Reviewing Marvel/DC Films’ Reception

Back in early 2016, rumors had surfaced that Warner Brothers were afraid most movie-goers would not appreciate their upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, not because of its quality, but because it was “too smart for the average superhero movie-goer” (HitFix, 2016). Well after the movie was released, as it was being critically panned by reviewers and audiences alike, its fans declared it as “misunderstood” and “brilliant”, even going as far as saying that it is a “masterpiece” (Monkeys Fighting Robots, 2016). They concluded that its nature strikes a significant difference between the DC cinematic universe and Marvel’s, calling it “darker”, “more ambitious” and “more mature” than the latter will ever be (New York Post, 2016), since Marvel films are usually light-hearted and adventurous, with snarky humor and filled with action sequences throughout.

While this discussion went on, trailers for DC’s upcoming film Suicide Squad was released, resembling a lot like the typical Marvel movie. The characters it featured cracked jokes and one-liners, it promised lots of action sequences, and the overall tone of the film was light-hearted and adventurous. It even featured a heavy soundtrack filled with licensed music, like in Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite fans accusing Marvel for spoiling the audience’s expectations for superhero films for their style (The Escapist, 2016), Suicide Squad was also critically panned by audiences.

After this, DC fans have ruled out critics and opposing audience members from their opinions, saying that they are wrong (The Washington Times, 2016). In addition, they think Marvel paid critics to make good reviews (Vox, 2016). They had even attempted a petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes, a website that averages critics’ and audiences’ ratings into an overall percentage, because the website was giving DC films “unjust bad reviews” (Variety, 2016). This led to furthermore fights between Marvel and DC fans, deconstructing each other’s arguments as to why their respectively defended films are not good, eventually catching the attention of the filmmakers who have made their fair share of superhero movies.

“Every time I mention DC, no matter what, my feed becomes an endless screaming match about (Batman v Superman),” Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn tweeted, saying that they are wasting each other’s energy (Deadline, 2017). He continues, “It’s a 2-year-old movie that some people like and some people don’t. Why is someone’s opinion so important to you?” Even after he had asked that question, people are still wondering why there is such a disagreement between film critics and fans. YouTuber Adam Johnston of YMS has an answer for this, saying, “Film critics showed up to this movie to see a film, not (to) validate their obsession with a (omitted) action-figure” (YourMovieSucksDotOrg, 2016).

This is true, especially when most of the arguments come from the adapted characters being unfaithful to their source material, which is mixed with constructive criticism against either side’s films, but would often get subjected to unfaithful adaptations. In the end, you should never try to reason with passionate fans. It’s likely they will not listen, even if you provide the most excellent, thought-provoking points about their awful movie in the world.


 

References & Bibliography:

(CalcetinConRombosMan). (2016). (No Spoilers) Do u think Marvel movies have too much “humor”?. Message posted to https://www.reddit.com/r/marvelstudios/comments/4l3r5v/no_spoilersdo_u_think_marvel_movies_have_too_much/

Abad-Santos, A. (2016, April 2). Batman v Superman was trashed by critics. Fans think it’s because Marvel paid them. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.vox.com/2016/4/2/11348262/batman-v-superman-conspiracy-critics

Ayer, D. (Director). (2016). Suicide Squad (Motion Picture). United States of America: Warner Brothers Pictures.

Cornet, R. (2016, February 11). Despite a great trailer, Warner Bros is worried about Batman V Superman and Justice League may be in jeapordy. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://uproxx.com/hitfix/batman-v-superman-could-dcs-entire-slate-be-in-jeopardy-fandemonium/

Deace, S. (2016, March 30). Why the critics are wrong about ‘Batman v. Superman’. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/30/steve-deace-why-critics-are-wrong-about-batman-v-s/

Gunn, J. (Director). (2014). Guardians of the Galaxy (Motion Picture). United States of America: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios.

