Thursday, July 11, 2013

The 3 Most Distressing Trends In Movies

Matthew McConaughey almost had a spot all to himself on this list.

The following is, as always, posted for the viewing pleasure of all who come visit this blog in search of laughs, creative insights, and references to all things awesome. It is also our open letter to Hollywood people-in-charge, because we have some things to say to you, and it's best if we're direct about it. 

Dear Hollywood,

#3 Your Definition Of A Hero Emerging "Victorious" Sucks
Unless you're Benedict Cumberbatch, this doesn't look much like "Winning".

Since when did the hero need to just simply survive the 110 minutes of movie run-time in order to be considered "triumphant"? Call us old-fashioned, but protagonists used to have three primary duties:

1. Save the girl, then proceed to
2. Beat the bad guy, and therefore
3. Save the city.

Maybe you haven't noticed, but your movie heroes have been doing an absolutely awful job at these things for like a couple of years now. This summer alone featured hero after hero acting like he "won" or whatever, ignoring the fact that the bad guys totally kicked their trash. Consider Star Trek, which first featured a major bombing of a London library, followed by a successful attack on the Star Fleet headquarters where all the high-ranking officers got killed except the other bad guy, the admiral with the super warship. Then the small city-sized super warship crashes into the actual city-sized city of London, effectively crushing several square miles of the city in a matter of seconds (it just dropped out of space after traveling at 3x the speed of the USS Enterprise's hyperspeed, so consider it lucky the whole planet isn't just an impressive collection of lifeless space dirt). 

"First, I will snap the neck of the man on the left, I don't like his ears...then the big man in the back I shall throat punch to death while I shoot his gun at the other two...I wonder what I'll cook for lunch later? Perhaps salmon..."

Yes, by the end of the movie Chris Pine is breathing and the second most successful galactic terrorist ever is frozen in his tube of sequel-enabling sleep, but only after pulling off three major attacks that resulted in millions of casualties and a shock to the world's economy so bad it probably wouldn't recover. Captain kirk didn't get the girl (the admiral's daughter), the bad guy is only sort of gone momentarily, and the city is irreparably flattened. It's a good thing our heroes are leaving Earth for a five-year mission to the great beyond, because Earth is pretty much done-for after the events of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Maybe that's why you called it "Into Darkness" in the first place, but something tells us nobody there in Hollywood is that clever.

And Star Trek is far from the only culprit. This summer's "Man of Steel" was the best re-imagining of Superman in several decades, but all those buildings Clark and Zod awesomely punched each other through aren't going to fix themselves. The estimated life lost during those mega-battle sequences numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and the physical damage is professionally estimated to be $700,000,000,000, or roughly the equivalent of 13 World Trade Center attacks (which is an appropriate fact to insert here only because both Star Trek AND Man of Steel both made shameless visual allusions to the tragedy).

Could just be us, but Morpheus and Trinity seem a little wussy before they escape the Matrix.

The same folks who put that number together also guess the total economic impact would be around 2 trillion dollars, a number so high that most of us little people aren't entirely convinced isn't just made up.  
The trend goes on and on. Every Transformers movie, Iron Man 3, even Fast 6 when that tank is crushing cars with people in them on the highway. You people who make these movies are looking the other way when it comes to the loss of "unimportant" lives because you think it may get in the way of your super cool action sequences. Don't even get us started on "Pacific Rim".

Look, to be honest none of us had the patience or the Excedrin it would take to sit through "Pacific Rim", but we're guessing you tried to focus more on the alien monsters from the deep fighting our man-made transformer robots and mankind "Canceling the apocalypse!", and spent considerably less time accepting the fact that at that point, the apocalypse hasn't been cancelled, it's inked a deal for 12 seasons and a movie.

