Brass Ring: Achievement, Error, and Amendment of the Hollywood Blockbuster

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Brass Ring: Achievement, Error, and Amendment of the Modern Blockbuster is an analytical evaluation of high-achieving films and their effect on the public. Stephen Rife uses various films to explore the changes made to the modern blockbuster via the shift from analog to digital formats. These changes are focused through a look at what Rife refers to as digital revisions, with a focus on the Lord of the Rings films and the film Night of the Demon from 1957. To understand what consumers want at the box office, Rife focuses on changes in narrative and technology, and the influence these changes have on future cinema.

Humor is incorporated throughout, providing some lightness to balance the technical aspects, with Rife at times even poking fun at the topic, like when mentioning his hope to not anger Lord of the Rings fans. Rife critiques the Lord of the Rings films, which are torn apart with a critical eye and used to analyze success based on its built-in global fan base. The information is complied in a well-organized manner that contains thorough and detailed sources to help understand how changes in the technology behind film and the various components that make up a good film affect what consumers want. No exploration of film would be complete without looking at trends such as the popular superhero films, which are often live-action and have large budgets.

The writing focuses on the technical aspects influencing film, such as viewership, technology, and demographics, which are derived from breaking apart the various elements of film. The tone is opinionated, but every statement made is backed up through articles, film sources, and principles that look at economy and video projects used to revise popular films. By specifically looking at the economical and technical career of films, Rife breaks apart the idea of what it means to be a successful film. Rife uses several notable films to take a fresh perspective on the psychological aspects most don’t consider when watching films, such as the common themes of “small-town complacency” and “late childhood.” Though the Lord of the Rings is the central film series in critical focus, other big-name films are used, including Harry Potter and Star Wars, with Rife even delving into the success of animated films, specifically Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King. Balancing out the focus on successful films, Rife includes lesser known films to show what was keeping them from reaching success, which helps back up arguments about what makes a successful blockbuster.

Rife links modern films to the influence of successful classic films, such as comparing a scene in The Hunger Games with jabberjays to a similar scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Overall Brass Rings is a fascinating read, with opinions not often thought about in that perspective. Seeing what makes a film popular, ranging from Pan’s Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland’s use of whimsical styles to the use of animals, which includes looking at both CGI and live animals. Rife plays on the knowledge of the public and uses a consistent tone and a passionate voice to open up an analytical understanding about film. Brass Ring is aimed at film- and pop-culture lovers who want to learn more about the success, changes, and technicalities of modern blockbusters.


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Author Stephen Rife
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 700 pages
Publisher Perago Press
Publish Date 2019-Jan-01
ISBN 9780998382104
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2019
Category Music & Movies
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