Johnston, A. (YourMovieSucksDotOrg). (2016, August 5). Quickie: Suicide Squad. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL7UStivFHY

Moreno, E.J. (2017, August 7). ‘Batman v Superman’: The Misunderstood Masterpiece of 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.monkeysfightingrobots.com/batman-v-superman-misunderstood/

Ramos, D. (2017, October 28). James Gunn Addresses “Silly” Marvel Vs. DC Raging Between Comic Book Fans. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://deadline.com/2017/10/james-gunn-marvel-dc-rivalry-comic-book-fans-batman-v-superman-1202196779/

Shapiro, B. (2016, March 28). The Critics Are Wrong: Go See ‘Batman v. Superman.’ It’s Awesome. Yes, Seriously. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://www.dailywire.com/news/4440/critics-are-wrong-go-see-batman-v-superman-its-ben-shapiro

Smith, K. (2016, March 31). ‘Batman v Superman’ is too smart for Marvel fans. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://nypost.com/2016/03/30/batman-v-superman-is-too-smart-for-marvel-fans/

Snyder, Z. (Director). (2016). Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Motion Picture). United States of America: Warner Brothers Pictures.

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Fan/Creator Relationships to Soothe

Anybody with a television set or a library could watch their beloved show every chance they could or read every spellbinding book they could find. They would want to meet their favorite actor, their favorite singer, their favorite director, or their favorite writer – sometimes all four, and some would rather not at all. This is still the case today, yet the very act of meeting someone you would love to meet is more tangible than ever, when meeting such people would be such a sweet rarity, and all too brief, with luck, back in the day. Today, whatever you would like to talk to them about could be sent to them with a simple click, and after a bit of waiting, if they are happy to, they could possibly reply back as quickly as you dreamt about it. Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and John Legend, among many others, would love to (CheatSheet, 2018).

If you would like to take steps further, you could chat with them through livestreams besides all of the responses in texts. Through some social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and even Twitch, some actors, musicians, artists do livestream all the time, just to talk with fans, and not exclusively for obligatory question-and-answer sessions to promote a project. These include electro-house musician Steve Aoki, singer-producer T-Pain, actor and comedian Thomas Middleditch (Dot Esports, 2017), DC artist Jim Lee (Twitch, n.d.), and plenty more.

Sometimes they do commit to all of these sorts of interactions to promote themselves and their work, of course, though the interactions do not stay on the topic of the upcoming projects in question. A lot of these stem from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook’s Ask Me Anything promotional sessions (Adweek, 2015), especially in Reddit (The Atlantic, 2014), in fixed time limits. Regulars who engage with fans frequently for this purpose include Gotham actress Camren Bicondova with her Facebook live chats (Shareablee, 2016), and District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, whenever a new project arises from his independent production company, Oats Studios, most recently for a crowdfunding campaign (Variety, 2018).


References & Bibliography:

Blomkamp, N. (nblomkamp). I am Neill Blomkamp, director of District 9, Chappie and creator of Oats Studios. I’m here to answer questions about FIREBASE the movie I want to crowdfund, ask me anything!. Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/8bqzmw/i_am_neill_blomkamp_director_of_district_9/

Carpenter, N. (2017, November 10). 15 celebrities and sports pros that stream on Twitch. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://dotesports.com/culture/news/15-celebrities-and-sports-pros-that-stream-on-twitch-4506#list-2

Kapusta, M. (2018, April 19). These Celebrities Actually Reply to Fans on Social Media. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/celebrities-actually-reply-fans-social-media.html/?a=viewall

Lafferty, J. (2015, February 27). Are Q&As the Future of Celebrity Social Media? Retrieved April 24, 2018, from http://www.adweek.com/digital/are-qas-the-future-of-celebrity-social-media/

Madrigal, A. C. (2014, January 07). AMA: How a Weird Internet Thing Became a Mainstream Delight. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/ama-how-a-weird-internet-thing-became-a-mainstream-delight/282860/

Ofiaza, R. (2017, July 13). Neill Blomkamp Answers Questions on Reddit About Oats Studios. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/07/13/neill-blomkamp-reddit-ama/

Spangler, T. (2018, April 10). Neill Blomkamp to Stream Mini Film Festival on Twitch, Pitching ‘Firebase’ Crowdfunding. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/neill-blomkamp-twitch-oats-studios-firebase-crowdfunding-1202749053/

Weinstein, J. (2016, May 12). Social Best Practices of the Top Facebook Live Videos: Part 1. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.shareablee.com/blog/2016/05/12/social-best-practices-of-the-top-facebook-live-videos-part-1/

 

 

Crowdfunding Has Two Faces

It is extremely difficult to get ahold of investors, whether a movie, invention, or place of business are being developed (Lakeland, 2017). Most investors would not want to risk putting money in something that might not last long, or at all (Entrepreneur, 2014), even if they do like the idea. A lot of aspiring creators did not have to worry about that aspect of project-funding anymore, since the founders of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, among many others, created their respective crowdfunding websites because of this. As a result, plenty of projects have gone live with great success, including the meal replacement Soylent (VentureBeat, 2013), and the smartwatch Pebble (Technology Review, 2016).

