With the imminent release of Inception this weekend, a film that Empireonline has called a “true original” It has made me wonder, what has happened to the summer blockbuster. In recent years big summer movies have been plagued by sequels, re-makes and well, complete and utter pish.
In the UK the summer holidays are looming which means that the big summer movies are on their way, but this year there are few true originals to look forward too. Toy Story 3, albeit is getting marvellous reviews is a sequel to a much loved franchise. Predators, Shrek Forever After, Twilight: Eclipse, Cats and Dogs 2, are underwhelming sequels.
The remakes and re-imaginings (I hate that term) that we have to look forward to are The Karate Kid, The A-Team and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The Last Airbender, Salt.
One thing all these unoriginal cashins have in common is that they all follow a formula, albeit a commercially successful formula, but it leaves little to the average cinemagoer who wants to see something truly original.
Then we have Christopher Nolan, whose repertoire is impressive. Momento, Insomnia were both two films that played with structure and story. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight took a dying franchise and rather cash in with something formulaic and flat actually breathed new life and brought credibility to the superhero genre that had been going downhill ever since Sam Raimi’s underwhelming Spiderman trilogy.
This year, Inception proves to be a true original. Mixing genre, structure and themes with a cast that among them have more academy award nominations than I’ve had hot dinners. And should the film prove to be commercially successful (I have little doubt that it wont) then perhaps Hollywood will take note.
In 1996, Brian de Palma directed the remake of Mission: Impossible, a film that to this day is still one of my favourite summer movies. It doesn’t spoon feed an audience, it allows them to think for themselves before revealing some plot points, just when you think it’s going to go the other way. But Hollywood didn’t like this, and thus Mission: Impossible II was born, I got so annoyed that it was re-branded as M:I-2, because it even said – this film is going to be so fucking simple you don’t even need to ability to read the title.
It had a good opening weekend, thanks to high expectations from the first, then died and since then most summer movies have been simplistic to the point of annoyance.
I’m not saying that I expect some artsy-fartsy, genre bender every time I go to the cinema, sometimes some mindless action is fun, as long as the story is still compelling and the characters are worth giving a shit about.
But do we really give a monkeys about the characters in summer movies?
Last year, was the summer of sequels – what great opportunities to bring back some of the characters we know and love and follow them on a new adventure;
X-Men origins, Terminator Salvation, Transformers 2, The Final (ahem) Destination proved that it didn’t take a brain to make $100million. What it did prove was the little respect Hollywood has for characters and franchises that people grow to love.
Now, it’s going to be easy for people to assume that I have a bit of a hard on for Nolan, but you’d be mistaken – but his respect for the medium is one that towers above the rest – and on Friday, I hope that for me, Christopher Nolan will save the summer of 2010.
I will post a review shortly after seeing the film.