As of the end of 2013 the all time box office top 5 films include Avatar, Titanic, Marvel's The Avengers, The Dark Knight and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. This is clear evidence of the audience growing appeal for Hollywood spectacle. But what is the Hollywood spectacle?
From epic landscape to sumptuous interior; from visions of space, aliens and future cityscapes to explosive action and adventure: expansive vistas spread out across the width of the big screen, their presence magnified by the aural impact of multichannel sound. Everything is larger than life; not real but hyperreal, leading us into the imaginary worlds of the cinema but also leaving us to sit back and wonder at its creations.
The spectacular qualities within the contemporary films that use VFX became progressively important to Hollywood. The popularity of the ever growing special effects has been increased by a growing demand for products in different multimedia forms such as computer games, theme-park rides and many other secondary outlets that frequently generated more profits then the films they were based on.
These and other developments have led some to a common criticism that they are all special effects without the ability to tell a compelling story. Many newspaper reviews of the latest blockbusters are filled with statements that they contain impressive special effects but the film fails to tell a good story or unfortunately there are no interesting characters. Critics claim that digital special effects caused story telling standards to fall rapidly, mainly in big-budget blockbusters.
“the 'theme park movie' – a set of over-designed, hermetically sealed, tantalizing environments masquerading as movies “ ...
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...ted with CGI" (55)
On the Contrary there are those scholars who argue that descriptions of special effects ruining narrative are severely exaggerated. Most prominently, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson have argued in several books, articles and, more recently, blog entries, that not only is narrative present in modern hollywood films, but a specific type of narrative, characterized by cause-and-effect chains of events with psychologically defined characters who act on clearly laid out goals in – prototypically – a double plot-line of main mission and heterosexual romance. Other writers too like Geoff King(2000, 2002) and Shilo T. McClean (2006) largely echo this view.
Geoff King also claims that narrative and spectacle can work together in a variety of changing relationships and there is no single, all-embracing answer to question how the two are related.
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