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Old November 4 2013, 06:09 PM   #46
Enterpriserules
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Re: Khan #1 Review

We reviewed this issue on Literary Treks. I really like this comic, one of my favorite of the year.
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Old November 4 2013, 06:20 PM   #47
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Christopher wrote: View Post

Opinions differ on the merits of an individual movie, but that's separate from the more general issue I'm talking about, which is whether writers are allowed to have creative control over a Hollywood feature film. The only writers who get to do that are the ones who are also directing or producing. Now, fortunately it seems to be getting more common for TV showrunners like Abrams and Joss Whedon to move into filmmaking, so hopefully that means the dysfunctional feature-writing process is starting to give way to something more writer-driven like we have in television. Whether you think a specific movie worked well or not, giving writers some actual control over their work is bound to be an improvement for the feature industry as a whole.


There's gotta be a mid-point between using writers as disposable stenographers and giving them carte blanche.
Maybe, but I'm not inclined to blame the writers for this movie's shortcomings. I feel that those shortcomings are no different from the ones you find in many other big-budget action movies these days, so I blame the studios and the industry for the pressure they put on filmmakers to conform to certain formulas (like the recent fad of overloading the third act with disaster porn).
I certainly agree that allowing writers leeway and creative control is important. I just think that the particular combinations that brought us STID and Trek didn't work out too great because the director's vision (or the demands of the studio) were such that they didn't really care about serving as a counter balance to the writers. Clearly there are situations where writers are run over rough shod, perhaps more often than not, but it seems to me there's quite a few producer-cum-writer-cum-director combinations in various configurations taking over major franchises that I think how studios choose to staff a franchise is as important as whether or not they give enough creative control.

I feel like, for example, someone with a bit of clout who could've said "No" to how Man of Steel would throw a pretty big spanner into the on-screen portrayal of Superman would've been helpful.

And yes, Man-made disaster porn is getting to be tiresome.
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Old November 4 2013, 06:22 PM   #48
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Enterpriserules wrote: View Post
We reviewed this issue on Literary Treks. I really like this comic, one of my favorite of the year.
I know the whole "the reveal needed to be a surprise" thing made it necessary to not have anything preceding the film, but I almost feel like this comic should've been like a cable mini-series created BEFORE the film to give popular resonance to why the reveal was even a big deal in the film.
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Old November 4 2013, 07:17 PM   #49
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I certainly agree that allowing writers leeway and creative control is important. I just think that the particular combinations that brought us STID and Trek didn't work out too great because the director's vision (or the demands of the studio) were such that they didn't really care about serving as a counter balance to the writers. Clearly there are situations where writers are run over rough shod, perhaps more often than not, but it seems to me there's quite a few producer-cum-writer-cum-director combinations in various configurations taking over major franchises that I think how studios choose to staff a franchise is as important as whether or not they give enough creative control.

I feel like, for example, someone with a bit of clout who could've said "No" to how Man of Steel would throw a pretty big spanner into the on-screen portrayal of Superman would've been helpful.
But again, in both cases you're assuming that the writers are solely responsible for the parts you don't like, and I don't understand why you jump to that conclusion. As I've been trying to explain, the writers are not the decision-makers in feature films. True, Abrams has the advantage of being a writer who's also a director, but as the director, he's the one who has the final say and the ability to veto any of the writers' decisions.

Indeed, we know that a lot of the more plausible science content that Orci wanted to work into the film (judging from his online comments and interviews) was glossed over or removed in production and editing, which would've been Abrams's purview. We know that Orci didn't want Khan to be in STID but the other producers (mainly Lindelof) overruled him. It's still the director and producers who have the decision-making power, even though they also happen to be writers in this case. But the various different writers on the film are not a single monolithic bloc with a single set of ideas; like any collaborators, they come at it from different perspectives and disagree with each other. So you're wrong to talk as though there's some single entity called "the writers" that was running around unchecked.

