Hollywood's creativity problem and a (ranty) stroll through endless remakes...


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Mercurius

Legend
As you say, problems began in the 80s. I think the two biggest issues with Ghostbusters is that 1) the creative team failed to understand what had managed to capture childrens’ imagination in the franchise, something the crew behind The Real Ghostbusters cartoon were much more adept at, and 2) they wasted time waiting on Bill Murray because of issue 1).

Kids who got into Ghostbusters didn’t get in because of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd’s comedic chops or the take down of satanic panic trops. They got hooked by this premise of ordinary people using technology and research to strike back against a frightening world that you don’t normally understand. Watch the Boogeyman episode of The Real Ghostbusters and you’ll understand the appeal to a kid. Heck, THAT should have been the plot of a sequel movie! Not whatever the heck Ghostbusters II was. People created their own Ghostbusters chapter because busting makes me feel good, not because they loved middle aged comedians!

The 2016 movie was built on this mistaken framework as well, deciding to throw four comedian together and expecting magic to ignite again, but without giving the world the same sort of straight faced seriousness of the original. They could have easily built the movie around another Ghostbuster franchise in another city, but they were too obsessed with reproducing the signifiers of the original without understanding the signification.

Kids might have been disappointed in a Ghostbusters sequel without Bill Murray, but if it had been built properly they probably would have overlooked it and still enjoy the movie. It might have been popular enough to entice Murray back. We were robbed of more Egon because Murray’s kind of a dick and just left Akroyd hanging for all the 90s.

Nice outline of some of the deeper elements. For me the key phrase is "expecting magic to ignite again." That's related to my beef...trying to copy the magic of other films. True "movie magic" is rarely contrive...it just happens, when you focus on making a good, and generally original, story.

Most of that was through the application of clever retcons.

Yes, understood. Actually, the Infinity Saga (phases 1-3) is somewhat like a good D&D campaign. It started episodic with small adventures (individual movies and heroes) that weren't related to each other, and then meta-elements were gradually introduced and woven together.
 

In the past year (actually all but a couple of these was in the last 6 months and I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of films in there) I’ve been to the cinema and seen:

Nope
The Northman
3 thousand years of longing
Everything everywhere all at once
Bodies bodies bodies
Fire of love
Elvis
You won‘t be alone
The Velvet Queen
The Woman King

Still plenty of great original films being made
There‘s also been some great remake/reboots with things like Dune and Bladerunner 2049
 

Mercurius

Legend
So I am looking at the complaint, and the list, and ... I mean ...

I love this franchise. I want more of it! Just like the good stuff that they made. But better! And the same! And original! But different!

Which I get- we all like the things we like (I am a huge fan of many of those IP franchises!). But ... there are a lot of very good things out there.

I just watched Crimes of the Future (Hulu). That's Cronenberg's latest. It was certainly original, and real return to form for him, hearkening back to his 90s work. I even made it a double feature with his son's movie, Possessor.

Or Drive My Car (HBO Max). So good.

Or if you're into cars ... well, there's Titane. That was something else. Definitely original, probably not going to be a franchise. :)

If Titane is too much, then why not relax into The French Dispatch?

I could keep going on, but you get the idea. There is so very much good stuff out there. More, I think, than at any other time. You just have to choose to watch things that aren't the usual "Monetizing IP" choices. IMO.
I hear you and really, like "brows" of all kinds (high, low, and in-between).

You can also revisit or expand a franchise, and do so creatively. I think TNG is a good example of that. My concern is relying on old tropes, wink-nods to old stuff, and not focusing on story and character first, but overly relying on "This is a Star Wars film, so we assume people will like it."

I've been meaning to check out the latest Cronenberg.
 

Mercurius

Legend
The 80s were a time of many great and original movies. The 90s still had a couple that became classics.
And somewhere in the early 2000s that just stopped. Occasionally you get a good film that is impactful and memorable, but those are one-off flukes. Not part of any pattern.
I tend to agree, though I would say that film-making peaked in the 70s. Actually, part of its decline was because of films like Star Wars and Jaws that upped the "wow-bang" factor, and movies relied upon that more and more.

But yeah, a big drop-off in the 2000s...but as I said, and others have said, still really good stuff being made.
 

Mercurius

Legend
you know it's funny, my brother complains about Hollywood not coming out with new stuff but instead just doing remakes, I point out a new film that isn't a remark/reboot and he shrugs his shoulders. He'll also complain about sequels but will happily see the next Halloween movie. ¯\(ツ)

So, it's more "Hollywood isn't making movies that interest me"

also :
Grampa Simpson Meme GIF by MOODMAN
To be blunt, this is a too-easy rebuttal: as if any criticism always comes down to "But that's just your opinion, man." I mean certainly...different strokes for different folks, and all that. But there is such a thing as quality - and whether the substance of a critique holds water.
 

Mercurius

Legend
But, you seem to treat film as somehow different from the other forms, when it isn't. Most fiction books are built to formulae, because formulae sells. You note boy bands yourself - music is driven by what sells. Art? For those of us who don't frequent museums, art is also commercial.

If the creativity thing is an issue of being tied to the money, the root problem is that we, the consumers, are not willing to pay for that creativity. If we stopped paying for tickets to the sequels and spin offs, they'd stop making them.
Yeah, I know: we vote with our dollar, and we get what we pay for. But it goes both ways, and is a vicious cycle between Hollywood and viewers.

And of course, following Sturgeon's Law, "quality"--whether inter-subjective or entirely subjective--is a bit of a pyramid, and we're going to get more "crap" than "high art" or rather, films we absolutely love. Meaning, we don't have 1,000 favorite movies and 10 movies we hate - it is always the reverse in some form or fashion, with fewer and fewer numbers the more we like something.

But it is...a phenomena. I recognize why it exists, which you succinctly summarized, but it doesn't mean I have to like it...or, at least, not want better and more original stuff.

I mean, to put it more simply, I'd rather see a new science fiction world explored than yet another re-hash of SW or ST. I gave a couple examples above. I understand why they go back to the same stuff, again and again, but I just see it as a shame.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Who's to say that the next remake is what inspires the next great filmmaker? Star Wars wasn't wholly original. How many filmmakers cited it as inspiration?
Originality is a funny word, because it is too often confused with novelty, imo. If that is true, then a movie about polka-dotted squids that wear Converse shows that live in the clouds is inherently more "original" than a very well-made retelling of Arthurian legends, when the former is just silly and absurd, and the latter can--if done well (e.g. Excalibur)--explore mythic archetypes, the history of consciousness, and the Grail story -- all core to the human experience.

But I see original -- at least in terms of art -- as having more to do with the idea of origins...the origins of consciousness, of myth and archetypes - the well of inspiration. So an original work is something that draws directly from that well, as an authentic telling...not something that uses novel ideas. Or to put it another way, originality is addressing core, existential questions, but in a way that is unique to the artist or film-maker.
 



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