One constant complaint I hear echoed across the interwebs is that the days of original movies are over. How all we get are superhero movies and sequels. And certainly there are plenty of examples of those movies to point to. I wouldn’t argue that tons of superhero movies and sequels are getting churned out by Hollywood all the time. But the way the argument’s often presented, it’s that “no good, original movies are being made.” And that’s just not true at all. Plenty of good movies are being made. They’re just not making as much money as superhero movies and sequels. So you could argue the American public has bad taste (or, at least, repetitive taste), but when has that ever really been in doubt?
And anyway, I feel like there’s a whole lot of confirmation bias going on anytime this comes up as a topic. (Confirmation bias, if you didn’t know, is when you recall or refer to information selectively in a way to prove your preconceived argument.) Let’s take science fiction movies as an example. Just in the past decade, what are some fantastic, original science fiction movies that have come out?
Arrival, Gravity, Ex Machina, The Martian, Interstellar, Inception, Wall-E, District 9, Edge of Tomorrow, Moon, Looper. That’s eleven really strong films, pretty much off the top of my head, and that’s not even going into movies that might be more “pop” like Pacific Rim.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the majority of the push behind films these days has been to support a few tent pole franchises, and so the Star Wars and the Marvels of the world get a whole ton of attention, while movies like Arrival or Edge of Tomorrow can come and go without making nearly as big of a splash. And so I understand the concern that if good, original movies don’t make more money, then they’ll disappear altogether.
But of course, the flip side is that there are also plenty of bad, original movies that get made. Originality is no guarantee of quality, just as being a sequel or a remake is no guarantee of the opposite. My only real desire is that good movies continue to be made. The new True Grit movie was a blast, I liked it more than the John Wayne original. I like the new Planet of the Apes movies more than the originals. Is this bad? Do I fail in movie taste? I don’t think so. Good movies are good movies.
This all is inspired by Denisa and me finally being able to watch Arrival last night. What a phenomenal movie. I thought about doing a full review, but there wasn’t a way I could do it and not include spoilers, so I thought I’d just mention how great it was here on the blog, and encourage anyone and everyone to check it out. It’s on Amazon Prime at the moment. Science fiction, linguistics, and deep thinking, all rolled up into a very accessible package. No wonder I loved it.
So to those who are worried about the fiftieth Marvel movie coming out, don’t sweat it. If Marvel movies ever stop being good, people will generally stop paying to see them. Yes, you still have movies like Transformers being made, but I have yet to feel a lack of good stuff to watch out there, whether it’s television or movies.
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