  But Jar Jar did not connect and for many people, he was the straw that broke the tauntaun's back.

One character who I think deserves universal ridicule is Vince Vaughn's Nick Van Owen from Steven Spielberg's The Lost World.  Every single person who dies on that island is his fault.  This eco nut releases a bunch of savage dinosaurs to run riot over humans.  He then brings a wounded baby T-Rex to his camp, where the parents promptly arrive and eat Richard Schiff.

No wonder Tobey always looked so depressed
(photo by User: perneau

Not only that, when there is a chance to kill the T-Rex, he switches out the ammo so that Pete Postalwaite can't kill it.  And so this monster wreaks havoc on the mainland.  Van Owen should have died a horrible death for his moral insanity and intellectual stupidity.  He actual yells at the T-Rex "We tried to help you!"  This character made me so angry, I could barely watch the whole movie.

The Matrix Revolutions had several problems, but one of the biggest was adding the little girl Sati.  She plays no part in the events of the final movie and yet they build her up as some kind of little digital savior how does.... nothing!  Whenever I rewatched the movie her very presence made me viscerally angry.  I did an editing experiment where I re-cut The Matrix Revolutions and edited her completely out.  It was a much better movie.

A more obscure example is the character Alasdair MacGregor in the Liam Neeson movie Rob Roy.  He is the younger brother to the hero.  He is such a horribly bad brother that I cannot believe they tried to make you feel sad when he died.  His list of sins include:
-falling asleep during guard duty so that the English could come and destroy Rob Roy's property and rape his wife
-murdering one of the few people that could clear his brother's name as an act of post-vengence for his sister-in-law
-shooting at English soldiers when Rob Roy told him that they were outgunned.  He then proceeds to laugh about it as they run away and gets shot and Rob Roy is captured.
-as he lays dying, he tells Rob Roy what happened to his wife, when there is really nothing that can be done about it at this point except cause tension in his marriage.

I hated this character so much I have not watched the movie since I saw it theaters 18 years ago.

My good friend, The Doctor, gave me two suggestions:

The first is Randy Quaid's character from Independence Day.  This is a good example of a character almost completely derailing a film.  The movie isn't perfect, but I dig it for some reason.  But the thing that takes me out of it more than anything is Quaid's awful mugging at the camera as he flies his ship into the alien weapon.  And to think, it could have been worse (see the original cut).

The other that The Doctor suggested was the character Mack from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  But that movie was already pretty awful, so there wasn't much to ruin.

So what are your thoughts?

Email, tweet, or leave a message on this post as to characters that you think ruin (or nearly ruin) a movie and I'll publish here on my blog.

1 comment:

  1. Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element. I know Tucker is doing it all completely on purpose, I understand Rhod's a satire of celebrity culture, I get it... but dear Lord, he's almost impossible to watch.