- May 22nd. 2014
My ultimate point here is something lots of other people have already said in some way or another. I started a draft of this post many months ago, intending to write out reviews of the 2012/13 films for which I had high hopes but which greatly disappointed me and then to culminate those reviews into a summary of why we’re probably doomed to get more of the same. Sitting down to relive two (or, more often, three) hours of nonsensical plot developments, over-the-top destruction of populated cities, and a litany of the most unlikable and inconsistent characters proved to be a difficult sell when I could watch cat GIFs instead, but I slowly managed to review the worst offenders.
First I went after Star Trek Into Darkness, which was more of a series of disjointed and expensive scenes stitched together with lens flare than a real story. Then I tore into Man of Steel for turning Superman into Jesus Christ. I gave Iron Man 3 a pass, but still feel it made a couple of bad decisions. Then I wept bitter tears at the lost potential of Prometheus, which is a piece of thematically confused shit, but they’re making a sequel anyway.
That all said, there’s one more film that I wanted to revisit. It’s been many months since I saw World War Z in theaters, but I still recall its main faults, the first of which is that the film, as so many people have already said, is nothing like the book. I adore Max Brooks’ tongue-in-cheek Zombie Survival Guide and his far more serious follow-up World War Z, a beautifully dark and varied collection of fictional accounts from those who survived a zombie apocalypse. I figured that adapting World War Z to the big screen would be rather easy. Tap someone like Brad Pitt to play the UN reporter collecting all these accounts. Use him to introduce a series of vignettes (and to slap his famous name on the movie poster). Choose a variety of chapters from the book, somewhere between three and five of them, and finish off the film with the UN reporter’s own story, something new that Brooks himself could write for the film and for our star-power to get their own zombie story. The best part is that, if the studio is concerned with international box-office sales, they already have several chapters from Brooks’ book from which to choose a vignette set in not-the-States. This thing would practically write itself!
But the studio didn’t do that, did they? The only thing the final film had in common with the book was the title.
I was still willing to shell out cash, and though the film I saw had its issues, it was far more competent than Into Darkness, Man of Steel, and Prometheus. However, WWZ got trashed way more than those films. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is at 67% whereas Into Darkness is sitting pretty at 87% and Prometheus got away with 73%. As I said in my review of Man of Steel, it did a much worse job of hiding its flaws than Into Darkness, so it didn’t get away with much. Its Rotten score is at 56%.
I’m not advocating that WWZ get an A, but I’m appalled that Into Darkness and Prometheus are rated so highly.
And there you have it. I saw a bunch of “summer blockbusters” one year and don’t understand how people’s tastes can be so inconsistent. If everyone seriously likes the kind of sloppy writing we had in Into Darkness, I don’t understand why they don’t like all of the big-budget, poorly plotted blockbusters that Hollywood puts out every year. Is it witty banter? Is that all it takes to hide all the fridge logic?
That’s my best guess, so write whatever you want, apparently! Just make sure your characters say nothing but zingers and you’ll be fine. Oh, and make sure you reboot a franchise (Star Trek, Alien, Superman) rather than go for something even remotely new (a bestselling book).