(OBVIOUS SPOILER WARNINGS)
Montages. You know what they are.
For those of you who might need a refresher though, Trey Parker sang of a montage being about “show[ing] a lot of things happenin’ at once, [to] remind everyone of what’s goin’ on,” because of course “to show it all would take too long.”
A montage is an essential tool that can really add value to a film. They’ve been present in cinematic gems ranging from Rocky to Pacific Rim, and give us a peek at a window of time while letting our minds fill in the little details. In essence, they allow for many unbelievable or improbable things, such as a kid mastering karate in a few weeks, while keeping up the pace so viewers don’t get too bored.
So with that out of the way, bear with me as I list a few films that might, let me reiterate “might,” have benefitted from a montage.
4. Man of Steel
My feelings on this film are known. In short, I did not care for it and believe it has a lot of room for improvement. That said, let’s look for the “Montage Shatter Point” shall we?
Honestly, this one is pretty easy. Right after Kal-El gets his suit, cue the montage. There you go. Cut to two minutes of whatever non-John Williams music Zach Snyder decided to go with for his Superman theme and show us a montage of the guy saving people. Show him being Superman to the world.
Give the people of that Earth some reason to like him.
Why this “might” help:
Well, in the film Superman reveals himself to the world due to an alien warship showing up and saying “show yourself or we blow up everybody”. So there’s no particular reason for Earth to like Superman at this point. The only facts that anyone has are:
(1) There is an alien hiding on our planet and shit is going to explode if he doesn’t turn himself over.
(2) He turns himself over and shit explodes anyways.
Now remember, we the audience are not the people of Cinamatic-DC-Earth. We pretty much know his past, his motivations, and how he regularly punches bad guys into space to save the world. However, the people on Cinamatic-DC-Earth don’t know this. They mostly just see that two points on the planet just got flattened by a Kryptonian weather dominator, and now one of those aliens is still flying around and causing buildings to get obliterated.
Oh, and he’s basically unkillable.
3. Star Trek (2009)
So in reboot Trek, Kirk starts off all “Rebel Without a Cause” because of Eric Bana. He’s given a quick lesson in honor after a barfight, joins Starfleet, and then cheats on a test.
If a montage is going to be anywhere, it’s got to be right after Kirk and Spock’s post-Kobayashi Maru showdown. Maybe don’t start the attack on Vulcan at this point. Instead, this could be where Pike recommends Kirk be given a commendation for original thinking and Pikes “reward” for this is taking Kirk on as a junior officer. Then, cue to the remixed version of the original theme (that they used at the end of the film) and show a montage of a few adventures, and maybe a little wackiness.
Certainly a tribble.
Why this “might” help:
It would show the audience at least a little bonding between the crew. Through the course of the film, most of the major characters have some sort of drama between one another and absolutely no resolution of said drama by the end. Saving the Earth together seemed to take place in less than a day, and while that’s a big deal, the crew put personal issue aside during that time and didn’t really resolve any of the space elephants on the bridge.
What you’re left with (other than a giant hole in San Fran Bay) is a barely functional crew – not the family of characters that we expect from Star Trek.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts, about it, Thor needed a montage. Badly. To summarize, Thor was being a dickish brat, Odin says “NOPE!”, banishes Thor to Earth to learn a lesson to get his powers back, Amidala hits him with a truck, he fails at picking up his hammer and is sad.
Now that you’re caught up with the first half of the film, let me propose a montage. Maybe have brief interwoven scenes of Thor getting to know the humans while at the same time showing Asgard being screwed over by Loki being in charge. While you’re at it intercut some bits of S.H.I.E.L.D. studying the hammer. During all this, have some music playing that’s less than full orchestral, especially during the scenes where Thor is learning how to be a decent human being/Asgardian.
Then you can move on to the final battle on Earth.
Why this “might” (actually would) help:
This is how it went in the movie: Thor made breakfast for everyone then got punched for humanity. His hammer thought this was pretty cool, so it showed up. The amount of time that it took from Thor being banished to learning his “lesson” was roughly the length of a Thanksgiving weekend. Giving the audience some scenes that show how he changes as a person would go a long way for the character and make his relationship with Jane more meaningful.
Then, his final decision to cut Asgard off from Earth would look like a much more poignant act and have some emotional weight behind it. Just sayin’
1. The Empire Strikes Back
Alright, so I’m suggesting a slight alteration to Empire. I assume that you have your pitch forks and torches at the ready, but before you brand me a traitor let me ask you something. When Luke started training on Dagobah and the Falcon was running from the Empire with a faulty hyperdrive in the vastness of space, how long did that take? Google it.
The answer is that nobody really knows, it’s up there with licks to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop. While it was probably not too long a time, the fact is that it looks much shorter on the screen. From a quick look. we see Luke’s abilities go from the level of mere party tricks to super-jumps in the amount of time it took for him to get his shirt dirty on Dagobah.
So let’s just pick up from Luke’s failure at the cave. While we’re at it, why don’t we go ahead and move the part where he fails to lift the X-Wing closer to the cave scene? The idea here is to keep scenes of Luke failing at stuff as close together as you can, because beginners tend to fail a lot.
After this, once Luke looks like he absolutely sucks at everything, start a montage of Luke training and the Falcon running away. Williams score, nothing weird, and NO singing. Maybe some of the other bounty hunters caught on to Han’s trail as well. Boba Fett could even take a few of them out from a distance to show that he is relentless and patient.
Why this “might” help:
Simply put, it would make the length of Luke’s training and the Falcon’s escape look longer, which might be better in the long run.