Attention action directors: Shaky cam and fast editing needs to go away

This is my rant to action some action directors in Hollywood who thinks that by having shaking cam and fast editing style will make your action scenes look cool. Please stop doing that right now! Those kind of sequences made some of us the viewers dizzy and a lot of times distract us from enjoying your movies.

I tweeted Brad Bird the other day asking him what’s his take on these kind of new style of shooting actions scenes and here’s what he tweeted back:

In the hands of a talented filmmaker (like Greengrass) it can be great. But a lot of hacks use it because they can hide bad staging.”

I agree with what he said 100%, besides Paul Greengrass I don’t believe any other directors has done a good job of shooting those crazy hand held shaking cam action set pieces. It seems like after The Bourne Supremacy came out, there has been an onslaught of action films with unwatchable action sequences.

I wonder if these kind of style are now being taught in film schools or that the studio big bosses are demanding that an action film needs to be done in fast-editing and hand-held-camera style. To me, it seems some of the newer filmmakers tend to take these kind of style to heart, for example I recently saw Safe House which was directed by a new young director Daniel Espinosa. The action scenes he shot were overly-done with that fast editing and shaky cam that I couldn’t really tell what the heck was going on. Another director who seems to love to make people sick while watching his film is Jonathan Liebesman. I dare you to watch his masterpiece pile of poo, Battle: Los Angeles, without getting a little dizzy.

But the worst offender to me was Sly Stallone, he shot so many bad action sequences in The Expendables that I thought he was high on something.

Take a look at this car chase scene from that film, it was so badly-edited and shot that I got dizzy from watching it:

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When I saw it in the theater, I wanted to yell out: “Stallone pull the darn cameras back and let us see what the hell is going on!”  The scene was so tightly-shot and the hand held shaking cam style didn’t help at all. I love car chase scenes but I was begging for this particular one to be over fast. The sad part is, had Stallone and his cinematographer pull the cameras back a little and forgo this overused filmmaking style, that scene could’ve been very exciting to watch.

Another experienced action director who seems to now love this kind of style is Tony Scott. His last few films were pretty bad and the action scenes in those films were even worst. Take a look at the shootout scene from Domino:


If I didn’t know it was Scott who directed it, I would’ve thought it was some amateur filmmaker who tried too hard to make that scene look exiting. I couldn’t even finish watching that scene, I had to fast-forward it because I felt sick watching it. What’s so depressing was that Scott actually shot two similar scenes in his earlier films, True Romance and Enemy of the State, but in those films he did a great job of creating chaos during a shoot out scene in a tight space. And those films were very good while Domino was an awful movie.

Then there are some directors who’s now jumping into doing action films. For example, Marc Forster, who made Quantum of Solace and most of the action scenes in that film were badly shot. With the exception of the opening car chase and the foot chase/shootout during the opera, the rest of set pieces in that film were incomprehensible. Hopefully he’ll do a better job on his next big action film Word War Z. Now I haven’t seen the film yet but I read that in The Hunger Games, Gary Ross used too much of the hand held shaky style on a lot of scenes.

Another director I need to mention is Christopher Nolan (don’t hate me Nolan fanatics, I’m a huge fan of his too), the man still doesn’t know how to shoot a well-crafted action sequence. Apparently Nolan is the only big name director in Hollywood who doesn’t have a true second unit director working for him. He wants to shoot every scene for his films and so he’s there for all of the big action sequences. I love Batman Begins but I thought all of the action scenes in that film were poorly shot and edited. His style improved in The Dark Knight but some of the action scenes in Inception were so-so. Hopefully he’ll give us some great action set pieces in The Dark Knight Rises. Although after seeing the opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises last winter, my gut feelings tells me Nolan might still needs to improve his skills as an action director.

I think these directors needs to study how to shoot great and exiting action scenes from the directors such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson and Sam Peckinpah. I thought Brad Bird did an amazing job of shooting the action scenes in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, instead of giving us the usual shaky hand-held and fast-editing look, he built the tension up and the results were some very cool and exciting set pieces.

