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Thor: Ragnarok


JohnC
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30 minutes ago, glb said:

The first Avengers movie had a production budget of over $220m... are you sent back from a future where TV broadcasts in 16K, or have you never watched an actual TV movie?

 

Criticising the MCU movies for being "flat, TV-like, un-cinematic, shot/reverse shot, made-by-committee" is a common comment among a certain group of film critics. Especially when it comes to the first Avengers movie (I blame the Cap costume).

 

I don't know if this is what mushashi is arguing, but there's this school of criticism that acts like cinema and TV are fundamentally different mediums, and puts down the MCU for being a glorified TV show in its storytelling (dragging out a never-ending story instead of telling a satisfying story within one film, etc), its production (producer-led not director-led) and its lack of stylistic flair in its shot compositions (a complaint for which Joss Whedon is the easiest target to point at).

 

The people making those complaints seem to overlap a lot with people who praise Zack Snyder's DC films for at least having some auteurist ambition, visual flair, and a coherent philosophy involving critiquing icons: "How impressive that he was able to sneak such a subversive point of view into a $250 million blockbuster; you'd never see the MCU doing that in their mere populist entertainment!". All of which came to a head when Justice League came out and gave everyone the chance to claim they could spot the difference between the two directors:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Nick R said:

 

Criticising the MCU movies for being "flat, TV-like, un-cinematic, shot/reverse shot, made-by-committee" is a common comment among a certain group of film critics. Especially when it comes to the first Avengers movie (I blame the Cap costume).

 

I don't know if this is what mushashi is arguing, but there's this school of criticism that acts like cinema and TV are fundamentally different mediums, and puts down the MCU for being a glorified TV show in its storytelling (dragging out a never-ending story instead of telling a satisfying story within one film, etc), its production (producer-led not director-led) and its lack of stylistic flair in its shot compositions (a complaint for which Joss Whedon is the easiest target to point at).

 

The people making those complaints seem to overlap a lot with people who praise Zack Snyder's DC films for at least having some auteurist ambition, visual flair, and a coherent philosophy involving critiquing icons: "How impressive that he was able to sneak such a subversive point of view into a $250 million blockbuster; you'd never see the MCU doing that in their mere populist entertainment!". All of which came to a head when Justice League came out and gave everyone the chance to claim they could spot the difference between the two directors:

 

 

 

Honestly, I took it as a surface level criticism of the production values. Used to manage film channels and have sat through a fair few TV movies, a particular subset of which look ropey as hell. Not something that I’d relate to any of the MCU films.

 

Stylistically, they’re open for debate, but think even then they’re well put together. Maybe not the upper-end of film-making but certainly not at the end of things where the majority of TV movies sit (bar the odd exception where you get a next-big-thing cutting their teeth)

 

As an aside, Zack Snyder peaked with 300, imho, his DCCU efforts were turgid at best (I know you’ve not suggested otherwise, not a rant at your good self)

 

Personally I wouldn’t go into a superhero movie expecting groundbreaking cinematography, more hopeful there isn’t a visual clusterfuck like some of Bay’s Transformers films where the action scenes could be VFX blurs.

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6 hours ago, glb said:

The first Avengers movie had a production budget of over $220m... are you sent back from a future where TV broadcasts in 16K, or have you never watched an actual TV movie?

 

He is right though. They could have budgets of £500m but without production values and a genuine artistic vision behind them, they just look like a tv show.

 

Ragnorak and indeed a lot of the outer Space and smaller movies they don’t care about look much better as the directors were allowed the freedom.

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It's not really the MCU per se, mainly it's the first two Avengers films (and while a much worse film overall, I'd say Age of Ultron is noticeably a improvement over its predecessor in terms of direction and photography).

 

Joss Whedon is a journeyman director at best. Visually he's not interesting at all and yes, the first Avengers film had incredibly average photography, framing and shot composition, colour grading, etc. Nick R is right when he points out a lot of people who go super heavy into this tend to be really into Zach Snyder's stuff, some to an insufferable, chin-stroking degree but hey, even stopped clocks are correct twice a day - Whedon can't hold a candle to Snyder in visual terms.

 

All that said, another 10 years and I wonder if the traditional distinctions between film and television direction will still be much of a thing, there are so many shows that are being shot in a more filmic style taking full advantage of the move to widescreen. TV tended to look like dogshit in the past but shows like Fargo, Legion or Better Call Saul frequently look stunning at times and directors seem to swap between the two much more often than the old days of doing TV/adverts until you got your break into film and never going back.

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The word I’d use to describe Marvel’s house style is “functional”, in a positive and negative sense. Particularly when dealing with a lot of moving parts, as in the Avengers films and Civil War, being able to put that up on screen in a readable way with all those character moments is a bit of an accomplishment even if it’s not terribly visually interesting shot by shot. Whedon could never have come up with Watchmen’s opening montage but he would never have delivered Man of Steel’s baffling shakycam obsession or BvS’s... well, everything, either.

