James Cameron Declares Gravity A Triumph….Still Can’t Write Good Scripts
James Cameron, a noted engineer and inventor who occasionally moonlights as a “filmmaker” has declared Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space drama Gravity to be “the best space film ever”. Highly Ironic seeing as James Cameron is responsible for what is perhaps one of the worst “space” films ever (Avatar). His praise concerning the project (which he was an adviser on) is nothing less than masturbatory.
I was stunned, absolutely floored. I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time. What is interesting is the human dimension. Alfonso and Sandra working together to create an absolutely seamless portrayal of a woman fighting for her life in zero gravity.
Couple of things:
What exactly is a space movie?
What is the criteria? What are the trademarks that define the genre? Is it simply a movie that takes place in space or contains references to space travel? It is a movie in which one of the characters looks up at the stars longingly and plaintively. Really now, I wonder what would happen if this type of lazy genre stereotyping was applied to others persons, places, or things. Could there sky movies, water movies, sand movies, or black hole movies. It seems nowadays that any kind of movie plot warrants it’s own special classification. Does you movie have zombies…well that’s a zombie flick. Does your movie have a masked killer…..its a slasher movie. Does the film take place in a prison…that’s a prison film. Does the film have boxing it it….well you got yourself a boxing film. Forget what the character motivations are or what the focus of the narrative is. A puddle deep analysis of a film is all that seems to be needed for today’s film fans.
What people fail to realize is that such unimaginative and uninspired labeling can damage a movies reputation and negate its reach and impact. In case you were unaware, people have a tendency to only judge a book by its cover. Imagine how angry you would be if for years you avoided watching The Shawshank redemption having heard it was another ordinary prison movie. Imagine the surprise when you find out that The Shawshank Redemption has about as much to do with exploiting the typical conventions of a prison movie as ID4 had to do with being a Merchant-Ivory flick
I do value how a detailed categorization of film genre can enrich ones understanding and joy of the medium by creating personal and revelatory bonds between the film and viewer. Yet at the same time I am vehemently against categorization for categorization’s sake. The amount of genres and sub-genres around today have reached ridiculous proportions. Film fans need to dial it back a bit and not let their tastes be subverted by simple genre labeling and segregation.
Now about Mr. Cameron
Its sad to see the amount of respect most film bloggers are giving Cameron seeing as he cares absolutely zero about making a good film. Not a good special effect mind you, but a good film. Check out what Slashfilm writer Germain Lussier had to say about him:
James Cameron is a filmmaker with high standards. His last two films were both the highest grossing films of all time and each took multiple years to get just right. In the interim, he’s been working to advance performance capture technology, high frame rate technology, 3D technology and probably more. So he knows what’s up.
Really……….Cameron is “a filmmaker with high standards”. Since when does having expensive production values equal high standards? Also what does the amount a film earns and how long it took to make have to do with its quality. In each instance both observations (time frame of production and gross) provide a case against Cameron’s since all the time he took to make Avatar and its subsequent box office gross didn’t change the fact that it was a derivative, poorly written, badly acted, piece of sci-fi garbage. So excuse me if I don’t think Cameron’s opinion of Avatar is worth spit. Excuse me again if I don’t consider any of his thoughts about film-making to be anything more than foolish grandstanding. Here’s a good rule of thumb; if a person who makes bad movies recommends another filmmakers work then you should probably take his/her recommendation with a grain of salt. At the very least realize that any appreciation offered by such an individual likely steams from such an asinine and shallow artistic perception that any resulting opinion is barely worth any serious consideration.
Lastly about Gravity
Yeah I’m excited. I’ll admit it looks good. However the more I hear the more I don’t like. Its not that I’m being a hater or that the early buzz has been negative. It’s just that the praise seems to ring of typical Hollywood hogwash. In other words, all the praise I keep hearing concerns only the look of the film and none of its substance. You’ve heard enough of it by now: Gravity has the best space photography ever put on film, the longest most elaborate tracking shots, and the best use of 3D ever.” With praise like that it’s no wonder people think most film bloggers are shills.
Even the acting, when actually spoken of, is given such hollow praise that you find it hard to get excited about it. Am I supposed to be impressed by Sandra Bullock’s performance or impressed that she acted out her part in a painstakingly recreated “zero g environment”? Are we establishing a new form of acting method here. Should we now consider any performance done in “low gravity” to be Oscar gold. Give me a break. What good is a “zero g” performance without any weight to it. Even 2001, widely considered to be the greatest science fiction film ever made, usually can find some detractors when it comes to the human element of the story. The late science fiction author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury once spoke concerning 2001 saying that:
“,it’s really a big dumb idiot of a film…..the characters are all wrong because there are no characters. When Hal, the computer finally decides to kill them all off, you’re only too glad to see them go because they’re bores. You don’t know the identity of any of the people killed.
If all the groundbreaking special effects utilized in 2001 couldn’t make the characters come to life what makes you think it will be any different with Cuaron. Not that I want the film to fail. I do hope that Gravity doesn’t follow the same course as 2001. Here’s hoping the performances are excellent in spite of and not because of the flashy special effects, tracking shots, or 3D. Here’s hoping Gravity isn’t just an empty spectacle like Avatar was. Here’s hoping……
Running without gravity……I smell Oscar!!!