One of my favorite action scenes is from the final shoot out of Extreme Prejudice (which Jack Deth reviewed here), here’s the clip:


The film was directed by Walter Hill and I think this scene should be shown in film school everywhere on how to shoot an action sequence properly. I love this scene and can watch it over and over again. It’s an homage to Peckinpah’s classic The Wild Bunch, which has, in my opinion, the best finale shootout in film history. Check it out here:


Well that’s my rant to Hollywood action directors about shooting bad action sequences. Do you agree that this kind of style needs to go away or do you find them to be quite exciting to watch?

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53 thoughts on “Attention action directors: Shaky cam and fast editing needs to go away

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Vince, let’s hope when I finally get to make my own action picture in Hollywood, bloggers/critics won’t say I can’t shoot action scenes. Ha ha.

  1. It really is interesting about Paul Greengrass and his Bourne films. I am very vulnerable to motion sickness, so I freaking hate these shaky-cams, some movies more than others. But I totally LOVE the Bourne movies. Anyway, cool that you got Brad Bird to give you an opinion. He is quickly becoming one of favourite directors. The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and now Ghost Protocol. All awesome!!

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I too enjoyed all of the Bourne films, in fact I love The Bourne Supremacy but I remember I got a little dizzy while watching that car chase near the end of the movie when I saw it theater. Thankfully when I watch it at home, it wasn’t that bad. Probably because my screen is a lot smaller than the movie theater’s screen.

      Yeah Bird is pretty cool on Twitter, if you follow him, feel free to ask him any questions about films and he’ll most likely answer you.

  2. Like every other technique used in filmmaking, there needs to be a reason for shooting handheld. The “found footage” movies have to be shaky due to the nature of the stories, that they’re supposed to be shot using hand-held consumer-grade video cameras so it wouldn’t make sense to have well-composed, stable shots. However, just like every other trend, too many filmmakers jump on the bandwagon to be stylistic, even if the shaky cam does nothing to serve the story. Traditionally, hand-held footage makes the film more immediate or “real” to the viewer where traditionally filmed scenes are “movie-ish.” The problem, of course, is thinking that technique makes up for good filmmaking–if you just throw the camera around or cut together random shots quickly that it somehow makes the movie appealing. There is a reason why directors like Steven Spielberg or James Cameron are considered the best action directors, because they know how to frame a shot to maximize the action happening on screen. The audience always knows exactly what is going on at all times. The logic is on screen, and we are treated with the best seat in the house at every moment.

    I disagree with your assessment regarding Christopher Nolan, however, as the fight scenes in “Batman Begins” were not supposed to be for the benefit of the audience, but rather were told from the point of view of the bad guys being beaten by an unseen force. “The Dark Knight” was an apparent improvement (the Batmobile/truck chase is amazing) because we didn’t need to have the sense of mystery surrounding Batman and his fighting skills. I’m surprised that you weren’t awed by the rotating hotel fight scene in “Inception,” though I can understand why you may think the snowmobile shootout was “so-so,” since that scene was an homage to the James Bond movies and was filmed like a traditional actioner intentionally. Again, Nolan used intelligence behind every scene he staged, and if you approach his movies from the perspective of what he was attempting psychologically, it would make more sense. Unfortunately, not many other directors do this and just throw incomprehensible garbage up on the screen (the worst offender being Michael Bay).

    1. Ted S.

      I pretty much agree with you there Jamie, there needs to be a reason why you’d shoot a scene with such chaotic look to it, not because it might look cool.

      I understood why Nolan shot his films, especially the first Batman, the way he did. But I was hoping to see some cool action scenes since you know it’s an action movie. I do love that Batmobile/Batpod/Truck chase scene in The Dark Knight. I think it looked great because he shot it with IMAX cameras and you can’t hand held those big cameras.

