Why CGI has Jumped the Shark

Prepare to abandon

In the 1970’s, the show Happy Days, which portrayed 1950’s american life, was a huge success. Originally following the Cunningham family, the show slowly shifted it’s focus towards “The Fonz,” (one of Richie Cunningham’s friends) due to his popularity among viewers. As the show progressed, the writers had to come up with more and more plots, and wacky situations for the Fonz to encounter. In 1977, in the show’s 5th season, Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis. This scene is when many believe the show began to go downhill. Cast members left, spin offs were created, and the show was still technically a success… but something was missing. The term “jumping the shark” would later come to describe anything that has become a mockery of itself. The point in which something fizzles out, and ceases to glimmer as it once did. Tonight, for me at least,  computer generated imagery (CGI) has jumped the shark.

What brought on the demise of this wonderful technology, the same that showed us the Titanic sinking, fallen cities resurrected, and dinosaurs in the flesh? Michael Bay, like a child who has found his father’s gun,  has irresponsibly used this technology and squeezed out every last bit of dignity it had.

Film-making is about more than pretty moving pictures. Movies have dialogue, they tell stories. Someone didn’t tell Mr. Bay that people can speak without explosions in the background. In fact, in the beginning of his latest film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, during every scene where Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox were talking to one another, there was a generic guitar ballad playing for no reason, as if Bay couldn’t stand two characters conversing without yelling. You couldn’t show me a scene made using CGI that would impress me. It’s over. Sure it all looks real, yet in Quantum of Solace when they beat that Astin Martin to bits it was more impressive than Bay’s exploding CGI aircraft carrier.

I understand that expecting an action movie to do anything but entertain is pushing it, but it can be done. Look at The Dark Knight. In addition to fancy vehicles, violence and explosions, there was a psychologically intense element which made you think. The scene in which the two boats each had a detonator in their possesion was brilliantly laced with philosophical overtones without ruining the action.

Someone has given Bay an unlimited budget, and there is nothing to show for it. I went to the movie. I wanted to like it. What I saw when I got there was a camera rotating around rolling metal balls in a close up view to “increase the action” for 2 1/2 hours. Here is something that irks me: the movie was based off of the Hasbro action figures by the same name; it says it right in the credits. What made these toys a hit was that they looked like a truck or plane, then could change into a human or animal form using it’s existing parts. The movie versions simply seem to explode for a moment, with pieces moving every which way, finally coming to a much larger piece of machinery that has random wheels and gears placed in random places. There are no rules. Want to make all of the machines combine together? Why not! The lack of rules weakens the story, because the viewer is unable to deduce the next action along with the characters. Shia could very well just say “lets get some whale blubber and feed it to the Decepticons, and that will kill them!” and you would have to go along, because the story follows no logical line.

Michael Bay is not the only one to blame. Mr Spielberg, the most innovative director of all time, is slowly raping the motion picture industry as well. You need not look any further than the latest Indiana Jones film he was associated with creating.

I watched Seven Pounds about a week ago, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was amazing. During the climax of Bay’s latest, however, I didn’t give a autobot’s trunk about what happened to the main characters. Simply saying “I won’t go without you” over and over again amidst danger does not qualify as drama. I imagine that if Bay had his way, the movie wouldn’t have had any dialogue at all.

I know Hollywood knows what they are doing. They think we are stupid. And I suppose we are for shoveling all of our money into their pockets. But know this: they think you are an idiot. And if you can watch 2 1/2 hours of explosions and not get sick of it, I’m not sure I disagree.

UPDATE*

Heres a parody “sneak peek” that pretty much summarizes the movie:

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2 Comments

Filed under Movies, Rant, Review

2 responses to “Why CGI has Jumped the Shark

  1. Blake

    http://transformers.wikia.com/wiki/Combiner

    I was curious myself if those things actually exist in the comic book. Which they do. I guess for me I didn’t go to a rock concert expecting to see a symphony, I expected explosions, shooting and the rest of the general mayhem.

    I guess I went expecting what the cartoon is in my head, which is merely flashing lights in gun shots and poor transformation animation. Then again, I generally like most movies that I watch.

  2. Blake

    http://arstechnica.com/media/reviews/2009/06/revenge-of-the-fallen-is-messy-unfunny-and-way-too-long.ars

    Another good review on your side of things. I liked the points that he made and agree with a lot of them.

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