Arthur’s Afterthoughts: Hollywood Has Stopped Caring
If you had told me when I was a kid that I would acquire such a deep sadness for the state of movies, I would have called you crazy. Now though, I don’t know what to believe. There seems to be this abnormal state that has befallen our beloved Hollywood past time, and things have been getting progressively stranger and stranger. I know you have all noticed it, and I know that you have all cringed or groaned or even gotten verbally upset with the current state of affairs in Hollywood, but all logical thought has pointed our fingers to the same conclusion; Hollywood has stopped caring.
A few years ago we were in the middle of a sort of boom in the movie business, and it makes me sad to think that it is essentially over. We were treated with amazing cinema in the form of movies that had great plots and writing, amazing acting, and even a slight step back in the special effects department. Not to say that I don’t love special effects, but ever since they came to prominence it has gotten entirely too common of a practice to just cover the entire film with computer generated eye candy. When it is necessary I don’t have a problem, but when you need to computer generate a person just walking down a street, I shake my fist in rage. It takes the whole human aspect out of film making. That’s why I was smitten with films like No Country for Old Men, the newer Bond movies which took the whole ridiculous gadget nonsense out of the equation, and even foreign films like Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior ( which if you like martial arts, and I’m assuming you do, you should really see.) They gave their actors a chance to shine in their pure forms and not acting against a screen. We all loved Transformers as a kid, but it just hurts to see them on the big screen like that… or does it just hurt to look at Shia LeBouf? Hollywood is straying from its roots, but is there anyone to blame except ourselves?
We broke the floodgates for Hollywood to shove big budget blockbusters down our throats when we decided that the Matrix was going to be the new standard for movies. I love the first Matrix movie, but after that gave way to nearly every movie to have some kind of big budget explosions and ridiculous settings, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Trust me, I love explosions, but when there’s one every few seconds, I tend to get a little bored. It’s like discovering that you love peanut M+M’s, and then eating nothing but them for 2 weeks straight. You’re going to have a bad time. Like I said though, I guess all of the blame can’t be put onto Hollywood for giving us what we essentially asked for, but they should have had the sense to see into the future a bit and know that we would eventually grow tired of it. The fault is on both of us for the most part. It’s a shame too because there are quite a few good movies that have come out, but they are drowned and forgotten under the tidal wave that is blockbuster style movies. Our last bastion for well written, plot driven visual experiences has now become television, which is crazy when you think about it.
If you went back and wracked your brain through your entire movie and television watching career, I can almost guarantee you will barely find any experiences of you saying that TV is far superior to movies, but now, that is being said more frequently and with backed evidence. I hate to use the term crazy again, but it’s crazy. Usually television was used as a sort of stepping stone to get into the movie business, because that is where the real money and fame was. Now though, the scales seem to be tipping into the favor of television over movies. I won’t say that television stars make anywhere near as much money as movie stars do, but that isn’t the point. It’s the substance that matters. Television has hit a phase of such quality that it is hard to not notice. Television is providing a medium for storytelling and plot development that simply cannot be done in the time allotted by film. I hear people complain about their favorite books being turned into movies and being upset because they left out this specific plot point or this character or this or that. It’s near impossible to squeeze something such as Game of Thrones for example into a 2 ½ to 3 hour movie. It’s just not happening. That’s why the HBO show has become such a hit. You get to watch everything, and you don’t have to do it all at once. The sheer amount of characters and plot in those books is staggering. Television is providing that opportunity to tell the stories and tell them in their entirety without having to sacrifice for time. Do you think that if Breaking Bad was made into a 2 hour movie that it would have been so good and so successful? Highly doubtful.
The fact of the matter is that Hollywood has hit this sort of drag period where we are now being subjected to the same schlock and boredom that it is exhausting us all of our viewing energy. I can’t tell you how many times I have left the theater thinking that my senses were just assaulted with garbage and my wallet was robbed at gunpoint. It’s hard to make a commitment to go out to the theater and drop that kind of money on something you have either seen before or something you aren’t sure is going to be any good. With television, you don’t have to pay anything extra, unless it is HBO, and you are getting numerous stories and episodes of something you like. Take True Detective for example, and pardon my use of multiple HBO shows, but they’re just amazing. True Detective stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson….top Hollywood stars…doing television….and the show is superb. That show has more style and substance than nearly all of the movies I have seen in the theaters recently. Who would have thought that two people who have already cemented their lives in Hollywood would do television and not feel like they are taking a hit in their careers? That is the power of current television.
I know I may seem to be a little harsh on Hollywood, but it’s only because I love movies so much. I tend to have my nerdy tendencies, but I do have a wealth of knowledge concerning film and television, and my heart breaks when I see the current state of film. I also know that my taste in movies may not be the same as most of the general public, but I am open minded and give most things a chance. If Hollywood continues down this path, we are in for some hard times. I love Game of Thrones, but when I see the Jon Snow actor Kit Harington in the new film Pompeii, it fills me with the icy cold depression. Not because he is in it, because I enjoy his work, but because we have run out of ideas and are now resorting to making films that Tommy Lee Jones and Pierce Brosnan killed off years ago. Has enough time passed since those? I don’t think so. If they really had a craving for a volcano movie, they should have just watched Joe Vs The Volcano and been done with it.
I hate to be so harsh sometimes, but it is a necessary evil at this point. I really do love going to the movies, but over the past few years, I find myself doing it less and less and spending more time watching NetFlix and HBO GO. Shows like True Detective, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Bates Motel, The Vikings, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, American Horror Story and everything else in between, television is giving you nearly everything you could ask for. Netflix is even making its own shows now and is attracting big Hollywood names as well. Kevin Spacey stars in House of Cards, which apparently is amazing. I have been waiting a bit to catch up with that one, but you can trust that I will soon and so should you all. The fact now is that Hollywood is getting lazy with its films, but we fortunately are not left high and dry because television is now picking up the slack. You should do yourselves a favor and gives some of those shows a shot if you haven’t yet. You won’t be disappointed.
Follow me on Twitter @ArthurHarkness!