      I wasn’t that impress with the hotel fight scene in Inception, it was well shot and staged but I didn’t find it exiting, but that’s just me. Let’s hope Nolan will show us some great action scenes in The Dark Knight Rises.

  3. A great and very interesting post, Ted. I appreciate the examples you put forth (I, too, love that scene from ‘Extreme Prejudice’ and the climatic shoot-out from ‘The Wild Bunch’). Jamie’s point about technique vs. good filmmaking I find compelling and valid, as well. I’m of the opinion that it’s an overused trend by filmmakers (I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some producer insisted upon its use to the film director they hired).

    “Steven Spielberg or James Cameron are considered the best action directors, because they know how to frame a shot to maximize the action happening on screen.”

    I’d add Michael Mann to that list, at least for me. I can see the argument for making the case of showing the protagonist’s, opponent’s, or victim’s point-of-view through use of the shaky-cam technique for an action scene/sequence or two. But not for extended periods or the entire friggin’ movie! The other thing is this talent trio understands better than most is that action is itself a choreography. It’s a dance (alright, with some bloody good mayhem to top it off). Ever see a good dance number in a classic film? You’d note it was captured and framed in a way that showed how it was done by those involved — people, arms and legs and all, along with their technique, and in a way where the audience doesn’t lose their way through the scene. Same rules apply for action sequences. This is why I believe Paul Greengrass lost something in ‘Supremacy’ by going to shaky-cam for his fight sequences compared to Doug Liman’s ‘Identity’ scenes, which beautifully showed off the Kali martial art moves of the characters.

    Overusing shaky-cam only achieves two things for me. 1) shows the filmmaker has little or no imagination, IMO — yes, this is a motion picture, but throwing the camera around is a limited approach. Too much of it doesn’t show the audience more, it’s actually shows less. 2) motion upon motion, even if you’re sitting in a movie theater, can deliver something else to an film audience: motion sickness. I, and others, are susceptible to the condition known as Kinetosis. The simple stat is that about 33% of people suffer from this. In other words, the director’s arty technique is making people sick (in more ways than one). Most can get through a motion disorienting scene or sequence without ill effect. However, pile it on like filmmakers did in things like ‘Blair Witch Project’, ‘The Kingdom’, or even the early parts of ‘The Green Zone’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ and you have some turning green, or forced to close their eyes to the screen in an effort to steady themselves.

    I’ve probably ranted too much on the subject. But, these are just some of my reasons I’m not a fan of this technique. Great subject and discussion you got going, Ted. Thanks.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Michael and yes I forgot to include Mann on the list of directors who knows how to shoot great action scenes. Who can forget the shoot out in Heat and last 10 or 15 minutes of The Last of the Mohicans.

      I totally agree with you on what you wrote there and I wouldn’t surprise at all if a producer or studio bosses are telling these directors, you have to make the action scenes look like The Bourne Supremacy.

  4. Ted,

    You’re preaching to the chior about Tony Scott. I’ve been saying he’s the MTV of directors. All style and no substance. Seriously. Apparent Ridley got all the talent in that family. Also here, here for Paul Greengrass. If you go back to the docu-style he perfected for Bloody Sunday and United 93 you notice he just pushed that style further to fit the hyperkinetic action of the Bourne series. Well played sir.

    As far as the Hunger Games goes I understand why Ross shot it that way. It conveyed the brutal violence without it looking look like freakin’ Battle Royale just so they could keep it at PG-13 for the kiddies. It was a trade off even if I thought it was a bit much.

    I thought a film like Paranormal Activity used a good mix of static shots with the shaky cam to really convey the home video look. Ironically the film was actually scarier, thanks to some really cool, seemless special effects, when the camera wasn’t moving.

    John Woo is a great example of a director who shot his Honk Kong action flicks in a 180 of the shaky cam look. His “bullet ballet” influenced the videogame Max Payne which introduced slo-motion “bullet-time” which then went on to influence The Wachowski’s and so on until Zach Snyder officially killed it off with each successive movie.

