2010 was an incredible year for movies. Or rather, it was an incredible year for a movie.
Christopher Nolan‘s “Inception” was an ambitious, layered and cerebral sci-fi action flick and there was no antecedent for it. “Inception” was a rare film in Hollywood: a gigantic tentpole not based on a comic book, a graphic novel, an animated series, toys or a previous movie.
There was zero reference point for audiences and more importantly, it was hugely expensive at more than $200 million.
It was a calculated risk for Warner Bros. who likely did not want to upset the golden child who had brought “The Dark Knight” to over $1 billion dollars worldwide.
But even then they had to secure one of the biggest A-list stars in the world in Leonardo DiCaprio to make it potentially viable and surround him with a who’s who of interesting supporting cast members such as Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy.
I’ve been generally discouraged by mainstream Hollywood for years.
I’m not typically a huge fan of Hollywood crapola but there’s still something to be said for a solidly directed, well-acted, slickly-produced bohemoth of a film.
I don’t mind spending a couple brainless hours watching robots beat the living nuts and bolts out of each other after a solid week’s work.
But Hollywood can’t even seem to get this right anymore. The current trend in film-making seems to be borrowing from a more clever past.
It seems that the bulk of today’s films are just a sloppy rehash of something that’s already been done.
They’re turning TV shows into movies, redeveloping superheroes, replacing models and fishing line with computer animation, and re-making classics.
Re-making classics. If there were any sadder words in the english language other than President Sarah Palin, those would be it.
At what point will filmmakers draw the line and realize that some art is sacred. Would they dare to re-make Citizen Kane? Or The Godfather?
Can you imagine anyone other than Marlon Brando utter the the line, “ I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Dramas are going the way of the moderate republican — extinct.
Granted, the success of “Inception” and its positive repercussions may arguably only be felt in 2012, but if you look at the schedule one year from now that reasoning fails as you have 16 sequels/prequels/reboots so far —“Underworld 4,” “Ghost Rider 2,” “The Avengers,” the Apatow “Knocked Up” spin-off, “Prometheus,” “Star Trek 2,” “Clash of the Titans 2,” “Men In Black 3,” “Madagascar 3,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Bourne Legacy,” “Monsters Inc. 2,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part Two)” and Zack Snyder‘s “Man of Steel.” Plus there are six films in 3D (so far)—not a strong indication that anyone is trying anything remotely groundbreaking. And hell, the year, and its schedule is still young.
Films in 2012 based off an existing property? Several including, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” “21 Jump Street,” “The Hunger Games,” “Battleship,” “Frankenweenie,” “Ouija” “47 Ronin” and two ‘Snow White’ films
This trend of herd thinking and playing it safe doesn’t seem like it’s going to end.
There are three Snow White films in development (the version starring Julia Roberts as directed by Tarsem Singh, another starring Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart and another from “I Am Legend” director Francis Lawrence); two Abraham Lincoln pictures (Spielberg‘s version with Daniel Day-Lewis, the ‘Vampire Hunter’ version from Timur Bekmambetov); and two Cleopatra films (one from Scott Rudin as a potential vehicle for Angelina Jolie and Paul Greengrass directing in 3D, and one from director/actor Ralph Fiennes.
Sure original doesn’t necessarily equate to “good.” That lesson was learnt with the wholly original “Battlefield Earth.”
Many of history’s greatest storytellers have engaged in the art of the remake; Shakespeare built an entire career on it, reworking plots from earlier poems and plays into his own works — and he was following centuries-old traditions of recrafting famous myths and stories.
Some of Hollywood’s legendary directors — including Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks — remade their own films, and in more recent film history, venerated directors such as the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh and Martin Scorsese have taken on “classics.”
At the end of the day Hollywood is a business, one that pumps in about $30 billion into the economy.
Hollywood produces a product. Films. And there is only one thing that Hollywood cares about when it comes to films: Profit.