Monday, July 26, 2010

Squaring Off Against a Hater on the Message Boards

I encountered this post on the internet movie database message boards on and decided to take on this guy point-by-point. I won't say he comes off as idiotic and that I wanted to put him in his place. We all have opinions and a message board, as opposed to a blog is a good place to just throw opinions out there without thinking too much about him. Nevertheless, he does present his case as if it were an essay and I found it slightly true in a couple places, but mostly unfounded.

His post is displayed in quotes and my point by point rebuttal has bullet points to it.

"1. You have only to watch a few YouTube videos to find Cruise's personality utterly repulsive."
-Just like anything else, the experience of watching it in a movie theater is superior to Youtube.
-There is a coherent story here
-Also, if Youtube and the film's studio/promotion people were properly doing their job, the film wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be on Youtube anyway.
"2. Cruise is WAY WAY WAY too old for playing pretty boy action star."
He plays it well. When his hair gets gray, he becomes fatter and forms wrinkles (i.e. Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again or Entrapment), then he's too old for the part but he's clearly capable of being an action star.
-Um, hello? Are you not aware that Cruise does stunts himself. Considering, it's highly publicized that he's literally performing the action, there shouldn't be a question of whether he's believable to pretend to be a character who does action scenes
3. Boring and Forgettable is reserved for DVD.
That's begging the question....we're debating whether the film itself is boring and forgettable, this isn't an argument.

"We are burned out on these boring action thriller buddy/romance shoot em up, car chase, explosion movies. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN DONE...AND DONE BETTER AND MORE ORIGINALLY IN the 1990's when our parents forced us to go to this crap."
-Well, it depends on what you look for. Shakespeare said there are only 12 story lines. If you look for the basics, yes, but this had a whole number of things I'd never seen before. I could go down the list but I found the relationship between kidnapper and kidnapped fairly original, I felt it was a convincing arc with which the two developed a relationship, I've never seen the backwards plotline slowly unravelling about his childhood, etc.. It was a genre film so it followed (or parodied, at certain places) the formula but the film tweaked it when appropriate.

"What does Generation Y like?

Hello? Is anyone paying attention? At all???

What do Vampires, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar have in common?

Not just special effects, fantasy and interesting plotlines (ok, Avatar not so much on the good writing--but MAN! those special effects!)"
-Not really: Star Wars was very story heavy and it failed. Vampires and Lord of the Rings have popular source material in common.
-Avatar, we both agree was weak on story (actually, I don't personally agree because I'm still the only person on the planet not to have seen it) but I know enough about it to argue that from what I've heard it's a weak story but great special effects.
-I think the main trend that you mentioned with the successful stories of the last few years is not so much good storylines but source material. Both Twilight and Lord of the Rings had strong followings because of books and the same formula has worked with Bourne Identity and a number of other works. It's not a new thing either. Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, the first two blockbusters, were books first.

"Here's the BIG ONE that no one seems to be GETTING when they crank out this action thriller crap.

Generation Y HAS MORE RESPECT FOR LIFE. Our heroes are not mindless killers. Our heroes don't shoot entire rooms full of people and call it comedy. Our heroes are conflicted and complicated and introspective. If our heroes have to kill, they feel tortured and have no alternative.

Spraying bullets everywhere is not "cool" to generation Yers. We've gone to school afraid of someone going nuts and spraying bullets everywhere because we've seen it happen."
-That's a very good point and I will give you that. Bourne, X-Men, Spiderman, Iron Man, and Bond have all been pretty critical about life-taking in respect to the heroes and take that old convention of the Clint Eastwood-type figure who shoots a hundreds of people without much thought.
I think that Night and Day as well as a couple others (Jonny English and Get Smart, for example) are not in the mold of Rambo or one of Pierce Brosnam's Bonds. It's clearly tongue-and-cheek and somewhat of a satire of those earlier films. We don't really believe that Tom Cruise killed all those people. It's too absurdist to be taken seriously. It's like Steve Carrell being able to outgun a room full of 12 people or hold his own in hand-to-hand combat against Dwayne Johnson. It's so absurdist, you don't take it at face value.

"Generation Y HAS MORE RESPECT FOR THE PLANET. Our heroes don't blow up cars and helicopters and airplanes and WASTE resources constantly."
-I don't think being green carries over to movie watching. I don't think even Ed Begley Junior or Leonardo DiCaprio are turned off by movie heroes who use up a big carbon footprint.

"Generation Yers are more romantic than gratuitously sexual. We're not into gratuitous sex as much as we are into ideals of loyalty and intimacy and friendship. We are the kids of divorce. We want relationships with substance that last. Complexity is HUGE for Generation Y."
I agree (although that's a little bit of a stretch). But what does that have to do with this film? There was no sex in this movie. The characters didn't consumate their relationship at any point and they didn't do it during the closing credits. There's good reason to believe that possibly in their road trip, they'll do it, but maybe the car will blow up.

"Bottom line--older film makers need to grow up and get smarter if they want to sell movie tickets to the under 30 set."

-No, boys under 14 are as immature and loving of violence as they've always been. In fact, even if American culture has changed and has been affected by Columbine shootings or the Virginia Tech shootings or Orange alerts and Blackwayer or whatever else, the American share of the box office is smaller than the international potential and one of the only things that translates across all markets is audiences like seeing stuff get blown up and they might not have those hang-ups with violence that your specific age group does.

-Also, James Mangold is a good filmmaker and is nothing like what you're talking about. 3:10 to Yuma was a classic character study of a film. Long stretches of the film went by without a single bullet being fired. He also did Walk the Line which has very heeavy characters. Mangold has range.

"Movies like this---that have all the substance and depth of a Marshmellow Peep are obsolete."

Bottom line: I agree that Rambo or Charles Bronson are obsolete, except this movie isn't as bad as you say it is.

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