Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Action in super hero films

Something that has bothered me about super hero films for quite a while is that they are meant to be action films. The fights should be fun, tense, and thrilling. This is frequently not the case. Ghost Rider is for me the most notorious example of this for me, with the fights against the cgi enemies mostly lasting all of 10 seconds and maintaining absolutely no tension. I hate that film so much...

The problem is not unique to bad films. Iron Man suffers from it: the only really big battle is at the end, and its not terribly inventive or interesting. The only films which actually manages decent fights are the Spiderman films- look at the battles between doctor Octopus and Spiderman for some excellent examples there.

The best? Easily the Incredibles. I know I go on about that film, but the wonder of it is not just the excellent story and fantastic humour, pixar also do great action. Each fight is compelling and clever, with enough genuine tension. Sure Mr Incredible is tough, but he's fighting in a lava flow against a robot who can cut him. Sure Dash is fast, but he's getting chased by guys in nasty flying things. And so on. The secret is not just to have two guys bashing each other, its about two guys of near equal competence (for various reasons, some tactical advantage can give this) fighting in interesting ways, with the fight flowing and ebbing. A lot of final fights works exactly like this:

Both sides fight. One gets the upper hand. The bad guy gets the upper hand. The hero thinks of something clever. The hero does it. While this is usually an ok formula, it has to be executed well, and many films utterly fail at it. I think all super hero film makers should be required to watch the Incredibles for hints in future. Or The Princess Bride for that matter....

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At 11:47 pm, Blogger Nicholas said...

I'm sure they think it's simply inconceivable


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