    Ted, I’m sure you knew this but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a young Sam Raimi actually developed something called the “shaky cam”. On the Evil Dead movies he mounted a camera to a 2 x 4 and had 2 people run behind the actor or run through the forest to give the shots a floating but shaky look to its POV/chase scenes. Even though he called it a “shaky cam” it looks more like a steadycam shot from The Shining than what you see today at the movies.

    Ted, make your own rig!

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Dave,

      Thanks for including that video, I might actually follow their instruction since I’ll be shooting a short movie later this summer. Yeah I read about how Raimi and his team came up with the “shaky cam” for the film back in the days.

      I don’t know what happened to Tony Scott lately, I mean he’s done some good films, like I mentioned Enemy of the State and True Romance are some of my favorite films from the 90s. Guess he’s just getting old and maybe got lazy or just trying to be hip like these young directors out there.

  5. Good topic, Ted. I’ve discussed this trend a few times in the past years with people. It’s like all techniques which become a fad. They get used for the sake of it even though they don’t serve the story. It’s “smoke and mirrors”. Brad Bird is exactly correct. All the close-up quick cuts are there to hide the fact they aren’t doing anything for real. They are cheating and trying to hide it.

    Casino Royale was a breath of fresh air because they showed most of the action in wide shots. You should add Martin Campbell to the good list, certainly for fights. In Quantum of Solace it was the Bourne franchise’s second unit who did the action chase sequences, wasn’t it? The result IMHO was too much Bourne (done badly), and not enough Bond.

    Personally, I’ve always been a fan of French action movies. I think the French do the best car chases, and have done continuously since the 1960s. Remy Julienne and his team were masters. They were called in to do the car chases on several Bond movies. They could even give the cars personality, like in the original “Italian Job” stunts.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Marcus. Yeah I thought Campbell did a great job of shooting action scenes for Casino Royale. And yes the second unit director on Quantum also worked on the last two Bourne films but Greenglass was more involved in shooting action scenes in those films, while I assume Forster probably didn’t really care or didn’t know how put the scenes together with his editor.

    1. Ted S.

      Exactly, that’s why I enjoyed Mission: Impossible 4 so much, Bird decided to not adapt this kind of style and actually shot action scenes that we can see on the screen.

  6. Hahaha, awesome rant.
    What got me about The Hunger Games was the use of shaky cam when absolutely no action was taking place! Quiet conversation? Use shaky cam! Grrr!

    1. Exactly!

      He used the shaky, move-the-camera-so-quickly-that-we-got-dizzy for ALL the crowd scenes.

      Didja see the Ridley Scott Robin Hood with Russell Crowe. That closing scene with the fight on the beach was a great example for making it impossible to tell who was doing what to whom.

      Argh.

      jmm

  7. Yeah, its definitely gotten overused…especially the shaky cam. And while fast editing has gotten a bit overused, i do think it can work wonders when done right. One movie that i think uses it well is Ip Man. In the begging the fights have long takes, using mostly medium shots. But as the stakes get more dire, the editing gets faster and there are more closeups, culminating in a kickass battle scene at the end here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXXEnDLShz0

    P.S I kind of liked Domin to be honest…i mean i can admit Tony got a bit crazy with the editing, but overall i found the movie decent.

    1. Ted S.

      I’ve never seen Ip Man, heard some good things about it though. I’m sort getting tire of Hong Kong martial arts films myself since I’ve watched so many of them when I was younger. That’s why I wasn’t blown away Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when it came out. I saw that kind of film many times so it wasn’t anything special to me.

      1. For me what makes Ip Man special is that it uses the action scenes as a way to set the changing tone of the story. As the movie gets more serious, the action starts getting brutal to match.

  8. Agreed. It’s totally overused! One of the ones that sticks out in my head was the opening scene of 28 Weeks Later when the Infected break into the farmhouse. I had no clue what the hell was going on until all the shaky stuff stopped.

