Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's in the Details

It's an ongoing thing here in my house that when we watch a program, we inevitably end up picking apart the details on things where the writers or whomever should have gotten it right - and yet didn't. It's not always the obvious things, either, like the guy in blue jeans in that scene from "Gladiator." (Which, yes, I've seen. Unlike the shoe in Star Wars or the car in LOTR that everyone claims is there yet I've not seen actual proof of.) No, it's often the kind of detail that someone in research should have caught, and is either omitted - or added - for dramatic effect, or just glossed over because the editors or producers or someone figured no one would ever notice.

Yet we do.

Take "Mission Impossible III" for example. Aside from all my other problems with the movie - and they were numerous, starting with the idiots who made "MI:II" and decided the first movie was "too cerebral" (I get irked when they dumb things down, but that's another post entirely) - my biggest one was that they came all the way to Shanghai, and got it wrong. They got it completely wrong, actually, not just from the moment he jumps out of the building and somehow lands on the other side of the city, which is like jumping out of the Chrysler building and landing in Queens. No, they botched up the ending, which takes place not in Shanghai at all- at least according to what I saw on the screen.

Now, I lived there, so I catch this, and it's likely I was one of only a handful who did, but that's not the point. I can forgive shows like "Smallville" which send their characters to Shanghai's "mountain" because I doubt it was a detail they were concerned with. Even though a cursory check of the Wiki gods would have probably told them that Shanghai sits in a river delta and is flatter than Nebraska. But hey, it's on the CW. It doesn't star Tom Cruise. It didn't pony up the time and money for location shots.

If you're going to take the time to scout the location, you need to get it right.

Likewise, in the opening bit in "The Descent," when they're all in the mountains of Appalachia. The scenery is nice and ominous, and there's the bit of the shock scene... and then the wolf howls. Um, excuse me? But there are no wolves in Appalachia. It's the kind of thing a ten-minute fact check, heck, a ten second fact check (go on, Google "wolf habitat" and see how long it takes you. You might have to add the United States to the search terms, but it shouldn't take very long.)

It's things like this that can take away from the enjoyment of a film or television show. They may not ruin it completely, but they provide moments of exasperation that suck you out of the make-believe world they're trying to sell you.

No comments: