Monday, September 17, 2007

Storytelling is Storytelling...

Denis and the "gang" are having a go at discussing reality television over at Dead Things on Sticks. Several good points are made from the swamp that is reality television:

1. Stories are crafted.

2. Storytelling is done everywhere - not just at the script stage but also in the screening and editing rooms.

It is when the storytelling is presented in an emotionally compelling way that we are hooked. That happens at the concept, the outline, the script the shoot and the editing phases and we would all do well to remember that - especially those of us using our own monies to craft our visual stories.

A compelling story will forgive a multitude of production-related sins.

But why do I - a notorious pulpster not involved in reality tv - bring up this subject?
Now those of you out in the audience are congratulating yourselves that you "knew" I would go to see this film. The fact is when you you have images like these, knowing the Mad Pulp Bastard is going to be in the audience is a "gimme." Yes, I was hooked.
D-War is the story of an ancient dragon legend come to life. It's a Korean movie, shot on a budget in Los Angeles with affordable actors (Jason Behr, Robert Forster - both of whom are sadly underutilized) and a bunch of unknowns and working actors. The movie has spectacular FX and excellent production design. Truly stunning.

What it doesn't have is a coherent story.
The movie runs back and forth, flashing back this way and that, and really ends up being an incoherent mess of a movie. That's sad, because if Freestyle Releasing had just taken the time to re-edit the movie into a driving linear storyline, they could have had something that wouldn't disappear from the charts next week and make more money for the DVD release.
As it is, word is out that D-War has the stink of bad story to it.
Now, my expectations were to see a foreign movie much in the same way I used to see Godzilla movies when I was a kid - bad dubbing, fun special effects and a breakneck story that led to a final showdown of kaiju v. kaiju. The are parts of D-War that fulfilled that expectation. It was cool to see downtown LA get destroyed by monsters. It was cool to see armored warriors riding atop cannon-toting dragon-lizards. It was cool to see Apache copters v. flying dragons smashing the hell out of the Liberty Building.
What wasn't cool was trying to figure out the key parts of the story that are no doubt lying on the editing room floor or hard drive somewhere. I understand the movie was choppped down from 107 minutes to 90 -- ouch!
The point is that I think all the elements to making a cool story to go along with all that other coolness was right there - it just wasn't put together with an eye for story. I think the American distributors were just taking stuff out instead of crafting a good tale. They forgot that storytelling doesn't stop at the script stage - it continues well beyond.
It seems like the reality tv editors have that storytelling methodology down. Guys, can ya do me a favor and pass along your process to the D-War guys and anyone else bringing this sort of material to our shores?
I, and the rest of the pulpsters out there would appreciate it - with our checkbooks no less.


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother. I went in on opening day, despite the bad reviews, because a kaiju movie is a kaiju movie - which means I've gotta see it on the big screen if possible. Loved the parts you did - the monster battles, the Apaches vs. the flying dragons, etc. - but I hated the rest. The storytelling was so bad, I believe they should have just released 90 minutes of straight monster action.
Maybe there'll be a special edition DVD where it's just that: monsters, monsters, monsters. Well, a guy can dream....

Aric Blue said...

Heard the bad bad reviews--gonna wait until dvd to check it out. I have no problem stopping horrendous movies, but I have an innate problem with getting up and leaving a movie theater in the middle of a flick.

Weird, yeah.