I watched two movies yesterday. First, I watched Treasure Planet, an animated retelling of Treasure Island, set in a future with sailed starships. Next, Lana and I watched the recent remake of The Incredible Hulk. I really liked Treasure Planet and didn’t care for the “Hulk.”
Later, Lana and I talked about the movies we’ve watched lately that were “less” than compelling, The Strangers, Mongol, and whatever other ones we’d seen that we couldn’t even remember the titles of. We both decided that Hollywood made better movies in the 1970s and 1980s than today, and I was trying to decide why. A reason occurred to me that I’m throwing out to see what folks think.
I suspect that the people making movies in the 70s and 80s were largely influenced by books, while many of the folks making movies now are influenced by other movies and TV, or by comic books, which are closer to TV/Movies than to regular books. Movies influenced from books seem, to me, to have a better sense of storytelling, of combining all elements such as characters, action, and setting into a complete experience. Movies made by folks who basically only watch other movies or movie-like experiences lack that completeness.
How else to explain my yesterday’s experience? I much enjoyed Treasure Planet, based on a wonderfully fine novel, while with the Hulk I was constantly thrown out of the story by problems with continuity, things that just seemed simple storytelling "don’ts." For example, a chase scene early in the movie, which probably lasts a total of 15 minutes of “real life” time, begins clearly in daylight, and suddenly it is night! Say what? Or another fight scene takes place under a completely blue sky, until suddenly at the end it begins to pour down rain.
Now, Lana looked the Hulk up online and found that they did a lot of neat things to reflect back on the history of the character and on the TV show, and they were the “greenest” production ever in being environmentally friendly, but how could they take such care with these details and let the scene continuity vary randomly? It really hurt the movie for me, and all I can think is that they weren’t quite coming from a storytelling perspective. Rain is dramatic. Throw it in! Night is dramatic. Stuff it here! So it doesn’t make sense? The audience trained on TV and Video Games and comics won’t care. Well, uhm, there are still some of us out here who remember what good storytelling was like.