Story: King Of The World?

Avatar is making quite a stir.

Seems to be a movie provoking some serious debate, and while that’s not necessarily the mark of a good movie, it is the mark of an interesting pop culture experience, and me? I hunger for interesting pop culture experiences.

This one in particular yields a number of interesting questions. Is the movie a mountain of smoldering dog vomit? Is it a technological “game-changer?” Is it a racist white male fantasy? Does it force upon you the bestial desire to make love to mystical jungle goats?

[EDIT: And also, how can you enjoy the movie without feeling like an imperial sympathizer?]

All interesting questions. Further, questions I’m unlikely to address here, today. (In part because the sore throat is now paired with a head full of infected treacle, a slow yogurt of disease filling my sinuses.)

No, what I want to talk about is the one that Entertainment Weekly brought up:

Does story matter?

The article notes the contention between two camps: one that says Avatar has a rot-suck bucket-fucker of a story, and thus it cannot be a good film; the other that says Avatar has awesome 3D crazy shit going on, and so it is a good film (or, alternately, who cares if it has a good story because 3D blah blah awesome boom blue goat blah).

Ironically, the article conjures up Titanic as a positive example of Cameron’s storytelling, yet I’d argue that there the story is ultimately pretty soggy, too. Titanic, like Forrest Gump, was for me more clever spectacle and twee sentimentalism than really engaging, compelling story.

The question here today is: for film, at least, is story king?

How much does it matter in the cosmic hierarchy of Important Shit About Movies?

I’ll admit, my initial gut reaction screams and thrashes around and hoots and gibbers, hollering, “Story is king! Long live the story!” And then my gut reaction runs off and punches old ladies down staircases, because that’s how just it rolls.

Further, I also wonder if the “anti-Avatar” sentiment is getting a little ahead of itself in terms of criticizing the story. Now, this will come as a back-handed compliment (and is little different from saying, “I’d rather eat a hunk of moldy bread than a fistful of shit-covered ball bearings”), but is the story that bad? I don’t mean in terms of racism or whatever — remember, that’s a different blog post — but I mean in terms of laying out the tale, is it really that awful? Big budget blockbusters these days have stories that don’t make a lick of fucking sense. Transformers? Star Trek? Terminator: Salvation? I mean, Christ, much as I love Attack of the Clones, it’s plot literally makes no sense. None.

Avatar, for all its simplicity, makes sense. It may have plot conveniences, but no plot holes. I certainly wouldn’t call it elegant or deep storytelling, but it offers… narrative utility, let’s say.

Still, that’s really not answering the question at hand. I’m not here to gauge the quality of Avatar’s story — instead, I want to examine how important story is to film.

On the one hand, I’d love for it to be everything. As a storyteller, it’s kind of my bag.

On the other hand, are we perhaps buttoning the medium up too tight? Films offer a lot of things that, say, a novel cannot. Performances, direction, effects, sound. By suggesting that story is everything, we run the risk of making these other things matter too little — and further, it becomes a way to describe to people what they Should and Should Not enjoy. It’s a firm metric, yes — but potentially also a draconian one.

Put differently, should I not appreciate a Three Stooges or Abbot and Costello movie because the story is dumb?

If I watch a musical like Moulin Rouge, must my enjoyment of the experience be hampered by the somewhat ludicrous narrative?

With Fellini or Kurosawa, the films are often more about the image and the feel than the actual story itself — so, are they inferior to films that dedicate more time and energy to telling complicated, interesting stories?

And no, for the record, I’m not comparing Cameron’s Avatar to Fellini’s 8 1/2, but I am asking the question — can a film be something more than a vehicle for a story? Is it a negative when a film offers the equivalent to a theatrical show or an amusement park ride? Is that, as the kids are wont to say, badwrongfun?

Obviously, I’d love for every film to tell a good story. I think we are in danger of dismissing story as purely unnecessary, when it still may be the thing that elevates a good movie to a great film. Even still, is it always a fair metric? Do you go to watch a comedy and then demand that the story be more important than, say, the jokes? If an episode of Flight of the Conchords makes you laugh but otherwise has a ridiculous and almost non-existent story, does it fail as an experience? (I know. That’s TV, we’re talking about film. Shaddup shuttin’ up, rabbit. Same question applies.)

Is that metric too harsh?

I don’t have an answer. I do know that with a movie like Avatar, having a clear and simple story helped carry what is plainly the stars of the show: the world, the effects, the direction, the excitement. The experience wasn’t spoiled by its lackluster story, and in fact I found myself not caring at all during what was a surprisingly easy-to-watch three hour film. I also know that if the film had a more complex and engaging story, it would’ve gone from merely “good” to “great” in a heartbeat.

So, no answer from me.

But just down yonder, you’ll find a comment window.

Use it, if you’ve something to add.

Don’t make me call out the hounds.

The hounds. The baying hounds.


  • Amazing conversation piece, Chuck! I haven’t seen Avatar (I am still deciding between seeing it or being the cool rebel that plays by his own rules) but I can comment on story in film, two things that are very near and dear to me.

    I got crucified in film school (alright, not literally, but this one guy did step on my foot) for suggesting that some movies have too much story. My position on this is fairly well summed up in something you said up there, specifically:

    “Put differently, should I not appreciate a Three Stooges or Abbot and Costello movie because the story is dumb?”

    I am going to say that the Stooges (because I am more familiar with them) would suffer from a true story. With their form of slapstick, a heavy story would either get swallowed up in the fun of the routines, unnoticed by all but the most keen observers (and I stand by that these people enough arrogant-fuel in their assmobiles already). Each Stooges routine had some basic form of storytelling, a situation that the Stooges moved through. The boys are movers. They have to move stuff up. Hilarity ensues.

    That is not to say that heavy story does not have a place in slapstick or absurd forms of comedy, however. Look no further than “Life of Brian”. This movie was hilarious and filled with not only a fairly intricate story, but allegory, farce, and existentialism all at the same time. Would “Life of Brian” been so good if the script read ‘Brian gets up, walks around, gets hurt, says something snarky, and gets nailed to a tree”.

    Now, I’m using comedies as examples because I think they are the best way to show how story can be a hindrance and a boost. Dramas by nature rely on story, action flicks tend (again, -tend-) to get bogged down by it, and horror is one of the ultimate crapshoots where story is concerned (I’ll be happy to validate that if necessary). All this examination from my experience has yielded this answer:

    A film needs just enough to story to fulfill itself. If the narrative propels the script from the inciting incident to page 120, then load it up. If at any time the story makes the flow of scenes stall, then there is too much. This goes back to taking out your favorite parts of your work, and really setting the “show, don’t tell” cliche into gear. Your narrative has started narrating too much – kick that bitch in the happy sacks and show some action.

    I am not saying you shouldn’t put thought into scene and story (in fact, I am kind of saying the opposite). But when your doing your table reads (I used to recruit friends to help go through what I’d written) you will be able to tell if the script is stalling, it’s much harder to do it reading in your head. Break that bastard up and pull back the heavy story elements and just let the script be! Don’t be the overbearing parent loading up on their rebellious teenager: the script will be dressed like a hooker and dating ’50s bikers before you can type “finis”.

    • Scionic:

      That’s a robust comment. I don’t have a full moment to devote a proper response but —

      I’ll take you up on the offer. Talk about horror films and story crapshoots. I DEMAND! Dance for me! Bring me wine and the head of a werewolf!

      — c.

  • Very sorry about that sir! This is a subject I’ve put a lot of thought into in the past, and have had several fairly vicious arguments about. I will try not to blow my comment wad all over your blog so brazenly again!

    Horror is a bitch. When it’s good, it amazing and when it’s bad… I mean, holy shit. Leprechaun: In the Hood anyone?