 

I would much rather have both visual flair and complete legibility of course, but the only superhero film that has ever hit the bullseye on that is Spiderverse. Maybe First Class or Kick-Ass when I’m feeling generous.

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54 minutes ago, Joystick Chevron said:

Joss Whedon is a journeyman director at best. Visually he's not interesting at all and yes, the first Avengers film had incredibly average photography, framing and shot composition, colour grading, etc.

 

Although if you've ever listened to any of his DVD commentaries, he's really good at talking about the reasons why he's proud of his flashier shot choices! Things like the long take that introduces the characters and ship layout at the start of Serenity, or the camera flipping upside-down to show Loki's sceptre in Avengers' big argument scene. For example, here's a transcript of part of his commentary on the Buffy episode Hush:

 

Spoiler
Quote

 

To talk a little more generally, what we're dealing with here. I early on wanted to... I considered the idea of doing an episode where people don't talk for a while. As the show went on I got more and more obsessed with it because I felt that as a director I was sort of degenerating. I was turning into a TV hack: over, over, two-shot, you know. Shot of him, shot of her, them talking to each other, then shot of the both of them, then back. And I was beginning, a little bit, to fall into a sort of shorthand. And the one thing that I don't love about TV is that a lot of it is what I refer to as "radio with faces". It's, you know, if you want to shoot a scene quickly you just put somebody up against a wall, have them say their lines and bumph! it's done.

 

And from the start one of the most important things about 'Buffy' was that I wanted the show to work visually. So much so, in fact, that a Fox executive told me I was putting too much visual information on every page, that it was not going to be possible to shoot it. And in fact it has always been a great struggle - but a struggle well worth, because it is great when you have something that is visceral and visual and cinematic and not just 'people are yakking'. Although 'people are yakking' can make for great shows sometimes.

 

Meanwhile, as the show went on, this being the fourth year, I had fallen into the "People are yakking. I could just do this without really thinking about it" style of directing, a little bit. And wanted to curtail that in myself. And so on a practical level the idea of doing an episode where everybody lost their voice presented itself as a great big challenge, because I knew that I would literally have to tell the story only visually. And that would mean that I couldn't fall back on tricks.

 

Like this is a simple scene. Over, him to her, over, her to him: over, over, two-shot. It's one of the few... well, actually the whole first act is pretty normal in that sense. And that's the kind of directing that - it's fine, it gets the point across, but I wanted to do something harder. And as is typical of me I wanted to do something harder in the middle of the season when everybody was already exhausted.

 

 

 

 

Here's a blog post by a film studies lecturer writing for his students, talking about why the shot direction in Hush is effective:

https://acephalous.typepad.com/acephalous/2011/02/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-hush-lecture-notes.html

 

Functional, but well-considered (and not "hacky" as some of his critics would put it).

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Seems to be general chat on MCU films in here... I saw Ragnarok for the first time a few weeks ago and I loved it.  Great fun.  I saw Infinity War before hand and I enjoyed it, but didn't really care about Paul Bettany's man.  

 

I saw Captain Marvel at the weekend - well... kinda.  I fell asleep about half way through.  I thought it was really slow and dull.

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53 minutes ago, womblingfree said:

 

With the somewhat overlooked point that Joss Whedon has made some of the most enjoyable and memorable tv and film experiences around and Zach Snyder films are a steaming pile of turd burgers. Apart from the zombie one.

 

Yeah but film is a visual medium so it's a pretty important consideration. There isn't a single film or television episode directed by Joss Whedon that would not benefit greatly from having a director with a better eye and sense of flair. The only thing he really has/had going for him were his ideas and writing, and nowadays I'd suggest that a lot of that doesn't really hold up so well either but that's a whole thread in itself.

 

I've issues with Zach Snyder's work too (the final act of Man of Steel shit the bed so badly it pains me to this day, and BvS is one of the most astoundingly dull wastes of talent this decade) but if we were to take a 'every frame a painting' approach and moviefight! either against Avengers, Avengers would get kerb-stomped.

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14 minutes ago, Joystick Chevron said:

I've issues with Zach Snyder's work too (the final act of Man of Steel shit the bed so badly it pains me to this day, and BvS is one of the most astoundingly dull wastes of talent this decade) but if we were to take a 'every frame a painting' approach and moviefight! either against Avengers, Avengers would get kerb-stomped.

No it wouldn’t. Films are a visual medium because you are using images to tell a story. Snyder’s work may look impressive in stills or short bursts but over the length of a film his work is incoherent and sterile. He can’t tell a story, he can’t make you connect with characters, he can’t communicate ideas.

 

Whedon may lack Snyder’s ‘flair’ but he can do all of the things I’ve listed above and those are the things that matter most.

 

 

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3 hours ago, DukeOfEarlsfield said:

No it wouldn’t. Films are a visual medium because you are using images to tell a story. Snyder’s work may look impressive in stills or short bursts but over the length of a film his work is incoherent and sterile. He can’t tell a story, he can’t make you connect with characters, he can’t communicate ideas.

 

what was wrong with Watchmen? 

 

aside from the changes...

