As the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU) continues to grow by ungodly amounts of money and publicity, it’s clear the latest wave of Marvel films (three in 2017 alone) will surely follow the boring drab of recent years. Mediocre, at best, is how most would describe the MCU’s latest selection of films, but the problem lies further than a few distant galaxies.
Looking beyond the money pumped into these films, does a million-dollar budget really give a modern film that “wow” factor, seemingly lacking? Films created prior to the 90s were limited in technology and needless to say, didn’t have the capability to use the special effects that supposedly “enhance” films today. Classics of yesteryear, like the Terminator, Jurassic Park and Jaws all were prior to the miss-use of CGI technology today. Instead they focused their funds on plot-building, complex characters and choreography that made its audience think, doubt and experience something previously undisturbed. Jaws was finally released in 1975. It cost $7 million to produce, which in today’s money is just shy of $33 million. This is a mere speck in comparison with the average cost of the last 18 Marvel films since 2002, which all stood north of $130 million and averaged at $201 million to produce. Most would agree that the intense, sheer fear developed in Jaws easily surpass any of the experiences created by Marvel in the last 15 years.
This isn’t to suggest there’s not been fantastic, even classic films made of recent times, in fact, Christopher Nolan’s films have traditionally shown how CGI can really enhance a film in all the right areas and act as a supplement to the plot, rather than a substitute. I urge anyone who hasn’t seen The Prestige, Inception or Interstellar to spend time watching these and learn about the truth behind a widely recognised “great film”. But the likes of those aforementioned have merely become anomalies among a wider CGI quality downward trend. See the below article, by RocketStock, on how CGI is paralysing the film industry. – https://www.rocketstock.com/blog/opinion-10-reasons-why-cgi-is-getting-worse-not-better/
It was one of the crowd sat with me for the most recent Justice League Film (IMDB 7.1) that really set me off. She literally clapped in joy when Superman “came back” to life (sorry for the spoiler alert, but it wasn’t much of a surprise anyway). I mean, seriously? If people get excited over these films you must be insane. No-one cares what happens because the creators have put a non-existent effort into the creation of them itself. It takes more than a half-hearted, 2D alien planet and some made-up explosions to get us excited today.
Let’s use Star Wars as an example. Today it still sits miles above the MCU franchise in regards to quality, but the former glory it once had from the original Episode(s) 4, 5 and 6 from the 70s and early 80s has almost been lost. Most lovers, like myself, can quote insane parts of the film. Yet it’s the originals that are better than those of 1999 and onwards, by a long shot.
Why? Because there’s no modern CGI in the originals. It’s 90% real. Okay, there’s the odd standard 70s not-so-real shot with a dodgy Imperial Ship in the background, but for the time, the graphics and visuals were fantastic. The main difference between Modern and Old Star Wars is they used real characters back-then, real effort was put into the end product (make-up, set creation and a lot of thought into actual production) and it’s this kind of tangibility, combined with a heavy focus on plot, script and character-building that made them classics. Who cares about Finn or Rey today? We literally don’t and we never will in the same way Carrier Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford did over 30 years ago.
So why oh why are Marvel still producing these drab, boring, excessive and half-hearted attempts at films? If someone could explain it to amateur film critics like myself, that it would put me at ease. I can only assume 11 year old’s are putting the average scores up on IMDB and other review websites. I just can’t see how Ben Affleck’s comical and childish Batman compares to that of Christopher Nolan’s darker interpretation or how the lady sat near me in Justice League could ever find the power to bring herself to cry out joyfully.
We can safely call this wider description of films dumbed down for mass audiences as the “Disneyfication” of modern films. Scripts are altered with words that have no thought behind them and echo nothing significant in building up the character. We need to get away from a more money equals better and more profitable film. Just look at Locke (2013). A $2 million budget, Tom Hardy and his car. No visual effects and only one visible character. Yet, this film is more thrilling than any modern-day Star Wars is. Look at Baby Driver (2017), it cost less than $34 million to make, yet it just works and the audience is forced to feel sympathy, empathy and anger (watch if you haven’t!) The same applies to (all adjusted to today’s money) 12 Angry Men (1957, less than $3 million), The Shawshank Redemption (1994, $40 million) and the Intouchables (2011, $11 million). All of which achieve scores greater than 8.0 on IMDB. What other evidence is needed to suggest that $200 million dollar budgets do not equate to good, classic films?
I hope someone from Hollywood reads this. If you are reading this, and you’re in the film industry – please pass on the message that when you start substituting CGI effects for imagination, choreography or even character, the film fails.
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Much love – the CTS team!