Where Have All The Good Times Gone?
Am I the only one who thinks that – Inception and Scott Pilgrim aside, this year has been weirdly devoid of interesting or uber-blockbuster movies? Is this the year of lull?
Perhaps it’s selective memory, but this summer’s big releases feel more memorable for their lack of impact than anything else; whether it was sequels like Iron Man 2 or Toy Story 3 (Let’s all try and pretend Shrek Forever After never happened, huh?), reboots like Robin Hood, The A-Team or adaptations like Prince of Persia, Jonah Hex or The Last Airbender, it feels as if we’ve been through a season of almost-rans and nearlys, instead of a more traditional summer of movies that, if nothing else, dazzle with special effects and have people excited at the prospect of seeing more. Even “original” movies like Knight and Day and Salt failed to set the box office alight. So, what happened?
Part of it, I think, is exhaustion; it feels as if we’re reaching the end of the superhero trend (Sorry, Marvel and DC), but no-one has quite worked out what the next big thing is going to be just yet – My bet? A return to alien invasion movies, as evidenced by Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles and in a sense Monsters; I blame District 9 – and so this summer’s offering has been lackluster and scattershot, without any momentum or sense of cohesion to the whole thing. Maybe we should’ve seen the signs when movies started dropping out of original summer dates for later in the year – The Green Hornet and then The Adjustment Bureau – but, yeah: This is the year that Hollywood seemed to run out of not only ideas, but enthusiasm to try and convince us otherwise.
The thing is, I can’t work out if this is just Hollywood’s problem; the upcoming television season seems, for the most part, as devoid of The New or The Interesting as this summer’s movies; shows like The Event or No Ordinary Family feel familiar already, with even shows debuting next year – Falling Skies, the new Spielberg show in particular – feeling very similar to things we’ve seen in the past. Are we at a stage in whatever pop culture cycle we’re in where we shouldn’t expect a rush of original or polished ideas from anyone other than the most trusted sources (Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams… Who else?) – and if so, what can be done to break out of it?
Or do we even need to? Is this the classic break-up situation, where it’s not pop culture, but me? Tell me in the comments: Do you agree that we’re in a particularly flat period of mainstream movies and television, or am I just cynical and jaded?