Last week I watched two movies that had some things in common, but which ended up making me react in totally different ways. They were Ender's Game and Terminator: Genisys. Both have connections to my younger self and a big claim to nostalgia. I love Ender's Game the novel (though the author is a wretched excuse for a human) and I wanted the movie version to be good. I wasn't optimistic on that count though because I couldn't imagine how you could do that movie properly without it being a six hour epic and I was right to think that. It was obvious that it would have to be a cut back version of the story and to no one's surprise that version ended up being bad.
It wasn't just the limitations of the time and format though. Unfortunately Ender's Game the movie went with a bunch of ridiculous space tropes that make no sense, particularly the chase and fight scenes in ludicrously crowded asteroid fields. A pro tip: A real asteroid field is a hunk of rock, and then another hunk of rock 10,000 km away. And then one more hunk of rock 1,000,000 km away. You don't zoom around in fighter jet style maneuvers around tightly packed, spinning pieces of space stone.
Maybe there was a decent movie that could have been made by ignoring most of the Ender's Game book and cutting it down to a totally different story. Maybe. But the movie failed to deliver anything resembling a good experience, and also failed to deliver on the Ender's Game story. I could forgive it not being like Ender's Game if it was good, and I could forgive it being bad if it was Ender's Game, but instead the movie fails on all counts.
Terminator: Genisys on the other hand was schlock but at least it delivered where it counted. Arnie played a mostly humourless terminator killing machine who displayed more nobility than any human could muster and that carried the movie on its own. The plot makes little sense, the ending was hackneyed, and the acting (Arnie aside) was bad. I don't know if I should blame the writers or the actors but I wasn't impressed.
But it turns out I will forgive a movie all kinds of flaws if Arnie nails his role and he did. Genisys could have succeeded by either having Arnie do his thing or it could have succeeded by being a good movie. It managed one of those things.
Genisys also ended with a direct setup for more movies. While on some level I feel silly for supporting such rubbish I can't deny that the formula of Arnie plus random hacked together nonsense is good enough for me, and I will certainly see any additional movies that go with that formula.
I am not that picky about my movies. They just have to get one thing right, and Genisys succeeded while Ender's Game did not.