Published on April 22nd, 2012 | by dvdpinson0
Cinemastance’s Hollywood Report Card: January – April 2012
Here we are, a third of the way through 2012, and it is pretty obvious that the year is turning out be a pretty good one when it comes to quality of product pumping out of Hollywood.
At least there is a vast improvement over the previous twelve months: 2011 The Year of No New Ideas. The fact that the top 9 moneymakers last year were sequels (and mostly bland, pointless ones at that) serves as an example of what we had to consume. “The Hangover II,” “Cars 2,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” “Twilight part 4, Part 1” and so forth. It was enough to make you, the Devoted Moviegoer, plenty depressed.
But the first 4 months of 2012 has given us some good times at the multiplexes already and what lies over the horizon seems even more promising. There may be some hope. While Hollywood is still addicted to sequels and remakes there has been some exciting original material released lately and even the sequels have much more potential than usual. I’ll take another chapter of Nolan’s vision of “Batman” over a new install of Bay’s “Transformers” any day.
As a note: You may be asking why a thirdly annual Progress Report and not a quarterly one? Even if you are not asking, I shall share. I have decided recently that any theatrical releases in the month of January should no longer count. This is Hollywood’s dumping grounds where all the weak films see what little daylight they can. The fact that this comes right after the Oscar/Holiday season where so many solid films live makes January even more shocking to the palette. This year’s January offerings include: “Man on a Ledge,” “One for the Money” and “Red Tails”. I skipped them all and my personal cynicism is at an all time low. I suggest you try the same next year.But to analyze quarterly would mean starting the first quarter with just February and March which doesn’t make sense. Thirds allows me to add April.
Also, by cutting the year into thirds, we can analyze the newly expanded Summer Season (May through August) in one lump. Also, I forgot to put this together at the end of March, making a quarterly report card impossible.
So here we go.
Cinemastance’s 1/3rd-ly annual Hollywood Report Card: January through April 2012.
The Hunger Games: Finally a YA book/movie craze that we can ALL get behind. The source material’s broad appeal (Who doesn’t love watching kids kill each other?) has driven the box office numbers astonishingly high. While the easy comparison is made with “Twilight,” financially “The Hunger Games” is on par with “Harry Potter,” at least when it comes to U.S. box office. While the film had a huge fan following before one frame was projected on the screen, what is driving the film’s success is that it is a solid translation from page to screen. While some are complaining of certain things lost in translation (the Avox, Cinna’s assistance, Peeta’s eyebrows), director Gary Ross has done a respectable job. The Hunger Games review Here.
Remakes and Sequels: Hollywood has not eased on their addiction to the do-over, it’s just that the quality is improving. “21 Jump Street” has been the biggest surprise of the year so far. While riffing on a quirky television idea from the 80′s the movie version found its own groove and hilarity followed. The thing that “Jump Street” did best was embrace the stupidity of the premise and go on from there. Review Here. Tim Burton’s upcoming spin on “Dark Shadows” shows promise while we also have head-scratching projects like “Total Recall” to deal with. There has been a recent entry in this category that is a fusion of both: A Sequel to a Remake. “Wrath of the Titans” was more of the same mindless (and plotless) action but there was enough of an improvement over “Clash” to warrant a few “oohs” and one or two “ahhs”. Review Here. But for every “21 Jump Street” we have “The Three Stooges” and lame sequels like “American Reunion” that leaves you wondering if we have truly ran out of ideas. Still, there has been some improvement here and if we have to remake EVERY film ever made, at least some effort can be put into these projects.
Science Fiction and Horror:
The horror film, usually known for sequels and repeated formula that is only paralleled by the lazy Romantic Comedy, has enjoyed a surge of original material that starts and stops with “The Cabin in the Woods”. The reconstruction of the genre has never been more fun or smart. A sort of companion piece to last year’s “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil,” “Cabin” takes familiar ideas and twists them into something new. Review Here. “Detention” is a small independent film that calls out every teen film from the last 30 years and adds enough craziness to make things feel fresh. This will easily warp into a cult classic. “Silent House” was a mesmerizing experience as the entire movie unfolds in one seemingly continuous shot. All exciting stuff. This summer we have another creepy entry into the Oren Peli Universe (“Insidious” the “Paranormal Activity” series) with “Chernobyl Diaries”.
Sci-Fi has not fared so well. Two words: “John Carter”. The movie that gets EVERYTHING wrong has resulted in firings on the executive level at the Mouse House. Inept and boring, “Carter” was DOA and his remains were shot into space. The $250 million dollar plus production made about as much money here in the states its entire run that “The Hunger Games” made in its FIRST DAY! Review HERE. Ridely Scott’s “Prometheus” has the potential to correct the ship this summer. But that film has a couple of question marks: 1) Is it a direct prequel to Scott’s classic “Alien” and 2) Will this be directed by the guy who gave us “Blade Runner” or the guy who gave us “Robin Hood”?
Everything else: One trend that is not welcomed is the “Snow White movie every 2 months” thing that seems to be mandatory for some reason. “Mirror Mirror” did not get the ball rolling very well and “Snow White and the Huntsmen” better be pretty strong to shake the dust off this old fairy tale. Other than that, originality seems to be making a comeback. For example look at “Act of Valor”. Here you have a run of the mill action flick that becomes something new when the filmmakers decide to use real Nave S.E.A.L.S. “Wanderlust” was a delightful comedy that may have been bit too bizarre for Middle America but at least it was something new that didn’t have to have a number 2 after its title. “Chronicle” takes the superhero origin film and puts a modern spin on it, turning it into another found footage flick.
Point is this: There are plenty of reasons to go the movie theater again. Attendance was at a 16 year low last year and Hollywood seems to have listened. They are not cranking out mindless want-to-be hits and banking on your acceptance. You proved that you will stay home if there is nothing worth your time. 2012 has begun with a promising start. Now let’s see what the Summer brings…