And if you think it's just this summer, we'd like to let you know that we haven't forgotten that in the gritty Batman reboot, BatBale does NOT save the girl, does NOT beat the bad guy, and does NOT actually save the city. And the Avengers wrecked all of New York. Hollywood, the good guy only wins by saving us all. Us! The little people who aren't superheroes! We want a hero to kick the alien army's butt so that the world is saved-- who cares if the hero is the last one standing on the planet Earth? We don't want Clark Kent to beat Zod because of good versus evil, we want him to beat Zod so he doesn't destroy all of mankind in order to rebuild his own race. Bruce Willis wouldn't have "won" in Die Hard if the terrorists succeeded in their plot but John Mclane somehow escaped-- that would have been stupid to a frustrated-punch-aimed-at-the-wall degree. You win by stopping the bad guy from doing evil things, not by catching him after he's run out of ideas. 

"I already blew up your hospital and I'm about to blow up your girl. But good job putting me in prison."

World War Z gets a pass because it was actually about the apocalypse and the decline of humanity, it didn't ignore the colossal loss of life; that was the focus of the film. The focus of these other movies is "Explod-yActionPunchingSuperpowersCGIBudgetMichaelBaySEQUELCLIFF-HANGER".

#2 You Hardly Ever Know The Appropriate Number Of Sequels 

Maybe we're the only ones that have a problem with this, but it just feels so ridiculous to say "Name of movie SEVEN, part two". Obviously recent years have seen a rise of sequels, since the idea is that if a movie makes money, why not make that same movie again and make more money. We get it. You're a business. You're going to make the least risky, highest grossing movies you can dream up. We get it. Despite original movies and movies properly adapted from books being great surprises and refreshing to us frequent moviegoers who like a new story and new characters from time to time, there's nothing wrong with a good sequel; we would never suggest that a new chapter in the Riddick series is anything less than awesome. But you have got to figure out when to fold em, Hollywood.

This year alone there will be at least five horror sequels nobody wants, including Paranormal Activity number freaking five (also Haunting In Connecticut 2, Inisidious 2, Texas Chainsaw 3D, and the hilariously titled film "The Last Exorcism...part 2). Another Grown Ups, another Sin City, whatever, those can be easily ignored. But Percy Jackson 2? Why? Because people love the books? People loved the first book when the first movie came out and you still didn't make any money. What changed? Your motivation for extending Twilight and The Hunger Games and The Hobbit into more movies than ought to be necessary was a money-making strategy that, while awful, is also at least successful so it makes business sense. Filming a second Percy Jackson will be about as profitable as when you guys cranked out Garfield 2.

What a world we live in, that can see projects like a second Percy Jackson movie funded, but the Sarah Conner Chronicles will never get to deliver on its amazing setup for a new season because despite its popularity, the money wasn't there.

A tale every Summer Glau fan is painfully familiar with.

So if you want to make The Hobbit three movies long, fine- do your thing, people like The Hobbit. The Hunger Games has a lot going on in the next two books, take all the time you need to tell the story correctly. But the fact that you seem pretty serious about delivering us a "Cars" sequel titled "Planes" about an airplane who's scared of heights, directly after showing us your stupid trailer for your new racing movie about a snail who wants to be fast and race in the Indy 500, concerns us. And we're probably not the only ones.

**You'll notice we didn't link to either of those two movie trailers; it's because watching them makes you feel like your brain is being wrung like a dirty washcloth. 

#1 At No Point Have You Ever Given Us A Spectacular Medieval Epic

You know what's sad? That picture right there is from Skyrim, which is a video game, which is not a movie, because movies for some reason aren't allowed to be good when they involve dragons. Hollywood, jump on the medieval nordic bandwagon. Dragons are "in" right now, no time would be better. You want a quick list of the all-time best movie-dragons off the top of our heads?

1. Maleficent
2. The one from "Pagemaster"
3. Eddie Murphy in "Mulan"
4. The ones in "How to train your dragon"
5. The one John Hurt voiced in TV's "Merlin"

You'll notice something about that list; they're all freaking animated (except John Hurtdragon, but that was on a TV show and doesn't count as a movie dragon). Why is this such a problem? People like knights, they like fighting, everyone thought Russel Crow's Robin Hood was pretty cool. King Arthur wasn't bad. "A Knight's Tale" is a guilty pleasure movie for many. If you're seriously unconvinced that a movie about knights and dragons wouldn't be massively successful if done properly, you must have your heads further up your collective butts than we all assumed because it's been pretty difficult lately to miss the entire Game of Thrones subculture George RR Martin wrote into existence.

