Why Do Critics and Scholars Dismiss Blockbuster Performances?
In this introduction, Smith-Rowsey establishes his book’s rationale, countering the conventional wisdom that “special effects are the stars” of modern blockbuster films. Formal strategies of blockbusters—for example, green screens, kinetic action, rapid-fire editing—are thought to result in “artificial” or “cartoonish” performances, but here the author counters that the acting in influential big-budget films is better and more appropriate than its reputation suggests. Entering into longstanding debates about screen performances, Smith-Rowsey questions the nature of taste and the term “bad acting.” The author examines a variety of definitions of “great acting” as well as “blockbuster,” concluding that the blockbuster mode is sufficient to encompass and attenuate several genres, whose generic codes inform and are informed by performances. Smith-Rowsey posits that filmic performances have three leading determinants: the script/genre, the actor’s choices, and the director/editor’s choices. The author pays particular attention to the interplay between actors (“ensemble acting”) and the double standards that accrue to women in leading roles in blockbusters.
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