Now I am by no means a film critic. I wouldn't even say I'm an amateur film critic. I'm just a person that has seen, and owns, an extraordinary amount of films spanning multiple genres, styles, budgets, and limits of basic decency. I've only ever written one film critique, and if I do say so myself it's not that bad (though as always I tend to ramble off topic a bit incessantly). While my tastes do tend to lean towards either big budget science fictions and low budget, B-movie horrors, I do occasional stray into the realm of the blockbuster, the critic's choice, and even romance or drama. But no matter the setting, the actor, or the intended audience, there are things that hollywood needs to change across the board.
First, get rid of the shaky cam. While I can't say for certain that the original Blair Witch Project is totally responsible for this, and the "found footage genre" too for that matter, it did seem to popularize both these as Hollywood "money makers". And if there's ever one thing we can count on Hollywood for, it's to beat anything they see as a popular trend not only to death, but to overuse it to the point that it ruins past success that used such things correctly. Blair Witch used this correctly, as it was not only a gimmick to show that the camera operator was running, but it added a sense of panic and fear to an otherwise dull scene. It caused confusion, which heightened the already elevated mood; and increased the mystery of what was happening. Alex Cross used it wrong. The final fight scene between Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox should have been shot steady and used wide shots during the stand-off fazes, and extreme close-ups during the bone rattling blows being exchanged. The shaky cam did nothing to assist in this sequence, and actually took away from the action and drama as it was too difficult to sense what was happening.
This leads me to a mini-critique: Alex Cross. Good writing, great acting, but directing so horrible it completely ruined the movie. I wanted to love this movie. While I was at first hesitant to think Medea could fill the shoes of what Morgan Freeman did in Kiss the Girls, the first trailer made those fears disappear and had me waiting with baited breathe for this release. But nothing Mr. Perry could have done would overcome such horrible, amateur directing mistakes. Aside from the example above, there is one scene that proves my point completely. Without giving away any major plot points, I'm talking about the scene that introduced Matthew Fox's villain, Picasso. Picasso buys his way into an underground MMA fight with the champion. He then issues the champ a warning, don't hit his face. Inevitably, Picasso ends up on the receiving end of a punch to the jaw. The following shot shows Picasso standing up, and changing from semi-serious to full on psychopath... or at least we think so. The only way to show that change is the show the actor's face, they're eyes and cheekbones moving to convey this change in mood. Unfortunately the director chose to have a giant stained-glass window behind Picasso take focus, washing out all facial features, and giving nothing but failed dramatic silhouette taking center stage. A rookie mistake, or someone who has taken the Michael Bay school of film?
Queue bad hollywood trend number two, mistakenly giving credit where none is due. No one has capitalized on this more than Michael Bay. This man should never have been allowed to make anything other than music videos, however he accidentally backed a few movies that would have been major blockbusters so long as the director and producer didn't screw it up beyond belief. Enter the film Bad Boys. An "action comedy" carried entirely by the comedic talents of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Seriously, the action was horrible and the script seemed like it came from several bad sitcom episodes cut up and pasted together, but it was a smash hit. Why? Because of the two main actors with their chemistry and comedic timing. NOT BECAUSE OF MICHAEL BAY! The first Transformers movie was due to the built-in audience from the multiple cartoon series and toys that forgave or overlooked the flimsy script and horrible direction. Yet Mr. Bay continues to reap the benefits, and Hollywood sees him as bankable. It's appalling. Stop with the excessive slow motion. Cease and desist the over-sized, unrealistic explosions. And focus on story rather than looks.
Speaking of looks, how about we STOP WITH THE OVERUSE OF CGI! That goes for everybody, not just Mr. Bay. I mean, I love Guillermo del Toro as much as the next guy... how could you not? The Hellboy Films were great, and Pan's Labyrinth was epic. But then you have Blade 2 (another mini-critque). The first Blade was good, a small film on a fixed budget that was able to do wonders. But as with many things, with success came the drive to do another story, with a bigger director and a bigger budget. The story was decent, original in a unoriginal genre (vampire films), but then the CGI came in. To see Wesley Snipes suddenly transform in an obvious cartoon and go bouncing off walls while fighting enemy vampires with guns and swords... it was just too much. It was so painfully obvious that it was fake that it took away from the story, the acting, and even the directing, and became the focus you just couldn't get away from.
How can this be fixed? Where does it end? Who is doing it right? Answer, look to what Super hero movies are doing. They are telling complex stories, focused not on the action part of the traditional "super hero movie", but on the characters and their stories. Christopher Nolan expertly did this with the latest Batman trilogy. Marvel raised the stakes by having their intertwined universe that lead up to the Avengers. And now the latest Superman story is doing it again. They aren't eye-candy designed to market toys to kids, that's just an added bonus to whet the Hollywood merchandising appetite. They are character driven stories set in a world where super heroes exist. But they aren't stopping there! The Batman films had underlying themes of fear, chaos, and redemption. Each of the Marvel films bleeds into another sub-genre of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Conspiracy, War, Period Piece, and a Political Thriller that was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These have set the pace for the future of Hollywood, which is the complex story intertwined between several pictures. Risky, of course. If any part of it fails, it could potentially ruin all your future endeavors. The worst you can hope for is that people forgive it as a stumbling block and look forward to the next installment to correct these issues (I'm looking at you Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World).
Home » movies » Boo's Reviews: A small film critique, along with Hollywood trends that make a cinephile like me turn red with rage