Sunday, 9 March 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #62: The Passion Factor

It looks like Roland Emmerich's prehistoric caveman adventure flick 10,000 BC is not living up to expectations in the box-office department. This is happening despite a huge production budget, loads of special effects, a massive release putting prints in almost 3,500 theatres and an enormous ad campaign.

It's performance is pretty pale in comparison to the $71 million dollar opening weekend enjoyed by Zack Snyder's Spartan battle epic 300 which opened on the same weekend last year.

Now why did it fail?

Was it the harsh reviews?

The bad weekend weather?

Or was it something different?

Well, I think I should clear
the air first and confess something.

I've never been a Roland Emmerich fan.

It's true. His films have always left me a tad cold. They had some technical competence, especially around the action set-pieces, but when it was time to direct scenes involving developing plots or characters he went craft services for wiener schnitzel und sauerkraut.

He was always a tad lacking in the originality department, preferring to take elements from other more original movies, toss those elements into a blender to mix them around, and to top it all off make it BIGGER & LOUDER!

For a long time this formula worked for Emmerich, maybe not critically or creatively, but at least financially.

But one thing was missing from his films.


His films lack any real emotional connection to their subject matter, or characters, merely excuses for action, stunts, and special effects.

He doesn't make creative choices on whether or not he feels that they are right for the story, but on wh
at he thinks people should feel as being right for the story.

His latest film 10,000 BC is a perfect example. It's essentially inspired by the success of 300, but instead of stressing the elements that made 300 win with audiences, themes of heroism, duty, and sacrifice, to protect a way of life they believe in, he just skims the surface.

Where 300 had a cast that looked and acted, if not like real Spartans, than how people would imagine Spartan warriors to act. Stoic, brave, hyper-masculine, and aggressive against all enemies.

All Emmerich saw was 6 pack abs and bulging pecs, and cast actors more befitting the pages of fashion magazines than hunting among a herd of woolly mammoths. When I saw the trailer I was expecting 10,000 BC's hero to fight off the sabre-tooth cat with his deadly "Blue Steel" look than any weapon.

Where the Spartans of 300 were heroic aspirational figures, 10,000 BC's characters are just pretty to look at.

Even 300's over the top elements, the historical inaccuracies, the freakish and grotesque villains, and the almost surreal artificial backdrops are accepted by the audience because the filmmakers have a lot of their own emotion invested into the film. Their passion for the story, characters, and themes, help sell the story.

You just don't get that with Emmerich's films.

And audiences are starting to catch on. Spectacle alone is not enough anymore, people want that connection with the people on the screen. A connection that Hollywood is in danger of losing.

That's my 2 cents.

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