(This article was based on a true story.)
Last year I went to see the movie Moneyball and very much enjoyed the movie; it’s a great underdog story with one of the most realistic outcomes I’ve seen, that probably comes from the fact that it was a real story, kind of. After the movie was over and I was getting ready to leave I noticed the credits said “based on the book ‘Moneyball’” and I was shocked. This movie was already based on real life but the people who wrote the screenplay didn’t even have to find the story, it’s a book! This was the final straw; there has been a phenomenon in the last decade that continued straight through 2011 with the incredible lack of originality in big-budget films. Don’t get me wrong I love comic book movies and I hate when the story is changed, as I said in my review of Cap’s new movie (and see my Super 8 review for more shameless and egocentric plugs!) I think more movies need to respect the source material. My problem seems to have now gone beyond that though, I want less source material and more material.
Obviously I love books, movies, comics, and TV (I am sort of a pop culture critic, never mind I take it back I’m something else, anything else, just not that!) and when someone else loves it enough to give it another go on the big screen to a new audience I am ecstatic (MUPPETS!!!); unfortunately it’s gone to far. Even the films topping the box office aren’t new movies at all, most are just taken from somewhere else, adding on to a pre-existing thing, or just re-hashing the same old thing, Cowboys & Aliens (comic), X-Men (comic), Captain America (comic), Harry Potter (book), The Help (book), and True Grit was even already a movie! What happened to originality, what happened to the art of filmmaking? I understand that making something based on source material is difficult, you have to re-create the feel of the book, you have to please people who know the source material as well as new comers, you have to think of what parts to cut and what to adapt, you have to keep the feel of the book with the correct actors and directing style, and all kinds of difficulties, you know what you don’t have to do though? You don’t have to make up a story! That’s the hard part, if I went to film school I could probably make a re-make, if I was a gifted film maker even without experience or training I could probably make a re-make but no amount of training and work gives me creativity. You can’t teach someone to write Slaughterhouse-Five but you can sure train someone to make the film (so it goes).
I don’t want to say that I don’t or didn’t like films based off source material, some of my favorite movies of all time are from source material. 2001: A Space Odyssey is probably my favorite sci-fi film of all time (yes I’m a huge Star Wars fan too… I love that too but… no see 2001 is… just let me… never mind), I absolutely love that movie; I’ve seen very few films that I can say legitimately blew my mind and this film was one of them. This is a must see for anyone into life in general, if you enjoy living this movie is for you; ok maybe not that broad but if you call yourself a sci-fi fan and haven’t seen this film you have some homework. There are also some things I’d like to see adapted into movies; I really think The Lost Room would’ve made a great film, that way I wouldn’t have to convince people to watch the whole six hour mini-series with me (the comic is coming soon!!!) I want to see Dr. Strange made with a bit more of a budget behind him. I think we all want to see a better Fantastic Four done as well; one of the best comics of the silver age got two of the worst comic book movies to come out today. I think we can all name quite a few comics books, TV shows, and books that we would love to see adapted to the big screen.
I expect the general public to be ok with this stuff (I’m even ok with some of it, but technically I am the “general public” as well) but even critics have come to not only accept it but embrace it. The King’s Speech won movie of the year as well as original screenplay at the Oscars as C. F. discussed in his “Meaningless Awards for Meaningful Movies” article (hey, a less egotistical plug), the Social Network also won awards, people praised The Help, even X-Men (which I am sort of glad about), critics finally liked a superhero movie and I’m actually moderately angry about it. I’m very surprised, and I still love X-Men as well as the movie and hope for more soon (Cyclops will be cool one day I just know it, and then they’ll see, they’ll all see); I want people to want more then just the same old story though, even if this X-Men wasn’t even remotely close to the comic (they gave Prof. X hair for two lame jokes). I am fine with people liking movies based on source material it’s just that we praise their originality; I liked Social Network too I just didn’t think it was genius like everyone seems to when technically all they did was act out what happened.
Of all these sort of things the best and worst is pre/sequels, I’m sorry but did we really need a Pirates 4? They’re obviously better then re-makes or adaptations because they are their own original story (unless it’s not) but it’s also the worst. Pirates 4, Hangover 2, even Cars 2 aren’t stories by themselves; they’re films to be watched with the ones preceding them. A good majority of these films barely seem like they accomplish that, some feel like their only purpose is to augment the other films. Before I go to far I want to say that there are sequels and prequels that I love, The Dark Knight was a sequel and Toy Story 3 was up there with Inception for me that year and that’s the third, (I know it’s hard to believe it but Toy Story 3 was the third) how many other thirds can you name that are that good (no, you can’t count Dark Knight Rises yet).
