Five Film Trends in the Last Five Years

While the past decade has boasted higher ticket prices at the theaters, the art of film, or plainly stated, the box office records, have show some major trends in movies over the past five years. While this list can easily exceed five trends, these are ones I have noticed and researched.

5) Dystopian book-to-film adaptations on the rise

Recently, I published a post on a comparison of The Hunger Games (2012) and Divergent (2014) films. Those two movies are part of only two of the major book-turned-film franchises to hit the box office over the past five years. Most film fans are no stranger to the dystopian film genre. The Matrix (1999) series started in the late ’90s. Tom Cruise’s film The Minority Report (2002) was based on Philip K. Dick’s short story. Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), and Twelve Monkeys (1995) are only three offerings of the genre we were offered in the 1980s and ’90s. But in the past five years (2010-2014), I have noticed many dystopian books get a movie deal.

Never-Let-Me-Go-30929_5

The first one in the past five years I thought of was Never Let Me Go (2010), a British sci-fi drama that focused on the lives of three clones who exist for the purpose of donating their organs to others. Another popular, although unsuccessful film, is Atlas Shrugged Part 1 (2010), a dystopian film based on the controversial novel by Ayn Rand. One book that, while may not be considered dystopian in nature, nevertheless has its film adaptation fit well enough into the dystopian genre is World War Z (2013), starring Brad Pitt. Two other noteworthy films to include in this category are Dredd (2012) and Oblivion (2013), each based off graphic novels, the latter inspired by Joseph Kosinski’s unpublished manuscript of the same name.

Of course, the most well-known dystopian book-to-film adaptations include the box-smashing The Hunger Games series, with the final two movies getting released this year and 2015; Divergent, the movie based on the popular YA series written by Veronica Roth; The Giver, an unsuccessful film adaptation that didn’t sit well with critics, yet was inspired by a prominent book written in the early ’90s (you can see my review of the movie here); and The Maze Runner, the the first of three popular James Dashner novels that will be released next month in theaters.

4) Female protagonist films lead the box office

In the 1950s and ’60s, there were women-centered films and female protagonists. They were marketed in a much more sexist way then, but the times have changed, and more films have starred women. But in the last five years, films with female-protagonists have led the box office. According to Time‘s article “5 Things We’ve Learned in 5 Years of Box Office Reports,” published just this past April, the year 2012 included three movies in the top eight that starred women: The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence; Breaking Dawn Part 2, starring Kristen Stewart; and Brave, starring the talented voice work of Kelly Macdonald. The same article notes that last year, three of the top six films had female protagonists (Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Indina Menzel in Frozen).

Perhaps the most notable fact that supports the idea that female protagonist films are leading the box office is that 2013’s highest-grossing film was the Jennifer Lawrence-starring film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the first movie since 1965’s The Sound of Music (starring Julie Andrews) to fill that top spot.

Of course, The Hunger Games franchise are not the only female-starring movies to make a splash at the box office over the past five years. Salt (2010), Hanna (2011), and Haywire (2012) were all female-led movies that obtained positive scores with both critics and viewers alike, with Angelina Jolie’s action film leading the box office with over $100 million.

3) Comic book movies no longer niche genre

When Sam Raimi’s first Spiderman (2002), I thought it was a special case. Personally, I loved that movie. My family regularly rented it from Blockbuster. It was the first superhero movie I had seen that wasn’t about Batman or Superman. The first Batman movie was released in theaters in 1966. I was amazed how odd it was that in 2002, it wasn’t considered a usual thing for a movie to be based on a comic book character, unless it was Superman or Batman. Blade 2 (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003),  Hellboy (2004), and Catwoman (2004) were all released in the next three years following Raimi’s first Spiderman, just a few of the comic-based movies to get released in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized the first X-Men film, directed by Bryan Singer, was released in theaters in 2000.

In the early 2000s, there’s a sense that many film critics didn’t take the comic book based film as seriously as other film genres, such as dramas, biopics, and comedies. But times have changed, and there has been a new acceptance of comic-based films as Marvel has mapped out its future in movies for at least the next six years. (This is a fun article worth checking out, Marvel fans.) DC seems to take note of Marvel, now working on its own agenda for a Batman vs. Superman movie along with a Justice League film franchise in the works.

While it isn’t perfect, I found a list that compiles every superhero movie released, both on TV and in theaters, including both animated and live-action films. A quick view of the list would prove that comic book movies are no longer niche, but far more commonplace as they have found a place at the movies, considerably expanding its audience. I would personally credit Christopher Nolans’s The Dark Knight trilogy for giving audiences and critics a darker, more serious adaptation of comic based films, proving that just because the movie is based off a comic book character, doesn’t mean it can’t be a stylistic, entertaining, and bold film worthy of praise.

