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Review: Eagle Eye

Wednesday 15 October 2008, 11:30

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Word of the day, people: "Bayification".

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    Comment number 1.

    While I accept the basic thread of your argument here, and also find the increasingly bombastic nature of many movies overwhelming and vapid, it seems rather puerile to blame one individual for this trend.

    Surely the derivative nature of movies reflects the risk-aversion of corporate Hollywood. Their determination to make as much money as possible from every release leads them to continually resort to both tried and tested ideas, and the lowest common denominator. The same might well apply to their reliance on bombast - and bomb-blasts.

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    Comment number 2.

    As illustrated by Empire magazine's 4/5 rating for Eagle Eye, in recent years there's been a move away from reviews for everyone. Instead we have reviews which qualify their praise with clichés such as "leave your brain at the door", "brilliant for what it is" and "fans of the genre..."

    Mark, if you're as bold a film critic as your reviews suggest then it's time for your criticism to extend from film-makers to other film critics. Maybe professional courtesy stops you doing so but someone of your stature really needs to get them to up their game.

    Yes Empire (an automatic extra star if a film's British) I'm looking at you.

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    Comment number 3.

    Mark,

    You have hit the proverbial nail on the head, or is that an incorrect metaphor in this discussion.

    I am mad as hell. I'm sick of movies being dumbed down and people in droves parking their minds and filing into theaters to be fed imagery and audio shock waves that are meant to ultimately disguise their thoughtless existence.

    Let's go for a full on Conspiracy Theory with Michael Bay as the agent of a corrupt group of global corporations hell bent on creating drones who never think and simply do what the ads tell them. Spend money.

    I used to go to the cinema once or twice a week. more recently it has slipped to once a month. Maybe I'm just getting older. or maybe, just maybe, I started to think

    Here in America we are in a far worse state, politics, TV, radio, movies and sport presentations are all being Bayified and the audience just sits there in a stupor lapping it up. Wall-E here we come!

    Rob

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    Comment number 4.

    You can't make a convincing argument for a trend by taking examples of bad modern movies and holding them up against examples of good old movies. What's really needed is some kind of detailed and objective statistical analysis on all present and historic movie content and ticket sales.

    Unfortunately that kind of thing is very hard work, and there's no real audience for it, so it doesn't tend to happen.

    A bit like intellectual films, really.

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    Comment number 5.

    Hear hear, Mr. Kermode.

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    Comment number 6.

    I just caught an interview on BBC News and subtitles came into it. Subtitles are (and always will be) wonderful because they help so many people gain access to phenomenal films. At the same time, do please let us encourage people to try and learn the languages, as there's nothing better, or more authentic, than really tuning in to what is going on. And you can still look at the sub-titles. What's important here is that learning a language is a lifelong thing; people often expect a quick fix - that's simply not possible for 99.99999% of people. So they must know that, if they're already adult, it's a hard slog which isn't a hard slog, because it's impossible - you can just just work away and become pretty good at it. And English speakers are no less 'gifted' at languages than anyone else - we just aren't given the opportunity and imagine everyone else speaks English. Daft!

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    Comment number 7.

    Hey Mark, I know you say Bay is the Devil, what if you were?

    The film maybe rational along the 'Bay' line ultimately, leading to just a movie that is full of explosions and inevitably one tone of a bomb going going off? (I hope, for my sake) you'll always be here for that critical moment. Do you think it will ever happen in a 'Hollywood' movie?

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    Comment number 8.

    Agreed, I already know this film! Bay stifles intellectualism, he pulls down the curtain on free thought. He is the reincarnation of Joseph Goebbels, he will organise a DVD burning rally, he will incorporate a synchronization of culture and he will impose a 'hollywood' ideology! Europe is screwed!

    Unless we capture and brainwash Jerry Bruckheimer.

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    Comment number 9.

    For what its worth the BBC could do a lot more against the dumbing down scenario - How many foreign language movies are actually shown a month? one? two? not many! There's a hell of a lot of bad movies shown at 11-30 pm though - no doubt bought as part of the package when Transformers was bought for Xmas day...or something......
    also-
    for what its worth - Clonus...or Parts The Clonus Horror - (the original Island) is a great 70's conspiracy sci-fi movie...well worth a watch!

