It’s 2015, yet if you go to the movies right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d awoken from a coma since 1993 and nothing had changed.
Schwarzennegger has just released another Terminator movie and the Dinosaurs are ruling in Jurassic World. The years of the Matrix sequels and The Star wars prequels seem never to have happened. On the surface, this could be a very good thing. Hollywood is giving us tried and tested formulas, we know we’re not risking our hard-earned cash on a movie we know little about going in. some people are asking serious questions about originality though and it’s a hard question to ignore.
Many people are asking the question ‘has Hollywood lost its creativity?’ Truthfully, I’d say no. They’ve just re-directed it a little. The reason for this is simple; it’s Netflix. Since streaming TV has come out of the shadows and become respectable viewing habits have changed drastically. The 90’s had one shining light in the cinema and that was the indie-style flicks of Tarrantino and Kevin Smith. There were some ballsy choices by producers that gave us edgy, character-driven or experimental movies. Fight Club and The Blair Witch Project would never get a green-light now. Sadly, neither would gems like Good Will Hunting.
The cinema offers us one thing Netflix can’t, Scale. A movie about 50 foot Indominus Rex needs to have a 50 foot Indominus Rex! It wouldn’t have the impact on the small screen. Nobody goes to see the latest part of the Fast and Furious franchise for Vin Diesel’s nuanced performance. They go for the massive scale car chases that even the best television shows couldn’t reproduce.
If Kevin Smith’s classic Clerks were to be released today, it wouldn’t get a cinema release via Sundance, it’d be broken up into a ten-part series to binge-watch on Netflix. We’d get Randall and Dante bitching about America for ten hours and not two. We’d possibly even get it in real time 24-style. I’ll let you decide as to whether that would be a good thing.
Personally, I love the blockbusters. I’m a kid that grew up in the shadow of Jaws and Star Wars. Yeah, I watched them on home video but my heart belonged to them nonetheless. The 80’s had some great movies but they were equally well-suited to the small screen. ET was just as touching when you could reach out and touch the screen and imagine you were Elliot bonding with a little Alien that looked like he needed some serious moisturiser. The 90’s brought back the big-screen epic blockbuster in a big way. The much-maligned decade gave us Independence Day (sequel coming), Terminator 2 (Oh, so many sequels), Titanic (Come on Cameron, give us a resurrected ship crewed by Zombies…kidding) these movies needed a big screen. DVD in the early 2000’s made people go home and watch movies and abandon the cinema for a while like VHS had done before it and the movies often suffered as a result. Lord of the Rings aside, the early 2000’s didn’t produce many movies that made it into top-ten most loved movies lists. They existed in a time where people watched big movies on small screens and people lost the impact. Yeah, people will be screaming about Spider-man 2 about now, but movies like that were the exception rather than the rule.
Often when a new format has come along, movies have suffered as a result. The reason I love the 90’s so much is that it nestled between an ageing VHS format and the emergence of DVD. People wanted big and they got big. Right now, we have Netflix. The beauty of the current trend is that people aren’t watching a two hour movie, they’re watching six hours of one show per night. This is allowing for a divergence in movie making that benefits everyone. Big movies are still getting made and smashing the box office wide open, often setting new opening weekend records in the process and small character-driven shows are living on Netflix and getting the love they deserve.
The choice is simple for movie and television fans, go big or go home. Either choice has its merits. But if you’re looking for me, I’ll be halfway down the aisle in my local theatre, chucking back popcorn and drinking soda the way God, Spielberg and Cameron intended.