Back to the Basics – What do we actually want in a movie?

 

Among all the advancement in information technology that the 21st century brought to us, CGI (computer generated imagery) revolutionize the filming industry forever. To be honest, movies like Lord of the Rings and Transformers would have never been able to come into our screens with such grandeur and vividness without the usage of CGI. But as directors and moviemakers become obsessed with their newest toy, many are already abandoning the fundamental principles of a good movie, namely, a good storyline.

Of all the mistakes that directors could make, this is by far the most severe. Even with the ability to make skeletons walk, talk, and utter gibberish (remember Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl?) directors should be more aware that without a good storyline, all those CGI would all go to waste. What is the point of making real-life dragon breathe fire (Eragon) when all it achieves at the end of the day is to burn everything to ash and fly the hero to his (elven) girlfriend in what I would dub as a lame and pathetic excuse for an ending.

The reason the first Matrix movie was so good was not only its special computer-generated effects but a good, solid, and meaningful storyline. In contrast, the second Matrix movie was an eyesore with too much CGI that diluted the story. The best (bad) example of CGI overload is in the 2002 James Bond movie, Die Another Day. Not only was the pacing whole show bad and unacceptable, the overload of CGI (especially with 007’s car) was just a waste of time. Sadly, the directors just don’t get it most of the time. What the audience wants to see isn’t just some high flying CGI stunt but the reason why the stunt actually occurred.

The recent movie Iron Man that stars Robert Downey Jr. is no exception. Even though the Star Newspaper graded it a four over five stars, I just can’t help to notice that the whole show was a flop if it was not for the brilliant and masterful acting of Downey himself (a similar situation of how Johnny Depp was essential to Pirates). The whole show was filled with unnecessary scenes like Iron Man (that is one cool suit) flying from the right end corner to the left hand corner of the screen in a vain and stupid attempt by the directors to show that Iron Man can fly (duh!).

Worst still is Forbidden Kingdom. Not only did it boast a bad storyline and an overload of unnecessary CGI, it also included an overload of broken English by Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Ironically, Liu Yi Fei had better English than the whole cast added together. In my opinion, Jet Li should never ever try to even speak English. He should have forever maintained his hairless and ‘speechless’ personality like in Fearless.

Among the recent shows that were good, Batman Begins stands out as a good prime example. Using even lesser camera tricks than Batman Returns in 1992, the new Batman focused more on the internal challenges and conflicts of interest that the main character (Christian Bale) faces. With a brilliant execution of a good storyline, a solid soundtrack, good actor, and minimal CGI, Batman Begins in 2005 top the list by being superbly crafted movie. The only setback was the support characters (yes, that is you, Katie Holmes) that really did a bad job ‘supporting’ the lead actor.

As a golden rule, directors should not make things fly, explode, implode, collide, expand, contract, and transform just because they can. Instead, they should be more focused on why things happen the way they do. While CGI may have made impossible things possible, a good story these days sometimes feel like the possible impossibility!

 

TOP HOLLYWOOD DEBUTS
1. Spider-Man 3 – $151m
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – $136m
3. Shrek the Third – $122m
4. Spider-Man – $115m
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – $115m
6. Star Wars: Episode III – $108m
7. Shrek 2 – $108m
8. X-Men: The Last Stand – $103m
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – $103m
10. Iron Man – $101m
Figures are for US & Canada opening weekend takings. Source: Boxofficemojo.com
Source: BBC

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