As artists, and especially as writers, trends do us no favors.
Take for example the recent onslaught of “modernized/retold fairytale” movies. I thought for certain society would never receive a reprise from these ridiculously overdone monstrosities that rely on eyecandy and nothing more to make studios a quick buck.
The younger, currently-adult generations (X and Y, the latter of which I am categorized under) have been trained from an early age with a Pavlovian model to respond positively to colorful, bright things. We twenty-somethings get a rush from playing video games and watching candy colored cartoons. Many modern movies play into those learned behaviors in an almost shameless way. Such films have a few technical features in common: needlessly oversaturated tone, an overabundance of bloom (hazy, ethereal glowing light) and action scenes that are so heavily clipped they are sometimes impossible to follow.
Perhaps more important is their consistent lack of substance. Specifically, substance would be a combination of believable characters, a clear plot, and concise dialogue.
In other words: they’re poorly written.
If this trendy genre does anything for humanity, it’s to make clear how the screenplay is the backbone of a movie. No matter how artful or manipulated a shot is, if the spoken lines sound like they came out of a fortune cookie, the scene is irreparably cheapened. No amount of CG can fix a poorly written script. Indeed, some of the more enjoyable movies I’ve seen recently were fully animated, but they had solid stories supporting rich visuals.
As a testament to how true this is, the latest of the fairytale movies, Jack the Giant Slayer (2013, Darren Lemke) was considered a flop at the box office. The summary on RottenTomatoes.com is sufficient:
“It’s enthusiastically acted and reasonably fun, but Jack the Giant Slayer is also overwhelmed by digital effects and a bland, impersonal story.”
I would say that’s an accurate description for any fad film, and a testament to how essential solid writing truly is.