Tuesday May 30, 2006

Movie Time.

It seems that some movies these days are too content to be mediocre. Too many times I leave the theatre thinking “I could have done better than that.” And that’s sad, because I supposedly know nothing of filmmaking, really. But what I do know is a good story; plotlines, surprising reveals, dialogue, character development, subtlety. Ah, subtlety. The Da Vinci Code rammed subtlety down my throat. But I digress. In light of my disappointment with today’s modern cinema, I have come up with three very plausible theories to explain Hollywood’s shortcomings:

Theory 1: You’re An Idiot.

This may be the bolder of the theories, but I think it’s worth putting out there first. With plots so kludgy, dialogue so trite, and characters so non-dimensional, I can only assume that Hollywood takes the general public for fools. Now, given my opinion of the general public as I navigate the idiotic Nascar race that is my daily commute to work, I might tend to agree with Hollywood. People can be pretty stupid. But come on; too many movies have plot holes so big you could drive Costa Rica through them. Characters so cardboard they make Al Gore look like Richard Simmons. Dialogue so cheesy I’m embarrassed to be in a room with other people. Come on, Hollywood. Give us Joe Punchclocks some credit. We’re smarter than you think. We can handle whatever clever, high-brow content you throw at us. No need to spell it out, dumb it down, and hope we won’t notice your pandering.

Theory 2: Trailers Rule.

Just hear me out. Hollywood makes great trailers. Heck, even I’m tempted to go see Tokyo Drift (though I can assure you my better judgment will prevail). All those sliding cars and explosive crashes are just pure gold. These trailers are so good—so compelling and boiled down to a ticket-selling science—that I seriously propose that Hollywood storyboards the trailer first, then fills in the rest of the movie. We all know that the best scenes are in the trailers. And we’ve all gone to movies where we come out thinking, “Man, all the good stuff was in the trailer.” Just think about it—it makes sense.

Theory 3: The One-Trick Pony.

Who cares if a movie is kind of cobbled together and shoved out for public consumption as long as it has that one gimmick to bank on? With every preacher on the planet denouncing The Da Vinci Code, how could it not make money? The Fantastic Four had Jessica Alba in a bodysuit. How could it not make money? There are so many movies that bet the farm on a gimmick. It’s completely plausible to propose that Hollywood doesn’t let trivial things like “character development” and “being interesting” clutter their minds when they know that controversy-driven hype or legions of loyal comic book fans are going to ensure the success of the movie anyways. All you need is one trick to propel a mediocre movie to (relative) success.

So there you have it. Enjoy the summer blockbuster season by not cutting Hollywood any slack. They’ll thank us later.

Commentary


Abel Rios » 4159 days ago #

Theory 4: The Recycle Bin

Hollywood has been good at one thing. Telling the same story over and over, with modified endings, plot twists, new characters, and telling us it’s not the same as before. This quickly ties into Theory 1, as Hollywood takes us all for complete morons, and with a quick shade of hand ruins classics. Not to say all are bad, but jeebus, give me a break with all the remakes.

Ryan » 4159 days ago #

I would go for a slightly altered version of Theory #1.

Hollywood doesn’t think we’re (and by “we” I don’t mean “me”) stupid, they know we’re lazy.

Example: Joe Bagofdonuts just worked a long week at his job and the absolute last thing he wants to do is think. No, he wants to sit back, be idle and – most importantly – be entertained.

So, we’re not idiots. We’re lazy fools.

Josue Salazar » 4159 days ago #

You know what, you’re so right about Costa Rica.

Nathan Smith » 4159 days ago #

Jared: Glad to see I’m not alone in my dissatisfaction with the box-office as of late. I agree that the Davinci Code was pretty weak-sauce. It was like riding a rollercoaster: intense, yet ultimately ungratifying, leaving you saying “That’s it?”

Wade Winningham » 4159 days ago #

I agree with your assessment. I have turned to foreign films to get the awesome movie experiences anymore, but they don’t turn up at the theater all that often. There are some foreign directors I’ve been following for the past 3-4 years. The Vengeance movies from Chan-wook Park are some of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. Spain has Alex de la Iglesia. And Japan has Takashi Miike…

I’d love to be able to walk out of a theater at least once a year feeling like I did after my first viewing of Raider of the Lost Ark, Aliens or Die Hard. I can’t remember the last time a domestic film did it for me. Lord of the Rings may have been it, but that was a little different. The closest has been going to film fests seeing some fun movies with a good crowd. You can’t quite replicate seeing Battle Royale and Versus in a room full of geeks at an Anime convention…

Abel Rios » 4159 days ago #

It was like riding a rollercoaster: intense, yet ultimately ungratifying, leaving you saying “That’s it?”

Hey Nathan, you mean ‘kiddie’ coaster. DaVinci Code was pretty lame in my opinion. Despite sitting there for a little over 2 hours, I felt like the movie was rushed, and was full of plot holes. Not to mention the supreme lack of character development and interaction.

stdmedia » 4158 days ago #

For every 100 movies that blow through hollywood, they’re comes at least one that makes you think. Take the movie Stay for example, I had to watch it like 3 times to truly get it (although I only watched through once). Maybe if we’re lucky, somewhere in the next little while we’ll be blessed with something fantastic.

Steve Cochrane » 4157 days ago #

Just discovered this site lately and am loving it, nice work. I’m thinking that maybe we give the filmmakers too much credit here :) They can’t just be consciously deciding to make bad movies. If a truly good movie is made it will go beyond demographics and be appreciated by everyone AND will make lots of money as a result (most of the time) AND they will go down in history as a classic filmmaker. Either they’re incompetent or they don’t take their job seriously and just look at what will sell so they can make lots of money. My two cents.

Nathan Smith » 4153 days ago #

Able: I suppose you’re right. The Davinci Code was more like the roller-coaster in Mall of America, contained, somewhat boxed in, and generally cheezier than the real thing. :)

Matthew Esparza » 4151 days ago #

I just wanted Tom Hanks to get a haircut before the movie ended!

Rob » 4146 days ago #

I haven’t even seen the movie and I want Tom Hanks to get a haircut… uhhhh (shuddering). Business in the front, party in the back.

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