    Controversial pop at Nolan there! Good call on MI4, that was some of the best shot action I’d seen in a long time!

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Pete,

      I don’t remember much about 28 Weeks Later but I do remember there were a lot of bad shots in that movie.

      Like I said, Nolan is a great storyteller and his films look great but in my opinion he still needs to improve on shooting action scenes.

      Yup, Brad Bird did a great job on M:I-4.

  9. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ted and company:

    Superb rant!

    Once a technique has been lampooned on ‘South Park’ (Giant Guinea Pigs), you know it’s time to move on.

    I haven’t seen a decent, well choreographed and cohesive action sequence since the ‘Little Bird Gun Run’ in ‘Black Hawk Down’.

    A film that does indulge in CGI and the half frame out of sequence technique in battle scenes made popular by Spielberg in ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, but very little shaky cam.

    Thanks for the mention, link and clip from ‘Extreme Prejudice’!

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Jack,

      Yeah I love that sequence from Black Hawk Down, good thing it came out before this craze over hand held shaky crap we’re seeing lately in action films.

      I love that shootout scene from Extreme Prejudice.

      1. FUNK

        Ted, I’m with you on the shaky cam deal thats gone crazy, glad you’ve mention the fact and to me is kinda disorientating at times.

        And Damn Jack, you got me again, going to have to vew Black Hawk down soon once again..

  10. I am with you whole heartedly on this one Ted.

    I hate it with a passion now. It is so 2010!! Let us move on and bring back the nice steady cam.

    I wanted to go see the Hunger Games at our new IMAX but I was put off when I saw it at press screening and it was very shaky

    1. Ted S.

      Exactly, it’s so overused now a days that filmmakers should realize it. A co-worker of mine went to see The Hunger Games on IMAX and she said she got dizzy from those handheld shaky scenes.

  11. Sounds like I’m in the minority. I’m not all that fussed with shaky cam. Sure there have been some times where I think it’s unnecasary and just a way for the directors to be a bit cheap and not choreograph a decent action scene. But for the most part it doesn’t bother me.

    I will agree that it is definitely getting more prolific now and there are times when I don’t think it needs to be there.

    It’s funny you bring up Inception. I though the scene in the mountains was one of the best directed action scenes I’ve seen in a long time!

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah like many said here already, if it serves the purpose then sure shoot it that way but in a lot of films, for example Safe House and Battle LA, many of the scenes in those films didn’t need to be shot that way.

      I thought Nolan staged it well but I didn’t find the scene exiting, there weren’t any tensions build up to it. Not sure if you seen Mission Impossible 4 yet but Brad Bird did a great job of building the tension and then pow, he hit us with some cool action sequences.

  12. markuswelby1

    Sometimes as previously mentioned, it can be a good thing. Like trying to capture the chaotic nature of war, but in general I’m a little sick of it. Tony Scott is a pretty big offender in the shaky cam department, but even worse is his whirly cam. Just try watching Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and not puking. Hunger Games had a little of it, but it tapers off as the film goes on. I always prefer steady as she goes!

    1. Ted S.

      Don’t get me started on Scott’s whirly cam, I don’t know what he’s thinking when he shot those scenes like that. He did a lot of the same shots in Unstoppable, just awful.

  13. You got everything right here. I also dislike that kind of style. The first time I saw it was in Saving Private Ryan but I really like that one, it was how a war movie supposed to be. But then it goes on to none war movies and it made me dizzy.

    Great post Ted

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Novroz and yes if it serves the purpose than I believe a director should shoot it that way. But now all these new action directors somehow believe it’s how action films should be shot, they need to learn from the great ones before they starting their own film.

    2. Novroz,

      An interesting fact. On Saving Private Ryan the D-Day scene on Omaha Beach at Normandy was shot all shaky like because the only photographs, all 11 of them, of that event were shaky themselves. The Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Robert Capa captured the only known photos in existence that day. With bombs going off everywhere the photos came out like this: http://www.skylighters.org/photos/robertcapa.html

      That inspired Steven’s and DP Janusz Kaminski’s to shoot the film in that style.

