Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why I Hate Gladiator

Imagine, if you will, a movie about life in the American Midwest that takes place in the early 1400s. It's a movie that follows the adventures of a young Lakota warrior who learns about survival, love, and his connection to the world. He's the most skilled archer and earns his place in the stories of his tribe as one of the greatest buffalo hunters who ever lived. One of his best friends is an Aztec from what is now Mexico who escaped human sacrifice, and despite their difference in geography, become confidants and suffer no language barrier. Sounds interesting, right? Well, let's see how we can ruin the movie by pulling a Gladiator.

First, everyone will be speaking English. Not just any English, mind you, but British accents. Because apparently, British accents make any movie sound elite, regardless of whatever language the characters would naturally be speaking, whether it's German (The Sound of Music), Middle-Earthian (The Lord of the Rings), or Latin (Gladiator).

Next, we'll cast non-Brits to speak in these British accents like Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Russell Crowe, and Richard Harris did in Gladiator. After all, nothing elevates an actor's status in Hollywood more than if he or she can pull off a non-native accent. Even if the actor sounds fake doing it, at least he's trying, right Joaquin? If Keanu Reeves can do it in Dracula and Kevin Costner can do it in Robin Hood, why not you? Or does that make you quite vexed?

Third, let's adjust the exposure of the film to make it look washed out and harsh, and for the actions scenes, we'll speed the frame rate to the point where quick cuts and closeups make the action seem disjointed and grainy. Don't learn anything about how Mel Gibson shot Braveheart -- you just want to make it look like a grittier version of Saving Private Ryan, but without the heart or the skill. Remember those tigers in Gladiator? Remember how dangerous they seemed? I don't. I remember watching quick cuts of giant stuffed tigers intercut with CGI animals and split screen shots.

Fourth, and here's my favorite, make a non-indigenous animal a particularly scary plot point. For example, instead of having a rattlesnake slither into the tent, put a cobra there. Then, to escape, have our hero jump on the back of a zebra. It worked in Gladiator, right? One character was killed by a venomous snake. Of course, they used a king snake, a non-venomous snake that looks very much like the venomous coral snake. The fact that both of those snakes are indigenous to North America shouldn't get in the way of logic, though.

Fifth, make the antagonist a pussy. Nothing is less intimidating than a villain you know you can defeat. I suggest casting Jack McBrayer as the villainous Spits While Talks. Remember, British accent.

Sixth, not only make the movie predictable, but make it long, boring, and predictable.

So now you have a movie about the Lakota spoken by actors with British accents, featuring a boring and predictable story, shot and edited so that it's hard to see the action, and contains wildlife from halfway across the world. Yup, sounds like a Best Picture winner to me.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Right, so you want them to speak Latin and force me to read while I watch a film? If I want to read i'll read a book. Sorry, but Gladiator is a damn good movie. I agree on the frame rate during the action scenes but most of the film is shot beautifully by Ridley.

And isn't Joaquin in Gladiator a wonderfully delightful contrast (even if he is a pussy) from his current role as the Unibomber?