Fan-Films and Spoofs

Some of the best things in film are the hilarious sub-cultures and results of those sub-cultures that surround them. One of my favorite creations from these film sub-cultures are the overwhelming amount of fan-films that result from them, more specifically humorous spoofs. Essentially a spoof is taking the points of a film and making fun of them, or taking the ordinary parts out of a film based in the land of extraordinary and focusing on those. I know it’s  a lot of Star Wars recently, but I like it, and I just so happened to find a lot of it on Reddit recently, so here you go:

Not going to lie, I’ve watched this more than once… It’s 10 minutes long… Atleast 20 minutes of my life has been spent watching this, assuming I’ve only watched it twice. I find it oddly amusing, like it’s funny, but I don’t think to the extent to which I find it, but who cares?

Also, a short disclaimer, before you start Googling fan-films make sure you’re prepared for what you might see… Some of them are like awful… Like really bad, and some of them extend into the realm of soft-core pornography, so enter at your own risk I guess.

While spoofs are surely humorous and therefore entertaining for that reason, many have an underlying political or social message, often if made by a bigger entity, such as a corporation or activist group. Take the “TROOPS” spoof for example, while I’m not sure if the creators were deliberate in the fact that the fictitious Star Wars spin-off of Cops highlighted authority going beyond their power or using unnecessary force, the fact is it’s still there. Maybe I’m over analyzing here and it could be the fact that the Empire is known to be brutal, but I find it incredibly interesting that with the recent problems America has been having with this topic it happens to use that a plot point.

Also… the explanation of Uncle Owen’s and Aunt Beru’s deaths was top tier.

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Musics place in film

Undoubtedly, music is as important as the very script in a film. It gives background meaning and deepens emotions in the film to a degree that dialogue and actions cannot do. Who can imagine the Rocky movies without “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background? It’s music like this that really elevates a film from good to great. Besides, many scenes in film literally rely on music…

If you actually watched the whole thing, you are a champion. I couldn’t do it, it was too awkward, like I actually felt anxious watching that… Ew.

So we know that the purpose of music in film is to create a background feeling in the film. For instance, in the example above from Star Wars: Episode VI, it’s plain hard to watch without the music, but with the music it ties in the end of the movie. Sure you know that everything’s over and the good guys won, but the triumphant music playing in the background really emphasizes this point.

Star Wars was my obvious first choice for examples here, one because I’m a super dork and I love Star Wars, and two because who doesn’t love John Williams (Or Star Wars for that matter)?

Music can also be used as a primary scare tactic in horror films. The use of deep vibrations or creaky sounds has been proven to release chemicals in the brain associated with dread or anxiety. These feelings are often much more complex than the feeling got just from the picture. When used in conjuncture you often get a much scarier film than if they were isolated or poorly put together. It’s because of this that horror films with a scary soundtrack often rate as more scary than films that are just kind of sadistic.

Finally, music has been shown to produce more vivid and detailed memories than just picture alone. It’s the reason why I can easily picture my ride home from school in 3rd grade anytime Justin Timberlake comes on (my mother had a thing). Directors can use this to their advantage in their movies to create happy feelings when hearing a specific song and then relating it to the movie, therefore giving the viewer a more positive outlook on the film. Films with good and well accepted soundtrack are often more highly rated than those with mediocre scores.

So music is important to film, it helps deepen emotions and attempts to make a viewer feel things they wouldn’t feel without the music. Additionally, when equating good music to good films, directors can elevate the acceptance of their movies.

The Current Disney Live Action Fad

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot about this, and honestly until now I wasn’t sure if it was even a real thing. So apparently Disney is making live action movies of most of their classic hits? I know that recently there’s been movies like Maleficent that have been popping up, but honestly they were just spin offs of a classic character, but this is something different. This is literally the remaking of the movies (With similar, but somehow different plot points I presume) in live action.

