Sunday, July 19, 2009

That's so predictable...

News flash: Predictability in movies is NOT necessarily a bad thing - as previously reported.

Out of all the films ever made – and all the films you have ever seen where you have a good guy trying to stop a bad guy – how many have the bad guys won? That’s right very very few.

How many times have we seen the good guy be the super cop, the explorer, the special covert agent or the warrior? Many. How many times have the odds been stacked so high that it’s impossible to imagine him/her being able to win? Pretty much all of them.

This is something I’ve grown to appreciate about certain films and most recently Doomsday, Taken and Shoot ‘Em Up – they don’t kid around with you – they give you exactly what you walked in the door for. They are predictable as all get out – and you’ve seen it all before in some aspect or another. Do they care? No. They present it to you for your enjoyment – either you can gripe – or you can shut up and enjoy.

Never tell me to shut my mind off and enjoy a film though. That’s like telling me to ignore the guy yelling insults to my face. There are films that are predictable – and you can enjoy even if you’ve seen it all before. Why? Because they don’t invite you in for fudge and then tell you all they’ve got is fudge flavored doggie treats. Like Transformers – where they expect you came in to see a film about giant robots smashing each other up – but feed you a story about a kid instead.

“Hey! You get smashin’ robots in Transformers! Shut up and stop being a hater!” – Yes you do get that – but if you measure the amount of time spent on robots smashing each other up and compare it to the time dedicated to subplots involving the kid – you’d think the most important aspect of the film was the kid – because they dedicate the most time to it. And leave your schoolyard insults at school – and grow up and join the discussion on films.

Today, I watched a film called Outlander [2008] – it stars Jim Caviezel, John Hurt, Ron Perlman and Sophia Myles. Ever hear of it? It had an estimated budget of $50M – and it was a big action special effects film. Does that jog your memory? Probably not. The fact of the matter is – the plot is extremely predictable – and no studio would bother wanting to distribute or advertise for a film that everyone will call predictable, right?

The problem is - this was a very good film which the Weinstiens felt wasn’t good enough to distribute under their holy name – unlike several other flops in the past years. It truly deserved a lot better than what it got. The special effects were lacking texture and realism – but the animation of them was excellent – making me wonder if it wasn’t given up on – and cleaned up in a proper post production - what would we have here? In my estimation – you’d probably a surprise modest hit.

The film is about a spaceman (Jim Caviezel) who crashes into Norway during the Iron Age. The reason he crashes? His ship was carrying a monster. He teams up with the local tribe of Vikings in hopes of destroying the monster.

We all know what happens from there – there is no denying that – but the journey is told with some adept filmmaking skill – and some fantastic acting. The only reason why I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 instead of the full perfect score – was that I wasn’t really in the mood for the film at the moment so I only half-ass watched it – because my attention span wasn’t fully there. I sat through it all – but paused it several times – so I can’t tell you about pacing – but it seemed very good pacing wise. I also give it a ding because Ron Perlman half-assed his accent a few times – which gave me a chuckle – but I give him kudos for trying - unlike “better” actors such as Costner and Cruise.

I say – rent this film – and enjoy it for what it is. I myself will be eventually purchasing the Blu-Ray once it’s available in hopes of revisiting this topic and giving the film a full review (and confirming the 4 out of 5 – or possibly caving into that last point and making it a perfect 5).