Saturday, March 12, 2011

Too much "motion" in motion picture

I get teased now and again about being the only man living in a house full of women (meaning my wife and my four daughters). But I really don't mind. Granted, instead of the rough and tumble of boys, we deal with the screaming and emotions of little girls. Again, it's all part of being a parent.

However, there are times when even I need to go and do manly stuff--you know, "be a man". Which reminds me of a very fun song from Disney's Mulan.

Most of the time, to feel manly, I'll go to a movie that is targeted for the male gender. You know, action / adventure stuff with things blowing up and often there are aliens involved.

One such movie came out recently: Battle Los Angeles. From what I gathered, it was about the earth being attacked by aliens with a big battle happening in Los Angeles. With the special effects they can do now, I thought, Heck, why not. It may be fun.

Here is one of the trailers for the movie:

(I included a short one--you can thank me later)

With my training in TV production and my ever developing skills as a writer, I can, at times, be critical of the production work or storytelling. There is a very clich├ęd opening where you are thrown right into the action, only to be stopped a few moments later with ominous words on the screen saying something like, "24 hours earlier. . ."

This is done quite a bit, and so I'm not overly critical (though having a story start out with a dream sequence which has you believing it is real drives me nuts) and Battle Los Angeles started that way--boom! Right into the action.

But within the first few minutes of the film, I noticed the approach they filmmakers were taking. Basically, every shot had movement--in a herky, jerky way. Close ups of people talking had the camera panning and tilting randomly. I gather the effect was to convey chaos and uncertainty. While I feel that can be effective in action sequences, does it work for a whole movie? My opinion would be a resounding "NO!"

When people are sitting in an office talking about one of them retiring, what's up with the herky, jerky movements? When you are having a tender scene where someone is bearing his soul, does it work? No!

All these movements have an undesired side effect for me. I tend to get motion sickness fairly easily (something I passed on to my second daughter) and so trips on planes, or to the amusement park and the like require that I take motion sickness medications.

Maybe it is just me, but I don't think I should have to take one before going to a movie. Battle Los Angeles was so bad in this regard that I ended up leaving during the final big action sequence for two reasons: 1. I was getting sick to my stomach. 2. I really didn't care what happened--the movie was that bad.

I'm sure I got some strange looks as I was leaving the theater during the final conflict, but I'm sure the looks I got when I was throwing up in a garbage can outside the theater from motion sickness were even stranger.

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