Sunday, October 04, 2015

A tale of two movies

Currently watching the ending bits of Avengers - Age Of Ultron.
For something so heavily hyped and with the excellence of prior movies in the sequence, I was expecting this one to be really good.

And it is a pretty decent movie too. However ... it's not nearly the best in its series. It's strange, the avengers movies don't seem to bear up that well to repeat viewings. I think I know why ...

There's more action in a couple of minutes than there were in the whole of The Martian. Yet I think The Martian is the film I'll keep going back to over the years. I'm definitely hoping people give me the excuse to watch it again numerous times over the next few weeks.

So what's missing?
It's the story at the centre of the movie.

So - let's compare ... Martian vs Avengers.

Action - there's just about enough in The Martian. Not too much, not too little. Also note that one of the disaster events in the book was missed out, it wouldn't have fit in with what they did with the ... spoilerdelete ... bit. On the other hand, there is the Avengers which has loads of explosions and ... when things were getting quiet again, time for another explosion to stop the audience falling asleep. I found it wsa too much.

Characters - there's very little in the Avengers, they're all pretty flat cartoon characters, although Hawkeye shows some signs of development. The Martian is all about the characters, at least its central character and how he comes to terms with his situation and stands up and deals with it. Even when things go wrong, especially when things go wrong.

Getting the feels - I've been noticing this more and more. Certain movies stir up the inner feelings that bring tears to the eyes. I'm not talking about the cringeworthy stuff. I'm talking about where you identify with what's happening with the characters and what they're going through. It's a sign that you're invested in the characters and their story when it evokes the feelings. That most definitely happens in the latter stages of The Martian. I never got it in the Avengers.

(I'm trying really hard to avoid the spoilers !)

Making you chuckle - The Avengers has a couple of ongoing themes running through it that are intended to make you laugh. They fall flat. The Martian has a slightly nutty central character who meets his situation with humour. That said, some of the humour is removed and some of the attempts by the screenwriters (illustrating the Hermes plan) really don't match up with the original writing.

Hollywood strikes, hollywood causes problems.

Hollywood also caused problems with some of the more human science in The Martian, there's far more in the book and (I haven't read any reviews yet) it makes some of what is glossed over, make sense. I dunno about you, I wouldn't want to be living in a driving seat for 50+ days. That's explained far better in the book and I really don't know why they would cut that.

I'll close with ...

Go see The Martian ! I hope you'll love it. But ... see it as a prelude to reading one of the best books I've read in recent years. It was a 2 and a half hour film but ... the bits missed out genuinely add to the story. There's that thing that all books share :

They are a conduit for your imagination. The better books will let you play out the story in your mind. Your brain fills in the gaps and brings it to life.
They convey feelings and thoughts like no film can.
You can put them down and come back. This is very important. It means the story plays out in its own time, rather than being limited to the time dictated by the dvd, bluray or sitting in the cinema time.

That last point is telling. The Martian film is very good but some of the bits they miss out mar the perfection of the science behind the fiction. The book is absolute perfection in its fiction.

Go read it !

PS I don't think I'll bother picking up the Avengers comics.
PPS The Avengers gag reel did make me chuckle. But not nearly as much as the one on Guardians Of The Galaxy which I must watch again soon.
PPPS I am Groot.

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