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Critical Analysis Of Arrow

4445 words (18 pages) Essay in Film Studies

15/05/17 Film Studies Reference this

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Arrow is a American television series which can be classified in the action adventure genre. The central character is Oliver Queen a playboy billionaire who was lost at sea when his yacht capsized and had to struggle for survival for five years alone on an uncharted island. The series starts with his return back home and his changed outlook on life. He takes up a persona of a masked vigilante and starts to fight crime with his weapon of choice being a bow and an arrow. The series is based on the fictional DC comic character Green Arrow and moves backwards in time as much as it does forward, to justify the actions of the now vigilante by keeping viewers a briefed by introducing flashbacks of events that happened to the “the playboy/soft” Oliver Queen to turn him into this darker character. The first episode premiered in North America on the CW (CBS and Warner Bros.) network on 10th October 2012 with international broadcasting taking place later in the year.

The series being in its first season and having aired at this point a total of nine episodes world wide has been at the centre of a massive cross over from comic books to feature length films that is becoming a predominant theme at the Hollywood Box office. The reason why television series are playing such an effective role in this cross over is because of the depth of the character they can provide over a long series as compared to a feature film.

With Chris Nolans Batman trilogy completed in 2012, the origins of Superman to be retold to a new generation in Zack Snyders The Man of Steel schedule for release in 2013, Green Lantern established as a character in the self titled 2011 release, the stage has been set for all of them coming together in the 2015 release of the Justice League (DC comics answer to Marvel comics ‘Avengers’). The character missing from this equation is Oliver Queen alias The Green Arrow who now stars as the central character in the television series Arrow. Arrow not surprisingly coincides with the 2011 television series finale of Smallville, which chronicled Supermans journey from childhood to becoming a superhero, taking over the 8pm time slot that was formerly held by Smallville on CW network. This has strategically worked on multiple fronts. Firstly it is being compared from the outset to Smallville, two shows that are inspired by DC comic characters which is working in raising interest amidst Smallville viewers and fans, secondly it is showing Green Arrow in a different light than his care free persona which guest starred in Smallville and lastly it has been placed before the very popular show Super Natural, both shows mirror each other in theme of being suspense action thrillers with central characters being hunters.

The core team that has developed the series and has been successful in bringing it on air comprises of Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and David Nutter. The first three names have developed the story and script together or in part, for most of the season, while David was the director of the first three episodes, including the pilot, playing an intrinsic role in getting the series approved. In terms of familiarity with the central character, the DC universe and experience with successful shows, Arrow could not have hoped for a better team. Andrew Kreisberg in 2009 was the co-executive producer and writer for the hugely successful series Fringe and has actually written a comic book ongoing series Green Arrow and the Black Canary published by DC Comics starring Green Arrow. He was further involved in the marketing of the television series when he wrote the 10 page preview comic produced by DC for the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con,, sharing the same plot structure as the television series which Kreisberg commented by saying, “Anyone who grabs a copy: Hold onto it and as the (television) series progresses, you’ll appreciate it more and more”. Greg Berlanti on the other hand has written the script for the movie Green Lantern, based on another DC character who will be paired with Green Arrow in the 2015 release of the Justice League while Marc Guggenheim has written television scripts for e.g The Practice and has also written for DC comics The Flash and Justice Society of America. Interestingly Dave Nutter is known for directing pilot episodes for television series and is often referred to as “the pilot whisperer.” His break came when he directed episodes of the X-Files but his claim to fame are still the first sixteen pilot episodes that he directed which all went on to become series, including Smallville.

