Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trailer Trash

Maybe it is my age, my political leanings or the fact that I have seen too many films and have an internal cliché siren, or, maybe, just maybe, Hollywood movies really are getting worse. Regardless of the reason, the sad fact of the matter is, I find it almost impossible to suspend disbelief in Hollywood superhero movies any more. The special effects, the costumes, the big name actors, all of these things, even the presence of a writer/director with massive geek credentials, are simply window dressing for the corrupt practice of taking children's cartoons and comic book stories and injecting them with growth hormones, causing them to mutate into hyperthyroid franchise pictures.

Hollywood studios do not make movies any more, they manage intellectual properties. There was a time when they did make movies. However, they gave up that difficult but noble endeavor, which can result in failure as well as success, a long time ago, having affixed themselves to a model that guarantees their films make money. Throw enough money, enough stars and enough special effects at the screen and no matter what else the movie is, no matter how obvious, how stupid or how boring, people will still buy tickets and even cue around the block to have their intelligences insulted, time and time and time again. Maybe I was naïve to think that there was ever anything more to it, but the fact that Hollywood studios are content to serve up the same conformist, market-tested drivel time after time because that is what makes money, seems so transparent now, it cannot help but diminish the magic just a little bit. All too often the movie is merely the centrepiece for a globe-spanning, multi-media, multi-platform advertising event, with franchise and merchandising tie-ins for everything from hamburgers to clothing lines, lunch boxes, action figures, soundtrack albums, credit cards, boats, planes, trains and small Latin American countries.

The Avengers, which brings together characters from four of Marvel Studios (now owned by The Walt Disney Company) most successful franchises – Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Thor – for what promises to be the biggest superhero movie to date, is already generating the kind of fervour among the online geek community, which I occasionally frequent, more normally associated with a religious cult.

I cannot, will not and am not judging the film on the strength of the trailer alone, it is just that right now what I associate with this particular property has everything to do with strategic co-ordination of triangulated cross-media promotional strategies and nothing to do with the movie itself. From the scant footage shown, it is clear that Joss Whedon is a better writer than he is a director; Robert Downey Jnr is given all of the best lines (and delivers them with sarcastic aplomb), as one might expect; Chris Evan's pure hearted Cap is almost certainly the real hero of the piece and, my guess is, will finish the film by making some kind of honourable self-sacrifice to save the world. The dialogue is nicely spiky and irreverent, but the sets and the costumes are too clean and the shot compositions pure television. Now, we will have to wait and see. Can The Avengers restore my faith in Hollywood superhero films?lunarpark.blogspot.com - Trailer Trash - Keyword description


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