Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Video Game Scapegoat Strikes Again

Well, video games have once again become a scapegoat. Nobody shot up a school or stole from an old lady (yet), but instead...the report claims that folks are hanging out at home playing Halo 3 instead of hitting the movie theaters to see such 'blockbusters' as The Heartbreak Kid.

I haven't played Halo 3 yet (though my copy is in the mail and I have a gaming session set up for the end of the month) but from the clips I've seen and the hype I've heard, it definitely was pushed into the limelight to compete on a large scale. Provided it has staying power to keep people playing, there's no reason to doubt the influence it would have on other consumer activities (movies, books, eating, drinking...did you see that CSI where the kid played his game for 3 days straight without even getting up to go to the bathroom - he just peed in bottles by his chair).

However, if the draw truly was there, people would gladly set down Halo 3 to see a great new movie. I think the movie-going public is actually finally starting to be a little more finicky in their viewing preferences. We've put up with years of 'flash in the pan' movies being pushed out one after another, stuck in the rut of overdone sequels with no originality or excitement. If it takes a video game (even a sequel with little new to bring to the table) to help shake up the movie studios...I say 'so be it.'

If we can get back to the day when there are movies worth going to see, I would be grateful. It's pretty sad when my wife and I get a sitter and talk about going to a movie (even in the middle of movie mania...summer or Christmas) and have to stretch our brains to justify going to see any of the crap out there.

Don't get me wrong...I LOVE movies and there have been plenty of shows that have entertained me over the past few years. But the hype and the amount of money poured into the movies (which then turns into larger ticket prices to consumers) just isn't justified in my opinion for most of the films that are out there. I just want to get back to the point where movies compel discussions after the movie for more than the five minute walk to your car.


Kevin said...

Wow, we totally disagree on this one. While it is true that the current crop of movies isn't the 'holiday' fare of Oscar worthy work, there are still plenty of decent 'entertaining' titles out there. I disagree on going to see a movie in order to have 'compelling discussions' afterward. Personally I don't go to the movies for any kind of deep intellectual reason, and I'm not sure that is what you are saying either, I go simply to be entertained and 'get away'.
I think you know how I feel about games. I think they are from the devil and I have seen far too much 'bad' in my nearly 8 years being a part of making them. They are a complete waste of time in my opinion. But the good thing here is that we have different opinions and we can express them freely and discuss them and still be friends etc. That means far more to me than any discussion on whether movie receipts are down because game sales are up. This is the kind of 'compelling discussion' I am interested in. Keep writing.

Okie said...

I wouldn't say we "totally" disagree, but our opinions do vary a bit.

I am totally with you on the need for a movie to entertain. I'm not always out for an "oscar worthy" attempt every time I go to the theater. In fact, I often avoid the movies that are obvious attempts at an Oscar shoe in, even if they hold some interest for me just because they are usually too over the top blatant in their self-nomination for an Oscar vote that it can be distracting from the content of the film.

Nor am I suggesting that the discussion after the movie needs to be an 'intellectual' one...or even a verbal one per se. It just needs to be something compelling that keeps you engaged in the film afterwards...especially if I'm going to push for an opening weekend rather than a 'buck movie' viewing or a 'wait for video.'

There are many movies in the past couple of years that have been "must see" for me in the sense that I had to see them in the theater rather than just wait for video. But the number of 'must see' movies for me has been dwindling lately and it makes me sad.

There are more and more movies that I'm willing to wait for the video on knowing that the overdone special effects or reused plot points will be nearly as good six months down the road in my house as they were in an overpriced theater.

I'm probably partly jaded because of the amount of effort that it takes to get out to a movie these days thanks to 3 young kids needing babysitters as well as a full time work and school schedule to juggle. My wife and I want our date nights to be stellar, and even though a movie can be entertaining, if it doesn't fully engage us and leave us with a satisfied feeling afterwards (be that in discussing the movie with each other or just having that internal 'good feeling' discussion with ourselves), it feels like a waste.

So, our summer movie fare included the top films of the season...Pirates, Bourne, Harry Potter, Transformers, Spider Man and even Ocean's Thirteen. We also got out to see 3:10 to Yuma this past month and rather enjoyed it.

But as we look at current listings and movies over the past little while, the list is disheartening. Come on, I mean...Game Plan, Heartbreak Kid, Knocked Up, Saw, Halloween, Chuck & Larry, License to Wed, Underdog, Epic Movie, Superbad, and another Rush Hour. Seriously, you've got to be kidding. This is our list of filler?

It's actually probably good that there's not more stellar movies out there or I'd be bummed that our movie date nights aren't as frequent. But still, I remember the day when we'd do 3 and 4 good movies a month and there would be some we'd want to see again.

Nowadays, it's rare for me to find a movie that I come out of the theater feeling like I have to go see that one again in the theater. It still happens, but maybe once a year where it used to happen 3 or 4 times a year.

Still...let's agree to disagree and also agree to agree...movies are made to entertain us. I misspoke by using the term "discussion" since I'm not necessarily hoping for some big heart-to-heart after a flick in order to feel the ticket price was validated. However, the good feeling and emotions that come while walking out of a good movie leave me wanting to talk about it, so often that is my rubric for determining my enjoyment level. And I just haven't been feeling that compelled with Hollywood's offerings of late.