From an aesthetic viewpoint Arrow really has to be divided into 3 different segments for a fair analysis which are present Olivers public life, the flashbacks which take us back to the island and the action scenes in which Oliver acts out as the vigilante in costume. Firstly the lighting and color tones in all three are noticeably different. In the flashbacks the color tone turns to grey playing into the theme of his isolation, fear and confusion, instinctively pointing to the viewer that this is indeed a flashback/memory. Then we have the public life of Oliver Queen in which he continues to keep up his playboy fa├žade to cover up his darker alter ego. These scenes are often spent among family and friends or making public addresses, which are all well lit almost to the point of having a yellow tone to them, playing into the notion of the rich and famous, all glitter and gold. Then there are the night scenes in which the vigilante comes out to extract his idea of justice, in which there is a lot of usage of shadows, setting the feeling of mystic and playing an important role in hiding Olivers face, from the villains as well as the viewers.

In the flashback scenes the camera work remains edgy, almost has a hand free look to it while the editing in terms of cuts is very quick and often this technique is used to suggest lapses in time, from passage of hours, in some instances passing of days. The framing in these scenes, to compliment the editing, normally sticks to mid close up shots to extreme close ups so that the ‘rush of the moment’ tempo can be sustained. Olivers public life scenes in the contemporary timeline show a range from close ups frames to long shots. There are a lot of establishing shots to justify the setting of the place from house, restaurants, night clubs etc, also the long shots are used to show the grandeur of the way Oliver and his family live. The editing cuts slow down as well and more time is spent in establishing one scene from one angle before switching to the next angle. The vigilante scenes revert back to the same formulae as the flashback scenes in terms of their framing and editing but differ in the way the camera is handled. The camera are more steady shots which are improvised by use of tracks and cranes but still are very different from the handheld look used in the flashback scenes.

Diegetic sound has been used amply to justify certain scenes, examples of this are gunshots, the sound of the arrow leaving the bow, the sound of moving water in the flashback scenes reminding the audience that Oliver is on an island even at times when the water isn’t shown, not to mention the music in the background from a party taking place downstairs when Oliver and other characters are having a conversation in a room upstairs etc.

In non-diegetic sound, music from other artists is used in the romance scenes and other emotional situations but the most intriguing is the original music score that was composed by Blake Neely. The dark music theme sets the mood for this dark take on the Green Arrow character. Blake Neely admits in a promotional video released about the composition of the music, prior to the airing of the series, that he was pleasantly surprised when the writers of the show asked him to go as dark and menacing as he could. Most of the vigilante scenes and the flashbacks use only the original theme, which plays well in keeping the link alive in the audiences mind, that what happened to Oliver on the island has led to him becoming what he is now, the vigilante Green Arrow.

The critical reception towards Arrow has been favourable with Metacritic giving it a score of 73%, based on reviews from 25 critics. Mary McNamara (Los Angeles Times) said the series has a quality look to it and an interesting setting ,’Smooth without being slick, textured but not self-indulgent, Arrow reminds us that the best stories we tell are both revelatory and a whole lot of fun to watch.’

Robert Bianco (USA Today) stated ‘Granted, it’s all standard superhero stuff but the action scenes are well-handled, the emotions and the characters mostly ring true, and the plot offers enough twists to keep you intrigued.’ while David Hinckley (NewYork Daily News) wrote ‘Arrow turns out to be a lively show, probably better than hard-core “Green Arrow” fans expected. That’s a good start.’.

While there are praises for Arrow by and large by critics, the articles have an undertone of a pleasant surprise like they were expecting worse and I think that worked for Arrow as it took people by surprise, not for being that great but for being far better than they expected. Not all reviews were full of praise though for e.g Brian Lowery (Variety) called the characters as strictly two dimensional and argued that there is over use of action scenes for a hour long episode. He also compared the over all setting of the series and the central character as being a surrogate Batman story.

