Ever hear someone’s critique of a work(let’s say movie) and wonder if they’ve actually seen it? I’ve seen quite a bunch of undue criticism going on around the internet recently and I think it’s a bit ridiculous. I’m not sure if it’s the need to be contrary, wanting to specifically be counter culture, or anything in between that’s causing this. The amount of blanket criticisms these days that don’t really have anything to do specifically with the work that’s being criticized is ridiculous. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let’s get into some big offenders of undue criticism.
If your reason for “not liking” something includes the phrase “That’s not what happened in the (news, novel, comics, etc.)”, this section is about you. The thing about creativity is that it inspires new takes on events, ideas, and situations. Creativity doesn’t promise good(because good is subjective), only different. People in general hate change. I get it. This person however, takes things to the next level. The Purist is one who sees an adaptation and hates it simply because it isn’t exactly like the original. To you sir or madam Purist I ask, “What would be the point?”. There is absolutely nothing creative about republishing someone else’s work as your own. That’s called plagiarism.
Additionally, there are reasons to change things when doing an adaptation other than just for creativity’s sake. The biological definition of the word adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment”. Sometimes it’s that simple. The environment or medium that this additional work exists in makes certain things hard or impossible to do. Cartoons have different rules than printed novels. Something done independently has less strict guidelines than something backed by a major company.
For a specific example, let’s talk about Captain America: Civil War. First off, no comic book movie is going to be 100% comic accurate for the foreseeable future. I’ve already gone into detail why in this video. Specifically with Civil War, what did you really expect? The original Civil War storyline from the comics involved the vast majority of the Marvel universe. Conversely, by that point in the MCU, we had only met around 10-12 heroes. Additionally, anyone who cares to pay attention should know that Marvel the comic book company doesn’t own the movie rights to all of its characters. Who is more in the wrong, a movie adapting a comic book story knowing they have certain limitations, or you for thinking you would get a Spiderman that didn’t exist yet to unmask himself somewhere around the middle of this film?
Movies aren’t real life. There are some that are based on real events, but they are few and far between. Suspension of disbelief is something that you really need in order to enjoy most forms of entertainment. The majority of us normal, hard working people don’t lead lives that are amazingly entertaining right out of the box. We’d have to apply some wax and polish to get it nice and shiny first. The same applies to films.
In general, before I even get to my specific point, let’s step away from undue criticism and discuss something that’s earned. Movie logic and movie physics are not like the world we live in. If you look at the long list of theatrically released action films, you’ll often encounter a scene where the protagonist jumps through a closed window, down several stories, into some type of water with minimal if any damage sustained. You don’t care about the specifics so I’ll briefly explain the multiple issues with this ONE trope that most people just let go.
First, you aren’t jumping through that window that easily. There are all kinds of codes and requirements for making buildings. The windows, especially higher up, have to have some minimum level of impact resistance. Second, if you manage to exert enough force to get through, unless the glass shatters(and maybe even if it does), the shards will likely kill you. Lastly, that water isn’t as safe as you think. From a certain height, jumping onto water is as bad as jumping onto concrete. If you aren’t that high, you still have to understand that water will slow you down, but won’t automatically stop you. If you are jumping into shallow water, from a certain distance, you’re still going to hit the bottom pretty fast. These are just quick overviews.
Let’s say you didn’t know any of those points. That’s a valid reason to not fuss about them. Let’s talk about something you do know. The Fast and the Furious movie franchise is riddled with sequences that outright destroy the rules of physics. That being said, there are 8 movies now. At this point, to use the franchise’s lack of realism as a criticism is just lazy. When somebody tells you who/what they are, believe them.
THE NOSTALGIA NAZI
Nostalgia can be amazing for everyone involved. Businesses make money and we get what we want in new content. When it works, it’s great. I am aware, however, that sometimes it doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean that all projects pushed by nostalgia are automatically bad.
I did a review of the recently released Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle trailer. It was pretty good. I had initially thought the idea was just a cash grab. Let’s not get it twisted, the movie industry is at it’s core a business. Of course a goal of this reboot/trailer(I’m not sure which one it is) is to make money. But they actually seemed to approach this project with some creativity rather than just trying to rehash the same exact story. Do I think it’ll be the greatest movie ever made? No. However, I am interested to see it now.
Of the responses that I got from that video, one undue criticism stood out like a sore thumb. I posted my thoughts to this awesome Facebook group that I’m in, Reaper Life Comic Book Multiverse. The comment in question was, “If it wasn’t called Jumanji, I would be interested”. I’m not sure if the person watched the trailer or not, and I never responded because it sparked the idea for this article. Had I not started writing immediately, I would have lost it. This thinking is very telling though.
There are two scenarios here. One is they watched the trailer and liked what they saw, but shut it down because it’s associated with some perfect picture they have of the original. The other suggests that they didn’t even give the trailer a chance because of the aforementioned perfect picture. I would be fine with this thinking if we were talking about Zathura. In this case, we are potentially missing out on something good simply because of its name.
Speaking of Zathura, another point comes to mind. You can’t ruin a legacy of one event by adding events later on down the line. If a team wins a Super Bowl, future teams have no bearing on the legacy of that team that won the championship. The Hangover doesn’t lose classic status because the sequels aren’t up to par. People are still championing Jumanji even after Zathura was a box office flop. The worse that can happen is you see a bad movie.
OBJECTIVE REALITY OF UNDUE CRITICISM
Bad movies are bad movies. The undue criticism is unnecessary as they will earn every bit of flack they deserve. That’s the reality of the situation. The worse case scenario for giving these things a chance is you don’t enjoy the work. The worse case for actually judging based on the material is not getting to experience a great piece of work. I’d much rather cope with the former. Give things a fair chance people.