Action for the sake of action [Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005, 8:00 pm]
I finally got around to seeing Batman Begins last night. As far as acting goes it was pretty well-done. Cillian Murphy is one of the coolest villain actors I've ever seen. I mean, wow. He scares me, but in a good way. And the 'superhero' aspect of it was very nifty as well. But as an action movie I thought it was only so-so, and perhaps an analogy will help to explain why I am of this particular opinion:
Some of the action scenes in this movie could be compared to a college research paper assignment, in which a student decides not to take the time to thoroughly research the topic and decides to wing it at the last minute instead. This would include poorly developed sentences, information paraphrased from an encyclopedia or internet sites. Sure, the paper may contain some good information, and it might be organized well, but an experienced professor will probably be able to tell that the student doesn't really know much about the topic they wrote about.
On the other hand, if the student really learned something in the research process, spent time doing it, and came up with a lot of information to include in the paper, it would probably sound a lot deeper. The paper would be able to expand upon the topics and sub-topics rather than just summarizing surface information.
And in the case of unconvincing action scenes, one wonders if the director truly planned out exactly what would happen in the scene, or was merely trying to create action for the sake of action.
As in, moving the camera around quickly, showing motion, throwing in a bunch of crashes, explosions, and fighting noises. This may be a much quicker way to put an action scene together, and it requires less effort, but viewers can often tell that there is no real thread to follow - no plan, just chaos. And if simple chaos is what the director wants to show, there are ways of doing it without showing a jumble of split-second shots that lead to nothing.
It reminds me of some of the shorter "Beetle Bailey" comic strips I've read. In frame one, perhaps Beetle says something funny but insulting to Sarge. In panel 2, we see a large ball of dust with angry faces, limbs, and words like "POW!" or "BAM!" randomly thrown about to portray a fight scene. And in the final frame, Beetle lies crumpled on the ground while Sarge says something witty that coincides with what Beetle said earlier. Some of the action scenes in Batman Begins reminded me of that.
And I wouldn't say this if I didn't know it was possible for action scenes to be portrayed with a plan in mind. Take the scene from "LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring" in the mines of moria. Each member of the Fellowship has some role to play in the fight, and there is much chaos involved, but by the end of it, you can tell what each member has done and what has happened to them. There was clearly a plan involved in the filming of that scene.
So I'm not saying it's a bad movie - but it could have been better. That's the problem when really good movies come out - they raise the bar for all the rest of them.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009