    Story in horror beyond the bare skeleton (haha, see what I did? Skeletons are HORROR-fying) can either make the horror story terrifying or feel so out of place that it isn’t horror anymore. A great movie that revolved around its story would the “The Shining”. If you’re familiar with both the written and film versions, you know Jack is a little different between the two. Both stories are about slowly going crazy and doing bad things, but Jack in the movie is a bit closer to killing things in the movie. Between Kubrik and King, they made something that is a masterpiece of terror and suspense and the evolving story from book to screenplay only made it more engrossing for the audience. The story of the film was what really got to you: yes, butcher knives through a wall with a crazy Nicholson was shocking, but the film creeped people out because of what it was saying: this is what it is to go crazy and want to kill your family. You’ve been motherfucking warned.

    So, let’s flip that and go to camp (yeah, you knew I was going there). I am going to skip the first Friday the Thirteenth (the real one, not the remake) because it really was fairly story driven. Pamela Voorhees had reason, had crazy, and had lots of sharp things to make a fairly motivated villain. Part two on the other hand, had a mongoloid in a pillow case. Character development for Jason was gaining a hockey mask and finding new ways to grunt when he got hit with things, and eventually not even doing that. What fucking story is there in Friday the Thirteenth, parts 2-5ish (by Manhattan it stops being a good example, because they really became comedies)? It pretty much is people doing something until Jason kills them, then the survivors come up with imaginative ways to kill him. But is Jason terrifying? We make fun of the movies now, but fucking-a yes he was. Jason is a personification of the unstoppable force, the relentless hunter, death itself. There is no dealing with him, there is no stopping him, and he is motherfucking relentless. That is terrifying (again, until he goes to Manhattan. Nothing fucks with New York).

    Now look at the new Friday the Thirteenth. Say what you will of it, but they really tried to inject more story into it. Did it work? Not really – and I liked the movie. It was less horror and more action. It had a basic premise that was presented in a fairly silly manner, and then had a version of Jason that apparently escaped from acrobat school bumming around the lake, digging holes. A little creepy? Meh, I guess. The story was presented so clumsily that it really hindered the movie.

    That’s not really the point though: that is just a case of a badly presented story, what about when a story actively hurts the movie? Have you ever seen Sleepaway Camp 1? If not, it is worth a rent… and I hope we can still be friends after watching it. This is a movie where the story really, really beat the crap out of the movie. I am going to try and do this as spoiler free as I can, and I am sorry to use multiple slasher flicks, but this is the best example I can think of. This largely hinted at story throughout the film as kids are getting cut up is well presented: it isn’t in your face, and hits the surface just long enough so that you get the idea of what’s going to happen. Yet by the end of the flick (aside from the major WTF moment in the last scene), you are left wandering “what in the fuck did any of that help”? There are some fairly dedicated Sleepaway Camp fans out there that will argue this, and that’s fine, but I think that the “fairly” well told story just clobbered what could have been a decent slasher flick. Scenes where exposition was being handed out could have been more splatter-happy, and it would have fit the tenor of the move much better.

    To sum up, I am going to repeat something my digital cinematography instructor said to me: “Rick, take a bath or don’t come back.” After an uncomfortable pause, he continued with “Shitty acting can kill a good script, but nothing saves a shitty script”. Part of making a script shit-free is putting the right ingredients in to make the entire experience worthwhile. You said it well in your original post, and I’ll extrapolate just a little. A written work is by nature and necessity propelled by its story. A film is a visual and aural experience, and requires hundreds of elements working in tandem in the correct amounts (of which narrative is only one part) or it turns into a big pile of hooey, like Transformers 2.

    I had more to say on this, but my house is forever noisy and I lost my train of thought at least three times. I’ve read over this a couple of times and I think I made my point fairly clearly… and it is really freaking long again. Does this make sense though?

    • Makes total sense, and I added in some line breaks to your comment. :)

      You hit on something interesting here, with story potentially getting in the way of horror.

