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JarodRussell September 5 2012 05:09 PM

Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
I didn't know if it fit into the Filmmaker's Primer thread. And I don't know if I'm even allowed to post it, but I'm doing it anyway.

I was browsing Youtube and found uploaded versions of Conan - The Barbarian (2011) and Conan - The Barbarian (1982).

I'm gonna link to them, but if mods disagree with this, feel free to remove the links please.





I watched the first 15 minutes of each version. And I can't help it... the old version is superior to the new version in ANY WAY, in my opinion. Music. Cinematography. Direction. Acting. Action. Editing. Pacing. Sound design. Voice Overs.

Just the scene where the village got raided, and James Earl Jones approaches Conan's mother, just staring at her, getting her to lower her sword and then cutting her head off. No dialogue, just the power of images and music.

It's like each image in Conan 1982 carries an extra OOMPH with it. It's something memorable. Great compositions, great lighting, each image transports something powerful.

In Conan 2011, it's like... it's hard to describe it. It's generic? Cinematography isn't that great. The only iconic image is the baby almost getting stabbed by the blade inside the womb. But even that doesn't feel that powerful to me personally. The music is forgettable, there is no theme. Morgan Freeman's voice over doesn't hold a candle to the voice over in the old film.

The intro exposition in the 1982 version vs the intro exposition in the 2011 version... there's less "babble" in the 1982 one. Powerful drums, a powerful voice, and some text. In 2011, Morgan Freeman "babbles" about Archeron and Necromongers and some funny names and stuff, while flames shoot around the screen and we see skulls and people getting killed and shit. And yet, the intro isn't as powerful to me.

There's even the possibility of a direct comparison. Around 15 minutes, the sword is forged. I find the scene in the old version again much more powerful than in the new version.

The standout thing about Conan 2011 seems to be that it's bloody, gruesome and violent. But to me, the scene where James Earl Jones cuts Conan's mom's head off (without seeing it) is a lot more violent than blood spattering around.


And if you randomly switch through both movies, I, personally land at powerful moments in the old Conan, but pretty generic moments in the new Conan. There's a chase here, random kills there, dialogue that is shot in generic fashion... I dunno. It just doesn't move anything in me.

I can't help but thinking that you could take all those scenes in Conan 2011 and make them much more powerful, with better cinematography, slower editing, a more powerful score, and dialogue where all the "babble" is removed.



BEHOLD:
This is NOT supposed to be a Conan 1982 vs. Conan 2011 bashing. This thread is about filmmaking in general, started off with one specific example. I would love it if people would tune in into this thread throwing their own thoughts about films into it, making comparisions of why they think one film or scene is more powerful, memorable, better than the other.


One thing I notice all the time lately. Movies throw so MUCH at you in a very generic fashion, and lose iconic, memorable, powerful moments. Music, editing, cinematography, direction, it somehow loses the OOMPH.

In Avengers (or any Comic Book/tentpole scifi action movie), it's come to the point where I think: does this action scene really have to go on and on and on, yawn? They just throw one generic explosion and fight and kill after the other at you. So that at the end the climax AS A WHOLE might be something memorable, but the events in it are pretty much forgetable.


Standing out of that are, kind of, the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises. I've read a lot of reviews that complained about the lack of action, or that the action scenes are too short, and that the fist fight scenes are lacking. I think the opposite, because I find all that over the top, over long stuff to be generic, lame and pointless. Why waste 1 generic minute when I can achieve 10 powerful seconds in an action scene?


Another good film was Prometheus. While I hated the story and characters, the film contained the OOMPH. There was nothing generic about it in terms of cinematography, direction, editing. Even the score had a memorable theme, which surprised me.

JarodRussell September 5 2012 05:25 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Another example of generic vs. effective.

The space battles in Wrath of Khan and the space battle in Nemesis.

In Wrath of Khan, there are three moments where the ships exchange fire. Three. And very short as well. Khan's first surprise attack and Kirk's comeback. Then Khan's attack in the Mutara Nebula that destroys the torpedo bay and the Enterprise fires back. And then Kirk's attack that destroys the warp nacelle of the Reliant. And yet these are powerful stuff.

In Nemesis, hundreds of torpedoes and phaser beams are thrown around. People are thrown around in their chairs. And the battle goes on and on. Nothing very memorable. The battle as a whole, yeah, but the events inside the battle... nah.

GSchnitzer September 5 2012 06:12 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
This sounds a lot like "orange is a superior color to green" discussion.




