Go Into The Story's Scott Myers and I exchanged a few tweets Friday night, which was motivated by my assessment of Green Lantern, which was "Not as good as I hoped, but not nearly as bad as I feared."
Scott replied: "Rinse, repeat for all comic book movies / sequels? Mediocrity = The New Good?"
I have to admit, I'm wondering if that's the case. I've seen a lot of movies this year that have been "just okay." Almost six months in, I can't think of a single release that's blown me away. I've been entertained, certainly, by movies like Thor, Paul, X-Men: First Class, and Super 8 among others, but I've yet to come across a film that really made me saw "WOW! Why can't I make that?"
In other words, it seems like Hollywood is doing a good job of getting on base even hitting a few triples, but no one's hit a home run yet - let alone a grand slam. Yet every now and then it seems that film fans try so hard to praise a particular film as not just good, but as the second coming of film. I'm not naming names, but there's been a recent release or two that seems to have gotten more credit than they're due.
For instance, something that's an original idea in a sea of remakes seems to get an A grade just by virtue of the fact that it's not a rehash. Yet if the film were held to a more objective standard. It might be more of a B.
So is this how we rate movies now? "A for effort?" All flaws are forgiven so long as the filmmakers had pure motives?
Which brings me to a couple tweets from screenwriter Justin Marks (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.)
First he said, "Go find me a bad Hollywood movie, then find me the director who says he wasn't trying to do something special with it. Doesn't exist."
This remark clearly ruffled some feathers and I saw one reply Justin wrote, saying to a person arguing with him, "I refuse to accept your premise that there are people who intentionally set out to spend 2 yrs making a bad movie!"
No, of course no one sets out to make a bad movie, but that doesn't mean there aren't cynical reasons for making a movie - reasons that perhaps lead creators to cut corners creatively. There's also the fact that these movies are a product with a release date, and sometimes, creators have to make sacrifices to meet their deadline.
Let's put it this way - when you were in school and had a 20 page paper due, I'm sure you didn't set out to get a D grade. However, the circumstances under which you approached completing that assignment might not have been the most conducive to an A grade. You don't necessarily have to be lazy to be incapable of putting the best effort possible. Maybe the material was beyond your grasp, maybe you completely misunderstood the assignment, maybe you completely lost sight of the goal.
Whatever the reason, when the teacher handed you back your work, explained all the ways in which you failed the assignment, I'm willing to be you didn't offer a defensive "I tried!" and expect that to wipe the slate clean.
Filmmakers made bad decisions for reasons other than laziness - and just saying "Well, they tried" isn't good enough. That doesn't mean that an utter failure like G.I. Joe or Wolverine gets a walk. True, perhaps some criticisms of those films step too far into personal attacks, and I suspect that's what Mr. Marks is reacting to.
But when we start arguing that motive and effort are on an equal par with quality - that's what leads to what Scott was talking about - the day that medicore is the new good.
What do you think?