Are Armchair Directors The Modern Movie Watcher/Critics

By Joseph Saulnier

Everybody’s a critic these days. It seems like no one can just enjoy a movie these days. Everyone has these ridiculously high standards and thoughts in their mind of what a movie should be. Whatever happened to just enjoying a film because it is entertaining. Instead, you take movies that are meant to be just that (entertaining) and essentially shun them because there was too many references to “this”, and not enough mention of “that”.

Armchair Directors is what I call them. These people who have no jobs, no ambitions, no lives… but they think they can critique a movie and call it bad when they have no idea what it took to make what they put out there. Now… don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that every movies is good. I know there are some bad (sometimes very bad) movies out there, and nothing can justify why it was made and released. But it’s these self-proclaimed Buddhist, naturalist, commie bastards who think just because they have a large blu-ray collection it makes them the end all, be all, final say in what the official opinion of a film should be. Hey buddy, why don’t you take that some of that focus and effort and put it towards your own life so that you can better yourself, instead of trying to pull every one down with you. Now, I know this is a broad generalization, but I am only dishing out the same sort of criticism that they give about everything and everyone on a daily basis.

Also, I know this sounds kind of pointless and hypocritical coming from me. I am a professional critic. I get paid (in a sense) to watch movies and give my opinion about it on a world-wide level. I am supposed to be objective, and I am. It’s just frustrating to see movies held to such a high standard these days. Because let’s be honest, there are many hits from yesteryear that would not stand the test of the film Nazis (it’s about time someone called a spade a garden tool) of today. Do you honestly think films like Clerks, Month Python and the Holy Grail, Spaceballs, Masters of the Universe, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, or Army of Darkness would survive the armchair directors of today?

So why is then that films like G.I. Joe: Retaliation or It’s A Good Day to Die Hard are getting such flack in this day and age? In the case of G.I. Joe I have heard that it doesn’t follow the source material close enough. So what? Why should it? It’s a different medium. Why regurgitate the same story line from a comic book or cartoon, when you can introduce something new and different. Something that will surprise every viewer. “It killed my childhood.” “It ruined the fond memories I had of growing up watching the cartoon.” These are just two statements I have heard about G.I. Joe retaliation. First, I am sorry to hear that your life can be affected so much by a movie. It seems like you might have some more serious, deeper rooted issues you need to work out if a 90 minute film can “kill your childhood.”

Second, why are you expecting anything more from an action movie than just that… action? I didn’t go into either G.I. Joe or Die Hard expecting anything but implausible action scenes where I have to put my grasp of “can this really happen” aside, and just appreciate that the damn movie was entertaining. It’s a Good Day to Die Hard followed the same formula that the original did. It put an ordinary man in an impossible situation and he reacted as 99% of the rest of us wouldn’t. People revere the first Die Hard as this great film and the new one should be ashamed to be part of the franchise. Again, I ask why? While some of the action may have gotten away from that every man aspect of the first one, it still is doing just what an action movie is supposed to do. Put a bunch of explosions, some fight scenes and some gun fire in a jar… mix it all up and voila, entertaining movie.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has arguably made some of the greatest action films of the last 30 years or so. Conan, Terminator, Commando, True Lies… All movies that are considered to be great (by most). But have you actually watched them recently. Many people quote lines from them, but have they actually sat and watched them all the way through. Try it. Try watching the movie as if it were something coming out today. Put aside the whole technology and special effects things, because obviously that’s not on par. But really ask yourself if this great movie that you love so much is something that you would enjoy if it was modern release.

Now again, don’t get me wrong. I am not dissing these movies. I truly enjoyed all of the movies that I have listed… old and new. But why do so much of the population hold different standards to the movies of old and the movies of now. Next time you watch a movie, try going in with no expectations. If it’s based on a comic book, or a cartoon, or a (real) book… leave it at the door. Watch the movie and see if you are entertained. Don’t worry about whether it gets every little last detail about Duke, Roadblock, John McClane, Riddick, He-Man, Batman, Xerxes, Ron Burgandy, Luke Skywalker, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Han Solo, Captain Kirk, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Oz, Iron Man, Spiderman, Thor or Deadpool absolutely correct when compared to the (supposed) source material. Instead, go in with an open mind. Don’t set a movie up with a bar that it can never expect to reach. Ask yourself, did I laugh, was it suspenseful, was the action great (whether it was plausible or not).

Not every movie needs to be an award winner. Not all movies are great, but I kind of feel that a lot of movies of today are getting unfair reviews because of people’s wild expectations of what it should be. Or am I wrong. Will all of these movies become cult classics because that’s simply what happens to bad movies over time? In 10 or 20 years, will people finally come to appreciate movies like Warm Bodies? Why wait that long, though? I will continue to write my reviews, and I will talk about what worked and didn’t work for the movie. But can you do something for me? Can you, when watching a movie, think about what genre it is? Once you’ve done that, don’t expect anything more than it being what it is. If it’s a comedy, do not expect it to be Inception. If it’s an action movie, do not expect Citizen Kane. I think you get the point.

Now it’s not to say that a movie can’t be ruined by horrible acting. But I think that’s what started me to think about this in the first place. If you expect award winning acting, screens or scripting from a film like G.I. Joe, then you need to get your head checked because that’s not what the movie is meant to be. Blow stuff up. Fight in an impossible scenario. Have surreal technology. That what’s the film is about. Don’t gripe about it ruining your childhood. They can’t make the movie that will match the cartoon/comic that you remember from your childhood. You know why? Because they sucked too, you are misremembering. But also because we live in a different time now. The limited scope from back then of what was out there in the world in terms of technology and threats is no longer relevant. If we didn’t update the movie to the times, then you’d be griping about that.

So next time you want to bash a movie, ask yourself this: Do you think you could do a better job? For those that answer “yes”, congratulations on not even being able to be honest with yourself. Because 99.99% of the time the answer to this question is undoubtedly “No.” You know how I know that? Because if the answer was “Yes”, you wouldn’t be reading this article. You’d be out there doing it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long winded rant, though. I encourage you to respond to it, wherever it may be posted. I am not like some that I know where I claim to be an intelligent man who is open to all views and opinions, but then go and delete comments made by those who don’t agree with mine, or even challenge mine. Just don’t be a troll. Remember everything I have said here is a personal opinion, and as such I am entitled to it. I like to hear what others have to say, and will without a doubt be the first to admit when I am wrong about something. But remember, an opinion about something can never be wrong because that’s the way I feel. And even though it seems like I have attacked the personal opinion of others with this article, all I was really trying to do was to open people’s eyes to the fact that we have set a high standard that may not need to be there, and that we can all be hypocrites considering what some of the movies we considered to be the greatest of all time.

Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to read this (if you’ve hung in for this long anyway). I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, you stay classy internet.