      Story — in horror especially — is sometimes best left to a “less is more” approach. That which is most terrifying about horror films is the unknown. (Blair Witch Project has a very minimal story, and a very maximum creep factor.) Even in The Shining, the story is gauzy, uncertain. Nothing is really explained. It’s actually a bit of a head-trip, and that serves to make it weirder. The novel, on the other hand, explains a lot — and thus the creep factor is reduced.

      — c.

  • I also have yet to see Avatar and thus cannot comment on its story in the hierarchy of things. However, 2009 saw quite a few science fiction “blockbusters” hit the cinemas, and here are my condensed thoughts on some of them, all related to your question about story being king.

    Terminator: Salvation was a revisit to an old favorite franchise. The mere promise of relentless cyborgs bent on the subjugation and eventual extinction of humanity can draw crowds all by itself. Apparently, however, you can’t try to give the premise characters with nuances or string episodes together with a convoluted but compelling plot – if you could, we’d still have The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Instead, McG and his cronies pandered to the first-person shooter crowd, bathed their film in a palette of brownish-grey that would shame Fallout 3 and set up plenty of scenery for Christian Bale and Sam Worthington to chew on. The premise for the story was somewhat flimsy and seemed like nothing more than an excuse for our heroes to shoot at robots and blow things up.

    Speaking of robots and things blowing up, Transformers: ROTF was also a revisit to a franchise involving robots. I rank it higher than Terminator, however, because instead of working from a well-realized premise brought to us in an effective way by James Cameron (whom I will deal with at the end of all this) we’re working from the flimsy cartoon that reinforced toy sales. The movie, like the toys, doesn’t try to be anything but fun and exciting, and on that level it works. Despite some of the criticism it’s gotten, I do think the film has a brain behind its story – it’s just the brain of a twelve year old boy. But hey, that’s Michael Bay for you.

    Star Trek is next on my list. Both this film and the previous one were written by the same team, and yet the differences between the two are night and day. Sure, the Transformers are fun, but there’s very little of that “edge of your seat” feel a movie is supposed to give you. Star Trek brings us to the edge on multiple occasions, from the riveting and heart-wrenching opening to the destruction of an entire planet. Instead of a series of CG smackdowns – entertaining in and of themselves – there’s a story present that honors and even preserves the standing works while forging into new territory. The action and drama stem from that story and, while the pace can stutter a bit here and there, is a much more smooth and enjoyable ride than either of the two other films I’ve mentioned.

    But all of these films (and Avatar, I suspect) pale in comparison to District 9. Not only is there a well-written thought-provoking story going on, the way in which that story is told put you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The action doesn’t just stem from the story, it blossoms from there and not only looks very good but also keeps the story moving. We don’t stop for a moment of oohing and aahing over the badass CGI – we eagerly await the next turn of events that happens to characters we’ve come to care about. And we care about them because of the story.

    Take this rambling for what you will, but for me, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the story is indeed king.

  • Josh:

    District 9 is one of my favorite films of the year, hands-down.

    Re: story as king.

    This year is, to me, not a great example of “story is king.”

    Star Trek, which I did enjoy, had a pretty lunk-headed story (in my opinion).

    Transformers… well. The second one made big, big, big bank, and from all reports had a stinker of a story that made little to no sense.

    Terminator — which, again, I kind of liked despite everything — also had at times an incomprehensible story.

    Outside District 9, Avatar actually fares pretty well in the story department compared to those others — further, they serve to prove (in my mind) that story may *not* be king, at least, not univerally.

    — c.

  • I’ll agree on the lack of story this year. I am going to disagree with you two a little on Terminator: Salvation but just in this one case: the continuation of John Connor’s story fit in well with what was put out in Terminator 1 & 2, and his difficulty with the military high command of the future was a neat wrinkle. I actually felt that Connor was tired of everything, and just wanted to get the end point so he didn’t need to continue what he’d been part since before he was born. Beyond that, I agree completely. I enjoyed Worthington’s performance, but his character and the arc were… well, y’all said it best.

