In continuing to explore my friend’s own personal genre of Men of Honor Blowing Stuff Up, this week we look at … Stuff Blowing Up. Explosions are such a staple of movies that they are basically a subgenre of tropes. And the reason for their rampant use isn’t nearly so deep or complicated; explosions are cool and people, especially men, like them. They’re an awesome way to anchor an action set piece and they look great visually. Should you put explosions in your movie? Unless you’re working on a Jane Austen adaptation the answer is yes! And even then you should at least consider it. (I think I just invented my own genre.) Read more
It’s the moment we go to the movies to see; the Damsel in Distress, or the Mentor, or the Innocent Bystander is about to be killed by the Big Bad, but at the very last second the lead bursts in and saves the day, making him the Big Damn Hero!
The entrance of the Big Damn Heroes is one of the most popular tropes in movies today, especially big blockbuster popcorn movies. It creates a huge rush of adrenaline and rightly so. As conflict is the heart of all drama, waiting until the last minute to rescue the victim makes maximum use of this tension. And it’s usually accompanied by a swell in the music. Read more
Welcome back to Troperiffic Tuesday! This week we’re looking at one of the basic tenets of storytelling, Chekhov’s Gun. The trope is based on a principle espoused by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Chekhov said it a variety of ways but it comes down to this, “If you have a gun on stage, it better go off before the end of the play.”
Chekhov’s Gun falls under the Law of Conservation of Detail which teaches writers to make every word, every bit of dialogue count. If it doesn’t drive the story, don’t waste your precious time with it. In movies you only have 90-120 minutes to tell a story, on TV only 22-43 minutes so every detail has to count. Don’t introduce any element that distracts from the story. Read more
OK, so it’s really Troperiffic Wednesday; I’m a bit late. But this week’s trope is one of my favorites. It’s called The Noodle Incident and we all have a few in our past. Ready to remember yours?
(If you don’t know what a trope is you can find out here.)
The Noodle Incident refers to an occurance in a character’s past or a shared occurence in multiple characters’ past that remains unknown to the audience. It can be silly, shameful, illegal, outrageous, traumatic, ridiculous, or a combination of any of the above. It’s named after the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon pictured here. (Just what did Calvin do?) Read more
When the Avengers was announced way back in 2008, I wasn’t really sold on the concept. I just didn’t think that it would be possible to successfully combine the different universes in which each of these heroes live. There was no way that the world that Jon Favreau so lovingly created around Tony Stark contained a Norse God, maybe a hulk, definitely not a 1940s style do-gooder super soldier. No. And as each individual movie (Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man 2) came out with varying success, I became even less convinced.
Yay!!!! It’s time for Iron Man 2. Can they repeat their success with even more moving parts? Let’s see!
The Basics: After outing himself as Iron Man, Tony Stark now has to deal with the added pressure & publicity, the US Government, and a new development with the arc reactor in his chest, and naturally a new round of villains.
What I Liked: The original cast return with extras and are still having a blast. Of course, Downey Jr is a hoot whenever he’s onscreen and excels at playing the arrogant ass that is also vulnerable and likeable. And while I liked Paltrow in the 1st movie I thought she was the weakest part of the original. But here she is hysterical, even stealing a couple of moments from Downey, not an easy feat. Cheadle does just fine as the replacement Rhodey and has great chemistry with his co-stars. Our villains are on fine form too; Sam Rockwell as the cheesy Justin Hammer & Mickey Rourke as the brooding Whiplash. And even Jon Favreau gets a piece of the action. The first & third acts move along nicely and the movie never takes itself too seriously.
What I Didn’t Like: The second act, which was the best part of the original, is actually a little slow in places, even when RDJ is onscreen (which seems impossible). Scarlett Johanson is stiff and cold and that works for her character sometimes but also feels one dimensional. There was also one scene in particular that I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be serious but came off as funny.
Bottom Line: There’s action, comedy, drama, and a bit of romance; the perfect blend for a summer flick. (Did I mention how cute RDJ looks?)
Ever get a giggle at the completely-not-connected-with-reality computer screens that are often shown in the movies? I’m looking at you, Mission Impossible. Remember the screen when Ethan is sending emails to Job. It’s awful. Granted, it was 1996 and the internet & email were still relatively new but most folk knew it looked nothing like that.
Sometimes the unrealistic screens work within the world of the movie. In The Matrix, the computer interface is obviously an important part of the script and we’re willing to believe that the strange characters and the falling green columns are meaningful to the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. Read more
Now on to G.I. Joe, which I can describe in one word, and I truly mean this as a compliment, …craptastic! OK, I totally stole that description of the movie from cinematical.com, but it’s completely accurate.
The Basics: Have no idea how to sum this up. Elite group of soldiers, bad guys, stolen weapons, secret training lairs, blah, blah blah. If you’ve watched the cartoon or read the comics, you know. If you haven’t, you’ll catch on quickly. Read more
The Avengers universe is taking shape & Hollywood just can’t resist mining the depths of classic TV.
Old News: In case you don’t know, The Avengers is Marvel Comics answer to DC Comics’ Justice League. Among the Avengers is Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor. And, unless you haven’t been to the theater in five years, you may have noticed that some of these characters have been the subject of some pretty successful movies. Marvel has been using these individual movies to shape not just individual franchises but an inclusive Avenger franchise.