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    Zack Snyder's Justice League
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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    The Joss Whedon movie was a giant turd. Incohesive, truncated and uneven in tone. This has a more cohesive tone and storytelling but I was bored and didn't finish it. It's four hours long but that's probably because every third shot is in slow-motion. I'm just not a fan of Snyder. The only film of his I like is 300 because it pushed the artificiality of his style to an extreme, and the historical event and comic book it's based on is interesting. His superhero stuff is like a soft peddled version of the 300 style but ends up kind of ugly, joyless and overstuffed with weightless, whiz bang CGI camera movement. The plot here is also the boilerplate 'get the world ending mystical thingies before the bad guy does' that was stale several Marvel movies ago. And why on earth DC changed the villain from this character, to the one in Joss Whedon's movie is kind of bewildering as they are basically the same in look and motive.
    Last edited by Batutta; 03-19-2021 at 02:31 PM.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batutta View Post
    His superhero stuff is like a soft peddled version of the 300 style but ends up kind of ugly, joyless and overstuffed with weightless, whiz bang CGI camera movement. The plot here is also the boilerplate 'get the world ending mystical thingies before the bad guy does' that was stale several Marvel movies ago.
    This is one of the biggest reasons I'm not that interested in superhero movies.

    But to be fair, I love Ghostbusters, which also has a save-the-world-from-evil-forces plot. But it's all the twists and turns and character development along the way that makes it fun.

    My feeling is that superhero movies are constantly "cutting to the chase" and sort of drowning in their own action sequences. The original Ghostbusters only had two fight scenes: capturing Slimer in the hotel, and the showdown with Gozer at the end. As I recall, the sequel put much more emphasis on action and SFX and was much the worse for it.

    Or in A New Hope - the wonderful part of escaping the Death Star was not the shooting and flashing lights and explosions, it was the sneaking around, hiding in their own ship, sliding into a garbage compactor, etc. All the plot devices and dialogue that happened around the fight scenes, which were comparatively brief.


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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Ghostbusters was made nearly 40 years ago though. At this point, for a superhero movie to resort to that plot device is just lazy, tiresome and unimaginative. CGI is what's ruining action sequences more than anything, especially in superhero films. Ruins any genuine suspense when the actors are fighting CGI phantoms, and their actions and camera movement is untethered to any solid reality. Action films used to be thrilling when there seemed to be some element of risk involved for the actors and stuntmen. That's why you gotta give it up to Nolan for at least insisting on doing things for real, whenever possible. Harrison Ford said the problem with CGI now is that it often puts scenes at a scale that the human mind can't process, so it ceases to be suspenseful or engaging, and that you're better off doing a scene with one very scary ant, than a thousand digital ants (which I guess is a slam on Crystal Skull). But once you give a filmmaker the power of CGI, where he can do anything, too many director's abuse it like a teenager that just discovered masturbation.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    I largely agree, but is that timescale correct? Haven't saving-the-world stories been around for a really long time? Like, even in the comic books themselves? Isn't the difference now not that the basic storyline is old but that the rest of the storytelling besides action is neglected?

    And isn't the criticism you have of CGI more broadly that it fails to convince you? Like, if you were looking at it and thought it was real and didn't think, "Oh, that's CGI," then it might be more impactful? All the stunts and effects in the past were fake but maybe did a better job of convincing us?

    I'm trying to think of counterexamples of good CGI. I remember really liking the first Mummy with Brendan Frasier, which surely had some CGI much less developed than we have today. But it was funny and fun.

    And for sure, I love the aesthetic of the little model spaceships in the original Star Wars with real physical texture and I had never questioned why they flew in perfect parallel or anything. But looking at what CGI can do for space battles in the newest Star Trek series, I'm all for the CGI:



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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Yes, Snyder's style is pretty artificial to begin with, and the way he uses CGI and abuses the freely moving camera makes it even more fake. It's basically a cartoon. Like anything it's in the way that you use it, and too many filmmakers abuse it. If the storytelling is good enough this shouldn't matter. The Lord of the Rings movies are a good example, although even there, the difference in verisimilitude between the LOTR movies, where they shot in real locations, and used a combination of models, sets and CGI, to the Hobbit movies, which were mostly green screen stages with CGI characters, is a good illustration of the perils of CGI filmmaking and how a good filmmaker can be spoiled by the tools. Space battles, you aren't dealing with human characters interacting so it's a different animal.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Agreed - it's about how you use and/or abuse it. 300 worked because it was a fun cartoon, it was campy in a way that worked. Space battles have a different set of concerns (although I remember thinking the spaceships in the star wars prequels looked too smooth and shiny).

    I wasn't a huge LOTR fan, although I see the appeal. But I don't think the CGI in the Hobbit is necessarily what holds it back. For example, in the barrel fight sequence, I find the general situation compelling even though I have a very hard time maintaining sense of direction and orientation (until they're floating down the river, at which point it becomes easy). Generally, knowing what is happening where is very important to me. But I think the scene works in spite of the fake-ness of some of the motion and compositing. But this clip loses my interest at about 2:50 because it just kind of goes on too long and starts going over the top. This could have worked for me if it had been wrapped up more tastefully. I have a relatively long attention span, but not for repetitive action.



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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Meh, I hated the barrel scene and to me it's a perfect example of the type of CGI enhanced action I hate, with the camera and people flying about in unnatural ways. I checked out about thirty seconds into the scene. The whole series is like that. The over-embellished expansion of a simple story didn't help either.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Clearly, they were milking a cash cow by turning the Hobbit into a trilogy. It could probably have been done tastefully when you consider how much more plot is in even a short novel relative to a feature film. But I only saw the first movie in full, so I can't really comment.

    I agree the camera is flying around in a dizzying manner in the barrel scene. But here's an example from Beowulf where they take advantage of flying around a virtual camera and I think it works well. I still have a clear sense of orientation of action and I feel like the scene is dynamic rather than repetitive. The lighting is great, too. Granted, it's an animated film and not CGI incorporated into live-action.

    But basically, I feel like using CGI well comes down to having good taste, a strong understanding of traditional film language, and a bit of self-restraint.



    And here's a scene that probably wouldn't have been shot any differently if it were live-action, illustrating the filmmaker's restraint as well as cultivation of dialogue and drama.



    It's definitely in the creepy valley, but that doesn't mean I can't get into it. Recognizing the actors helps.
    Last edited by ahalpert; 03-19-2021 at 06:26 PM.


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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Beowulf though is completely CGI. It is a cartoon and I'm not expected to believe it's real. For me it's the disconnect when I see REAL people moving in ways and doing things that are unnatural and unmoored from physical reality, with the added lunacy of the camera swirling all over the place, in a movie that is purportedly live action. A great use of CGI in a live action movie to me is something like District 9, where the CGI blends in seamlessly and the camera technique remains grounded, which helps sell the reality of what's happening.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Resident Preditor Matt Gottshalk's Avatar
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    It looked craptacular. Glad I passed on it.
    Matt Gottshalk
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    BPI.tv


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