#Hollywood. The name itself conjures images of a great and towering empire, one which hails enough money to make even greed sick. But you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs, and Hollywood has plenty of broken eggs. But an industry that has existed and stemmed for decades surely would have refined and developed their overall standard of their products, to the point where it's harder to find a bad movie than to find a needle in a haystack. Alas that is definitely not the case, we are bombarded with poorly constructed, disastrously delivered, and just suffocated with this detritus 'till we choke on it. So why do they do this to us? Surely, from the ridicules they receive and the infamy they elicit, they must surely stop making these debacles. But they won't, and through the passage of time, the fatal wound of valuing style over substance will only grow deeper.
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE
Hollywood has rained down a plethora of great, even legendary films that have been, and will be, revered and beloved and influential for decades and transcend generations. Examples include The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Spartacus, Casablanca and many others; seriously, it's not hard at all to find extraordinary movies in any given category. That being said, over the years the power of storytelling has been dampened and debilitated to express fantastic imagery. Where aesthetic pleasure was once derived from the formatting and delivering of dialogue, is now derived from big explosions and untamed mayhem. The status quo changed because Hollywood wanted to bring something new to the table, but what they didn't realize, was that the new thing would prove to be their downfall if employed by the wrong people. Not that matters, because the audience wanted something new as well, and they loved it. Regardless of how terrible it often was.
THE DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE
The hotly anticipated expansion of DC's cinematic universe is coming to fruition, with movies like Justice League used as a catalyst, gets us all giddy and excited. Or at least it did, until they recently melted the foundations of their fan base with less than disappointing adaptations of our favorite fictional characters. It was a loss on the critical reception also, as critics depicted the blockbuster as "garbage", "mind-numbing" and "harrowing".
#BatmanvSuperman: Dawn of Justice was censured and derided for it's spotlight on spectacular action rather than a coherent narrative. This wasn't the the first (and most probably won't be the last) time the #DCExtendedUniverse (dubbed the #DCEU by fans) has been criticized for superseding a good story for a good visual. #ZackSnyder (the director) has been applauded over and over again for his prevailing characteristic in his films; his visual style. Well, of course he is! That's where all the attention goes. Snyder is frequently insulted for not ascribing motivations to his characters, of course he is! He puts all his blood, sweat and tears into crafting visual beauty, where time slows down and the music bloats to conceive truly spectacular moments.
This is why Snyder often equips montages to convey awe and amazement as much as he possibly can, and this is why the story in his films are subservient to spectacle since he merits style over substance. This is the fundamental problem in his movies; spectacle at the expense of story, a mistake he may never rectify.
No one personifies the 'style over substance' flaw better the notorious #Transformers director, #MichaelBay. Bay's signature utilization of mass explosions and unchained destruction has evoked a hilarious response from both fans and critics alike to the point where Bay's film career has become a meme. The Transformer film franchise, a cluster of computer generated characters, settings and visuals, where organic material is scarcer than food in a post-apocalyptic world. Needless to say, his films don't exactly pander to critics...or (the majority of) moviegoers for that matter.
We all want to see a good movie, and filmmakers don't intentionally make bad movies, that's a given. But when they do create the odd abomination, that do a disservice to the art of storytelling, filmmakers feel offended and upset--or rather they would if we didn't keep returning to watch their film. After all, if you can pay for the bills, the lights stay on.
There are two factors that my selected case studies share; their disdained quality, and their profuse box office. The latter of which is the primary justification for why the perpetual assail of sloppy written movies with state-of-the-art special effects will be irrepressible. Despite their poor performances critically, they garnered so much money that labeling them as financial successes would be an understatement.
Half of the Transformers franchise movies have accumulated over a billion dollars each, a feat countless films have failed to accomplish. Their amalgamated box office total places the ridiculed franchise in the top ten highest-grossing film franchises. As for the DCEU, only three movies installed and they've already landed in the top 25 highest-grossing film franchises of all time. What does this all amount to (other than very happy studios)? It sets the environment to foster the ideology to slide the narrative into our peripheral, and shine the light as brightly as possible on the picturesque nature of the film. Adding to the quote from Avi Arad (scroll up to remind yourself), a New York film critic has used the analogy of selecting something to eat at a unfamiliar restaurant to describe how your average film-goer decides which flicks to view.
Even with all the trash talk about all these lackluster flicks, deep down, we are still enticed and excited by fantastical imagery, so much so, that that fact alone stimulates us into going to our local cinemas in droves. Of course not all of us will be cajoled by perception, only by performance. Fortunately for these films, there are enough people allured, for them to amass billions of dollars.
"Why Hollywood Makes Poor Films" was the question I intended to answer from the start, using two pieces of evidence to support the postulation that Hollywood ultimately regards style with greater importance than substance. Paramount will keep dishing out Transformer films, not because they don't know that they're awful, but because they know they'll make a huge ROI (Return On Investment). The second there's a financial failure, they'll leap into drastic action, but until such a time, they'll just inhale every dollar Bay collects for them. Any movie, no matter what genre, if it makes a profit the studios won't really care about much else. In their minds, if it made a lot of money, a lot of people went to see it and if a lot people keep going to see those films, in their minds, that's a successful franchise. And they're absolutely right. The ironic truth is that the sole reason we receive movies that are compelling to the eye but not to the brain, is because we watch movies that are compelling to the eye but not to the brain. Pretty sardonic, right?