Are The Old Movies Better Than The New Ones?

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There's no quantifiable difference making "old" any "better" than "new". (Three words that are so extremely relative that the idea isn't even worth talking about.)



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
It depends. I would say that there are a lot of better newer movies that are foreign and not Hollywood, compared to before. But Hollywood has gone downhill in quality in the last 10 years it seems I would say, and older ones are better there.



I think you can obviously sift through current releases and find plenty of great films, but at the same time, I think there's been a decline in craftsmanship in the average studio release even over the last few decades. I'm sure somebody has a smarter argument with better examples here, but I was watching the Rush Hour sequels a few months ago (because there's a pandemic and I'm not vaccinated yet and need things to do with my time), and while I thought both were terrible, Rush Hour 2 at least was attractively shot and had coherent (if not particularly exciting) action scenes while Rush Hour 3 was a significantly uglier looking movie, full of bad CGI and excessive cutting in its action scenes. Both are hackwork, but you can see the decline in even hack filmmaking.


Or compare Coming to America to its recent sequel. Even putting aside the writing, the latter is just a much flatter looking movie cinematography-wise. Or Independence Day and its sequel, with its less thrilling action scenes and significantly worse (on average) cast, despite being made by the same director.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
I don't think movies are worse now overall. I just think that nowadays there are more extremes in film quality.

Back in the day, movies seemed to have stronger quality control and since it was much harder and more costly to make a film, studios made sure the film is of at least decent quality, which resulted in much fewer very bad films. Even if you take really bad films, they are still competently made for the most part.

Shooting on film adds to the quality, too. Oftentimes all you had to do was just shoot the film and it already looked OK even if you done goofed on lighting or composition. The sheer quality of film blows poorly-handled digital out of the freakin' water. You need to put ten times the work into digital filmmaking to get the visual effect you want as opposed to shooting on film, paraphrasing Pedro Costa.

Nowadays, there are so many god-awful films that would have never got made back in the day. They just wouldn't be accepted then. Plenty of reasons for that. That being said, quite a lot of bad movies of yore, too, but even if they were bad, they always had some saving grace: cinematography, colors, entertainment value. Of course, older films also have that quaint atmosphere to them that you can feel only now after so many years. But on the other side you have recency bias, so...
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Recall the movie Aliens, where the action starts around an hour into the movie. In contrast, consider one of the latter Star Trek movies, where the action starts within the first five minutes.


In the past, directors had more control over their works, the target was a domestic market, ticket prices were probably relatively cheaper, there were few blockbusters released per year, and development time was usually long (sometimes, three years between a movie and any sequel).



Now, producers have to intrude more because they have to spend incredible amounts of money (sometimes, with marketing costs almost the same as production budget), with an international market to consider (which means making sure that the story can be understood across various language groups), lots of spectacle needed (which helps using CGI) and a long movie most of the time (to justify ticket prices), usually hitting a PG sweet spot, and a make-or-break attitude coupled with the drive to squeeze out as much as one can from a franchise plus keep producing as many works as possible to keep business cycles running (hence, remakes, reboots, rehashes, re-imaginations, retcons, sequels, prequels, spinoffs, etc.), especially when viewers have to spend much higher amounts of money to choose among so many movies while considering just waiting a few months before the movie's made available via streaming or even in a bargain bin.


That's also why many new movies look alike.


And similar has been taking place for television, music, video games, etc.



Registered User
I have to go with old movies, since I'm an old man. What I love about old movies is the slow pace. Things don't happen because something needs to happen to keep the audience's attention. For example, I watched a few of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Jeremy Brett last night, and they were simply perfect because nothing was rushed. Situations were allowed to develop back in the day, whereas now, if you let the audience get comfortable, they'll walk out.



I have to go with old movies, since I'm an old man. What I love about old movies is the slow pace. Things don't happen because something needs to happen to keep the audience's attention. For example, I watched a few of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Jeremy Brett last night, and they were simply perfect because nothing was rushed. Situations were allowed to develop back in the day, whereas now, if you let the audience get comfortable, they'll walk out.
Don't believe I've seen many of those. Will have to fire them up and watch several.

I have to say that my favorites are the old Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce films. Such a great feel to them.

The newer exception was the fine Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch, with Martin Freeman as Watson. I prefer Bruce's Watson, but Freeman gave a nice performance.



Registered User
Don't believe I've seen many of those. Will have to fire them up and watch several.

I have to say that my favorites are the old Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce films. Such a great feel to them.

The newer exception was the fine Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch, with Martin Freeman as Watson. I prefer Bruce's Watson, but Freeman gave a nice performance.

The problem I have with the old Rathbone/Bruce movies is that they take far too many liberties with the source material. They took Holmes and threw him into the then modern times. Then there's Watson who is portrayed as a mumbling bumbling doofus.



The ones with Brett are as faithful to the books as possible, and that includes the characters.



The problem I have with the old Rathbone/Bruce movies is that they take far too many liberties with the source material. They took Holmes and threw him into the then modern times. Then there's Watson who is portrayed as a mumbling bumbling doofus.

The ones with Brett are as faithful to the books as possible, and that includes the characters.
Good point. Yes, the Brett series sticks more to the original writing.