Source Code is the best reviewed studio movie of the year so far and why that's great news
SOURCE CODE, the second film from auteur-in-the-making Duncan Jones, hits theaters tomorrow and currently stands atop Rotten Tomatoes as the best reviewed movie of 2011 with an impressive 93% approval rating. While this may change slightly in the next day or so as new reviews come in (there are currently 68 reviews counted), this is very exciting news, and not just because we love Duncan Jones (though we do love him).
SOURCE CODE is based off a 2007 spec script by Ben Ripley that landed itself on the Black List as one of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. It's rare enough that a spec script for a big-budget action film gets picked up and actually produced by a major studio and for that alone we should be excited. But Summit Pictures is actually seeing a major return on their investment with the news that original genre content is well-received by US audiences and critics. And this is really exciting.
We often bitch about the glut of sequels and reboots and adaptations yet we wind up paying our money to see all these movies. With SOURCE CODE, we have a talented director bringing us original genre content; somewhat reminiscent of what Christopher Nolan did with INCEPTION. (And if you think that SOURCE CODE is an aberration, look at the film directly underneath it on Rotten Tomatoes: RANGO. Another original story told by a talented director.) As these films succeed and films like RED RIDING HOOD, I AM NUMBER FOUR and TRON: LEGACY stumble, hopefully more studios will take chances on original content and the balance will start to shift.
What the success of SOURCE CODE, critical and/or commercial, allows is the further development of Duncan Jones. MOON is one of the best sci-fi films in many, many years and it proved he's a director with ideas, not just the ability to work a camera. I was thrilled when Jones passed on the SUPERMAN gig because, frankly, who wants to see Duncan Jones waste his considerable talent on a SUPERMAN movie? I'd be interested to see what he could come up with, but I'd rather see what else he could come up with. (I feel the same way about Edgar Wright and ANT MAN.) Why limit Duncan Jones to Metropolis?
I'm not advocating a swift death to all sequels or adaptations because Lord knows I'm looking forward to CAPTAIN AMERICA and RISE OF THE APES and other known properties. But in a year that also sees the release of SUPER 8, BRIDESMAIDS, THE BEAVER and YOUR HIGHNESS - all exceptional and original movies made within the studio system - could SOURCE CODE be the start of something new?
I don't want to shill for a Movie A or Movie B or tell you what you should be spending your hard-earned money on, but it's great to see audiences and critics showing support for movies like SOURCE CODE. And if you're sick of movies like SUCKER PUNCH that insult your intelligence, you owe it to yourself to support original films when they come your way. It's great for writers, it's great for cinema and, maybe most importantly, it's great for you.