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Dear Mr Anderson,

I am writing with regards to your work as a writer and director of Hollywood feature films, executed between 1995 and the present. It has been your practice as a filmmaker to adapt famous video game properties into high-budget, high-concept features, starting with 1995's Mortal Kombat. You went on to write several films based on the Resident Evil survival horror series and direct one, 2002's Resident Evil, and write and direct 2004's Alien vs Predator, a concept which was already familiar to many through the series of video games and comics of the same name.

The opening shot of Alien vs Predator is beautifully conceived and executed: the jagged and amenone-like armature of backlit spikes suspended in a black background is striking and unsettling - it uses the audience's presumed awareness of the alien design to create a sort of dissonant recognition (I would venture that the attempt was to evoke the alien queen). As the shot widens out and the light is cast more evenly on the form we learn that we are looking at a satellite in Earth's orbit which then photographs the antarctic and initiates the movement of the film's plot. It is an excellent first scene and sets an electric tone, which is instantly broken as the the shot changes to terrestrial monitor screens and big red warnings of UNKNOWN HEAT SIGNATURE DETECTED with accompanying klaxons. From the sublime to the ridiculously bad in one cut. It is galling therefore that you make no attempt at damage control, continuing the scene with two anonymous nerds spouting creaking expository dialogue.

Your complete inability to write naturalism or motivate it in the performances of your actors actually amazes. Your consummate skill in taking a popular concept with a ready made fanbase and turning the resultant film, though it is a film which is almost infuriating poor, into a financial success deserves tribute. With Alien vs Predator you have managed to sythesise three iconic franchises, the Alien vs Predator brand and the Alien and Predator movie series into a cohesive whole, you have taken concepts from Theosophical thought and the eldritch horror of H.P. Lovecraft and woven them together, and in doing so have robbed all of them of their individual brilliance. The effect of your work is to aggregate tarnish on everything you touch; the rare ability to rub the sheen off of gold. Indeed, it is a tribute to your ability to sell snake oil to studio bosses and to the lack of discrimination on the part of audiences that you have achieved such notable success. Shysterism of your magnitude speaks of genius - the genius of parlaying minimal talent into a stable and sustained career. You have managed to feed an appetite for more-of-the-same with material of the most undistinguished quality - no-one is satisfied, but they keep coming back.

Regarding the several Resident Evil films you have written it is important to point out that you demonstrate a facility with SF mise-en-scene and horror formalism which can be described as disgustingly inept. Even if your dialogue was not of the most stilted kind, your plotting is derivative and your shocks anything but shocking, your directorial ability would take a heavy toll. Resident Evil, which you directed in 2002, is actually boring. In one scene you conspicuously dolly in on a body suspended in a tank of fluid for perhaps as long as two seconds with nothing else in the frame and then expect, judging by Marilyn Manson's music sting, the audience to exhibit shock when she opens her eyes. It makes me question whether you are able to reconcile the most basic filmmaking principle that states that camera movements should always be motivated, with the project of a horror movie, which is to surprise the viewer and unsettle them. Your use of a genre cliché and the explictness with which you build up to it is almost camp. I wonder what your intention was. Whilst it cannot be denied that your ongoing project of providing a vehicle for your fiancée, actress Milla Jovovich, is a expedient one, it is my feeling that it would be have been more beneficial to her career and your reputations to have made these films anything other than universally awful; which they are. Congratulations on the recent birth of your daughter, and I hope that your non-professional relationship is a long and successful one.

On a final note concerning Alien versus Predator: what was the alien-head sword and shield in aid of? That scene couldn't have been worse if she'd been on rollerskates.

I've heard you say in your defence that whenever a director tackles a popular franchise with a hardcore fanbase he can be expected to disappoint some, and that it is not within a director's job or powers to anticipate and defer the objections of hardcore fans. Whilst this is indeed true I think it is a statement on your part which is both evasive and disingenuous. I put it to you that you are both aware of the inadequacy of your final product and willfully unapologetic for it. As for the belief you claim to hold that it is only hardcore fans which take issue with your movies I must protest. I personally scarcely care about the franchises you have worked on and don't care about Resident Evil in the least. What I do care about is that the mainstream genre movie should be as good as possible. It is my firm belief that the horror, action and science-fiction genres demonstrate the core values of Hollywood displayed at their most glorious extremes: the values of entertainment through spectacle, and I believe that they should be treated seriously. These movies matter. I am far from an obsessive fan but I took the time to write you this letter, but you must understand: people care that you are this bad. You simply must change the trajectory of your career and stop appropriating genre properties and funds that could be put to better use by someone else. Perhaps anyone else.

The honourable thing to do would be to go into episodic television as a lens for hire. That way your livelihood would be assured, your talents put to use, and the damage you could do minimised.

Yours sincerely,

Michael J Williams,


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January 2017

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