    I need to get District 9. Kids kept me from seeing up till now, and everyone says it’s amazing. That’s on my get list.

    Transformers… I don’t want to talk about. I liked the first movie a lot, and absolutely hated the second one. That’s all I have to say about that, as a fellow Alabamian would say.

    Star Trek is by far my favorite of the year so far. Aside from my geek-factor needs from being a Trekkie, it’s just a good and entertaining movie. I’m siding with Josh on the story aspect.

  • Avatar achieves one of the Holy Grails of literary science fiction: the evocation of an alien world. It does it so viscerally that it actually stands up to the best of the genre, in this one aspect at least (alien-world evocation). And by “best”, I mean Ringworld and Dune. It’s nowhere near as in-depth or as rich as those works, but in sheer you-are-there-ness, its aces. Sure, I don’t really learn that much about Pandora outside of the film’s immediate story concerns, but one big idea is enough, and a planetwide, organic neural net is worthy sci-fi. It does what a movie does well: putting you in the action. It can’t present an entire ecology like a book can, but it does make me want to know more about what I see.

    Yeah, the story was rather stale (I speak as someone with much experience fighting with animal people for the Earth Mother against the Machine, although in a different medium), but it served its purpose. A.O. Scott said something to the effect that its sheer sincerity overcomes many of its problems, and I guess I agree. That doesn’t make it art, but it certainly makes it watchable between the moments where the film does achieve art — when the world comes alive around the viewer.

  • I think the answer is a fact: Yes, films can function without a strong story. It’s clearly the case. Michael Bay has banked his entire career on it.

    I guess my question to that is, why even try? Why include a story, if it’s unimportant? If you’re going to make something for flash and what-have-you, why put a shitty story in to facilitate it? All you’re doing is setting yourself up for criticism. Without a story, there’s nothing to criticize.

    Or better yet, why not just put a passable story into it? A strong screenplay isn’t a huge investment, if you consider the absolutely retarded amounts of money that go into these movies. $8,000,000 went into some blue woman’s breasts. $10,000,000 went into blowing up a building while a helicopter flies overhead. $50,000-$100,000 for a good screenplay is almost laughable money, comparatively.

    My thought is that it’s an honest fact that people buy more tickets for movies with a shit story. If there’s a story, that does things like makes a person think, and draws them away from the Baysplosion thrown in their face at full speed. If you care about the characters, you start to think about how silly what they’re doing is. Silly stories have no problem putting the characters in plenty of places where they can look cool, say cool things, and otherwise pose in front of the budget.

    I think Hollywood is banking on the fact that these moviegoers don’t want to be made to think.

    • Depends on what you mean by “big-grossing.” You might mean “big-budget?” (Paranormal Activity was made for very little, but made bank.)

      If we’re just talking “big” in general — i.e. blockbuster — this year was a little slim, but blockbuster films have in the past had great stories. Dark Knight had a stellar, complicated, and fucked up story. Both Up and Wall-E cost around the $200 mil mark, and both were ludicrously good. The Bourne movies, I really loved, and I also liked the two new Bond films.

      On the one hand, I find it easy to share your cynicism — this year’s slate of films seemed a little weak on the story sauce.

      But, then again, you look at a movie like District 9, which is a thoughtful sci-fi film (plus, yes, explosions), and it cost very little and made quite a lot.

      Or, you look at The Dark Knight — if ever a blockbuster was designed to make you think, it’s that one. Intricate plot with a doubly intricate moral fiber wound throughout.

      So, the movie-going public is willing to shell out for “thoughtful” — here, they may not be able to shell out for thoughtful because it just isn’t up there on the screen, and is thus limits the choices.

      Another thing to consider in regards to 2009’s films: you could argue that many are the result of the writer’s strike. Terminator, Star Trek, and Transformers all had to be written on a tight deadline for there to be a film at all.

