Saturday, 24 August 2013

What is it that I want out of my entertainment these days?

Recently I saw Pacific Rim. It was decent, but in retrospect I actually felt a bit disappointed with it. I'd seen comparisons made between it and things like Diebuster and other robot-centric cartoons, and people seemed to be saying it was different to all the very serious, gritty special effects films we've been getting for years now, so I think I was expecting something other than what it was. As Joe put it "It still wanted to have its grim-dark cake and eat it too" (or words to that effect).

I mean, it was fun and dumb, but I felt like it was still trying to play itself too seriously, too apologetically. It didn't feel to me like it was fully commiting to a really bold idealogy or idea, it was just sitting kind of in the middle of cartoony and serious, treading water in both but not taking the plunge in either. I don't really want to say that Guillermo del Toro wasn't being sincere in making the film, but somehow that's the impression it left on me.

In the aftermath of this I remembered that the Speed Racer movie was a thing, and I got a chance to watch it.

I felt like it satisfied the itch that Pacific Rim had failed to scratch. It knew exactly what it was and didn't offer a single apology for it. It was cartoony, it was sincere, and it was fun pretty much the whole way through. Even when it had its "serious" bits, I somehow felt like it fit better than it did in Pacific Rim. It let them sit in isolated, believable segments that had a proper context, rather than permeating the whole film with this weird out-of-place grittiness. I even believed in the story the whole way through.

However, let's make one thing clear: it's a kid's film. Not just "a film that kids could watch", it's clearly meant strictly for children. It has obnoxious sound effects, silly music, garish colours, and a monkey. Given all this, I have to ask myself if I would've given it the same chance had I watched it outside the context of "being disappointed that Pacific Rim wasn't cartoony enough". It also makes me wonder if there are fundamental limitations in doing cartoony live-action films. Maybe they only truly work (for me) as kid's films. I've definitely become very burnt out on all the super serial superhero films that've been coming out for what feels like forever now. I couldn't bring myself to care enough to watch The Dark Knight Rises, even though I actually enjoyed the first two. The apathy I feel for the new Wolverine whatever is near unquantifiable, though I may get pulled along to see it anyway.

On the other hand I'm finally watching Cardcaptor Sakura and I'm loving it. Even though, knowing all the tropes of the magical girl genre, its age is very much apparent, I'm enjoying its simplicity and honesty. I'm using words like "sincere" alot in these paragraphs, so maybe that's the theme of this post. I feel like I'm having trouble with certain things that are referencing older stuff and "modernising" it or "reinventing" it, and I don't doubt the sincerity of people's liking for the things they're referencing but just... egh. Hell, even watching CCS all I can think of is "wow this is so much better than Madoka and Nanoha". Actually CCS was probably exactly a new take on the magical girl genre so now this paragraph just sounds kind of ridiculous. I like Gurren Laggan and Eva too, which are a tribute to and reinterpretation of the super robot genre respectively.

I've not been actively watching or reading things too much for the last few months. Admittedly this is largely because I got into Dota 2 so my free time is often spent on that rather than sitting down to watch a movie or cartoon or anime or play a new game. I should get back into consuming things again since that helps provide fuel for creating things as well. I took a couple of months off from paid work because I needed to move house (now done), and also wanted some time to work on that comic I mentioned before. I did work on it, but I realised that two months isn't even close to enough time for me to finish a comic, as I simply don't know how to solve the problems that emerge when trying to tell a story. Or rather, I don't even know how to identify what the problems are. That is to say, I'm stuck, I guess this is what writer's block is?

I don't really have a conclusion, since this was only ever going to be a directionless stream of consciousness, so you get another awkward ending I'm afraid.

Oh wait, I did edit a new showreel together recently, you can watch that.

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