1530338_10201960973046154_9203493584210559236_n.jpg

Hi.

Welcome to my blog. Here you will  find my writings, my thoughts on writing and from time to time a post about something else that intreests me.

A Tale of Two Movies

 

Thanks to Moviepass I have been watching more movies. But more than that with no money on the line I have watched movies without researching them. That is how I ended up watching both Downsizing and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle without anything but the trailers to go on.  This led to one of the movies pleasantly surprising me while the other disappointed me.
I'll start by saying that I didn't love or hate either movie. Both movies had aspects I enjoyed  and considerable flaws so while neither is going to become a classic one disappointed me while the other considerably exceeded my expectations and it all comes down to a single thing. Focus.
I had a better idea what to expect with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I have watched the first Jumanji and from the trailer I wasn't expecting something all that deep. For those who don't know the original Jumanji is a story about a board game that sucks people who play it inside and they must win the game to survive. Welcome to the Jungle is basically the same idea except it is a video game. 
I knew less about Downsizing but from the premise I had higher expectations. It's a fairly classic science fiction idea. Humans have created a way to shrink people. What makes this different than movies like fantastic voyage, Honey I Shrunk the Kids or even Antman is that it is impossible to return to normal size once you have done it. There are advantages to being small of course. The immediate advantage is that it costs far less to live when you're only a few inches tall, but there is also the larger idea that it is better for the environment so people are being encouraged to do it. 
It turns out that my expectations were wrong in both cases. Jumanji turned out to be considerably better than I expected and Downsizing was a disappointment. The difference, is that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a movie that knew exactly what it was while I was still trying to figure out what Downsizing was trying to be.  The entire movie was confused as it jumped from one idea to another without exploring any of them.
On the other hand Jumanji knows what it is and stays focused almost to a fault. That is to say that the entire movie built around one joke. To spoil the joke the people playing the game take the appearance of characters inside the game. This means they don't act like you would expect by their appearance. The Rock is a coward, Kevin Hart is used to being a much larger man, Karen Gillian plays a girl that is uncomfortable in the clothing she wears and doesn't know how to flirt and Jack Black plays a popular girl who is obsessed with her phone and instagram.  It's not a bad joke but by the fifth or sixth time the rock turns and runs away from danger the joke has largely been played out.
On the other hand by making characters very clear and giving them room to grow it's easy for the movie to have a fairly satisfying climax when the characters overcome their flaws.
Downsizing had a lot more places to go in my opinion. At best Jumanji was an action comedy with a decent character arc. On the other hand Downsizing had huge opportunities to look at the human condition and it touched on a lot of them. It mentioned racism, environmentalism, classicism, poverty and even the end of the world, but it didn't focus on any of them. It spent time explaining the science of the premise when no one needed that, then spent longer than it needed explaining why the main character wanted to downsize. It took time to introduce characters then they disappeared from the story. From there it began to make some headway as a romance only to almost entirely forget about that to go into a plot about the end of the world, though the only evidence of that was that someone said it and while all of this could have been in service of exploring the character they didn't make it clear what that arc should be.
While the lack of focus is a major problem for Downsizing it has it's good points. The world is striking. Whoever did the props went above and beyond. Whether it was having them interact with things that are "normal" size, which of course turn out to be huge or the fact that many of the things had no fine details because they had been made by normal size people. It was subtle yet able to remind you regularly that this wasn't just the normal world.
These two movies are emblematic of a lot of movies recently. Those that focus on simply telling a good story are enjoyable even when they are not great while those that try to do to many different things or serve movies that has not even been made yet. 
 A TV show can afford to change its focus and drop plot points, at least for a while, but in a movie you need to know what you're doing and do that. Jumanji was a thin movie and at times it felt as if it were wearing out it's welcome, but it knew what it wanted to be and was that. Meanwhile, Downsizing never decided what it wanted to be so while it never bordered on repetitive in the end I'd rather face the possibility that something might get repetitive than the feeling of never knowing what the movie I was watching was.
 

have a fairly satisfying climax when the characters overcome their flaws.

Downsizing had a lot more places to go in my opinion. At best Jumanji was an action comedy with a decent character arc. On the other hand Downsizing had huge opportunities to look at the human condition and it touched on a lot of them. It mentioned racism, environmentalism, classicism, poverty and even the end of the world, but it didn't focus on any of them. It spent time explaining the science of the premise when no one needed that, then spent longer than it needed explaining why the main character wanted to downsize. It took time to introduce characters then they disappeared from the story. From there it began to make some headway as a romance only to almost entirely forget about that to go into a plot about the end of the world, though the only evidence of that was that someone said it and while all of this could have been in service of exploring the character they didn't make it clear what that arc should be.


While the lack of focus is a major problem for Downsizing it has it's good points. The world is striking. Whoever did the props went above and beyond. Whether it was having them interact with things that are "normal" size, which of course turn out to be huge or the fact that many of the things had no fine details because they had been made by

normal size people. It was subtle yet able to remind you regularly that this wasn't just the normal world.
These two movies are emblematic of a lot of movies recently. Those that focus on simply telling a good story are enjoyable even when they are not great while those that try to do to many different things or serve movies that has not even been made yet.  A TV show can afford to change its focus and drop plot points, at least for a while, but in a movie you need to know what you're doing and do that. Jumanji was a thin movie and at times it felt as if it were wearing out it's welcome, but it knew what it wanted to be and was that. Meanwhile, Downsizing never decided what it wanted to be so while it never bordered on repetitive in the end I'd rather face the possibility that something might get repetitive than the feeling of never knowing what the movie I was watching was. 

 

Blog Changes

The World Isn't That Bad