Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Battleship or How I Learned to Gague the Intellect of Moviegoers

Just last weekend, I saw Chronicle which, if you haven't yet heard, is a fantastic movie. There's lots of fun and intrigue to be had with it despite its resemblance to generally-frowned-upon found footage films. But that's not quite relevant. What I really want to discuss is the audience I watched it with.

One of the great experiences of going to the movies is getting to see trailers for all of the upcoming releases. I can't remember every trailer that was shown, but I do know that most of them looked pretty interesting. Most of them. The first I do remember. It was the trailer for Wanderlust, a movie that interests me because part of it was filmed in my neighborhood - unfortunately, it was the day after Jennifer Aniston had flown back to L.A. It seemed interesting enough, but nothing to write home about. Then there was the trailer for The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, one of my favorite female performers since I first caught sight of her in Winter's Bone. The most exciting trailer for me was for The Avengers, finally advertising scenes that weren't filmed on the cell phones of bystanders. But none of these trailers caught the attention of the audience.

Dead silence. Dead silence throughout all of them. Then it happened. The trailer for Battleship. Right from the onset, I was reminded of Battle: Los Angeles. I haven't seen it, and since I don't get paid to watch movies, I never intend on seeing it, but I think all the bad press speaks for itself. Battle LA was a prime example of shaky cam destroying any amount of coherence in a film (again, from what I've gathered from other reviewers) and Battleship seemed to offer more of the same in the trailer. Senseless apocalyptic tale strewn with over-the-top special effects and a sub-par plot. Yet, this was the only movie that anyone in the theater reacted to.

"That looked pretty good."

"You wanna see that when it comes out."

"Finally a good movie."

Naturally, I was obliged to facepalm and nearly broke down at the comments I was hearing - the only comments from anyone, even after Chronicle started. I was genuinely upset that those were the types of films that people were most stoked for. How is it that flashy effects and America's armed forces, when portrayed in a movie, capture the attention of everyone despite their long history of being poor on-screen experiences? Why is it that people continually fork up their money to see these movies when they're constantly panned by critics and casual viewers alike? Why is it that The Artist has yet to gross 15 million?

It's because people have low standards, and as long as they continue to contribute so much to these critical failures, the more of these movies Hollywood will churn out. The industry is largely based on a formula. Companies want to make profits and they know what movies people are willing to see. Once they have a grasp on the most profitable marketing or the most profitable stories, they'll continue to make movies for the sake of commercial success. It doesn't matter if they make a good movie or not because you'll watch it for .

The only way consumers can alter the way filmmaking is approached is with their wallets. Pay for movies you want to see more of, movies that challenge the way you look at the world or introduce fresh ideas; and leave the nausea-inducing titles on the shelves of retailers.