Friday, May 28, 2010

Less Matter, With More Art*

While reading up on the new video game movie-adaptation, Prince of Persia, I was surprised to find one reviewer describe it as "entertaining but without substance". And I begin to wonder just what exactly people expect from their movies.
Think of all those films that tend to inspire extreme comments from their viewers, varying from "great" to "useless". The ones that pump up the action effects but we all know won't ever win an Oscar. In addition to the Prince of Persia, I'm thinking; Transformers, Boondock Saints, the X-Men movies, basically any adaptation of comic books/video games, or anything involving gratuitous explosions. I'm now going to share a secret, and it is this: I love those movies, but there's a lot of people that don't. Harking back to the aforementioned review, they are often described as "utterly pointless". Now, circling around to my original question; what is generally expected from our summer blockbusters, promising eye candy, stuff blowing up, and the after-taste that makes you feel all feisty?**
It seems to me that, as a general rule, the public overestimates what we're supposed to get out of these epics. They're pointless, they lack substance. But let's not underestimate the entertainment value of these shoot-em-ups and testosterone-fests, which is, after all, their main purpose as films. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is spending more time on their CGI than their story lines but I like it better that way. I'm spending way too much time staring at Hugh Jackman walking away from an exploding helicopter to really care about plotholes. Boondock Saints II was no Gone with the Wind, but it made me laugh, it entertained me, and it led me to leap off a bench and hurt myself afterward, which I'd say is a job well done for any action movie.

Transformers 2 is a good example of story line getting in the way of my fun. It was long, and the plot was complicated and wound in circles, and very much tried my patience. I don't remember how it ended, because my mind checked out. "Look at this vacuum mouth decepticon sucking up all that sand," it was thinking. "I have no idea why, but that's pretty cool."
My point here is not that these sorts of films have a point. There's no morals to them, they won't win any awards, but I'm sure that I and many other fans would rather have it that way. If I want to be taught a lesson or made to think, I know what to do. But sometimes I just want to shut my brain down and watch some robots tear each other apart, and I'm grateful to the directors who realize this.
And if I want to watch an attractive American actor butcher a British accent and play a Persian prince, then bring on the sword fights and leave out the substance, it's summer and I sold my textbooks for a reason.***
Hellz. Yes.

*Next week's post: the ethics of twisting Shakespeare's words to justify action flicks.
**You know what I mean. Don't deny that you've ever tried to beat up your friend when the movie's over. We've all been there.
***It's sort of like I touched upon white-washing there, huh? Oh well, maybe another post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Damn Scifi

You know what's cool?
Space is really freaking cool.
I've known it since i was a little oddball kid checking astronomy books out of the library, since the first cheesy sci-fi movie or first episode of Star Trek I watched with my dad, since the first fantastical story I read by Ray Bradbury. Whether it's real life or wildly imagined fiction could matter less to the aspect of how cool it is.
But it helps a lot when it's real.*
This website absolutely blew my mind in a way that hasn't been blown since those times of being the only grade-school kid voluntarily in the non-fiction section.
I just wish more people realized how really fantastic everything outside of Earth is. There's some pretty crazy stuff here, but it's nothing compared to outside our atmosphere.

"We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe... If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal."
[Ray Bradbury]

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
[Douglas Adams]

*Thank the heavens for Stumbleupon.