Are franchises leaving us behind?
Franchises have been on my mind a lot of late. We've had the big names of Star Trek and Indiana Jones return to our cinemas and to quite a mixed response, and we're awaiting the return of the Terminator franchise, and that too is starting to come under some heavy fire from critics ahead of the release.
Looking at the latest outings for these big three franchises, there are a number of things in common with them, and while these aspects are enticing new audiences in, they're shunning away the old.
However the question is, are the fans of the older parts of the franchise just not keeping up with the times and the modernisation of the franchises, or are the franchises losing their magic for straightforward action?
When I watched Star Trek (Filmstalker review) just recently I was disappointed, yes it's a good film, a great action adventure with some science fiction thrown in there, but it's definitely not "your Father's Star Trek", or even mine for that matter.
I loved the characterisation and the building of the relationships and the bad guy in The Undiscovered Country and The Wrath of Khan, my two favourite Star Trek films, and I felt these were built through the slower moments of the film, more reflective.
Some of the larger moments of Undiscovered Country that stick in my head are Spock addressing the Federation council, the Klingon spouting Shakespeare lines or facing off with Kirk, both of them warriors fighting this idea of peace, and the scene of Kirk defending himself against the Klingon court.
These scenes stick with me much more than the frantic action sequences, which were very good too, but the film was made on the other scenes, on the characters.
The new Star Trek is action and adventure all the way, lighting flares that blind you at every opportunity, and action, action, action. The characterisation is much lighter and is played through the action sequences themselves as asides and "on the way to" moments.
Now I'm not saying it's a bad film, in fact my review says otherwise, it's just that it isn't a Star Trek film, and from what we're promised the franchise isn't going to be Star Trek any more, not the old Star Trek anyway.
The same could be said of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Filmstalker review). It too sacrificed a lot of the great characterisation for more action, more CGI, and more set pieces. However in this case it did suffer a stronger indignation from the audience. For half of the film Indy was lost behind CGI animals, his sidekick son, and incredible fridge doors.
Now Terminator Salvation is coming, and the early voices are already there saying it's all action, and exciting action too, but it's just not Terminator, not the old Arnie Terminator we knew.
Similar examples could be made from Aliens vs. Predator, which has taken two franchises together and replaced the subtleties and nuances of the creatures and their foes with the Hollywood formula of "more" and "bigger", again more action, more CGI, and less on what really made the franchises strong, or in Predator's case the first film.
You could even take Star Wars as a prime example, the first three episodes compared to the last three, the old versus the new franchise. Without a doubt the change between these two is palatable. Even the original three films have had the "more" and "bigger" applied throughout with the plentiful use of CGI.
By now I'm sure you can see the pattern, and the question strikes me, is the fact that we're not keeping up with the modernisation of these franchises, or that they are losing their magic and complexities for more action, CGI, in effect "more" and "bigger"?
Is it that the fans of the older franchises are the ones who aren't being modernised, who aren't keeping up with the times and the demands of modern audiences, or is it that the modernised audiences are missing out on the magic of the old films in favour of bright, shiny, close cropped, non-stop action?