The most telling of reviews was probably that of Ken Tucker (Entertainment Weekly) suggesting that ‘Your interest in Arrow depends on how much you miss the troubled-in-love, conflicted-by-family heroics of Smallville–it mirrors that series’ setup.’ I think Ken Tuckers review has nailed the essence of the fans reaction to the show. Arrow has appealed to Smallville fans who have adopted it as their logical replacement after the Smallville’s tenth season finale bringing the series to a close. Those who didn’t take well to Smallville are having the same objections to Arrow, with common complaints being of the characters being too involved in their emotional family sagas and their love lives rather than taking the plot of the mystery forward. Some fans of Batman are viewing it as a step down as the background stories of the two characters have a lot of similarities, playboy billionaires coming back after many years to their respective fictitious cities (Gotham and Starling City), becoming masked vigilantes fighting against crime and injustice.

Luckily for Arrow, Smallville did have a large viewership and the comic book fans of Green Arrow have reacted well to the new television series which has enabled it to amass a descent following. Arrow has lived up to its hype through the cinematic way that its been written, filmed and edited. Use of the original music/score has allowed the viewers to follow the journey of Oliver from the present narrative to his flashes back in time with ease, while the diegetic sound is used amply and with good effect in the action scenes to capture the intensity of the moment. If the first nine episodes are any indication, which they are as Arrow has become CW network’s first major success since the Vampire Diaries in terms of ratings, the series has all the potential of enduring against its competition. The co-writers past experience with writing for DC comics have aided them in bringing the best rendition of the character of Oliver Queen to the television screen, while the plot deepening in each episode, with the mystery surrounding his enemies and his past, is sure to keep the audience intrigued for what seems to be at least a couple more seasons to come.

3 ACT STRUCTURE

ACT 1

The time period is contemporary London. The story follows our protagonist Jeremy, who is a successful banker in his mid 30s, coming from an affluent family. His commitment to his profession and ambition to climb up the corporate ladder has made it difficult for him to find his soul mate. After several years of attempting to find someone he lets Tim, his childhood friend, set him up on a blind date with Kelly, Tims neighbour. Kelly is in her mid 20s, a free spirited, care free personality, working in a local restaurant.

Plot Point 1: Jeremy meets Kelly in a local diner and intrigued by her spontaneity is instantaneously attracted to her, as Kelly is to his ambitious nature. Jeremy decides to keep seeing Kelly which Kelly agrees to although deep down she realizes how different they really are.

ACT 2

Eight months have passed since Jeremy first met Kelly. Jeremy keeps falling deeper in love with her and wants to marry her. In the back of his mind he also feels that Kelly might be interested in someone else as she has been acting emotionally distant recently, the truth being that he doesn’t realize that Kelly is scared of a serious commitment. Despite all the troubles they have had on account of differences in their personality, and his suspicions, he feels that if she agrees to marry him all the problems between them will be resolved.

Middle point: Jeremy proposes to Kelly in the diner where they first met, taken aback as she was expecting a more serious build-up, like a formal dinner, in which she would have been better prepared to make a well thought out decision, she is taken in by the moment and decides to say ‘Yes’.

After further contemplation Kelly decides that she does love Jeremy but could not spend the rest of her life with someone so different. She wants to get break off the engagement. Although knowing it will be extremely heartbreaking for her, she is more concerned about Jeremy, as the last thing she wants to do is hurt him.

Plot Point 2: Jeremys suspicions increase as Kelly seems even more detached after the engagement. Against his better judgement he goes through her mobile text messages in which he sees a text from her to Tim saying ‘I rather be with you’. This sends Jeremy in a rage of fury and he decides if Kelly is having an affair with his best friend, then their engagement is over.

ACT 3

Jeremy has an altercation with Tim in which Tim denies any involvement with Kelly. Jeremy then decides that he should call Kelly to his place and give her a chance to explain. He would be willing to forgive her anything but this and wants her to tell him it isn’t true.

As Kelly is on her way over Tim calls her and tells her what Jeremy was accusing Tim off. She is hurt as through all their problems Kelly never thought of anyone else while she was with Jeremy. The text message was completely unrelated to Jeremy and was a joke between two friends on a unrelated topic.

