Monday, May 4, 2009

At the Movies: That new starship smell

Bones: Dammit, Ben, I'm a doctor, not a film critic.
Lyons: Neither am I, but I play one on TV!
Ben Lyons has been waiting for the new Star Trek movie for some time. Back in February on a live chat on the At the Movies Web site, both Bens were asked which movie they were both looking forward to this summer. Their answers were as follows:

Mank: I honestly try not to get too excited about anything because I dont want raised expectations to detrimentally affect my enjoyment of the film. Its not a cop out. Its true.

Having apparently completely missed this statement of honesty and integrity on the part of Mank, Lyons immediately gushed:

Lyons: I am so looking forward to star trek from director JJ Abrams. From the few scenes Ive looked at so far, Ive been really impressed. Im not a huge Star Trek fan by any means, and dont hold the franchise near and dear to my heart as many people out there do, but I love an incredible event movie, and I'm hoping this lives up to the hype...

Also, when asked in an interview around the same time "is there a specific genre that you prefer more so over another? What do you look for when watching a movie?" he answered:

BL: I love the "event" movie – that movie you buy tickets to weeks in advance and see opening weekend with all your friends...but I love all types of films, big and small.

Yes, he loves an event movie. That, in case you don't know, is probably the only "genre" of film which is defined less by the content of the movie (the time and place of the story or the nature of drama and/or comedy involved) than by how much hype is built into its publicity campaign. This is probably the only "genre" which is almost solely defined by how much money is spent on the making of the film. (In case you are wondering, I put the term "genre" in quotes here for much the same reason I often do so with the term "film critic" when referring to Ben Lyons)

A few weeks ago, I criticized Lyons for saying of Monsters vs. Aliens that it has that "blockbuster event movie feel," without saying much more about why it is a good movie. But on this week's At the Movies, though he says more about the new Star Trek movie, it still comes back to the same gush:

Lyons: With an accessible story line for movie fans not familiar with the world of the franchise, Abrams is able to capture the spirit of Star Trek. Add to the mix first rate special effects, and what's left is an event movie.

First off, I think what he wants to say is that "the result is an event movie." Secondly, and I don't think this is nit-picking, he says it in a way that assumes this is a good thing--it has that "event movie feel" like your new Honda has that "new car smell".

Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to Star Trek just as much as the next guy. And I don't need Ben Lyons--or any film critic--to tell me that it is an event movie. Because I am not stupid, I figured that out without ever seeing the movie, which is partly why I--unlike Ben Lyons--refer to it as a "genre".

It is this sort of confusion--and forgetting that there is a difference between a good movie and an event movie--that gets Lyons in trouble and makes people think he is more of a bandwagon rider of Hollywood hype than a serious film critic.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Ben Lyons says stupid things and hypes blockbusters. What else is new?

Anonymous said...

I think the world populace is aware that whether it is Star Wars, Star Trek, or Terminator that it really goes without saying. Ebert at tries to promote films that really need and deserve their hype with Ebertfest. Lyons just wants to get a photo with Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana.

Anonymous said...

Dudes! I loved Star Trek! What an awesome movie and I like that's it's this year's Iron Man you know? I think it's actually one film that's lived up to it's hype out of all the other films released in the past few months. Man I would love to get a photo with Zoe Saldana! She's hot! Did you see her spread in this month's Esquire! YOWZA!

Eh, Ben Lyons is an alright guy. He took a photo with Saldana? That bastard! So jealous dudes.