Will There Ever Be Another Good Action Movie?

I know that, on the surface, this question seems ridiculous. This is the age of the superhero blockbuster. Movie after movie is full of outlandish and supposedly awe-inspiring action sequences, each one more ambitious than the last. They’re able to show things that would have been impossible a generation before (I remember as a kid in the ’80s thinking how cool a Spider-Man movie would be…if only there were a way to do it.)  So this is the Golden Age of Action, right?  

And yet, most …

  1. Severely Ltd.
    Albert Arthur: I like Tom Cruise. · 5 minutes ago

    I don’t dislike him but I wouldn’t want him in the part of Mitch Rapp. But he certainly can act.

  2. Albert Arthur

    Ah, well, I haven’t read Mitch Rapp.

  3. James Of England

    I cannot disagree with you enough about Man of Steel.

    It wasn’t a traditional Superman flick, and it didn’t feel like a real life fist fight.

    That was because it wasn’t portraying a human; it was portraying an unimaginably strong, and extremely fast, alien. Where every Superman flick until this one has shown him supremely strong at moments, but conveniently human-like in fight seens, such that he struggles in a dramatic fashion and people respond to his punches as if they were human punches, Man of Steel applies physics to the question of what tremendous strength looks like.

    The if realistic superpowers are uninteresting to you, the fight scenes are filled with: character studies about how a patriotic American soldier responds to this sort of thing (there’s at least a half dozen beautiful, moving, tributes/ vignettes of that sort); the same thing for an iHop manager; some effective evocations of the immediate response to 9/11; some interesting thoughts on how we construct morality, and so on.

    It was a great action movie in part for the non-action sequences; the portrayal of the church is more positive than in any other blockbuster I recall.

  4. Matt Blankenship
    James Of England: I cannot disagree with you enough about Man of Steel.

    It wasn’t a traditional Superman flick, and it didn’t feel like a real life fist fight.

    It was a great action movie in part for the non-action sequences; the portrayal of the church is more positive than in any other blockbuster I recall. · in 0 minutes

    Those are all fair points.  I especially agree with you about the portrayal of the church.  Interesting, that Kal-El would visit a priest…

    And one thing I did appreciate about it was that it showed Superman moving as fast as he probably really would in a fight.   If he were real. I respectfully disagree about the population’s (military and civilian) response to the existence of aliens.  I mean, this is really sort of the answer to the ultimate–or pretty close to it–question that humans have asked.  And everybody just takes it in stride:  “Well, how are we going to deal with this alien threat.”  I’d expect people to… I don’t know… I’d expect more dorm-room awe-struck philosophizing.   Maybe real military people would remain professional. 
  5. Sisyphus
    Eric Jablow: I recommend the long fight scene in The Quiet Man.  I hate to say it, but whenever I see Man of Steel, I mentally add Woman of Kleenex. · 7 hours ago

    They picked the title in hopes of confusing moviegoers looking for Iron Man 3.

    Next summer: The Metal Men. Jessica Alba IS Tin.

  6. Pygmy Hippo

    Matt,

    Have you seen Dredd or Hanna?  Dredd was Carl Urban and rookie running around dystopic chaos dispensing fist fulls of uncompromising justice, while Hanna had some really well filmed (easy to follow) fights scenes.  Eric Bana in the skate park or whatever it was really stands out.

    Also, you’ll probably want to look into Gravity and Pacific Rim.  Gravity is Alfonso Cuaron of Children of Men fame.  Which probably had one of the best car chases ever put to film.  And Pacific Rim is the latest offering from Guillermo Del Torro’s beautifully vivid imagination.  For my money the guy can’t take a wrong step. 

    Just meant these as an anti toxin to what you mentioned in your post.  Hope it helps.

  7. James Of England
    Matt Blankenship

    James Of England:

    I thought that there was some blank incomprehension amongst the military, while the Perry/ Lane conflict was all about the impossibly big ramifications of publishing a story announcing this. The ending was certainly an instantiation of the governmental struggle to understand and respond to the news. The bully had occasion to think and reflect, and that was shown, as with the priest. His parents angsted about the issues, big time. The final “he’s hot” response seems plausible, too. People with time engaged in dorm room philosophy (not all of it filmed)

    The people at the business end, though, had their attention focused on the immediate revelations, which I think to be reasonable. Their question was if they should be willing to sacrfice themselves for a negligible apparent gain (consistently, the answer is yes), if there’s a better way of fighting (generally, no, but they’re shown to be smart), and if they should be fighting Superman (eventually, no).  It’s the thinking through of those questions, showing the fear and the overcoming of the fear, that I thought paid an effective tribute to the troops.