Crowdfunding had even helped launch careers for some aspiring entrepreneurs, musicians, and filmmakers. These include Trey Edward Schults, whose crowdfunded drama film Krisha was proceeded by the critically acclaimed horror film It Comes at Night, starring Joel Edgertron (Deadline, 2016), and David Sandberg, whose action-comedy Kung Fury enabled him to make an upcoming sequel starring Michael Fassbender and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Hollywood Reporter, 2018)

Of course, not every crowdfunding campaign is a success. Sometimes, they are revealed to be duds or complete scams (Gizmodo, 2015), when informed or from the get-go. There are so many of them that Ian Carter, better known as the comedic YouTuber iDubbbz, created an entire webshow out of this premise (FootofaFerret, 2017). He criticizes certain projects and how they would not work at all, and a large number of inadequate, failed crowdfunding campaigns could be found in his show. These include ORKA the Smart Water Bottle (Kickstarter, 2015), and the Skarp Laser Razor, which has been suspended by Kickstarter (Crowdfund Insider, 2015). The most notorious crowdfunding campaign was made by Triton, whose artificial gills did not work as advertised, refunding nearly $900,000 to Indiegogo supporters (GearJunkie, 2016).


References & Bibliography:

(FootofaFerret). (2017, November 4). The History of iDubbbz | A Brief History. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjDSC6FJpaU

Carter, I. (iDubbbzTV). (2015, July 17). Kickstarter Crap – “Smart” Water Bottles. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQcPWfcsh9s

Carter, I. (iDubbbzTV). (2015, October 14). Kickstarter Crap – The Skarp Laser Razor. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfcVgz7gY6o

Grant, R. (2013, June 21). Soylent crowdfunding campaign attracts $755K so people can survive without food. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://venturebeat.com/2013/06/21/soylent-crowdfunding-campaign-attracts-755k-so-people-can-survive-without-food/

Jaafar, A. (2016, June 10). Joel Edgerton In Talks For Thriller ‘It Comes At Night’ By ‘Krisha’ Helmer Trey Edward Shults. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from http://deadline.com/2016/06/joel-edgerton-it-comes-at-night-trey-edwards-smith-a24-1201770393/

Knibbs, K. (2015, December 23). The 9 Most Disgraceful Crowdfunding Failures of 2015 . Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://gizmodo.com/the-9-most-disgraceful-crowdfunding-failures-of-2015-1747957776

Lakeland, C. (2017, January 5). Corrin Lakeland’s answer to “Is it difficult to get investors for a business?”. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.quora.com/Is-it-difficult-to-get-investors-for-a-business

McCoy, S. (2016, April 04). Refunded! Artificial ‘Gills’ Scam Comes Clean. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://gearjunkie.com/refunded-triton-artificial-gills-campaign-update

Metz, R. (2016, June 02). As smart-watch pioneer Pebble rakes in cash through Kickstarter, wearable competition remains fierce. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601602/how-pebble-is-killing-it-on-kickstarter/

OKRA Kickrtraq Page. (2015, July 8). Retrieved from https://www.kicktraq.com/projects/999956853/meet-orka-the-smart-water-bottle/

Prdelac, H. (2016, April 14). Triton, World’s Last Artificial Gills Scam. Retrieved from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/triton-world-s-last-artificial-gills-scam#/

Rampton, J. (2014, September 15). 25 Reasons I Will Not Invest in Your Startup. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236999

Ritman, A. (2018, February 15). Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins ‘Kung Fury’ Feature Film (Exclusive). Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/arnold-schwarzenegger-joins-kung-fury-feature-film-1085102

Sandberg, D. (Director). Kung Fury (Motion picture). Sweden: Moving Sweden/LaserUnicorn.

Schults, T.E. (Director). It Comes at Night (Motion picture). United States of America: A24/Animal Kingdom.

