Topic: The Box Office
As I consider nominations to my personal cinematic Hall of Shame—see here—it occurs to me that whereas some movies are indeed bad in an absolute sense, others are bad merely in relation to the money and talent that was lavished on them. An example of the first kind of badness is the Ashley Judd vehicle Bug (which I excoriated here). It just stinks, period. But then there are movies like Cleopatra.
It's sobering to reflect what it would cost today to film this lavish, star-studded epic—probably more than the GDP of many Third World nations. Certainly no expense was spared back in 1963. And that's precisely my point. You can't really call Cleopatra unwatchable. OK, so Elizabeth Taylor flops as the seductive Queen of the Nile, coming off like some flirtatious bimbo with too much eye makeup. And yes, Richard Burton gives a notably bad performance. But still, Cleopatra has its moments.
But when I reflect on the time, money, talent, etc. expended to produce this second-rate sand-and-sandal potboiler—all I can think is bad, bad, bad. That kind of waste, it seems to me, is shameful. So I'm strongly inclined to include Cleopatra in the Hall of Shame.