3D, depth, movies, pixar, storylines
Perfect Husband took me to a movie yesterday. Due to the appalling array of complete garbage that has been spewing into theatres these days, we haven’t seen a movie in a long time. However, we noticed that “How To Train Your Dragon” was getting a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and so we figured we’d go see it.
It’s a really cute movie. It has some great lines, a very cute dragon, and the storyline is basically “young misfit discovers that positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment”. Could it BE any further up my alley?
Even though we enjoyed it very much, we both came out of it feeling… unsatisfied. Like getting a great dessert but missing the actual main course.
“Why is it,” Perfect Husband said to me when the last of the credits had rolled (yeah, we’re that couple you see that sits to the end of every movie, pointing out the bizarre names that go by on the screen), “that whenever we see a movie in 3D, the characters are JUST NOT?”
We realized that we have been spoiled by Pixar. When we go to see an animated movie, we expect to get a GOOD movie. Not just a fun or an entertaining movie, but a movie that really uses the medium that it has been created in. A movie which moves us. A movie about real people, with real issues, that really means something. A movie you could write an essay about.
Pixar doesn’t rely on goofy dialogue or physical gags to create a story. In fact, when Pixar introduces us to a character, they often don’t bother using words at all.
Wall-E goes a good seventeen minutes before he even says a word. By the time that seventeen minutes is up, we understand pretty much everything we need to know about him. The rest of the dialogue in the movie consists largely of single-word sentences, usually questions that aren’t answered. But the story probably the richest and deepest of all the Pixar movies to date.
Up‘s signature opening act condenses the entirety of a couple’s life together into a just few minutes, without a single word being spoken, and at the end of it… everyone in the room (including my husband) is sniffling and not looking at each other while pretending to pick dust out of their eyes, because no one wants to admit that an animated kids movie has just made them cry.
(If you haven’t seen Up, don’t worry, this is one of the opening segments, so it doesn’t exactly contain spoilers. That’s right. This is the opening of the movie).
Pixar doesn’t tell you. Pixar SHOWS you, and makes you care*.
By comparison, even a good Dreamworks film like “How To Train Your Dragon” sounds like
“HI I’M SO-AND-SO AND I’M A MISFIT. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.
THIS IS MY DAD AND HE IS VERY UNLOVING FOR NO REASON THAT IS EVER EXPLAINED.”
The movie industry, Pixar excluded**, seems to think that if they make enough fart jokes and make the movie in three dimensions, then they don’t have to worry about things like character development, or deeper meanings. In fact, some of them advertise their movies as 4-D, instead of 3-D, which of course they can get away with since the fourth dimension is TIME, which all movies (except, arguably, The Andromeda Strain) naturally incorporate.
But the characters are as trite and flat as paper dolls. The most notable example being that atrocious cinematic abortion, “Fly Me To The Moon” which made us want to die inside, while self-flagellating with oversized maces.
I’d rather have depth of character, than depth of perception, if it’s all the same to you.*Except, inexplicably, Cars, which is just Doc Hollywood but with anthropomorphic inanimate objects. I guess if Dreamworks made a fluke good movie with Shrek the first, then Pixar gets one bad fluke with Cars. **Again, except for Cars.
That opening bit in Up made me cry too. And I’m English:-)
I seem to see more trailers than films these days – our current small-child combination isn’t too cinema-friendly – and I am getting desperately sick of bangs and crashes and CGI. I really want to see a character- or concept-driven film made for grownups without a big budget, but that doesn’t make me want to vomit or slit my wrists. Something like Twelve Angry Men. Does anybody make them any more?
They’re rare, that’s for sure.
We saw the dragon movie twice – NOT in 3D, I detest the new “let’s make everything 3D, yeehaw!” trend – because when you have small boys, animated movies about intelligent misfits who end up saving the day by riding dragons are the best thing ever.
Cars is an abomination. I can say this because again, I have small boys, and so I have seen it approximately 30 bajillion times. However, it is their favourite of the Pixar movies. They didn’t like Up much and Finding Nemo is apparently too scary and sad. It’s got a lot to do with the age and comprehension level of the audience (Isaac used to love Nemo, until he got old enough to recognize that Nemo’s entire family gets wiped out in the first five minutes, and that he spends the rest of the movie terrified of imminent death).
Not sure what my point is here, other than that many animated movies are garbage – but so are many live-action ones. I don’t pick on the makers of cartoons anymore, because they learned the trade of merchandise-friendly focus-grouped audience tested popcorn crap from the existing industry.
Nemo IS a little scary for young boys. The Latern fish comes to mind…
When I was eight my favourite movie was Watership Down, which I now realize is terrifyingly gory, but by the time you are eight you kind of like that…
I found Watership Down on DVD for $10, I’m saving it for when the kids are older. You know, because they like bunnies right now and I think I’ll keep it that way for a while. 🙂
Scary stuff, they couldn’t care less. They’ve seen five of the six Star Wars movies and haven’t batted an eyelash. But someone’s mommy dies and look out below. I guess I should be flattered. 🙂
Yeah, shooty lights and explosions – not so scary when you’re a kid. Bloody murdering rabbits and the possibility of losing Mommy and Daddy- TERRIFYING.
Gettysburg Mom said:
I’ve watched Up, and yet from watching those four minutes I have tears in my eyes.
Although- I’m a hormone filled nursing mama… I also cry at 45% of the commercials out there.
Nah, it’s not the hormones, otherwise my husband will start lactating momentarily.
Tedbert & Roeper said:
No doubt they’ll always been shallow and garbagey movies, regardless of format/technology/etc. Although the 3D ones seem more banal somehow.
I look back on 2008 as a landmark year in cinema – not only were we witness to the _masterpiece_ that is ‘Fly me to the Moon’, but also ‘Space Chimps’ and the deeply contemplative ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’. What selection could be better for an involuntary airplane viewing?
Don’t worry, Marmaduke is coming… it was filmed in Vancouver and only, like, five Great Danes died during filming…
Wombat Central said:
That’s what my husband heard, though I can’t prove it. When you live in the same city that the film is made in, you hear things… Don’t even get me started on “Snow Buddies” and all the puppies that died. And I KNOW that is fact, because I know someone who worked on the set of that film.
Wombat Central said:
The whole family LOVED UP so much.And there was lots of sniffling in the theatre! I’ve been wondering what others think of “How to Train Your Dragon,” since my son wants to see it. Sounds like it doesn’t compare to a Pixar film. Did it seem pretty kid-friendly? Was there a decent message in the end?
Yes, it’s kid-friendly, and the general message seems good. Overall, it’s a thumbs-up movie. The characters just don’t have any DEPTH. They’re all cookie cutters.
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