'Lord' Has Spoken. Brace for the Echoes.
By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 28, 2003; Page N08
These things usually follow a recognizable pattern. There's some breakthrough in film storytelling -- it can be technological, as in the case of 3-D, or it can be esthetic, as in the slow-motion gunfights in "The Wild Bunch," or it can be attitudinal, as in the witty, bad-boy banter of the Quentin Tarantino early films. Whatever it is, it goes through the roof, and dominates the movie imagination for a year. Everybody loves it, everybody's talking about it, the critics are grinding out their grand context thumb-suckers, the op-ed boys have a few swings, and it gets into the political process.
And it is imitated.
Oh, and then it's imitated.
And finally, it is imitated.
And then it goes away.
That is why there is no reason to panic on the issue of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). It will go away. The pattern will hold. Soon we will see no more of that cyberspace evocation of reality in which all things that can be imagined are now possible, and therefore mandatory and which now are featured in Every Single Movie!
As I say: no reason to panic.
But I am panicked.
Please, kind 28-year-olds who run Hollywood, no more with the freakin' orcs from space, no more gassy, tumbling explosions of universes and giant structures that topple slowly as they break apart, no more flames, monsters, flying boys, kung fu in midair, vistas of Heaven or Hell or Saginaw in the spring, no more faster-than-light ships that look like Messerschmidts on roller skates, no more giant hulks that seem to be linebackers crossed with dinosaurs, please, pretty please, pleasepleasepleaseplease no more.
Let's have, instead: people, stories, surprise, epiphanies and then "The End."
Maybe some emotion? Love is nice and would suffice, but hate is great. A laugh now and then, a pretty gal, a brave lad, a moral leader, an honorable businessman, a righteous politician, an old gunfighter, a real horse with a name, a few guns, a few real airplanes, the suburbs, worries about making ends meet. You know: the hard stuff.
What I am saying is that maybe the movies ought to be aimed more toward the middle than the edges for just a bit. You can still blow things up, but how about the blowing-up being the climax of the movie, with just one big bang, instead of the leitmotif, with 27 of the things.
Possibly the CGI revolution has reached its apogee in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." We're surely in the presence of a masterpiece and anything that follows will be paler, simpler, less engaging and less profitable. But shouldn't that just about do it? We don't really need any more battles at the end of the world, do we? What about the battle between mom and dad over whether we go to the ocean or the mountains for vacation. Let's do that battle for a while.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company