Climax: Kelly arrives at Jeremys house only to find that he has adopted a very cold demeanour towards her. He asks her whether she had cheated on him with Tim. She thinks about telling the truth but sees this as the only way she can break the engagement without making Jeremy feel that he is not worthy of her. With bitter sadness she says ‘Yes’ and leaves the house with tears rolling down her eyes.

For the first time since they met, Jeremy and Kelly are on the same emotional place, they do love each other, but understand they were never meant to be.

Synopsis of the Pitch Idea

In contemporary London, Jeremy a successful banker in his 30s, driven by ambition and overburdened by his work hasn’t found the time to find his soul mate. After much hesitation he lets his childhood friend Tim set him up on a blind date with a girl named Kelly. Kelly in her mid 20s, works in a local restaurant as a waitress and is the polar opposite in personality to Jeremy. When they meet opposites attract and Jeremy asks Kelly if he can continue seeing her to which she agrees.

Half a year later they have grown to love each other but that doesn’t stop them from having major fights on account of their personality differences because of which Kelly starts becoming emotionally distant. Jeremy being blinded by love mistakes this as Kelly being interested in someone else. He feels that whatever the reasons for their problems in the relation, internally and externally, will resolve themselves if he proposed to Kelly.

Jeremy proposes to Kelly in the diner where they first met, taken aback by the suddenness of the gesture, Kelly is taken in by the moment and decides to say ‘Yes’. Only a few weeks later to realize that love is not enough when two people are just not compatible. Although she loves him, she realizes for both of their sake she needs to end things with Jeremy but she can’t think of a way in which it won’t

Jeremys suspicions increase as Kelly seems even more detached after the engagement. Against his better judgement he goes through her mobile text messages in which he sees a text from her to Tim saying ‘I rather be with you’. This sends Jeremy in a rage of fury and he decides if Kelly is having an affair with his best friend, then their engagement is over.

Kelly arrives at Jeremys house only to find that he has adopted a very cold demeanour towards her. He asks her whether she had cheated on him with Tim. She thinks about telling the truth but sees this as the only way she can break the engagement without making Jeremy feel that he is not worthy of her. With bitter sadness she says ‘Yes’ and leaves the house with tears rolling down her eyes.

For the first time since they met, Jeremy and Kelly are on the same emotional place, they do love each other, but understand they were never meant to be.

COLD

CHARACHTERIZATION OF LEAD CHARACTERS IN THE SCRIPT

KELLY JEREMY

OUTER MOTIVATION (Goal) To make the relationship work To make the relationship work

OUTER CONFLICT Not coping well with Jeremys seriousness of life A bit too dependent on Kelly

INNER MOTIVATION (Dramatic Need) To remain care free To control things

INNER CONFLICT Loves Jeremy but cant be herself with him Largely discontent with himself

EXTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT None Dissatisfied and disillusioned by the world in general

SECOND LEVEL OF SELL To bring happiness to whom ever she meets None

TRANSFORMATION ARC From care free to being heart broken (negative) From being caring to becoming cold hearted (negative)

WORST ATTRIBUTE Blunt Controlling

BEST ATTRIBUTE Idealistic Determined

Kelly

Is a strong woman who likes to live life one day at a time. She is 24 years old and has lived in London through out her life. Her blunt and care free nature make it very easy for her to make friends with strangers but as she doesn’t believe in staying in one place or dependant on anyone, she has a way of losing touch with friends, although never on a bad note. The most important people in her life have been her parents, her dad is still alive but her mother passed away when she was 16 years old. She’s what one would consider conventionally pretty, not that tall and has a tendency to act and dress casual at most times. She’ll often be seen in her favourite pair of jeans, a short shirt and a wool cap. She is down to earth but firm in her beliefs of being herself and is blunt, more out of spontaneity than rudeness. She met Jeremy in a casual conversation in a bus and decided to stay in touch with him after he asked to exchange numbers. Over time she has fallen in love with him but deep down is concerned about the contrast between his controlling nature and her care free attitude.

