What happens when you don’t let Marvel and Disney dictate your movie choices?

I coulda cried. I went to the movies last night, and it wasn’t another goddamned comic-book super-hero franchise movie. All summer long, that’s all they’ve shown, and I am so tired of that crap. Please, please, no more movies where all tension and drama is supposed to be resolved at the end with a great big punchy slog of a fight with lots of CGI!

The Green Knight is not that movie. Instead, we get all the complexity and ambiguity of the medieval story, with dangly bits of the tale that hang there and make you scratch your head and wonder what that was supposed to mean, and at the end you have to think about what it was all about. It also doesn’t slavishly follow the old poem, and the director adds new surprises. That’s what I want more of in a movie — creativity and originality and complexity. I may have to go again later this week just to soak in the lovely imagery and pick up on the nuances.

The only negative, something that diminished but did not ruin the movie for me, was the audience. For some reason, the theater had a small mob of boys in their early teens who came in to watch, presumably thinking this was another goddamned comic-book super-hero franchise movie. They were visibly bored, constantly getting up to go to the lobby, whispering to each other, noisily chomping on their snacks. So spread the word: this is not an action movie. There isn’t a lot of sustained violence. The sexy scenes are muted and strange. Stay home, kids, you won’t like this movie. And theaters: I know you’re desperate for ticket sales, but you’re doing no one any favors by letting the kiddies into a movie they won’t understand.

P.S. There won’t be a sequel to The Green Knight. It won’t launch a franchise with a new addition to the story every summer. The studios may be unhappy with that, but it’s a huge plus as far as I’m concerned.


  1. cartomancer says

    I’m guessing they modified the story found in the original 14th Century manuscript because, as written, it is a poem that deals in themes somewhat remote from modern sensibilities. The tension between chivalry and courteoisie, or between honour and nature, or the social worthiness to be won in games of bargaining, or the contrasts between paganism and christianity, are not exactly relevant or significant to modern audiences.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    The sexy scenes are muted and strange.

    Kinky sex! Ball gags! PZ says so.
    Spread the word.

  3. cartomancer says

    Mind you, I am now imagining a Medieval Poetry Cinematic Universe, where after a string of their own films we end up with Beowulf, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Piers Ploughman, Willim Tell, Scheherazade and Dante from the Divine Comedy teaming up to defeat the Black Death and the end of Feudalism (with cameos from the Canterbury Pilgrims, Tristan and Isolde, Koschei the Deathless, Reynard the Fox and many others).

    I’m not saying it would be “good”, exactly. But I’d definitely watch it…

  4. brucegee1962 says

    @2 cartomancer,
    I teach this poem in my British Lit class every year, and I would somewhat disagree; I’ve had some rousing class discussions on it. Do people still worry about being considered “honorable” any more, and what does the word really mean? Are we really being honorable when we’re driven more by a fear of how we look to others rather than by anything internal? Is it possible to live by a rigid code that applies to all circumstances (the pentangle) or is it more important to be flexible (the green girdle)? And finally, how do we deal with our own mortality — the fact that nature apparently “dies” every year with the change of seasons, then comes back to life, but when we are gone, we’re gone forever?
    I’ll agree that there are some themes that are more relevant to the Christians in class than to us atheists, like the idea that people should admit to their own imperfections as those are necessary to receive grace.

    I am really looking forward to seeing this movie, but I’m still nervous about being in a theater with other (shudder) people.

  5. says

    We are at odds here regardiing movies. I am the exact opposite. When i watch a movie, I want dumb, flashy, and basically junk food for my brain. MOAR CGI!! MOAR punchy punchy! I don’t want to have to think too much. That’s what books are for.

  6. blf says

    What happens when you don’t let Marvel and Disney dictate your movie choices?

    I’ve no idea. The last movie I can recall going to in a cinema was either the 1st LoTR or else (after Stanley Kubrick died), the re-release of Clockwork Orange (both in Ireland). Since then, almost nothing has tempted me, with at least one exception, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, which is a French film (Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec), so easy to see here in France — provided one speaks sufficiently fluent French and is not accompanied by a cheese-chomping penguin smelling faintly of herring.

  7. pilgham says

    It’s a Christmas movie! Something to finally push It’s A Wonderful Life and Die Hard off our screens!

  8. birgerjohansson says

    The old film version was unimpressive, but I think Sean Connery was in it, and did his best to save it.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    A Christmas film that is popular in Sweden is the newer Ivanhoe version from ca 1980, with wossname the Australian bloke (who played the adult Antichrist in omen) as knight baddie.
    Swords, tournaments, lots of fun.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    If you become a billionaire, make a film version of a Strugatsky novel.
    Ten Billion Years to the End of the World -also published as ‘Definitely, Maybe’- is about a University researcher that keeps getting distracted.
    The premise of the story is that the universe is homeostatic, and resists research that may lead to an understanding of how entropy may be reversed.
    The distractions take increasingly surreal form, which makes me wonder about the success of Trump…

  11. says

    @7: SAME. I want to see the bad guys get their noses caved in with a good punch in the face. I want more robots and explosions and that sort of thing.

    I’m hearing rumors that some of the fedora wearing young conservatives like this movie, which might explain the teens. But who knows?

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 8 blf
    Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec

    En 1911, un œuf de ptérodactyle, vieux de 135 millions d’années, conservé dans une vitrine du Jardin des Plantes, a éclos et la créature s’envole dans le ciel, semant la terreur dans Paris.

    Serves Paris right.

    (lors d’une chute, son aiguille à chapeau lui a transpercé la tête)

    Well at least it has a realistic plot line.

    Bloo### He#3, my local public library has it in DVD! I may have to check it out and see if my poor French can handle it.

  13. says

    It was a very well done movie. I was interested to see how it diverged from the legend.
    For what it’s worth, there are plenty of non-comic book movies that came out, for those of us who live in areas with multi-screen theaters. =)
    I’m not suggesting they are good movies, but they exist, haha. =)

  14. magistramarla says

    Just got home from the latest Marvel film – Shang-Chi and The Legend of the 10 Rings.
    I went with some trepidation, since I was traumatized by all of the senseless violence in The Black Widow movie.
    I went in thinking to myself that I should just go along with it, since my husband chose it, and his birthday is this week.
    Amazingly, I loved it! The violence was mostly stylized martial arts battles, with some very cool mythological characters thrown in. Since I love mythology from nearly any culture, I really got into the story line.
    Another pleasant surprise was Awkwafina playing the role of the love interest and finding that she has some superpowers.
    She’s very much an “every woman’ and has a wonderfully sharp-tongued sense of humor.
    We’re betting that she’s going to start showing up at Comic Cons and having a blast.