These sterile, uninspired movies lack the distinctly human touch that makes all the best films connect and resonate.
If you’re reading this right now, it’s safe to assume you don’t live under a rock, because that would make it hard to maintain a connection to electricity and the internet. As such, you and other non-rock-dwellers will have likely read about the recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) lately, particularly regarding programs like ChatGPT. It seems like A.I. is advancing at a blisteringly fast pace, making people wonder about what things (and jobs) computer programs will eventually be able to do.
The Bubble desperately tried to capture the cultural zeitgeist of the early 2020s more than any other movie released in 2022, and also ended up being one of that year's worst films. It revolves around the filming of a blockbuster movie in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, attempting to find comedy in all the ways that things like quarantine measures and isolating make film production more difficult. It's unfortunate then that for a comedy, The Bubble has next to no laughs. Even if COVID hasn't gone away (and may never truly vanish), jokes about it were only funny for a very limited time, if at all. The Bubble may as well have been written by an A.I. mining and recycling popular Tweets and memes about COVID-19 from the pandemic's early days, hastily shoving them into a scattershot screenplay.
Kevin Smith has had a filmmaking career filled with ups and downs. Certain films of his are widely loved, others are more divisive, and then a handful are widely recognized as being not very good at all. Yoga Hosers is probably the film that most clearly fits into the "not very good at all" category. It messily tries to mix comedy, horror, and action/fantasy elements into one movie, as if an A.I. program was told to make a Kevin Smith-like movie that crossed genre lines while keeping the humor teen-friendly. The end result is an unpleasant, exploding trainwreck of a movie, though at least Smith bounced back with the more genuine (and superior) Clerks 3 in 2022.
It's no secret that Disaster Movie is not good. It's currently the lowest-rated movie on IMDb, and considering there are more than 600,000 feature films listed on the website, being the lowest-rated of the lot is - to quote Ron Burgundy - kind of a big deal. Far from being carefully written in a room filled with leather-bound books (that also smells of rich mahogany), Disaster Movie instead feels like it was generated by an A.I. program, and a substandard one at that. It parodies various movies that were popular in 2007/2008 with little to no genuine wit, given the random, careless, lazy humor feels like something a computer could well come up with... even if comedy might be something A.I. programs should stay away from.
When in Rome feels like the end-product of an A.I. program being told to make a lightweight romantic comedy with a slight fantastical spin. This mostly forgotten movie follows one woman who's unlucky in love, and the chaos that unravels after she steals coins from a "fountain of love," which magically causes various men to start romantically pursuing her.
Romantic comedies at their best still tend to feel a little formulaic, so it follows that romantic comedies that are far from great will feel very formulaic. This is the case for When in Rome and its 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though in fairness, this is far from the only rom-com out there that feels somewhat computer-generated.
There are plenty of great Jackie Chan movies, but 2003's The Medallion certainly isn't one of them. It's a (somewhat) family-friendly fantasy/action movie about a Hong Kong detective dying and coming back to life, having been given superhuman powers thanks to the titular medallion. From a writing standpoint, it feels a little broken, given it takes more than half the movie for this to happen. The second half is predictable and formulaic in ways you'd expect, and the (admittedly slightly better) first half just feels like a randomly generated string of mindless action sequences. There might be some entertainment value here for Jackie Chan fans, but the screenplay is undeniably messy and not particularly well thought-out.
If anything, it feels surprising that Jason X wasn't written by some sort of computer. It feels like what would happen if you told an A.I. program to make a Friday the 13th sequel... in space. And then the computer burped out a generic slasher movie with a few science-fiction elements and a spaceship setting, instead of the more standard cabin(s) in the woods. One could potentially understand such an A.I. program's logic, given that one of the greatest horror films of all time - Alien- features a spaceship's crew getting gradually killed off by a lone antagonist. Unfortunately, Jason X is no Alien, and instead feels like a by-the-numbers, tiring horror movie sequel with an ugly coat of sci-fi-tinged paint spread thinly over it.
Though the 2021 version of Justice League is a long and sometimes exhausting four-hour watch, it feels appropriately like Zack Snyder's vision. His name is still attached to the two-hour-long 2017 version, though he stepped away from the project before it was completed, with various re-shoots and re-edits morphing it into a very different (and much worse) movie.
If anything, what happened with the 2017 version of Justice League might be even worse than getting a (hypothetically very advanced) A.I. program to rewrite and re-edit a movie: it seems that many changes were enforced by studio heads. More humor, more color, and a faster pace all felt like creative choices that were made without much passion, and purely for mathematically increasing the film's chances of having mass appeal. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., it backfired.
The first Cars isn't one of Pixar's greatest films by any means, but it is at least a complete and coherent movie. It feels like there was a vision behind it plus some care put into its story, with Lightning McQueen having a clear character arc that gives the film a simple but solid message about winning not always being everything. That all goes out the window with the bizarre Cars 2, which feels like what would happen if A.I. was told to make a second Cars movie with more action and a greater emphasis on comic relief sidekick Mate. The end result feels like a cinematic Frankenstein's monster - part Cars, part James Bond for kids, and part Larry the Cable Guy standup routine. It is a film that should be run away from at great speed.
It's regrettable that the Star Wars sequel trilogy didn't seem to have a plan in place, with the overall "story" of the three films feeling messy. 2015's The Force Awakens pleased crowds around the world with a return-to-basics approach to Star Wars, though there was significant pushback from some fans regarding certain story decisions in 2017's The Last Jedi. Enter The Rise of Skywalker, which has an overall scattered and chaotic feeling that gives the impression it was written without much care. The noisy action, abundance of visual effects, and much-too-fast pacing attempt to distract you from the first-draft-quality screenplay, but it's so mechanical and desperate to win back fans that its shortcomings are very easy to notice.
In some ways, Thor: Love and Thunder feels like it was created by someone telling a computer to vomit out a sequel to Thor: Ragnarok. That third movie centered around Thor was surprisingly good, and served as a comedy-heavy breath of fresh air that the series badly needed, given the other two films were merely okay at best.
It feels cynical, in so many ways. Thor being paired with Hulk in Ragnarok worked? Throw the Guardians of the Galaxy into this one! People liked all the humor in Ragnarok? Throw a random joke at the audience every few seconds! Oh, the emotional moments in Ragnarok were also good? Throw in a poorly handled cancer storyline with Jane Foster! It all just feels uncanny and rotten, and is easily one of the MCU's most creatively bankrupt movies.
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