The Cave

31 Jul

It’s the story, stupid!

What separates good movies from bad? Good tv from bad?

Story.

The same thing bards have known for centuries (millenia?). The best theatre has, at its heart, a good story.

Shrek 2 was great because, underneath all the incredible CGI, there was an entertaining story.

I saw I,Robot — which, for those who don’t know, is based on a Philip K. Dick story, and only owes to Asimov the “3 Laws” concept and marketing pitch. The story itself is very PKD. And pretty tasty too. I was expecting something tolerably better than MIB2. Will Smith has his moments, but his action flicks aren’t the better yarns he’s been involved with. I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually a pretty good movie. Surprisingly good. And damn good in its own right. It made sense, the action and CGI was of course good, but the plot — ach, gods, there was one! Saints begorra! And it wasn’t simplistic or predictable. Depth? Wow, who’d a thunk it…

“You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit…” John Travolta in the opening sequence of Swordfish sums it up nicely. Which BTW is another good flick that was totally trashed when released, but is well done. I saw it on DVD, and was blown away. Smart, intelligent, plot twists that made sense in hindsight and were not so predictable in foresight… It was also the debut of Halle Berry’s knockers — definitely a genetic pick 6 winner, but rent it and judge for yourself. But as entertaining as that may be, 10 seconds does not a movie make. Swordfish had a story. A few of the bits in the movie were a bit far-fetched (e.g. the DoD hack in the nightclub, not to mention the sexy 3D login screen) but that’s pretty much a given in any movie involving computers (or scifi, or most anything else actually), but they were only ‘off’ if you noticed, and they were not central to the story to seriously distract you from the story.

If you haven’t seen Swordfish, rent it, for the opening dialogue alone.
You may not agree Swordfish isn’t “shit” in Travolta’s words, but at least you’ll agree they gave it a good run for the money.

Alias, West Wing (esp. when Sporkin was writing), many of the ST:TNG episodes (almost exclusively “After Beard”, of course), a major % of everything Joss Whedon’s ever been involved in, Babylon 5, The 13th Floor, La Femme Nikita (in French, not the derived Americanized bastardization starring Bridget Fonda), Spiderman, The Matrix (1, of course)…

Story.

Here’s hoping more tv and film makers — and producers and studios — remember this age old lesson.

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