No Plot, No Problem. Just Add Special Effects!

No Plot, No Problem.  Add Special Effects!In the good old days of movie making, the only way to get a movie made was with a sensible plot and, hopefully, a movie star or two to make it even more interesting.  The recipe has since changed to making movies based off of brand awareness.  The recipe only changed because people stopped going to see critically acclaimed films, and decided instead to see movies like The Day After Tomorrow because in the preview there was a cool tornado.  So when someone writes the next Taxi Driver or even the next Juno, they are being turned away by the studios because their slate is full of movies based on video games like Asteroids. (Unfortunately, they really are developing that into a movie.)

The best example of how we, as fans, are getting screwed over by terrible, ill- conceived and lazy plots would be the new G.I. Joe.  Now, before you want to rip my head off for daring to insult such an epic classic (sarcasm), let me state my case.  

First off, I knew the movie was going to be awful when several of the movie’s stars spoke up and said that their own acting, as well as the movie, was atrocious.  The only other time in recent history I remember this happening was with Megan Fox bashing the terrible acting in Transformers 2.  The one nice thing I can say about G.I. Joe is that it did not have the same agonizingly long running time of two and half hours, like Transformers 2.  

Now, to remind anyone who sat through G.I. Joe, or plans on doing that in the future, I need to talk about certain plot points.  Actually, who am I kidding, the movie didn’t have a plot.  I would normally write Spoiler Alert before talking about a movie’s ending, but c’mon, G.I. Joe didn’t have any kind of a story worth ruining.  At one point in the story they need to extract memories from someone who is dying, so they stick metal needles into his brain.  You still with me? OK. Just checking.  Then they need to find the location of the bad guys’ hideout, so they search through the memories they extracted to be able to easily find the location.  How did they do that you ask?  Great question.  They deciphered in seconds the location from analyzing the time and amount of light showing from the sun’s shadow in the memory they extracted, to give the exact coordinates of the bad guys’ lair.  If that made sense to you, then obviously you are so biased that you will probably be first in line to buy it on Blu-ray.  Maybe, if you’re lucky, the deleted scenes will include the whole Wayans family doing the commentary, and comparing the movie to Little Man, while laughing hysterically.

If you thought that G.I. Joe made no sense and was the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen, then unfortunately, this bad, nonsensical, and lazy writing is going to continue until you stop paying to watch movies that are badly reviewed.   As a writer, I analyze movies differently.  I expect to leave the theatre after connecting with characters I enjoyed watching and learning about.  When the credits rolled on Pan’s Labyrinth, I knew I had just seen an anomaly.  A type of film that was so great and perfect, that I was shocked it had even been released in a few theatres.  I want to have that feeling more often than not.  If the studios are going to pay $150 million for a movie to be made, is it too much to ask that maybe a little more than half of one percent goes into the writing?

In one of the first scenes of the movie, Marlon Wayan’s character talks about how he misses flying and wants to fly jets again.  I was hoping that they were not going to make the foreshadowing this lazy and predictable, but obviously since its G.I. Joe he ends up saving the world while flying a jet.  I think I woke up at that point and prayed that it was already over, but unfortunately I forgot they needed to set up for the sequel.  For those of you who loved G.I. Joe as a kid and went to the theatre with a big smile on your face, this is the time to speak up, because they are making a sequel.  It is possible that it could be ten times worse and longer than Transformers 2 unless we tell them we expect a movie with a believable and enjoyable plot, not just a G.I. Joe II.

I am a huge fan of comic book style movies, but I am tired of constantly being disappointed. It’s just that for every great and well written story like Iron Man and The Dark Knight, there are four or five absolute pieces of garbage like Catwoman, G.I. Joe, Wolverine, and Transformers 2.  Unfortunately, they are going to keep making these “action” films with terrible scripts instead of making an undiscovered great script that could be reminiscent of City of God.

The new trend is just remaking classics and maybe imitation is the best form of flattery, but frankly I am just a movie fan who is fed-up with the status quo and is begging the studios for change.  The best comic book heroes and villains are conflicted human beings with a ton of flaws that only an R rating will be able to truly show.  If you want to see an R rated comic book film done right, look no further than Sin City.  Now that’s a sequel worth waiting to see.  It’s time a comic book type of movie won an Oscar, but I fear the closest we’ll ever come to seeing that passed with The Dark Knight.

No Plot, No Problem.  Add Special Effects!


3 Responses to “No Plot, No Problem. Just Add Special Effects!”

  1. Blu-ray Brian

    As much as I enjoyed the G.I. Joe film for what it was, mindless popcorn action, you do bring up some really good points that I think the majority of the readers can agree on.

    However, you are going to have people on both sides of the fence here. You are going to have you purists who think much like you do and share your same sentiments and you are going to have your audience demographic that goes to these types of films for two main reasons…fun + an escape from the everyday norm of life.

    With that being said I could not agree more with you on your last paragraph. That hits home on all levels for me and I am a huge fan of both of those films, especially the latter.

    Great post!

  2. Sandy

    hmmm…. fun and an escape from everyday life – what’s not to love! I happened to LOVE The Day After Tomorrow and it may be because I watched this next movie sitting next to an 8 year old boy; but we had a ball watching Transformers 2 also. I couldn’t believe we were in the theatre for over 2 hours. My only complaint: less Megan Fox prancing around in skimpy outfits ~ more Josh & Tyrece prancing around in skimpy outfits!

  3. Gregg

    Brian, first off, welcome to Why So Blu! Secondly, brilliant writing, lad. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Transformers 2, there is no arguing that it was anemic on plot and big on action. I can’t say how glad I am that you mentioned how much crap Hollywood is churning out these days. Brainless suits that throw millions of dollars towards productions as a means to try and squeeze a quick dollar out of the public. Wolverine was complete trash. District 9 did not blow me away like so many critics said it would. I enjoyed G.I. Joe, but yes, it was a weak film. I am trying to come up with a top 10 list of films I saw in the theater this year. The year is winding down and I can only say there are five or six films I truly enjoyed. I don’t expect there to be another 5 spectacular films to hit the cinemas in the remaining months of 2009 (Dr. Parnassus, please save what’s left of the year). If I am unable to fill the list, so be it. I can’t even come up with a total of 10 good films let alone 10 favorites of the year.