A Few Movies I Should’ve Watched Long Ago

DVD rental is still a thing in Japan. It’s gotten me through some of my movie backlog because:

  • Older DVDs are cheap (only 108 yen for a week)
  • I can watch recent films on flights for free
  • Streaming video is overheating my laptop, and I’m too lazy to fix it

The Ring

Year of Release: 1998

Year I first considered watching it: 2002

Percentage spoiled: 20%

Grade: +

I’ve never found horror movies to be scary. (In fact, the only scary movie I found remotely interesting around the turn of the century was Scary Movie.) However, The Ring is more of a mystery than a horror film. Even if you don’t find the horror elements scary yourself, you can understand why the characters in the film would be scared, and for the most part that’s what matters. The ending may even have been subjectively scary had it not been spoiled a thousand times over. That’s the price you pay for watching the most famous horror movie in your country of residence 19 years late.

Team America: World Police

Year of Release: 2004

Year I first considered watching it: 2004

Percentage spoiled: 10%

Grade: ++

Like 1984, Team America: World Police was great on the satire but flimsy on the plot. I initially gave the movie a +, but the songs stuck with me long enough after watching that I’ve revised it upward.

Battle Royale

Year of Release: 2000

Year I first considered watching it: 2012

Percentage spoiled: 50%

Grade: +++

Japanese movies are generally far inferior to Hollywood movies in terms of acting and cinematography. There are cultural differences too; sometimes things that would sound or look cool to a Japanese person just look stupid to me. Why, then, do I even bother with Japanese movies? Probably because there’s a certain level of crazy that would have to be sanitized in America (hence The Hunger Games). Battle Royale (hereinafter “BR”) is raw, unfiltered Japanese craziness.

BR doesn’t shove morals down your throat. It presents violence and insanity while leaving the interpretation to the viewer. I saw it as being about people in positions of power and privilege letting themselves get trampled on for far too long and finally taking their power back. Perhaps BR is more relevant now than ever before.

Ghostbusters

Year of Release: 1984

Year I first considered watching it: 2010

Percentage spoiled: 40%

Grade: +

When I watched the cartoon as a kid, I had no idea the movie existed. Even after finding out about the movie, I still didn’t realize it preceded the cartoon until fairly recently. If anything good came out of the Lady Ghostbusters controversy, it’s that I finally watched the movie from start to finish, instead of catching bits and pieces while channel surfing.

The movie is good, but it doesn’t live up to its reputation. Except for the marshmallow man, the ghostbusting was no better than you’d get on any given episode of the cartoon. The dialogue was good (and much different than you’d get from the cartoon) but I suspect it was quoted and memeified into something greater than it actually was. Plus, I could do without another film starring balding old Bill Murray trying to hook up with a chick way out of his league.

Lady Ghostbusters: ~

In all fairness, I didn’t give this movie a fair chance. I had zero interest in watching this movie until Dick Masterson did a commentary track, which made it worth the rental fee, but now I have to live with the knowledge that I somehow contributed to this movie’s financial bottom line.

When alleging that social justice makes movies worse, Lady Ghostbusters is the perfect counter to the “false choice” rebuttal. Messages shouldn’t have to detract from entertainment value, but as a practical matter they do. Cramming something other than entertainment into an entertainment product makes it less entertaining. Forcing restraints on writers limits their creativity. Lady Ghostbusters’ highest priority was being subversive, not being entertaining, and it handcuffed itself with rules on how characters had to look and act, as well as what jokes could and couldn’t be made. No wonder it cranked out an inferior product.

Ghost Bust-ers: ~~

Surely there are other erotic parodies of Ghostbusters, but “Ghost-o-Paiters” seemed like it would have a decent balance of tits and being an actual movie.

Unfortunately, Ghost Bust-ers turned out to be idol drivel. Fans of the idols may find some redeeming value. Anyone else should avoid it like the plague.