Let me explain.
Over the past eight years, I have begun to dislike movies. I am not drawn to big box office flicks and special effects. In fact, I would rather just wait for NetFlix before watching most movies. I only get interested when some type of human quality is the focus. Movies that stand-out to me are Sling Blade and The Shawshank Redemption. Don’t get me wrong; I love Star Wars and Star Trek too. But, more for a different reason.
When George Lucas created Star Wars, the times had never seen anything like it. Star Wars and Star Trek literally started a genre of movies. But, as time has gone by, I don’t like that genre anymore. Movie makers go out of their way to show a special effects or eye candy whether the story needs it or not. For instance, in the newest rendition of War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise is driving away in a mini-van. In the background, we see a needless shot of a bridge being blown up. In Iron Man, we see countless scenes of watch Tony Stark fly through the skies. Now, why does this bother me?
Well, it bothers me because I know movie makers can do any special effect they need. So, special effects are now common place and “easy.” There’s no new genre of movies being created here. Don’t try to wow me with special effects. I don’t have to have a needless explosion or body being blown apart just so movie makers can say: “I made that!”
This forces me to look for story: human sacrifice, great adversity. Now, when you pull special effects out of the equation, do the big blockbusters still hold water? I’d sadly answer “no.” Movies like Avatar have a nice story, but the story is nothing new. Sure Avatar looks beautiful and there are special effects, but seriously what is new about this movie? What did James Cameron show us about character and suffering we haven’t seen before? Did he even tell the story in a different way? The same themes have been told is countless movies.
But, there is another aspect of this we need to address. Earlier I mentioned Star Wars and Star Trek really started a new genre. I still believe that to be true. But, lets dig deeper. If Avatar had been created in the late seventies, I believe it may be THE movie others are measured by. I don’t mean the special effects would have been just like they are today, but that they would be breakthrough technology. The story would be amazing. The times would have been so different and this story would have an amazing impact.
Let’s look at this another way. If Star Wars was created now, would I like it? Probably not. Blasphemy, you say? Imagine my disgust at the beginning of the movie as the star destroyer goes on forever. Yes, it would have been more beautiful, but come on!! Special effects just to show special effects?! Terrible movie if it had been done today. The story is really nothing new either, but back in the late 70s. This story adding the special effects made it amazing. But, these days I don’t believe special effects can turn a normal story about a boy who eventually saves the world amazing. It’s just same old same old.
So, what makes a good movie then, snob?
Well, this is a hard question to answer. But, I am entertained by movies and stories which emphasize the characters and their social dilemmas. I am interested in acting and I often compare what my reaction would have been to the actor’s.
Special effects have no bearing to whether a movie is great or normal. But, special effects can make a movie bad. Over the top special effects just for the sake of doing it makes a movie terrible to me.
Lastly, the story. I don’t enjoy watching the same story over and over again. In Avatar’s case, you can watch Disney renditions of this theme or even try FernGully: The Last Rainforest. If you’re not fond of cartoons, 1990’s Dances with Wolves will sufficiently tell you the same story. That’s why I don’t like Avatar as a product of today’s movies (Or Iron Man, War of the Worlds, the X-Men Trilogy).
Am I being picky? Yes, I am a movie snob.