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C'mon, Hollywood: Stop ripping off the visual style of other films!

01.14.2014

Charles Caleb Colton once wrote, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." When you take a second to think about it, that makes a whole lot of sense, especially in the scrambling world of Hollywood. When a film is released and it has a specific look or style to it, someone is bound to see it and be inspired by it and they'll, in turn, want to use those aspects in their own films. But, what happens if it goes too far? Where is the line between homage and total ripoff drawn and what does it mean for the average filmgoer? 

Let's use the recently released THE LEGEND OF HERCULES and 300 as an example. I'm not picking on this movie just because it looks really, really bad, but it's hard to just watch the trailer and not have 300 consistently come to mind. Here we have another epic centered around mythology that uses C.G.I. and action sequences stuffed with slow motion to get its point across. What made 300 so cool and original upon its initial release is all being done to death just in the trailer. However, looking back on it all, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES isn't the first piece of entertainment to have done this. 

Movies like IMMORTALS and the television show SPARTACUS have also incorporated the exact same style, visually speaking. When 300 was first released, it felt revolutionary, but the style is as overdone as it can possibly get at the moment. It's eventually come to the point where extreme slow motion incorporated into the action and the overabundance of computer generated blood, effects and landscapes is the norm for sandal and sword epics these days. The subgenera and the effects have eventually become synonymous and what made 300 so stylized back in the day has now almost become a requirement. Worst of all, the sequel, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, will be released in a few short months. Has the style been so overused that the sequel will seem overdone and cliche? Only time will tell. 

Another film that looks a little too much like a hugely successful precursor is the soon to be released I, FRANKENSTEIN. Looking like a massive rip off of the UNDERWORLD series, it's interesting to see that the advertisers are pushing the fact that the new Aaron Eckhart vehicle also comes from the "makers" of UNDERWORLD. This shows that it may not necessarily be the director's fault for a movie sporting way too many similarities to other films. In fact, it looks like the producers and all those others in charge know that if they can continue to release films that are similar to successful ones, they're bound to make a few more bucks than they would've by trying something new and different. It's a different story if a direct sequel is being released with the same visual style (which is actually one of the many reasons I'm so stoked for SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR), but sticking so closely to what made them successful before with an entirely different film is straight up lazy. 

Looking back on everything, though, it's good for things to influence other filmmakers. Every film is influential in some way or another and whether people are influenced by David Fincher or Stanley Kubrick or by a comic book or a music video, every filmmaker was influenced and had their creativity molded by something that came before them. That's what makes it art. Sure, there are some people that don't like how dark superhero movies have gotten after films like BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT, but it's something that I love, so maybe people like seeing the 300 style of filmmaking over and over again in other movies. However, when something like THE LEGEND OF HERCULES comes out and is such an inferior product (to 300 and as a film in general) it feels like a slap to the face. Perhaps it's just the fact that that's how films of that type are being made at the moment and instead of trying anything different or new, filmmakers are sticking with what's most likely to put most butts into theater seats, which is more than unfortunate. If there are any silver linings to be had, it's that films like 300 are going to be remembered. Films like THE LEGEND OF HERCULES and I, FRANKENSTEIN will not be. 

So, C'mon, Hollywood! Let's give each film a little flavor of its own. Something will always be there to influence artists and if that inspires them to create something new and personal, that's a wonderful thing, but if films continue to look, sound and feel exactly like each other, the multiplexes will be overflowing with indistinguishable crap. We, as an audience, won't be able to differentiate one movie from another and who knows when we'll see another stylized spin on something. Whether it's a certain "slacking off" from the creative team or simply the people in charge of production knowing it'll probably make a few more bucks if it looks like another popular film, this trend needs to stop. 

Extra Tidbit: What do you think is the biggest ripoff of late?
Source: JoBlo

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