      Final answer: why include story? Well, this isn’t a nuanced answer — the nuanced answer would get back into the point of the blog post that asks whether every movie really needs a rockin’ story — but I think “good story” is what elevates the piece from merely an experience to a good or great film.

      — c.

  • Is this new shiny Gravatar thing working?

    Regardless, I think making a generalization about the movie going public is almost doomed in and of itself. I understand what the point is getting at, but this really comes down to the individual or small group dynamic also. People will go see thing to be provoked into thought or moved to experiences, and they will just as readily pick movies that allows them to just be entertained and dazzled. I fall into both those categories, sometimes within the space of the same day. I don’t always want to to be inspired or provoked – sometimes I just want to let me brain shut off and think nothing more complicated that “oooh, shiny! Big boobs and booms equal happy!”.

    Which one of those two modes does story help, which one does it inhibit, and is there a happy medium? I would say yes, there is… and almost any Sam Raimi or pre-LotR Pete Jackson movie (Particularly Bad Taste) will fill that roll very nicely.

    Like all things, those movies and which ones constitute veg/thought are going to be subject to personal taste.



      Raimi is a good example of, “Can do dumb well.” The Evil Dead series — particularly II and AOD — are not exactly high-brow films with great stories. His desire to make Three Stooges horror pics is clear in those. And, I love the shit out of them. But they damn sure don’t ask you to do much thinking.

      — c.

  • I disagree, sir, and AoD is the perfect example. Alright fine, so Ash may not be the “classic” hero’s journey candidate, but he does get there and he does save the day. Maybe not every little minute, but most of it.

  • I basically mean blockbusters.

    Because although Paranormal Activity made an outstanding amount compared to its budget, it’s still nothing compared to say… Transformers 2.

    You’re correct on Dark Knight. That one slipped my mind. It’s definitely a blockbuster full of thinking along with the cool. I wonder though: Would have it done as well without that story? I think it might have been comparable. Dark Knight was really the exception to the rule. It surprised me on a number of counts. (This coming from a guy that’s usually bored to death of big budget superhero flicks.)

    I keep wanting to see District 9. I swear I will. Although, it’s still not comparable to one of the big ones.

    You mention my boy Raimi. While the Evil Dead movies aren’t exactly War and Peace, they’re great horror/comedy stories. You guys touched on this earlier, but what makes a good horror story isn’t necessarily the same thing as an everyday good story. I would go so far as to say Army of Darkness is a really strong story. Sure, it’s just Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with a goofball. But it sold me. It’s hilarious. Ash is a great character, and the circumstances he’s put in flow well and enhance the emotions evoked by the comedy/slapstick gore Raimi’s so good at.

    So I guess in that regards, what I think is a strong story is one that actually takes the events showcased in the film to a new level. Look at Jaws. It’s actually a kind of silly story. It’s not groundbreaking writing. But the writing does actually enhance what’s occurring. Terminator 2 isn’t Homer. But it builds a convincing world with urgency and power. It gives you characters that makes otherwise yawnworthy events very engaging. But Transformers and Bad Boys? Both of those films could have the plot stripped out, and there’d be no loss in value. They’re just excuses to jump from gunshot to explosion to cgi robot to whatever.

    So… Avatar. Do you think the story added to it? Do you think that if you were just watching that world, listening to the characters and being immersed, that it’d be a significantly different film for you?

    • David:

      First, all this just goes to show how complex the subject of “story” is, especially in regards to film! I mean, holy crap.

      Re: Avatar.

      The story did add to it, yes. Watching and experiencing the world would be great for like, 15-30 minutes. But the story, for all that it gets knocked around, is simple and forthright, and does add something.

      The issue really is — a *better* story would have added *more* in this case. Again, it would’ve been the transition from a Good Movie to a Great Film.

      YMMV, of course.

      — c.

  • Ah there, good sir, that is where I was disagreeing… right where David above said. It does have a strong story (I suppose “good” is really subjective). I agree they aren’t highbrow, but one thing about AoD is that is really kept to it’s story (even if it didn’t keep to the last scenes of ED).

