Op/Ed: The Blockbuster Blues - Fighting Fanboy Fatigue
by Michael Avila
Date: 31 July 2008 Time: 12:35 PM ET
With Hollywood barreling through another record-breaking summer, a capes loving, explosion-crazy geek such as me should be feeling as full and satisfied as I usually do after Thanksgiving dinner.That’s how I should feel. Instead, I’m flat-out exhausted from the unending stream of huge films crowding the multiplex. Every week, it’s an epic battle between good and evil, with deadly menaces, massive battles, and destruction on a biblical scale. Enough with the blockbusters already!!
After watching The Dark Knight – and after having returned from covering the fanboy debauchery that is the San Diego Comic-Con -- I can officially say my summer movie season is done. And it’s certainly not TDK’s fault. The film is fantastic. So fantastic in fact, that I’ve seen it twice on IMAX screens. Problem is, I walked out of the theater drained. Not because of the 152 minute running time. Because after Iron Man, Prince Caspian, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, Hancock, The X-Files: I Want To Believe and every other effects-laden production I’ve seen the past few months, I’m done. DONE. The only thing that disturbs me more than my diminished excitement over these big popcorn flicks is that we still have The Mummy 3, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Death Race and Babylon A.D. before the summer finally wraps up. When Luisa Avila’s son can’t get worked up about a Star Wars movie – ANY Star Wars movie – there’s something wrong. There were certain scenes in TDK that should have made my jaw drop – like the Hong Kong sequence. But my jaw stayed in place, despite Chris Nolan’s best efforts. I took that to mean that after seeing so many grandly-staged sequences in films the past 2 1/2 months, being impressed is about all I can manage. What I wouldn’t do for an indie film or two about corrupt cops or quirky couples who live in a Manhattan walkup. Something, anything without CGI, superpowers, or a fight scene shot in Shaky-Cam. [So CGI-weary am I that I walked out at the end of a recent Mamma Mia! screening feeling way more entertained than I had any right to be. Every week since Iron Man stormed out of the gate on May 2nd, it has been one behemoth after another. It should be noted that outside of Speed Racer there hasn’t been a critical or commercial stinker among the heavy hitters (although I’m sure Disney expected more $$ from the Narnia sequel). It’s not the quality I’m complaining about. It’s the quantity. I now know the price we fanboys must pay for rising to the top of the Pop Culturesphere hierarchy. We’ve been desensitized to the spectacular, novocained to the fantastic. I know how ungrateful I sound. Self-destructive, too, considering I run a TV show that reviews the biggest and best Hollywood has to offer each week. And don’t doubt my Geek cred. If it has anything to do with capes, worm holes, evil wizards, or lots of Big Boom, there’s a better-than-good chance I like it. But part of the fun for me has always been the anticipation and buildup surrounding these types of films. When films like Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Lord of the Rings opened, it was like the Super Bowl. Big. Huge. Special. We talked about them, relived certain scenes for days and even weeks later. Today we forget about them in a week as we get caught up in the hype surrounding THE NEXT BIG THING. You can only have your mind blown so many times before you get used to the breeze, know what I mean? Obviously, The Dark Knight and Iron Man were exceptions. Both were extraordinary. [Sex and the City was a phenomena as well, but we'll stick to movies we admit to seeing without pressure from our wives/girlfriends.] Indy 4 had more anticipation than any film in years, but still wound up feeling a bit anticlimactic (after 19 years of hype, how could it not?). As for the rest, how much water cooler talk did Prince Caspian, Wanted, The Incredible Hulk, and Hancock inspire at your office? Check out the 77% plunge Hellboy II: The Golden Army took at the box office in its second weekend if you need more proof that we’re in the era of the blockbuster du jour. A less mainstream film like Hellboy II may have shown more staying power in March. 300 proved you can launch a blockbuster that month. Watchmen (like 300 a Warner Bros. release) is hoping to do the same in 2009. Did we really need five comic book adaptations in the same summer? Spread the wealth across the calendar. Why not counter program the prestige movie season that begins in October with a comic book flick or a sci-fi adventure. Genre fans are genre fans ALL year long. If it’s good (sometimes, even if its not) we'll go see it. Lionsgate is trying this approach with Punisher: War Zone and The Spirit, both due in December. If they do well, we could see more comic book films that time of year. And hopefully by Christmas, I’ll have recharged my blockbuster batteries and be ready to have my jaw dropped again. Meantime, I’m counting the days until August 15th. Why? That’s when Woody Allen’s latest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona opens. Giddy-Up! [Michael Avila is the producer for the nationally syndicated movie show “REEL TALK” with Jeffrey Lyons and Alison Bailes. Check local listings @ www.reeltalktv.com] Other Op/Ed's by Michael Avila: BIFF! BAM!! BONK!!! The Legacy of the Adam West 'Batman'