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Old July 30th, 2003, 08:02 AM   #16
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Well I would never equate blockbuster extravaganzas with rotting food... More like perhaps empty calories in, say, Skittles. No nutritional value, could be a lot better, but still fun to ingest as long as you're not expecting filet mignon.

The problem with studio films is the 'collaboratively destructive' environment that it is. Unlike indie films where the vision of the core filmmakers is carried through, with studio flicks you have these huge crews with each person cooking their tiny piece of the broth, while the core group tries their best to manage them. Add to that the big brainless studio producer types that want an actor that's not right for the part but will attract more audiences, or they want some dorky sound bites that people can quote after the movie, and whatnot.

These studios are big movie churning factories. Another analogy would be comparing Lays potato chips to one of those homemade chip makers like Cape Cod or something. You just can't compare what a factory chipmaker makes compared to a small mom and pop company that puts their love into it. The chips are just going to be of a better quality.

It's just the way it is - too many cooks spoil the broth.
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Old July 30th, 2003, 11:00 AM   #17
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I realize these are factors that can lead to big budget crap. Still, every once in awhile studios seem to allow some true visionaries to take the formula and make something stellar. Perhaps it is the convenient marriage between powerful producers and dogmatic directors. Maybe they are the same person. James Cameron for one, with ALIENS, TRUE LIES and T2, used to make visionary action pictures that have clever plots, excellent pacing with concepts that don't insult your intelligence. Luc Besson is another one who embraces the genre. LA FEMME NIKITA, LEON are all great examples of action-oriented pictures that have at their core real characters. Even his fluffiest film, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, follows its own mad logic, paying heed to its comic book source. John McTiernan used to make good action formula pictures that had integrity. DIE HARD and PREDATOR all created little worlds where characters made decisions that made sense. DIE HARD remains among the most tightly plotted action films around (which is why it is endlessly copied ... Die Hard set on... a train! Die Hard set on ... a plane!).

In all the poorest examples of action films that insult the audience's intelligence there really doesn't seem to be much reason why the script takes a leap into illogic. The writer(s) and producers create a world, then they must stick to it. There may not be time for character development, but even in the briefest of scenes you can build something that the audience is meant to identify with. There doesn't have to be an either / or proposition. Oh, we have to chuck the character development because we need another explosion.

(I should also add that I was pleasantly surprised that Bruckheimer allowed Pirates of the Caribbean to be what it was. Maybe he is mellowing as he gets older?)
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Old July 31st, 2003, 03:10 AM   #18
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I agree with everything Keith said. There's no reason why an action movie has to be soooo bad, and I blame Bay because apparently he has NO INTEREST in storytelling. As the guy in the short says, "Every shot looks like a beer commercial". That beautiful, glossy Hollywood look is the only thing Bay cares about. Believable characters? No way. Natural dialogue? Forget about it. Interesting plot? We blow up 37 cars!!!

Tony Scott also came out of the Bruckheimer factory, but at least he's made some good films: Crimson Tide, True Romance... even Top Gun is ten times better than Armageddon or The Rock. The difference is, Scott uses his background in commercials & music videos to help him tell stories on film, while Bay continues to make commericals & music videos but just on a larger scale.
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Old July 31st, 2003, 08:18 AM   #19
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Killing Michael Bay

I'm the co-director, writer and editor of "Killing Michael Bay". It's good to know my film started a rambling post thread debating the function of summer blockbusters. Thanks to Alex Taylor for starting the thread. I want to say I agree with Keith Loh on everything he says. I think he's my Canadian clone.
We all know expensive summer blockbusters are meant to entertain the masses. That is self-evident. But it's cynical and sad to think the masses just want eye candy. What about a compelling story: an emotional rollercoaster ride and a burning desire to know "what happens next?" And maybe some food for thought, as well.
Also, what self respecting writer or director would make a film that intentionally had a weak story with thin characters and plot holes you could drive a truck through? When directors like Michael Bay excuse their films by saying they're "just popcorn movies", they misunderstand what their critics are offended by. It's not the mindless action, violence, and special effects. It's the fact that the mindless action, violence, and FX serve no purpose. There's no story there. I want to be transported away like I was as a kid with "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters". But they had a STORY that took priority over FX. That's something I think Lucas has lost with the new trilogy (uh oh, I don't want to spark any Lucas responses here--forget I mentioned that.)
I could rant forever on this subject. I'll end by encouraging all of you to tell as many people as possible about www.killingmichaelbay.com. Gotta get in my shameless plug.

