Where have all the good films gone?

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Are you not entertained?

My name is not Maximus Decimus Meridius, and I am not commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Nor am I Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. But I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

Because I am becoming more and more annoyed with the bile that the movie studios are turning out.  The lack of real quality from the cinematic world, in my eyes is down to many things.  I’d like to take you through the main ones I see from the turn of the millennium.


Remakes and Sequels

I will give forth a short list of the worst offenders in my opinion, I’m sure you can name more and better – so please let me know your thoughts.

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Matrix sequels
  • Oceans 12 & 13
  • The latest Star Wars
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Pink Panther
  • Wicker Man
  • Alfie, Get Carter, Italian Job, Sleuth – Anything that had Michael Caine in before.

Studios and executives see “re-imaginings” or remakes to you and I as home bankers.  And this is not cockney rhyming slang.  The plot, story-line and even musical score is all there.  All they have to do is re-cast and re-shoot.  This cuts some basic costs in the creative department, and in their eyes is already a smash-hit.  As the costs to the production are slightly lower, the money is their to market the feature to the hilt.  The public at large will go along to see it, and there is the $ returns that they look for to define it as a success.

But why do we go along to see these re-constituted “movies”.  Because we too see the remake as a safe option, we may have some affinity with the original and want to see it with a bit of modern CGI and post-production pezaz.  Or we may just have a morbid curiosity to see what a mess they’ve made.

The Damned

Films that were so bad the could and probably should have ended peoples careers.  Time and money on both sides thrown away, but should be etched in memory forever – to prevent any sort of repeat.

  • Pearl Harbour
  • Freddy got Fingered
  • Crossroads
  • Catwoman
  • Little Man, White Chicks, Disaster Movie, Date Movie,  Superhero Movie etc.
  • Norbit
  • Anything with Adam Sandler

Why do movie studios make such bad movies.  Again I am sure you may disagree with some of these or have many many more.  We see movies given the green light because the film was written with a star in mind and they agree – hence a big box-office draw.  Films may have been proposed at a time when a certain genre is all the rage.  Or simply they have contract to honour to screenwriters, director, actors and producers.


When you think of many of the top actors of our current generation, can you think of their last really good film, or even their last two or three?  How far back do you have to go?  I’m going to list some examples and times of their better judgment.  Please see which examples you can come up with.

     Tom Cruise

Lions for Lambs, Collateral, The Last Samurai.  Three in seven years

Risky Business, Legend, Top Gun, Color of Money, Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July.  Six not including Cocktail etc. in the same length of time.

    Johnny Depp

Sweeney Todd, The Libertine, Finding Neverland.  The first Pirates movie was a success but the sequels poor, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was an absolute disaster.

Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Benny and Joon.

     Tom Hankswalk

Charlie Wilson’s War, The Terminal, Road to Perdition.  There are at least three shockers in between all these.

Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan.  Can’t really count Toy Story I’m afraid.

     Robert de Niro

Stardust, The Good Shepherd, Meet the fockers? Not the powerhouse he once was.

The Godfather Pt2, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Once Upon a time in America.  A spectacular list, including some of the best film ever made.


You may think me an old-timer as all the fims I enjoy and approve of seem to be from decades ago, but there are a whole host of excellent films released in the recent years:

No Country for Old Men, Amelie, The Pianist, The Departed, Lost in Translation, Slumdog Millionaire, There Will be Blood, Million Dollar Baby, Traffic, Memento, Capote to name a few.

I just believe that the decision making and writing over the last ten years has generally lacked in quality and quantity.  The recent writers strike was a wake-up call to the industry, but in a bad way as well as good.  The studios got nervous at the possible lack of screenplays coming in and pushed the panic button.  “Re-imagining” has come back in a big way, looking at ways of bringing back older films and slotting in some A-list and B-list stars to make a movie.


An actor, director, producer and screenwriter that I have a great like and respect for is George Timothy Clooney.  He has proved that he has the acting ability beyond question, he writes some of the best scripts in the industry, and when he is involved in a film he develops an air of class around the picture.  He is human too, and guilty of making some real errors of judgment like anyone else, not least in Batman and Robin and the two Oceans sequels.  But in an interview promoting Michael Clayton he gave  a real insight into some of the goings on behind the scenes. 

For me to make a film like Clayton(Michael), Good night(,and good luck) or Syriana, I have to agree to make films like Oceans.

I find that a real talent like Clooney, having to bargain with studios to be given the creative licence casts a grim light on the decision making process in general.  Studios are locking-in actors and writers to deals that keep them exclusive for years in an attempt to be one step ahead of the competition.  But competition is good, not only good but essential to move the medium forward and help keep standards and production high.


So if like me, you are not quite entertained – try watching some of the absolute treasures in cinema from past decades rather than going to watch some decidedly below-par release.





April 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments