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Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games

harrisonindiana.jpg

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]

6 Comments

smallvizier said:

I think the problem is that some movies are becoming all about the CG and special effects. Meanwhile, some games are becoming all about the CG and special effects.

So rather than action movies becoming 'like video games,' they've BOTH suffering from the same problem that CG is getting easier, and narrative and emotion are being ignored.

Thankfully we still have our exceptions: WALL-E, ICO... though it strikes me that I could list dozens of films here, and precious few games.

-

(Narrative: Skies of Arcadia? Pheonix Wright? Emotive characters: 'Splosion Man? Mario? I've just looked through my Steam library, and when P B Winterbottom is arguably one of the best characters, we might have a problem...)

gogoedward said:

^ This, so much.

With film you need human attachment to care, which is what Mr. Ford is getting at. Obviously as a gamer I wish he had chosen a different comparison, but I get his point nonetheless. Look at Sucker Punch which is brilliant to look at but so shallow story and character wise that it's hard to care.

With games, you need all of that AND engaging gameplay. If I could just as easily watch my way through a game then why not just produce it as a CG animated film instead?

Chris said:

Does anyone else feel like he should have told that to Spielberg during the production meetings for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull?

*irony*

Guntar said:

To add on what smallvizer said...

Good video games solve this problem by having bosses. Think of No More Heroes: yes, the nameless plethora of enemies are soulless... but then you have the personality-filled boss battles that are really memorable.

Pauwow said:

Harrison Mcbeal says what??
Ok, now if you have Jones go to say that to George Lucas!!

Hal said:

Great comments guys! I think smallvizier hit the nail right on the head.

To add to what Chris said, I kind of feel like this is Mr. Ford's roundabout way of apologising for the Crystal Skull. Shia LeBeouf came out in interview last year saying that he felt they dropped the ball on that movie, and that other people making it felt the same way. Problem is, I suspect that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are so influential and such big names that I few people have the wherewithal to say "no" to them any more.

Random Actor: "Mr. Spielberg, I know you made Jaws, E.T., Close Encounters, Jurassic Park and Schindler's list...but I think that the vine swinging sequence is a bit too much."

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Hal on Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games: Great comments guys! I think smallvizier hit the nail right on the head. To add to what Chris said, I...

Pauwow on Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games: Harrison Mcbeal says what?? Ok, now if you have Jones go to say that to George Lucas!!...

Guntar on Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games: To add on what smallvizer said... Good video games solve this problem by having bosses. Think of No More Heroes:...

Chris on Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games: Does anyone else feel like he should have told that to Spielberg during the production meetings for Indiana Jones and...

gogoedward on Sound Off: Harrison Ford Laments (Maybe) That Action Movies Now Look Like Video Games: ^ This, so much. With film you need human attachment to care, which is what Mr. Ford is getting at....

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