Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movies need to be cooked "Low and Slow"

So took Daughter #2 ( not in priority but chronologically) and a friend to see The Last Airbender- they were well prepared because she had Tivo-ed like all 93 episodes of the cartoon series, and of course now I know more about the The Last Airbender then I wanted to.... so we went to the movie and well, it was bad, very bad.
I sat there and thought- how, how can the same director, M. Night Shyamalan, who created The Village..
 a in depth, suspenseful, visually appealing, multi layer thinker of a movie, make This! Yes everyone blames the director, but he not only directed, he wrote and produced it!!
So here is my theory why it was a painful movie to watch- and it is the same theory why the Narina movies have well... sucked in my opinion....Time.
I come from a long line of cooks, really good cooks... and there is a golden rule, "low and slow" will always make things taste better, fall off the fork, tender, better. In fact when I was learning- and would complain to my mother- that my whatever didn't taste as good as hers, she would always say I cooked it too fast at too high of a temp.
Movie need time to develop slowly.
Case in point....

Fellowship of the Ring- 178 minutes
Two Towers- 175 minutes
Return of the King- 200 minutes

Avatar- 162 minutes

Narina- Lion Witch and the Wardrobe- 135 minute- really bad
Narina- Prince Caspian 149 minutes - at almost ten minutes more- slightly better
The Last Airbender 103 minutes
103 minutes, to establish a whole different world, four different cultures, at least 5 main character and give us enough so that we care what happened to them...impossible. Why they did not make this at least two hours is beyond me.
A budget crunch on a movie takes a lot of exposition- telling not showing, having characters tell what happened instead of showing what happened- actually a lot of the start of big fights and people in dangers and then scene jumping to when it is over so the characters can talk about how dangerous and exciting it was, dusting themselves off.
Recently I took Daughter #1 ( chronologically) to see the Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. The full Broadway production is like three hours, this was a 90 minute show- all the big numbers were there, all the songs, the Las Vegas production had " made transitional scenes" shorter or taken them out. But they had taken out the scenes that made you care about the Phantom, he just came across as a really mean guy. Character development is why we care, it is when we see that the villain really is human, and we might feel sorry for him .
In Airbender, a big part of the cartoon series is that Prince Zuko, is a bad guy with a heart that eventually warms up, slowly- to changing sides, join the cause- talk about a complicated character arc- after 93 episodes of the series Prince Zuko is fully develop and one of the favorite character of the series. But the Movie- Prince Zuko- just angry all the time- but to show his soft side in in 103 minutes. where most of the time is taken up by over the top special effects, impossible.
Think about how slowly and richly character was developed in the Ring trilogy or Avatar. How you can think of any of the main character and almost guess what flavor of ice cream each would like, because you get a sense of "knowing them"
I guess that is why I go to movies, If I can't care about the character, if they survive or not, find their love or not, there isn't much reason for me to be there and for me to care-the story has to be laid out "low and slow".

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