Ah summer! Once again it’s time for a slew of blockbusters and heavily anticipated feature films to battle their way to the top of the box office mountain. It is also that time of year when the enthusiasm some fans have been building turns to bitter disappointment – and even heartbreak. Why did Superman have to destroy an entire city in MAN OF STEEL? What in the world were they thinking with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS? And of course there have been a slew of questions with the recent GODZILLA. If it’s called GODZILLA, why do we not see enough of GODZILLA? While these may be legitimate questions for some movie goers, a bigger question may be are we forgetting to find the pleasure of going to the movies?
During a recent conversation about Gareth Edwards’ take on GODZILLA, a pal of mine and I began a very intense discussion. While we covered a few bases it all started off with JAWS. Do you remember the first time you saw this masterpiece of cinema? I know I do. I didn’t care that the shark looked fake. I didn’t care that the final sequence is an improbable scenario. I did care however that it terrified me. I didn’t want to go swimming in the ocean afterwards, yet it sparked my own obsession with great white sharks. Of course very few blockbusters can measure up to this classic Spielberg adventure. This incredible film changed the very nature of the way we see summer movies. Yet if JAWS came out today with updated effects but everything else the same, would people be complaining about the lack of shark time? Would snide Twitter comments run rampant that the shark doesn’t have enough bite?
To be fair, GODZILLA is no JAWS. To this day, the aquatic thriller still holds up thanks to an amazing script, great performances and iconic characters – not to mention fantastic direction. Yet in Edwards feature, he was assigned the task of making a fun summer flick and frankly I feel he succeeded. Sure the character development is not one of the film’s strongest attributes, but as the Arrow himself said in his review, this is not a character study. Hell, the script includes the line, “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” The characters here are miniscule to what was coming and they simply helped keep the story moving, and frankly I was okay with that. Although when a trailer promises a ton of Bryan Cranston and you don’t get that, you do feel a little cheated. Even still, I was entertained by GODZILLA exactly the way I’d expected to be.
For that film - as well as most summer flicks - there is certainly a level of excitement built up for audiences, but is this where we go wrong? With the constant clips, teasers and trailers do we find ourselves giving into the hype of it all? With social media taking over, it is nearly impossible for fans to not inundate themselves with what is yet to come. A simple shot of Ben Affleck in his Batsuit sent Twitter and Facebook into overdrive as movie lovers poured their thoughts into post after post. Positive or negative, good people that populate movie websites – myself included – begin to base their opinion on a movie well before it is actually seen. As impossible as it may be in this day and age, I still prefer going into a movie with little to no knowledge of what is about to transpire. Sometimes knowing too much can take away all the awe and wonder that is involved.
Some simply say that movies just aren’t as good as they used to be? Technology has given filmmakers the ability to create the impossible. And we all know that the bigger the budget and effects are, the story can suffer from what is essentially all flash and no substance. However, not every movie from the Seventies is a classic work like JAWS either - I love TENTACLES (1977) but it’s far from great. The only way to truly discover the features that will stand the test of time is to wait. You could argue that a number of sub-genres have improved over time. Superheroes, wizards and hobbits have all found a level of success that they could not have years ago. While the original SUPERMAN with Christopher Reeve is still perfection, back then a great superhero flick was rare. The level of skill that populates many of these films today is astounding.
What about the audience? Is it not okay to just go see a movie for the fun of it? Hey, I write film reviews for this site – as well as JoBlo.com - so I go in with the intention to break it down. For many of us, this may be how we show our love for film. Yet, do we sometimes give into ripping apart a movie just to make a snide comment on Twitter or just to feel a little superior to somebody simply looking for mindless entertainment? Or are we just too damn cynical to really enjoy the movie going experience altogether? Has the joy of pointing out plot holes, or questionable dialogue with lousy effects replaced the ecstasy of film going? Or maybe the sheer pleasure of going into the forum section on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB and complaining about how much a film sucks is too much to resist for some.
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but are audiences getting too cynical when it comes to movies? Not every genre, sub-genre or summer blockbuster is meant to be a game changer, but it seems many are treating them like they should be. Clearly some movies are bad and may even be worthy of scorn. I just wonder whether it is more fun to rip what doesn’t work to shreds as opposed to celebrate what does. Movies are meant to be a communal outing that brings people together, not to publicly humiliate somebody that doesn’t enjoy the same thing. Agree, disagree, debate, we should do all these things. Yet don’t forget one of the most important aspects of going to a movie… and that is simply to enjoy the cinematic experience.