  14. Ted, you had me until you took a bat to Chris Nolan.

    I agree with you on all the other directors mentioned (Tony Scott irks me the most), but to put Nolan in this list is woeful indeed. I think the action sequences in his Batman films have been exciting and visually palatable to the extreme, and Inception wasn’t too bad either. But to put Nolan in the same category as Tony Scott and Leibesman?

    If I had a glove I’d slap you and challenge you to a duel.

    1. Ted S.

      And I would gladly accept your challenge Rodney.

      Like I said I love Nolan films but he still needs to improve his skills when it comes to shooting action sequences. I didn’t like any of the action scenes in Batman Begins but I love the movie, he improved quite a bit for The Dark Knight. He had more misses than hits for the action scenes in Inception, still a great film though. Also, I think you misunderstood me, I didn’t mean to put him on the same list as Tony Scott or Leibesman, I was just saying he needs to improve his shooting styles when it comes to action scenes. Nolan is a great storyteller, just not yet a great action director. Hopefully he’ll perfect his skills for The Dark Knight Rises.

      1. What’s interesting about your views on Nolan (and I apologize for harping on this!) is that you lump him in with the whole “shaky cam/fast edit” school of filmmaking, and from what I’ve seen so far, he’s as far from that as Hitchcock is. Watch, for example, the amazingly executed tumbler/batpod/semi chase through the streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight – Nolan’s use of camera is quite restrained, allowing viewers to really appreciate what’s going on, while his editing is equally as held back. In the same film, his opening IMAX filmed gambit, with the Joker breaking into the bank, is also really well staged and filmed. Inception, another film you mention, has some breathtaking cinematography and action beats (in particular, the well staged “gravity free” hotel combat sequence, which still ranks as a jaw dropper) and is generally free of shaky-cam – and I just flat-out disagree that the action in it was more miss than hit.

        My opinion of shaky cam is simple; if it suits the story, it can be effective. Paul Greengrass has made it into something of an artform, with his work on the Bourne films in particular being of significant note. Sure, many directors since have overused the style, using it to hide flaws and an inherent inability to frame good action (and I add my own “ditto” to the comment above from leopard13 above re his thoughts on the matter, as well as Jamie Helton for his comments regarding Spielberg and Cameron), but a well utilized shaky-cam effect can heighten tension in a sequence or give a scene a frenetic, jarring effect IF IT SUITS THE STORY. Using it just to go all Tony Scott on the viewer is plain old annoying.

        If you ask me, the overuse of shaky-cam has become a defacto style for action much like the Saving Private Ryan rapid-shutter style has for battle sequences. Which, I think, is why Jonathan Leibesman stole that look for Battle: LA a few years back. Using, or should I say “overusing” a particular style results in the impact actually being lessened. If it suits the story or a specific scene for whatever reason, then fine. Otherwise, recognize that it’s a one-trick pony effect and just let the viewers see what’s going on!

        And for Gods sake, will somebody take the right to direct films away from Tony Scott!!!

        1. Ted S.

          Hey Rodney,

          Like I said I didn’t mean to imply that he’s a bad filmmaker like some of the names I mentioned, I think Nolan’s one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. It’s just that in my opinion he still needs to improve when shooting action scenes in his films.

          Yes Tony Scott needs to stop making movies right now, he’s clearly has lost all his marbles.

  15. Fantastic post Ted. Totally agree that the shaky cam is becoming way too overused of a gimmick and seems to suppress the need for creatively staged scenes instead. Hopefully, it won’t become a lost art because anyone can pick up a handheld camera and start shooting crap and make it pass as art.

    You also make a great point that Nolan seems to struggle with action scenes, most notably in the Batman movies where it’s quite often difficult to distinguish what is happening on screen.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, I hope it will go away soon. Just watched that new trailer of Jennifer Lawrence’s horror flick on your site and there were quite a bit of hand held shaky scenes there, even in dialog sequences! That irks me the most, I don’t mind if you move the camera around during dialogue scenes but what’s the point of shaking the damn cameras? Alright I need stop ranting. Ha ha.

