One of my main problems with Hollywood is that most movies are bad. Yet, people still pay to see them due to gratuitous sex and gratuitous violence (or they seek a distraction, etc). I don’t really begrudge them what they wish to spend money on, but I am disinclined to do so myself. More than the flat characters, limp plots, and lame dialogue, my main issue to that for all their multimillion dollar budgets and fancy special effects, these movies are (usually) sloppy.
Now, I do realize that no movie truly has an over-mind who can guide all decision and that, in many cases, flaws (some, at least) emerge in the many steps of filming and production, but the basic calculus de-emphasizes a great deal of accuracy often in favor of brighter flashes and louder explosions. The calculus is excellent in the sense that Hollywood is a business, but does little for the artistry of the medium. Yes, snobbery at its finest. Also, note that I am largely talking here about the big budget movies and television shows, such as Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and the Immortals.
1. Lord of the Rings: There are a multitude of flaws (vis a vis the books) in these generally well done movies, but I will focus on one scene in particular. Boromir, son of Denethor, kills many orcs in an attempt to save the hobbits and redeem himself. He dies in the process. This happens in both the book and the movie, but in the book, the send-off (the outline of which is accurate enough in sum in the movie) includes the swords of all the orcs Boromir killed–unseen in the movie. This is a relatively unremarkable issue and a quibble, but something I attribute to sloppiness since the addition of the swords is such a minor added cost (they had plenty laying around, right?) and an easy homage to the richness of Middle Earth that would further demonstrate dedication to a craft. And this is a moment in which the filmmakers chose to follow the book, so the failure in this way bothers me all the more than the points at which they ad-libbed.
2.Game of Thrones: Two words: hair color. George RR Martin makes such a big deal about hair color in the books, so the failure of the show to follow through drove me crazy. Such a small cost, but not one that could be bothered with. Heights were a close second of my pet-peeves.
3. Immortals: This is a legitimately bad movie and I had low expectations, but bear with me. I expected nothing from the characters, plot, mythology, skin color, acting, or effects. Nothing. I was saddened, but not surprised to see the soldiers carrying Roman gladii, the lack of a phalanx, a modern-looking bow, and even the cheapness of the props. What got me was the geography. The movie claims to be Greece, but there is a desert and nothing but high sea cliffs. In short, the terrain is utterly unrecognizable as Greece. Most people likely would not know this, much less care, but it is a never-ending irritation to me. What does a company lose for this? It seems though Greece, utterly picturesque, would look better than that..plastic CGI landscape shown. I’m not asking for total accuracy or for them to film there, just to actually use Greece as a model if you want to say the movie is based there.
One of the reasons that this bothers me, though, is that Hollywood is asking me to spend my money to support their lifestyles that are significantly more luxurious than mine is. In return, they offer me several hours of entertainment, a distraction from whatever issues I face. When I sit down to watch something that feels cobbled together or seems sloppy, I feel cheated by a group of businesspeople who know that they can put out garbage and (often) still make money. Then it is a relief to see a movie or show–of any genre–that is put out by people who actually give a damn.
Yes, movies usually can only show the spine of a story and, usually, are not actually a good medium for story-telling. And yes, I should be more selective about what I watch (usually on Netflix, rarely in the cinema; and no longer watch books I like become movies), but I am often also disappointed in critically acclaimed movies and shows. Perhaps I am just feeling crankier than usual this week, but that does not change how I feel about Hollywood. I also realize that my wish for a change is a pipe-dream, and, frankly, my own discipline to avoid movies I am well aware will disappoint is suspect. Still, it is something that bothers me about media.