Action movies are big business and have been creating a very large market pan India as it does internationally. By Dr S. Raghunath, Professor of Strategy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
The more absurd or fantasy based situations in the movie, the higher is the box office collection. Most heroes are one dimensional and predictable while the action sequences are big and spectacular. Action heroes are killing machines that are dedicated to altering the future of a tormented set of human beings in the clasp of marauding monstrous villains.
In these movies, the spectacular action sequences that unfold are utterly absorbing in the most amazing special effects. The plot hovers around intense vulnerability of the victims threatened by the persistent pursuit of ugly narcissism by the villians and the dogged commitment to altruism by the hero.
The Nature of Heroism In Action Movies
These action movies promote heroism based on expediency, the focus is on what promotes “excitement” and undercurrents of palpable tension on the imminent possibilities of physical annihilation that is “gory death”. Unless physical annihilation is at stake there is no “rising action” possible in this scheme of movie making. The main character is periodically infused with an adrenaline rush to “avenge” caused by intermittent experiences of tragic unbearable injustice or loss of loved ones.
The character arc is different in the action movies. The hero does not transform in a classic character arc, the context and circumstances evolve and yield irrefutable evidence of the determination, competence and the intelligence of the hero. This trend may be seen in Indian action movies like Jawan, Salaam, and Pushpa.
As the movie gravitates to the end as a resolution of the burgeoning mayhem, the hero shines in all his glory in the display of the height of his courage “and the depth of his altruism. The very act of saving the victims at a high risk of losing one’s own life brings the attribution of self sacrifice.
The “act of doing good even at the cost of risking one’s life” occupies the centre stage of attention. Above all the ‘hero’ in the action movie displays toughness and being in control. The hero does not allow ambiguities, uncertainties or weaknesses to mellow down his fiery resolve and offers a fantasy of control and power to the audience.
The Central Role of ‘Fusion’ Between Technology and Creativity
For such a genre of “action movies”, in this day and age of “virtualization” the real cinematic impact is generated through the infusion of technology and those techies who collaborate with the creatives from the scripting and the story boarding stage. Visuals with action sequences and dialogues go hand in hand.
The editing team has to combine the images, dialogues and sound effects to create the ultimate content. The production design team attains prominence establishing the overall look of the film. Several concepts need to be drafted and vetted in total collaboration between the development and the production team.
As action movies have an emphasis on action than on dialogues, the art direction team and the virtual cinematography team have a lot going to the culmination of content aligning the action intent.
The art of creating an immersive experience is the fine art of blending camera and lighting work to create epic cinematic content. Decision on close up shots, camera angles to enhance the imagery and the look of the CG images evoke heightened audience attention.
Careful study and hard work of the “Effects Team” produce spectacular special effects. Compositing, rendering and editing have attained such dizzying heights of impact on the timing and pacing for playing out moments of drama or action. The use of sound and music effects and the editing process further feed into the emotion of the movie and is key to engaging the audience on a deeper level. In most cases it is the sound elements that carry the message of the story that the film maker wants to tell.
Becoming a thinking partner of the creative team is becoming the defining principle for the technology team and for the impact created on the audience by the action movie.
Bending to blend, figuratively speaking, with the creators and the “actualizers of content” is a competence, action movie units grow to a great extent. This will require the “wonder in the imagination” created by the creative teams to bridge the differences that might arise in the “realisation of cinematic content” by the technology team.
Going forward, the technologists in the world of media and entertainment technology will find very interesting and challenging work in the world of creative content producers