So I pretty much have no plan for what to write this week. I’ve made The Weekend Dump a semi regular posting here where I rant or discuss something going on in film recently. Some weeks there’s something quite interesting going on. Some weeks there’s bugger all. This week we had the nominations for the Academy Awards. I would write a thing about them but I am way under qualified what with my lack of funds dictating that I don’t get to go see new films too often. I actually only saw 13 films that were released during 2013. That’s why my last review was for Story of Ricky. Lack of funds. As I can’t comment on the Oscars, and not much big has happened in film news, this weekend’s dump is going to be me rambling about a few different film related stuffs. This may also because I had nothing planned. Also, I have a headache. Click the link below to see how much of a disaster this turns out to be.
Now a lack of preparation on my part is incredibly unprofessional. But I’m not getting paid for this so I think I can get away with being a little bit slack. Besides, at least I’m not doing another list post. Now that would be lazy film jurnalizum.
You know where this is going.
1: What’s going on with all these superhero movies and stuff?
It has become pretty clear recently that the blockbuster side of the industry has been completely taken over by superhero movies. With the odd exception, pretty much every major summer release seem to be based on a comic or something else that can easily be classed as comic book-esque. Last summer we had Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Thor 2: Electric Boogaloo. Couple them with a Star Trek film that was pretty much intense-shouty-explosion the movie and you’ve got a big gash load of similarly action focused stories centred on people who are beyond the norm. But why is this?
There’s a belief that in times of depression people look to aspirational and traditionally heroic figures for their stories. They also consume a lot more porn. Good for them. This usually coincides with periods of political instability, war and financial ruin. Things that are usually going on around the world all the time but occasionally seem to coincide and align to form a morale destroying shit-storm of gloom for the general populace. Kinda like we’ve been experiencing the last few years. As a result of this our films are showing heroes that never fail. Who are born great. Who save the world, get the girl and revered by all that bear witness to their fabulous facial hair and barrel chests.
Now, surely, as human beans we should be better than this. We should realise that we’re lapping up films studios have pushed to be presented a certain way because their research has told them that in this political climate these types of films would play best. Maybe we are aware. Maybe we don’t care. Maybe the change in the types of films we watch every generation, usually driven by the world around us and then reflected in our art, are accepted by our brains as just another change of pace. Think back 10-15 years ago. Think of the sort of blockbusters we had before films like X-Men and Spider-man kickstarted the whole superhero trend. Our blockbuster films were about normal people caught up in huge life changing events that often left the world in a state of disrepair.
In Jurassic Park a group of people go for a fun time at a theme park and everyone dies. No-one is saved other than the few that escape. In Independence Day all the major cities of the world are wiped out and regular, non-superpowered people, had to save the day. Granted, they had president Bill Pullman on their side, who’s only one step less cool than my President on Saints Row 4, but he’s still just a regular dude. Also, my President in Saints Row 4 has super powers. And wears no trousers. The 1998 Godzilla film, as awful as it was… which I’ll get to in a few months, featured regular guys going up against a giant lizard that likely killed a few thousand people on its rampage.
Now you may hit back at me with films like Fast and the Furious and Hunger Games. Fair enough, they are regular people, but they’re also impossibly buff highly skilled in pretty much everything they could be, and seemingly never put a foot wrong. Can you look at Vin Diesel and tell me he’s the same sort of hero character as Jeff Goldblum or Sam Neill? Now compare how John McClane is represented in the first 3 Die Hards to how he’s portrayed now. I could honestly write a whole Weekend Dump on that subject. In hindsight, that probably would have been a good idea. Anyway, in the first 3 Die Hards John makes mistakes, he gets injured and he relates to the everyday man. In the last 2 he swings about on harrier jump jets and falls through multiple stories of building surviving the whole time. He’s not improvising an escape or running through glass. He’s launching cars at helicopters and coming out of the film with a slightly dirty face.
To me this means that we’ve lost the characters from our films. The blockbusters are simpler in their character development and are presenting us with less relatable heroes so we switch off and just enjoy the colours. That’s not to say decent characters can’t be taken from comics, but that’s not what we’re going to get. Last time someone presented us with richly detailed and flawed comic book heroes we got Watchmen and hardly anyone went to see it. A little effort was made with Tony Stark and his anxiety attacks in Iron Man 3 but he still spent the majority of the film doing incredible things thanks to his superior brain and massive bank account. I’ve always wanted to see someone do a Batman or Green Arrow film where, in this world, the hero has nothing. Keep the basic origins the same but have Bruce be broke. Give him a few close people he would want to keep safe but he doesn’t have the means to rely on toys. Only his drive and determination. In a lot of ways Kick-Ass tried to do this. It didn’t do it too badly. Maybe we’d have more interesting comic book films if people were willing to tweak the characters beyond the idealised designs of the 1940s.
2: Shia LeBeouf is still an idiot who doesn’t give a shit.
Recently Shia LeBeouf plagiarised a great comic artist and writer named Daniel Clowes. He then plagiarised his apology and large portions of an email interview with Bleeding Cool. He’s now stated that it was all part of a performance art piece with a apparent meta-modernist (Whatever that means) called Luke Turner and Training Day screenwriter David Ayer. This is all kinds of pathetic. He’s basically trying to excuse himself from his multiple acts of theft, because that’s what it is, artistic theft, by using the blanket umbrella excuse of his douchbaggery being art.
Mr LeBeouf, you wouldn’t know art if it slapped you in your face. Unless of course that art was a life model decoy of yourself at which point you’d see that the artist had stolen your appearance and thus recognised it as being art. At which point I’m sure you’d contact your lawyers because you clearly don’t understand what it means to an artist to have his work stolen and copied wholesale. It is an offensive and entirely dickish thing to do. You facade of faux intellectualism does not give you a free pass to do what you want. And no, being in a Lars Von Trier film doesn’t count as a pass either.
That was a short rant. Not much more needs to be said about Shia LeBeouf and I’d prefer it if, in the future, we complied with his statement of “not being famous anymore” and just ignored his entire existence. It’s for the best.
3: RoboCop looks like utter shite.
I tried to be optimistic about the RoboCop remake when the first trailer was released. You can go back and read my thing all about that if you like. I don’t mind. Back then I optimistically hoped they’d be attempting to tell some sort of man trapped in a machine or Frankenstein’s monster story and retain the religious elements whilst updating RoboCop for the modern age. Instead we appear to have a super guy in a black suit. He jumps, he flips he does all sorts of crazy stunts and in no way looks or appears to be a man with machine parts. Yes, technology will always improve to allow for swifter robotic movement, but a key part of the character of RoboCop, and for us buying entirely into the situation, is that he at least somewhat behaves like a robot. I present the following clip as evidence of how overblown this film will be.
I rest my case.
Hey, at least it has Michael Keaton in it. That guy is one good actor person. Greatly under rated. Looks like he’s giving zero shits here, as is Gary Oldman, but whatever. They know what film they’re in. I’ll say this, Joel Kinnerman sure does have that generic blank slate personality required of our aspiration avatars.
4: I’m tired. It’s time for bed.
So as we edge towards midnight here in the UK I gradually reach the point where this can no longer be considered a Weekend Dump and, as such, I must stop and post this bloody thing. I realise my superhero rant was longer than the others but it was the more interesting subject for me. The reason for that is simple. It concerned the narrative and quality of a film, which is always going to be infinitely more interesting than Shia LeBeouf or a remake of RoboCop. Good night all. Maybe next time I’ll plan something proper out. Sometimes it’s good to just put random thoughts out there though. So maybe I’ll do this again.