Stay cool,

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Old July 31st, 2003, 08:35 AM   #20
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How cool, thanks for stopping in. Very enjoyable short!

I still think there's a place in the world for Hollywood pulp, because if I applied my taste to all films made, I'd want to cut out about 95% of what's out there. But then, what would I watch on lazy Saturday afternoons on the couch when the brain wants something to chew on as I drift off to a nice afternoon nap?

I guess there's always Mr. Rogers - he's good for a snooze.
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Old July 31st, 2003, 01:49 PM   #21
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Todd,

Thanks for stopping by! Now that you've discovered us I hope you stay :)

Quote:
We all know expensive summer blockbusters are meant to entertain the masses. That is self-evident. But it's cynical and sad to think the masses just want eye candy. What about a compelling story: an emotional rollercoaster ride and a burning desire to know "what happens next?" And maybe some food for thought, as well.
I agree, but most people only know the "popcorn" movies. The more good films that play in large theatres, the more exposure the general public will get to such movies, and the more they'll reject popcorn movies. I hope we're moving towards that point.

It's a shame that the main drive for a lot of big directors is just money. I'd love to see what Bay could do with a $1000 budget, a turtle and a guitar!
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Old August 1st, 2003, 10:18 AM   #22
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Todd, your short was one of the most enjoyable satires I've seen. Good f'n work, man. Totally entertaining and not stupid. :)
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Old August 1st, 2003, 12:06 PM   #23
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Thanks for the kind words

Thanks, Keith for the opinion of "Killing Michael Bay". Just checked out your "Hit and Run" video. Very cool. Just having finished a project for work involving After Effects, Commotion, Flash and some 3D, I know how much work you put into it. Well done. And I like the song, too.
Judging by your website, I take it you're a fan of Samurai cinema, martial arts movies, comics, etc. I swear you might be my clone. I used to run a video store that specialized in Art, Foreign and Classic films. I created a kickass Hong Kong and Japanese video section that had no rival. But the owner of the building jacked up the rent and the store went out of business.
Anyway, good job on the video. I'll be curious to see how the "Lady-X" project turns out.

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Old August 1st, 2003, 12:31 PM   #24
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Thanks for checking the video out. The Lady-X short is scheduled for September 1. Maybe later we can try out something in the scale of what you did with Killing Michael Bay. Love the blue screen stunts :)
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Old August 2nd, 2003, 12:49 PM   #25
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Todd

I rarely laugh at anything I see on the internet (at least, not when I'm supposed to)...I laughed heartily throughout...and I'd never even heard of Michael Bay before today. Great film...loved the blue screen work, and really good performances by all.


Heard from Mr. Bay (or his lawyers) yet?

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Old August 2nd, 2003, 06:09 PM   #26
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Killing Michael Bay

Believe it or not, we have tried to get the movie to Bay from several different contacts. I think it made it to his production office, but I haven't heard a peep. My guess is that he's such an egomaniac that our little film is completely below his radar. Or he's seen it and figures the existence of a satire roasting his over-the-top style simply proves that he is some sort of auteur.

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Old August 3rd, 2003, 11:16 PM   #27
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Keith Loh's comments are right on target. There really is no reason why a big budget action movie shouldn't have a compelling script and dialogue. A lot of people want to say mainstream America can't handle that, and all they want is to see mindless explosions. I don't think that's true at all. People will take to a decent script along with the action and the movie will be a greater success because of that. That's the reason why films like Pearl Harbor and Armaggedon get such bad reviews. Audiences flock to the theaters in expectation of something great, the studio rakes in millions on opening weekend, then people realize they were cheated and word starts to spread.

It seems nowadays these types of films spend much more time on the trailers and marketing of these films instead of a script, in hopes of scoring big time on opening weekend and setting the pace for trickling earnings to make a decent profit.

