The 411 Movies Top 5 01.20.12: Week 305 - Top 5 Most Annoying Hollywood Trends
Posted by Trevor Snyder on 01.20.2012
From the need for trilogies like The Dark Knight Rises and continued proliferation of 3D and "found footage" movies to instant remakes of foreign films and more, the 411 staff looks at the top 5 annoying Hollywood trends!
I think it's safe to say those of us here at the Movies zone of 411 love Hollywood. But, you know how there are always those little things about the ones you love that just annoy the ever-loving shit out of you? Yeah, well, we have those with Hollywood. And that's why this week, Bryan Kristopowitz and I want to share what we believe are:
THE TOP 5 MOST ANNOYING TRENDS IN HOLLYWOOD
5. Found-footage movies
I'm still not exactly sure how a piece of dreck like The Devil Inside had such a huge opening weekend, especially in a season where films like Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Adventures of Tintin all underperformed on their opening weekends. And sure, Devil Inside had a massive drop-off in its second week, spurned on by some of the most atrocious word-of-mouth ever, but that doesn't matter to Hollywood. They will only pay attention to that opening, which of course means we are in for even more of what has already become one of the most tired sub-genres in film history. I suppose I can live with a new Paranormal Activity every year (since even that series has only a few more years before it – like Saw before it – will start to lose steam). But it's the multitude of other found footage films that are started to overwhelm, particularly since none of them have anything new to offer. And how can they? The found footage film is, by design, one of the most self-limiting genres around, having to follow a very rigid set of guidelines in order to feel "real," which in turn also means they each feel exactly like the next one. It's time to give this one a rest for now.
This is a fairly obvious one, that I think just about everyone can agree on. Just like it always had before, 3D has quickly worn out its welcome, although this time Hollywood hasn't seemed to notice. To be fair, there have been some blockbusters that have benefited from the additional ticket prices, but let's not forget that just as many 3D films have also underperformed. And a lot of big filmmakers have finally started to come out in favor of good old fashioned, expressing what all of us already know – if a movie is good, it shouldn't matter if it's in 3D. But the demand for all blockbusters to be filmed this way isn't going away, and it's a concern that should be considered on a pure filmmaking level as well as just being the obvious gimmick it is. It's one thing if a director decides to do 3D himself (like James Cameron), but more often than not filmmakers are now being told by the studio that they need to make their film 3D, which means either they are forced to adopt a new shooting style that might limit their usual creative decisions or, even worse, they will simply film it however they want and then we end up with a crappy post-converted 3D film. Either way, we end up paying a fair amount more for a film that someday I'll watch on a 2D television anyway.
3. Rushed sequels
I understand the desire for franchises, and I'm certainly not above getting excited to see the next chapter in a favorite character's saga. But why does Hollywood seem to believe that I don't have any patience? Nowadays, sequels are being greenlit and rushed into production before the first film has even come out (as is the case with The Amazing Spider-Man). What's worse, these sequels are given release dates – usually about two years after the last movie – which they are then forced to rush to meet. This is a disturbing trend that can almost single-handily explain why so many sequels have failed to live up to their predecessors. This sort of turnaround doesn't give the studios and filmmakers enough time to really analyze just what it was about the first film that people actually liked and want to see more of. What's worse, it doesn't give them any time to figure out what didn't work, either. So we end up with sequels that are more-or-less carbon copies of the original, because that's really all they had the time to do. Why do we need these things so freaking fast? You know, I'm a patient guy. I think most are with me. I'd rather wait five or so years for a great sequel than be given a mediocre one in two. Slow down, Hollywood, allow your movies to exist out there in a public for awhile, and then get to work crafting the next one. We can wait.
2. Instant remakes of foreign films
Whether you liked David Fincher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or not, there's no denying that it exists for two reasons – 1) Because Hollywood can't stand the idea of not having the version of something, and 2) because a lot of Americans just won't watch a foreign film. Both of these statements are pretty sad, and both are responsible for this trend. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these remakes are always bad (as The Departed proved). But, usually, I can't help but wonder what the point is. Why does a movie like Let Me In need to exist when Let the Right One In was already so perfect? Why does The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo need a $90 million budget when the far cheaper Swedish film effectively told the same tale with much less? And now, with an American remake of Oldboy around the corner, it's clear that many don't agree with what it is that I think makes remakes so interesting in the first place – the idea of seeing generational re-tellings of the same story. Remakes work best when they come years after the original, allowing the tale to be updated with new filmmaking techniques and more modern sensibilities. When you remake something that is only a few years old, you're more likely than not going to end up with a movie that feels almost exactly the same as the original. I guess Hollywood thinks it's worth it because at least the audiences will check out the non-subtitled versions. But, personally, I find the whole thing kind of sad, especially since it also guarantees that the actors in the originals will never get their full due over here in America.
