July 29, 2012

Why Are We So Hard On Action Movies Today?

If you ask most action movie fans, they will utterly destroy a movie like Transformers or Abduction and how they are terrible action movies. They’ll also say these movies are not worthy with the rest of the pack because they have zero characters, stupid plots, etc. However, if you ask them about a dumb 80’s action movie like Action Jackson, then they will praise it and go on about how fun it was. Now, most people would say that is hypocrisy and unfair to the action movies of today.

That is the wrong way to look at it. Action fans don’t hate the current crop of action movies, because plenty of quality movies have been released over the last few years. The problem lies in the execution and tone of those action movies that make the fans yearn for the old school.

The best example to compare and contrast would be the Transformers franchise which sums up the state of action movies today. The Transformers movies are big, dumb, blow shit up action movies with little plot or characters. Commando is also a big dumb action movie where shit blows up, but Commando will get more praise than Transformers automatically. Why is that you ask?

The Transformers movies are obnoxious, loud, and pander to the lowest common denominator. They are filled to the brim with loud and douchy characters that are all entitled to everything and just walk around with a sense of “I’m so cool. Look at me. Look at me”. It isn’t fun or cheeky. It’s annoying and shallow.

John Matrix, on the other hand, isn’t a well developed character either, but he has a sense of humor and doesn’t go around acting like a jackass. He means business while retaining some humor whenever he kills someone. Today you get that, but with that snarky sense of elitism that comes across as dumb frat boy rather than hero.

The way action movies are directed is also taken into account. You all know that the use of CG blood, the lack of practical effects, shaky cam, and many other things have lessened the impact of action/fight scenes and just reduced them to noise at times.

While there are some movies that employ the shaky cam properly and practical effects are still used, it is still an overwhelming amount that just like to fill your senses with noise that you become disinterested and frustrated rather than excited. You don’t get that in 80’s and 90’s action movies. They let the scene do the talking and excitement rather than the camerawork. The camera follows the action instead of becoming part of it and that’s what helps get more excited for when the action starts. We feel like we have a front row seat to the fight scene between Karl and McClane rather than an epileptic seizure.

In conclusion, there is a reason why action fans hold the 80’s and 90’s in such high regard, because those films knew how to have a simple good old time. Nothing against today’s filmmakers, but this whole “I want to be hip” thing doesn’t work all the time.

About the Author

My name is Omar and I love action movies. I grew up loving action films thanks in part to my father who would deliver a healthy dose of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Seagal in my movie diet. Ever since then, I continue to love the genre more and more and go along perfectly with my love for the horror genre. What other movie genre can specialize in giving you pure adrenaline and excitement in every turn?



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