Avengers 3D movie

I spent a couple of the longest hours of my life this evening at the Avengers 3D movie. A companion pronounced herself thoroughly bored and complained about the thin dialog. It does not seem as though it would have killed the screenwriters to have explained how Loki survived his death plunge from the Thor movie or who was behind his effort to take over the Earth and/or what he planned to do once he became supreme dictator (Loki was compared to Hitler in the movie, but Hitler at least had a published plan prior to taking power).

It occurred to me that if this is the creative energy that supposedly renders the U.S. immune to foreign competition we might be in some trouble. Chinese actors could certainly learn to speak a handful of lines in English while stuff blows up around them. Chinese screenwriters could presumably come up with a plot pretty similar to the Avengers movie. It is not the idiosyncratically creative stuff that Americans do that makes money, apparently, but the formulaic. So can we really have a sustainable competitive advantage in this area?

15 thoughts on “Avengers 3D movie

  1. Philip,
    We will have a competive advantage as long as China focuses on manufacturing, engineering and building up their military. Oh yeah also they are really good at knockoffs. Once they have control in those areas world wide then they can merely hire all of the current Hollywood stars and churn out the same stuff we do. Or even better if George Lucas got his way all of the actors could be digital “actors” and be literally pulled off the shelf.
    For the record, i enjoyed The Avengers. Of course i knew exactly what i was getting into before i went.

  2. If you need to be beaten over the head with explanations, then clearly subtleties in the dialogue and character development were ironically (or not) lost on you high brow types.

  3. Chinese efforts are not spent in this direction because it would be overkill 🙂

    See http://www.starwreck.com/ – a Star Trek parody made by a small number of Finns some years ago (it used to be freely available, right now I don’t seem to be able to find the download link).

  4. Those aforementioned Chinese actors are already doing this in the countless action movies out of China and Hong Kong. Those screenwriters have also been employed by the same production companies.

    No matter what the critics think of movies like the Avengers there is a worldwide appetite for this type of movie.

    Also it’s definitely a personal preference. While most action flicks aren’t very well written I would see any one of them before I paid money for the latest Jane Austen adaptation.

    Movies to me are about being entertained and not educated. If the action flick is based on comic book heroes that I read under the covers when I was 9 I can lose myself for 2 hours in a movie written at about the same level and come out feeling like I was back under the covers.

  5. Even if someone outside of Hollywood put together the same caliber of production, it doesn’t matter unless they can persuade people to watch it.

    Thin plots, mediocre dialogue, and stuff blowing up is what makes up the content of a successful action movie, but if you own and employ the rights to use an existing brand of characters that people are familiar with, you get a lot of ticket sales for free, just because it’s The Avengers.

  6. Hollywood owns the distribution inputs to the American market. Money and talent are fungible and/or portable, but distribution is king.

    This was equally true in music until recently. Technology and the Internet is breaking that model, slowly.

    There are analogies to silicon valley and the startup ecosystem, which is not as far evolved as music, but farther than movies.

  7. “and/or what he planned to do once he became supreme dictator”

    I’m guessing “rule with an iron fist” wouldn’t satisfy your definition of a plan.

  8. I was (almost) too distracted by the washed out picture (terrible contrast, all blacks were grey) provided by the 3D experience to notice the other flaws.
    Perhaps it was just my theater (which is new and usually of high quality on 2D.)

  9. I should clarify that I’m not a film snob and I wasn’t comparing Avengers 3D to the Ingmar Bergman oeuvre. I think that the movie was pretty poor compared to action/adventure movies of 10-40 years ago (e.g., a James Bond movie, Die Hard, etc.).

  10. Loki: “I have an army.”

    Iron Man / Tony Stark: “We have a Hulk”

    Philip: “The Chinese have an army.”

    Me: “We have Stan Lee”

    I enjoyed two hours of escapism with my teenage son and his friend, probably because I enjoyed the prior movies and how cleverly clues and plot lines had been intertwined between the films in ways far beyond Bond, or Die Hard sequels. If you haven’t appreciated the prequels, I can see why you wouldn’t appreciate this episode either. Kind of like watching Harry Potter 6 in isolation.

  11. Why would anyone in China put a lot of effort into a movie when on the day of the official release ever video store in China will have a high quality bootleg CD on sale for a dollar?

  12. “I think that the movie was pretty poor compared to action/adventure movies of 10-40 years ago (e.g., a James Bond movie, Die Hard, etc).”

    Exactly. I agree that Avengers was not so great- too long, too many characters, no resonance with anything real, too dependent on CGI, and more interested in fanservice than tight plotting. And I don’t buy the excuse that “c’mon, it’s a summer action movie, what did you expect?” Movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Terminator, and Jaws are still widely loved decades later because they had great stories that stand the test of time (in addition to being hugely entertaining). It’s still possible to make those kinds of movies — I can easily imagine people still enjoying Inception 30 years from now — but studios mostly prefer to hide behind 4-quadrant-optimized adaptations of board games, theme park rides, action figures, and comic books. “but they make money!” well so did Titanic but it’s still a crap movie.

    Hopefully Prometheus and Dark Knight Rises will offer up some quality old-school filmmaking this summer, because I don’t have high hopes for Battleship or GI Joe 2.

  13. I tend to think most people enjoy boring, explosion-y movies primarily because it’s the only kinds of movies they watch. I laugh at my friends when they take the very occasional dive into “old” movies, and they’ll have watched something from like 1977. When you only watch recent movies and they all happen to be the same kind of movie, it’s tough to see outside that hole.

    I love all sorts of movies with dates ranging from 1915 to at least Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter movies (and Harry Potter 6 would still make a far more excellent movie in isolation than 95% of comic book movies). But I find all this stuff, especially within the past 10-12 years, incredibly boring because of it’s sameness. Or it might be moderately exciting every time they stop focusing on the actors, but there’s nothing to bring you back or look at fondly.

    Unfortunately, I think if you only sell to a guaranteed market, you don’t have too much incentive to do better. Although, I never understood why, when an action movie makes $300 million in PROFIT, a studio can’t funnel $5 million to an “independent” studio they own that specializes in more artistic movies. If a new, or even seasoned director who can risk something new, wants to keep getting the occasional $5 million, I suppose that’s incentive enough for the small guys to want to make a really great picture and potentially, over time, market them to bigger and bigger crowds… or at least very dedicated cult followers.

Comments are closed.