So what’re some of the benefits that come along with this? Most of the audience Disney originally appealed to with these movies, younger kids, have grown up and are in their late teens early twenties. It only makes sense that they would want to partially appeal to this demographic by allowing them to see some of their childhood movies heroes come to life. Additionally, I’ve been noticing that children today are much more impressed by the movies grounded in reality, than those that are magically animated (At least from experiences with my own younger brother, he would much rather watch the new Spider-Man movies than the animated series). So essentially what this boils down to is Disney reintroducing the classic movies to a generation that grew up with them. Not only will it create a feeling of nostalgia, but this demographic is also on their way to becoming the parents of the next generation, why not remind them of their beloved films so they can introduce them to their own children?

Critics of the plan, or potential problems that exist with this is the plague of Hollywood. Without a doubt, Disney will more than likely white-wash many of the movies that center around foreign heroes. For instance, Mulan is said to be on of the films to be remade into a live action version. The film basically centers around a young Chinese woman who must defend her families honor by posing as a male soldier to fight against the Hun army. In order to make characters more relatable they are often made to be similar to the target demographic, which in this case is a young white person… White Mulan anyone? In all seriousness this brings up a differing problem in Hollywood that I don’t necessarily want to discuss in this post, but maybe will in a future one?

If you’ve got a formula that works, why deviate from it? Sure seeing the different renditions and reboots of the same movie can get boring and even disheartening at times, but I’d be lying if I didn’t want to see live action Dumbo.

Live Action Dumbo?

The (“Problem?”) With Sequels

Now as you may have guessed with the title, I don’t exactly buy into this belief with everything, but I wanted to discuss it nonetheless.

Everyone I talk to has a problem with some sequel or another, the arguments are often as follows: “The story was perfect, why add onto it”, “It ruined the characters”, “It destroyed my childhood (Really?)”. While some of these points are valid in certain situations, often these things are just spewed without any prior consideration, like, no, the Spiderman reboots did not ruin your childhood, like at all.

I will admit, some money grabs in Hollywood through sequels are a tad bit ridiculous. Now I’ve never seen the Fast and Furious movies, but they’re on like what, 7 now? How fast are these guys? How furious are they? I’m so confused. Maybe it makes perfect sense and I’m demonstrating the same ignorance I was talking about, but 7… Come on.

The argument that the stories of the movies can be ruined by adding a sequel has some warrant in some situations, however generally, the stories of previous movies are left unchanged, it’s simply what happens after and as a result of the previous movie. For instance the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe can be labeled a sequel, why aren’t they getting flack? Besides this, some times stories need more information, or are crafted in a way that they are designed to have a sequel. I do admit that in situations where a movie was never designed to have a sequel, but did well enough at the box office to push for one, can have some pretty negative effects.

It’s funny though in situations where the same people who claim sequels are Satan incarnate, also question why there aren’t sequels for other movies… How long did people push for a Finding Nemo sequel before Finding Dory was announced?

The last grab at sequel bashing is the fact that apparently sequels can ruin characters? How do you ruin a character? Yes the character may have changed, but that’s literally the definition of character. Besides, all a sequel can do is add onto a character, if you don’t like what they’ve done with it that doesn’t mean the character is ruined. For instance let’s say that the hero in one movie turns out the be the villain in the next, that character isn’t ruined, it’s just changed and has become more detailed. Technically if you want you can pretend the sequel never happened, but you may be confused in the next one.

What Makes a Movie Good: Revisited

Last week I wrote a post begging the question, what makes a movie good? My thoughts were primarily based from the consumers point of view, and not so much about the creator point of view. Recently, I thought of a different approach to the question, who makes a movie good? The scriptwriters/directors or the actors?

I’m sure there are many movies you can think of that had an amazing premise, but the acting was sub-par or the dialogue and events didn’t flow well. Maybe it was something with the formality of the dialogue or the misplaced events of the story, or even the deliverance of the script by an actor. These things can all make movies that sound good on paper, really bad in effect. If you think about it, this happens a lot in Hollywood, a movie that sounds amazing is hyped up so much, but when it finally comes out it gets mediocre reviews. Obviously the point on performance dictates whether a movie is good or not, but the reception by an audience still determines it’s overall outcome.

