After seeing Transformers this July, I thought to myself, wasn’t there a time when I liked movies like this? Didn’t I jump up and down in the aisles after seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Didn’t I scream with joy when I saw Jurassic Park? I killed a man and went to jail for seven years (good behavior!) just to get a ticket to Independence Day on opening night. Was it worth it? Yes. It was. But it seems I’m becoming harder to please. It takes more than a group of robots duking it out and Orlando Bloom romancing Keira Knightley in the middle of a pirate skirmish to excite me. How sad that with age, it seems, the heart may shrink to a size even Orlando Bloom’s bravado can not penetrate.
But I think that it’s more than just simple coronary problems. This has not been a good summer for movies. Every summer a new batch of event films comes out. Their existence is as reliable (and profitable) as Christmas. First the teaser trailer comes out. Then the trailer comes out. Then the corporate tie-ins start. This year, the Simpsons Movie started an endless cross-promotion with Burger King, ironically lambasting Krusty Burger (which I had assumed started out as a satire of disgusting fast-food chains like Burger King). Shrek 3 started advertising with McDonald’s. If only Ratatouille had done some advertising with Taco Bell.
Then there’s the actual product placement within the movies. While some movies luckily avoid this (it would be hard to put a Big Mac in Pirates of the Caribbean 3, although at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me), some rub your face in it shamelessly. Did we need to see four hundred shots of each car label shining gloriously in Transformers? Did we need to mention Bed, Bath and Beyond and what a wonderful store it is in Disturbia? Hell, even Knocked Up gave that porn site of celebrity nude pictures a good boost in sales (although I don’t think that advertising was paid for).
And then finally, after all of this, there are the movies themselves. There were three “blockbuster” movies this summer that I can confidantly say that I enjoyed. These were: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Knocked Up and Ratatouille (whether one can even count the second two as blockbusters is questionable). Most of the others simply felt forced and trite. This was often reflected in their box office earnings, which would be incredibly high for the first weekend, before people found out that the movie royally sucked, and then would plummet lower than Davey Jones’ locker.
There are a lot of people (many of whom are friends as well as writers for this blog) who disagree with me on the movies I list above. And it’s true, maybe I’m just a heartless shell of a man, left too badly scorned by the likes of Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. Or maybe my eyes are getting too weak to follow the four thousand cuts-per-minute editing style that is so common these days. Maybe I’m turning into the guy who doesn’t think that they make movies “the way they used to” anymore. But honestly, if I was and still am satisfied with Independence Day and Jurassic Park, are my standards really that high in the first place?