Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Summertime at the Movies: Not this Year
Posted by JBT
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.
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.