Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Went to a movie, but saw a video game

Dude! Ya got me!
It's been known for more than a decade that we live in the video game era of movies.

I didn't realize how true this was until I read a little factoid in the most recent Time magazine.

In 2011, which was a down year at the box-office due mainly to the excess of franchises rather than films, the money champ was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2."

It snagged $381 million during its entire domestic run.

But, it was less than the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" made on its first day on sale.

It's no wonder, then, that producers want to mimic video games on the big screen. They have to figure out a way to get butts out of easy chairs and into cineplex seats.

I'll admit, I obliged them. I did see the last installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise during the summer and caught "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," the fourth in that franchise, during the Christmas break.

I mean, why go to the movies at all if it's not going to be visually dazzling.

Except that, with maybe one or two exceptions, most of the video game (VG) movies or franchises run the gamut from dreadful to mediocre.

The first "Pirates of the Caribbean" film was mildly entertaining, but the rest were awful.

I did see the first two chapters of the "Twilight" franchise, but the first was far better than the second, which isn't saying much.

And, why did George Lucas even bother resurrecting the "Star Wars" franchise with leaden sequels/prequels? Apparently, he wanted to get in the (video) game.

It's no small wonder, then, that "The King's Speech," a simple movie really, won best picture last year. It had what all the VG movies lacked: good dialog, plot, character, cinematography, direction and acting.

But, all those traditional elements of great filmmaking take a backseat to special effects (also known as CGI or computer-generated images) in the VG era.
So, if Hollywood wants to fully exploit this VG trend at the multiplex, it needs to double or triple down. IMAX and 3-D are just fads.

It's time that movies become interactive. I know, scratch-and-sniff "Odorama" has already failed.

This time, they should be bold.

A first step is to have viewers use Xbox controllers so they can direct the action. Of course, it could get chaotic, with automatic weapons chewing up the scenery. But, would it make a difference in most VG movies? Not really.

Another way is to let the Wii crowd bring in their light-sabers and go mano-a-mano or tete a tete with some Corellian Jedi master. Headgear is recommended.

Of course, it will get really wild when they incorporate a Kinect-type interactive element to the CGI. With arms flailing about in the seats, it could resemble a mosh pit at a grunge-rock concert.

But, by going interactive, films will be far more entertaining than the current crop of loud, obnoxious and, ultimately, dull VG movies.

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