' ' Cinema Romantico: The Worst Three Screen TitIes In Movie History

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Worst Three Screen TitIes In Movie History

Often, screen titles can be helpfully informative ("Platoon"). Often they can beautifully summarize a movie's intent ("Last of the Mohicans", in the way it merges the epic setting with the personal situation, showing the personal can be epic). Often they can be funny (Joe Pesci in "Casino" mentioning "back home years ago" at which point a screen title pops up that says "Back Home Years Ago"). But sometimes they can be flat-out terrible. These three, in my estimation, are the worst offenders.

3.) "Whiteout", the infinitely awful "thriller" from 2009, opens with a harrowing shot of Antarctica accompanied by a screen title helpfully advising the audience: "Antarctica: the coldest and most isolated land mass on the planet." Who else excitedly awaits the day a French thriller opens with a shot of the Eiffel Tower (because of course it would open with a shot of the Eiffel Tower) accompanied by a screen title that says: "The Eiffel Tower: a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris."

Pacific Ocean: the world's largest ocean.
2.) At the very start of my mortal enemy Michael Bay's infintely awful "Armageddon" we receive a baritoned voiceover from the one, the only Charlton Heston presenting us with a history lesson on the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. He finishes by intoning, "It has happened before....it will happen again" (ooooooooooh) and then transitions to a present day title card - the esteemed Roger Ebert deemed it "the masterful title card" - that declares "65 Million Years Later". So that's how long ago it was! Phew! I forgot!

1.) So in the infinitely awful "Godzilla" we've slogged through the obligatory opening scenes in which Godzilla himself (or was it herself? I don't recall) has destroyed a few fishing boats and the requisite American team of hardened military personnel and clumsy scientists have gathered and are now tracking the creature and then (poor, poor) Matthew Broderick gives that speech about this being the "dawn of a new species" or something god-awful like that and then the movie cuts to a shot of Manhattan beneath a torrential downpour and with an ominous musical score to accompany it we receive the following screen title....

"The City That Never Sleeps."

Maybe it's just me but that kills me. It absolutely kills me. Perhaps you have to see it. That title card popping up with that music is just so dreadful it might have to be experienced. What was the reason for it? The shot, if I'm remembering correctly, it's been quite awhile since I've seen it, is the formerly standard Manhattan boilerplate establishing device with the camera pushing in on the deceased World Trade Center. So everyone already knows it's New York City, right? Were they trying to be "clever"? "Funny"? What the hell gives?

I'm pretty sure Matthew Broderick just read the screen title for himself.
What's even crazier is that at this point the movie itself has already been in New York City since we had to get introduced to that annoying, whining ex love interest of (poor, poor) Matthew Broderick's and her struggles as a down-on-her-luck wannabe news reporter. But when we showed up in Manhattan at that point we didn't get the title card. So why are we getting it now?

Do you see what I'm rambling about here? It's wonderful, just wonderful. The most out of place, hideously used, preposterously unforeboding-when-it-really-wants-to-be-foreboding title card of all time.

Is it worth a Netflix? On its own, probably not. But that title card in conjunction with Jean Reno asking the old man what he saw AND complaining about America's version of French Roast coffee? Absolutely.

You're welcome. This is why I'm here.


Larry Taylor said...

This cracked me up. Great post!

Jack L said...

Hilarious post, I've seen Armageddon and it remains one of the stupidest films I've ever seen.
I believe I saw Godzilla some time many years ago but all I can recall are vague scenes involving Jean Reno...

Whiteout sounds dreadful, I will avoid it.