Thursday, June 28, 2012

That Did Not Mean What I Thought It Meant

It's time for stories that dissolve into the heat haze; for movies that flicker, burn, and fade; and for storms of prattle that wash even the memories of the plots away. Summer is the time for enjoying things that I don't take all that seriously. There have been two movies in particular that I was looking forward to: Snow White and the Huntsman and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The first looked like it would be a good fantasy film and the second just a wild movie (plus Rufus Sewell!). They looked like movies that my comic fan spouse would both be willing to see and would enjoy. So far, it's shocked me that The Avengers turned out to be the clever, fun movie of the summer and both Snow White and AL:VH turned out to be disappointments. Snow White struggled to find a way to balance a story of supernatural good and evil on the shoulders of an increasingly human queen--she was wicked, but the writers kept insisting that she be a figure of empathy whereas Snow White was just a blank vessel of "healing." Snow White turned out to be the inhuman force in the movie and Good became an unknowable cipher. Wickedness, on the other hand, was as human a force as they come--the fear of the mother for her child, the lust for power, the acceptance of cruelty in the name of safety. It was an interesting film, but it made me long for an adult novelization of the screenplay by an author who could address those themes and the distinct and bitter flavor of magic based on nothing more than pretty little good girls. AL:VH was disappointing because it just made me feel guilty for watching it. It never convinced me that vampires overwhelmed the magnitude of the historical events, never reached what I hoped would be a steampunky visual feast, and made me laugh in the middle of an action scene. Slo-mo or bullet-time or whatever just starts to seem ludicrous after a certain amount of time. The outrageous and beguiling trailer was the only part of the film that I was apparently able to take seriously. Movies have an easier time snaring me than books do--the trailers for both movies sold me on seeing each film. In both cases, I was taken in to a certain extent by cuts that implied a story and a mood that weren't provided in the final product. This has me thinking about e-books. E-books, at least in my experience, are bare of the kind of art direction that a novel from a major publisher has--font choice, cover art, paper, margins, and size either go away or fade in importance for e-books. This is reading that can only seduce through the written word and can only survive on the edifice built in plain text. I miss all the other aspects of books and I like (within reason) shifts in font type, paper weight & color, cover art, etc. I am easily seduced by visual imagery and just as easily irritated by product that doesn't live up to its implied promises.

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