Film Crit Hulk is one of my favourite writers going. If you’re not familiar with his work, well, you should be because it’s amazing.
In the most recent article he’s taking on how most of the current hollywood blockbusters seem to be needlessly convoluted.
AND SO WHEN WE LOOK AT THE STORIES IN ABRAMS’ WORK WE DON’T FIND MUCH IN THE WAY OF STORY AT ALL. WE FIND PLOTS. IT’S ALL MASTER SECRETIVE PLANS BUILT ON REVEALS UPON REVEALS UPON REVEALS. WE WATCH AS BRILLIANT CHARACTERS PLAY A HIGH-STAKES GAME OF TRYING TO OUTSMART EACH OTHER. WE WATCH THOSE PLANS GET TEASED OUT IN INCOMPREHENSIBLE WAYS. WE WATCH THEM UNRAVEL A STORY WITHOUT A HINT OF ORGANIC DISCOVERY. WE WATCH FILMS WHERE THE MECHANICAL PLOT DICTATES CHARACTER REACTIONS, RATHER THAN CHARACTER’S ACTIONS DICTATING THE STORY. AND WHILE THE MOST OBVIOUS TEMPTATION IS TO JUDGE THE MERITS OF THESE FILMS ON WHETHER OR NOT THESE CONVOLUTED PLOTS HAVE LOGICAL RESOLUTIONS (AND THE INTERNET DID INDEED GO NUTS DISMANTLING THE LOGIC OF STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS), HULK ARGUES THAT THE FUZZY LOGIC ITSELF DOESN’T REALLY MATTER. THE TRUTH IS THAT THE REAL VICTIM OF THIS CONVOLUTED PLOTTING IS TRADITIONAL DRAMA. BY OBFUSCATING CLARITY IN THE NAME OF A GRANDIOSE PUZZLE, WE CAN’T HELP BUT GET IN THE WAY OF THE OPTIMAL EMOTIONAL RESONANCE IN OUR STORIES. WE MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE CONSTRUCTIONS. WE SHOW ALL THE STRINGS. AND IT’S GOTTEN TO SUCH AN OBLIVIOUS STATE THAT THIS IS BAD THAT WE NOT ONLY SHOW THESE STRINGS, BUT THEN TURN TO THE AUDIENCE AND SAY “Hey! Look at all those strings I tied! Don’t they look complicated!?!?! I did that!”
Yeah, it can be tough to read a line or two of all caps let alone 5600 words of it but I promise you it’s totally worth the time. It manages to sum up everything I’ve been feeling about a lot of movies in a much tidier package than I’ve been able to so far.
So go read. I’ll wait here. Tell me what you think when you’re done.