In recent conversation with fellow film enthusiasts the subject of directors and writers caused quite a bit of stir, with blocking positions and take down moves being thrown about like a bad game of Street Fighter. It gets very annoying when a discussion gets turned into an argument when someone cannot accept an alternative opinion. I like to stay reasonably open minded when it comes to people’s opinions about films because obviously we all interpret them in different ways and get different things out of them. However, if I am faced, for example, with a situation where someone is ramming their opinion down my throat about how “House Bunny is one of the best films ever made” then I’m afraid it is a case of the feces and the fan.
What people cannot seem to accept is that directors and writers have their off days. It happens with nearly all of them; the Coen brothers made ‘The Ladykillers’, Quentin Tarantino made ‘Death Proof’, Ridley Scott made ‘Robin Hood’, Francis Ford Coppola made ‘The Godfather Part III’, Zack Snyder made… films, but you can see my point that every once in a while they slip below standards. It just so happens that some people do it a lot more than others.
As the title suggests there are films that other people consider to be “good” whereas I on the other hand disagree. If my opinions are labelled as being unpopular then so be it, I’ll stand by them. I come from a generation of teenage boys that would label ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’ as “awesome” which makes me want to bury my head in the sand like an Ostrich. It just goes to show the mental age of directors like Zack Snyder that impresses young audience by overloading a film with visual effects a blood rather than substance. He does have a unique visual style and it does work well for films, but in terms of directing he couldn’t direct traffic let alone a decent film. Any director that makes a film where they ensure every actor has some stomach muscles present and then let’s Gerard Butler get away with not actually acting needs to be sat on the naughty step by Supernanny, have their camera taken off of them and left to think about what they have done wrong. By which point they’ll obviously have missed on their chances of gaining an award for lifetime achievement. People seem to think that there is a direct link between running time and substance, which clearly isn’t the case because ‘Watchmen’ rambles on for the best part of three hours and remains consistently average. The source material clearly wasn’t considered by Snyder enough, he was too distracted in making sure the latex outfits looked good. Which they didn’t. Both ‘Watchmen’ and ‘300’ poorly made films that lack real substance and interest, but you know something, they’re marketed perfectly for the audience they’re aimed at; bored teenagers who need violence to keep them awake.
It’s not just the young lads of my age group that annoy me though, the girls have their fair input as well, nearly deafening me by ranting about how good a film ‘Titanic’ is. Just for the record in case anyone hadn’t figured it out yet; it isn’t. James Cameron had the chance to make a big and bold film that was historically accurate but instead he turned it in to a romance film based on a fictitious couple. It ruined what could have been a good film, with elongated scenes of Jack and Rose talking aimlessly about things we don’t care about. I don’t know what James Cameron was thinking when he wrote the screenplay, but it must have been along the lines of “MONEY MONEY MONEY” which would explain why we have such painful scenes. For example, the most ridiculous scene of the entire film is when Jack and Rose are stood on the main deck with the ship slowly sinking and everyone screaming in fear, Rose turns to Jack and says “this is where we first met” which after nearly three hours of our lives wasted was not only an obvious statement but a stupid one too. Why did we need this repeated? To make us care about their relationship and to reinforce how strong their love is? If anything it made me care less about their relationship, I was feeling rather sorry for Jack being stuck with someone who can’t prioritise in a time of genuine panic.The montage of the different people that we see as the ship is sinking, such as the mother comforting her children, was of more interest. I cared more about them in thirty seconds of screen presence than I did after three hours of Jack and Rose face time. I wouldn’t say that it is a bad film, I would go so far as to say it is an awful film that was a wasted opportunity.
But it’s not just film makers I dislike that I have to slate sometimes, on the rare occasion I do have pick at the ones I do like. Those who try to start an argument with me by saying “Django Unchained was a bad film” never expect me to agree with them which is brilliant. It’s not that I think it’s a bad film, because it is excellently written and Tarantino deserved his Oscar for screenplay. but because it is very ill disciplined. The comic book style of blood splattering violence did become quite tiresome towards the end and there are tangents in the film that could have been avoided. Not one of Tarantino’s best films, but it is clearly one of his best scripts. It was funny, it was intelligent, it had a certain charm to it that made the characters interesting, it was well thought out and only ever dropped out during the tangents.
It’s always interesting when people like an actor and so automatically defend their work regardless of their performance. For instance I know a lot of people who like Johnny Depp, which I can understand because he is a very talented actor, and yet they fail to see that his best performance is not in ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’. His impression of Keith Richards is slightly funny to begin with but becomes quite tiresome and it is not his best acting role by far, however I do not blame Depp for his performance being tainted in the film, I blame the director. There was a famous story from the filming of the first ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ in which Johnny Depp came on stage and started acting like a drunk Keith Richards without being told to. The studio hated his performance and told Gore Verbinski as the director to tell him to change it, which he didn’t because he didn’t. That shows the directing capability of such a man, who cannot tell his leading actor how to act out of the fear that he may leave the film. The first Pirates film was a bit all over the place but it was enjoyable in places and Johnny Depp was alright in his role, but we didn’t need there to be sequels. This allowed Verbinski to indulge himself in this franchise that got out of control until even he didn’t want to direct the fourth film. Does it need to end now? Definitely. Is it going to end now? Of course not.
I’ve mentioned the next point before but only briefly so I will repeat it just for those who missed it; the Star Wars prequels are awful. Yes they may be visually pleasing and have a lot of action, but what’s that thing they’re lacking…that….what is it… oh yes substance. The original trilogy was fantastic, with three films that really set the bar for how science fiction films should be made, and then George Lucas decided he wanted another yacht, or he wanted money to power his golden fountain that shoots out hundred dollar bills or whatever, but either way he wanted more money and so made prequels we didn’t want and/ or need. They darted off in to random political scenes that weren’t actually intelligently written when you listen to them, they were just dull. The visual effects were clearly a high priority which is why we were overloaded with head banging chase sequences and quite poorly choreographed lightsaber duels, leaving us with a script that sounded like it was written in someone’s lunch break. None of the three prequels had any where near as much interest as the original three and the characters were so deflated they made R2-D2 sound like a complex and philosophically inspiring character. And what’s that sound we all heard at the beginning of last year? It was George Lucas rubbing his hands together after signing the contract for the 3D release of the prequels.
Arguments do arise frequently when I talk about films with friends and family but that’s only because I’m passionate about the art form. I’ve always said to myself that taking an interest in anything is about appreciating what you like, rather than settling for what other people like. I cannot think of any other way to describe being interested in films. If you have an opinion then stick by it no matter what people say. It’s what I have to do nearly on a daily basis, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s life without a challenge every now and then?