The Big Picture: Mystery Bonks

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Mystery Bonks

MovieBob takes you inside J.J. Abrams and his magic box.

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The central tenet of all of Abram's work, all of it, boils down to two words.

"Daddy issues."

I mean _all_ of it.

EDIT: Seen ST:ID by the by, those two words directly apply to the central motivation of the protagonist, shade elements of the antagonists reason to be. It also seeps into another plot you should see coming.

Audiences are only surprised when the surprise is a surprise. Or actually exists.

My moma always said "JJ Abrams is like a box of chocolates: something to occupy your time while waiting for Pacific Rim"

Hrm... Will I'll give you this, he definitely is no Spielberg. Also, This pretty much sums up what he said in Super 8, J.J. Abrams has great set-ups, but very poor, often clumsy and ESPECIALLY obvious/easy-to-guess executions. I wouldn't know, I never saw Super 8, not have I seen a lot of his work, but I do think that-wait... People thought the Cloverfield movie was a Voltron movie?!?! Whoa... Not as awesome as Donkey Kong Jesus on a puff of smoke, but still, that would have been... interesting.

Ha, I remember the whole viral mystery to Cloverfield (I read one rumour that it was a Pwoer Ranger film somehow)!

I already seen Star Trek: Into Darkness (it was alright in my view) so I can't really say wheather I agree or not with this mystery box without spoiling it.

I guess this will be mention again after Bob had seen it in his intermission article.

Abrams' magic box isn't very magical, considering that, when it comes to him taking on loved franchises, all that comes out of it is "pew-pew" action schlock that is just flash and no substance. And of course, that isn't what Star Trek and Star Wars are about.

So, that is why I consider him an enemy, and I'm not going to go see this new movie. I'll be sitting here waiting for an actual Star Trek movie and/or proper style series.

DVS BSTrD:
Audiences are only surprised when the surprise is a surprise. Or actually exists.

My moma always said "JJ Abrams is like a box of chocolates: something to look forward to while waiting for Pacific Rim"

The minute Bob started talking about a box of chocolates, I was preparing a joke. Though I figured that you would be here soon to do it, besides the idea of a joke was blown right out of my mind by my ever burning hate for Abrams.

Say what you will about the quality of his movies (personally, I like them, for what it's worth), I will say this about Abrams;

In a time where some films (like the next X-Men and Spider-Man movies) basically have daily twitter updates, and where trailers seem hellbent on showing you absolutely everything in the damn movie, I do appreciate that Abrams at least tries to keep his movies under wraps for as long as possible.

Hell, I remember the off-set photos of his first Star Trek film where he had the cast walk around outside the soundstage in hooded black robes so that nobody would see the new uniforms too soon.

DVS BSTrD:
Audiences are only surprised when the surprise is a surprise. Or actually exists.

My moma always said "JJ Abrams is like a box of chocolates: something to occupy your time while waiting for Pacific Rim"

lol. Nice one man.

As for the video, I'm still not sold on the new Star Trek. I know it was well received last time, but I just couldn't get into it. And I have nothing pushing me to believe the sequel will do anything to change that stance. Still, curious that they are being all weird with the screenings though. Good luck with it Bob.

Not trying to spoil anything, but the "mystery box" here? Only part i hated about the movie, unfortunately completely derailing the ending.

So...yea

I saw the film yesterday, the twist was kind of goofy but also alot of fun. That said, I have no investment in Star Trek so I may not be the best person to ask, I expect alot of backlash.

PuckFuppet:
EDIT: Seen ST:ID by the by, those two words directly apply to the central motivation of the protagonist, shade elements of the antagonists reason to be. It also seeps into another plot you should see coming.

I'd say the other tenet of Abrams' work is completely unsurprising plot twists and reveals.

Like Into Darkness and it's big reveal, only half the internet saw that coming from Mr Unoriginal six months ago. It would be interesting to see if he (or anyone else) could actually pull a mystery box based sell properly. It would be mind blowing if they could...

I still don't get why so many people were 'thrown off/ surprised' by the Sixth Sense?

I thought I need to leave the movie aber six minutes (read: after Bruce got shot) because I exactly knew how it would end.
So I dragged through the movie ONLY to find that it ended EXACTLY how I was suspecting it to end.

I refuse to believe that I was the only person on earth to 'get it'.

Yeah. Building something up too much doesn't help. Its always been like that. Like when all your friends tell you how awesome a movie is, then when you see it, it just doesn't hold up to your idealized anticipation.

LOST was awful for that.

"You're building it up too much *yaaawn* lets just do it."

"*yaaaawn* eh-yeah man..."

yeah, I will say that Abrams is good at his job, but he has some serious issues with story-telling techniques he keeps not rectifying. And yeah, he is NOT Spielberg 2.0; if anyone is THAT it would Chris Nolan.

