Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Oh, Hollywood.

So, today, I sat and watched Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds".

Personally, I absolutely loved it, but I could completely understand why it got so many bad reviews and why so many people thought it sucked…and it's for a reason that's becoming far too common:

The trailer has almost nothing to do with the movie.

If you watch the Inglourius Basterds trailer, you expect an absolutely action-packed, riotous comedy. You think you're going to be watching Brad Pitt wandering around the French countryside, blowing up Nazis in more and more outrageous ways.

Instead, 90% of the movie is dialogue. That's it. People just talking to each other. There are a couple of action sequences, but they take up maybe ten minutes out of the whole two and a half hour movie. Now, don't get me wrong, a movie made up mostly of conversations may sound boring, but it's a work of art. It's pure storytelling and absolutely fantastic…but if you paid for this movie expecting an outrageous action/comedy…I can understand why you'd leave the theatre a little pissed off.

The other big example of this was 'Jarhead'. I saw the trailer and went to see the movie expecting an action-packed war movie…and instead I spent two hours watching a movie that was an examination of indoctrination, isolation and boredom in the armed forces. Again, I really liked the movie, but it wasn't the movie I paid to see.

It seems that Hollywood has made a policy out of underestimating its audience. I know Hollywood has never been known for its intellectualism, but it appears that unless a movie fits perfectly into either the Action, Horror, Comedy or Romance genres, it either doesn't get made, gets dumbed down or is released as-is with a misleading trailer.

A perfect example of dumbing down was "I am Legend".

You see, the whole point of that movie is that, at the end, it turns out that the 'evil' mutants are all perfectly sane and rational beings, and are only attacking Robert Neville because he's been killing them. The clue is in the title. Without realizing it, Neville became the monster, the 'legendary' boogeyman the mutant creatures are afraid of… but that concept was considered far too complicated for the average audience, so they took the remake of The Omega Man, and turned it into just another action flick. Instead of a movie giving us a message about prejudice that completely flips our pre-conceived ideas and expectations… we get "Will Smith Shoots Zombies For About An Hour And A Half".

The same is true of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. The original movie was a cautionary tale about how our fear and mistrust would be our downfall (not surprising, considering it was released during the Cold War). Klaatu arrived on Earth to offer us this amazing gift, and we responded with violence because of fear and mistrust.

The remake? A bog standard alien invasion tale with a bullshit environmental message shoehorned in. Klaatu turns up to destroy the human race because we're killing the planet, and then changes his mind at the last minute because he decides we're actually really special and awesome.

In 2008, a time when the original movie's message is as important as ever, the movie doesn't say "Fear and mistrust will make us destroy ourselves" …it says "If someone is different or you don't understand something, it's probably evil…but don't worry because we're awesome. PS buy a hybrid."

Movies are the art of the 21st century. It's what people in two hundred years will watch to learn about us. It just makes me really sad that unless it fits into a pre-formed mold and doesn't require you to think, Hollywood won't touch it.

I mean, not fitting into an established mold and requiring thought is what art is.


Scratch the hostile fay said...

Art is always open to interpretation. It's how people can get away with drawing Mother Tereasa using elephant dung, and why you can find a piece of toast with Jesus (or Elvis...or Barack Obama..or....) burned into it. Art is art, and how you look at something may be totally different than how I do. Sadly, hollywood is no longer about art. It's about money, and if they have to take the best bits out of a movie for the trailer, just so you'll see it, well allrighty then.

Personally, I don't view this so much as art as a little something called "false advertising". You know, when something is not as advertised?

I gave up on movies...large crowds make me twitch, and my attention span doesn't relate to sitting on my ass that long (even trying to watch a DVD is hard!)


Paulius said...

Sorry Scratch, but movies ARE art. Sure, there's good art and bad art and which is which is 99% subjective...and Art is a commentary on the time it was created.

I just think it's a pretty damning commentary on us that anything that's not insanely simple or formulaic is either not made or totally misrepresented.

Oh, and it's not a matter of 'taking out the best bits', it's editing a trailer in a way that deliberately misrepresents the movie.

For example, I could take Batman Begins and put together a trailer that makes it look like a soppy love story between Bruce Wayne and Alfred.