This weekend the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science holds its annual celebration of the movies for the past year and I couldn’t be any less enthusiastic. I will probably tape the show and play back the opening number and the monologue by this year’s host, Seth MacFarlane, but that’s about it. There was a time in my life when I enjoyed the show, but lately the movie industry has just disappointed me. There were some very good movies out there, but I saw absolutely none of those nominated for major awards this year.
When I was younger I loved going to the movies. I remember seeing the original “Star Wars” trilogy on the big screen as a really young boy. I remember my mother taking me to see “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when I was 11 years old, and how excited I was to the nonstop action. This was back when you had to go all the way to the Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road because there was nowhere to see first-run movies on this side of the river until I was a teenager.
Raising small children, I spent several years only going to the movies when the most recent Disney or Pixar animated movie would be released that I could take my children to see. Then there were the times when a comic book superhero movie would be released that I could take my older son to see. I had a pretty good stretch when they released the Harry Potter movies at just the right time when my children were the right age that they could understand the story and be interested in what was going on. Meanwhile there were just a few movies that I would see myself, but not too many.
There have been a lot of movies that I have wanted to see, but the rising ticket cost has been prohibitive — not to mention my inability to watch a movie without several pounds of popcorn and liters of soft drink that make it that much more expensive. To take a date, it could become a burden to do it more than a few times a year. If you want to spend an evening out with the family, it has become nearly unaffordable to do it very often.
With the availability of VCRs and later DVDs, staying at home and watching a movie has become so much more practical. These days I see many movies six months to a year after they come out either on Netflix or one of the premium cable movie channels. Occasionally we can also “rent” a movie from our cable provider shortly after they are not in theaters anymore.
Another reason for fewer visits to movie theaters is that Hollywood has lost much of its creativity recently, with many of the motion pictures released being either sequels or remakes. Even some movies that come out that are considered “original” are just rehashed material being redone with new actors in new locations, but in the end it is the same movie.
Last year, one of the few movies that I went to see was “The Dark Knight Rises.” This was the sequel to the blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” both part of director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of the “Batman” story. The fact that this was the eighth different “Batman” movie since I graduated high school wasn’t lost on me, but it was one of the better ones and I did enjoy it.
I have always enjoyed the coming-attraction movie trailers before the feature film, and sometimes I am disappointed if I miss them. The ironic thing about the previews on this trip to the movies was that every one of those shown was a sequel or a reboot of another movie or story that had already been told. That night there was nothing original.
The first preview we saw was for the “Man of Steel,” the reboot of the “Superman” franchise that is due out later this year. The next one we saw was for “Dredd,” a reexamination of “Judge Dredd” the horrible Sylvester Stallone flick from 1995 about a futuristic society where crime is rampant. Then came “Red Dawn,” the remake of the Patrick Swayze film from 1984 where Russians invaded the continental United States and a group of young freedom fighters take back their town.
The only movie trailer that looked promising that we saw that night was for the upcoming movie “Oz the Great and Powerful.” This movie is a prequel inspired by L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” starring James Franco. It tells the story of how a Kansas circus magician becomes the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy arrives. This is one of the few movies that I am looking forward to and I may see it in the theater.
There is nothing like seeing a great flick in the theater on the big screen. I am not going to shell out 10 bucks for a ticket and another $15 for snacks (just for me) in order to see just any movie. If the movie industry wants to put more butts in the seats, they are going to have to step up their game. It is way too easy for me to stay at in the comfort of my home with some microwave popcorn and my remote control. At least then I can pause and not miss anything when I have to go to the bathroom.
— Matthew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.