- Matt van Onselen -
Here are some of 2013’s most anticipated movies: Les Miserables, Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger. Amongst these you will find a sequel, an adaptation from theatre to film, a film based on a book, a “relaunched” film franchise and a film inspired by a television show.
Now, I’m all for a trip to the movies to catch up with the familiar, but it does seem that remakes, sequels and re-imaginations are all Hollywood can produce these days. Are filmmakers beginning to run out of ideas?
The answer is no. It’s not the filmmakers who are lacking in imagination – it’s us!
Humans are suckers for the familiar. I know I am; that’s why I’ll probably go watch Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard – merely just to hear a reference to the meaningless catch phrase “Yipikaye, mother*cker”. That’s why I’ll go watch Superman 6: Man of Steel – because I want to see how the new Superman copes with tucking his underpants in for a change.
We want what we know – storylines, heroes, villains and dialogue. This explains the relief and joy expressed at James Bond 23: Skyfall, where the writers finally ditched any attempt to be original and reverted back to predictable one-liners and shoving all the old characters back into the franchise.
But all of this reminds me of the old man who has ordered the same ham and cheese sandwich every lunchtime for 40 years. Our insatiable appetite for what we already know robs us of opportunities to try something new. Isn’t that enough motivation to change?
The demand for the familiar has gone to ridiculous lengths. This year, two anticipated movies are Top Gun and Jurassic Park – and they’re not even remakes! They’re old movies shown now in 3D, which, in case you haven’t experienced 3D, basically just means watching the movie with sunglasses on.
Then there was the Spiderman franchise, which seemed to be relaunched before the third movie was even off circuit. This is a new pressure placed on filmmakers – you better do a good job, or in one year’s time we’re going to show you how it’s really done.
It’s a shame, but it seems that most original films are now labeled as “art” films and appear on the Cinema Nouveau circuit. That means that “mainstream” audiences are only willing to deal with what they know. This in turns implies that we are a species that is only really happy when we order the ham and cheese sandwich every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love ham and cheese. But let’s not become consumed by ham and cheese, making sequels involving ham and cheese, or “relaunching” ham and cheese for the new generation. From time to time, let’s look at the rest of the menu.