THAT the quality of Hollywood films has been long since been falling is a well accepted fact. It is only the extent that has changed as alarmingly. For one Carnage, one has to wade through half a dozen tasteless, colourless pot-boilers, some even masquerading as boxoffice hits.
The art of
script-writing seems to have become extinct. After all, it is in it
that the visuals are conceived. Jose Rivera who made The Motorcycle
Diaries says, "You write plays with your ears and you write
films with your eyes." So aptly put. At one time, FX (special
effects) seemed to cut into the story but these days even the FX are
second-rate as in Battleship. It’s blood-and-thunder sport,
like throwing the Christians to the lions, that seems to have taken
Take for example The Hunger Games based on a novel of the same name by Susanne Collins and consists of a pair of youths (boy and girl between 12 and 18) from each of the 12 districts of the Capitol (some never, never land) as a sacrifice or punishment for previous sins. The youths will be eliminated, one by one till we have the last one standing, the champion.
Not a bright idea in any case. But even worse, it is stretched more than 140-odd minutes and though Jennifer Lawrence as the heroine is easy on the eye and Josh Hutcherson reasonably good-looking, the plot is fragile and the violence that is to follow is hardly something to look forward to. Are we back to those barbaric times?
Director Garry Ross seems to have little control of the story, which is meandering and dull. What could have been restricted to just 100 minutes is unduly stretched out much to the chagrin of the viewers. The characters are one dimensional and may be only Stanley Tucci catches the eye but The Hunger Games is a clear no-no and this is an understatement.
The Wrath of the Titans is another, an invocation of the Greek gods long since forgotten in Hades or thereabouts. Perseus, who we last read about in our Latin translations is back from Clash of the Titans based on Beverley Cross’ book.
Actually, there is a whole pantheon of Greek gods from Zeus to Poseidon.
The sets are innovative, to say the least, descending to Hades for one. But when the Titans engage in battle, there’s not much one can decipher and may be just as well. Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson and Danny Huston are all hidden behind shrubbery. A sheer waste of talent that could have been put to better use.
Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, however, is the silver lining to these dark Hollywood clouds as he has witches and vampires mixing with mere mortals as Barnaby Collins (Johnny Depp) continues from where he left off in those late 1960s Gothic soap operas. But here he comes back after two centuries to plague the Collins household and get even with Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) who had cast her spell on him.
Seth Grahame-Smith’s script is lush with scintillating lines and director Burton puts across his visuals suavely whether it is the explosive love scenes between Barnaby and Angelique or the friendly ghosts vying for space with humans. All this is ably enhanced with Danny Elfman’s jazzy music and the Carpenters songs are sure to warm the cockles of some middle-aged hearts. Top of the World is easily top of the charts. Dark Shadows comes as a beacon of light on the dark Hollywood horizon. So take advantage of it.