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Homework answers / question archive / Tone Exercise --NOTE: This is an in-class exercise that will take place on Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tone Exercise --NOTE: This is an in-class exercise that will take place on Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Tone Exercise

--NOTE: This is an in-class exercise that will take place on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Students who are not present today will not receive credit for this assignment.

--Today we will begin discussing tone. The purpose of this exercise is to consider the ways in which tone and voice contribute to or distract from the main idea in a piece of writing. Below are two movie reviews for the 2012 superhero action movie, The Avengers. These reviews represent two opposite spectrum of voice and tone: one is openly hostile towards the movie, while the other is overly-enthusiastic about the movie. Read the review assigned to you and try to identify specific language choices, wording, or actions made by the author that indicate the tone each has. Then, try to "rewrite" those passages in a way that still communicates whether the passage likes or dislikes the movie but in a more neutral, academic tone.

Review 1: Overly Aggressive Tone

Have movies become so bad these days that a merely well-executed totally formulaic film, like "The Avengers," is heralded as an exceptional film?

Sure, this film hits most of the marks and has some good one-liners, but once we expected films to be refreshing and new. Gangster films before "The Godfather" were just pulp. "The Godfather" transcended the genre just as "Unforgiven" did with Westerns. The same is true about "The Dark Knight." "The Avengers" doesn't transcend; it regurgitates a done-to-death plot. Unlike "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight" was more than a comic book film. It was entertaining, compelling, yet it explored complex moral ideas, and its plot went in innovative directions. Did anyone know that "The Dark Knight" would end not with a fistfight but instead with a battle between the Joker and Batman for Harvey Dent's soul, a scene that leaves it open to interpretation whether the Joker or Batman really won in the end? That scene was masterfully done, and is far more compelling than any sequence of oh-my-god-did-you-see-Iron-Man-and-Hulk-beat-up-that-guy ever could. And did anyone NOT know that "The Avengers" would end with a huge battle, with the Avengers ultimately triumphant? Did you? Of course not, unless you're brain dead or a child, but on second thought that may have been the intended audience for this movie anyway. If there is a single movie ever produced by a major American movie company that is as totally formulaic and lacking in suspense as "The Avengers," I'd like to see it. 

And let's not forget, did you ever worry that any of the Avengers would not survive? If not, then where was the real dramatic tension? One of the things that made "The Dark Knight" so compelling is that one of its two heroes not only dies but is also believably turned evil before he is killed. And did anyone expect what happened to Rachel Dawes, Harvey Dent's girlfriend? Of course you didn't! Great films--serious or fun--must make the audience feel that there is something truly at stake. The only thing "The Avengers" made me feel was that I got ripped off, and that I could crap a better movie than this. I could literally eat a raw chicken and puke up something more entertaining than this piece of filth.

"The Empire Strikes Back," "Back to the Future," and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" were fun movies, but they also had plots that went in unexpected directions, had surprising twists, introduced us to unique characters. The elements I've listed here are what make a film exceptional and deserving of an incredibly high rating. Just a well-done totally formulaic movie like "The Avengers" simply does not deserve the praise it is getting. 

Go watch "The Avengers" a few more times. Once you've gotten used to the 3-D making your head hurt, the special effects, the digital surround sound, you'll see that the film is predictable, the jokes are so-so at best, and the violence of the fights and of the long climactic end battle actually gets kind of boring. 

If you're a teenager still reading comics or a lover of comic books who's always dreamed of watching Hulk fight Thor, Thor fight Iron Man, or whatever other nonsensical garbage ideas float around in your under-developed brain, then this movie is what you've always been waiting for. Enjoy. But for the rest of us, "The Avengers" is not the tour de force it's been made out to be. 

Oh wait a sec. 

I just learned that there's a movie based on "Battleship"--you know, that dull board game for eight-year-olds. I guess movies really are that bad. If you compare "The Avengers" only to garbage like that, I guess it really does seem great.

Never mind...



Review 2: Overly Enthusiastic Tone

I have got to tell anyone who will listen that "The Avengers" is THE best adventure movies I've ever seen. It's almost impossible to convey how pumped I am now that I've seen it. I purposefully avoid hyping myself for movies because when expectations are too high, nothing seems to be able to reach them. I usually avoid the hype train whenever possible. That said, I was jacked to see this movie and was fully aboard the hype train. It couldn't be helped. So, I was certainly open to intense disappointment had this movie not been good. I'm so happy to report just the opposite has happened.

The only word I can think of to describe this movie is AWESOME. It's amazing work and everything I had hoped for and more. It's exceptional entertainment for the uninitiated but it has everything a fanboy could want to be sure. It has every little nuance of what a fanboy wants to see. One of the MANY things I loved was the tension and flat out conflict that arises between team members. It's not a two dimensional "team wonderful that bands together to fight crime ho ho ho." Most don't like each other at fist and there is so much texture to be played. That is great because so many of these characters are larger than life. They have egos and the big guns aren't used to working with other people or even playing by the rules. Tony Stark, Thor and Bruce Banner all work "the other side of the fence" so to speak. Then there's the Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America who are used to following orders and playing within a command structure. They are all thrown together in a wonderful and, best of all, believable fashion. Again, more than I ever dreamed possible.

The entire cast really delivered. You needed more than just action actors or stunt doubles to play all these parts. The pathos is there but so are the timing and true deep performances. Look, I was missing Ed Norton as much as anyone on that hype train I talked about but I'm so happy to say that Mark Ruffalo won me over. I hope he's locked up for the long haul because we don't need any more changes. Three was the lucky number for movie Banners. Every other actor in Avnegers that we've seen before is BETTER than their previous incarnation (EVERY single one) with the possible exception of RDJ as Stark. He's great but it's hard to top his take on the character from the original Iron Man in an ensemble movie. I also have to fully disclose that I'm insanely attracted to Scarlett Johansson. I thought her Widow character was amazing but I'm definitely judging that through rose colored glasses. The character arcs that run there course during this film will surprise a lot of general audiences expecting nothing more than a Transformers type popcorn scarf down.

I honestly don't want to give away ANY of the movie with this review because this is one film that needs every scene to be savored. Do yourself a favor and remain unspoiled. It's how I saw the movie (apart from what the trailers showed) and even though you're obviously reading this review, read no others with any kind of spoilers whatsoever. Experience the awesomeness for yourself. Avengers as a movie and as a team on screen is an unstoppable force. I'm just going to say, Hulk & Thor combination equals AWESOME and leave it at that. This movie defines MUST SEE.

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