Like any film fan, one of my favourite places to visit on the internet is IMDb.com. I probably go on that site about ten times a day. Sometimes I’ll go on it to check a fact when I’m writing a film review. Sometimes I’ll go on it to understand the nuances of a films plot I might not otherwise understand. And sometimes, on a particularly slow day when life seems just too peaceful and too simple, I’ll go on there just to start fights with film students.
Nothing, it transpires, upsets film students more than going on the Citizen Kane discussion forum and typing, “IT’S A SLEDGE”.
But if there’s one thing that really winds me up about the site, it’s the IMDb charts - in particular the IMDb top 250 movies list, compiled using the site users film ratings as aggregated data. I don’t really like ‘best of’ lists of any sort of culture. I can give you a thousand reasons why Radiohead’s 'OK Computer' isn’t the best record ever, but unfortunately I keep having my megaphone confiscated and being shooed away from tube stations. I’d be much more interested in reading the lists of individual people/users, and reasons why they like each movie/whatever in the list.
(The simple way of saying this is that individual people and the quirks of their tastes are more interesting than lots of people professing love for the same thing. Remember Nuremburg?)
With that in mind, here’s my top five most overrated films in the IMBd ‘top movies’ list, according to James Robert McMahon, aged 30 (favourite film: Jaws). They’re the films I don’t understand why everyone likes so much, the ones I’d replace with The Omen, Jumanji, Das Boot, Jurassic Park 3 and The Goonies. Feel free to tell me the moves you think are most overrated/the films you think more people should like/make fun of me for being bald, forthwith...
I enjoyed Avatar, but then I enjoy anything with dragons in it - I even enjoyed Eragon a little bit (okay, just a tiny, weeney bit). My problem with Avatar is the same as my problem with Colgate toothpaste. I sorta like it, it does the job, but it’s not the best toothpaste, it’s just the toothpaste most people know about. So when my mum and dad make their sole visit to the cinema in the year and text me on the way home saying “just been to see Avatar, it was amazing, lolz” what they really mean is they didn’t go to see The Departed. Also, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest is the same movie but it doesn’t give you a headache. Just saying.
There are few films in my life I’ve hated more than Inception. I’ll admit that I thought it was a relatively neat premise, and the majority of performances in it were strong. But take away the clever visuals and all of the above, and you’ve basically got the cinematic equivalent of the episode of Neighbours where Bouncer the dog was dreaming. I refer you to the spinning top at the end of the movie, a moment in my cinema going life I will always associate with feelings of true rage. I’ve actually started taking spinning tops out with me on job interviews, dates and the like, so when the inevitable rejection is offered forth, I can dupe whoever I’m with that it’s all a dream.
I love Pixar - I think almost every movie they’ve ever made is pure brilliance. But this is my least favourite Pixar movie by some distance. Yes, I blubbed like crazy at the ‘growing old’ montage. Yes I thought it was impressive that someone in their studio has now figured out how to animate clouds. And for the first 20 minutes I thought it was a milestone in animation that brought the medium on leaps and bounds – it was worth the ticket price alone. But take that away and you’ve basically got a movie about talking dogs and hot air balloons. And I don’t see anyone going crazy for Beethoven.
The Dark Knight
I love superhero movies and I sorta liked every bit of The Dark Knight that wasn’t THE UTTERLY STUPID BIT with the convicts on the boat (although I still say Michael Keaton made a better Batman and Jack Nicholson a better Joker). But what concerns me about what Chris Nolan has done to the Batman franchise is that he’s basically ruined superhero movies for all of us that aren’t emos forever. I always thought superheroes were inspiring, thrilling creations – but also a bit silly too. There’s a reason why I enjoyed Kick-Ass so much, or reading Watchmen, or watching Adam West douching around on TV, and that’s because they were fun - and they weren’t shy in suggesting the idea of adults running across rooftops in fancy dress was a bit daft. Now it’s all The Hulk deleting his ex-girlfriend from Facebook, or Spiderman self-harming and crying in a bin.
The Godfather II
I love The Godfather. I actually pretend to have a heart attack at every family barbeque I go to in tribute to Marlon Brando’s never bettered lead performance. But whilst I admire the world created in the sequel, the ambition of the project, the way it flits across timezones and decades fleshing out backstories and the unresolved story arcs of the original, I’ve always felt that there’s far too many scenes of people just sat eating bread for it to rank as one of my favourite movies. I dunno, I guess whoever voted for all those Oscars it won really likes baked goods. I will however concede that The Godfather III makes the second film look like Apocalypse Now. In other stating the obvious news: the sky is blue and David Cameron is a massive bell-end.