Monday, July 21, 2008

Can't It Be So Simple?

I saw the new "Batman" movie on Sunday. I'm not much of a moviegoer, but the offer came to head down to Lowell Showcase and see the matinee, so I took it -- more for the chance to spend time with -- in my best Peter Falk now -- "the missus" than out of any desire to see comic book folk on the big screen.

I spent the entire last forty-five minutes or so of the movie just thinking "When is this thing going to end?" which is probably never a good thing to be thinking during a movie. It was partly my own fault for chugging a huge Pepsi and then two waters right before the movie (eventually, I just ended up making the head call I thought I could stave off).

So this morning I was talking about it with a Senior Chief at work who reminded me that the entire point of a movie is to let you escape/suspend disbelief and not be thinking about other things or, worse, just anticipating the sight of credits. So what went wrong?

First and foremost, length. My attention span is probably somewhere near the average for Americans, which is to say not very long. Two hours is pretty close to my max for an action film or comedy...and if possible, I'd prefer to err to the side of ninety minutes. Two-and-a-half plus a gaggle of previews is just honestly too much.

Second, complication/intricacy. Too many times in the past, I've blamed myself for missing plot twists and turns during movies. But as Senior said, the best movies are usually the simplest ones. Screenwriters, or fiction authors in general, may be tempted to show the great inner workings of their minds by adding in endless twists, turns, and variations on the aforementioned. But, he cautioned, "Even my eight year-old daughter can write a story that just endlessly turns in new directions with no central plot. That's not really impressive."

That got me thinking about action films I really liked. Two that suddenly jumped to mind were "Spiderman" and "The Rock." I think both kept to the formula pretty well -- not too intricate, not over-the-top in terms of effects, and not too long.

I think a few key themes have emerged from this blog and it's neat to see it happen. One of the major, overall ideas is this -- just don't overdo it. Of course, it doesn't mean not to give your best in everything you do -- cliched as that is, it's absolutely the truth that you should. But it really just comes back to an intuitive, can't-be-put-down-in-words sort of sense you have to get when something is just enough, no matter what it is. Push just enough to where it's appropriate, and then back off a little bit and see what happens.

So the Joker is really bad and he likes to blow stuff up.

Batman is a good guy but he sometimes feels conflicted about what he does.

Normal folk fall somewhere in the middle, but are generally good and want to do the right thing.

Got it. Check. You don't have to beat me over the head with it.

No comments: