Boiling Point: Speed Kills

Unless we’re talking about at the box office. Ouch. Too soon? Now this isn’t just about Speed Racer, but that flick is guilty of the same crime – fast cuts. Epileptic cuts. Mile a minute editing. Who the fuck decided that was cool? Critics these days seem to call it “hyper cuts” or some thing about an “MTV generation.” I’ll tell you what it really is – stupid and overdone.

It’s becoming pandemic these days. Pretty much any action flick features on overload of camera wobbles, flips, twists, turns, and inversions. WHAT IS GOING ON? After watching the classic Alien who could have predicted that one day we would see people dual wield Desert Eagles while the camera spins around them, slams to a stop, and face huggers burst forth, in slow motion, before freeze framing, exploding, and all before the camera swirls back to our actor in Aliens vs. Predator. I mean damn, that is some bullshit right there. That was cool for maybe like ten minutes in 1997.

Now more than ever we have an influx of films utilizing this epileptic seizure waiting to happen. Films with names like Crank, Chaos, Speed Racer and War among others. Cloverfield, The Blair Witch, and a whole flock of ‘handheld’ movies are becoming more and more prevalent both in theaters and on the video rental shelf. Even old stalwarts like George Romero have put the steadicam and tripod in the truck and launched actors with handhelds into the fray. Hell, some people have even gotten sick in theaters and walked out to vomit. Now, I’m no sissy and I even enjoy some of these movies, but what the hell. I also like seeing what is happening. I love Michael Bay (AWESOME) and Transformers is clutch, but even I’m not entirely sure of everything that happened in the whizz-bang-snap-boom fast cut finale. And that’s a tame example!

Action sequences work just fine without the cameraman having a 120volt battery strapped to his testicles. Pans are nice, as are wideshots. And if I ever see another shot with a camera strapped to an actor’s chest as he runs somewhere, why shit, I might just set the joint on fire. There are lots of movies that have non-frenetic camera work that are awesome. Iron Man, Harry Potter, Star Wars, even 300, while being very active, stayed away from the insane-o-cuts that make us all dizzy.

All I’m saying is action can be crazy, fast, and intense, without the camera doing likewise. It’s not that I don’t like these movies every once and awhile, but damn, let someone who wasn’t educated by a music video on speed take a shot at directing the camera. Leave the Red Bull and Starbucks double shot espresso off the menu. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit, maybe all the kids want to see mile a minute cracked out 140bpm action sequence, but I don’t. I just want badass action like Universal Soldier, Commando, Die Hard or any other movie that lets the actors and stuntmen go nuts while the camera just records. I’m past my boiling point again, damn it!


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