Skarp Technologies. (2015, September 21).  The Skarp Laser Razor: 21st Century Shaving. Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skarp/the-skarp-laser-razor-21st-century-shaving

Thurston, Z. (2015, July 8). Meet OKRA, the Smart Water Bottle. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/999956853/meet-orka-the-smart-water-bottle?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=orka

 

 

 

 

 

Popularity and Legitimacy of YouTube Film Critics

Film criticisms and movie reviews are terms that are often interchangeable (University of Vermont, 2017). They are, after all, similar as they examine and evaluate their subjects. The simplest difference between them is that film criticism examines a subject closer more than a movie review would, while the latter assesses a film’s overall enjoyability (Dickinson College, 2018). The latter is more popular with the general public, since most people are busy every day. They will want to know if their time and money will be well-spent and entertained on a movie currently released in theaters and streaming services, rather than to study the themes, aesthetics, and effects of any film. In addition, it guides them in their decision-making process (Trust Pilot, 2017), since there are always plenty of films released at a time.

As we shift from the printing press to a more concise digital medium, film reviews in video formats are growing evermore popular, chiefly in YouTube. Individual reviewers, like Chris Stuckmann and Jeremy Jahns, are some of the more influential leading voices of this genre on the website, with over a million subscribers (Social Blade, n.d.) with their thousands of videos. There are a few critics on YouTube that have now been legitimized, namely Stuckmann and Alicia Malone, as they are also members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA, n.d.).

Stuckmann, in particular, is now certified on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes (Rotten Tomatoes, n.d.). He often legitimizes himself as a critic by posting several film analyses and editorials, ranging from the state of modern horror movies (Waldeck, 2015) to the art of film criticism, as well as publishing two books discussing his love for movies and anime (Stuckmann, n.d.). Malone has done the same, all while being a reporter, covering several prestigious film festivals and award ceremonies (Malone, 2017), and appearing on news networks, like CNN and MSNBC, as a film expert. She also hosts for the FilmStruck podcast and the television network TMC, and hosted two TED talks, discussing women in film.


References:

Alicia Malone’s BFCA Members Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.criticschoice.com/members/amalone/

Chris Stuckmann’s BFCA Members Page. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.criticschoice.com/members/cstuckmann/

Chris Stuckmann’s Rotten Tomatoes Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/chris-stuckmann/movies

Chris Stuckmann’s subscriber count. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://socialblade.com/youtube/user/chrisstuckmann/realtime

Dickinson College. (2018, March 28). Film Studies: Film Criticism. Retrieved from http://libguides.dickinson.edu/filmstudies/criticism

Jeremy Jahn’s subscriber count. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://socialblade.com/youtube/user/jeremyjahns/realtime

Ledesma, J. (2017, June 20). Why do people read reviews? What our research revealed. Retrieved from http://blog.trustpilot.com/blog/why-do-people-read-reviews-what-our-research-revealed

Malone, A. (2017). Alicia Malone’s Biography. Retrieved from http://aliciamalone.com/

Stuckmann, C. (Chris Stuckmann). (2014, June 8). On Film Criticism. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJdfJVyDEQE

University of Vermont. (2017, October 15). Reviews vs Film Criticism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://researchguides.uvm.edu/c.php?g=290200&p=3481769

Waldeck, C. (2015, May 02). Chris Stuckmann is Legitimizing YouTube film criticism. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chris-stuckmann-legitimizing-youtube-film-criticism-waldeck/

 

J.J. Abrams, Viral Marketing Champion

Companies sometimes use viral marketing techniques to catch their target demographics’ attention (Bizweb Journal, n.d.). Other forms of advertisement perform the same function, but viral marketing involves their targets in such a way that it could boost anticipation and even sales for an upcoming film, book, or video-game. Theresa Howard of USA Today even described it as “(…) today’s electronic equivalent of old-fashioned word of mouth” (Howard, 2005). Such form of marketing threads beyond the conventional advertisement, past radios, newspapers, and videos (Chron, n.d.). They could be online games, like AMC’s Mad Men Yourself dressing game to promote another season of the hit show (Mashable, 2009); they could be petitions, like Paranormal Activity’s “Demand It!” button to screen the movie in more cities (Entertainment Weekly, 2009); and they could be challenge trends, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise awareness to the disease and donate to research centers (Time, 2015). All of them were curious enough to spark activities and discussions online, but there has not been a more common practitioner of the viral marketing campaign than filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

