By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
Among family and friends I tend to establish myself as “the movie guy.” I watch a couple of movies every week, I always talk about film, I review movies for Kapiʻo, and I even work part-time at a movie theater. However, there’s a movie related secret I have that I’m almost ashamed of whenever someone finds out about it. I haven’t seen a lot of the classic films that seemingly everyone has seen. It doesn’t seem like much, but the catalog of films that I haven’t seen often surprises people I know, who respond with: “You’ve never seen ____?”
To put it in perspective, I didn’t watch “Jurassic Park” or the “Back to the Future” trilogy until I forced myself to watch them in 2015, when both franchises resurfaced for “Jurassic World” and for the year of the “Back to the Future Part II” future. I still haven’t seen any of the “The Lord of the Rings” movies or “Saving Private Ryan.” And, until recently, I haven’t seen the majority of the films that make the average person’s list of films that everyone should see in their lifetime.
This is probably due to both my preference of movies as well as my age and upbringing. I’m 19 years old, so the majority of classic movies were released before I was even born. However, I have friends around the same age as I am, so that can’t account for much. While I was growing up, my parents were a bit strict when it came to movie ratings. I didn’t see many PG-13 films until I was almost 13 and I saw my first rated-R film, which is “The Rock,” when I was 15 or 16.
Although, I think the big reason why I haven’t seen a lot of essential movies is that I’m much more of an animation fan than a general movie fan. If you name any animated movie, I’ve either already seen it or know enough about it. I’d much rather watch my favorite Disney movie again than make time to watch some older film that I don’t know much about.
Within the last few months, however, I came to the conclusion that if I want to continue considering myself as a film buff, I should take the time to watch some of the greatest movies of the last several decades.
I started in familiar territory to get me in the right mood to watch older movies. Since I grew up loving the adventurous yet dark films of the ’80s like “The Goonies,” “Batman,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” I delved into similar movies that I hadn’t yet seen. “Gremlins,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Beetlejuice” quickly became some of my favorite movies from the era. Family movies from the ’80s can get very dark and horrific and yet still maintain a sense of humor to keep kids entertained. These movies are right up my alley, and I can’t believe it took me so long to finally watch them.
“Jaws” and “Alien” are also two movies that I’m mad at myself for not watching until recently. Both movies are so deeply rooted in movie culture that one would think that any so called “movie buff” would have watched these movies multiple times every year. Not seeing “Jaws” seemed particularly sinful especially since I once wrote a nine-page-long research paper on Steven Spielberg and focused mostly on his production of “Jaws.” I knew all there was to know about the production, yet I hadn’t watched the film outside of a few iconic clips. That may be why it took me so long to watch the suspenseful classic; I felt like I knew the movie, so watching it seemed rather unnecessary.
I also forced myself to watch at least one entire popular franchise all the way through. I tend to avoid watching movie series that have more than two movies unless I began watching them upon release. With the exception of “Star Wars” and a select few, I haven’t seen any major movie series that started before the mid-2000s. That’s mostly because those types of movies are so long and there are too many of them. There are now eight “Fast and the Furious” movies, and the three “The Lord of the Rings” are almost four hours long each. No matter how good anyone says those movies are, I cannot sit through that many hours of the same movie. However, since my sister owns every “Harry Potter” Blu-ray, I finally slugged through the entire wizarding world. The franchise was enjoyable and had its ups and downs, but overall, it’s nowhere near one of my favorite movie franchises.
Throughout my mission to catch up on movies, I only ever watched films that have been positively recommended to me. After all, why would I waste my time watching a movie that is already widely considered terrible? “The Truman Show,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Forrest Gump,” and, of course, “Fight Club” were all a blast to watch, but there was one movie that may have been recommended to me the most that I just can’t get into.
“The Matrix” has been applauded for years for being a turning point for action movies. I have friends that preach about the genius of the “The Matrix,” and there are entire books written on the philosophy of the film. When I finally put in the DVD, which I had for as long as I can remember yet never watched, I came out of the film disappointed. “The Matrix” isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either. The ideas seem pretentious, the acting is bland, and the characters are weak. This is the film that so many people praise as one of the greatest films of all time? I don’t get it. Frankly, this had to happen with at least one of these movies. It’s unlikely that I’ll enjoy every single popular movie that everyone else loves. I knew that there was going to be that one I didn’t like, but I was surprised to find that it’s the one that the most people in my life scold me for not seeing.
“The Matrix” was most likely over-hyped for me. With so many people claiming that the film is a thoughtful masterpiece, you’d almost think that “The Matrix” signified the second coming of Jesus. There’s no way that any movie could have held up to the high standards that others had already pushed on me. Luckily, watching “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” along with the recent “John Wick” movies redeemed Keanu Reeves for me.
Watching these films years, and even decades, after they were released proved to be a different experience to watching the latest Marvel film in theaters. I already have preconceived notions as to what the movie will give me, so I have a lot more insight into the film as I’m watching it for the first time. It’s interesting to know about the production problems of “Jaws” before even seeing the shark in action. It’s exciting to see the characters and settings that I explored at Universal Studios shown off through visual storytelling. And then there are those gems that I went into knowing nothing at all, like “Fight Club” and “Big Trouble in Little China,” that clued me in to why people love those movies as much as they do.