So, this post was going to be the Author’s Note for “Project Light,” but I was unhappy with the ending, so I’m in the middle of rewriting it.
I saw two video game related movies this week, so I’ll touch on that instead and revisit Project Light.
WARCRAFT (No Spoilers)
This is the first movie that I saw this week and it is a competently made movie. My grade for it would be C+/B- if you like Fantasy (probably a full grade lower if you don’t). It isn’t a bad movie (certainly not the travesty that the movie critics/reviewers would have you think), but it isn’t a top-tier movie. The acting is fine and the special effects are pretty cool. The problem (mostly) is with the story. Many of the motivations of the characters seem pretty thin–they do things and tell the audience why they are doing those things, but many times you are wondering “why?” For instance, the “bad guy” is bad because he couldn’t fight the “power” that was making him bad. Well, why go looking into that power to begin with? I’m sure that the lore of the world of Warcraft explains it all, but without context, it makes it hard for the audience to follow. For instance, the scene with Luke Skywalker training with the probe with Ben Kenobi while Han is skeptical in Star Wars: A New Hope explains both Ben’s and Han’s world views. To Ben, there is Force that guides and helps, if you’re willing to believe. Han only believes in what he can see, hear, feel. During the “trench run,” Ben’s disembodied voice reminds Luke to “Use the Force.” Luke has to make a choice: Faith vs Technology. Does he believe that there is a high “Force” that will guide him, or is he bound be the technology around him: his ship, his computers, what he can sense in the physical world only? This is a very human choice and the outcome of the story rests on that choice. Warcraft is missing those type of scenes. The characters may say they want one thing or another, but their actions don’t convey their convictions. Without spoiling the movie, there is a scene where someone clearly cheats and goes agains the “honor” of the people. Yet, that person is still followed by the people. Why? Fear, not wanting to change, or some other reason? The answer is not clear, but even though much is made of honor, they still chose to follow one who clearly has no honor. There are simply too many of those to ignore. It doesn’t ground itself in “human” choices and as such doesn’t connect as well as the top tier movies do.
Hitman: Agent 47
Hitman: Agent 47 suffers from a different set of problems, although lack of motivation is still central to why it also doesn’t work. I would grade this one as a D+ (Below Average). The main problem with Hitman is that the script/story doesn’t know who it wants to be as the protagonist. It really wants to have two protagonists: Agent 47 and Katia (the woman featured above). The story doesn’t have a clear view of the characters and doesn’t present them to us well in the movie.
This is one of those times when the cliche “style over substance” is appropriate. To the movie, gunplay and stylish kills are more important than anything else in the world. They prioritize cool gun work and fight scenes over characters and story construction. You’ll wonder why certain characters are acting the way they are even more in this movie that in Warcraft. There are many stories that could be told in this movie: Revenge, Redemption, Protege, etc., but because the filmmakers aren’t sure which character is the protagonist, the story that is told is very fragmented and doesn’t hold together well.
While I was watching the movie, The Mask of Zorro kept coming to mind. This would have been an awesome “Protege” movie had the filmmakers decided that Katia was the protagonist. The problem is that would have meant relegating 47 to the background, something that the filmmakers weren’t willing to do. This movie could have really been a hit, but this is one time where having a license to a character really hurt a licensed movie as there was no consensus on a clear protagonist.