A Terrible Movie Summer: Are the SFX people running the asylum?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Lee Scoggins, May 31, 2004.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I have to say this has been a summer of one bad movie after the other...I think that special effects are important but not at the expense of storyline and that is the root cause of the crappy movie (not film!) fare we have seen....

    Here are some big budget "tent pole" movies (with great effects) that absolutely sucked IMHO:

    1. Van Helsing.
    2. Day After Tomorrow.
    3. Troy. (Don't get me wrong I love Wolfgang Peterson on most days but he phone this one in...from far away.)

    These are $200 million movies my friends...why can't they develop a decent plotline? Are the writers on strike? Are they completely powerless?

    Am I the only one who thinks this? What do you think?

    Thanks for your comments.

    P.S. I did enjoy Shrek 2 which had both story and sfx.
     
  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    You're just noticing this? Where have you been? [​IMG]
     
  3. Bryan Ri

    Bryan Ri Screenwriter

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    See, I'm one who was able to enjoy The Day After Tomorrow; I didn't really go in with any expectations other than seeing neat special effects and a silly storyline. I must say I enjoyed it. Nothing I'd go again to see, but a fun night a the movies at least.

    Van Helsing on the otherhand, was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It was like three 'Batman and Robins' in one movie. It gave over the top movie making new meaning to me.

    I think big SPX blockbusters are a trademark of summer movies; expectations going in can have a drastic effect on whether or not you like the movie in this case. I don't really have any issues with these types of movies in the summer, they can be a great source of fun entertainment. The X Men or Spiderman movies, for example, are big summer SFX blockbusters, but the story is as much of the focus as the FX. Then there are the other films, such as the afformentioned ones, where the FX are the draw. Van Helsing really bugged me because there were some great characters in the film and great potential, but all of it went untapped.

    I think I'm just repeating what you said Lee, but I think the summer movie going experience has to be met with low expectations in terms of viewing actual good storytelling.
     
  4. Darren Haycock

    Darren Haycock Second Unit

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    Well, to be fair, none of those movies really looked any good to begin with. I did see Van Helsing, expecting something that was fun and similar to The Mummy. The problem is, it made The Mummy look like a rousing masterpiece in comparison. Oh well...
     
  5. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Summer movie season is about spectacle, with each studio trying to top the other. If they don't keep upping the ante, audiences get bored.

    If you want story and characterization, that's what the fall/holiday movie season is for, when everyone's going for award noms.

    That's the way it's been for years. As JohnRice says, "you just noticed?" [​IMG]
     
  6. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    Summer movies are about being big. It is the time of the fluffy popcorn blockbusters. Sometimes we do get some really good summer movies with big SFX and some really good movies with little effects.
     
  7. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    I know this is an old argument, but just because the summer is generally saved for effects-laden blockbusters doesn't mean the movies must be as feeble as most of this summers are. Remember Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark were all summer flicks and while not masterpieces of plot or character are recognized as quality films with good story.
     
  8. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Well, hard to call this summer horrible based on three films, particularly since we are talking about the beginning of summer, where often the biggest and most effect filled films are, which is usually effect filled with empty plot.

    Personally, I thought Troy was pretty entertaining, if not a great film. Van Helsing isn't nearly as bad as some have made it out to be (tho it isn't that good either.)

    Meanwhile there is still:

    HP: Prisoner Of Azkaban (Looks good)
    Chronicles Of Riddick (May be the "summer" actioner that may entertain.)
    Stepford Wives (Jury's still out.)
    The Terminal (Well, it is Spielberg..)
    Around The World In 80 Days (Don't know about this.)
    Dodgeball: An Underdog Story (Don't know about this either.)
    Spiderman 2 (Has a good chance.)
    King Arthur (Could be good, could suck.)
    Anchorman (Looks funny.)
    I, Robot (Probably will suck.)
    The Bourne Supremecy (Well, the first was pretty good...)
    Catwoman (Probably will suck.)
    The Village (M. Night is at least interesting.)
    The Manchurian Candidate (Not sure if it translates well to now...)
    Thunderbirds (Suck.)
    Collateral (Mann is also always interesting.)
    Aliens VS Predator (Probably will suck, but fans will like.)
    Exorcist: The Beginning (Considering the history, doesn't look good.)

