• Does it always have to be that big?



    For the last few years, our cinemas have been inundated with movies designed to be big blockbusters: super hero films, franchise installments, big science fiction films, expansive fantasy films.

    When I was a young moviegoer, maybe we’d get one really big film a year. Now these things come at you one after the other, juggernaut after juggernaut after juggernaut—Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Fast and the Furious 6, Man of Steel, World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Thor: the Dark World, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. Big, big movies, and I’m just talking about the months behind us and the months that will round out 2013.

    Two weeks ago, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas warned of a shift in the movie industry. As Spielberg puts it, “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”

    This trend also has had its effect on local cinema, but that’s another column altogether.

    From my personal point of view, I’m getting quite sick and tired of all the bangs, bells, whistles, bombast and bigness of all these films. I know so many fans of The Lord of the Rings and JRR Tolkien’s work that they bought into The Hobbit as well. But by the time I heard the news that short book was going to be turned in to three films, I could no longer see Tolkien and Jackson, I could only see “Hollywood.”

    My friend Ceres Abanil who grew up reading superhero comics and considered them modern epics, expresses a growing exasperation with superhero filmmaking:

    “I want stories with sense and sensibility, not just explosions interspersing expositions or vice versa. I want characters with depth and development, not just smart-aleck attitudes and slick moves. I don’t need your expensive special effects or elaborate fight scenes which somehow too often degenerate into Neanderthal fisticuffs; those are extraneous. I read your comic books not because they’re about superheroes but because they’re about issues, e.g., being other or mutant or alien or AI or whatnot, the dark sides of order and chaos, the difficult ethicality vs. the cold practicality of killing villains, etc.”

    At this point, the trend does not look like it will let up any time soon. It may be that we’ll have to turn to HBO or the little screen for intelligence, substance or a bit of freshness. Spielberg admits Lincoln almost ended up on HBO.

    I miss when Johnny Depp used to do smaller, riskier, more fringe films. I used to be so excited to see what he’d come up or surprise me with. But I’m afraid the machine has less and less room for surprises.

    I’m exhausted Hollywood! Is this how it’s going to be from now on? If that’s the case maybe I should invest in more TV series.


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