Monday, February 07, 2005

Of Action Movies and Humdrum Books

I've always disliked action movies. Surely, I am just as guilty as many others who indulge in this "pleasure", but I usually do for entirely different reasons. For one, I may see the movie strictly for the appreciation of the stunts, cinematography, and CGI, for example which can be found in a James Bond thriller. Or I might go along just to be with my friends who love such pulp (these are the sort of fellows who recount the movie line-by-line on the drive home.) However, I certainly didn't go because the plot was engaging or the actors were terrific (which in-deed they might have been.)

I for one, am not excited by the hundreds of rounds fired off by the hero, while hanging by his toenails from an upside-down hang-glider, while the arch-nemesis is hacking away at his arm with an axe, and despite all the thousands of henchmen, the hero somehow survives and defeats the "bad guy" in single hand to hand combat, with the aid of one special toothpick or any other device.

Action movies ARE BORING! That, plus hackeneyed, banal, and trite (I'm running out of synonyms here!) My idea of what constitutes a good movie is one you will watch again, and again without losing appreciation, and perhaps gaining more and more from it every time you watch. Here is my test to see if you really enjoy an action film- watch an older one, preferably from the 80's or early 90's. The audacity of the stunt crew and the explosions don't seem so exhilarating anymore, do they? The explosions lack some bang and those special-effects aren't so special, sí compadre?

People make the mistake of equating awesome firepower, deadening explosions, and car/motorcycle/boat/plane/helicopter/segway chases with a good movie. All you have to do is watch the same movie a few years down the line when you have already seen all of the above compressed into the first 30 seconds of a current action movie, and you will probably yawn in disgust.

This attitude of mine carries on into other media such as books. I will never read another Hardy Boys, Clive Cussler, or Robert Jordan book again. Yeah, The Hardy Boys were my friends during my childhood. I have read more than 200 of them, between the 59 in the original series, the 67 or so which I read from the Mystery series, and 106 or so from the Casefiles series. All that before I realized I was suckered into reading trash. Repetitive trash. By the time I was 13, I even wrote a couple of short story mysteries revolving around the characters Frank & Joe Hardy. Of course those weren't the only books I read. The "Three Investigators" (both the classic series and the Crimebusters) were incredible. Tom Swift (both classic and new series) was also mind-blowing to my impressionable mind.

When I was about 17, I accidently picked up my first and last Clive Cussler book. By the time I finished reading it, I cursed myself for giving it the time of day, and vowed to never look at another one again. Robert Jordan came heavily recommended, and by the look of the Robert Jordan newsgroups and IRC channels, he is practically deified by his readers. Ok, so I read his first 3 books in his Wheel of Time Series. Nothing impressive, only the same boring story of a naive youth of a troubled and humble background, unaware of his awesome latent magical powers, full of doubt and filled with ethical dilemmas, who always manages to defeat the all-powerful evil mage/god/demon, (and perhaps by accident too) by the end of the book. ZZZzzzzzz.....

Harry Potter? Don't make me laugh. I won't go as far as dissing the books, but if it brings non-readers closer to the goal of becoming full-fledged readers, it is a worthy goal. Same thing goes for Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code", although I did enjoy both that book and the previous "Angel's & Demons". Also, take my advice and avoid his two earlier books, "Digital Fortress" and "Deception Point". Yes, his later books are practically mirror images, but they have many interesting tidbits, however accurate they truely are or not.

I suppose one day I will take a moment to discuss my likes and dislikes of certain authors in their respective genres. But not now, this rant is already too lengthly.

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