    That makes 18 films. I'd say at least half of them will be pretty good...

    Jason
     
  9. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    I agree that this is shaping up to be the worst summer for movies I can remember. Usually I'm suckered into eagerly anticipating a couple effects movies that end up dissapointing, but nothing even tempts me this time. Out of Jason's list, only The Bourne Supremacy and Collateral have me very interested. And maybe The Terminal. And I do hope the hype around Harry Potter amounts to something.

    I suspect that the brilliant people who do CG would be in heaven if they got to work on better movies, though. Blame the marketing minded executives who don't think past opening weekend and therefore waste incredible talent.
     
  10. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Considering everyone who I've talked to that have seen it said it is pretty damn good, I'd say it is a slam dunk. Considering I've read the book, and it is the best of the first three, I exepect no less of this film.

    Jason
     
  11. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Technically speaking, those are SPRING films since summer doesn't start until June 21.[​IMG]

    And how about maybe waiting until September after you have actually seen a few of the forthcoming SUMMER films before prematurely dismissing the season as "a terrible movie summer"?

    Just a suggestion.[​IMG]
     
  12. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I'm looking forward to Anchorman and Spider-Man 2. But I can wait until these flicks hit DVD.
     
  13. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    Last week's issue of Newsweek had a cover blurb stating that HP3 is the best yet...and I thought the first two were incredibly entertaining.
     
  14. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I remember decent storylines in the past. Think about LOTR trilogy, The Matrix, Terminator 2, etc.

    I think the quality has gone downhill the past 4-5 years. And I love the movies and see a lot.
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Tino, these are big enough movies that I think we have a good idea what is happening...

    Harry Potter and Spiderman 2 will hopefully balance things back in favor of quality...
     
  16. Rhett_Y

    Rhett_Y Screenwriter

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    WAAAAY to much CG and horrible scripts.......... So far for me and my family it has been a very disappointing summer. With the exception of two movies (shrek 2 loved it, and Day After Tomorrow good ride) all the movies we have seen have sucked!

    R~
     
  17. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yep, all three released in the "quality" autumn film season.
     
  18. Marvin Richardson

    Marvin Richardson Supporting Actor

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    Why should they pay money to good writers to come up with good stories when they can slap a story together in five minutes and make $200 million?
     
  19. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I don't think "low expectations" should ever be an acceptable practice; these big movies have a lot of resources, both in terms of time and money, poured into them. There is really very little excuse for not at least having competence in every aspect of the movie.

    That said, I think when people talk about summer movies, many tend to go overboard in focusing on the films' deficiencies in characterization as opposed to what they do well. I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with starting from a big action/FX set-piece or three and then viewing the rest of the movie as the delivery method for that spectacle. There's nothing really wrong with mailing it in so long as what you mail in is filled in properly.

    A comment I hear quite often is that "without story, special effects are worthless", and that's not true. They're still nifty looking special effects. The problems are that too often the story is less than functional, to the point where it actively irritates an alert viewer, and that there isn't much artistry to the effects. They need to be something other than just "new"; they need to be in some way beautiful, whether through design or choreography.
     
  20. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    No, they're not on strike presently, but writers in hollywood have absolutely no power at all.

    To put it in perspective. If, when rehearsing a play, an actor wants to change a line of dialogue, permission must be obtained from the playwright. That's power.

    In hollywood, writers are routinely replaced, sometimes for no apparent reason. When you see a typical summer film, and you see 2 or 3 writers credited, that's not the only writers who contributed to that script. sometimes, up to 30 writers have had their hands in the pot. The one(s) who get credit have contributed the most substantial amount of work to plot, but every line of dialogue could conceivably be different.

    How this works is to get credit, the Writers Guild has to determine if you contributed at least 50% of story and character. If the other 30 writers only contributed one scene each, rewriting eveyr line of dialogue but keeping the basic plot, the orignal writer gets credit although nothing on screen resembles what he wrote.

    Movies is an auteur (i.e. director) driven art, and the writer is routinely stomped on. That's why so many writers have migrated to TV (like Joss Whedon) because with the limited produciton time there just isn't the opportunity to replace the writer, and more of his words end up on screen.
     

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