All of these things really grate on me sometimes, I walk through the movie theater and all I see are “based on the best selling book/ comic series/ real life/ TV series/ movie of the same name” and it just annoys me. What happened? When? Why? They're even making Ghost Rider 2, does that make any sense whatsoever? The answer is a resounding and obvious “NO!!!” Unfortunately it’s spread to not only movies, but into TV as well. What new shows did 2011 give? Whitney, Playboy Club, Pan-Am, and the worst of all a new incarnation of Charlie’s Angels. And those are (or were) some of the biggest shows out there. Doesn’t that sound like one of the saddest things you’ve ever heard? In recent years I’ve noticed that there are more duplicate shows then real shows, we have about five shows about cake, just as many about New Jersey, Vampires, crime shows, hospital shows, tough female authoritative figures, etc… Why can’t we make anything up anymore? I’m actually watching Once Upon A Time! It is one of the cheesiest shows I’ve ever seen with the some of the most cloying dialogue and it’s one of my the highlights of the new season; my favorite show I’ve seen this year I don’t really like.
One bright light (at least for me) has been NBC’s (I know, hear me out) Community. That show has returned order for me; every week I look forward to watching it more than almost any other show (Fringe, you’re on thin ice and you better explain why alt-Broyles is back and Olivia shot her father) and enjoy each episode more than almost any other show. In case you haven’t seen the show it is about a study group attending a community college and their (use bad announcer voice for the rest of the sentence) wacky adventures throughout Greendale College. I know that sounds horrible but it’s really not; they not only avoid clichés but point them out for the world to see and, hopefully, help people get out of the generic sitcom jokes. One episode that every sitcom has is what I like to call the “Elevator Episode”; normally it takes place in one room where the gang is locked in (or stuck in an elevator) where all they can do is remember. The whole episode is spent showing you things you’ve already seen and it’s not anything more then “Hey, I remember that. That was funny!” which is unacceptable to me. Being the fan of Community I am, I checked to see what the next episode would be about and it said they would be having an episode just like that; the gang would reminisce about the past and my heart sank. Already angry with the show before it even started I knew I couldn’t be impressed and was convinced I would hate this episode, luckily I was very wrong. The show turned out to be an entire program of pointing out the stupidity of these sorts of episodes, where the gang instead remembers things that never happened in the show including going to the Wild West, a haunted house, and other things that never even remotely happened and just pointed out all the horrible clichés shows have. It was great!
Community (no I’m not done talking about it, just wait I’ll get back to the other stuff in a minute just stop fidgeting!) is, not only a great all around show, but very much what Big Bang should have been. They make references to 80’s video games, they do 2001 parodies, they watch B-movies for fun, and they do what I wanted Big Bang to do all along. For most shows one huge movie parody is enough, but for Community it’s only half the story. In one episode Jeff (the main character played by Joel McHale and that pretty well describes him) is narrating over the beginning of the episode which starts with him walking to dinner to meet Abed (the ultimate nerd and pop-culture king) for whom he planned a surprise Pulp Fiction themed party at the burger joint that Britta (the female lead) works at. The entire cast is dressed up as characters (including Ken Jeong dressed as Bruce Willis’s character) as well as gifts including a mysterious briefcase and Jeff’s gift given to Abed at the restaurant, a “bad” wallet. For almost any show this would be more then enough, but Community decides to wrap it all up inside a My Dinner with Andre parody where Abed stages a change from his former pop-culture obsessed self to want a real conversation, his goal of course was to pull off the ultimate My Dinner With Andre reference. I can go back to talking about all the horrible things in movies now; I just wanted to say that there is still hope.
So, back to movies, what has happened? How come the most creative things out there are based on formulas, movies like Real Steel and Puss in Boots should not be the most interesting and original films out there. How come the only movies that have held number one at the box office with any sort of originality are romantic comedies and stupid comedies (yes I’m pretending that’s a real genre), which have no originality! In my opinion, what separates original from un-original is (don’t worry I’m not going to say originality) is whether or not I could’ve come up with the plot; movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes are in the un-original category in this scenario. If you told me to make a prequel to Planet of the Apes (by the way are we just ignoring the other prequel? Yeah, ok I’ll accept that) I would say we tested monkeys and one got too smart, which happens to be exactly what they settled on too.
I’d like to stress that I am not anti movies based on something, maybe I am anti re-makes but for the most part I’m ok. I actually write for a comic book website or whatever this thing is now; I’m pro comics and comic movies, well the concept of comic movies at least. I still enjoy movies based on things and actively support them (I saw Moneyball in the theater) I’m just scared of things to come. If movies goes the way most TV has gone I’m not looking forward to it, sure I’ll keep watching them but I’ll put my voice out there and hopefully someone will hear me screaming.
Remember this is entirely opinion, obviously I don’t have any scientific evidence to support me but I’m hoping you agree; if you do, say something, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re annoying don’t say something because then I really don’t want to hear from you, also if you disagree I probably don’t like you either. In fact only comment if you have something nice to say about me or any of my articles, not C. F.’s articles, not something interesting you saw on the internet, not even that other guy who was writing articles for us like a year ago, my articles and/or me. Thank you for your time and I hope to see you again real soon, if you have anything you’d like to see me writing about please comment. If you read this in general I’d like you to comment, in fact I’m telling you to comment. Thank you for your time.
In : Movie / TV Reviews
Tags: 2011 moneyball muppets "2001 space odyssey" "captain america" "cowboys and aliens" x-men "star wars" "pirates of the carribean" "toy story" community
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