Male-Led Science Fiction Blockbusters: Performing “Faster, More Intense”
Smith-Rowsey counters decades of conventional wisdom by arguing that performances in seminal blockbusters are not “bad” but instead entirely appropriate to certain popular narratives. In the genre of science fiction, ostensibly “bad” performances are shown to emphasize both the theme of men opposing/confronting machines as well as the (monomythic) theme of a rookie/protégé learning from a master, as in this chapter’s three case studies, Star Wars (1977), Back to the Future (1985), and The Matrix (1999). Smith-Rowsey deconstructs George Lucas’ (perhaps apocryphal) singular on-set advice to actors: “O.K., same thing, only better,” and “Faster, more intense.” Smith-Rowsey also performs a limited “commutation test” comparing Eric Stoltz and Michael J. Fox in the role of Marty McFly. Finally, the author explains why the famously under-praised Keanu Reeves was a better fit for Neo than a more lauded actor such as, say, Sean Penn or Christian Bale.
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