Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who needs plot when you have explosions?

Shoot 'Em Up comes out on September 7. It stars Paul Giamatti, Clive Owen and Monica Belucci in a film about a guy with almost no backstory who shoots a shitpile of people to protect a baby for no reason.

Again, it's called Shoot 'Em Up. It kind of has to be either an homage or a spoof. I was curious because I do love action films so and Clive Owen is the king of awesome right now, so I looked around the internets to see what I could learn about this film.

Apparently it's pretty much violence from one end of the story to the other without all those pesky story elements. The film constantly tries to top itself but I'm assuming it's at least fun as hell because Clive Owen is already talking sequel. Talk about counting your chickens.

As I read a review from a kid at Comic Con I found this in the comments:

I can't freakin' wait for this one. You have to respect a movie for doing ONE thing and doing it well. I respect them for not wasting our time with obligatory and cliched attempts at story elements that neither they nor we will care about. In fact, I wish more movies would take this cue and not half-heartedly cram in material that even the filmmakers obviously don't care about enough to do well. They just do it because they think they're supposed to.

But let's face it, not every movie NEEDS a love story, not every movie NEEDS a complicated plot, not every movie NEEDS an emotional catharsis ... etc., etc....

....Sometimes all you want is 90 minutes of well-choreographed mayhem! That's what I enjoyed most about movies like Transporter 1, The Protector and 300. They wanted to give us 90 minutes of sweet, sweet ***-kickery. But even those movies, while delightfully mayhem-rich, back-pedaled somewhat. They tried to awkwardly wedge in some unnecessary, underwritten and undercooked "emotional content." But instead, I found myself wanting more kicking, punching, chopping and chest-thumping bombast....

....But THIS movie looks like exactly what I ordered! Steak. Rare. Hold the salad.

Really? Really? I guess this is why so many bad films do well. There are people out there who want to see explosions with no plot necessary. Hell, if you just want to see explosions you should just watch a DVD montage of greatest explosions ever. Why bother making a film at all?

For that matter, you could just watch footage from the war in Iraq. It's got explosions, gun battles, witty banter and no discernible plot that I can find. Who needs movies?

It's the story that makes all those explosions worth watching. Granted, if emotional content is "wedged in" like this guy says, that is not helping the film any. But reinforced themes are often the difference between a crummy Dolph Lundgren
movie and a blockbuster with Bruce Willis.

Why not demand a story from your action movie? If the story is well laid out you don't even realize it's there until you've already taken it in. I guess that's the real problem. It's not emotional content this guy's afraid of. It's plot that's obvious and cheesy. So just stay away from that and you should be okay.


  1. Rollercoasters don't have a story.

    Many of those shooter video games don't have a story (except - you are surrounded by aliens and mutants and you have to kill them all and get to the last level of the game to win).

    New generation... big change in entertainment.

    - Bill

    PS: is that your school going through big Principal issues in the LA Times?

  2. That would be us!

    That was a very fair article. There's also one in LA Weekly, Education Week, and we were on Telemundo and Channel 7 last night.

  3. Do you have a link to the school story?

  4. Well I wasn't ever going to say directly what school I worked for but what the hell. If they find me they find me. I'll do a whole post because it's a long address.

    I'll post all the online stuff.


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