  8. David Knights

    First, I blame Michael Bay for the jump cut junk that infects every “action” movie.  I also blame Paul Verhoeven for ruining Starship Troopers, and almost everything else.

    I would love to see a movie where all the laws of physics are obeyed all the time.  No one getting shot and flying backward 5 feet; no one getting hit by a 2x 4 and brushing it off like it was nothing.  Don’t even get me started on the car chases/crashes.  No car survives the jumps and leaps that cars in these action movies do.

    As Rob Long has discussed elsewhere, I do think that modern movies stink so bad because all of the good writers and directors are moving to TV/Cable.

  9. DrewInWisconsin
    Severely Ltd.

    Albert Arthur: I like Tom Cruise. 

    I don’t dislike him but I wouldn’t want him in the part of Mitch Rapp. But he certainly can act.

    Tom Cruise is one of those people whose appearance in a movie will ensure I never see it.

  10. Matt Blankenship
    As Rob Long has discussed elsewhere, I do think that modern movies stink so bad because all of the good writers and directors are moving to TV/Cable. · 1 minute ago

    Yes.  This is a golden age of television, if you look in the right places.  Odd, that–considering how much truly awful TV there is.

  11. Albert Arthur

    I can’t watch Pacific Rim.

    1. Guillermo del Toro is dead to me*

    2. It looks stupid.

    *For defending Roman Polanski

  12. Severely Ltd.
    DrewInWisconsin

    Severely Ltd.

    Albert Arthur: I like Tom Cruise. 

    I don’t dislike him but I wouldn’t want him in the part of Mitch Rapp. But he certainly can act.

    Tom Cruise is one of those people whose appearance in a movie will ensure I never see it. · 4 minutes ago

    Is it his Scientology that puts you off?

  13. DrewInWisconsin
    Severely Ltd.

    DrewInWisconsin

    Severely Ltd.

    Albert Arthur: I like Tom Cruise. 

    I don’t dislike him but I wouldn’t want him in the part of Mitch Rapp. But he certainly can act.

    Tom Cruise is one of those people whose appearance in a movie will ensure I never see it.

    Is it his Scientology that puts you off?

    It’s a gut-level thing. There’s something about him that makes me want to punch him in the head. The Scientology makes me want to punch him twice.

  14. Byron Horatio

    One of the great things about Tarantino’s “Death Proof” (ok, the only good thing) was the car chase. Mercifully, he seems really opposed to CGI, so the car chase was actually real in the end. At least it sure looked real. The poor Nova gets totaled though. If you want one of the best old action movies, see Spielberg’s early gems, “Duel,” about the homicdal truck driver in the desert.

  15. Matt Blankenship
    Severely Ltd.

    DrewInWisconsin

    Severely Ltd.

    Albert Arthur: I like Tom Cruise. 

    I don’t dislike him but I wouldn’t want him in the part of Mitch Rapp. But he certainly can act.

    Tom Cruise is one of those people whose appearance in a movie will ensure I never see it. · 4 minutes ago

    Is it his Scientology that puts you off? · 0 minutes ago

    I was wondering the same thing.  I’ve liked him in plenty of movies, but I can’t stand him now.  Of course, if we only watched movies with actors that aren’t weirdos–or political idiots–or mental midgets…well, you know.  But there’s something in particular that I can’t stand about Cruise.  He hasn’t worn well, even though he looks the same as he did in Top Gun.

  16. Byron Horatio

    Ditto Rob about TV. The best writing by far is there. Best dramas and thrillers.

  17. Pseudodionysius

    Best action sequence ever ended up on the cutting room floor.

    Fight sequence from Darker than Amber. Interview with William Smith about scene.

  18. Matt Blankenship

    My original post, by the way, was not inspired by Man of Steel. It was inspired by the intergalactically awful trailer for — *choke* The Lone Ranger.

  19. WI Con
    genferei: I always thought the fight sequences in From Russia With Love were pretty embarrassing. But, then, I’m a Drunken Master fan. · 1 hour ago

    Not when the two Gypsie Chicks are fighting!

  20. Albert Arthur
    Matt Blankenship: My original post, by the way, was not inspired by Man of Steel. It was inspired by the intergalactically awful trailer for — *choke* The Lone Ranger. · 26 minutes ago

    Edited 24 minutes ago

    From watching the preview, it seemed to me that there was a supernatural element to it because Tonto brings the Ranger back from the dead.

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