Ya, hi, sorry this ain’t one of my usual movie reviews. Why? Because we hardly watched any new movies lately. And the few we watched didn’t particularly inspire me to review them. Because I would just repeat myself by giving them bad and negative reviews. Because they were so bad. And that brings us already to the topic of today’s opinion piece: WTF is wrong with Movies these days?
I have no idea how much of a movie buff you are or if you find yourself fond of movies in general or even of good movies, or if it’s all the same for you and you just need some flicker and noise in the background while you’re doing housework. Then you might not understand what I’m talking about in this blog and I wish you a nice day. The rest of you: STAY! Stay right where you are and read this story … and if not like totally beneath you, please chime in with your two pence in the comment section. This is gonna be serious. I take my movies serious, I have some expectations and want my entertainment to be well done, intelligent and engaging. Unfortunately less and less Hollywod movies manage to meet my requirements but leave me baffled and flabbergasted and disappointed. Let me try to analyze the reasons here. And as an example I shall choose one movie franchise everybody should know and be mildly or even moderately pissed off about by now:
STAR WARS! Yeah, our beloved space saga, a universally appealing story many of us grew up with and have more or less loved at some stage of our lifes. Are you feeling the same nagging dissatisfaction with Episodes 1 – 3 and now Episode 7 and Rogue One like me? Ok, looking back, the first three movies (Epi 4 -6) were a bit cheesy and clumsy as well but we forgive ’em because they were products of their time, and they were at least fresh and exciting and … risky. The whole Star Wars franchise could’ve ended right then and there with Epi 4, had it flopped. But it didn’t, and so the greatest movie franchise ever was born. Epi 5 was probably the best SW movie ever made, while 6 already showed a slow downwards turn. Remember the Ewoks? Brrr, shudder. But all in all it was very good entertainment and found a good, cheesy, but overall satisfying, happy end.
No, really. That’s it. Let me say it clear: Everything coming after the end of the original trilogy was bullcrap. Starting with the countless digital fiddlery with the original movies and for now ending with Rogue One: SHIT! Don’t tell me you see it differently. If you’re like totally honest with yourself you must admit Orca’s right. Not even the fabled and aspiring Rogue One was able to turn the ship around.
Ok, now that we have that established, let’s look into the reasons as for why all the five movies that came after the original trilogy were so disappointingly bad. Lemme make a little table:
- Made for a target group: Starting with Epis 1 – 3 we could see a childification of the franchise. While SW has always been loved by the young and the young at heart, it was never spelt out but a side-effect. With the second trilogy Lucas targeted the kiddy audience in particular.
- Taylormade cinema: Since the target group was identified the whole business changed. No longer was there a need just for good scripts but the screenplays had to be written for the kids. So target group was more important than quality. And, boy, did it show! Sadly, despite the critics killing Epis 1 – 3, this strategy didn’t change until today.
- No risk-taking: While Epi 4 was an enormous risk for George Lucas that could’ve broken this young film-maker’s spine, carreer and will once and for all, but turned out for the best, Lucasfilm is shying away from any risks. And by that they are giving us, the audience, predictable, lifeless, anaemic movie-products without any surprises and without any highs and lows. Boring af.
- No learning curve: Haven’t you put a lot (or at least a bit of) hope into Epi 7, the one with Rei and Finn? Because, after all the flak Lucasfilm got for Epis 1 – 3, they surely have learned their lesson and would make better movies from now on, right? And hiring director prodigy JJ Abrams was a promising sign for a top notch quality adventure movie. But no, Lucasfilm and the new franchise owner, Disney, kinda torpedoed the SW franchise, right from the start. Obviously every SW movie is and will be overly successful, no matter what we critically thinking audiences think about them.
- Movie by committee: With Lucasflm and Disney behind the production it becomes clear that helming a movie is like a ejection seat for every director they hire. So is it any wonder JJ Abrams was so undaring and didn’t open his mouth when he noticed how much all the studio execs were fiddling with “his vision”, if he ever had one in the first place. The new Hollywood is reducing directors to mere assembly-line workers, to servants.
- Re-shots: Following #5 those committees are giving their directors extra work to do by calling for expensive and time-consuming re-shots and the introduction of totally new scenes and whole different sub-plots and storylines. This often ends with a movie that looks like patchwork or a badly done quilt. Best example would be Rogue One, a film that clearly shows that it was supposed to go a certain way at first but was then hastily tured into something else.
- Movies make no sense: How come, despite whole committees of 20 or more studio execs reading the screenplays, the quality is on such a subterranean shitty level? Characters are acting and talking nonsensically, whole storylines going nowhere and are only in the movie to fulfill one or another showy effect. And even if only for the audience going Ooooh and Aaaaaw. Some examples? Why does Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) look like a hypnotized bunny, when the storm troopers are unloading him on the star destroyer? What was he supposed to see there? Or Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o). Why does she shout “Han Solo!” through her whole tavern, despite the many First Order spies among her patronage? Is she like braindead or sumfink? Well, anyway, her character doesn’t make
muchany sense in the first place and has no reason to be in Epi 7 at all.
- Carelesness: Following point #7, while I can see that many – if not most – of those small muckups will go unnoticed by the very young audience I must ask the professionality of all the people involved in such a mammoth project like a SW movie. All these things must have been noticed during the countless test showings and before that already when Mr. Abrams and his staff had a look at the dailies. Are they so blasé these days, that no-one cares anymore. Or if you care and point out a mistake you’re automatically branded as a naysayer, a negative person, a weirdo, a non-believer! Reminds us a bit of SL’s Hoo Wee mentality, doesn’t it?
- No fun! While many of my nitpickings might go unnoticed by the target group, where does it leave us, the grown up, mature SW lovers and fans? Is SW clearly marked as children’s entertainment? Will it become a part of Sesame Street or Teletubbies? No, eh? But still nobody seems to care about us, the people who pay for the tickets and the toys the target group wants to have. Why aren’t we allowed to watch a movie that is at least a little bit driven by logic and sense? And by good storytelling, good acting, good action and altogether a clever screenplay?
To answer the question in above thumbnail: Yes, Star Wars is in trouble! That the producers are laughing all the way to the bank doesn’t change my reasoning even one iota. For me SW is dead. At least as a reasonable movie franchise. Of course, come December I’ll get my ticket for the debut day of Epi 8: The Last Jedi.
And now: Let’s discuss!