It’s official: Hollywood is out of ideas.

I have this game that I play when I go to the movies. To play, you need to wait until the previews at the start of the film begin to roll. You score one point for each new movie advertised that is not: a. A remake of an old film, b. A film adaptation of a book or comic book, c. A sequel to an existing film or d. A film version of an old cartoon series. Essentially, you get one point for each completely original film trailer you see in the Coming Attractions. Fun, huh? Well, it would be, except that the last four times I’ve been to the movies, I’ve failed to score more than a single point.

 

 

Basically, I think that Hollywood is running out of ideas for films. My suspicions were confirmed about two weeks ago when I heard that they are currently working on a film adaptation of Battleship. That’s right, you heard correctly: Hollywood is now drawing inspiration from board games. I want to go and see that film, just so that I can scream, “You sunk my battleship!” every time a vessel takes a hit.

 

 

Adapting books into films isn’t a new concept. Some of the most famous films to date: The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, The Colour Purple and Silence of the Lambs to name a few, are all based on books. In the last few years though, it seems that every second book is being turned into a film. The moment a book becomes popular, Hollywood directors are lining up to turn the story into a film franchise (usually starring Robert Pattinson). This isn’t always a good thing. Just because a book is popular, doesn’t mean that it’s good. Also, the fact that a book is good doesn’t mean that it will make a great film. Some books don’t work so well on the big screen. If you’ve read Girl with a Pearl Earring, and then watched the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So much of that story gets lost in the film version. In the book, the entire story is an introspective narrative, told from the main character’s viewpoint. There is very little dialogue and the depth of the story comes from her personal thoughts and viewpoints. The film version doesn’t convey the same emotion or intensity as the book, and so much of the story is lost. While books can be a great source of filmic inspiration, directors and producers need to be a bit more discerning as to which books they choose to turn into films.

 

 

Sequels are also a well-worn concept. Loads of fantastic films were made as part of a series. Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Back to the Future are a few good examples. It makes sense to tell a story in installments when the tale is long and complex. Can you imagine how dull Back to the Future would have been if it were one, three-hour-long film? It’s so much better to break the story up into three bite-sized installments. However, there is a time and a place for a sequel, and over the past few years, there have been an over-abundance of unnecessary follow-ups. Nowadays, if a film is popular, you can bet that there will be a sequel, even if it really doesn’t make sense to have one. To illustrate my point, I’m turning my focus towards Dreamworks. Why, oh why, are there four Shrek movies? Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first two films. I thought that they were both equally funny and cute. The second film ended well, with Shrek and Fiona finally getting married and having a brood of children. There was no need to follow this up with a dreadful third installment (and then a fourth, as well as several Christmas specials). Even though the story had really concluded at the end of the second film, there is one crystal-clear reason why Dreamworks kept on churning out Shrek films: money. Every time you bring out a new film, particularly a kids’ film, you get to create a plethora of merchandising to accompany it. When you have a pre-established franchise, the likelihood is that kids are going to go ape-shit for anything that has their favorite character’s picture on it. You can’t convince me that the makers of Shrek kept flogging this dead horse because they believed that movie-goers wanted to find out what happened to Shrek next. They did it because they knew that with every Shrek movie, they were guaranteed to make a bucketload of cash from ticket sales and ludicrous merchandising. Whenever Hollywood cranks out an unnecessary sequel, you can bet your bottom dollar that the reason for it is the pursuit of more money. To me, this isn’t a good enough reason to make more and more shitty sequels.

 

 

Remaking films is something that’s only taken off in the last ten years or so. At times, I can get behind a remake. Sometimes, special effects have progressed since the original installment, so a remake of the film allows certain scenes to be rendered more realistically than in the original. Some directors, such as Tim Burton, remake films to tell an old story from a different angle. Sometimes this works (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and sometimes it doesn’t (Planet of the Apes). I really think that it’s only okay to remake an existing film if you can truly add something new and valuable. It’s not acceptable to feck around with a classic film just because you love it and you want to modernize it. Some films are classics and should just be left as they are. A few weeks ago, I heard a rumour that somebody was planning a remake of Footloose. This made me so mad. Footloose is a brilliant film that is a product of the time that it was made. You couldn’t re-capture the magic of that film by making it over today. The cast really made that film brilliant, and I don’t think that you can accurately cast that film using modern actors. Some films should just be left alone.

 

 

I love going to the movies, but lately, there have been very few films that have interested me. I’m getting weary with the selection of tired, re-hashed ideas that are being trotted out at the moment. If I’m going to be enticed back to the cinema, movie-makers are going to need to come up with some fresh ideas, and I don’t think that the game-cabinet is the best place to start looking.

 

 

What do you think? Are you fed up with the lack of original films at the cinemas of late? How do you feel about movie remakes, sequels and book-to-film adaptations?

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