Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena
unclehyena

Various Cinematically Inspired Rants

Positive note, before I get nasty: We saw "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" trailer twice. It looks GREAT. Though, having seen the original wardrobe, the one in the movie is MUCH more picturesque.

Before I get into the more lengthy stuff:

1) The word "Beloved" has THREE syllables, not two.
2) The phrase, "I'm sorry" is NOT synonymous with, "I apologize." It is an expression of general regret. I am going to start growling at people who respond to the words "I'm sorry" by saying, "It's not YOUR fault."

Now... There follows a rant about the worthiness of the "Star Wars" saga as an object of devotion, originally directed at someone who had a large dose of said malady.


I am intrigued, as a fellow writer, that Lucas's indifference to
matters of continuity and story logic don't bother you more. Then
again, given that you grew up with these films, they may have gotten
into your blood in a fundamental way...

Lucas has admitted that if he has to make a choice between using a
stunning visual effect, and maintaining the integrity of the story, he
will go with the effect. As a writer, this offends me. This, and the
fact that when he changes things, he is unwilling to admit that he has
changed his mind, but instead tells transparent lies about his
original intentions (this is specifically a reference to Greedo firing
first).

I had read the Marvel adaptation of "Empire" before I saw the movie,
so the "I am your father" line wasn't a surprise, but still... I CRIED
during the opening credits of "Empire"; if felt that good to be
sitting in a theater, listening to that theme, seeing the "Star Wars"
logo come up...

I LOVED the, "I am your father," bit. It had so many possibilities,
because of course it couldn't be strictly true (because that would
make Ben into a liar), but it had to be true enough that it registered
as truth to Luke in his traumatized condition. I looked forward
expectantly to seeing the answer in the next movie.

Now, I already knew that Lucas was inclined to lie to the press; I
remember when he first started telling people he had envisioned a nine
movie cycle from the very beginning, and there was ample evidence that
that was not true, at least for those of us who had gotten really
crazed over the first movie. But I was willing to forgive his
tendencies to tell stupid lies if it meant eight more movies...

And then "Jedi" came out, and how did Lucas resolve the paradox
between Ben's statement, and Vader's? "I was speaking metaphorically."
Huh? WTF? Lucas sets up this great dramatic paradox, and either can't
figure out a solution, or (more likely) can't be bothered because it
doesn't involve the visuals. I waited three years for the answer to
that riddle, and Lucas didn't think it needed to be solved. I felt
betrayed and heartbroken.

The "Star Wars" movies are definitely fun to watch, and they are good
at dealing with mythic themes obliquely. As soon as a situation
requires any expository depth, however, it turns out that the world
is just a movie set, after all. From a writer's standpoint, the movies
are not AWFUL, just slipshod. They go well with the popcorn. The
problem is that their success is disproportionate to their substance.

I resent the "Star Wars" movies not because they are successful, but
because they are successful at a level grossly disproportionate to
their quality, because they encourage the film industry to emulate
Lucas's cavalier attitude to plot continuity, and because they
distract fandom from better written and less artistically cynical
fare.

So... When I say that "Star Wars" is soulless, what I mean
specifically is that George Lucas will, by his own admission, choose
visual effects over dramatic integrity, and has done so repeatedly. He
still turns out pleasant movies, but they could have been so much
more.


And now we have my rant about Steven Spielberg, and HIS latest excrescence, "War of the Worlds"


When I first heard that a new "War of the Worlds" was coming out, I was surprised and a little confused. "Technologically superior aliens invade Earth" has been done many times; the thing that makes "War of the Worlds" unique is the fact that germs kill the aliens in the end. This was a valid story when it was first written, because germ theory was still establishing itself in our culture, so the idea was plausible. At this point, though, the idea that a space faring species would have left itself open to common biological contamination is utterly absurd. So I was puzzled.

And then I found out that Steven Spielberg was at the helm, and I began to suspect that it would be another piece of visually stunning drek. Now, Spielberg is a master at yanking the audience's chain. He did it in "Jaws", he did it in "ET". The problem was that while "Jaws" was worth re-watching, "ET", and a significant portion of everything he has done since, is not. On re-watching, the emotionally manipulative effects just stand out. There is also the fact that, while Spielberg doesn't have nearly Lucas's willingness to sell the story for the visuals, he does have a propensity to use logically inexplicable visuals around the edges. He also has an unfortunate tendency to forgo basic research.

Cases:

EMP doesn't just temporarily shut down electronic devices, it KILLS unshielded semi-conductors utterly. It would have been SO cool if Cruise's "only working vehicle" had been an antiquated diesel truck that had no semi-conductors at all. For that matter, the '69 Mustang he was driving at the beginning of the movie would have stood a good chance of functioning; I originally thought that was why it was in the movie.

The ghost train, with fire spewing from every orifice, was a really cool effect. What powered the crossing gate that foreshadowed it? And for that matter, the thing wouldn't have lasted half an hour like that, and yet presumably it had come from an area of alien activity. Huh?

The survival of the prodigal son was just stupid and unbelievable.

There were lots of others, but that is a taste. And finally, there is the ending. I had pretty much decided that AIDS was going to save the world, given that the aliens were apparently eating human bodies. Aids is rare enough, and weird enough, that the alien xenobio techs might have missed it. It would have been an interesting political statement (meaning I don't know what, but whatever). Instead, the end was straight out of Wells. As in the space and/or star faring aliens never even considered xenopathology, even though they developed biological terra-forming tools.

How lame IS that?


Uncle Hyena
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