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When Did They Forget How To Make Good Action Movies?
By JAMES GROB
Ottumwa Evening Post Columnist
I like to say I've sworn off action movies, but that isn't exactly true. I did go see the latest "Star Trek" movie this past spring, the one with all the old beloved Star Trek characters like Kirk, Spock, Scotty and McCoy played by new young guys, and that is technically a sci-fi action movie even though it isn't your typical action movie.
In my mind, I don't list it among action movies because I am a Star Trek fan from way back (don't get me wrong, I have never gone to one of their conventions or dressed up like a Klingon or anything like that. Not saying I wouldn't, just saying I never have) and I feel that I need to watch any feature film based on that alternative Star Trek universe, no matter the genre.
The lame-stream media likes to call us "Trekkies," but I prefer the less derogatory "Trekkers," or perhaps even the politically correct "Trek-Captivated Americans."
Anyway, other than the Star Trek exception, I have sworn off action movies. And based on what I have heard from my movie-going friends, I have not missed much this summer.
It seems Hollywood has spent a billion dollars this summer just to insult the intelligence and bore the hell out of movie-goers worldwide.
Should have known something was up way back in May, when they came out with "Fast & Furious 6." That's right, Hollywood felt it was necessary to make a SIXTH Fast & Furious movie, because how else are they going to set up the complex plot line of "Fast Seven," which is coming to theatres next year? (Not joking here, they actually are planning a seventh installment in this perpetual nightmare series of movies.)
Since May, we've been bombarded with multi-million dollar lame excuses for entertainment with titles like "Man of Steel," "World War Z," "White House Down," "Iron Man 3," "Lone Ranger," "Pacific Rim," "Red 2" and "The Wolverine," just to name a few. And by all accounts, audiences haven't been pleased with what is being presented to them.
Look, nobody expects action movies to be great works of art. Put together some semblance of a storyline around a relatable hero, a cool sociopathic antagonist, some wicked explosions, a couple gripping chase scenes, some righteous hand-to-hand fighting and some snappy one-liners and you've got yourself a blockbuster. Heck, throw in an attractive love interest and a big-hearted loyal sidekick and you've made the action movie of the year.
But Hollywood can't even do that right anymore. The storylines make no sense, and have plot holes that are so big you can fly a flaming CGI-created runaway train through them. (Which is usually what they do, because they are bereft of all other creative ideas and stricken with an imagination drought.)
No one can relate to the heroes. Today's Batman, or Dark Knight, is a pouty baby. Iron Man is a smug jerk. Even Superman is a dim-witted pretty boy. All other action heroes seem to fall into one of those three categories these days. None have any memorable one-liners, and even if they did, no one would care enough to listen to them.
The villains are even worse. Hard to figure out why the heck they're so darn evil when you usually can't even understand a word they're saying. There's nothing clever or intriguing about them, they're just bad, and that's that.
Chase scenes? Fight scenes? Forget about it, you can't tell what's going on. For some reason buildings are falling down and things are exploding loudly all over the place, but it's only because some computer whiz figured out a program to make it look like buildings are crashing down. Combat includes plenty of strange camera angles and sound and lighting effects with lots of close ups of faces, elbows, knees and backs. You can't tell who is punching who, who just kicked who, or how the good guy actually just beat those three bad guys up. Want to see a good fight? Don't go to an action movie, go to a hockey game.
Then there's those "alternative" action movies, films with geeky teenagers fighting to death on national TV, or films that include boring, brooding vampires who sparkle. I just don't have the time or inclination to put myself through that kind of misery.
Simply put, it's more fun to watch two friends play a video game than it is to watch one of today's Hollywood action blockbusters.
It's a darn shame, too. Some of the most memorable cinema moments ever filmed came from classic action movies like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, The Terminator and Predator. (I'm talking about the originals here, not any of the lame but inevitable sequels.) Somehow, Hollywood forgot how to make movies like that.
So until they remember again, I'm just going to forget to give them my money.