Quote:

JarodRussell wrote: (Post 6914588)
Another example of generic vs. effective.

The space battles in Wrath of Khan and the space battle in Nemesis.

In Wrath of Khan, there are three moments where the ships exchange fire. Three. And very short as well. Khan's first surprise attack and Kirk's comeback. Then Khan's attack in the Mutara Nebula that destroys the torpedo bay and the Enterprise fires back. And then Kirk's attack that destroys the warp nacelle of the Reliant. And yet these are powerful stuff.

In Nemesis, hundreds of torpedoes and phaser beams are thrown around. People are thrown around in their chairs. And the battle goes on and on. Nothing very memorable. The battle as a whole, yeah, but the events inside the battle... nah.


Potemkin_Prod September 5 2012 07:26 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
This doesn't sound like a fan film discussion to me...

JarodRussell September 5 2012 08:17 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Quote:

GSchnitzer wrote: (Post 6914735)
This sounds a lot like "orange is a superior color to green" discussion.
Quote:

JarodRussell wrote: (Post 6914588)
Another example of generic vs. effective.

The space battles in Wrath of Khan and the space battle in Nemesis.

In Wrath of Khan, there are three moments where the ships exchange fire. Three. And very short as well. Khan's first surprise attack and Kirk's comeback. Then Khan's attack in the Mutara Nebula that destroys the torpedo bay and the Enterprise fires back. And then Kirk's attack that destroys the warp nacelle of the Reliant. And yet these are powerful stuff.

In Nemesis, hundreds of torpedoes and phaser beams are thrown around. People are thrown around in their chairs. And the battle goes on and on. Nothing very memorable. The battle as a whole, yeah, but the events inside the battle... nah.


Why?

It's a quality over quantity thing, wouldn't you say?

Quote:

Potemkin_Prod wrote: (Post 6915050)
This doesn't sound like a fan film discussion to me...

Discussion about filmmaking is useful for making fan films.

doubleohfive September 5 2012 08:41 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
I think what JarodRussell is trying to say is (and I could be wrong) -- he likes the 1982 Conan and does not like the remake.

In all seriousness, I think what this boils down to is the ever increasing prominence of ADD in the world and in the audiences. Or at least, the perceived prominence of such.

Filmmakers and studios are so afraid now that in our attention-grabbing, information superhighway-obsessed and stimulation-seeking brains we won't have the attention span to appreciate a slower paced film like The Dark Knight Rises. This is why a movie like The Avengers has such fast cutting. Even The Dark Knight suffered from this, though I think in that situation it was more of a stylistic choice on Nolan's part.

But it's true. Compare an episode of TOS or any other show from the '60s and '70s to one from today. Pacing back then was slower; shows took their time. These days, everything is lightning quick. Remember when people would bitch about how slowly things were happening on LOST? Same thing. The producers were taking their time but had a viewing audience that wanted things to progress faster because they've been wired on Michael Bay crap for years to expect that.

So while I think the point Jarod is making is somewhat obvious and overblown out of proportion, I also can see what he's saying, though it doesn't extend far past "green is the superior color to orange" by much.

Maurice September 5 2012 10:00 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
For what it's worth, I think the difference is who directed each.

In the 1982 corner you have John Milius, whose pre-Conan feature directing credits were:
  • 1978 Big Wednesday
  • 1975 The Wind and the Lion
  • 1973 Dillinger
  • 1970 The Reversal of Richard Sun
And who wrote the script for his Conan, and whose screenwriting credit's previous were:
  • 1979 1941 (story)
  • 1979 Apocalypse Now (written by)
  • 1978 Big Wednesday (written by)
  • 1975 Jaws (Indianapolis monologue - uncredited)
  • 1975 The Wind and the Lion (written by)
  • 1973 Magnum Force (screenplay / story)
  • 1973 Dillinger (written by)
  • 1972 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (original screenplay)
  • 1972 Jeremiah Johnson (screenplay)
  • 1971 Dirty Harry (screenplay - uncredited)
  • 1971 Evel Knievel (screenplay)
  • 1969 The Devil's 8 (writer)

In the 2011 corner you have Marcus Nispel, who's prior feature directing credits include only the following three titles:
  • 2009 Friday the 13th
  • 2007 Pathfinder
  • 2004 Frankenstein (TV movie)

And who's pre-Conan work is mostly music videos, and who has no writing credits.

Milius as a writer understands drama and story construction, and worked on films with directors like Don Siegel, John Huston and Spielberg. Just based on that you can guess who'd make the better film, even minus the discussion of the edit style and whether less-is-more.