Before the release of Cloverfield in 2008, Abrams and production company Paramount Pictures commissioned a series of cryptic material for the world to see, decrypt, and promote (Bennett, 2007). The first of these is a mysterious trailer previewed along with the first Transformers movie, followed by websites for fictional companies and dossiers to piece together clues to the mystery that is Cloverfield and its universe (Little White Lies, 2018). They have carried on this tradition well after the found-footage monster movie’s release, with unusual release date announcements for later instalments. 10 Cloverfield Lane was announced a few months before its own release (Collider, 2016), and The Cloverfield Paradox released the same day it was announced (Deadline, 2018), with part of their own campaigns being an alternate reality game (IGN, 2018).

Among other projects beside the Cloverfield franchise, Abrams released a trailer for a mysterious project that was later revealed to be a book, S., which he co-wrote with Doug Dorst (Nerdist, 2013). One other example for his knack for viral marketing campaigns is perhaps his most publicized, which is the Force for Change campaign, partnered with Disney. In this campaign, fans would have to donate to supported charities in order to have cameo appearances in The Force Awakens, sell exclusive merchandize, and meet the cast and crew (Force for Change, 2015). Promoting this campaign further, Harrison Ford appeared in a charity video to surprise fans (Entertainment Weekly, 2015).


References & Bibliography:

(ScreenCrush). (2018, February 5). Cloverfield Paradox – How All 3 Movies Connected. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqRl4kxkd0A

Abrams, J.J. (Director). (2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Motion picture). United States of America: Lucasfilm Ltd./Bad Robot Productions/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Anderson, K. (2017, May 10). The Secret of J.J. Abrams’ STRANGER Teaser Revealed. Retrieved April 21, 2018, from https://nerdist.com/the-secret-of-j-j-abrams-stranger-teaser-revealed/

Bennett, T. D. (2007, December 17). Producer Talks Cloverfield. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://web.archive.org/web/20071220142258/http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?id=46450

Chitwood, A. (2016, January 15). Watch: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Trailer Reveals J.J. Abrams’ ‘Cloverfield’ Follow-Up-Surprise! Retrieved from http://collider.com/cloverfield-2-trailer-10-cloverfield-lane/

D’Alessandro, A. (2018, February 05). Netflix’s Ultimate Super Bowl Surprise: ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Streams After Big Game Tonight – Watch Trailer. Retrieved April 21, 2018, from https://deadline.com/2018/02/cloverfield-sequel-god-particle-super-bowl-trailer-netflix-streaming-release-1202276386/

Dornbush, J. (2018, January 31). Rumors, Clues, and Theories to Know About Cloverfield 3. Retrieved April 21, 2018, from http://me.ign.com/en/movies/143006/news/rumors-clues-and-theories-to-know-about-cloverfield-3

Giroux, J. (2016, February 19). ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Viral: What’s in the Box? Retrieved from http://www.slashfilm.com/10-cloverfield-lane-viral-box/

Gleiberman, O. (2009, October 7). ‘Paranormal Activity’: A marketing campaign so ingenious it’s scary. Retrieved from http://ew.com/article/2009/10/07/paranormal-activity-marketing-campaign/

Grove, J. V. (2009, July 30). MadMenYourself: Create a Mad Men Inspired Avatar for Twitter, Facebook, and iPhone. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2009/07/30/madmenyourself/#a4_5g_GqmOqA

Howard, T. (2005, June 22). ‘Viral’ advertising spreads through marketing plans. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/advertising/2005-06-22-viral-usat_x.htm

Johnston, K. (n.d.). Traditional Advertising vs. Unconventional Advertising. Small Business – Chron.com. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/traditional-advertising-vs-unconventional-advertising-26379.html

Onah, J. (Director). (2018). The Cloverfield Paradox (Motion picture). United States of America: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot Productions/Netflix.

Overloop, J. V. (2017, April 03). How To Attract More Consumers With Viral Marketing – Bizwebjournal. Retrieved from https://bizwebjournal.com/viral-marketing/

Reeves, M. (Director). (2008). Cloverfield (Motion picture). United States of America: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot Productions.

