Sunday, January 28, 2007

Montage Mayhem

The average movie lasts around one hour and 50 minutes.

In that hour and 50 minutes, a movie will cover a fair amount of time. Some movies cover hours. Some cover days. Others cover years. And even still there are movies that cover decades. So when you consider that, an hour and 50 minutes isn't a heck of a lot of time. So you need to rely on certain techniques to cover a major chunk of time in only a matter of minutes.

That's where the montage comes in. Sure it's a bit cheesy, but you gotta love what it does. Simple men train to be Gods in only minutes. Insurmountable obstacles are overcome in only seconds. People meet and fall madly in love in no time. Montages make otherwise tedious tasks suddenly palatable. And they do it to some pretty catchy music.

So I've picked a few montages. There are tons more that comes to mind, but I just featured a few here. A few that I will rate based on several criteria. Criteria in which all montages should be judged: the amount of time covered, the task accomplished in that amount of time, the device used to communicate the passage of time, the music, and the big finish.

Team America

Task Accomplished: Gary regains his confidence as he trains in gun shooting and martial arts to kill the terrorists and save Team America. Rank: 8

Amount Of Time Covered: A few weeks, maybe a couples weeks to a month. Rank: 6

Device Used To Show Passage Of Time: At first Gary can't hit squat on the firing range. And he isn't too surefooted when it comes to Kung Fu. But towards the end, he's a dead-eye and as good as Bruce Lee on the mat. Rank: 8

The Music: A brilliant song called of all things "Montage" written by Trey Parker that helps create the best montage spoof on film. Rank: 10

Big Finish: There isn't one climactic shot that helps close the montage, it just kind of fades away. Any other montage would suffer from this, but the combination of the classic montage techniques (training with guns, showing progress) with the music and lest we forget, they're all puppets, makes this montage bullet-proof. Rank: 9

Overall: 8.2

Army Of Darkness

Task Accomplished: With the help of the resident artisan, Ash creates a robotic arm and hand made from a suit of armor. Rank: 7

Amount Of Time Covered: Considering that this movie takes place during 1300 A.D. the ability to create a robot prosthetic hand and arm from a suit of armor should take a year or two. Rank: 9

Device Used To Show Passage Of Time: Ash's girlfriend knits a blanket or a sweater. Was there even such thing as knitting back then? Rank: 8 for the tongue-in-cheekiness of it all.

The Music: No music, but great sound effects. Rank: 7

Big Finish: Once Ash's death grip is complete, he turns a wine goblet to mush, much the the shock and awe of onlookers, then he raises his new hand and says "Groovy." Rank: 10

Overall Rank: 8.2

Karate Kid

Task Accomplished: Daniel-Son fights his way up the ranks of the Karate Tournament. Rank: 6

Amount Of Time Covered: Probably a day or two to cover the length of the karate tournament. Rank: 5

Device Used To Show Passage Of Time: Daniel watching the tournament, gnawing at his finger with complete anxiety. Rank: 8

The Music: The song "You're The Best" performed by Joe Esposito helps us navigate through the montage. It's 80's, it's cheesy and just try getting it out of your head once you hear it. Rank: 9

Big Finish: Daniel starts chipping away at the Cobras and finishes the montage by beating one of the tougher Cobras. Rank: 7

Overall: 7

Rocky III

Task Accomplished: Rocky finds his eye of the tiger again through intense training in the ring and on the beach. Rank: 8

Amount Of Time Covered: 3 to 6 months. Rank: 7

Device Used To Show Passage Of Time: Rocky racing against Apollo Creed on the beach. At first it looks like he's struggling and then towards the end, Rocky takes the lead and beats him. Rank: 7

The Music: Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor. Tell me this doesn't reside somewhere on your iPod or iTunes and maybe even on a workout play list. Sure it's cheesy, but it works. Rank: 10

Big Finish: Rocky beats Apollo on the beach and the two jump up and down for an uncomfortably long time in the water. Rank: 6

Overall: 7.6


Task Accomplished: Willard (Christopher Penn) doesn't know how to dance, so he's a bit skittish about the big dance Kevin Bacon has planned. So Kevin makes it his mission to teach Willard how to dance. Rank: 6

Amount Of Time Covered: With the dance not far away Bacon has to make magic in no time. Maybe a week. Rank: 6

Device Used To Show Passage Of Time: Willard has no rhythm. At first, we see Willard unable to even snap right, but after a few scenes of foot stomping, hand pounding and guy on guy dancing scenes, Willard finally seems to get it. Rank: 6

The Music: "Let's Hear It For The Boy" by Deniece Williams. It captures the feel goodness of watching Willard find his internal beat while dancing through high school halls, basketball courts and open wheat fields. Rank: 7

Big Finish: Dressed in cowboy garb, Willard performs a combination of electric slide, disco, break dancing and God knows what else dance moves much to the satisfaction of Kevin Bacon. Rank: 6

Overall: 6.2


Becca said...

Man the montages in Karate Kid and Army of Darkness are some of the best out there. They got it right! Good list.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the montage! Good selection too.