The Gary Daniels Digression

Watched The Expendables.  Decent flick.  Not great, but not without its charms.  But it’s guilty of one very big sin.  It’s a sin that we can no longer ignore.

Why the hell does every action movie need to shake the camera like it’s being filmed on the back of an old pickup truck being driven over a rocky dirt road?  And all the damn jump cuts.  Makes the action a chore to follow.  Call me crazy, but good direction doesn’t put an obstacle between the audience and the medium.  It’d be like if I invented a whole new language and just started goorb clud vooper duge.

See?  Isn’t that annoying?

That’s just one of many of the things I loved about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.  You could actually follow the action.  Maybe it’s because Scott Pilgrim is not technically an action movie, maybe it’s because Edgar Wright has managed to avoid being seduced by the dark side, but for whatever the reason, Scott Pilgrim, despite all its graphics and FX, knows that these elements serve the plot and action.  Not the other way around.

James Cameron’s Avatar is another great example.  While it’s not a great film because it could really use some editing, it is directed beautifully.  Especially at the end, where multiple battles are taking place on multiple levels and yet, it’s never hard to follow.  Cameron might be a simple storyteller (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but he is an excellent director who knows, if you’re going to puta space jaguar versus an giant robot on film, you should probably try to make it something the audience can see.  The same thing goes with having Dolph Lundgren versus Jet Li, Stallone versus Austin, or Gary Daniels versus Jet Li.

Stop shaking the camera.  Center the shot.  And just film the damn movie.

Speaking of Gary Daniels, I was really glad to see him in this film.  Daniels is an excellent martial artists, and he’s made a string of direct-to-DVD films, most of which are pretty good.  It’s always cool to see less famous film stars in action.  Maybe it’s just my love of B movies, of smaller artists who are doing the best they can with what they have, but I can’t help but feel that Daniels is the heart of the film.  Because, for Stallone, Li, and the rest, The Expendables is a step down, a bit of nostalgia as their careers wane.  But for Daniels, this is his chance at a major motion picture.  And he does a great job.

So hats off, Gary.

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One Comment

  1. DeadlyAccurate
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the reasons I’ve heard for the shaky cam is that rather than using stunt doubles for the more complicated action scenes, the actors want to do the scenes themselves. But actors are actors, and stunt doubles are stunt doubles, and the two require separate skillsets, and actors don’t always have both. So the shaky cam and quick cuts hide the fact that the actors don’t know what they’re doing.

    I don’t watch movies that have shaky cam if I know going in that they have it, because it makes me sick to watch. Literally.

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