December 29th, 2003



I saw "21 Grams" the other night (as I commented on in dooriya's LJ: 21 Grams). It's a movie that sticks with you but I hesitate to recommend it whole-heartedly, because it's depressing and at times quite unpleasant. It's one of those movies that is capital-S Serious, and capital A Arty, which is a loser's strategy for film making. If a movie devotes enough energy to advertising it's claim to being High Art, it damns itself from ever becoming such.

Give me Super Mario Brothers or Little Nicky, movies that are pretty bad by most objective standards, but succeed in being exactly what they are better than 21 Grams. Plus they're funny and screwy.

Return of the King was, like the first two films, overwhelming and beautiful. Christmas 2004 will feel diminished by not having another Lord of The Rings movie. That being said, some criticisms:

1. If you haven't read the books, AND seen the first 2 movies, I doubt you'd really get what's going on in this movie. Maybe it's asking too much to demand a movie stand on its own, but hells bells, ROTK has no exposition, and no real explanation of why everyone is so freakin serious all the time. The movie assumes backstory it doesn't deign to supply, and even if nearly everyone seeing it has seen the other movies and read the books, it doesn't excuse the movie from taking a little time to explain itself.

2. I really hate serious, soulful reaction shots. A reaction shot means the film maker doesn't trust the audience to react properly to what's happening on screen. If you want to impress me, have the actors say their lines so I understand what's going on, and if you have to have reaction, have the other actors in the frame with the speaker, so there's some context.
Plus taking out those stupid shots makes the movie shorter. Give me a 90 minute film that leaves me wanting more, not a 3 hour extravaganza in which I spend the last 1/2 hour more concerned with bladder control than on-screen action.

3. Aragorn sure spends a lot of time sweeping into the room looking all serious and shit. He's given so few lines when he finally does open his mouth I half expected him to sound like Elmer Fudd.

4. If you're going to film action, make it visually intelligible! I remember one sequence where a group rides into somewhere on horseback, and so does the camera, and all you can see is a bunch of blurry stuff that might be people. And half of the battle scene you can't tell who's doing what to whom, it's all just motion blurred swords and limbs. That bit where Legolas takes down an elephant by himself is the perfect counter-example, because you can see EXACTLY what he's doing the whole way through. Believe me, I can wave around a camera so there's a bunch of confusing blurry stuff on screen, and no one wants to give ME 300 million dollars to do it.

5. Humor me, fer chrissakes. I know shit is SERIOUS, already. Why can't there be more funny bits?