Friday, July 19, 2013

Enough Already

I understand that many movie goers can and do, in general, just relax and enjoy themselves no matter what film they are seeing.  I often envy them.  I guess I can't shut off my critical brain sometimes.

I say all this because I have been struck by the horrible quality of Hollywood's remakes over the last few years.  This post isn't expansive enough to lament the lack of originality in Hollywood overall; I won't even begin to cover how most big budget movies are sequels, remakes, or adaptations (and bad ones at that).

But I will briefly cover two recent offenders: Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Zack Snyder's Man of Steel (2013).  I caught up with Amazing a year after its release, so I saw these two comic book adaptations for the first time within a month of each other.

There is no hope of Hollywood letting up on its deluge of comic movies; they simply make too much money.  I have accepted this, yet my appetite for all these super heroes on screen was satiated by, like, 2008.  The standard of quality for these blockbusters, particularly in the screenwriting, is just too low, and that is a double shame because all of these comics provide years and years of rich story material to adapt.

Amazing was widely recognized as a cash grab.  Sony pictures had to make another Spider-Man movie or lose the rights to the character.  But this movie didn't need to be made.  It was an origin story.  We just saw the same basic origin story 10 years ago, with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002).  Everything from the spider bite, to discovering of powers, to young romance and Uncle Ben's death was all seen, only with different performers in front of the lens and an (arguably) different tone.  Spider-Man launched a trilogy that ended just five years before the remake.  I was amazed, pun intended, at how similar The Amazing Spider-Man was overall to its predecessor.

Superman: The Movie (1978) is one of my favorite films of all time.  Directed by Richard Donner, it tells the story of Superman's origin, including the destruction of his home world, his acquiring a job at the Daily Planet newspaper, his meeting love interest Lois Lane, and his discovering of his heritage and destiny.  Snyder's over-long and over-loud remake covers the same thing, only without any humor or subtlety.  Why did audiences need to see this?

(And in defense of Superman Returns [2006], that film was a love letter and a sequel, but it did not try to retell Superman's origin.)

Am I off base, here?  Did anyone else feel that they were watching the exact same movie over again, only weaker?

I am writing here now, too

It turns out I am not the only movie fan in Binghamton, NY.  My friends at weekly podcast Buried Cinema have their own slick, sister site for movie-related articles, which you should check out.

They have pursued me endlessly to write for them, and we just got the details of the contract worked out.  Not really.  Anyway, a lot of my posts here at Kind of a Movie Blog will also appear on the Rant Pad.

Thanks to Tom for setting this up.


Friday, July 12, 2013

A Rant for 3D

I have a lot to say about the current trend of 3D video.  As a home theater nerd, I have to have an opinion on it.  I have a basic understanding of the various ways 3D is displayed, both in theaters and in the home.  I know that if you purchase a 3D TV and glasses and enjoy the experience, you will still end up disappointed at the lack of available content, especially through cable/satellite providers.  I know that, wherever you watch it, 3D's glasses will limit the amount of light getting to your eye, thus detrimentally dimming the image.  Despite its shortcomings, I believe it is spectacular when done correctly.  3D Blu-rays look almost as good as a theatrical presentation (see Prometheus), and video games on the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 are twice as cool in 3D (see Uncharted 3).

However, Hollywood is killing me.  3D is being treated like a gimmick, and it has to stop.  Here is the problem: movies are being shot in 2D and converted to 3D, without the proper care, in post-production.  The results, in live action movies, are always, always, underwhelming to embarrassing.  Basically, the trend of Hollywood doing this so that they can charge moviegoers more money started soon after Avatar, with this hunk of garbage.

Unfortunately, I went to see Zack Snyder's Man of Steel on opening night.  But let's not focus on that tragedy; the point was the 3D.  It was flat.  The post-conversion was garbage.  It was a waste of money, both for Warner Brothers and audiences.

I have only seen three films in theaters (Prometheus, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Avatar) that blew me away with their sense of immersion, depth and tangibility thanks to 3D, and all of them were shot using James Cameron's 3D cameras.  Check out what he says if you don't believe me that post-converted blockbusters aren't up to par.