Sunday, July 20, 2008

More than three shakes and you're playing with it.

There's something I don't entirely get, and I'm just gonna ramble on about it for a second.  What makes a movie like Hancock, which had a lot of the right ingredients, not a great film?  I mean, it was pretty decent... it had good intentions at least... but it wasn't a solid, memorable, completely fun experience.  Why?  I like all types of movies, and I've absolutely got time for something like this.  I'm definitely not that guy who only watches old Werner Herzog, and craps on anything with Tom Cruise in it.  But even though I followed the film's production, loved the concept and the marketing, it didn't make it across the line for me... I walked out feeling average.  And I don't really get why.  

It had a bunch of things going for it, more than most movies could hope for.  Solid casting - whether you like Will Smith or not, I can't think of anybody that doesn't like at least one of this guy's movies [except possibly the Grand Imperial Wizard of the KKK, but even he can't help mouthing lyrics to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air while channel surfing].  For every Men In Black or Wild Wild West, there's an Ali or a Pursuit Of Happyness... let's be real.  Then there's Oscar winner Charlize Theron, and although she did bug me in Hancock, she's still a damn good actress, there shall be no denying that.  And you can't look past Jason Bateman, who not only rocked a bigger comeback than John Travola, but makes pretty much every film he's in worth smiling at [The Kingdom - a dude gets stabbed in the head, and it's still 'a funny film'].  Speaking of The Kingdom, look at Hancock's director Petey Burg... a very talented guy, with a stunning visual style, great instincts, and serves up the perfect all-you-can-eat buffet of action, drama & comedy.  I'll see anything he does, without even thinking twice.  

And then look at the spectacle of this movie!... people often talk about 'mindless' visual effects and how they plague summer blockbusters, blah blah blah, but these effects even have the famous get-out-of-jail-free pass - they're integral to the characters and the story!  AND they're friggin cool!  Hancock ripping the roof off an SUV and jumping in the back seat!  Then flying it across town, smashing through buildings and freeway signs... and pretty much everything else mind you.  99% of the effects were done seamlessly, and only 5 to 10 years ago they would have been impossible to actualise at this sort of level... have we become too jaded with 'spectacle'?  Does flying men and smashed buildings not impress us anymore?  That's really sad.  

So I was wondering, is there anything we haven't really seen yet in cinema?... cause when you think about it, from aliens to superheroes to disasters, we've seen A LOT!  Is there anything new to experience?  And I'm betting the answer will come in 2009, in the form of three simple words.  James Cameron's Avatar.  I had the pleasure of reading the script a couple years back when I saw it illegally online, and managed to copy and paste the entire thing into an email and send it to myself.  It blew me away, and I can understand why Cameron's been sitting on the thing for more than a decade... because to do it well, you really need the VFX technology of Hancock and above.  But way more exciting than the thought of another big visual effects movie, is the fact that he's playing with steroscopic 3D technology that nobody's messed with before.  Not just the cliche IMAX 'object flying at your face' tricks, but changes in focus and depth and techniques that will make your brain literally think you're there!  I probably just made it sound lame, but if anybody can kick the crap outta the boundaries of cinema as we know it, it's James Cameron [who even served on NASA's advisory board for years!].  It's exciting to think that there's a lot more to come in the next few years, and 'spectacle' could be in for an overhaul.

Jon [Josh].

1 comment:

Cucho Olivares said...

i completely agree with you! I was defrauded! I was expecting something more "adult" I mean, effects were ok, nothing to ripp clothes off, I didn't like most of the compositing , too many lens flares maybe?
By the way, this is my first visit to your blog, I've seen your webpage and I must say i admire your work, the wrigley's series are masterpieces. but I'm looking forward to see more of your beautiful work.
I work as a commercials director here in Chile and I've done a couple of projects overseas. if you have time I would appreciate if you guys give me a visit and maybe give your comments???.

Cucho Olivares