Thursday, September 16, 2010

Older Movies

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a fan of movies. I have a rather large DVD collection—some would say it borders on the ridiculous in sheer size, some would say that my taste is ridiculous. The oldest film in my collection was made in 1911, the newest 2010. Many people mock me because of the way my collection is arranged on the shelf—alphabetical by distribution company (My wife makes sure that her movies are in her own section so she can find them). This, of course, was so I could keep all my Disney movies together. Yes, I owned all the princess movies before I had kids...even before I was married.

I had a birthday recently, I never expect gifts, but I am always appreciative of them. I got a stack of old Disney movies, also I've been spending a lot more time at the library during my unemployment, and the library has movies. As a result, I've been watching a lot of older movies, and I've noticed something. The Pre-Computer Graphic era of Film has a certain reality, and grittiness that the newer stuff just can't hold a candle to.

I'll start with something newer to provide contrast. We got 2012 at the Red Box, since I still had not seen it. Yes, I recognize that 2012 is not great cinema, and I enjoy it for the same reason I enjoy (and own) The Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno: I like Cheezy disaster movies. It is fun to watch things get destroyed, it's fun to watch ordinary people overcome the extrordinary. I don't know how they are ever going to top 2012—they destroyed everything in that movie.

We watched Flight of the Navigator the other night, and I was very impressed by the interior of the Space Ship. First of all, it had to be a nightmare for the crew to keep that clean during filming. Every surface was mirrored, which also had to be a problem; when you film mirrors you have to be extra careful, because the filming crew can be seen in them, but not once during the watching of the movie, did I even think to look for that detail. I was worried that that movie wouldn't hold up—but it did.

Flight of the Navigator vs. 2012: The Space Ship in Flight of the Navigator seemed more real than the Arcs in 2012, because there were so many exterior and interior shots that used real props and sets.

I watched The Final Countdown today. First off, how is it possible that I have never seen this movie? It was great!! Not only were the characters great, and the concept great, but watching all the Aircraft Carrier stuff was Amazing! It was all real, there was one major special effect in the movie (used twice) and a few models used for explosions. All the shots of the airplanes, the loading of missiles, etc.—it was all real. When you see the same sort of shots in newer movies, it's all too perfect—even the stuff that isn't animated is all slick and perfected.

The Final Countdown vs 2012: The Final Countdown was shot on a real ship, with real planes. It was gritty and real, it was imperfect, it was wonderful. 2012 was shot with chroma key. The planes were fake, the ships were fake, even the ocean was fake, I believed it during the movie since the visual language all jived, but watching The Final Countdown made me realize how fake it was.

I got some Gumby stuff for my kids (and Myself) at the library. We've watched Episodes from the 50's, 60's, and 80's; as well as the Move made in the 80's (Gumby Fights an Evil, Robot, Clone with a Light Saber!). Is it hokey? Yes. Do I Love It? Yes! Frankly, I find it refreshing to watch entertainment that is honest, and not sterilized by political correctness. Occasionally, there's a statement that is "political" but nothing that preaches to me and tells me that my way of thinking is wrong.

Gumby vs 2012: Gumby's animation is all jittery and you can see the fingerprints in the clay, the people barely look like people, and I love every minute of it. 2012s animation is perfect, they destroy everything, with so much detail that you don't realize how unreal it is, unless your one of those people that don't understand how to have fun watching movies anymore.

The other thing I've noticed about older movies, is that they don't try to shove as much into the plots. They keep them simple, the camera movement is simpler, the effects are simpler, but they don't necessarily feel that way. We watched the entire planet of the Apes series recently. My wife pointed out to me how they dragged out certain scenes. Taylor running from the Apes went on and on in her mind and after a while she was saying (out loud) "Ok, we get the point. Can we continue on with the plot?" Watching those movies felt like watching an Epic Bible movie, in terms of pace—yet not one of them is longer than two hours, and most are closer to 90 minutes (a length reserved for Children's movies and comedies in modern cinema).

But I like modern movies as well. I did in fact enjoy 2012. It wasn't any better or worse in terms of story than the slew of disaster movies from the 60's and 70's. It just looks slicker.


  1. I don't realize these things until you point them out, but it is so true!
    I was worried that Flight of the Navigator would not be as good as I remembered, having watched it over and over again as a kid. But it was still awesome, I loved it!
    Planet of the Apes was decent, but you're right they didn't try to shove as much in to the plot. I thought it was just my impatience.

  2. I recall watching Poseidon Adventure when it was new. :)

    I have an entire collection of Errol Flynn movies. I love Errol Flynn. If you haven't dipped into his stuff yet, you ought to have a look at some of them. Fun, cheesy heroics, wherein the handsome guy always wins the day and saves the pretty girl. (Yeah, I prefer it when the girls aren't so helpless, but this was the 1940s in Hollywood, so you can't expect much feminism.)

  3. I've loved every Errol Flynn movie I've ever watched. Sadly, I don't think I own any.