Friday, January 3, 2014

What You See is Not Always What You Get

Is the audience biased towards the protagonists in movies?

Do you ever wish that we could have more of a backstory for the villain characters in movies?

There are so many movies that are just one sided and make no attempt to show the villain's perspective.It makes sense that the audience should feel connected to the character that they see the most, but I hate movies where, say, the bad guy has no good reason for taking over the world besides wanting power.At least give the villain a reason like he needs to save his home planet.It would a nice twist to show the character you thought you pegged as the good guy was really bad the whole time.Anything besides the same old aliens who want to destroy Earth for an unknown reason.Here are some examples

1. Independence Day

We don't know much about the aliens besides the fact that they want to destroy us. I loved Will Smith and the entire story, especially when the president gives his speech before they leave to fight. But it would be nice to have discovered that the alien's planet was going to be destroyed and they needed a planet to inhabit or something.

2. Aliens

I watched the Alien series in one night because I couldn't go to bed without finishing it. Ripley was amazing and a total badass. But if all of her friends (besides her cat) are going to die at the hands of the aliens then I would like to know the reason. Why does Ripley's daughter get stripped of the opportunity to grow up with her mother?A little backstory would have been enjoyable.

3. Thor: The Dark World

Thor is great, he's easy on the eyes and anything that happens on his home planet is cool.But, really there's not much of a plot. The bad guy never explains his true motivation for wanting to take over Earth. There were some creative ideas in the movie like the teleportation and the Aether, but the aliens are the reason Thor is fighting for Earth, and I like to know more about their species. Also, quality alien costumes right?

4. Snow White

Why does the queen want to kill Snow White? Yes, she is scared that Snow White's beauty will surpass her own.But what drove her to that point where she would care so much?

Along those lines, if a character is able to be seen when he/she is truly vulnerable, the audience will be able to relate so much more.This allows the audience to dismiss the character's wrongdoings because they understand why they behave in that way. Here are some examples:

1. The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed as a total jerk that screwed over his best friend by cutting him out of the share of the money. I found him to be sarcastic, smug and somewhat annoying, but at the same time I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. His personality is just so interesting and you just want to know what he's going to do next.

The story was told from his perspective so we understood how jealous he was of his best friend for getting into the Phoenix, an elite group in college. He was rejected by girls, feels unpopular and is treated like a total loser. He tells his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, on the phone that he doesn't want to go back to his life before Facebook after Eduardo freezes the main bank account. The audience sees this confession and therefore will view his cruel betrayal towards his friend as a mistake that Mark understands he committed. But if the audience just saw things from Eduardo's perspective the audience wouldn't pity Mark at all.

2. Shattered Glass

I recently saw this movie and the whole time, despite all the evidence, I still wanted Stephen Glass to not be lying. I think this was because he had a great personality towards his friends when he wasn't lying in his writing. He was nice and caring and you also get a view of the pressure his parents put on him. The worst part was his crying, I really wanted to believe him. It wasn't until he was fired that I truly got his game of crying, acting nice and having low self-confidence was all cover for when he inevitability got caught.

3. Catch me if you can

This movie is great because we got a true backstory of Frank Abagnale Jr. The audience was with him from the start. He saw his father tell little lies here and there to get what he wanted and was so proud of him.Then when his family life falls apart, he took these learnings from his father to a whole new level.He wanted his father to be so proud of him and just get back together with his mother.He wanted to get caught and even developed a relationship with the FBI guy chasing him (Tom Hanks).If the story was from the FBI's perspective then Frank would be viewed as an annoying and criminal kid who deserved to be caught.

4. The Spectacular Now

I saw this movie a couple of months ago and it was what lead me to write this post. The main character Sutter is an alcoholic and somewhat selfish teenager. He goes out with Aimee, a girl he somewhat pitied. Sutter originally uses her to make his old girlfriend jealous, but realizes he does like her. Sutter's overall attitude for life is to live in the now. Throughout the movie I couldn't figure out if I liked him or not. That was until I found out about his father issues, which led me to understand why he goes through his life with an "in the in the moment" type of attitude. Sutter doesn't know what's going to happen tomorrow and doesn't want to know because he fears for his future, which the audience sees when he struggles to write his essay application.Without the story being told from Sutter's perspective I would have seen him as a bad influence on Aimee and a selfish guy who only cares about himself.

5. Quiz Show

Voldemort kicks butt as the professor Charles Van Doren, who gets busted cheating on the TV show "Quiz Show" in the 60's.Charles started off the movie with very high morals, but the audience slowly watches his so called standards fade away when money comes into play. Even though Charles cheated to win money the audience knows that he feels bad and is in way too deep off a hole to dig out of. We see the impossibly high standards that his family has over his life, almost a shadow over any of his accomplishments. So we understand he knows he made a huge mistake, however he does redeem himself in the end.But, it was still fun to watch the senator from New York scold him like a child when he finally admitted he cheated.

6. Blood Diamond

Great movie with Leonardo DiCaprio as a diamond smuggler in Africa.He plays a guy named Danny who teams up with a nice man who has hidden a huge diamond when he was forced by militants to dig for diamonds in a river. Danny is clearly involved in some shady business, but the audience sees his perspective when he tells the reporter what happened to his parents, and the life he's been forced to live.He evolves and shows compassion, and finally helps his friend escape with the huge diamond while he held off the other soldiers after he was shot.

7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Hilarious movie and lots of fun, even after many viewings.For most of the movie I was on Peter's side and believed Sarah was heartless to break up with him. But when Sarah explains, late in the movie, why she cheated on him and broke up with him, I understood her point of view.While Peter is clearly a great guy, he was lazy and didn't want to do anything besides sit on the couch, and Sarah tried hard to make it work. To be fair, Sarah wasn't supportive about Peter's musical, but Peter also needed some self- motivation. They needed to have a relationship where they both brought the best out of each other, and they could never do that. We saw the whole movie from Peter's perspective, so the audience pitied him and disliked Sarah. But, I kind of get where she was coming from.

8. Frankenstein

I read this book and watched the movie. I was truly inspired by this story and the main character Frankenstein's monster after having a debate in class over who would be held accountable in court for Victor's monsters actions. The class settled on Victor, but I voted for both of them.

The monster was abandoned by his creator, Victor, and left to learn life's lessons on his own. Victor should have been like a father to him, but he got scared and left him. The monster, feeling he was wronged by Victor, hunts him down and hurts everyone that Victor loves. The story follows the monster so we're able to see how sad and hurt he is by Victor's betrayal. The reader/audience is also able to see how the monster got to the breaking point of wanting to hurt Victor and how he was pushed over the top. If the story followed Victor, then we would see the monster as a horrible creature whose mission is to destroy Victor's life for no reason whatsoever.

Of course it could be blamed on Igor for giving Victor the brain that said Abby Normal. Oops, sorry wrong movie.
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