JarodRussell September 5 2012 10:09 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Quote:

Maurice wrote: (Post 6915845)
For what it's worth, I think the difference is who directed each.

In the 1982 corner you have John Milius, whose pre-Conan feature directing credits were:
  • 1978 Big Wednesday
  • 1975 The Wind and the Lion
  • 1973 Dillinger
  • 1970 The Reversal of Richard Sun
And who wrote the script for his Conan, and whose screenwriting credit's previous were:
  • 1979 1941 (story)
  • 1979 Apocalypse Now (written by)
  • 1978 Big Wednesday (written by)
  • 1975 Jaws (Indianapolis monologue - uncredited)
  • 1975 The Wind and the Lion (written by)
  • 1973 Magnum Force (screenplay / story)
  • 1973 Dillinger (written by)
  • 1972 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (original screenplay)
  • 1972 Jeremiah Johnson (screenplay)
  • 1971 Dirty Harry (screenplay - uncredited)
  • 1971 Evel Knievel (screenplay)
  • 1969 The Devil's 8 (writer)

In the 2011 corner you have Marcus Nispel, who's prior feature directing credits include only the following three titles:
  • 2009 Friday the 13th
  • 2007 Pathfinder
  • 2004 Frankenstein (TV movie)

And who's pre-Conan work is mostly music videos, and who has no writing credits.

Milius as a writer understands drama and story construction, and worked on films with directors like Don Siegel, John Huston and Spielberg. Just based on that you can guess who'd make the better film, even minus the discussion of the edit style and whether less-is-more.

Hm, that's a bit unfair. Just because he made only 3 films or didn't work with big names doesn't mean someone has a lack of understanding. That's why I chose to look at the work itself and not at the vita.


But anyways, I see this is going nowhere. I hoped people would tune in discussing why they feel a particular shot or scene would be powerful or what could have been done to make it less generic. So close this threat if you like.

Maurice September 5 2012 10:38 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
It's not "unfair" to say that the person with more experience is more likely to have made the better film. I also didn't say it was a rule. I said "one can guess". There are always exceptions.

And just because a discussion doesn't immediately turn the way you wanted it is a poor reason to close it.

Bixby September 5 2012 11:28 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
You can sometimes have a director that likes to do fast cuts and spinning camera effects, yet still does it the right way, such as Edgar Wright when making the movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World. THAT film was made for a young ADD type audience, yet I who am nothing of that sort (if I had my way, there would be a lot more movies like late 70's Brian DePalma:)), really liked it!!

USS Intrepid September 6 2012 07:55 AM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
I certainly prefer the original Conan to the recent one, but I still enjoyed both. That said, I probably enjoyed the recent one more than the second Schwarzenegger one.

I agree with the general consensus though, that these things are entirely subjective. And I think Maurice's point is a fair one. Experience is likely to lead to better work. Doesn't mean someone is more talented, just that they know better how to apply that talent.

CaptainStoner September 7 2012 12:56 AM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
I prefer the Arnold film as well, in its Dvd release edit. This is not to say that a more comic book visual style is necessarily inferior. But that first film is proabably the best of its genre and era. I am a big fan of the CtB soundtrack, the gold standard of fantasy film and game music...all that said, there is certainly room for another, even better Conan film. The character has more to offer.....

JarodRussell September 21 2012 07:29 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Quote:

JarodRussell wrote: (Post 6914528)
They just throw one generic explosion and fight and kill after the other at you. So that at the end the climax AS A WHOLE might be something memorable, but the events in it are pretty much forgetable.

This article contains a passage that describes exactly my feeling:

Quote:

Rushed, jammed, broken, and overloaded, action now produces temporary sensation rather than emotion and engagement. Afterward these sequences fade into blurs, the different blurs themselves melding into one anothera vague memory of having been briefly excited rather than the enduring contentment of scenes playing again and again in ones head.

mos6507 October 8 2012 03:53 AM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Jarod, I think the problem with that article is that it attempts to place blame on the studios when it may in fact be a sociological evolution (or devolution) that has no true scapegoat.

We have come to a point of information overload due to video games and the internet. Everything is always accessible on-demand instantly. Therefore there's very little incentive for anyone to sit down and PAY ATTENTION to anything for any length of time. It definitely does lead people towards ADD, and even as I rail against it, I feel it myself. I sometimes have to really force myself to commit to watching things without fast-forwarding and without pausing to check my e-mail.

