As the news came in from Comic-Con this past weekend, I pored over every article. Every juicy bit of news, from project announcements to press conferences. And there is quite a bit. Since the place has slowly turned into the Nerd Mecca over the years, all the major studios have been using it as their sounding board to spread word about all the latest and upcoming geek properties. And since geeks have pretty much taken over mainstream culture, particularly the movie industry, there are quite a lot of projects that get a mention.
To my confusion and dismay, I found myself mostly unmoved by what was presented.
There were a couple exciting tidbits: Guillermo del Toro producing a new movie based on Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride; Likewise, the other movie Guillermo produced, entitled Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, sounds really neat; And the footage shown from projects like The Walking Dead and Drive Angry showed a lot of potential.
But the big, epic projects on display? Meh. I just can’t get too excited about most of them. And I’m having a hard time deciding whether it’s me that’s changed, or that the projects are just getting less interesting.
So, you’ve got Sucker Punch. What can be said about Zack Snyder movies that hasn’t already been argued ad nauseum? He makes the hardcore nerds in the audience shout “Cool!”, while simultaneously making the chach next to him text “Cool, bro” on his new iPhone. Meanwhile, I relegate myself to the lobby and try to simulate the experience by downing twenty packs of pixie sticks while reading early 90’s Rob Liefeld comics. So, you’ve got this chick in a mental institution (SPOILERS!!! Bitch crazy.), and she imagines herself in her underwear fighting ninjas, dinosaurs and robots. That does seem to hit all of the popular nerd fetishes. Unfortunately, this is all done through the eyes of the ever popular “unreliable narrator”, so I’m going to guess that the pre and post historic creatures will be completely contextless, and therefore no more substantial to me than Hanoi Xan. I enjoyed 300 and Watchmen for what they were; Ridiculous, propulsive, and ultimately hollow. But “excited” is not something that I feel towards his projects.
The Marvel empire. It’s every boy’s dream, I suppose. “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a Hulk movie, and then a Thor movie, and then. . . They could do an AVENGERS movie!!! :-)”. Except that in the real life version you’ve got an Iron Man movie that was. . . ok. A Hulk movie that was, um, “serviceable”? And an Iron Man 2 in which virtually nothing happened, and it was mostly an advertisement for the Avengers film. Plus, you’ve got Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh (Who’s last big Hollywood effort was Frankenstein. Bleh!), Captain America directed by Joe Johnston (A fairly decent director, but one with a track record of flawed films) and the all mighty Avengers movie helmed by the director of . . . Serenity?!?!! And the problem with fan service is that these will be so damn accurate to the comics, that we can essentially guess at least all of the major strokes that will happen in the plot. Captain America fights the Red Skull, Captain America gets trapped in ice, etc.
Cowboys & Aliens? Again, not that big a fan of Iron Man, or any other Favreau movie. Pirates 4? I’ll see it, but why pick Rob Marshall?! Green Lantern? Don’t think the concept will translate well to screen; the only incarnation of Green Lantern that I actually liked was Kyle Rayner; and Martin Campbell is much better with “grim and gritty” than “costumed and silly” (See; Zorro films). Tron 2? Maybe, but it kinda looks like they sucked all of the fun out of the concept. I hope to be proven wrong on that one. Let Me In? I’ve seen it already. Twice in the theater, in fact. They’re just re-releasing it in english.
It is me. It has to be me. Movies, at least a sizable portion of them, have always been this generic. I just seem to have less and less of a tolerance for it.
It doesn’t help when I watch movies like Drag Me To Hell or Inception, and I can readily point my finger at an outstanding product that not only entertains, but actually goes above and beyond our expectations. Hell, I’d even take an “interesting failure” at this point. Everything coming out just feels so safe. So anemic.
This is the danger of wishing; Sometimes you get what you want. The geeks have been wanting Hollywood to make movies their way for years, and now, in no small part thanks to internet criticism, we have some power. But Hollywood seems to just be giving us exactly what we demand, instead of what we need. The fans demand Venom in Spiderman 3? Tell them to go fuck themselves, because Venom is a terrible character that doesn’t fit comfortably into the universe established in the films. The fans want a Predator sequel that’s even more devoid of plot than the original film? Tell them to stay home and play video games instead.
I’m still a nerd, and it pains me to hate on nerd movies. But I know, deep down, that we can do better.