Smith, N. (2018, January 13). Remembering Cloverfield’s bizarre, groundbreaking viral marketing campaign. Retrieved from http://lwlies.com/articles/cloverfield-viral-marketing-campaign/

Tratchenberg, D. (Director). (2016). 10 Cloverfield Lane (Motion picture). United States of America: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot Productions.

Wolff-Mann, E. (2015, August 21). ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: What Happened to The Money | Money. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/4000583/ice-bucket-challenge-money-donations/

Old-Fashioned Filmmaking Techniques and the New

The marriage between the old technology and the new could create a sort of balance that is visually, aesthetically pleasing. One film that delivers this immaculately is Blade Runner 2049, where real models are used for exterior shots, as well as actual holograms in other scenes (Liszewski, 2017), while CGI is employed in some action sequences. An overreliance on either the new or the old could limit any film, in terms of craftsmanship and artistic integrity, which seems to be the case for most blockbuster films. During an interview, Star Wars creator George Lucas says, “One of the fatal mistakes that almost every (science-fiction) film makes is that they spend so much time on the settings…creating the environment” (Lucas, 1983). He goes on to say that these sorts of films and their filmmakers show off the amount of work they created. He continues, “Special effects are just tools, means of telling a story.”

Unless the favorability for the old and new are utilized well and does not overstep itself, or unless the limits themselves play into either the world of the story or the overall theme, sometimes the overreliance could be justified. The world of the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One is CGI-heavy, but it makes sense for that film because it mostly takes place in a video-game realm, where loads of computer-generated characters perform astonishing action-packed feats. Meanwhile, there are other filmmakers that tie old-fashioned techniques into their stories’ themes. One example of that is the 2015 action-comedy Kung Fury. During production of this film, video-game studio Old Skull Games helped director David Sandberg animate an entire sequence in the style of Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s (Laser Unicorns, 2015), like G.I. Joe and Voltron, since Kung Fury is an homage to action movies in that era (Kristobak, 2013).

If I ever get the chance of making a highly budgeted feature-length film entirely in my vision, I would follow Blade Runner 2049’s case and employ both old-fashioned techniques and the new wherever necessary. This is not only to make my film’s world more immersive, but to tie into the its themes. If this hypothetical film was of the science-fiction fantasy genre, I would use film stock and digital as they intone different feelings to separate the film’s real world and a character’s dream sequences. I would also use model buildings for establishing shots and CGI is fix certain patches here and there that are difficult to fix practically, which is a process made by plenty of films, most notably Titanic (Ebert, 1997) and Jurassic Park (Business Insider, 2014).


References:

(Giles Lorax). (2012, January 2). Young George Lucas’s ideas on special effects “Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga” 1983. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykmZp5cgbkU

(LaserUnicorn). (2015, September 23). Animating Kung Fury by Old Skull Games. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etvUf9IYDcI

Acuna, K. (2014, July 11). How 4 Minutes Of CGI Dinosaurs In ‘Jurassic Park’ Took A Year To Make. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-cgi-works-in-jurassic-park-2014-7

Ebert, R. (1997, December 7). Special effects live up to hype in ‘Titanic’. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/special-effects-live-up-to-hype-in-titanic

Kristobak, R. (2014, January 25). ‘Kung Fury’ Trailer Pits Dinosaurs And Thor Against Nazi Germany. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/29/kung-fury-trailer_n_4516119.html

Liszewski, A. (2017, November 13). Blade Runner 2049 Used Amazingly Detailed Miniature Sets to Bring Its Cities to Life. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://io9.gizmodo.com/blade-runner-2049-used-amazingly-detailed-miniature-set-1820401271

 

Thoughts on Messages and Subtexts in Film

There are plenty of ways in which a filmmaker could convey messages to their audience. Subtler films tend to convey messages with underlying themes with, for instance, a simple story. An example for this would be the X-Men franchise, as they are allegories for minorities and their struggles (Claremont, 1983) while fighting super-powered tyrants to save the world. Meanwhile, straightforward films push their messages directly and to the point. One of these is Pixar’s 2008 film Wall-E, as it critiques consumerism and how it ravaged Earth’s eco-system (Murrat & Heumann, 2009). There are, of course, films that deliver both of these aspects, such as the satirical horror Get Out, by misdirecting their messages and deconstructing their subjects. Get Out appears to push an overt social commentary on racism, but while it is about racism in general, it goes into the other direction where the antagonists praise black people to the point where they literally try to be them (RedLetterMedia, 2017).

