The other night we saw a superhero movie where the protagonist used his awesome powers to save the world from an evil supervillain – okay, it was The Darkest Hour, and the superhero was Churchill. The villain was Hitler, the real Hitler, not the fake Hitlers that are everyone who disagrees with liberals. But you get the point. It was nice to go to a movie for once and not be bored to tears by spandex-clad magic people flying about punching and exploding stuff. Of course, it was also weird because everyone in the theater was alive when Reagan was president, and no one was on their iPhone tweeting – except for me, but I’m special.
Plus, our future ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell was there – there is zero excuse for a GOP Senate not to immediately confirm a nominee whose idea of a night out is going to see a movie about Winston defying Hitler.
What’s important is that for me and probably the rest of the adults in the audience, this was the first movie in a while that I had actually wanted to go out and drop $60 on (with tickets, refreshments, and that Los Angeles necessity, valet parking). Sure, I saw the latest Star Wars movie where Girl Luke met Hairy Crusty Luke and milked a llama-bird then Discount Han Solo did stuff and there was some weird other girl who went to another space racetrack (weren’t there space jockeys in another of these movies?) and then they had the same battle as they did on the ice planet except on a salt planet and then it ended and I was like, “Okay, well, that took place.”
Now, it’s easy to lament the death of Hollywood, which seems determined to ritually sacrifice itself on the altar of homogenous corporate moviemaking, if not the altars of leftism and perversions. But what are really dying are theatrical movies as we knew them. I like going out to movies, despite the cost and the inconvenience – when the lights go down it’s really something special. But it stops being special when everything that goes up there on the screen is lame.
I was eager to see Bladerunner 2049, and it turned out its title related to its running length. There’s this thing called editing – try it out, Hollywood. You can safely cut 20 minutes of characters pensively staring out rain-streaked windows. I totally get it – the hero is sensitive. Noted. Now make something happen, and oh – make what happens make sense.
I was eager to see Alien: Covenant because I really liked the first two Alien movies. The first was scary, the second was an astonishing sci-fi action flick. Both hold up today. I was even willing to suspend my disbelief for Covenant, as well as suspend my disappointment with the third and fourth Alien movies and the terrible, terrible Prometheus. And Covenant was…so, so awful. It made no sense. Every action scene was TO THE EXTREME! (“Hey, let’s not just have them fight the monster – let’s have them fight the monster on top of a spaceship while it’s flying!”). It was ugly and boring. Every dollar was wasted, the filmmakers’ and mine.
Like most people, I make the money-wasting mistake less and less often these days. The stats bear this out – people just aren’t showing up. Yet Hollywood behaves as if it’s happy not to have my money from theatergoing, and makes it easy for me not to go out by putting its best stuff on television. Have you seen The Crown? Astonishing. Beautiful. Perfectly written and acted. Interesting.
That’s a lot of what’s missing these days – the “interesting” part. I can’t get interested in whether Major Sockchoppy, Legume Man, and Galaxy Gal will reunite the Vengeance Team to defeat Zorgon the Hackneyed by retrieving the Space Marbles of Power. I can’t be the only one who was amused by “I’m Groot” and the wisecracking Raccoon Guy for a couple minutes, and then by the end wanted to set my ears on fire.
We need good stories with interesting characters doing things we have not seen before in worlds we don’t inhabit. It’s not hard. That’s what made The Godfather work (at least the first two times). We saw inside the mafia with great characters who we can see parallels to in today’s political scene. In The Crown, we peek inside the upper levels of British society during a critical era in history. Even network TV is upping its game with shows with high production values and topflight talent like The Brave, about American intelligence and special forces. As a bonus, it takes America’s side.
And this would work for other shows, like The Walking Dead, if TWD didn’t look like it was made on a $27 per episode budget and if we saw inside what it takes for normal people after a disaster to rebuild a shattered society. Instead, it’s all sadistic cartoon villains, people ignoring the plan to go out on renegade quests that inevitably lead to disaster, and lingering close-ups of dirty, sweaty faces to impress upon us that these nonsensical antics are supposed to be emotional somehow. The writing isn’t just lazy; it’s comatose. I kind of wanted to see how you would start over again as a civilization, but hey, I would have been happy for a few zombies and we barely get that.
Also, for the love of all that’s holy, please understand that no one wants to see sub-plots about the tiresome, unpleasant wives of the lead characters who exist only to be a pest. Oh, “Hi” Breaking Bad. If you can’t write female characters whose entire oeuvre isn’t complaining and distracting from the interesting stuff, don’t even try.
And, of course, don’t try and stuff your commie politics down our throats. We keep telling you and telling you that we aren’t going to take it anymore, and no one listens, and then your box office tanks. Churchill: Cool. We like him – he felt about socialists, national and otherwise, just like we do, and it’s fun to watch him stomp them. Navy SEALs: Yes, we like American warriors doing American stuff. But dumb movies and shows that try and shoehorn “resistance” to our elected president into the plot: Forget it.
The answer to Hollywood’s problems is clear. Make good entertainment that doesn’t insult us. Simple. Easy. So why the hell isn’t Hollywood doing it more?