sunnuntai 12. lokakuuta 2014

Enemies of the silver screen - a Michael Bay kind of mess

I doubt this announcement will shock you, but in case you were on the fence, let me give you that much needed push – movies are getting worse, consistently so. There is no denying it. Cinema’s golden age is far-gone and we didn’t even notice it fading away. It was like a butterfly’s fart, silent and apologetic. Only now in a time when we are being bombarded with an endless array of blasphemy like found footage, Transformer and Marvel movies has it become so truly evident. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact decade for when it came to it’s end, but if I had to guess I would say it happened sometime after the first Matrix movie came out. This, just before Y2K, a year during which we were given many masterpieces including Fight Club, American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile and of course the aforementioned the Matrix. I mentioned the Matrix separately, because it was the last time a movie actually blew my mind and left me in a daze. I still remember that feeling to this day and I haven’t felt anything close to it ever since. The Lord of the Rings saga does have a very special place in my heart, but to be perfectly honest I’d say it was merely an add-on to an already mesmerizing book series. Kudos to Peter Jackson for bringing the story to life, he did the books justice, but most of the credit should go to Mr. Tolkien himself. And in case you were wondering, yes I think the Hobbit movies suck. Three movies out of one book! Shame on you Jackson, you greedy bastard you!

Fast-forward to today. The Paranormal Activity series is coming out with its sixth installment. Marvel is pooping out movies left and right. Michael Bay is still hard at work even though we all recognize him as the Antichrist. Beelzebub must be pleased with his work. My beloved Ghosbusters is being readapted with an all new story and cast. Pure madness. Not because they are in existence. Crappy movies have always been around. Remember Ed Wood or Pauly Shore and Bio-dome? No, it’s because these are the most anticipated movies people cannot wait to pay for.

Storytelling has given way to other ”more important” factors such as special effects, trendy casting choices, mother fucking prequels and in-movie advertisements. Rest assured, it’s all gone to shit. But, let’s not round up the lynch mob and light the torches just yet. You see as easy as it is to blame the producers and writers and the movie studios they work for, quite frankly the biggest culprit is us the audience. As little as I understand economics, I still can’t deny that supply and demand sound like two things that should go together. Truth is we give money to those who love it the most. You can’t blame an addict for OD’ing, if you’re the one handing out syringes. We are enablers of the worst kind. We protest silently, but in fact do nothing to change the course we are on. We pay to go see Adam Sandler even though his movies suck (they’ve always sucked). Sure, we complain afterwards, but we never learn our lesson. Which brings us to the golden rule folks – if it looks, tastes and smells like shit, it’s probably shit. So why on earth would you eat it?! All we as a people need to do, is not watch these movies. It’s so brilliantly simple that it’s actually stupid.

It’s not ALL our fault however. Here are the three cardinal mistakes movie studios make:

CGI is total monkey business - It’s frikin’ awful. They started relying on it too soon. In twenty years all this computer-generated stuff will have reached it’s true potential, but right now it looks incredibly unrealistic. We pretend to be okay with it, but we need to stop doing that like right now. We’re not being demanding enough and that’s why nothing is changing! Someone should have said something when the first Hulk flick came out. That movie set the industry standard for CGI. I still haven’t been able to watch it all the way through. Hulk the character looks so ridiculously cartoony that I simply can’t get over it. It’s like they are asking me to improvise; ”when you see that big green hunk of pixelated barf, just pretend it looks super real”. Let me be blatantly clear, if I wanted to imagine shit, I’d read a goddamn book. Nope, nope and nope. Who framed Roger Rabbit is what I see every time there is a green screen or an animated character involved. It looks like you are mixing real things with a cartoon. In Roger Rabbit’s case that’s all well and fine, after all that was the whole idea. Then on the other side of the spectrum we have the Avengers; real people interacting with real aliens, only the aliens look like cartoons. The same goes for the most overhyped movie ever, Avatar. It’s supposed to be the best 3D movie to date. Well that I actually believe, since there isn’t a good 3D movie out there. Avatar is just another Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Only, it’s not as good. Watch it again and you will see what I mean. CGI has always looked absolutely ridiculous, but there is one exception. Monkeys! That’s right, computer generated monkeys don’t look half bad. King Kong and the new Planet of the Apes movies actually look pretty damn good. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but they almost look realistic. Thus, if you are going to make a monkey movie, go ahead, CGI that bitch. For everything else, stop-motion. Yup, you too Godzilla.

