The shortage of original ideas in Hollywood is not a new issue. Hollywood blockbusters have long followed standard plotlines proven to generate excitement and revenue. Don’t get me wrong, indie movies and indie theaters will always reside in the warm, enriching, nacho supreme depths of my movie heart. But that does not mean that I am satisfied with the billions of dollars in resources Hollywood is wasting on leftover broccoli casserole lathered in recycled ideas and characters. I fell in love with movies because they have capacity to snap my semi-charmed life in half. Movies take you somewhere you can never go, make you someone you will never be. They touch emotions, remind you how you want to live your life, and give you a fresh perspective. My favorite movies are the ones that stick with you long after the bright sun tries to burn them out the second you walk out of the movie theater. Enough rambling, the following are some of the movies released this year that were either prequels, sequels, or remakes.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Men in Black 3
The Amazing Spiderman
Ice Age: Continental Drift
The Dark Knight Rises
Step Up: Revolution
The Bourne Legacy
The Expendables 2
GI Joe 2: Retaliation
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
21 Jump Street
Wrath of the Titans
The Avengers (debatable I suppose)
It should be said that I did accept much delight from a lot of the films on this list and a lot of the movies that came out this summer (Savages/Magic Mike). Just because it is a sequel or remake does not mean it is a bad movie. And of course everyone has different movie tastes which is a great great thing. I just have this deep innate desire to experience something new when I watch a film. When I predict the end of a movie the little kid in me dies a slow broken misfit toy’s death.
The lack of originality in Hollywood is not entirely based in sequels and remakes. It seeps through the cracks of many original films as well. I’m talking about more than just the old faithful happy ending. I’m not so naive that I expect the mainstream to be as morbid as me and enjoy shocking, heartbreaking, realistic film endings. I’m talking about the comedy curve, the damsel in distress, freak accident amnesia, love triangles, societal stereotypes, etc. There are so many movie clichés that it is hard blame filmmakers for not being able to avoid them.
The major movie labels are not entirely to blame for this. The audience wants what it wants. If the majority of watchers loved indie movies they would not be indie movies anymore. Of the top ten highest grossing movies of 2012 only Brave and The Hunger Games aren’t sequels or remakes. And Brave is the only original story. The masses of men live lives of quiet Hollywood obedience. What we need is a social media call to action. Hollywood will continue to spoonfeed Sex and the City sequels and spandex heroes until the masses say otherwise.
This is the part of the article where I second-guess everything. Am I just mocking human nature? Movies are designed to be exciting and heart wrenching. How dare I condemn last second heroics and impossible love stories.
“The Good Guys”
There are many alternatives for people who want something more than the Hollywood grind. One of my personal favorites is foreign films. Even though the United States leads the world in motion picture exports, the rest of the world can hold their own. European cinema in particular strikes me as grittier and edgier than most of the American fare. Check out “City of God”, “The Lives of Others” and “REC”.
Indie films, low budget flicks, have been a staple in American cinema since there was an American cinema. There will always be filmmakers making movies with whatever means they can come up with in any creative direction they choose. The Sundance Film Festival does an amazing job of holding it down for the underground and recognizes excellence year after year. Some of my favorite low budget films include “In Bruges” and “Garden State”.
The website kickstarter.com recently made its way into my crosshairs from the Ouya project. Kickstarter is a crowd funding website for creative projects. Anyone can post a video on kickstarter about a film idea and raise money from the online community to bring their dream to reality. Kickstarter is a fantastic resource that I expect to bring countless sublime films to reality in the future.
This was just my take on the lack of originality in Hollywood. I have been a movie fan all my life and the older I get the more classics and hidden gems I discover. The downside is that movies do not feel as fresh to me as they did when I was a boy Arnold manhandle terminators for the first time.
I am eager to hear how the BananaScoop community feels about these issues. Is Hollywood to far down the rabbit hole? Can original films generate the same excitement as proven franchises? What are the biggest challenges? Please comment your feelings, observations, and recommendations!