A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
There are endless reasons as to why Marvel’s “The Avengers” is not worthy of a top half spot in Empire Magazine’s “Top 500 films of All Time” List, let alone the top 30. Having said that, there are reasons as to why it’s placed so highly, all of which I do not like but unfortunately must accept.
During my first year of film studies at university, my favourite lecturer taught all of us first year students the primary reason Hollywood has a ‘Blockbuster’ formula. The term ‘Blockbuster’ (when referring to films) comes from one film and one film alone, that is “Jaws”.
Released at a point in history when everyday, up and coming directors actually has the ability to present their work in Hollywood and get noticed, “Jaws” was so monumentally successful that crowds of people literally lined up outside the theatres and around the block to see this phenomenon of cinema. The crowds literally ‘busted the block’, and from there on, the Hollywood big wigs demanded films that would be on the same scale of “Jaws” and would be “Blockbusters”; never has that term been so critical before today.
Everywhere you look there are advertisements of basically the same film just under a different name. There will be a big poster with a beefed up hero and the antagonist placed in the background or beneath them surrounded by fire, electricity and explosions (which help form a pyramid-like display of characters), the sky (often dark), planes, tanks and various battling spacecrafts. (see below)
The trailers are the next example of the uncanny likeness of superhero films today. We have Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” to thank for this; ‘this’ being the powerful, ominous horn sound that dominates the trailer and allows for half the trailer to be a black screen between epic fades between slow shots. Next are the bleak and cliche snippets of dialogue which are few and far between. Phrases like “Darkness is coming”, “I need to protect people”, “This is too big for you” or “I won’t let this happen; I can’t.” fill the 2 minutes of teaser footage and add absolutely nothing but a safe and shallow slither of information about the film (which I guess is the point of a trailer, but nevertheless, there is an evident formula).
The films themselves appear to be more or less the same. Nowadays it has reached a point where it sadly is entirely about money. Comic book films are no longer films but multi-billion dollar franchises which have lead to endless sequels and crossovers to keep the fans interested. This formula works, and boy does it work well! The figures don’t lie, and they are nothing short of astonishing.
“The Avengers” alone generated a whopping $623, 279,547(US), not even counting the separate associated films. With the “Iron Man” franchise bringing in $1,039,347,885(US) over the three film series, it’s no wonder that these 100 minute epic displays of high-end special effects are popping up every second month. The two “Thor” films combined with “Captain America: The First Avenger” made $563,664,380 in total, and this is not counting the profit from the up and coming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
Some absolutely unimaginable figures have been generated from this juggernaut of an industry; adding up to $2,226,291,812(US) in profit thus far. It will take nothing short of the rapture to stop these money making machines from churning out these multi-million dollar pieces; even then, they’d somehow find a way to make more.
To add even more perspective to this, that $2 Billion(US) combined profit is simply from a handful of Marvel films; there is a complete other side to the comic book world, with DC comics in constant competition; producing films like “Man of Steel” and “The Dark Knight” which are too, bringing in astronomical profits.
Why it is a disgrace then that a film such as “The Avengers” should be placed at number 27/500 on the “Greatest Film’s of All Time” list is simple, it’s nothing extraordinary or original about it. Sure, “The Avengers” was highly entertaining, however I can’t remember anything particularly special about it; to me it seemed like 2 hours of mindless fun. It appeared to be a super-fan’s dream come true, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the regular film enthusiast’s ideal dream. It was a fan’s film, delivering everything the fans wanted (A good Hulk character, lots of action, aliens, hidden references only they would understand, an end scene establishing a sequel and of course, Scarlett Johansson in a black, skintight suit), and that is precisely what they got.
According to Empire Magazine, “The Avengers” is a better film than “Citizen Kane”, “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”, “Gone With The Wind”, “The Shining” and “Psycho”, which is just not right. I do believe it could potentially place somewhere on the list, however it would be in the bottom 50 at most (500-450). “The Dark Night” is also on the list, even higher up at number 15/500, which is an issue in itself; not as much of an issue as it’s #4 position on iMDB’s Top 250 List, that’s completely unacceptable. I liked “The Dark Knight” a lot, however the reception of this modern, darker comic book adaptation has similar links to the “Jaws” phenomenon, in that now, comic book film seem to be darker and ‘Nolan-like’, which has transcended through countless recent super-films. One positive “The Avengers” has is that it is not dark and ‘Nolan-like’; Empire magazine itself states that “The Avengers” “Makes comic book films fun again”, and it does, which was highly refreshing to see.
The list is questionable, I follow it because I am an avid reader of the magazine and a long-term subscriber. They seem to have the list more or less correct in the grand scheme of it all; I don’t expect them to put “The Usual Suspects” or “Se7en” (two of my all time favourites) in the top 10 out of 500, but at the same time there are a few which are highly undeserving of their place, particularly these shallow, dumb and mass-produced comic films. You can’t please everyone, but with choices like these, Empire have potentially outraged more than they have satisfied.
It’s unfortunately the world we live in; however I can take solace in the fact that I’m not living at this point of life in 2050. I personally fear the worst for cinema and what it could potentially become; that being a series of endless superhero sequels and prequels, each more grand and epic than the last, how sad and dark that would be.