Jeremy

Jeremy has also lived in London his whole life and is the only son of an extremely wealthy couple. He is a successful banker in his mid 30s and ran into Kelly in a bus on the way back from work when his car broke down. He’s tall, blonde and considered to be handsome. He is the strong silent type, who doesn’t say much and feels he can freely speak in front of very few people. His love for Kelly has grown as he sees himself quite differently when he’s with her than when around other people. As much as he loves her he understands that his habit of always wanting to be in control of things is an inherit part of him and doesn’t understand how that would play out in the future with someone like Kelly. He also has a obnoxious side to him as his rich upbringing makes him feel that he is better than the common folk.

He is extremely determined to stay set in his ways and finds it hard to take no for an answer.

Research Idea

(Research on the Project)

Trials and tribulations in any relationship have always intrigued me especially the dynamics of two people trying to make a serious commitment to each other yet failing to end up together when, for all intents and purposes, they seem like nice people in their own right. When a friend of mine from another University in England mentioned working together and wanting to make a short film on problems faced by young couples in the contemporary British society, we got to work searching for material online.

I looked through articles on the internet and some interesting statistics that I came across were suggesting that dwelling over the past and your ex, was a strong cause of emotional stress and depression. According to the 2011 survey carried out by YourTango.com, an online website dedicated to articles on relationship aspects and advice on matters, most people are still hung up on their ex:

– 71% of people say they think about their ex too much; narrowed to singles the figure goes up to 81%.

– More than half (57%) of singletons say thinking about their ex prevents them from finding new love.

Both women and men remain attached to their exes.

– 74% of women and 64% of men think about their ex too much

– 76% of women and 70% of men have looked up an ex on the internet

– 50% of women and 40% of men say they look at their ex’s Facebook or other online profile too often.

I felt the only way to make it intriguing for the viewer would be if the story revolved around everything that one shouldn’t do in a relationship rather than discussing what one should. So after reading another article What Is The Best Way To Overcome Jealousy? I though the male counterpart in the story should suffer from jealousy as chronic jealousy according to the article leads to ‘jumping to conclusions’, suffering from paranoia, putting yourself in stress with recurring negative thoughts ultimately leading to moments of lashing out which make it difficult for the other person to stay with you.

Having characterized to male character, I wanted the story to be balanced, so it was imperative that the female character embodies certain traits that cause the rift between them and blame isn’t one sided.

So the female character being ‘free spirited’ is scared of a serious commitment to someone slightly older and more grounded than her. Although they have gotten engaged and she does love him, how does she react to realizing that they just aren’t compatible in the long run and would end up making each other miserable.

I helpful article on this front was one written in 2009 by Simon Oaks titled How To Break Up With A Man: Don’t Be Ambiguous. The article suggested that the best way to go about breaking of your relationship was to ‘Make A Clean Break’, by not hinting about it but rather saying the words ‘It’s over’ so it makes matters clear , secondly to ‘Be Direct’ and not leave messages, letters etc, but by having the conversation face to face. So to make the story more complex, the female character spends more time trying to break off their engagement by suggesting, hinting and growing emotionally distant thinking that would be a better ploy and less heartbreaking for the male character but instead leads to more paranoia, suspicion and stress on his part.

The feel/tone of the film is inspired by two different films, a French 70 minute film written and directed by Olivier Roberge and Patrick Boivin called Fall Finally that I saw online which follows a couples love affair and eventual breakup. I felt the cinematography for a low budget film, with interesting and crisp color toning and camera movements was inspirational. The camera movements could be done without excessive or expensive equipment and the up and do of the relationship were handled well.

The other is a short film Symmetry made by filmmakers Will Hoffman, Daniel Mercadante, and Julius Metoyer, which plays with our yearning for balance, and reveals how beautiful imperfect matches can be, which has inspired the editing style of the flashback/memory scenes in which I’ll attempt to use point of view (POV) shots a time lapse effects in post editing to make it visually different from the rest of the film.

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