Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Story Behind the Film

I haven't been particularly discreet about my negative critique of Superman Returns. I've posted at least three blog entries explaining it's shortcomings.

I think I've been a bit too hard on the film.

Here's why. I watched a lot of the behind-the-scenes features on the film tonight. Within a few short minutes I noticed a few things about the cast and crew, Brandon Routh especially: they worked RIDICULOUSLY hard, treated the history and character with utmost respect, and had a lot of fun making it. How can I tear down an effort like that? Now I realize you're supposed to judge a film strictly on the film itself, but if that were how every film were judged, Captain Blasto wouldn't have received a fraction of the positive response it has.

A lot of people pull for Captain Blasto because of the story behind it. A first time director, a small crew, $7,000 budget, etc. Now that I've taken a closer look at the story behind Superman Returns, I suddenly found myself pulling for them. More than that all I could think of is, "I want to be there. I want to be working with them." They really were trying to make a great film. Did they miss the mark? Yes unfortunately. But it wasn't from lack of effort.

A great film is a stroke of magic that many directors will NEVER experience. Even Spielberg hasn't been able to call that magic at will. Lucas, with his billions, can't buy it. It can't be planned on. You can only try your damndest. And for the amazing attempt I was previously unaware of, an attempt that resulted in an decent film with some incredible moments, I'll support the next film wholeheartedly.

In the future I'm going to make sure I look further into the how the film was made before advertising it's faults.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why Waste Your Time?

Back when George Lucas was under HEAVY criticism for his ridiculously boring return to filmmaking with The Phantom Menace, he was often heard using the excuse: I have to get through the boring part of the story to get to the good stuff.

Years later I read any interview by one half of the writing due behind another ridiculously boring film, Superman Returns. Here's what he has to say.

"I know that Bryan [Singer, the director] has said he's going to Wrath of Khan it, and by that he means, 'Let's take what we've already established--we've gotten that out of the way--and let's just make it shorter, tighter and more action-packed."

Get through the boring part? Get that out of the way? Here's a question: why even make that part? Why waste the time, money, and energy? Why have an entire film of exposition just to get to a sequel? Go right to the "good" movie and build what little exposition we actually need into it. Or better yet, show that incredible talent that got you to that point and make the boring movie exciting. Now when I say exciting I do not mean more explosions. I mean more power, more emotion. Even a quiet scene can be more powerful than a asteriod collision.

Audiences should NEVER be asked to sit through a boring scene to get to and exciting one, let alone and ENTIRE FILM.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Inherited Imagery

I've been reading alot of Joseph Campbell recently. He's best known for his studies on mythology and was made widely known to recent generations by his published conversations with George Lucas. In his book Primitive Mythology he discusses an idea brought about by a study conducted on newborn birds. As I read it, I couldn't help but connect his idea to the image of Colin being entranced by the strength and feats of Captain Blasto, or my own infatuation with Superman.

A wooden hawk would be flown over a baby chick by a string. The chick would instantly hide in fear. A wooden duck would be flown over the same chick and it would remain calm. Several different shapes of varying bird species were tried, but only the hawk would illicit the fearful behavior. The chick has NEVER seen a hawk, but still it is equipped with the instincts to take flight from it. The question posed by Campbell is this: if all hawks ceased to exist, would the chick still fear it's image?

Another question was also raised: what images may lie buried within animals and(or) man which they are equipped to fear, but have since vanished? Should those images suddenly reappear in some form, even art, would it illicit some seemingly irrational behavior? Does a child fear the image of a witch because they read fairy tales as a child? Or was there some creature long ago that are instincts tell us should be avoided?

The reverse of this idea, images that we are drawn to, could also be true. Take the imagery of super-heroes for example. Am I life long Superman fan because he was "given" to me in toys and movies as a child? Or were some great and terrible figures once present among humanity which we as children are inheritantly equipped to be in awe of? The idea of a super-hero is by no means new. It's traced down through characters like Hercules and Beowulf. Have we always been drawn to these characters, as the popular notion suggests, because they represent what we wish we were or could be? Or do generations keep rendering these ideas into our art because deep down it's written into each of us, although all traces of them once existing are now gone?