So this weekend the Tech Monkey and I went to a matinee showing of Xmen: Days of Futures Past, and it got me to thinking (again) about resonance, and how said resonance might feed into becoming a successful writer. The Tech Monkey and I always have a great conversations when we get to the lunch part of our movie date, because he is Fan + RPG Game Master, which equals Geek Squared, while I am Fan + Genre Writer, which is Nerd Squared. So we either a) agree on most points, for often different reasons, or b) occasionally don’t agree on a point, sometimes for the same reasons.
When we go to a movie, the Tech Monkey is watching for purely entertainment’s value. Me, my brain is often split in half because it is damned near impossible to turn my writer brain off. I’m pretty sure my Infernal Editor in is there, cackling maniacally as he pulls the switch to the lightning rod. This would explain why I have ten years’ worth of books in my queue, even when I stuff four novellas and two novels into each year’s production schedule.
But I digress.
The first thing that happened is we saw the Transformers 4 trailer. It was full of special effects of the robot versus robot with humanity caught in the disaster movie crosshairs, and Optimus Prime coming over all peevish because said cross-haired humanity sucks, and he has to save them anyway. At least those members we have not buried under buildings we’ve crush, or set on fire. (I loved the cartoon as a kid, by the way—but I’m not—obviously—a fan of the movies.) My husband is an ever bigger fan of the old eighties cartoons he grew up with, and the movies make him even more peevish than Optimus Prime when waffling humanity gets up his exhaust pipe.
Tech Monkey’s reaction to the trailer: “…Okay. But what is it about?”
Me: “An obnoxiously large special effects budget?”
But what he said rang home. It’s all well and good to make with the big explosions and set pieces and cool stuff because it’s cool, but the trailer did nothing to compel me to want to see that movie. Then again, I’m not the audience the movie’s going after, I suppose.
Eighteen trailers later (seriously, where did they all come from—and how do half them even relate to the movie I’m about to see?) we finally get to the movie.
Now, back in 2000, the Tech Monkey went to see the very first Xmen movie as our first date. Tradition decrees that we see every other Xmen movie when it comes out. And we like the new cast, and this movie handled the mash up of new/old casts really well. (I am, however, disappointed that Wolverine made no sassy comment as regards to young Professor X having a full, glorious head of seventies hair. I love Wolverine’s sass.)
Yes, there was an extensive run of set piece effects (I loved Quicksilver’s bit the most, I think). Yes, there was an incredible amount of external conflict with the Sentinels being able to adapt to mutant powers, but that wasn’t really what the movie was about. At least, that was what the movie was about only on a surface level. The external conflict—a combination of premise and stakes—bled into the strata of everything else that was going on. But the true conflict came from opposing goals, characters changing sides as their goals change, and complications to meeting those goals—and seriously blurred the line between straight good and evil, which I love.
It was all very human, despite all the mutant-y stuff going on. And holy wow, James McAvoy having a heart-to-heart through time with Patrick Stewart, i.e. his older self—it resonated. (Although I was still waiting for a hair comment—it had better be in the DVD Outtakes). Beyond the themes of hope and redemption, all the characters—including the ‘bad guys’—were sympathetic.
It was this resonance, I think, that truly made the movie. When you can touch something human within your audience, it will leave them wanting more.
(P.S. Can we just put Peter Dinklage in everything in the history of ever? Because then you can have all my money.)
(P.P.S. Wolverine and Beast need their own web series, to air opposite the web series starring Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.)