    Now I have to abandon my pre-boycott of Avatar plans so I can go see it just I can continue having this conversation. Damn you all for aborting what could be a perfectly good chance to pig-headed and close-minded with no basis in personal knowledge. How am I ever going to get into politics now?

    • Rick:

      You’ve commented here a number of times. There’s no way they’ll let you go into politics with that on your belt. I mean, rape, murder, extortion — sure, maybe. Posting here? Nuh-uh.

      Re: AOD —

      Really? Really? (If I say it again, will it enforce my point? REALLY?) The story in AOD is fine. But really, who cares? It’s a slapdash organization of events. Don’t get me wrong — it’s awesome. It’s really one of my favorite movies. But I don’t hold any illusions about it being high art. (ED2 is actually even lighter on story — and, again, that’s okay. These are films that prove the point that a serviceable story can be elevated to greatness when all other things are in proper alignment.)

      More later (a resp. to David, because he brings up good stuff).

      — c.

  • I think I see what you are getting at, Chuck. It’s kind of like comparing (to bring another genre to conversation) Full Metal Jacket and Jarhead. Both are good movies, but FMJ is great. It was steeped in its story, from Joker’s change going from boot to war, Private Pyle going from idiot to sociopath, and solid duality between the extremes of patriotism. Jarhead, while good and it possessing a -decent- story, borrowed very heavily from Full Metal Jacket and Platoon, and felt really derivative and (at points) kind of hokey. Jarhead could have been great, but it certainly missed that mark with a poorly constructed story that was about as subtle as a staph infection.

    I’ve been in a room with former marines watching FMJ, and seen them tear up at parts. I can’t ever see that happening with the other.

  • Honestly, it varies person to person. While David and others may be firmly on one end of the spectrum, we all know there are others firmly on the opposite.

    It’s not as simple as adding a better (to you) story to a stellar effects driven film to make it WOWBANGAWESOME! Kurosawa is a good example: films considered “classics” are really fairly typical stories.

    When you consider that everyone has different tastes, the “Story is King” metric is massively draconian.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’ve seen Avatar and thought it was one of the most amazing visual spectacles ever…even if the story is fairly typical. I’m an illustrator, of course I’m geeking over the visuals. The plot? Meh, passable.

    I also love The Magnificent Seven even though the story is old. Same with several films (stories). I think most films are based on stories that are fairly common (though often twisted and tweaked to fit a theme.) Not all of them. There is room for original material and there are original stories out there. Problem is that in this day and age we’ve seen a lot, and so the odds of us comparing any story to something else and saying it’s old, tired and rehashed ad nauseum is pretty easy. Jeebus, how many young hero coming of age stories are there out there?

    Personally, I like a plot that surprises me and that I don’t see coming. I prefer a “good story”. Of course sometimes a good story is wholly original…sometimes it’s a smart retelling for a new audience.

    The problem I think is us. Sometimes we allow the story to take us on a journey, even though it resembles other journeys, sometimes we rebel as soon as it seems familiar.

    Ultimately we need to sit down and watch it for ourselves without bias or comparing to anything else and give it a fair shake before deciding is the only way to decide.

    Prejudice: Pre-Judging anything, whether a book, a movie, a song, a person…whatever…it’s ridiculous. We really don’t know if something will catch us and take us on a journey until we try it for ourselves.

    I’m a reviewer PT and I’ll be honest, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to disregard everyone else’s reviews and opinions and see it/ read it for myself. I’ve found some real gems. Even stuff that I usually loathe. I’ve been surprised several times in the past few years I’ve been doing this.

    • Jeff:

      Way to go and bring… y’know, *reason* into this discussion, and even-handed *moderation*. You shut up. You shut up and you eat a handful of poo-poo.

      Okay, yeah, great comment, and you pretty much said it all.

      Happy Holidays. :D

      — c.

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