Okay, it is officially and unanimously known that
we are all growing tired and weary of sequels, especially
after Jack Sparrow returned to screen a fourth time
in a very unflattering manner. Of course, there are
a few that give us hope but simultaneously put us
on a cautious back foot, true to the ‘once bitten
twice shy’ adage, which include Peter Jackson’s
two part prequel to ‘The Lord of the Rings’
or the return of Sherlock Holmes.
Yes, sequels and franchise products have been given
in an overdose. But, what worries one even more is
that it is the supposed ‘original’ plots
that are showing lesser and lesser originality than
any of these sequels. Hollywood never seems to grow
tired of certain things, even if a global audience
is groaning in their seats. Just like USA could get
away with bombing any part of the world at a time
because they were the undisputed superpower, Hollywood
seems to be getting away from amazing dearth of creativity
just because there is very little competition in terms
of size and global reach.
So, what is it that Hollywood never tires of? One:
making films about how the erstwhile USSR hatches
heinous plots to overthrow USA as the superpower,
through military or spy operations, mostly nuclear
submarines. Thank heavens that USSR only developed
a nuclear arsenal as good as USA, not a film industry.
Else we would also be burdened with films that showed
the Russian view of things.
Two: about how extraterrestrial creatures periodically
visit earth and try to overthrow mankind and how USA
by its superior intelligence and military might is
able to save all human forms of life. Occasionally
the aliens are replaced by meteors or comets. This
disaster genre did have an initial appeal, especially
during the Armageddon, Independence Day times, but
too many alien films have just pushed us to the brink
of exhaustion. The designers especially seem to have
run out of ideas for weird forms of extraterrestrials
and that is why every new alien film always invokes
a sense of déjà vu.
Three: The creature film; Hollywood’s favorite
getaway when it does not have anything else to offer.
The recipe includes taking a perfectly harmless animal
– subject it to some human torture, scientific
tests, radiation exposure, global warming etc., and
produce a variant which is either a billion times
larger or a million times more violent (or both put
together) and let it loose in New York city (if there
isn’t some other film of the same genre shooting
there at the same time). It was an idea that worked
well when it was still new, like King Kong or Godzilla.
It still worked when the setting shifted to the jungles
of Africa and snakes became the subject of interest;
Anaconda, King Cobra and nearly half a dozen offshoots.
The dearth of ideas and vicious creatures can be gauged
from the fact that even insects became the chosen
ones to overthrow mankind in the highly cheesy ‘Infestation’.
I guess, it signaled the end of creature films.
No, I thought too soon. Hollywood is still not done
with any of these. Least of all, the last two. And,
it has been proved this past week. Cowboys and Aliens;
how unimaginative can a title get? Trying to combine
two of the best selling genres produced by Hollywood
to make a movie which does not sell! The title of
the film suggests that it is a B grade hit and giggle
flick which has nothing but weird forms and lots of
shooting to offer. No, it isn’t B grade, it
has Harrison Ford (the most successful adventurer
in Hollywood – Indiana Jones) and ‘James
Bond’ Daniel Craig. If not for a classier script,
it at least deserved a classier title. In fact, the
title is so cheesy that it need not be changed while
being dubbed into Tamil.
And, there is more of formula coming up. And, this
time, it is of the third kind – the creature
flick. And, now we go full circle back to apes. It
all started with King Kong and we are back to the
monkey stuff with ‘The Rise of the Planet of
the Apes’. We know what to expect even without
watching the trailers. And, there has been news that
the makers have claimed the plot as original, not
adapted from the original Planet of Apes. Yes, it
would have taken an awful amount of thought to cook
up a good enough reason to incite monkeys to go on
the rampage! So, the plot is original! They expect
us to buy that?
Fact is, Hollywood is the biggest film industry in
the world and sometimes they get away with the most
mediocre and unimaginative of films with some cool
graphics and a Twentieth Century Fox banner because
there is no other industry out there to challenge
them. Even Hollywood is not always right or best and
it is time we let them realize that.