Recently, I kicked off Chapter 4 on The Stand (Part Two of The Kingdom Trilogy). This resulted in much excitement and adrenaline…
… until one of my writing breaks took me to Rotten Tomatoes, and from thence to the news that Adam Sandler is helping produce a movie about Tonka toy trucks. Usually, I sneer derisively at this news and carry on with my day. However, today does not feel like a “usually” kind of day. I’m a writer and a storyteller. Hollywood has long perverted things that I find important. Here’s 5 reasons why bad movies are a serious problem.
1) They encourage shallow thinking. Nobody goes to Transformers or Cars 2 looking for anything but visual spectacle- and brand name. Even films like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings owe a lot to brand name and spectacle. It seems like it does not matter if a story is well-told, as long as it is accompanied by pretty lights and a connection to something already popular in the culture. That is an insult against our ability to take a chance on new things and enjoy them. With every sequel and threequel to come along, we are getting ever more accustomed to familiarity and not quality.
2) They wastte screenwriters’ time. If we are willing to settle for effects-driven films, why bother having a plot in the first place? Just stage huge demolition derbies and put them to screen. My ideals of screenwriters and their sacred duty to write compelling scripts may be too lofty, but I don’t care. That’s what they would truly be happy doing. Seriously. If you wrote the dialogue for Ice Age 2, would you feel satisfied with your life?
3) Such films aren’t as rewarding as an authentically good film. In the spring, I sat down at a local cinema to see The Artist; two hours later, I walked out of that theater in awe. New life ran through me. There is something about a poignant story, well-told, that leaves an impact on the person who hears it. Watch the marriage montage from Up if you don’t believe me. Then watch G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. How can you give films like that the time of day when there is something else out there that is so much better?
4) They make Hollywood more expensive. Spectacle is one of cinema’s most unique strengths, but it costs money. Ever since the success of Jaws and Star Wars, the concept of the “blockbuster” has promoted an arms race that has cost millions of dollars. Would studios truly have to spend as much if they put their emphasis on plot and not spectacle? Audiences would appreciate that, and they’d pay for it. Over time, studios wouldn’t have as many pictures which required mountains of CGI and fireworks. That’s a wild generalization, but isn’t worth investigating?
5) They anger writers like me. I try not to brag, but The Quest is better than Project X. For the simple fact that I tried to write something to comment on the human condition, my story is better than a dozen films I could mention. There are thousands of people like me across the globe. Odds are their ideas are even better than mine. Imagine what ideas like those could if they only had a chance. How can they ever have a chance with remakes, sequels like Jackass 4, and an adaptation of the non-fiction Guinness World Book of Records coming up?