As for Man of Steel, my whole point in bringing it into the discussion is that if multiple unrelated productions with different writing staffs are simultaneously ending with big city-destruction climaxes, that indicates that the impetus to do that kind of climax comes from somewhere higher up, or from some broader systemic process within the industry as a whole, rather than being something that the individual films' writers can be blamed for initiating. The fact is, there were plenty of people in a position to say "No" to the makers of MoS, but they didn't want to say "No" to the disaster porn, because that's what the studios want. They want action movies to have progressively bigger, more expensive, more cataclysmic climaxes so that they keep topping each other and keep pace with an audience that's getting ever more jaded by the orgies of destruction in earlier movies.

Remember: even if the director, producer, and writer are all on the same page, that doesn't mean they have carte blanche, because they still have to answer to the studio and the financial backers and the marketing people. There's no way in hell that the makers of movies this expensive are going to be left unsupervised and unregulated -- there's just too much at stake.
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Old November 4 2013, 08:56 PM   #50
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Man-made disaster porn is getting to be tiresome.
Getting to be?

I thought STiD did it quite well, as far as "disaster porn" goes, but big chunks of "The Avengers" and "Man of Steel", and the seemingly endless arrow-attack scenes in "The Two Towers" put me to sleep. I have never been one for endless car chase sequences either; I think I slept through several of those in the Bond films?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I know the whole "the reveal needed to be a surprise" thing made it necessary to not have anything preceding the film
The reveal didn't "need" to be a surprise, or else the film would have premiered simultaneously across the globe. There was a four-part comic prelude to STiD that set up numerous elements. But the tie-ins are read by about 2% of the general audience. And that particular demographic probably doesn't need Khan's whole backstory before going to see the main event.
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Old November 4 2013, 08:58 PM   #51
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Re: Khan #1 Review

My contention was more that Abrams as a director had priorities and a style that tended to bring out the worst elements of the writers (particularly Lindelorf) brought on to write for Trek. My assumption was more that Abrams decided to take the parts I didn't like from the writers, and encouraging things like that in lieu of the more thoughtful things that Orci for example has said about the film.
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Old November 4 2013, 09:28 PM   #52
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
I thought STiD did it quite well, as far as "disaster porn" goes, but big chunks of "The Avengers" and "Man of Steel", and the seemingly endless arrow-attack scenes in "The Two Towers" put me to sleep.
For me, what made the climax of The Avengers work was that it wasn't just empty visuals; the danger to the population was acknowledged and the heroes were acting on an ongoing basis to protect innocent lives, which is what superheroes are supposed to do first and foremost. Whereas by contrast, the destruction in Man of Steel was totally incidental to the story and its human impact was completely ignored; if you read a dialogue transcript of the film, you'd have no idea that any of it even happened. It was just there as a visual spectacle with no substance, and that trivialized it.

STID's gratuitous city-destruction sequence wasn't much better, but at least the closing scenes of the film made a token acknowledgment that there were victims to be commemorated.


Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
My contention was more that Abrams as a director had priorities and a style that tended to bring out the worst elements of the writers (particularly Lindelorf) brought on to write for Trek. My assumption was more that Abrams decided to take the parts I didn't like from the writers, and encouraging things like that in lieu of the more thoughtful things that Orci for example has said about the film.
Maybe. But Abrams still had people over him who would've told him "No" if they didn't like what he was doing. The problem is that the studios actively encourage excessive action and shallow spectacle, and don't have a lot of respect for the audience's intelligence or attention span.
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Old November 4 2013, 10:57 PM   #53
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Perhaps disaster porn is not a bad trope per sé but something that can be overused and has been in some flicks.

There are positive appliances of it, though. Do you remember how Destiny was full of disaster porn? In this case, it wasn't for its own sake but a necessary ingredient to the overall plot. The goal was to have an epic Borg War to bring the Borg storyling to a triumphing conclusion - we got that but also a great story exactly because the plot was instrumental and not a mere excuse for excessive disaster porn.

It works differently for popcorn blockbuster movies, I suppose. I might be alone on this, but among my favourite part of the movie is the Spock-Khan chase through the intact parts of San Francisco. It's stunning! The fashion, the technology - this looks like a credible representation of what our society could look like in the 23rd century.
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Old November 4 2013, 11:22 PM   #54
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Markonian wrote: View Post
Perhaps disaster porn is not a bad trope per sé but something that can be overused and has been in some flicks.
No trope is bad per se; the question is whether a specific instance works or serves a story purpose. The destruction in The Avengers served a purpose: to put civilians in jeopardy and give the heroes opportunities to rescue and defend people, so that there would be clear stakes. The destruction in Man of Steel is entirely incidental to the plot and characters, all but unnoticed by the protagonist, and yet it goes on forever, actually starting up a second time just when we thought it was finally done.


