Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Movie Night: Battleship

I saw Battleship last night. It wasn't a good movie. It was fun in places, but even when it was fun it had horrible storytelling. For example:

  • It has an opening crawl of unnecessary exposition, followed by a prologue that tells us exactly what the opening crawl just told us, and adds some more unnecessary exposition. This is then followed by a second prologue which introduces the protagonist as a loser and an idiot. Which is fine, except that by the time to title sequence is over, we've jumped ahead six years and he's an entirely different breed of loser idiot. Basically everything before the title is frivolous and pointless.
  • A significant amount of time is spent on a subplot about the protagonist's girlfriend that only barely relates to the main plot.
  • The protagonist's girlfriend herself is almost irrelevant, serving no purpose other than some early fanservice.
  • Several interesting setups have no payoffs. At one point, the protagonist mind-melds with one of the aliens and sees some stuff, but this is never brought up again. In another, an alien confronts a minor character in the process of stealing a high-tech device, but escapes unscathed for reasons that aren't shown on-screen and never explained.
  • The war room sequences are frivolous, as is nearly all of Liam Nesson's role.
  • The dialog is serviceable, but never rises above that level.
I could go on if I wanted. The thing is, though, these problems are familiar to me. They show up in my own books when they're first written. And then I go into revisions, and I weed out stuff. I yank out what's irrelevant or doesn't work, and I play up what does. When I'm done, the book is better for it. Sometimes I have to go through several revisions, each taking me further and further away from the first draft.

Battleship is a first draft. It's a promising idea that never went into revisions, and as a result it's crammed to the gills with stuff that doesn't matter. It's half-baked. It isn't ready for primetime.

And this isn't the only time I've seen this problem, either. It's all over the place: movies, published novels, self-published novels; stuff that could have been awesome and amazing, but didn't because the writer just took his first effort and said "well, that's the best I can do." No, it isn't. You can do better. We all know you can. I may have to write a full blog post on this sometime.

I feel for Taylor Kitsch, though. Poor guy has been in two flops in one year, (one of which, despite it's imperfections, deserved better) and he's got to be worried over the state of his future career. Guy's a pretty solid performer, and I hope I'll be able to see more from him.

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