Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summertime at the Movies: Not this Year

It used to be that summertime was my favourite time to go to the movies. I’d go to the theatre on every opening weekend to see the week’s newest big release. I remember great opening weekend releases that I looked forward to with excitement and that delivered on their hype like Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The Dark Knight. I found the slate of summer movies this year pretty underwhelming with too few appealing and original films to move me.

The summer movie lineup over the past couple of years has been dominated by too many prequels, sequels, comic book, 80’s cartoon and TV show adaptations, and reboots. I appreciated the comic book genre when it made a major splash by offering up some great film fare like Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman Begins, Iron Man and The Dark Knight. But a good thing was ruined when studios began to flood theatres during summer with substandard adaptations and mediocre sequels and reboots. This summer was the precursor to the upcoming The Avengers movie, so studios gave us Thor and Captain America, and also available was the Green Lantern and the graphic novel adaptation Cowboys and Aliens. Add to that the slew of prequels, sequels and remakes like X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, and Final Destination 5, and one cartoon adapted for the big screen, The Smurfs, and there was little left for me to get excited about seeing.
This summer I went to the movies just once and saw The Hangover 2, which was a big letdown. I steered clear of the comic book films because, quite frankly, I’m a little burned out on them. I prefer to remember the cartoons of my childhood as they were – simply animated and classically entertaining – versus the film adaptations of today that take beloved cartoon characters, create a CGI equivalent and place them in a live action world. And films based on television programs have, in my opinion, been the least effective film vehicle adaptation of the bunch. Thankfully, movie audiences were spared this summer from painful, regrettable adaptations of summer’s past like Bewitched.

As a big movie fan that enjoys going to the movies, it’s been hugely disappointing to feel like there is so little in theatres to look forward to. Studios are dragging out franchises to the point where they’re becoming ineffective and unmemorable (like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, for one), and sequels are suffering their usual fate of not standing up to their predecessors (The Dark Knight and Toy Story 3 excluded.) The lack of original material is becoming increasingly frustrating and so is the trend that seems to have emerged – that studios are banking on the safest bets possible by turning out recycled goods and franchises that come with built-in audiences that are easier to sell, and what’s resulted is a dire crop of summer movies. What I hope is that studios will get off this safe track and start taking risks to offer some glimmers of light amidst the unoriginality to move me out to theatres during summer as in the good ol’ days.


  1. i so agree! studios are afraid to take risks, even though they often pay off. the cgi onslaught of remakes are just tired.

  2. I feel the same way, I've only been to the indie cinema this summer, except for Hangover 2 and Harry Potter.

  3. Phips3:45 pm

    Your last paragraph is exactly what ive been thinking and saying. the lack of creativity and original material nowadays is shocking and frustrating to the movie fans.

    i'm tired of hearing about the PotC series..and they keep getting worse but Disney wont stop as long as Johnny Depp is attached to it.

    Lots of these graphic novels and comic books have no reason to be adapted and just end up being awful (case and point, Cowboys & Aliens).

    The world needs more Tarantinos, Chris Nolans, and Coen Brothers

  4. Yea this year's summer blockbuster crop was terribly disappointing. Aside from HP 7.2 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, nothing really tickled my fancy whatsoever. Thankfully, there was still some indies like Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life to look forward to or it would have the most boring cinematical summer ever!

  5. This was a pretty lame summer. Sure, there were a couple of great art house releases like Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life.

    With the exception of the last Harry Potter film, everything else was like eh...

    At least I got to stay home to see a slew of great movies.

  6. @Mr. Jeffery - Actually, no ... most risks taken don't pay off - both in terms of finance and critical affair.

    This summer was alright. Super 8 was a fun summer flick - and couple other crude comedies (Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher).

    Though, some great indie stuff really turned the summer over for me - Beginners, The Guard, Midnight In Paris - all great films.

  7. @ MrJeffrey - I can't quite remember the last great risk, and that's the problem, so few are being taken and playing it safe is creating boring, repetitive film offerings.

    @ Mette - I'm kicking myself for not having gone to check out some indie films this summer instead.

    @ Phips - Summertime is a frustrating time to be a movie fan these days.

    You're probably right - as long as Johnny Depp is willing to play Jack Sparrow, the franchise will just go on and on (and as long as it continues to make money, which it still does, amazingly.)

    I think studios continue to crank out movie adaptations of graphic novels and comic books because there's still a market for them and on account of past successes, but what they just end up doing is oversaturating theatres with really bad adaptations, and it's gotten to the point where I don't even want to watch "the good" ones because I'm just too burned out on them.

    @ Castor - I will have to take some time to check out the indie fare of Summer '11.

    @ thevoid99 - staying home to watch movies has certainly become the way to watch movies.

    @ Duke - I wanted to see Horrible Bosses in theatres, but never got the chance. I've jotted down your indie mentions for future viewings - thanks.

  8. Like the ancient Greek philosopher complaining that the younger generation was ruder than his, the complaint about lack of originality in Hollywood has been around for quite some time (although not as long as the complaint about teens.)

    I'm older than you and remember when they were going to make a sequel to Star Wars and people were complaining that all time classic movies should not have sequels. Where was Gone with the Wind's sequel, The Sound of Music's sequel? Hollywood should concentrate on telling original stories.

    I was young enough then that I didn't care about any of that; I just wanted to see more Star Wars. I've now gotten older and about the time the fourth Rocky movie came out I was starting to get tired of sequels.

    You've now reached the same point where you are looking for more mental stimulation and new experiences in the cinema. I wish I could tell you things will get better. You just have to keep your eye out for the little gems that come along now and then.

  9. @Chip Lary - I think I really started to become aware of the lack of originality in Hollywood a couple of years ago. It was probably around long before that, but when I stopped being excited about movies because there was nothing that I wanted to see, I really became aware of the problem. I think the sequel/remake/reboot trend will be around for awhile, and I've no doubt there will be some great stuff in the bunch, but I sure hope that there are more little gems in there too to at least even things out a little bit more. Great comment - thanks!


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