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BvS and MoS are two of the ugliest and most poorly edited major releases in the past decade. MoS in particular suffers for being so transparently an effort to copy Nolan’s cinematography without bothering to get in the talent or insight. “Hey, TDK was pretty grey and brown right? That’s the secret.”

 

At least BvS was a visually loud incoherently edited shambles but to suppose it could stand up for itself next to any of the Avengers pictures is to judge using some rubric I can’t fathom.

 

 

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5 hours ago, SeanR said:

 

what was wrong with Watchmen? 

 

aside from the changes...

 

Oh I could boringly go on for ages, and the worst part of the filmed Watchmen is the utter missing of the entire damn point from the scripted final third POV. 

 

Visually it's resplendent, a glorious translation of the comic to the screen, apart from the bonkers hatstand casting/make up of Silk Spectre which is utterly ludicrous. The directors cut also has possibly the single worst acted scene I've ever watched (the knot tops talking about Hollis' death). 

 

... But the end of the film is a hateful, awful, Snyder power chord of idiocy. I can't tell if it or Prometheus are my most watched/disliked fillms... But it had and squandered so much. Ugh. BvS is.. Well... Nowhere near as terrible imo. 

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That trailer gave me such hope that a modern Superman film could stand alongside Nolan’s efforts for Batman.

 

And then that hope was shat on for almost three hours. I convinced myself, no, no this is alright, the bit with the rousing score is nice, and the thing with the thing is okay.

 

It wasn’t okay. It was shit.

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On 10/08/2019 at 19:58, glb said:

 

Honestly, I took it as a surface level criticism of the production values.

 

I think I said why I thought that way in my original post. It was something that stood out to me when I finally succumbed to the hype for once and saw The Avengers film at the cinema years ago as every normal person I knew was raving about it, it just didn't look like something that cost that much money to make for whatever reason and it stood out to me at the time, it was pitch sharp but not particularly cinematic visually in comparison to other mega budget productions. I didn't even say it looked like an actual TV movie anyway! just a glorified one. I think the original Thor film wasn't much of a looker either. It looked fine in the very first proper one, Iron Man, for whatever reason.

 

I've never bothered to look into the why so whatever controversy has been discussed over the years is not something I'm aware of, or particularly interested in to be honest. I also haven't watched in any more than the odd casual accidental short viewing any of the TV variants of these comic book movies, but I'll assume they are universally a step down in terms of production polish and nobody would ever assume those were products destined for cinema viewing, like the 24 'movie' clearly was never budgeted for a cinema release and it shows in comparison to the Bourne Trilogy. Even the most mega-budget TV series made by HBO are not what I would consider cinema grade in terms of visual polish.

 

I noticed that with this latest one I've seen that they've finally overcome that for these other series and they now look like I'd expect an expensive cinema production film to look like.

 

 

I did notice that was the only comment people chose to comment on, and not any of the other observations about the film, for what ever reason, so maybe they don't vehemently disagree with those assessments of the merits of this film.

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6 hours ago, mushashi said:

 

I think I said why I thought that way in my original post. It was something that stood out to me when I finally succumbed to the hype for once and saw The Avengers film at the cinema years ago as every normal person I knew was raving about it, it just didn't look like something that cost that much money to make for whatever reason and it stood out to me at the time, it was pitch sharp but not particularly cinematic visually in comparison to other mega budget productions. I didn't even say it looked like an actual TV movie anyway! just a glorified one. I think the original Thor film wasn't much of a looker either. It looked fine in the very first proper one, Iron Man, for whatever reason.

 

I've never bothered to look into the why so whatever controversy has been discussed over the years is not something I'm aware of, or particularly interested in to be honest. I also haven't watched in any more than the odd casual accidental short viewing any of the TV variants of these comic book movies, but I'll assume they are universally a step down in terms of production polish and nobody would ever assume those were products destined for cinema viewing, like the 24 'movie' clearly was never budgeted for a cinema release and it shows in comparison to the Bourne Trilogy. Even the most mega-budget TV series made by HBO are not what I would consider cinema grade in terms of visual polish.

 

I noticed that with this latest one I've seen that they've finally overcome that for these other series and they now look like I'd expect an expensive cinema production film to look like.

 

 

I did notice that was the only comment people chose to comment on, and not any of the other observations about the film, for what ever reason, so maybe they don't vehemently disagree with those assessments of the merits of this film.

 

Won’t speak for others, but just found the TV movie look wide of the mark. That’s all.

 

Superhero movies aren’t necessarily where I’d expect stunning cinematography; visual clarity is fine. Should we expect more for the budgets? Maybe, but as others have said, Snyder’s films, for example, are jarringly over-produced. Give me Marvel’s clean aesthetic over muddy, chaotic visuals.

 

Disagree with other criticisms you made, but those were far more subjective, so contesting them is not a hill I’m prepared to die on.

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  • 1 year later...

Nothing to do with the film, but posting it here. Blimey, Tamika Waititi is apparently part of a thruple with Rita Ora and Tessa Thompson.

 

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