"Aye always 'ated crossbows..." --actual line

Game Of Thrones is hot right now, and it will continue to be so until everyone realizes that there truly won't be any semblance of a happy ending and everyone will end up murdered or married to the wrong people, except Arya (because if she dies, all Martin's fans will throw his books out and start a different series). Game of Thrones has been injected into the main vein of pop culture, and its tie-in video game "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" is also on the map for being possibly the most popular and complex virtual sandbox ever created. The story-lines and visuals of modern videogames and BBC shows are outdoing any medieval tales currently set to film. Each of these explores the ancient mythos of dragons and the supernatural with the foundation of medieval society supporting the elements of the story and adventure. And yet, we are without a single good movie about any of this subject matter. The closest you guys in Hollywood got to giving us a blockbuster medieval epic was in 2002 when you released "Reign of Fire".

Now although that was an exceedingly enjoyable movie trailer, it looked like one of those Syfy channel movies they release every month, with the addition of an apparently out-of-work Christian Bale. There is not a shortage of books to adapt, nor any evidence to suggest a movie wouldn't be successful, other than the random Hollywood executive muttering something like "Well Eragon totally sucked..."
You know what? Eragon did totally suck. That's obvious without ever even watching the movie. All you need is this screenshot.

Insert whichever "Never-Ending Story" joke you like best here.

That's the dragon this movie's based on? Not gonna see it. It's that simple. The girl in second period econ can draw up a better dragon than that.

This is a genre dying for a gritty re-imagining. Get the rights to the Eragon series, or the Prydain series, or something else we haven't heard of yet, and make it awesome. It's not just nerds who play "magic" in their parents' basements keeping Game of Thrones alive; it's got a shockingly large fanbase. It's so easy, just follow the same equation (family conflict, Peter Dinklage, disloyalty, power struggle, Sean Bean dies). You figured out sports movies decades ago: Gene Hackman is a coach, the team is the underdog, they overcome each other and then their opponents and then they win!

Why is it so hard to get this one right? You know in Harry Potter IV when Harry is flying away from that monstrous CGI dragon? That dragon looked better than the following four films in that series. When people read the books, they all came across some side comment about Ron's older brother Charlie off in a foreign land raising dragons and every single person was like "HOLD up, we're reading about some entitled punk boy and his friends breaking into the adult books section of the school library instead of the probably awesome adventures of Charlie Weasley and his wild dragons? That would be a MUCH better book!"

"No, more angsty scenes! dragons aren't angsty, we want angst!"- Producers

There were only two major movies that recently featured dragons in any sort of major role; Beowolf, which supposedly had a dragon but nobody noticed because all anyone could talk about was seeing half-animated Angelina Jolie somewhat naked; and The Hobbit, which didn't really include Smaug at all, and in the book Smaug isn't really a go-getter, he's more like the Jabba the Hutt of dragons. This is a tragedy, an unmined source of great movie material. Fantasy is in. There are like four television shows about classic fairytales on right this minute. You've been trying out things like Jack the Giant Killer, Hansel and Gretel, and two different Snow White movies-- you're edging towards a fairy tale renaissance anyway. Just give it a chance. Clive Owen's King Arthur was a pretty solid movie, but that's a franchise right there that could run for at least a trilogy of movies.

Disney was willing to spend six years and 260 millions dollars on realistic animated hair technology for Tangled, something tells us they can find the dough to give us some awesome dragons if they feel like it. Just make it happen. Maybe once we have a truly great medieval epic movie out in theaters you can make like six sequels for it. Anything to bring just one great epic myth into the world. You already screwed up Greek mythology with "Clash of the Titans" and you gave it a sequel anyway, what's stopping you?

Holy crap what a great movie.

Take into account these principles, people will take notice. Make us proud, Hollywood.


No comments:

Post a Comment