DTV movies are really circling the toilet. I mean they’ve always been down there, but we’re not entering a new era of sloppy, lazy greed, rather we’ve been in it for a while. It used to that we’d have a sufferable ratio, for every three horrible Vinnie Jones/Danny Trejo/whoever movies, there’d be a little gem like Universal Soldier: Regeneration.
And usually if a DTV movie was good, it was an action movie. If a non-action script has fallen to DTV land, it means it’s crap and no-one would bid on it, and because it’s story driven, there’s not much you can do with it. But with simple action movies, you have a palette to work from, e.g. a good fight movie can outpace its crappy story. Or a good shoot out.
Well, it looks like we can kiss goodbye to shoot outs in action movies. Nowadays, everybody is using CGI muzzle flashes and telling their actors to fake their own recoil. And it’s time to put them on notice; your movie will be torn up and spat out from here on out if you insist on going forward this way. Hell, few sites support DTV movies, there will be one less for those who corner cut in the worst way from now on.
WHAT IS IT?
Gun shots in films have always (mostly) been fake. I mean, the reason for that is obvious. But blanks have always been used. You get a loud bang, you get a small amount of recoil. You get an actor who tenses up while discharging the weapon. You get a gun report. You get gun smoke. From there, all you have to do is make it look fun.
Now though, we have films where actors are running around using guns with solid barrels. They pull the trigger and ‘simulate’ recoil. Later, the muzzle flash is added in post production, along with the gun report. Nine times out of ten, it looks terrible. And often, for that reason, the editing of the trailer for the film will be handled with care to avoid showing this sloppiness too much. After all, the aim is, more now than ever, to simply get you on the hook. After you’ve bought or rented, who cares?
WHY DO THEY DO IT?
The reason/s for doing it are obvious, and not so obvious. First, hiring guns for a movie is not cheap. The production crew just doesn’t show up with guns and blanks, you have to hire a specialist to bring his own weapons. You’re going to pay by the hour and you’re going to pay for X-amount of blanks. So not only are you paying, you have to probably reschedule things to get the best bang for your buck out of those guns.
There are other considerations. Even though the guns are firing blanks, you can bet that when a weapon is discharging anything, there’s going to be some type of supervisor on hand. For this reason among others, you also have to train your actors with the tools; for example when you pull the trigger, while no bullet leaves the weapon, a shell casing will. And it will be red hot and take on a life of its own after it leaves the gun, travelling in whichever direction. Dealing with these variables takes time, and time is money.
Kind of like hiring a big crane for a construction site for the day – many are going to have to drop what they’re do and make way for it, and cater to the guys operating it.
Worse, what if you’re running the DTV cameo scam? That is to say, you’ve blown your budget on a greedy actor who will be in the movie for four minutes, but be all over the promo covers? Such a man is likely on a very tight schedule, and probably a prima donna. Why bother with the hassle of trying to schedule your firearms guys to be on set with the ‘big name’, especially now that he’s decided to change his day (day, singular) at the last minute?
The solution then is to have your actors simulate their gun fights, with no blanks. And have a bunch of eager (yet inept) postgraduate computer imagery hacks ‘fill things in’.
Of course, the obvious problem is that it looks like crap. You can tell that the actor is not using a real weapon, or even blanks. Often, the muzzle flash is the first giveaway, looking fake. The next giveaway is the cringe inducing ‘recoil’ that the actor is forced to simulate. It doesn’t just look crap, it sounds crap. Now that we’re on lazy street, you can just use the same sound over and over.
There’s another less than obvious problem too.
When you’re hiring guns for use, you’re also buying blanks. Every film has a budget, so every budget will buy a limited number of blanks. That means your gun battles are going to be reasonably limited and carefully crafted.
But what if you know ahead of time than your DTV schlock is going to use fake muzzle flashes? That would give you a blank cheque to overdo it.
The Marine 4 is a movie with suspect gun action. For example in that film, aside from the gun battles looking fake as hell, they happen suspiciously often. Is this because the producers knew that blanks would not be an issue? And if not in The Marine 4, then definitely in The Walking Dead. And this is not the good type of ‘long’ either, you have actors firing trillions of rounds at each other, filling up screen time, in awkward poses. It’s unrealistic and it looks stupid. Each and every round also seems to have a muzzle flash, which is also unrealistic.
Why make a pew pew movie around pew pew’ing, then rip us off with… fake pew pew’ing?!
Action B movies have always had a dedicated following. And they’ve had support from this small corner of the internet. But the foot is coming out and it’s being put down, it won’t be tolerated here anymore. In fact, maybe we should create a list of shame, or something like that.
The first that could be put on it would be the latest Sniper movie. I was going to review that film, and review negatively. But I was so disgusted I refrained from giving it any publicity at all, even negative publicity. It had not only multiple actors cashing in on the cameo scam (one even looked like he literally filmed his scenes on a webcam from his own office), but it committed an even worse sin – a movie about snipers, with actors jerking their own recoil.