I have seen three movies in the last short while and my reaction to them was very different. It made me think of what I expect in a movie – and wonder if I’m expecting too much. And, then, of course I took that to the concept of books.
So, here are the three movies, my reactions, and what I think a writer can learn from them.
Avatar, 3D Imax - really the only way to go for the special effects. I was impressed with the effects. I was not impressed with the story. All the money spent on the effects was so that the aliens couldn’t be men in rubber suits. But, the story had them acting as men in rubber suits. If only they had spent a few more dollars to get a story with some depth.
For the writer, I think the lesson is for you to create characters with depth and stories with complexity. Make sure your villain isn’t cardboard. Remember, they never know they are the villain. Make sure your protagonist isn’t pure. If they have no flaws, they aren’t interesting.
What would I have done – hey, what the heck, it’s my blog. I would have had more of the soldiers realize they were doing wrong. I would have had one of the scientists take the side of the soldiers. And, I would have had corporate guy try to stop the madness. And the blue aliens; come on, one of them should have been a traitor, one of the tribes should have refused to fight.
Alice in Wonderland, 3D – not sure why it was in 3D. The story was full of cool characters with quirks and brave hearts and evil plans. Actors gave great performances and the bandersnach and jabberwocky were cool. But, not the use of effects. I didn’t understand why the white queen needed to be such a ditz but it didn’t ruin the film for me. I was just disappointed.
For the writer, I think the lesson is to go for it. If you’ve put something in your book that is the printed equivalent of 3D – don’t just dip your toe, dive in over your head and struggle until you gasp for air.
What would I have done? The Jabberwocky’s head would have landed in the laps of the audience.
The Green Zone – regular D. A great story. Only predictable in hindsight (the sign of a great story). I won’t say too much because it opened yesterday and I don’t want to give spoilers. The flaw only affected me in the theatre so I can’t really say it was a problem. The camera jiggled so much I got seasick. There were no safe spaces in the film where I could relax my eyes. I had to leave the theatre twice.
What can the writer learn? OMG – if you can write a story like this you don’t need my advice. Even through the nausea I was engage with the characters – even the villains. I understood how people can get caught up in something and take a side which turns out to be wrong. I believed the ending, but I would have believed any one of three other endings.
What would I have done differently? Either steady the camera or make the seats move with the action.