"X-Men: First Class" is, in a way, the evil mirror version of "X2". "X-Men: First Class" is a generally weak movie with individual moments and performances that are excellent. "X2" is a generally awesome movie with a few moments (i.e. Wolverine and Cyclops at the end) and performances (Halle Berry) that don't work. But this is off-topic...there's a whole thread comparing those two movies (started by me!). Check it out if you haven't. It's a doozy.
Back on topic. I did a 180 on "The Simpsons Movie" and "Star Trek: Nemesis". These are the two best examples in my life of being totally seduced by hype and expectations for a movie. I don't think there's ever been another movie I wanted to love as much as I wanted to love these two.
My anticipation level was so high for "The Simpsons Movie". There was this period where I just kept thinking "I want to see this movie so badly, I'm not going to be able to sleep until I do". Just knowing it was out there made me so excited. I was dying to watch it, but I didn't want to watch it alone, so I couldn't watch it on opening night since I had to wait for a friend to be available. Hence, the several nights of almost no sleep, just wondering what it would be like and building anticipation for it.
It was like the people who made that movie could have done pretty much anything and I would have liked it. I was that predisposed to liking it. I just kept thinking to myself "HOLY SHIT, the Simpsons are in a freaking movie! After all those incredible seasons (7, to be exact). This HAS to be an tremendous experience, just for the simple fact that it even exists". So I sat down to watch it. I literally said something like, "THIS IS GONNA BE AMAZING" out loud as it started in the theatre. And I reacted to it as if it was.
I watched it and enjoyed it. I laughed at all the jokes when I was supposed to. I convinced myself that it was just as moving at certain moments as it tried to be. But when it was over, I had this sneaking suspicion that it wasn't all that great. I tried to ignore that suspicion, but it was hard. This first became apparent when I tried to talk to my friend about what parts we loved (as one does after watching a great movie) and I was drawing a blank. Worse yet, all the examples he gave of stuff he liked were things I either didn't care about or couldn't even remember.
Another more cynical friend of mine told me he thought it was lame, aside from one or two funny moments/bits of dialog. I was in denial. I swore that it was like a movie made around the time the show started declining, but still pretty decent. "It was like a season 9 or 10 episode!", I insisted.
Then, I got the DVD as a Christmas gift and all my delusions were shattered. It was exactly what it inevitably had to be...just another episode of whatever shitty season of "The Simpsons" was on TV at the time. The only differences were that it was a little longer and tried to disguise itself as something deeper by having a plot turn where Marge and Homer's marriage was in trouble (a plot that hadn't been meaningful or effective since like season 8).
I sold the DVD and now I just try to forget that this movie exists, because it's depressing to think of what a blown opportunity it was. Here is this film adaptation of what is arguably (and there's a strong argument to be made) the greatest television series of all time (again, just on the strength of 7 out of 20something seasons). It should have been epic, yet it wasn't even good enough to get a "Best Animated Feature" Oscar nomination. It was this unbelievably slight piece of work that probably would have been a masterpiece if it had been made during the prime of the TV series (circa 1993-1997).
As for "Star Trek: Nemesis", I was just so stoked to see the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on the big screen for the first time (I was too young to watch their first two movies in theatres and too busy with school to even be aware when the third one came out) that I was predisposed to like it no matter what it was. The weird thing was, the first time I saw it, I not only liked it, I thought it was excellent!
I think that what fooled me more than anything else was Tom Hardy. He just acted the hell out of his role. He brought so much fire and conviction to it, he tricked me into thinking his character and its evil scheme were actually worth a shit, when in fact they were both just fucking stupid. I realize now that what ultimately made me like the movie was a combination of Hardy's performance and nostalgia for the TV series and cast that the movie took to the big screen.
Later, I tried to watch it on TV. Again, delusions shattered. Without my judgement clouded by a haze of nostalgia, hype, the novelty of seeing the TNG cast on the big screen, and my first reaction to Hardy's performance, everything was different. I saw the movie for what it really is: fucking terrible. I could barely get through a few minutes of it before I had to stop watching. It was just too painful witnessing these characters completely go to waste given a nothing story as their last shot at being in a movie.
There are two things to be learned from these experiences. First, hype and nostalgia can be powerful influences on one's reaction to a movie, and that influence can turn you into a self-deceiving dumbass. Second, Tom Hardy rules. Only a truly high caliber actor can take a role as useless as his character in "Star Trek: Nemesis" and make it engaging almost entirely off the strength of the intensity he brings to the role. The script gave him just about nothing to work with and he damn near spun shit into gold.