Child actors are usually very bad. Even if the child actor is competent, usually the actual character they are asked to portray are so infuriating that you hate spending time with them. The thing is that most of the time they turn up in some of the classic films, so we get these films that are almost perfect with these child characters hanging around the scenes, dragging them into mediocrity. Maybe that is a bit harsh, but it must be admitted that they have a way of turning up in some pretty decent movies.
4 – ANAKIN SKYWALKER – THE PHANTOM MENACE
Let’s be honest: this was never going to go well. The Phantom Menace was taking one of the most iconic movie villains and showing him as a ten year old slave. Were we ready for that human side? Star Wars fans are some of the hardest fans to please and the character of Anakin Skywalker was always going to be picked apart and ridiculed. In many ways, I feel sorry for the character, as there was very little chance anyone could have pulled it off.
People criticise Jake Lloyd’s acting, but in all honesty, even the veteran actors of the group were held back by the shoddy script and the child tone. Yes, it was the script that held the character back and the fact that the movie often relied on him to progress made it even worse. It was the same with Jar Jar Binks. If he was held back a little more, then we have been more willing to accept him, but George Lucas kept dragging him into the foreground of the movie, proud of his horrible creation. The only thing that helps Jake Lloyd here is the fact that Hayden Christensen came and did an even worse job in the sequel.
3 – JOHN CONNOR – TERMINATOR 2
Like Anakin Skywalker, the problem here is the fact that this movie is asking us to believe that the hero that we are meant to invest our time into is a douchebag of a kid. I am not sure that the actor in question can be blamed here, but the character is so horrible that I don’t think anyone could like him. It was funny, because he was meant to relate to everyone and in practice, he is one of my most hated cinema characters out there.
He is rebellious, arrogant and has a voice that makes you change your mind about your distaste in hitting kids. The only two people in the world that don’t have the power to hate him are his own mother and a robot without emotion, so it turns out the reason he isn’t beaten to a pulp by his own teams is blind luck rather than charm. Thank god that the movies enjoy making massive leaps in time between two movies, because I refuse to spend more time with the character at this stage of his life than I have to. More Christian Bale please.
2 – LEX AND TIM MURPHY – JURASSIC PARK
Jurassic Park is up there with the best movies of all time. It is flawless in its pacing, CGI and characters. However, it also shows us one of the only times in history where we actually wanted a raptor to eat the kids it was chasing. Yes, this is one of those movies where the kids almost sabotage one of the greatest classics out there.
Mainly this is due to the fact that they are the ones that nearly sabotage every move made by the other characters. They are the trapped people that bring the Tyrannosaurus onto the group at the start and they are also the ones that always end up falling prey to the raptors and getting in the way of their escape of off the island. I know that they are actually probably a good narrative device to keep the tension up, but I cannot help but roll my eyes every time they do something stupid. Also, they end up saving the day by being good with computers, because they are kids, which is the kind of terrible writing that only a 90s movie could come up with. At the very least, I much prefer them to the horrible child actor who appeared in the sequel.
1 – RACHEL FERRIER – WAR OF THE WORLDS
However, when it comes to the most infuriating helpless kid in a film, the award has to go to Rachel Ferrier in ‘War of the Worlds’. She seems to be actively trying to get in the way of her father’s escape across America, as if she is actually quite fond of the idea of alien abductions (too much Lilo and Stitch, in my books). She is so helpless, you cannot help, but swear at the scene and feel sorry for Tom Cruise. No one has ever felt sorry for Tom Cruise ever!
However, she is a necessary evil. A film article I read the other day claimed that this movie would be so much better if she wasn’t in it. That is bullshit. Dakota Fanning does a great job with the character, playing it how it is meant to be played. Her inability to fend for herself is a key part in the movie and while the father-daughter relationship is slightly hurt, because of her helplessness, it is still an important narrative device. Thinking that getting rid of her is a good story device suggests that this film blogger (it was the same one I complained about a few weeks ago), never really understood the movie in the first place and probably just wanted to see some alien explosions.
Agreed! Glad you picked Rachel from WOTW, she was by far the most annoying character in the movie.
I agree with your thoughts on Phantom Menace & the Star Wars prequels in general. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman are all talented actors but even they came across badly in the films (especially in Episode 3). Jake Lloyd’s acting wasn’t the problem. Granted, I haven’t seen him in any other films so I can’t comment on his abilities but there was a lot wrong with Phantom Menace and Jake’s portrayal of Anakin was a minor issue in comparison. I honestly thought the voice actors from Clone Wars did a much better job…
I heard that Jake Lloyd got so much abuse from the fans that he quit acting after that one job. If that is true, that is a bit out of order on the part of the fans.