Like many of you out there, movies have been ever present in my life and I’m a huge fan. When I was younger I used to be one of the first people in line for new films and eagerly read up on what my favorite actors were up to. Lately, however, I’m almost always in some kind of time crunch and don’t have the opportunity to get out to the theaters like I used to.
So now, watching the fleet of summer films come and go from afar is a curious experience. Especially this summer’s crop. As I mentioned in my previous blog review of The Heat, I’ve seen exactly two “summer” films this season, that and Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s been hard not to notice all the films coming and going, like cars whose drivers are leaning hard on their horns as they whiz by you on the highway. These movies try to get your attention and do so for a fleeting moment before they’re gone and the next one inevitably drives by.
Given all the stimulation out there, be it music to movies to TV shows to books to video games to facebook/instagram/etc, our culture appears to be succumbing to a new kind of attention deficit. We’re constantly being stimulated and now seek out the “new” thing, because whatever we just saw/experienced is done and often all but forgotten.
With the movie industry, this can be a very frightening thing. If you’re investing several hundred million dollars on a film, you obviously hope your film will succeed. To succeed, it needs to have some kind of staying power. If it doesn’t, the enormous budget is a mighty huge chunk of change to lose out on. This summer, more than others perhaps, seems to have spawned an inordinate number of “mega” flops, motion pictures with a huge budget that met with near complete indifference.
There have been other flops in other summers, to be sure, but Ben Kingsberg at Slate magazine offers an interesting article about this particular group of summer movie duds:
I don’t think there’s much to argue with his essay, though I believe part of the mega-flop problem lies in films that needed far better scripts/stories. With the exception of Pacific Rim, which audiences seem to like but which is nonetheless underperforming in the USA, most of the other mega-flops listed appear to have left audiences and critics alternately bored or turned off, usually because of weak stories.
A $200 million film, in the end, is only as good as the script/story being presented. Extreme action and CG effects can temporarily dazzle the eye, but if the film itself never really gels, then its no wonder people are eventually turned off.