Some films prioritize one aspect more than the other. Sam Raimi’s supernatural horror film Drag Me to Hell appears to have a simple premise with a simple lesson for the audience to behold, but it gels its subliminal message about the horrors of eating disorders (SlashFilm, 2009). It makes the film more metaphorical than literal in its world’s context. The plot concerns Christine Brown, a bank loan officer who rejects an elderly woman requesting for a third extension for her mortgage payment. She does this because she is a top-candidate for a promotion as assistant manager, and she has to demonstrate that she could make tough decisions. Christine later gets cursed by the elderly woman, who is revealed as a gypsy, to be tormented for three days before being dragged into Hell. Throughout the film, a dark spirit torments her nearly every time she prepares or eats her food. Due to this particular repetition, theories have been made that Christine is really suffering a psychotic breakdown from bulimia (Cracked, 2011).

This is not to say that I prefer films with subtext providing little to no correlation to a film’s overall plot, but the method itself is thrilling to watch unfold. It is similar to solving a strange, yet fun jigsaw puzzle. The method in question is relaying all of the little details that would help manifest this subtext, whether that would be staging and blocking objects and characters to create symbolism, like when Chris notices the taxidermy deer-head when he himself is going to be another addition to the antagonists’ collection. Whether as a viewer or a filmmaker myself, this is where paying attention to detail is rewarded. It could help make a film more complete and more in depth than simply watching a story go by before you get on with your day.

 


References:

(RedLetterMedia). (2017). Half in the Bag Episode 123: Get Out and Logan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6IZHrIviFo

Claremont, C. (1983). X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. New York City, New York: Marvel Comics.

Coville, C. (2011, January 18). 6 Famous Movies With Mind-Blowing Hidden Meanings. Retrieved April 18, 2018, from http://www.cracked.com/article_18967_6-famous-movies-with-mind-blowing-hidden-meanings.html

Kurland, M. (n.d.). The Art of Misdirection. Retrieved April 18, 2018, from https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/articles/the-art-of-misdirection

Murray, R. L., & Heumann, J. K. (2009). WALL-E: From environmental adaptation to sentimental nostalgia. Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, (51). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from https://web.archive.org/web/20170701060517/http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc51.2009/WallE/text.html

Peele, J. (Director). (2017). Get Out (Motion picture). United States of America: Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions.

Raimi, S. (Director). (2009). Drag Me to Hell (Motion picture). United States of America: Universal Pictures/Ghost House Pictures

Sciretta, P. (2009, June 12). Crazy Film Theory: Drag Me To Hell Is Really About A Girl With An Eating Disorder – /Film. Retrieved April 18, 2018, from http://www.slashfilm.com/is-drag-me-to-hell-really-about-a-girl-with-an-eating-disorder/

 

A Brief Analysis of City of God’s Opening Sequence

The tone set at the beginning of City of God clashes with two different emotions (as far as I know) at first. These two emotions are based off urgency as it stems from the drumming, stomping energy of the party, and when the chicken is trying to escape. But since we see that the chicken is trapped and ready to be cooked, the urgency shifts from wanting to be a part of the party’s welcoming liveliness and spontaneity to our hope for the chicken’s escape, especially during the ensuing chase.

The emotion behind it all was brewed through a series of quick-cuts and jump-cuts, with pinches of rising unease through close-ups of dead chicken and gleeful people and sharpened knives slicing through feathers and flesh, while the rolling drums in the background were fast and frantic. The shakiness in the camerawork helped accentuate the urgency as well, as though the cameramen were excited themselves throughout filming. With this, they also captured the grit of the location, what with all of the grime and dust, feeling somewhat more personal and even dangerous, rather than if this entire sequence were shot on a tripod and through wider angles.

This would be true if the following chase scene possessed the aforementioned camerawork, even if it attempted to be more kinetic with quick-pans and crash-zooms and tracking shots using stabilizers to minimize the shakiness. It could help the audience map out the entire location, like in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, but the scene prioritizes the emotion above the geography, and it was accomplished well, feeling larger than life, no matter how up close and personal it seems to be.