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Monday, November 09, 2009


Last night my cousin and I watched the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra on a rented Blu-Ray. We knew beforehand the movie, which is only partially the focus of this post, would be terrible. We only rented this film because it co-starred Ray "Darth Maul" Park, someone who should be in much better movies. Park has made an artform out of the physical limits of what a human being can do. The guy can jump clean over a six-foot tall man from a standstill. Someone could just put a camera on Ray Park for a few seconds and make their movie better. Unfortunately, the G.I Joe filmmakers deciding that instead of taking the easy route, I.E. just leaving the camera on Park while he pummels someone, they should cut to a different angle any time a different square-inch of Park's body moved. This means even a simple punch takes 14 different cuts and angles. Though this makes the punch unclear and unsatisfying, perhaps the filmmaker's thought that an average human viewer would be unable to focus their attention on one five-second moving image of a man punching another man. Personally, if I simply wanted to look at a bunch of photographs of someone punching someone from 30 different partially obscured angles, I would not think I would need to watch a movie. I would assume that watching a movie entailed the viewing of "moving pictures", but I guess not.
Anyway, there is not a single moment in this film when one cool thing is going on by itself so that the viewer can focus on it. There are a multitude of moments where many assumedly cool things are going on at the same time, however they are intermingled like 40 different colors layered over one small space of paper, creating a decidedly fecalesque shade.
I get that this is a film based on a children's toy, specifically a boy's toy, but the film is rated PG-13, and features language and violence I would assume most parents would not be happy with.
To produce this film, the filmmakers spent almost $200 million. As a nation we create roughly five to ten films like this every year, spending about $1.5 billion. By comparison, the GDP of Somalia, a country populated by nearly 10 million people, is about $7.6 billion. The yearly market value of all goods and services in the nation of Somalia is only about five times bigger than our 7 most expensive films of the year.
What value do these monumental works hold? What good does a film like G.I Joe or Transformers 2 or X-Men Origins: Wolverine add to our society and the world at large? They are certainly not enduring works of art, nor do they stir our morality or our consciences. These films, or "entertainment" as you will, are certainly not entertaining, so logically we do not make them to be entertained.
Why do we make them?


jess said...

Good question. I've wondered that myself before, especially for one-off works that hold no lasting "value" even as so-called entertainment. Do you have a good answer?

Nicholas said...

I think we make them just because we can. It's sort of like a societal arrogance. We are so well off, we can throw away $200 million on this, and it doesn't even matter.