Harrison Ford is reportedly quoted as saying in an interview with the LA Times:
"I think what a lot of action movies lose these days, especially the ones that deal with fantasy, is you stop caring at some point because you've lost human scale. With the CGI, suddenly there's a thousand enemies instead of six - the army goes off into the horizon. You don't need that. The audience loses its relationship with the threat on the screen. That's something that's consistently happening and it makes these movies like video games and that's a soulless enterprise. It's all kinetics without emotion. I don't have time for that."
I say "reportedly" because the original article references an LA Times interview that it doesn't link to, and which I wasn't able to locate on the LA Times website. However, other sites are picking up the story, and it's not a new issue. I remember as far back as the third Matrix movie (which, admittedly, isn't that far back) that reviewers were panning it for looking like a video game cutscene. And whether or not Mr. Ford actually said what he allegedly said, the question is worth asking if what he said is true. Is something lost when a hoard of identical-looking bad guys shows up on screen? Is something missing when a camera sweeps impossibly through a scene - is suspension of disbelief affected when a filmmaker digitally animates a scene rather than filming it?
In the hands of a talented filmmaker digital effects work to spectacular results. Imagine Gollum as a guy in a suit with heavy make up. But contrast that with Yoda, who looked more believable as an obvious puppet than he did in CG. Impossible worlds can be brought to life (yes, I'm looking at you, Avatar), but they can also be so poorly drawn or overdrawn that any human connection is lost (ehem - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).
But does this even mean that movies are too video game-y? Movies were entirely capable of being soulless and artless long before computers came in to the mix, and just because both modern action films and video games share computer generation in common doesn't mean video games are soulless, does it? We here are no strangers to the conflict over whether video games themselves are art, and the argument has been raging for years over how much video games should borrow from cinema; it is interesting to now see a debate swelling over the influence that video games may (or may not) be exerting on movies.
I won't pretend that this topic is simple enough to sort out in a single editorial - after all, putting "movies" against "video games" ignores, if nothing else, the incredible variety within each art form. That being said, there's much that can be said about the issue, and we'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. So if you have something to say on the issue, please go ahead and post it below.
[Image credit: Lucasfilm]