Interpolation 1: “F/X Porn”


Although I am currently working my way through Consider the Lobster, I came across this film review from 1998 that certainly seemed worth pausing for a moment to write about it.  My next letter, which will discuss “Authority and American Usage” will be written and posted soon.

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I came across a reference to this rather unflattering review of “Terminator 2” from 1998 on The Howling Fantods website.  It was the “Inverse Cost and Quality Law”[1] quoted on the website that caught my attention and led me to click on the link to read the full article.

If only you were here to see how prophetic your words have turned out to be.  The blockbuster budgets have gotten bigger, the effects have gotten grander,[2] and as predicted the films have gotten sh**tier (your words, not mine).  You mentioned “Titanic” at the end of your review, which turned out to not only break all kinds of box office records, but took home a plethora of Oscars.[3] 

And it has only gotten worse, my friend.  There has been the trilogy of “Star Wars” prequels[4], the aforementioned “Titanic,” the “Transformers” franchise, to name only a few.  Big explosions continue to mean big bucks.[5]

In your review, you liken the F/X extravaganzas to porn.  Cheap thrills with very little, if any, real substance.  But in the twelve years since you came up with the ICQL, its scope has grown beyond just the F/X films to include films that resemble porn in a much more literal sense.  There are the teen-sex and newly formed bromance genres, which rely heavily on gross-out humor and what might have once been considered soft-core porn for their box office dollars.  It would seem that what these all have in common is the use of shock value to get butts in theater seats, whether it is explosions or fart jokes.

There have been a few exceptions to the ICQL, but they are certainly few and far between.  The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is arguably an exception, and although I did not see it myself, “The Dark Knight” supposedly had some real substance to it.  But other than that, not much else comes to mind.[6]

As the person who posted the link on The Howling Fantods pointed out, your review of “T2” seems especially relevant in light of overwhelming financial success of Jim Cameron’s most recent endeavor, “Avatar.”  You’d think that with the millions of dollars spent on the film, and other ICQL blockbusters, they could have paid for a decent script writer.  But why would they?  Cameron and his cohorts – and more importantly their investors – have millions of dollars plugging their ears to the criticism.

Here is the link to the original article:

http://www.badgerinternet.com/~bobkat/waterstone.html


[1] The Inverse Cost and Quality Law states that the higher the budget, the sh**tier the film.

[2] Did you see the whole 3-D IMAX thing coming?

[3] Has the Academy been duped just like the rest of us?

[4] Which I was eagerly awaiting from the time I was about 8, but Jar Jar Binks?  Seriously?

[5] Am I the only one who finds the irony in the fact that it takes more and more sophisticated computer-generated imagining to produce more and more realistic special effects?

[6] This might be partly due to the fact that my wife and I had kids right about the time movie ticket prices went through the roof.  So I’ve only seen maybe three films in a theater in the last two years.  And with a 27-inch TV, I tend to shy away from the F/X-heavy films that should really be seen on a bigger screen.

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