How much effect does an actor really have though? If you take a generally well received actor, say Brad Pitt for example, but pair them with a bad script or bad director, will the skill of the actor make up for a fundamental flaw in the film? I would argue no, but then again we don’t see too many of those combinations, and if we do they aren’t on the scale I’m thinking of.On the opposite hand however is pairing an extremely talented scriptwriter or director up with a not so good actor. While the story may be thorough and the dialogue may make sense, if the actor cannot deliver the kind of performance required, the overall quality of the movie may diminish. While the simple solution to this is to obviously recast, especially if they have the budget for a top tier director they should have the budget for a top tier cast as well, the thought is still there.

Tackling the question from a different perspective definitely gave me a better understanding on what decides the quality of a movie. I still stand by my previous assessment however. When it comes down to it, the consumers point of view is what matter the most on this topic, they’re the ones paying for and seeing the movie. It’s still fun to pry and dissect the question though. If only for the sake of argument.

The Art of Choosing a Movie

This topic deeply resonates with me. You’ve no idea how long I sometimes spend thinking of a movie to watch. It’s a problem I have not only by myself, but also with others. I often find myself hoping that the other person or people will decide for me, but I’ve found they’re no better at deciding either. This leads me to believe that it’s not just a me problem, but a person problem in general.

When deciding on a movie, more often than not I’ll look for staple names. Who do I know in this movie, and do I like other movies they’ve been in. For example, pick an actor you like, I personally like a lot of the movies Robert Downy Jr. has been in. Then, pick a movie they’re in that you haven’t seen before. Easy!What if the particular actor you’re thinking of doesn’t play in a lot of movies, or you’ve seen all the ones they have?

My next choice is to look for a certain genre. What are you in the mood to watch? A comedy, drama, action? This should be your next decision, it will greatly reduce your selection and allow you to pinpoint that perfect movie for your lazy day. This can be a little harder if you’ve got a group of people though. Sometimes not everyone can agree on a genre, so compromise is necessary. Maybe instead of an action movie you go with an action-comedy movie… That’s a thing, right? If no compromise can be reached, it’s time to move onto a different decision making process in order to diffuse the potentially violence building tension that results from movie choices.

Generally this method is my last choice as it does exactly what your parents told you not to do. If ALL other methods fail, choose the movie with the coolest cover and/or description. This movies are mostly going to be sub-par or weird indie movies, especially if the staple actors method didn’t work, but whatever, those can be cool sometimes. Another thing to watch out for when using this method is the fact that a lot of these obscure movies often come out as comedies, even though they’re going for a more dramatic tone. It’s due to cheap production quality and the use of cliches as actual plot points. Sometimes these are good just to make fun of them, though.

Whatever method you choose to decide on a movie choice, at least you’re getting something done. Picking a movie on a lazy day or a date night is no easy task, but it can be accomplished through shear effort and dedication. If all else fails, close your eyes, stick your hand out, and pick a random movie. Watch it. Love it. Never watch it again.

What makes a movie good?

What makes a movie good? This is a very loaded question, I know. But I’m going to attempt to tackle this, as I’ve seen it often come up in conversation among my friend group and everywhere on the internet. While of course there’s the obvious statistics of money a movie makes as well as the production value, what makes the movie actually good. Personally I don’t think there’s such a thing as a bad movie. Somebody, somewhere, likes that movie. Maybe this is a cop out, but without a doubt, I believe that personal preference constitutes quality in a movie. Obviously there are movies that are widely better viewed than others, perhaps this defines movie quality? Ratio of people who like the move to those who don’t. These results can be skewed however, which is why many movie review sites have moved away from that and onto something less manipulable.

Personally for me, I know that the movies I perceive as better are ones I grew up with. Maybe it’s the nostalgia? For instance, Star Wars is probably my favorite movie series ever, but going back and watching them now, I realize how bad some of the writing and acting actually was. I mean it wasn’t awful, but there were definitely moments I cringed because things were so bad.

However we rate movies, I think it comes down solely to personal preference. Perhaps the pretentiousness of the movie review world proves this, maybe it doesn’t. Whatever the answer is, I find some movies good, you find some movies good, if we don’t agree, whatever… It’s just a movie.