Monday, 12 May 2014


Reader Nate Winchester had a question…
So reading how you point out ideas are an endangered species in Hollywood: 
Police Composite Sketch of Nate Winchester
Then I was watching SF Debris' video of Transformers when he mentioned what I always thought: Micheal Bay's films can be too complicated. 
So all this led to a revelation: Nowadays the remakes and sequels, the "dumb" flicks all have one thing in common- They're overcomplicated.  The arthouse/brainy fare right now are films that take a really simple concept (like Man falls in love with AI) and examine it in minute detail over the runtime. 
Why is this so?  When hollywood remakes a movie, why do they make it more complicated than the original?  Why do sequels intended for mass production have more storylines in them than game of thrones? 
To quote Ken Begg of Jabootu:
And the storytelling is refreshing clean and straightforward. Again, these are traditional strengths of B-movies.
Has this flipped with the "A-movies" now being clean and straightforward?  Or am I just going mad? (well, more so than usual)
I think the key here is word choice, you said COMPLICATED, and not COMPLEX, and that says a lot.

Now these definitions are mine, and probably mine alone, but they make sense to me and I hope they make sense to you.

COMPLEX, as I define it when it comes to narratives, is when the plot and characters work together to create a story with lots of interesting twists and turns that serve to create a cohesive whole.

Being complex is a good thing.

COMPLICATED is a very different situation. Complexity is born from creativity, Complication is born from insecurity. It occurs when someone takes a story that they're uncertain about, and think they can take it to the "next level" by layering unnecessary twists, character business, distractions, and other nonsense. These complications do not come together to form a cohesive whole.

Complications can often happen in big budget studio movies since you not only have the writer, director and producers involved in the creative process, you also have every studio executive tossing in their two cents to justify their continued employment.

Now you may not notice complexity, because of its inevitable coherence and cohesiveness, but you will notice complications. 

The problem is that not enough people truly understand the difference between complexity and complications and don't understand where and when simplicity is best.

So you might think that a story might appear to be simple, in that it follows minutiae while following a premise that can be explained in a tweet, but it could be more complex than you think, especially if the film manages to keep you interested all the way through.

So things may not have flipped, it's probably not much more than just a matter of storytelling mechanics.

1 comment:

  1. Rainforest Giant12/5/14 3:27 pm

    I almost never watch a 'mainstream' film anymore. When it doesn't actively offend me it usually bores me. Why risk watching something when it is almost certain to be a let down.

    With the exception of action flicks and horror (sue me I have plebeian tastes) mainstream movies are bad, boring, or offensive or all three at once.