I might be alone on this, but among my favourite part of the movie is the Spock-Khan chase through the intact parts of San Francisco. It's stunning! The fashion, the technology - this looks like a credible representation of what our society could look like in the 23rd century.
Yes, but as you say, it was in the intact parts of the city. So the destruction contributed nothing there. The ship could've crashed in the Bay, been stopped before it hit land, and it would've changed nothing about the story or the climax.
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Old November 5 2013, 01:11 AM   #55
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Christopher wrote: View Post
Yes, but as you say, it was in the intact parts of the city. So the destruction contributed nothing there. The ship could've crashed in the Bay, been stopped before it hit land, and it would've changed nothing about the story or the climax.
You could probably say that about most times something is destroyed in a Star Trek production.

I mean did they really need V'ger to fry Epsilon 9 to show how big and scary it was?
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Old November 5 2013, 02:02 AM   #56
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
You could probably say that about most times something is destroyed in a Star Trek production.

I mean did they really need V'ger to fry Epsilon 9 to show how big and scary it was?
Well, sure, I think that was dramatically necessary. At the very least, it had an actual impact on the characters, in that we were shown the crew's reactions to the event and it helped drive home the stakes and the danger. The Vengeance's crash into the city endangered no characters who were relevant to the story, except for Khan himself, who was miraculously unharmed by it, even though by all rights an impact like that would've turned him into salsa, Augment or not. (Okay, maybe the inertial dampers were still online, but...) The characters who were featured in the climax didn't even seem to be paying attention to the disaster, because they had other things on their mind. So yes, there's a very clear difference. The former was included for its impact on the characters, while the latter was included solely for its impact on the audience. But since there was no character impact to identify with, the audience impact was superficial, a matter of mere spectacle and "Oo look at the cool CGI" rather than a matter of "Oh, what a terrible tragedy/threat to our heroes." Except that CGI orgies of mass devastation are becoming so routine that any "Wow" factor has faded. Man of Steel's orgy of shoddily constructed skyscrapers collapsing like houses of cards for what felt like a whole reel of the film was so preposterously over-the-top that it's hopefully ruined the trope for good and we'll never have to see it used again.
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Old November 5 2013, 02:15 AM   #57
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Well, at least we know the taboo associated with destroying lots of skyscrapes indiscriminately after 9/11 seems to have faded, maybe we're recovering from that bit of cultural trauma.
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Old November 5 2013, 05:36 AM   #58
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Christopher wrote: View Post
Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
You could probably say that about most times something is destroyed in a Star Trek production.

I mean did they really need V'ger to fry Epsilon 9 to show how big and scary it was?
Well, sure, I think that was dramatically necessary. At the very least, it had an actual impact on the characters, in that we were shown the crew's reactions to the event and it helped drive home the stakes and the danger.
I would think V'ger annihilating three Klingon warships would be enough for that rather than also including the destruction of a seemingly unarmed space station especially since the Klingon battle actually gave an impression of how unstoppable V'ger seemed whereas all you get from Epsilon 9 is that it's capable of destroying a defenseless com station(?).
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Old November 5 2013, 05:51 AM   #59
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Re: Khan #1 Review

I think the destruction of San Fransisco was less about "disaster porn" than it was about the attack on 9/11, many have posted about the parallels between modern day America and the conduct of the Federation. The Vengeance crashing on San Fransisco was a reverse 9/11, instead of the attack predicating the "drones," the use of "drones" and the war caused 9/11. Rough as it is, that's my hypothesis.
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Old November 5 2013, 07:36 AM   #60
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Re: Khan #1 Review

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
the Klingon battle actually gave an impression of how unstoppable V'ger seemed whereas all you get from Epsilon 9 is that it's capable of destroying a defenseless com station(?).
That's actually sort of the point of the Epsilon 9 scene; that V'Ger was "attacking" anything it came across, defenseless or not.

It's also largely a setup for the whole "scanning = hostile" hurdle later, but still.
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