Half way through, I was definitely starting to fear a LOTR moment (when a film is so unnecessarily prolonged, you really need to pop to the toilet but don’t want to get up for fear of falling over in the dark or never being able to find the same seat again on the way back so you sit and hold, uncomfortably tight).
Anyone can state that a film is ‘utterly amazing’ or ‘epically awful’, but having friends who both make and analyse them for a living, along with a very healthy dose of self-fascination with film myself, I’ve learnt the importance of breaking it down. From clever dialogue to the use of sound, the casting to the lighting trickery, I’m sure any member of the film industry shudders with throwaway love/ hate comments if you can’t verbalise the reasons behind the conclusion.
But what makes up a good or a bad film is also exceptionally subjective. What I like, JJ Abrams probably doesn’t. What I don’t find funny, a legion of Anchorman fans do (one day, I’m sure I will).
As a 140 character review of Oblivion (which the point of this post is not about), I summed it up on Twitter as ‘Arid Predator-Tuskens and Riseborough eclipses Cruise. #Oblivion is in the shadow of Moon despite its daylight. But M83 song is enchanting.’ I hadn’t known Andrea Riseborough was in it until her first scene with Tom Cruise (I always feel cheated after spoiler-trailers, but that’s for another post). I thought she was perfect as the stoic controller to Cruise’s seen-this-before action man. The borrowing didn’t go amiss either, with at least one scene that felt like it had been traced directly from Duncan Jones’s Moon (which also has a number of inescapable comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and 1972 Trumbull’s Silent Running, for starters – you can’t win). The underground future human race ‘Scavs’ were hugely unimaginatively dressed as the love children of Star Wars Tusken Raiders and Predator, I can but shan’t go on. Being a stickler for staying right to the bitter end after the credits have finished (the Marvel effect), on this occasion I was banned by my friend who wanted out. I actually was more than happy to oblige, were it not for the closing song. This and the overall M83 soundtrack to Oblivion, was its saviour. With the help of Shazam, we did just that. Left, that is.
So I guess what I’m trying to say that although a film can be watched by a mass of people, we each take something unique away from it. For me I discovered a couple of artists that I can’t keep away from and have relived sequences in my imagination when trying to zone-in at work. I have been stimulated by the conversation I’ve had since about it with my friend regarding my frustrations and revelations (despite his resistance).
So the next time you are about to class a film on purely it’s entertainment merits, think about it just a little bit more. Was there anything that you spotted that was actually quite clever? Had that ‘rip-off’ actually executed a scene quite exquisitely despite reminding you of something else? Had the visual effects been really quite convincing? Look at the intricacies of the costumes, from the fabric choices to the cut and movement on the actors, mull over the vehicles, props and sets that have been sketched, redrawn and hand-built a thousand times over feature in the final product. The choice of buildings, the architecture, the distant backgrounds, the locations used to generate another world up on that beautiful big screen. There’s a lot more to a film than just meets the eye…