      Let’s hope Nolan prove he can be a great storyteller and action director when The Dark Knight Rises opens this summer.

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  17. Sigh. This piece warms my heart. I think Mr. Bird gets it precisely right. Greengrass knows how to employ it to great effect and how to not only refrain from making his editing confusing, but to actually use it to his advantage in the editing room. That’s just tremendous skill, whereas – as you stated – Stallone’s god-awful Expendables does just the opposite.

    I still contend the pinnacle of action film is Raiders of the Lost Ark and Spielberg’s camera in that is SO elegant.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Nick, I especially like the part where Bird said too many hacks are using this kind of shooting style to hid bad staging, that’s so true.

      Yup, I love Raiders of the Lost Ark, definitely on my top 10 favorite films ever.

  18. Jeremy

    Don’t forget this incredible shoot-out from Hard Boiled:

    I love it when I can clearly see everything happening in an action scene.

  19. shawn

    Shaky cam needs to go away. yes, god yes.

    i just saw the the hunger games, it was unwatchable, in every action scene you juste cant see wath is going on . you have to wait to the end of a fight scene to find out who won, it ridiculous. why even have action scenes if you can’t watch theme.

    I loved the the born identity, but but absolutely hated the sequels. i know a lot of you like them, but i dont get it. the cam was shaking the hole time, the shots were to close up frome ridiculous angles, and shifted cams every 3 seconds for nothig and that’s wen there was no action going on. it is distracting, annoying and prevents you frome enjoying the film. i mean if you liked the fight scenes in that move explain them to me, i couldn’t see theme.

    the hole thing destroyed movies of today. please oh please, pretty please, stop shaky cam. if you’re aware of the camera work in a movie, it not good. if you’re aware of it during the hole movie. it bad, very bad.

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  21. Alexander Perez

    Greetings: with me being a genuine classic film lover, i simply wish action sequences could be filmed like they used to be. No action scene filmed today can compare to Epic scale spectacles like the Attack on Aqaba sequence from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, or the incredible Earthquake effects from 1936’s SAN FRANCISCO, or the BEN HUR Chariot Race or even the final charge from the Errol Flynn version of THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (the most spectacular Cavalry charge ever filmed); as well as ALL the exciting action scenes combined in HOW THE WEST WAS WON!, In my opinion, the best action/adventure films were made back in the day: when effects were natural and almost always convincing, the cinematography in Technicolor or B&W or Cinemascope, the musical scores consistently stirring, and spectacle unequaled even by today’s overused CGI. so certainly, i agree that it should be out with the shaky cam and poor editing. We need more John Sturges’ and David Leans’ and Raoul Walsh’ in today’s industry. THEY sure knew it!

  22. Thanks so much for this post Ted. Hunger games could have been a great movie if it was at all watchable. The first film I recall using this effect unnecessarily was Any Given Sunday (which is how my wife and I describe any subsequent movies in this style – very Any Given Sundayish). I totally agree with Jackdeth72 on once South Park spoofs it, that should be a clue to stop using it. Hopefully the demand of the fans will get this fixed.

  23. sheep dog

    Great article. I found the action scenes in Quantum of Solace in particular completely unintelligible. The net effect was that I was completely disengaged from the film.

  24. Keith Stata

    I won’t watch films with shaking cameras because it makes me ill, I ran Hunger Games in my home theatre and 3 guests walked out in the first 5 minutes due to the issue. The concept of motion pictures did not include the idea the camera should be shaking like hell all over the place, that is why they invented stedi cams. I also own a 5 theatre movie complex and won’t knowingly book in shaky films as we get too many complaints from patrons. In Avatar which I consider one of the best movies ever made I don’t recall Cameron stooping to shaking the hell out of the camera to make it look real.

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