Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Action Overload -- A conversation with Hollywood

Hey, Hollywood -- what's with the multiple 20 minute fight scenes in so many otherwise great movies these days?

I can't decide whether or not this is a new phenomenon, or whether I've just started to go to more action movies than I used to, but to me, this all seems like really lazy storytelling. A way to stretch a thin plot out over 2 hours. I guess before CGI it was the car chase. But I don't remember car chases taking up 40% of the movie, even in car chase movies.

And what are the options? Here is the upshot of my imaginary conversation with Hollywood:

Maureen: Why don't you show more character development?
Hollywood: Oh, that's hard. I'd have to think about these people. And hire good writers. Or at least listen to their opinions... N'ah, I'll blow something up instead.

Maureen: Okay, but clearly you should show some character growth? Haven't you read Christopher Vogler or Michael Hague? The main character should have an arc.
Hollywood: Did you not read my answer to your first asinine suggestion?

Maureen: So, you don't like doing character stuff... How about an interesting subplot?
Hollywood: But the audience might get bored or confused or go to the bathroom. I'd rather blow stuff up.

Maureen: Here's a novel idea. (No pun intended.) How about exploring other means to ending conflicts beyond fighting? Like, maybe diplomacy or actually talking about a problem?
Hollywood: What are you a commie or something? Let me know, because we have this list...

Okay, I guess I'm not getting through. But even one of my favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro relied a little to much on battle scenes during Pacific Rim. Although, for me, he got the balance close to right. In Pacific Rim, we learn something about all the characters, even the bad guys. We can tell the good guys from the bad guys during the battle scenes. We cared who won.

I can't say the same for a lot of action movies. (Don't even get me started on those Transformer movies... Okay, I only saw the first one, but that was enough.)

Last week I took my niece to see the new Superman movie and had to sit through it again (I know... but she really wanted to see it) and then we saw The Wolverine. And while Wolverine was better than Man of Steel, there were way too many long fight scenes, and while they didn't show any blood (that almost started to annoy me--there should be blood given some of the action) the squishing, gross, there-obviously-is-blood sounds were almost worse than seeing the gore.

And my niece sent me a link to this great "how it should have ended" video for Man of Steel. After seeing this, I completely concede the former cage match about Man of Steel to Molly. Yes. Why the hell didn't superman fly that phantom drive thing out into space???


Eileen said...

I have such a hard time following fight scenes, too! It makes the movies so boring for me. Maybe that's why I'm so tired of seeing superhero movies.

Unknown said...

That's been a big criticism of the movies this summer, and probably why many have not met their ridiculously huge box office expectations.
I go back to the Avengers, where the fight scenes managed to showcase both character and humour, which is why that movie worked so well.
I did enjoy Pacific Rim, largely because Del Toro had enough scenes focusing on the characters outside of the fights.

Maureen McGowan said...

Ripley, the fight scenes in Pacific Rim were fine for me, too. But my sister and brother-in-law were complaining about too many fight scenes in that movie, so I had it in my head. I should have said to them, "Wow. If you thought that was bad, you should see Man of Steel or The Wolverine."

Simone St. James said...

I can't believe you sat through Man of Steel a second time! You must love that kid, lol.

I rather liked The Wolverine, except for the over-the-top climactic fight. But I admit I'm biased because I'd been to most of the Japanese locations, which made it fun to watch for me.

Was it just me, though, or does Hugh Jackman almost look freakish? His muscles sort of spooked me.

Anonymous said...

There would be less fight scenes if the superheroes were female. But knowing today's filmmakers, 40% of the film would be hair-swishing, lip closeups, and the tearing of skimpy outfits. Oh, and a couple of random bedroom scenes with a well-known octogenarian actor to satisfy the box office.

Maureen McGowan said...

Simone, I know, right? I tried to talk her into seeing Pacific Rim (I would've seen that again) or The Way, Way Back... but she wanted Man of Steel. Sigh.
I mostly liked The Wolverine too. And Hugh Jackman has almost always looked freakish to me. Except maybe in the first X-Men movie... which I also watched on TV with my niece last week to give her the proper backstory for The Wolverine. :)

Cathylea -- so true!

Miss Snarky Pants said...

This is hilarious, but so true. With so many, ahem, older people skipping the theater and watching movies at home On Demand, it seems like the only way they can fill theater seats anymore is with the promise of violence. Frankly, that doesn't bother me; I loved Tarantino's "Django Unchained," but I agree with you. Sometimes the length of the fight scenes is more problematic than the number of scenes. I wasn't planning on seeing "Pacific Rim," but now I'm going to have to check it out.

Maureen McGowan said...

Miss Snarky Pants! Nice to have you stop by.

I loved Django Unchained too!

I don't think it's the violence that bothers me, usually. It's the endless action scenes with no purpose. We know how they're going to end. Spoiler alert -- the good guys win! And if we either don't care about the players in said battle, or can't tell who's winning, or if the scenes just go on for too long, they bore me.

Not sure what it says about me that I was chuckling and clapping my hands in glee, throughout the final big shoot-em-up scene in Django Unchained. I am clearly a sicko. ;)

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