Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cynical Trial (Part One)

The other day, I saw the first trailer for "Fantastic Four," the big-budget 20th Century Fox adaptation of the Marvel comic book with a "The" in the title. While not a big fan of the series or characters, I anticipated the film and expected it to be pretty entertaining.

Until I saw the trailer. And now, I don't really feel the need to see the movie.

Man, it was a weak trailer, with a machine gun barrage of images, uninspired special effects, unfaithful images, and worst of all, a septic tank-scraping Hip Hop song playing throughout. That's all it took to guarantee (in my mind) that "Fantastic Four" will suck.

I wasn't always so cynical. Honest. My favourite part of going to the movies used to be the trailers, which offered up an assortment of potentially-great future films engineered to keep me from killing myself. Heck, if my perpetually-tardy friend Rhett made us too late to see the previews, I'd often get tickets for the late show, or not go at all.

But somewhere, something changed. I no longer expect movies to be great, not after shelling out hard earned cash to see "Ghostbusters 2," "Hook," "Highlander 2," "Godzilla," "Freddy's Dead," "Dragonheart," "Alien: Resurrection," "Battlefield: Earth," "Batman & Robin," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Father's Day," "Star Trek: Nemesis," "Hulk," "The Avengers," "Die Another Day," "Armageddon," "Van Helsing," and "Blade: Trinity" on their opening weekends. All these movies sucked (though some more than others), promising greatness (or following greatness) and failing to deliver.

Life is a lot like that.

I have a hateful, grizzled, embittered Irish friend who recently observed that I was "a f**king cynical bastard." Granted that he recently got a girlfriend, so his world view has changed, but it was quite a shock coming from the most jaded person I've probably ever met (except for my crazy drugged-out uncle who claims he fought in Vietnam when he was really thrown out of the Army during basic training). It was something of a wake-up call, and I had to look a little bit at my life.

When did I change? Where did I go wrong? Why did this happen to me? Was it my upbringing? Growing up on the back stretch of nowhere? My choice of friends as an adolescent? The fact that I didn't start shaving until I was nineteen? A chemical imbalance? Moving to the big, big city? The deep dark secrets creeping around the lower levels of my twisted Frankensteinian psyche?

Maybe none of those things. Maybe all of them.

Years of disappointment and dashed expectations have caused my hope muscle to atrophy, little by little, until I became the empty shell of a man you see before you. I no longer think that maybe next summer will be different, that a silver lining is hiding on that cloud, that next Valentine's Day will not suck, that it's always darkest before the dawn, that January holds the promise of a Happy New Year.

This movie trailer thing is an easy parallel to life. Take "Batman Begins," for example. That movie MIGHT be great. I couple people I know are sure that it will be. But I can't accept that. I'm sure it will disappoint, just in different ways than the last Schumacher Bat-films did. "War of the Worlds" has the potential to be fantastic, what with Spielberg and Koepp in charge. But it probably won't be. "Fantastic Four" already sucks muskrat. And for "Star Wars: Episode III?" Whoa, I don't even want to get my hopes up. I'd much rather sit and complain about computer-generated characters and meaningless, clunky dialogue, than get excited about who will kill Mace Windu, what the Wookiees will sound like, the new themes John Williams might think up, and whether or not Kit Fisto will survive.

I was going to attempt a sort of positive spin on all this, but I can't quite manage it right now. Maybe I can continue this rant on a day when I'm not certain I'll die alone, unfulfilled, and soon.

Back in the almighty Eighties, cartoonist Gary Larson proposed that there are three kinds of people:
1) those who see the glass before them and proclaim it as half full;
2) those who see the glass before them and proclaim it as half empty;
3) those who see the glass before them and proclaim, "Hey! I ordered a cheeseburger!"

That joke sure seemed funnier on the other side of the comic strip.

Rish Outfield

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