Arts Issue: Stacked casts distract from plotline

courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

What do you get when you cast a bunch of the world’s greatest actors in a single movie?

Some previous results include unrealistic explosions, choppy editing, badly made action films, Taylor Swift as a terrible cheerleader, confusion and Cameron Diaz getting a little too friendly with a Ferrari.

Hollywood tends to assume that grouping many A-list actors ensures a box-office success. Unfortunately, although several films have employed this formula and succeeded, a great many of them have failed to earn critics’ approval. Such flops include “The Expendables,” “Movie 43,” “The Counselor” and “Valentine’s Day.”

Most of these films consist of randomly ordered scenes that do not make much narrative sense. Sadly, 20 minutes of exposure to a celebrity actor does not make up for a terrible script and bad editing. Audiences may love Ridley Scott, but his film “The Counselor” unnecessarily tainted Javier Bardem’s reputation with a ridiculous hairstyle and many scenes filled with pointless dialogue.

Directors of this type of film tend to stumble through a haphazard series of scenes, eventually unifying them by one grand gesture into a common theme or aesthetic element. These disjointed final products imply a disconnect between the cinematographer’s direction and the editor’s assembly.

The cinematic failures of these films can be blamed on one particular issue — casting a bunch of actors to play roles in an attempt to maximize profits. A clear example is “The Expendables,” starring action stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li. The end result was a cluster of actors fighting for screen time and thus a weak story structure.

These kinds of disappointing films ultimately break the trust of their audiences. Viewers may finish watching one of these films with the idea that nothing made any sense.

The magic of cinema has seeped into the sewers and its replacement is a multibillion-dollar franchise that fails to acknowledge that it is slowly driving away its loyal patrons. The actors and actresses in these films also make themselves vulnerable to harsh criticism and the degradation of their careers.

Hollywood is making money with stacked casts, but audiences remain nonplussed by the lack of plot value and artistic effort put into these films. Perhaps American film critic and historian Leonard Maltin said it best, “It’s the movie itself, not the star, that makes the hit.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 10 print edition. Mohamed Hassan is a staff writer. Email him at film@nyunews.com.

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