The Appeal of the Action Film

It's really quite simple. I like action films because there is little to no whining. The protagonist gets stuck in a bad situation, but doesn't spend the next hour or two whining about it. Instead he or she takes action and does something to change the situation they are in. This may or may not involve wreaking vengeance on the persons deemed responsible for the bad situation. What it doesn't generally involve is sitting around bemoaning the unfortunate situation. There may be a brief period of whining, but rarely does that last more than ten to fifteen minutes. The protagonist certainly doesn't spend more time whining than it would actually take to fix the problem, if he or she would just stop whining and get on with the fixing.

This brings us to Woody Allen movies. I don't like them. I've forced myself to watch several of them and I can't stand any of them. Mostly I just can't stand Woody Allen. I'm really not interested in watching a neurotic whiner who is firmly ensconced in victim mode parade around on screen for two hours, whining about the various troubles he or she experiences and sometimes causes. If I want to see/hear whining victims, I needn't pay good money to see it in a movie. I'd rather go to the movies and escape reality for a little while.

Now, for all that I like action films and find large explosions rather satisfying, I'm not a big fan of plotless violent movies. I also don't like movies which are nothing but a demo reel for whichever special effects company was hired by the studio. Even action films need to have a plot or story line to hold it all together. If all I want is gratuitous violence, I can stay home and watch pro wrestling and mixed martial arts cage matches on TV. I can also find plenty of other places to watch special effects and CGI clips. Without a story line that's at least somewhat believable, it's hard to stay interested in endless effects and violence, even if the movie is only ninety minutes long.

With that said, good special effects/CGI can really enhance a movie and poor effects/CGI can kick you out of the story in an instant. I'm a stickler for seamless effects and flawless continuity. Failing to catch boo-boos in post-production leads to a shoddy product. Yes, it takes more effort to catch things like the water level in a drinking glass changing repeatedly during a scene or a sword moving from one side of the swordsman's body to the other, but your audience does appreciate the attention to detail.

Action films do not, however, have a monopoly on getting things done with a minimum of whining. As an example, I wouldn't call any of The Thin Man movies or any of the Disney/Pixar animation features "action movies", but the protagonists once again take action to change their circumstances rather than wallowing in their misery and having a pity party. Certainly in the Disney/Pixar films, the protagonists have phases where they may lose heart, but after a good, rousing pep talk from a sidekick, they leave the pity party and get back on track. Frankly, most animated shorts and features that I can think of off the top of my head feature protagonists who actually work to create a better outcome for themselves and for others.

To me, a movie is a partial, if not complete, escape from reality. It may be a comedy, a drama, a mystery, an action flick and/or sci-fi/fantasy movie. The idea is to take a break from reality and be distracted by the life story(ies) of someone else. I may or may not learn something applicable to my own life, but I usually gain a different perspective about various situations. Sometimes it's good just to see that I'm not the only person who has a bad day or who makes a fool of themselves. (Yes, I know that I'm being comforted by being just as big a dork as an imaginary person, but it's still comforting.)

So, if you want to catch a movie some time, just pick one that isn't a whine-fest or a plotless special effects extravaganza and I'll be there!


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