Movies have unwritten rules - These rules create unnecessary boundaries that limit creativity. A movie doesn’t have to be a story, by which I mean it doesn’t need a beginning, halfway point or a conclusion. There doesn’t need to be character development. The protagonist doesn’t have to go through a low point mid-way through the movie. Nowhere does it state that a movie needs to have those said characteristics, yet 90% of the time they are exactly like that. Regardless of how invincible the lead character is, there is always going to be a conflict or obstacle to overcome. Why? I almost always guess how a movie is going to end. Why? That shouldn’t be the case unless it is based on true events. Predictability can be so easily avoided. Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof shows a big middle finger to predictability by killing off the entire cast 30 minutes into the movie. Only the villain played by Kurt Russell survives. Then the plot basically starts all over. That’s just one example, but a glorious one at that. The one rule I hate more than any of the above is the unwritten rule of not showing a child or animal dying. Don’t get me wrong now, I might be fucked up in the head, but I’m not that monstrous. I’m not saying I need to see a child die, I’m saying I need to NOT know whether the child will die or live. I want there to be an element of surprise. Children die in disasters, why the hell don’t they die in disaster movies. I’m sorry but you mean to tell me all of Manhattan just exploded, but little Timmy and his pet golden retriever Mr. Binky miraculously survived because they chose to take shelter in a Volvo. C’mon now! The world is a cruel place. If a movie wants to feel real, it needs to be cruel as well. Thankfully this ridiculousness mostly applies to Hollywood movies. Americans can be pretentious like that. That said, I have to give a shout-out to John Carpenters original Assault on Precinct 13. Best child death scene ever (never thought I’d write that in a sentence). And you know what, that scene gave me chills. An honorable mention goes to the Norwegian horror Dead Snow Two. Let me paint you an image – a Nazi war tank shooting at babies in strollers. Spoiler alert, the babies don’t make it.

The curse of the To Be Continued - Sequels, prequels, remakes and movie titles with ”part 1” in them (I’m looking at you Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) are the devil. Stop digging for stories where there aren’t any. And for the sake of all that is holy, please stop stretching out storylines. Milking a cash cow ’til it dies is straight up disrespectful towards audiences everywhere. Ever heard of the expression “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”! Thankfully I have come up with this great coping mechanism. If a movie studio crosses me like this, I just torrent all their movies. So bite me, you greedy a-holes. You can even try suing me. Good luck with that. The only proof you have is this blog post and let’s be honest, I could just be spicing up the text for entertainment value. The judge is going to want some solid proof and your hunch on how you interpreted my writing is hardly that. Anyway, where was I. Ah yes, so what I’m trying to point out here is this – if people were immortal, nothing would matter. The fact that life doesn’t last forever is what makes it so precious. The same goes for movie franchises. It’s really difficult to like a movie that goes on for all eternity. Listen up movie studios, show your movies some dignity and lay them to rest. And hey Michael Bay, if you for some reason find yourself reading this, I just wanted to make it very clear that this message excludes you. You can just go ahead and continue making your shitty Transformers movies. You see no one will ever remember your movies even if you stop making them. Like a tapeworm trapped in someone’s anus, the only thing you know is how to suck the life out of things, so please proceed with what you were doing, you soulless bland poor excuse of a human being. You are the cancer to my testicles, the Ebola to my Africa and I hope happiness eludes you to the very end.

This concludes my heated thought process. Please excuse the profanities. Nevertheless, here are my final wisdoms on the subject at hand. The movie industry has by no means reached a dead end. On the contrary, this is more like being at a crossroads. Movies haven’t really evolved in the last fifty years or so, other than in terms of special effects. Now is the time for change, real change not Obama change. Problem is, we the audience have evolved. We have seen it all and now we yearn for something new. The question is not whether there are new tales tell, because there definitely are. What I’m asking is - is anyone willing to tell them?

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