Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bad Writing and Good Entertainment

On Monday, Michelle expressed her thoughts on bad scripts and how the best acting and directing will always fail to make up for a bad screenplay. In some cases I'd probably agree (Wolverine Origins, for example, and Smokin' Aces is STILL probably the worst movie I've ever seen, if not the worst movie ever written), but I think there are some exceptions to that rule, both from the perspective of culture, and according to my own personal opinion.

First example: Army of Darkness. I thought it was clever and maybe almost funny, but I didn't like it. I am the only person I have ever met who's seen that movie and didn't absolutely LOVE it. On that note, I HATED Bubba Ho Tep, and, again, I can't remember meeting a single other person who hated it. On both of those movies, the scripts were lame (I'd give them maybe 2/5 if forced to rate them), the direction made them FEEL like they were searching exclusively for a cult following, and the acting was pretty much what you'd expect from any low-budget, post-grad film from an untried director (which Sam Raimi was NOT). Still, people LOVED those movies and think they're some of the best films ever made (while admitting that they're not blockbusters).

Second example: The Matrix. Stop, think about it for a second, then look back on the writing itself. All on its own, that movie had ONE thing going for it: special effects. It looked SO COOL. But with the exception of Laurence Fishburne, the acting, again, was sub-par. However, terrible writing and awesome effects aside, the directing was brilliant. The way the scenes were cut, the angles of of the camera, lighting, sound, and soundtrack, all made for an amazing movie that took TEN YEARS to make a writer like me (admittedly a picky one when it comes to writing) capable of even NOTICING the utter failure that WAS the script itself.

Third example: Every James Bond film pre-Daniel Craig (and even a few of those). The plot lines are far-fetched and unbelievable, dialogue contrived and often stiffly delivered, and characterization of everyone BUT Bond is shallow and sometimes offensive. But I've enjoyed every Bond movie I've seen, even the ones EVERYONE else hates.

Each and every one of those movies would've been better with stronger writing, but (aside from the first example), all of them were consistently successful. My point, really, is that, while great writing makes for better movies (and, of course, better books and comics), it's not ALWAYS critical to entertain an audience. Of course that shouldn't stop writers from trying to get better, and there's never an EXCUSE for horrible writing. Still, bad scripts can make good movies. It's a lot harder for the director and actors, but it's possible.

Giles watches bad movies at least as much as anyone he's ever known, and as long as they're entertaining, he generally won't complain. Of course, he's always looking for that next amazing and inspiring film that will send him to the computer to bust out some of his own awesome writing. Or at least get his heart hammering with excitement.

1 comment:

  1. “Army of Darkness” was the weaker film in the original trilogy, however the tone was meant to be campy. Sometimes striving for campy can come across as contrived. I haven’t seen the remake or the television series. Never saw “Bubba Ho Tep.”

    The loved the old Bond films, because of the over the top villains, weird gadgets, tricked out cars and all the catch phrases. At the age of thirteen, my first Bond film was “Live and Let Die”; initially Roger Moore was my definitive Bond. From then on out, I went out to see every Bond film, but stopped after seeing the first Timothy Dalton Bond. I was able to catch up on the pre Moore films at the Drive-In that played older films. I grew to appreciate Sean Connery’s Bond. After the first Dalton film, I stopped going. I returned to the series to watch “Sky Fall”, my wife had not seen a Bond film in the theater. I was surprised the formula had changed, but overall enjoyed the film. I liked the added layer of Bond’s backstory.

    The Matrix trilogy holds a special place in my heart. The first film was my first date with the woman who I ended up marrying. The special effects were unique, but later became overused in many different films. We also liked the variant of the theme that all of reality is a dream. The other two films were less enjoyable, the novelty of the effects had worn off.

    The whole film industry is complicated. There are so many moving parts, too many ways for things to go awry. All too often executives and financiers insert themselves into the creative process, mucking things up.