In recent years, there has been a major decline in Hollywood movies, not in numbers but in the calibre of the movies produced. Sure, movies that are given Oscars at the end of the year are identified as a groundbreaking works of art, but they still do not appeal to the everyday cine-goer. It’s rare to see a movie that genuinely matches the excitement that surrounds its release. It’s also rare to see movies that every single generation can appreciate, with characters that are immortalized in time, with dialogues that become part of the English language, and with long queues at the ticket booth for weeks after opening day.
Sequels are currently a major aspect of Hollywood movies. The audience knows that the sequel trend was on a path to hell when the The Matrix sequels squeezed all the popularity and the sheer genius of the first movie. James Bond sequels were also indicating that this phenomenon when the movie’s trademark suave and sexy screenplays got lost in the heavy use of violence and elaborate special effects (until Casino Royale saved the 007 legacy this year). While sequels such as The Whole Ten Yards (The Whole Nine Yards) and Shrek 2 were well-recieved, several others such as Butterfly Effect 2, Dr. Dolittle 3, and the Bring It On sequels went unnoticed (probably for the right reasons). Horror fans indulged in sequels to Saw, The Ring, and The Grudge, while comedy goofballs laughed it up with the Scary Movie sequels. Sequels are inescapable to this very day. A definite verdict cannot be given about the Pirates of Caribbean sequels, but the recently released Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was axed by critics. Shrek 3 was saved by the mercy of the kids who love their green knight in not so shining armor, and Oceans Thirteen survived by trading the girls (Catherine Zeta Jones and Julia Roberts) for the legendary Al Pacino.
Then, came the superheroes phase, where everyone tried to make a movie on every hero to ever graze the comic book covers. From Spiderman (the one who started it all) to the box office dud DareDevil, from the great return of Superman to the X-Men trilogy, we saw it all. Hollywood didn’t leave one comic book page unturned. However, the curse of the sequels strikes again and after the highly successful first Spiderman film, the second and third sequels didn’t do so well. Bryan Singer’s X-Men I and II were well loved but the third sequel couldn’t take a stand (note the pun). Hopefully the next Superman and Batman sequels will changes this horrific trend.
After the superheroes phase came the fashion of changing books into motion pictures. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were doing so well, so why not bring all the other books to life? So then there was Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Eragon, A Series of Unfortunate Events and so on. This was not entirely a bad thing, as novels-turned-movies meant a better screenplay then the usual haphazard writing that was witnessed in superhero sequels. While the fans of Harry Potter are crowning the fifth film as the best Potter instalment, yet the audiences await the first of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass, starring the dashing Daniel Craig.
What is possibly seen a quite less of at the moment, is the tendency to make remakes. Indian cinema just fired up their remake torches with Don, Sholay, Umrao Jaan and Victoria 203, while the last highly publicized remake in Hollywood was War of the Worlds. Whether it was, the non-heroic role of Tom Cruise, or a strong actress like Dakota Fanning playing a scared little girl or simply Mr. Speilberg’s alien fixation reaching the tip of the iceberg, War of the Worlds ended up getting mixed reactions from the viewers. Planet of the Apes, The Italian Job, Fun with Dick and Jane, and The Stepford Wives were other remakes. The use of special effects may some enhance the quality of some classical movies, but having a cinematic dejavu every time one watches a movie may prove to be tiresome.
It seems like that these cinematic trends of remakes and sequels won’t disappear off the silver screens for a long time. Therefore viewers may choose not to go for the obvious movies when selecting a DVD for a Friday night. Try out something different. Some suggestions are: for drama lovers Mattew Perry’s The Ron Clark Story; for comedy lovers Amanda Byne’s She’s The Man; for action men, The Equilibrium, for thrill seekers The Prestige, and try out Howl’s Moving Castle for kids.
Have a pleasant movie night!