Tuesday, January 05, 2010


This is not a post about good-looking men (although that is eye-candy, too). It’s a post about good-looking movies.

It was the movie “Avatar” which has sparked this post. Or rather, the discussion about it in my favourite forum (Mangaszene). Unfortunately, Cameron’s new movie is pretty much like many movies lately: pretty pictures, lame story – pretty lame, in other words.

Now, I like good pictures just as much as everyone else. But if I pay my Euros for a seat in the movie theatre (or a DVD), I demand more than just pictures. I demand a story as well. And it should be more than the usual ‘Good vs. Bad’-stuff. Or, if it is the usual ‘Good vs. Bad’-stuff, at least it should be done well and, maybe, with a little unexpected turn somewhere along the way. Some people in the forum – most of them probably female, as far as you can tell, from the alias only – see it the same way. Other people – most of them probably male, as far as you can tell, from the alias only – seem to think that good pictures and a story that holds for the three hours of a movie are enough. You know that kind of story: it breezes alongside the pictures and you don’t notice how stupid and full of holes it is until the movie is over and the pictures fade away.

CGI has a lot of things to answer for, as far as that is concerned. It is a great thing for movies, without any doubt, but it has been used quite a lot lately just for the looks, not for any real content. Other movies, like the new “Star Trek,” incidentally, manage both, though. (The ‘new’ look of the ‘old’ Enterprise took some getting used to, admittedly, but the story was firm and brought a new angle to the universe.)

CGI makes it possible to create all kinds of things. Whatever you can imagine, you can put on the screen. It might take ages to actually design a new type of alien or a complete planet, but it’s possible. Take the “Lord of the Rings”-trilogy, for example. It was claimed that it was impossible to make movies out of the story. Now they exist, thanks to CGI. They may not really be ‘book to movie,’ but they are good enough. (It’s impossible to do a perfect 1:1 transfer from a novel to a movie. A novel is a completely different way of telling a story. A novel can give you loads and loads of insight into a person’s character and thoughts. And it can be as long as you want it to. If it’s too long for one book, make a couple of them out of it. Still, it’s one story that’s being told.)

Unfortunately, a lot of directors seem to think that all those new possibilities are good enough on their own. They create a movie with breathtaking pictures, with new worlds, fantastic creatures, but no real story. And the movies sell, because a lot of people will just go and see them for the new effects. But what of it, once the ‘new’ possibilities are ‘old’ ones? Then the great pictures will not be enough. Good stories, on the other hand, hold even when their looks have outlived their time.

I’m looking out for movies with both: story and looks. I hope I won’t be disappointed by the next movie on my radar, the new “Sherlock Holmes” which will be out in Germany in the end of January.

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