Friday, August 14, 2015

31 Day Miami Vice Challenge, Day 6: TV Show vs. Movie

Via Wonders in the Dark
I would like to preface this entry with the following statement: I actually really enjoy the Miami Vice movie, flaws and all, just as I enjoy the hell out of the television show, even as it revels in 80s campiness and a general lack of reality.

Now, that being said, I'm about the get critical because I 100% prefer the series over the movie. For some reason, Michael Mann chose to go with the drearier tone of the later seasons of the show while combining two episodes from Season One ("Smuggler's Blues" and "Calderone's Return"), two episodes with a notably lighter approach. The cinematography is beautiful, naturally, but it's highly sanitized, which worked well for Mann's Collateral but fails on Vice. Additionally, the characters are wiped of any personality, from Sonny to Castillo to even the main bad guy, De Jesus; despite having a cast of very capable actors, they are just reciting lines, which is best displayed by Li Gong as the ethnically-Chinese Cuban woman, Isabella, although that has more to do with the fact that the actor - a Chinese-only speaker - learned all of her dialogue phonetically*. There's is just nothing there.

And that brings me to my biggest criticism of the movie: if you take one look at the image above of Sonny and Rico, you'll notice that, while they inhabit the same screen, they are having their own separate conversations. Their relationship is practically non-existent. They kind of float around each other like planets in the same solar system and occasionally interact, but for the most part, the focus is clearly on Sonny and his romance with Isabella. And if you recall, I've already stated that a big part of the downfall of the series for me is when the writers turned Miami Vice into the Sonny Crockett Hour. It works best as an ensemble show, where all the characters - or at least Crockett and Tubbs - share the spotlight.

So yeah, if I were given a choice between watching the movie or the show, I'd definitely pick the latter. It just has its identity figured out much better, even if it kind of lost it after three seasons.


* This movie was released in 2006, so no one can tell me that they could not have found an ethnically-Chinese Cuban woman somewhere in Miami to play this role. 
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