Monday, July 20, 2009

Spy-Fi Poll 005: Results

Wow. Apparently, if you want people to participate in a poll, asking them about what they dislike is more compelling than asking what they like.

The last poll question, "Which modern film remake/update of a classic 60s spy series was the most disappointing?" resulted in the largest number of voters to date, with 27 Spy-Fi visitors casting their ballot. There was also some last minute vote changing – perfectly within the rules, but indicating that the question certainly engendered strong opinions.

And why not? Hollywood’s lack of originality and callous treatment of other peoples’ creations in nothing new, and completely missing whatever elements made an entertainment property popular in the first place is, sadly, par for the course… which is why they keep making these movies and why they very nearly always suck.

Most voters apparently found the 1998 feature film version of the classic British spy-fi series The Avengers to be the most disappointing remake/reimagining, with 11 votes cast. Coming in second was the 1999 film version of the American show The Wild Wild West, with 10 votes. 1996’s Mission: Impossible and 2002’s I Spy tied for third place with three votes each. Last year’s Get Smart film apparently didn’t annoy anyone quite enough to take a hit, and I regret that I neglected to include 1997’s The Saint on the ballot, ‘cause I’m sure somebody out there hates that one.

I voted for The Wild Wild West. I haven’t seen the I Spy movie – and have little inclination to do so – but I’ve seen the others, and as I noted back in the first Spy-Fi Poll, West is my personal favorite of the old 60s spy shows.

And frankly, when I watch The Avengers movie, despite the lack of charm (or chemistry) in the leads and gaping plot chasms riddling the clearly studio-savaged story, I get the impression that at some point, early on in the process, somebody involved actually wanted to make an Avengers movie that did justice to the material. There’s just enough residual circumstantial evidence buried in that cinematic train wreck for me to believe that. Additionally, I rather like the movie’s production design and musical score. The film is crap, no question, but I have actually managed to watch it all the way through a few times, and may again.

The Wild Wild West, though, that abomination is wrong on so many levels, from conception to execution. A piecemeal script incorporating leftover elements from other aborted film projects (the giant mechanical spider was, infamously, originally intended for an unproduced Superman flick), horrible, illogical casting, and no attempt whatsoever made to recreate the sly, semi-surreal, tongue-in-cheek tone of the original material – instead, the filmmakers ladled on ham-fisted broad slapstick comedy that ridiculed the heroes and subverted the entire premise. Unlike in The Avengers, there’s not a single redeeming thing in that film for me, and I cannot bring myself to watch it again. Not even the pulchritudinous perfection that is Salma Hayek could salvage a frame of that disaster.

I am a bit surprised at the votes against the Mission: Impossible movie. Personally, I rather liked the first (and third) film, and while yeah, I somewhat resent the changes the filmmakers made to Bruce Geller’s original conception… I still thought the movie was pretty good, and I guess that made the difference.

Oh well. I just noticed that with two exceptions, all of these movies came out ten years ago or more. Man, time flies. As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and the reasons for your choices in the comments, and hope you’ll check out the new poll over there in the sidebar.


Caine said...

Since I've subscribed to your blog (love it by the way) I keep reading about the "polls" but I never see them in the RSS feed.

So I decided to actually come to your blog again....oh there's the poll.

Is that weekly?

Christopher Mills said...

Glad you're enjoying the blog.

The polls are weekly - as long as I can keep coming up with questions. Sorry they don't show in the RSS feeds...

David Drage said...

I also read the blog by RSS and so missed the poll!
Might I suggest a brief announcement of new polls, so that us poor RSS viewers are reminded to come and vote!

btw I would have voted for The Saint, if it had been an option! Any fan of Chartris' Saint could not vote for anything else!!!!

Christopher Mills said...

New polls go up – and the old ones are tabulated (with my commentary) – every Monday evening.

If you follow this blog via RSS feed, you might want to swing by the actual site once a week to participate in the voting.

Armstrong Sabian said...

I too voted for The Wild Wild West. Michael Dunn's Dr. Loveless was an amazing villain, and Branagh's amputee act felt a little insulting to me. Unlike yourself, I did find some enjoyment in the movie... "pulchritudinous perfection" indeed (why isn't there an emoticon for eyebrow waggle?)!

The Avengers was bad, but at least they got some elements right. The problem with the film is that Fiennes and Thurman play Steed and Peel as cool to the point of being cold. It's like watching robots on screen. Connery's villain, and his weather plot, seemed fittingly surreal.

I've only seen bits of I Spy, but it suffers from the fact that it reverts the roles to what stereotype says they should be. The African-American Murphy plays the sports star, the white Owen Wilson plays the spy. Check through the Mister 8 archives for the Ebony interview with Bill Cosby, and you'll see that it runs counter to the original intent of the show.