What?!
No Ray Harryhausen tribute?

OT: I've never been that much of JJ's "lens flare filled" movies. I find them rather hit & miss.

I loved Cloverfield and super8 (though I do agree that the less about the alien the better), I wasn't a real fan of his version of Star Trek.

Personally I wash movie makers would put more into the story and less into the effects.

I like your point about movie surprises work best when you don't expect them. Fight Club was one of the most surprising films of the last few decades, but its developed such a reputation for having a "ZOMG LOLZ HUGE MINDF**K" that most people who see it nowadays figure out the twist halfway through the movie. In fact, I just recently showed it to my brother and had to cough and draw his attention away from the blips of Tyler Durden at the beginning so he wouldn't go "What's that? Rewind and pause!" It worked, he didn't notice them, but it still didn't keep him from figuring out the twist halfway through the movie. He knew there was a surprise and looked for it. Same goes with Usual Suspects in this day and age too. The best surprises are executed through distraction.

A boat is a boat, but a mystery box could be anything....even a boat!

Personally, I think it's a bad marketing technique. You don't want to hype up the movie too much, or it leaves you disappointed when you don't get what you were expecting. Of course, I've become immune to hyping up because movies have kicked me in the balls so many times that I just expect every movie to be shit until my close circle of friends tells me it's worth a look.

But anyway, yeah, the viral marketing is just setting your audience up to be disappointed, because they'll always be able to imagine something more thrilling to them than what they get. On the other hand, I can't say I like Hollywood's tendency to give everything away in the trailer either. I can't tell you how many movies I've figured out in their entirety just from watching the trailer.

Perhaps Hollywood should just stop marketing films entirely and just put up posters in movie theaters.

The expectation kills the acural thing, peoples fantasy are bigger than anything anybody could ever create.. Sounds excatly like the Star Wars prequels, and everdently the next star wars movies.. Although I am all game for thouse :)

BloodRed Pixel:
I still don't get why so many people were 'thrown off/ surprised' by the Sixth Sense?

I thought I need to leave the movie aber six minutes (read: after Bruce got shot) because I exactly knew how it would end.
So I dragged through the movie ONLY to find that it ended EXACTLY how I was suspecting it to end.

I refuse to believe that I was the only person on earth to 'get it'.

You weren't the only one, but years of Hollywood dross has basically trained audiences not to think about anything that happens, because so little of what happens in a movie has meaning.

What I took away from this is that Toho needs to make a Godzilla movie where the opposing monster is a giant mutated lion from outer space, I would totally watch that but only if Toho made it and it was imported to the States.

DVS BSTrD:
Audiences are only surprised when the surprise is a surprise. Or actually exists.

My moma always said "JJ Abrams is like a box of chocolates: something to occupy your time while waiting for Pacific Rim"

XD Thank you, DVS BSTrD, for giving me the best laugh I've had today.

I agree with Bob, J. J. Abrams is not the next Spielberg. I recall Newsweek making that assumption with M. Night when Signs came out and we can all agree how accurate that headline was. Abrams is an ok filmmaker but not much to write home about. He won't score the A+ on the finals but will get the C average.

As for using mystery to hype up your movie, it works if only done properly. I thought Cloverfield was good but its viral marketing kept throwing so much stuff it made the movie-watching experience rather confusing for me. Hell, I never heard about the Voltron assumption myself but that is what happens when you over-hype the mystery just to get more asses into theaters.

BTW, I think anyone who knows their Star Trek lore can guess what the big mystery aka who the big bad is in Star Trek Into Darkness. I may be wrong but it looks like J.J. Abrams is blowing smoke up our butts to hide what most of the Internet has already figured out.

okay bob so your saying the big surprise in star treck will be a let down.

well i'm expecting a flashy, funny, sci fi movie.

don't know anything from the plot. Maybe i'll see your point later, nice episode.

Okay, raise your hands if you think a gritty, Blair Witch-style Voltron movie would be TOTALLY BADASS.

I hate mystery for the sake of mystery, so many stories that spend 95% of their time giving close to nothing about what going on and then telling you everything in the last 5% as if its meant to be surprising. But here's the thing for it to be surprising it has to be something other then what I was expecting and you made me expect something convoluted and most likely filled with plot holes, which is what I got. Happened with bioshock infinite and is happening with doctor who. A surprise lasts a moment a memorable story lasts a life time.

As someone who has seen the movie AND ISN'T GIVING ANY SPOILERS

The reviews that have been negative on this film have done so precisely because of this mystery box idea. A lot of people said: 'There was just something missing' but couldn't articulate what it was. I would say, the problem people had with was the Mystery Box promises there's going to be something amazing inside. Something totally unexpected. Whilst I liked what was in the box. It wasn't mind-blowing and I think this ultimately lead to the disappointment of fans who got caught up in this marketing campaign.