I personally can't stand Michael Bay's movies. He's a pompous ass and a mediocre director IMO. Take a look at his photos on IMDB. It seems his gig is more about being a director/model. My favorite is the picture of him with his jean jacket wide open, no shirt underneath, with headphones and a film lens around his neck. This guy makes Michael Bolton look cool.

I'd be curious to find out if Michael Bay gets a look at this short. I'm sure that the name alone will generate enough publicity that it will call his attention. You should send the link to his agent.
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Old August 4th, 2003, 12:17 AM   #28
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I used to think that if Hollywood shelled out better 'quality' flicks that everybody would take notice. And that everybody sees the flaws with movies. And that everybody would appreciate flawless plotlines and actually cares if the film is predictable and fits a formula.

But then that was before I started really listening to the opinions of people who could care less. People who watch American Idol and love every minute of it. People who wouldn't know the difference between a plot arc and Noah's ark. People who just want to have a good time and escape reality at the theater. People who don't know that 'fish out of water' is a standard storyline, and don't notice that it's been done and redone five billion times by Hollywood.

The sad truth is, many, many, many people out there will shovel in any kind of crap if its on a nice plate with 'good production values'. Because, unlike most of the people on this board, filmmaking is NOT a passion to them. Just a form of entertainment like a song would be.

When I listen to Sir Mix-a-lot's 'Baby Got Back' rap song, I don't consider it high art. But hey, it's entertaining. If I was a rapper, I'd probably ridicule it. But to me it's just good fun. Rap's not a passion to me and I'm not about to wax poetic about the stylings of Death Row music as compared to old school Sugar Hill Gang. I don't really care either way; it's not my thing. But I'd still buy it if it entertains me, makes me bob my head, or makes me laugh.

And more importantly, to each his own. Filmmaking is an art, and is subject to opinion. One person may think Michael Bay is an ass, while others may aspire to be like him. It really doesn't matter what one person or another thinks. We just have our ideas of what is good, and some will agree and others won't. Ultimately, if we're passionate enough about what we consider to be good, we make it ourselves (!). And hopefully we get to make it on such a grand budgeted scale as a Michael Bay movie (not to say that such a budget is necessary to make a good picture).
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Old August 4th, 2003, 03:35 AM   #29
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There is a difference between making a film within a fluffy genre and making a crappy film in a fluffy genre. There are lots of movie genres that I don't like, but I respect their art because they have integrity. THE ROAD WARRIOR is a piece of fluff. An action movie from start to end. But it has integrity. It says, 'this is a world where gas is worth dying for, so we'll make a film where everyone drives realllly fast a lot.' That's the only conceit. Within that conceit they make a slam bang, tightly plotted thrill ride. Characters act the way you expect them to within that universe. They don't all of a sudden whip out a light sabre. Why? Because the audience would yell bull. There's no love interest for the sake of seeing the hero whip out his dong. There's no sidekick for the sake of a few jokes. There's a dog and a kid but neither is cute. The creators of that film trusted their material. They said: 'if you buy this universe, we will give you a story that is believable within that universe.'

The crap films are the ones where the source material is betrayed by filmmakers who don't trust the universe they created. They put in Jar Jars, they put in the cute kids and the golden retriever who is menaced by the oh so evil villain. They never bother to mend the gaping plot holes and the illogic. They never bother to explain motivations. They rely upon stereotypes to telegraph a story they didn't bother to think out.
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THE LORD OF THE RINGS: Big budget spectacle movie + involving characters + complex plot + plus lovingly rendered universe = classic for all time, megabuck winner at the box office and critical darling.

A group of people decided they wanted integrity in their film, honesty to its source material and that their audiences could handle it. They didn't make the characters Americans, they didn't bowdlerize it so that it would fit into a convenient 90 minute package and they didn't add Jar Jar. Because they thought their audiences could handle it.

And guess what? Their audiences lapped it up.
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Old August 4th, 2003, 07:51 AM   #30
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Amen Keith!

I think "Die Hard" is a perfect example. The structure of that movie has been ripped off so many times that we forget how cool it was in 1988. But a human, vulnerable hero up against a complex, interesting villain works every time. All the supporting characters had one little thing that made them stand out--Argyle, Powell, Ellis, even Mr. Tokagi was cool. Add in the subtext of "East meets West" (a cop from New York in L.A. and also Japanese companies in America) and you have an action classic.
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