Archive for movies

On a (Not-So) Rise of Skywalker

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , on December 25, 2019 by chemiclord

(Note: This will NOT be entirely spoiler free.  I really can’t avoid it in this case, I’m sorry.)

Let’s get this out of the way.  “Rise of Skywalker” is an entirely average Star Wars movie.

Kinda like the other eight.

It’s end goal is to keep you mildly entertained for two hours without having to think too hard.  It does that.  Rian Johnson wanted to try and make it broader than that, but the old guard clearly refused to allow that, so… here we are.  Back to the old formula.

That’s something to keep in mind as I proceed through my thought space here.  For as much as I scoffed at Episode 7 ( or lauded Episode 8 (, there’s really not all that much of an overall quality difference between any of the Star Wars films.

Because there is a problem that really emerges with this trilogy especially; Rise of Skywalker suffers for it, and I fear every successive film is going to suffer even more as inevitably this story continues.

It is trying way too hard to placate a segment of the fan base that is frankly going to be impossible to placate.  Rise of Skywalker does everything it can to get back in the good graces of the “long time fan.”  You guys had a big problem with Rose?  Okay, she’s a bit player now.   Hated that Ray was just a nobody without any ties to a noble bloodline?  Hey!  We fixed it!  Couldn’t stand that some woman that could have been Ackbar tried to tell Poe what he couldn’t and couldn’t do?  He’s the general now!  We brought back all these old faces that you remembered from thirty years ago!  Isn’t that awesome?

Guys?  Please, don’t be angry anymore!  We’re trying to give you what you want!

The problem is what the “old guard” wants isn’t something that they’ll ever get.  They want to be 10-15 years old again watching “A New Hope” for the first time.  They want that magic back.  But they can’t get that feeling back.  They are going to be perpetually enraged no matter how many times you try to callback.

Stop trying.  Let Star Wars be for a new generation.  Yes, the perpetually online old guard will be pissed about it.  But guess what?  They’re gonna be pissed at anything you do.

Why are Video Game Movies so Bad?

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , on May 29, 2016 by chemiclord

This is a question that seems to come up more than once, and usually after the latest “big studio” attempt to transition from the console to the big screen.

And sure enough, the topic has churned up now that Warcraft and Angry Birds stumb…

I still can’t believe that’s a thing.

But the fact that it is a thing ties into Problem #1:

Problem #1: Hollywood is picking up some REALLY dumb games.

This really isn’t something that’s too hard to figure out, especially since Hollywood has a really hard time producing good movies from screenplays developed right in their wheelhouse.

So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that when they’re looking to adapt a video game, they’d point at the top sellers list and go, “Ehhh… that one.  Get the rights to that one.”

Which is how you wind up with Tetris: The Movie.

And I wish I was making that up.  Truth can be stranger than any fiction, and leads to Problem #2:

Problem #2: Let’s be honest… video game storytelling has traditionally stunk.

Sorry, but it’s true.  You know it.  I know it.  We all know it.  And that very painful trait isn’t something that translates well into a medium where the story has to carry the work.

Scoff at Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Bros. for how awful those movies were, but really… how many people have actually read the companion material for the really popular games in the medium’s history (i.e. the ones that actually get tapped to make that jump)?

For the longest time, video game stories were an afterthought.  The gameplay itself was expected to be the carrying element.  It’s only fairly recently that the storytelling in video games has reached a point where it reasonably is expected to be a primary (if not the primary) element in the quality of the product.

We’re only now reaching a point where the likes of Mass Effect or Assassin’s Creed will start drawing interest from major studios, the latter of which is actually being filmed as we speak, and one that I think has the narrative chops to make said transition well.

Except for Problem #3:

Problem #3: The Uwe Boll Effect

For all the blatant cheesecake and horny male pandering, underneath the Dead or Alive series hides a remarkably coherent plot (albeit a weird one).  So, obviously, the answer is to completely gut that plot, ignore everything about the characterization, relationships, interactions, and how events entwine… and instead mash together something that barely resembles what your audience has already demonstrated they resonate with.

This is hardly a problem with just video games.  Books to movies like to do this too; there seems to be a pathological urge by directors and screen writers to put their own “stamp” on the work by arbitrarily changing things.

At least with books, you can argue that cinematography requires some changes (things that happen in a book, like internal thoughts, don’t really translate well, for example).  But video games, being a visual medium itself, generally shouldn’t require that much narrative meddling.

There’s a bunch of other tripwires involved, but these are the three big ones from my angle, and until those have been resolved, I’m afraid we’re not going to be seeing too many good video game movies in the near future.