Sometimes It’s Fun to Pick Something Apart

I love to really dissect a movie. Good or bad, whether I liked it or not, my favorite thing to do after a movie is to spend the next hour or two discussing it. My wife is my most common partner in this, as we tend to like about the same level of analysis and we see most new things together. And this goes beyond movies- games, TV shows, books, any media I consume is ripe for a nice, long discussion. But not everyone is in the same boat. Plenty of my friends pass simple judgement and carry on, with some even disliking voicing a negative opinion. Some see differing opinions as an opening to an argument, rather than a discussion. Countless internet arguments have spawned from reviews that fans disagree with. But sometimes, the discussion itself is the best entertainment possible.

Now I get why some people don’t like the extra discussion. Maybe they prefer the experience, maybe they see it as an argument they’d rather avoid. One of my friends feels like it’s disrespectful- when he sees a movie with hundreds of names on it, he cannot fathom badmouthing it. None of this is invalid, people all enjoy what they enjoy in their own way. But when you really dig into a movie, or game, or TV show, you can see what makes it tick. You can see what resonated with you and what didn’t. You can easily look at something new and determine if it appeals to you, and you can even look at reviews you disagree with and get value out of them.

It’s also helped me appreciate the things I love even more. For example, Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite movies of all time. The first time I saw it was a couple years after its release, and at that point I found it hilarious, but hadn’t picked up on plenty of its hidden meanings and nested jokes. It was around that time that I really started to think critically about what I was watching, and I started comparing it to other movies. I noticed the pace was quick, almost quicker during the most boring scenes. I noticed that very few lines were wasted- if they didn’t set up the scene, they were either a joke or something that would be referenced later. I noticed how many lines and jokes were references to cliches, or even to specific movies. I’ve watched that movie now more than nearly any other movie, and I still get something new out of it each watching because I’m trying to pick it apart, bit by bit.

It helps with movies I don’t like as well. I really disliked Man of Steel, but most feedback I saw on it was a pretty generic he said/she said. It was either great fun, or absolute trash. Few talked about their joy at Superman playing somewhat against his historical type. I saw surprisingly few comments about the collateral damage being at odds with Supes’ hesitance to kill, or even his piece of the blame in bringing the threat to Earth. And hells bells, how was nobody talking about the fact that Pa Kent threw his life away for a freaking dog?!

Needless to say, I had some gripes with the movie. But I am incredibly glad I saw it in theaters. Not only was it a spectacle, the surrounding conversation was fascinating. I’ve talked more about Man of Steel, a movie I disliked, than about any one Marvel movie, which have a far better track record for me. If you factor in the value of discussion, of finding an excuse to talk about the things you’re passionate about with the people whose company you enjoy, even bad movies are worth the time.

I enjoy doing the same thing with a good game, or book, or TV show, or even YouTube videos, but the nature of a movie makes this easiest. They are often taken in one sitting, everyone who watches it has a similar experience, and nobody is left behind. A game can be dozens of hours long, and when you finish and are ready to discuss it, there is no guarantee others will be there with you. Books and TV shows similarly take that extra time, and few of those allow for the communal experience of a half dozen friends sitting in a theater together. I guess that’s why the internet is so great. Sure, none of my friends will give a damn about Shadow Hearts, but someone out there really digs the series and its Lovecraftian overtones. Someone really cares about the awkward series history, the driving and memorable music score, the oddities of character and plot progression, and the incredible personal growth of its protagonists.

Shit, I’m probably gonna talk about Shadow Hearts next time, huh?

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