Take Two # 108: In the Details, Or is it?

By Kyra-lin Hom

Pardon me, as this week I’m slipping on my film junkie jacket. With a background in screenwriting and film studies and so many tasty blockbusters to choose from recently, I simply can’t help myself. Plus it certainly doesn’t hinder matters that TV and film alike have begun directly targeting the squealing kid in all of us. Seriously, what is film these days but a trip to the corner of Personal Fantasy Avenue and Mindboggling Budget Lane?

Let’s take some winter movie headliners, for example: Thor 2, Catching Fire, Ender’s Game, and The Desolation of Smaug. Plus let’s not forget the rapidly incoming Captain America 2, Iron Man 3, Amazing Spiderman 2, everything DC comics (good luck catching up to Marvel now), and what looks to be the end all Godzilla spectacular.

Am I loving it? Well, kind of.

My friends and I are all freaks, geeks and nerds. A couple weeks ago, we dressed in near full regalia complete with real chainmail, corsets, capes and quivers for Smaug. Before that, I was so anxious about missing even a moment of Thor 2 that I peed no less than four times during the 20 minutes preceeding the film. I have guy friends who full on squealed (very manly squealing, of course) during the Captain America 2 sneak peak. So yes, we’re very, very into our fandoms. But so far the only movie that’s held up to its hype is Catching Fire. Why?

Movies first and foremost are business – I know, I’ve astounded you with my wisdom and insight. I’m getting there. With at home technology getting more advanced and America’s old fashioned pirating laws (quite literally based on incidences with real pirates, that’s how out of sync they are with the internet), most of us have no interest in paying $15 a pop for a one-time movie experience.

So what do we pay for? Spectacle. We pay for the big films we want to see on 50-foot screens with booming surround sound. That means action. That means fun. And where better to look than the already popular classics with built-in fans. I’ve long ago admitted that I would pay to see anything with Tolkien’s name attached (author of The Lord and the Rings and The Hobbit). Fifteen part History Channel miniseries on his Silmarillion as screened by AMC? I would be there.

But – and it’s a big one – this craze is splitting the film industry. On one side we have bigger and better and flashier. Here we get all the little details and omages we could want. These are works of pure id indulgence – whether for the fans or the creators/directors/producers. On the other, we have intellectual pursuits and personal interest arcs. These can run the risk of being pedantic or too esoteric. Few are going to pay to see these in theaters much less in the more profitable HD, IMAX or 3D anyway so the filmmakers can basically do what they want.

How do we reconcile this schism? As consumers, can we even do anything about it? I know I’m still going to see the next Avengers film no matter how poor its Rotten Tomatoes marks. And though this seems like a silly thing to be concerned over, the film and television industry is a billion dollar conundrum reeking of social power. All I can say is, hopefully if we cringe and demand hard enough, the industry will listen, stop giving us cool moments and start giving us great movies.

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