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    Comment number 10.

    Mark,

    Good rant, and I agree wholeheartedly. I watched The Island recently on cable, and it was instantly obvious that there was too much going on. But what bothered be until I read this post was the nagging suspicion in my mind that I had seen this movie before. Thanks for clearing that up - now I remember seeing Clonus many years ago on BetaMax!

    But if Bay is Satan, then surely your other favourite, Guy Ritchie, must be Damien. Like Satan, he too has the most annoying habbit of churning out the same movie, time after time after time... I don't know if links are allowed, but this 'Ritchie' one will surely make you laugh (the 's' word is used once...):

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/celebrity/ritchie-could-be--forced-to-rely-on-talent%2c-say-friends-200810151325/

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    Comment number 11.

    One could hardly argue with your assessment of the Bayification of pictures, except to suggest that this really began with atrocious pictures such as Star Wars and Jaws, which are now regularly toted up as classics, though they are simply commercials. I think a problem with your assessment is that listening to you over time one cannot quite get a handle over your cinematic aesthetic, though you're funny enough to make your reviews more than worth listening to. An e.g., please! Well you have recently said you liked something banal and watery like Legally Blonde, while disparaging a decent comic work like The Big Lebowski. It had its problems, I admit, but holding them altogether was Jeff Bridges great performance. And it does no good as you said merely to sit down and try to think myself out of my enjoyment of the film. Strong Opinions are always bracing, but I don't understand how you prioritize your standards.

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    Comment number 12.

    Hm, i can only see mark - but there is no audio - i take it the rest of you don't have this problem?

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    Comment number 13.

    I've not seen "Evil Eye" yet but the thing that struck me the most from the clips is the way that this voice is controlling the characters in a similar way Morpheus does to Neo at the beginning of The Matrix. I'm assuming that the Wachowskis will be sueing some time soon! (I guess the Wanted people will also be having a word!)

    Doesn't this all lead to a discussion about the way films are becoming more like computer games, with constant action and cypher characters who the audience can project themselves onto rather than being fully rounded characters existing in their world. Yet unfortunately in striving to become like computer games, films forget that the one thing they don't do well is interactivity - no matter how much they IMAX or 3D something.

    The sooner films learn that the thing they do better than computer games is to tell a cohesive, compelling story (along with spectacular and most importantly appropriate visuals!) the better

    I guess I wouldn't hate Michael Bay so much if he didn't come across in his commentaries as such a self assured "I'm perfection personified" kind of person! Yes I've listened to him whittle on for hours on end, for my sins! I even listened to his commentary over the four hours of Pearl Harbor, though at least there he was paired up with Jeanine Basinger who played the sycophant, which was somewhat easier to handle than someone mythologising themselves!

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    Comment number 14.

    I guess it goes without saying but I couldn't agree more.

    The really sad thing is I really don't think people do want to think for themselves anymore or have a discussion about a film afterwards.

    They just want "entertainment".

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    Comment number 15.

    I really do agree with your premise of movies being made so people don't have to think. Wonder who is causing it, the "watchers" or the "makers"? Who is pulling who?

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    Comment number 16.

    Dearest Mark

    You need to get out more.

    Try the theatre instead - that is what the actors are doing. Last night I saw Ralph Fiennes in Oedipus - a real horror story for you and no explosions in sight. Branagh is also on stage at the moment - in Chekhov;s Ivanov - a stunning performance.

    Just like your band - they want to do it for real- not reel.

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    Comment number 17.

    "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy." Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death)

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    Comment number 18.

    I agree, it is all part of the dumbing down of everything. I'd like to see more thoughtful movies that rely on plot and character development and not explosions. SILENT RUNNING had explosions, but they never used them every few minutes. They only used them to advance the plot.

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    Comment number 19.

    BBC4’s technology season features an idiot family having to entertain themselves in a mocked up 1970s world before we had a plethora of modern gadget.
    Does this mean they had to go and see the Conversation, Taxi Driver and Annie Hall instead of Michael Bay CGI films?

    How did they survive!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00n1j8n/Electric_Dreams_1970s

 

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