Thursday, June 25, 2009

What makes something good and another entertaining...

I made it pretty evident that in terms of quality film-making, "Transformers: RotF" had a lot of problems: bad dialogue, a plethora of hollow characters, and some major inconsistencies. You know what? I'm okay with that. The reason being is because I knew what this film set out to do and it delivered on my expectations. It entertained me and did its job. This brought up an interesting discussion with a friend of mine in which we were talking about the difference between "quality entertainment" and "mindless entertainment." My friend mentioned that if a movie is entertaining, there has to be some good in it. It took me a while to get my point across, but I eventually did it.

So makes a film simply meant to be entertaining just that and another film a "quality" film? It's all about treatment. Entertaining films are simply meant to (you guessed it) entertain, doing what the set out to do; if it's comedy it makes you laugh, and if it's action, it just slams it in your face. They don't always have to concern themselves with important factors such as character and story. Generally they just need to assault the visual and audible senses in over the top ways that you can't help but scream in your chair. Some films can do this by being so bad, that you can't help but laugh the whole way through at it. Now, what makes a film good are what critics look for: character development, an interesting plot, thematic elements, well-written dialogue, etc. Now some movies can still be both (certain sci-fi films, comedies, and action flicks). If you ask me, people who can do both really know how to make a movie.

Let me present you with a couple of examples. "Punisher: War Zone." It was a bad movie, but it was so bad it was funny and kept me in tune the whole way through. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all movies set out to entertain are bad. One such example is "Wanted." The movie had its moments of camp, but it was still more intelligent than it looked on the surface. The movie had some great dialogue, interesting characters that had some depth, a twisting storyline, and thematic elements about fate. Granted, it wasn't the best film out there, but it still managed to entertain while retain qualities of what makes a film decent.

Of course, some movies can still be good, yet somehow not be entertaining in the way I use it. My favorite example is "The Godfather." Was I entertained by it? Not really. I was, however, invested heavily in the movie in a sort of scholarly way, which is what this movie aimed for. A film so serious and well-made does not beg to be found as entertainment, but rather something that deserves respect as a cornerstone of expert film-making. Deep and interesting characters, actual suspense, great dialogue, plenty of thematic elements, an intricate storyline, and memorable performances. Nothing felt like it was done wrong, and it could all be taken seriously. So was I entertained? No. But I was heavily invested in everything that made it.

Obviously, the definition of entertainment can very from person to person. In the film sense, I define it as a means to escape reality and just have a good time. Some movies do it, and some don't. One just needs to realize the difference between being entertaining and being good though. Still, in the end, all that really matters is that they enjoy what they see. As long as that happens with what I see, I'm happy.

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