Sunday, September 18, 2016
The State of My Cinematic Journey
After the miserable summer I’ve had going to the movies, one thing has become abundantly clear: I am quickly falling out of the key demographic for movie studios. I’m still a white guy with a fairly good paying day job. I turned 31 earlier this month. I have other priorities. My wife is going back to school to finish her degree. We want to get a house. We want to start a family. I need a new car. I’m finally beginning to feel great about my poker skills.
And I hoped my passion since I was 15 would stay with me. In general, it has. I still get giddy at the ticket counter. When the usher rips my ticket, points me in the director of my theatre & says “Enjoy the show!”, I still smile & say “Thanks!” every time. I love walking in to take my seat & see with whom I get to share this experience. The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up as the lights dim. I love the quiet moments I get to reflect as the end credits roll & the lights fade up. But recently, I’ve noticed something odd. I’m not enjoying as many movies as I used to. Also, the audiences I’ve watched these movies with have gotten less & less enjoyable to be around.
So what can I attribute that to? Am I at that age where I need to move on? Do I leave my passion behind? My answer: I’m not going anywhere. I still love movies. I loved travelling with fugitives as they take one’s son towards his destiny. I loved following teenagers find freedom & joy through music. I fell in love with a college freshman & his baseball teammates as he assimilates to his new surroundings. I found joy in a panda finally living out a prophesy put forward years ago.
So where am I going with this? Well, I have come to the conclusion that I need to change my movie-going habits. From this day forth, I will no longer make comic book “movies” a priority in my theatrical journey. If there is a CBM that I want to watch in a theatre, I won’t be buying a ticket for until the third Monday of release at the earliest. I will spending 17 days on the outside as yet another visual effects extravaganza makes a billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts. In addition, I won’t waste my time reviewing them nor will I be getting in arguments with people online over them. They aren’t worth the time or energy. I’ll throw out a tweet or two immediately after watching said spectacle but will only barely acknowledge its existence after that.
I’m sure you noticed that I put quotation marks around the word “movie” in the above paragraph. That is because I believe that recent theatrically released comic book adaptations are not movies, motion pictures, films, whatever term you want to use. A movie is a series of pictures strung together to create a compelling story with a beginning, middle & end with interesting characters, spectacular action sequences with high stakes & expertly crafted visuals and great actors well-written dialogue. Many recent comic book adaptations don’t have endings; they stop. They take this “sequel culture” that we live in to the extreme and leave more open endings than closed ones after every installment. Recent super villains have been quite dull. I get a kick out of seeing Daniel Bruhl on screen but his Helmut Zemo in Civil War could have been eons more conniving. Even as technology improves and visual effects get better, the over-reliance by these creations is really distracting. And while studios open their bank accounts to get the best looking & most talented actors, studios don’t seem to care who they hire to write these creations.
I guess you could say I’m a grump, an old fart, stubborn, a snob. And I won’t deny being any of those things. I did not grow up on comic books. I only remotely started paying attention to them after I saw Spider-Man in 2002; even then, I still didn’t read them. I showed up in theatres from time to time when more comic book “movies” were released. I’ve raved about a few over the years. X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2, The Avengers, Days of Future Past: each one great. But now, especially this year, these seem like experiences that only readers or devotees can appreciate. I’m not one of them and if I haven’t become a fanboy by now, I never will.