Being in my early 40s, I remember the days before cable TV and VCRs when you just had 3 networks and UHF and the movies. (Conan was actually one of the first movies I saw when our family got cable, BTW.) I remember what it felt like to focus on whatever was on TV, like the usual slow-paced of, what, at the time, was considered an "action" kid's show like Six Million Dollar Man or The Incredible Hulk. Seen today, shows like that operate at a glacial pace and spend an inordinate amount of time on character drama.

That's the way evolutionary change works. Little by little, and only after a certain amount of time do you look back and realize how different things are.

I think where you see this play out most tragically isn't blockbuster movies, it's on Youtube. Youtube originally had what, a 5 minute limit on clips? Now it's been lengthened, but sociologically people are used to digesting their video content in tiny little bursts.

Where this relates to Trek productions is that anybody doing full-length webisodes probably going to have a hard time building a following if he or she is expecting people to sit down in front of their computers and stream a 60+ minute episode or film back-to-back without rewinding or clicking away.

I mean, look at how Youtube is structured. The play page for a youtube clip is littered with enticements to click away. Related clips and ads and what not. All that choice has made it hard for us to ever feel comfortable in how we've decided to devote our free time.

On Youtube you see what's most popular are viral videos, videos that almost always are comedic and that piggyback on a current event or some form of pop culture. That's why the Klingon Gangnam Style video has 3.3 million hits and counting whereas Star Trek Aurora, an animated production that took many years to produce, which dares you to invest your time to see the characters develop, only has earned 128K.

People just don't have the patience or interest anymore to really get into a story with only a few high-profile exceptions of "genre" films that happen to have some character development like Nolan's Batman and Harry Potter. (It's here I disagree with the article as I happen to appreciate Nolan's filmmaking more than the author does.)

I don't know what can be done about this because I just think it's a general sociological trend. People out there who want to tell long-form stories are going to see their work overlooked simply because viewers can't be convinced to even play through their entire storyline even when it's just being streamed for free on Youtube or Vimeo. People would rather watch dogs on skateboards for 30 seconds.

(Society in general is getting shallower and shallower. I think you also see this play out in how the news is presented (with swooping dolly shots and scrollers and sensationalism) and the political process with the drive-by attack-ads and sound-bites. People just aren't willing to think very long or hard about anything, not just their entertainment.)

Back to Trek...

All you have to do is compare Star Trek: The Motion Picture to the 2009 Star Trek. As much as TMP got ribbing for its pacing when it was released, the script never would have gotten green-lit today. Yet when I rewatch TMP, at least the Director's Cut, it seems to age better and better specifically because it is daring enough to ask the audience to stop thinking about the myriad of distractions that we all have floating around in our heads, and just lose ourselves in that sense of wonder, one that was, yes, FX-driven, but ultimately an idea-movie, not just visual eye-candy.

Those big ideas are few and far between these days in Hollywood, and I certainly didn't sense any "big ideas" in the 2009 Trek.

Linnear October 8 2012 01:18 PM

Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking
 
Quote:

JarodRussell wrote: (Post 6914588)
Another example of generic vs. effective.

The space battles in Wrath of Khan and the space battle in Nemesis.

In Wrath of Khan, there are three moments where the ships exchange fire. Three. And very short as well. Khan's first surprise attack and Kirk's comeback. Then Khan's attack in the Mutara Nebula that destroys the torpedo bay and the Enterprise fires back. And then Kirk's attack that destroys the warp nacelle of the Reliant. And yet these are powerful stuff.

In Nemesis, hundreds of torpedoes and phaser beams are thrown around. People are thrown around in their chairs. And the battle goes on and on. Nothing very memorable. The battle as a whole, yeah, but the events inside the battle... nah.


Totally disagree. While ST II: TWOK remains the pinnacle of Star Trek film making, the space battle in Nemesis was VERY effective because we see tactics we have never seen before in the boring DS9 (which I love) mega-battle shoot-em ups. We see the Enterprise rotating to protect unshielded areas, we see them use Phasers to find the Scimitar then targeting it with torpedoes. We see the use of speed and velocity. We see coordination between ships.

Being that we are filming "Axanar" next year and Act 4 is all about a big space battle, I could never use ST II:TWOK as a model, but Nemesis is a great jumping off point.

The Battle in the Mutara Nebula may be a better film experience, but bashing the Nemesis space battle shows a serious lack of understanding of the evolution of Star Trek space battles.

Alec


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