I was watching Empire Strikes Back last night. Why? Well, because every so often I need to escape to the Star Wars universe. I know, that sounds funny. I escape to a galaxy far, far away where they are at galactic civil war and people are killed frequently by Force choking. Yes, events and circumstances are not ideal. But there’s still something about the Star Wars universe in the Original Trilogy (and to a lesser degree in the Young Jedi Knights series) that pulls me into the world and makes me feel that for those couple of hours, I exist within that world. I’m with them on the Millenium Falcon. But say the newest Star Trek, which I absolutely love, does not. I never feel like I’ve been yanked onto the Starship Enterprise; I remain an outside watcher.
What creates this effect? Honestly, I think it’s different for every person. I think it’s one of those things that is dependent on our individual sensibilities. I feel a engulfed in the Chris Columbus Harry Potter films, but I only watch the others. Stargate: SG1 is my favorite incarnation of the Stargate universe. However, Stargate: Atlantis is the incarnation that pulls me in and makes me feel like I live in a different galaxy in the city of Atlantis. I get engulfed in The Holiday more than I do any other romantic comedy, even though the film is full of actors and actresses I don’t particularly like.
I can even say this for films that I can’t particularly recommend to people. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is an example of very pretty filmmaking, an okay steampunk plot, but a film that I watch to be engulfed, not a film I watch because I absolutely love the story or the characters. Other films I really like the set up, and I totally buy into the set up, but by the time it reaches the end, it gets so silly I’m pulled out of the film. Spy Kids, Agent Cody Banks, and to a smaller degree Ghostbusters fit into this category.
I find the contrast of feeling immersed by a film versus watching a film fascinating. What about you? Do you have films/TV that engulf you, versus films/TV that you only watch? Is there a sensation you like better?