1. Terrible DVD cover art
I love DVDs. Even as things move over to streaming becoming the primary source of home entertainment, I'll never be able to give up collecting DVDs and Blu-rays. There's just something about actually having the item up there on your shelf, not to mention all the extras the format offers. And like any collector, I want my collection to look as nice as possible. Which is why I'm frustrated by the lack of effort that seems to go into designing most DVD covers these days. What really bothers me is when studios bypass perfectly good movie posters in favor of terrible Photoshop nightmare, as with the Drive artwork pictured above. Drive, my favorite film of last year, had a number of great posters (check out the more in-depth column I wrote on this issue for a reminder of some of them), but instead of using any of them Sony decided to go with this crap? And Drive isn't alone – go walk the aisles of your local DVD retailer and just take note of how many films are saddled with ridiculous covers that look like they were thrown together in a manner of minutes. Why do studios invest money in creating great theatrical one-sheets, only to then shit the bed when it comes to the home video release (which is what the movie's fans are going to be looking at for years to come?). And keep in mind, people are actually be paid to design these abominations. Meanwhile, a quick scan of various websites devoted to custom-made covers reveals that there are a lot of fans out there who can create better artwork for free. Can't the studios hire these people?
5. Transcending the genre
People really need to stop trying to transcend the genre, regardless of the genre in question, because odds are they're going to fail. Instead of making a slasher movie, or some supernatural mumbo jumbo movie about demons and ghosts and whatnot, or just a straight up action movie with badass stunts and gunfights, so and so wants to make an action movie with a social conscience, or a slasher movie that's more than a slasher movie. And that ghost movie? It's really a statement against capitalism or atheism or whatever the hell the writer or director or actor is interested in. Please stop this bullshit. If you like action movies and want to make an action movie make a goddamn action movie. You don't need to add things to it. If you can and it somehow works, wonderful, but, please, don't set out to change the world. Learn how to kick ass first. If you can't kick ass no one is going to care.
4. Every big movie now has to be 3D
Yeah, I know, Hollywood is in the business of making money, but it would be nice if they didn't make it so goddamn obvious every once in a while. Because that's all 3D is now, a money making scheme. Oh, sure, people like established directors like Ridley Scott and Jim Cameron and, now, Martin Scorsese, are interested in what they can do with the technology on the artistic side of things, actually shooting their movies in 3D, but for every well made 3D movie they make there are oodles of big movies not originally shot in 3D getting "converted" into 3D just so audiences can be charged more to see it. And that's all it's about. It doesn't matter that those movies end up looking terrible. Of course, if audiences stop going to these shitty converted movies maybe Hollywood will stop making them. But then again, we're dealing with Hollywood here. Hollywood will stop making all 3D movies, not just the potentially bad ones.
3. The need for "trilogies"
Studios that want to set up franchises have to stop trying to force franchises on the movie going public. Studios should instead be in the business of making the best possible movie right now and then figuring out if audiences want to see another movie later. And if and when you do that, stop this "we're going to stop making them after part three" stuff, too. You're in the business of making money, right? If audiences are interested in seeing another movie, give it to them. So what if it's part 4? You've already made three good movies, one right after the other, and audiences showed up to see them. Give the audience what it wants. Drive it into the ground until audiences stop showing up. Why is that so hard to understand?
2. The end of home video
No, I'm not talking about the end of VHS, although I will admit to missing it. What I'm talking about here is the coming end of physical home video, DVDs and Blu-ray discs in favor of movies on-demand. Some of us are fighting against it, refusing to participate in streaming on demand and instead buying actual DVDs from actual stores, but we know that, eventually, actually owning a movie that sits in a box on a shelf will become a weird thing that no one does anymore because "there's no money in it." We're going to have to wait for the movie we want to see to show up on a list on a computer, and we're going to have to pay some mega conglomerate each time we want to watch that movie. And it's going to suck. Anyone else dreading this day?
1. The lack of actual B-Movies in theaters
With all of the movie theater screens we have in this country you'd think that more small movies would get wider play. You'd think that theater chains would want as many different kinds of movies to play on their screens to maximize their potential audience. But we don't see that. Instead of having twenty different movies playing at the mall at Cineplex 20, we have five big movies playing on four screens each. That's ridiculous. It's a waste of space. There are so many different kinds of movies out there, especially B-movies. Think of all of the small and low end mid-budget action movies and horror movies that would be a blast to see on the big screen (like a Stake Land or Hobo with a Shotgun). If you live in a big city you might get the chance to see a movie like that in an actual theater, but everywhere else you're going to have wait for DVD or HBO or, if you're lucky, Video on Demand. That's just not the same. Am I the only one thinking this?
Agree with our choices? Disagree? Be sure to share your thoughts and your own Top 5's below. And don't forget to include suggestions for future Top 5 columns...we're always looking for the next great list.