So, for those who haven't seen it, don't expect this movie to change your life and you'll probably enjoy it.

Sonic Doctor:
Abrams' magic box isn't very magical, considering that, when it comes to him taking on loved franchises, all that comes out of it is "pew-pew" action schlock that is just flash and no substance. And of course, that isn't at Star Trek and Star Wars are about.

So, that is why I consider him an enemy, and I'm not going to go see this new movie. I'll be sitting here waiting for an actual Star Trek movie and/or proper style series.

Yes, because the original films weren't action movies already.

People like to give XI a lot of flack for being too devoid of substance but how exactly is it different from the fan-favorite duo Wrath of Kahn/First Contact? Uber-villian with emotional baggage and history with our captain, a bunch of interpersonal drama about the captain worrying if they're up to the challenge/the rest of the crew questioning their motives and qualifications, massive threat to earth that will destroy the Federation, and we spend a lot of time running around shooting people and stuff blowing up. The only reason WoK and FC had a slightly slower, more deliberate pace is because it better fit the respective cat and mouse submarine warfare and slowly-being-overrun-by-zombies plots, things XI doesn't have to deal with.

And when the movies did try to live up to the more 'high-minded' reputation the franchise has gathered, anyone remember what we got? The Slow-Motion Picture and The Final Frontier.

And besides, saying Star Wars was never about being old-school adventure serial, intentionally campy 'action schlock' is just blatantly ridiculous.

Kmadden2004:
Say what you will about the quality of his movies (personally, I like them, for what it's worth), I will say this about Abrams;

In a time where some films (like the next X-Men and Spider-Man movies) basically have daily twitter updates, and where trailers seem hellbent on showing you absolutely everything in the damn movie, I do appreciate that Abrams at least tries to keep his movies under wraps for as long as possible.

Hell, I remember the off-set photos of his first Star Trek film where he had the cast walk around outside the soundstage in hooded black robes so that nobody would see the new uniforms too soon.

I agree with that. In an age where it's almost expected to have every plot twist thoroughly spoiled weeks ahead of time, it's nice to see a director make an effort to keep something a secret. I've seen Into Darkness and whilst I loved it and liked the big reveal of the mystery, I can see a lot of people being upset and angry because they'll have felt that they've been lied to by JJ.

Into Darkness really doesn't live or die on it's mystery box, it's a bit silly and if you're not in by the time it's opened, you might not be on board with it. I thought that IM3's was way better precisely because it wasn't expected.

I already saw it
It's an action movie with a few references to the original Khan movie. For me that's not Star Trek. Don't misunderstand it's a good action movie. But if you a fan of the franchise then this doesn't work.

I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness yesterday, it's alright and I cant think of any twists other than a few references and a death which lasts 20 minutes near the end of the movie because of an famous Star Trek villains plan. I can't think of any real twist.

I dont even consider these movies Star Trek, they are just action movies with the Star Trek label.

Abrams... well... I can't say I'm a fan. Nothing about his work sticks out to me and a lot of it I find just plain bad (Lost, the new Star Trek movies, etc.).

As for the new Star Trek, let me lay it out simple for you: Did you like the first one? If yes, then you'll love this one. It's better. If not, you'll hate this one as well, though maybe a little less. It's an improvement over the previous film, for what it's worth. Though it's no more a Star Trek movie than sticking a Snickers wrapper on an orange makes that orange a Snickers bar.

That being said, I'm actually OK with Abrams doing the new Star Wars movies, since the new Star Trek movies would work a lot better as Star Wars movies...

It's good to have some mystery, but if you hype it up too much then people will be expecting more from the movie than it can possibly give.

Got to agree with Bob on this one. If you hype up the "surprise" then it has even less chance of not only actually being a surprise, but may also not be well received by the audience who thought it was going to be something better. Especially if there isn't all that much of a surprise in the first place.

DVS BSTrD:
Audiences are only surprised when the surprise is a surprise. Or actually exists.

My moma always said "JJ Abrams is like a box of chocolates: something to occupy your time while waiting for Pacific Rim"

:) Oh yeah. I forgot about that movie. Hope it's good.

I recall vaguely that Cloverfield had a bunch of viral marketing attached that gave cryptic hints as to the creature's origin, nature, motivations, etc. It involved some Japanese kid or something. In any case, it all clearly set up that the movie would answer the questions raised by the campaign, but of course the film resolutely refused to answer anything.

This is an increasingly obnoxious trend in viral marketing: having nothing at all to do with the game. Bioshock 2 was guilty of this as well. The viral campaign centered on a guy whose daughter mysteriously disappeared, with the implication being that she had been abducted, taken to Rapture, and made into a little sister. This character was originally not even in the game, and was only added last-minute because of unexpected fan interest in the ARG.

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