2) Sequels and remakes lead the way

Perhaps this trend has existed more than just in the past five years, but I imagine most anyone can agree that few original screenplays make it to the big screen today, and if they do, they usually do not sell the most tickets or perform as successfully. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, such as 2010’s Inception, the original screenplay penned by Christopher Nolan, but let’s get back to the point.

Fan art that just makes you laugh 🙂

Here is a non-exclusive, incomplete list over the past five years of major sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots that premiered each year:

2010: Clash of the Titans (sequel), Why Did I Get Married Too? (sequel), A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake), Iron Man 2 (sequel), Shrek Forever After (sequel), Sex and the City 2 (sequel), The A-Team (remake), The Karate Kid (remake), Toy Story 3 (sequel), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (sequel), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (sequel), True Grit (remake)

2011: Scream 4 (sequel), Paranormal Activity 3 (sequel), Fright Night (remake), The Hangover Part 2 (sequel), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (reboot), Kung Fu Panda 2 (sequel), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (sequel), Fast Five (sequel), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (sequel), Cars 2 (sequel), Happy Feet 2 (sequel), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (sequel)

2012: The Dark Knight Rises (reboot, sequel), The Amazing Spider-Man (reboot), The Expendables 2 (sequel), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (sequel), Men in Black 3 (sequel), Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (sequel), Prometheus (prequel), Wrath of the Titans (sequel), Total Recall (remake), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel), The Bourne Legacy (sequel)

2013: Iron Man 3 (sequel), Carrie (remake), Despicable Me 2 (sequel), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (sequel), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (sequel), Kick-Ass 2 (sequel), Man of Steel (reboot), Monsters University (sequel), Red 2 (sequel), Evil Dead (remake), Scary Movie 5 (sequel), The Great Gatsby (remake), Star Trek Into Darkness (reboot, sequel), The Hangover 3 (sequel)

2014: Annie (remake), 300: Rise of an Empire (sequel), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (sequel), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (reboot, sequel), Godzilla (remake), X-Men: Days of Future Past (prequel, sequel), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (sequel), Transformers: Age of Extinction (sequel), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (reboot, sequel), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (sequel)

What’s even funnier about it is that if you google “remakes and sequels for the year [fill in year],” every year for the past five years contains articles similarly titled to “[insert year]” is the year of remakes and sequels!

1) A billion dollars isn’t a billion dollars anymore

A quick check at recent box office records, or the same Time‘s article I’ve been citing throughout this post shows that the billion dollar list, James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) becoming its first entry, has now grown to a whopping 19 movies, including both last year’s Iron Man 3 and Frozen.

List of Highest Grossing Films

Image taken from Wikipedia’s page “List of Highest Grossing Films.” Green indicates the film is still playing in theaters around the world.

Looking at that list, you’ll notice that only three of those movies were released in the 1990s. Twelve of those films entered the list during the 2010s. But what’s most interesting about the list is that it isn’t adjusted for inflation, which changes everything, especially the list of highest-grossing films:

Highest Grossing Films Adjusted for Inflation

Image taken from Wikipedia’s page “List of Highest Grossing Films.”

Now it’s your turn, folks. What trends have you noticed in film in the past five years? Which trends do you find to be most dominant? Have some trends lasted longer than others? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts! 

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AEOS Review: Lucy (2014)

Lucy. When a movie’s title is named after its titular character, I expect one of two things: either, a) the movie is an in-depth film about that character, and as viewers, we learn all about that character; or b) no one had any better ideas for what to name the movie, so they took the easy route and named it after the main character.

In the case of Lucy, I would go with option b. The movie never let me know what kind of person Lucy was or is. We find out only what becomes of her within the first fifteen minutes. Lucy’s personality and actions were all over the place, which fit in well enough with the plot. I wasn’t expecting a Jerry MaGuire or a Forrest Gump, both films rightly named after its main character; I found Lucy to remind me more of Hanna, but with less explanation or background.

The only information we know about Lucy prior to her predicament is that she dated someone who seemed to be a weird guy who got involved with the wrong guys, and he was lame enough to force his girlfriend of one week into a drug deal that he knew would kill him (and it did, even with Lucy’s involvement). Perhaps this is information enough to let us know that Lucy isn’t the brightest girl.

Why is Lucy important? Well, she’s not. Ultimately, she’s a drug mule that unintentionally had the drug CPH4 leaked into her system when one of her captors kicked her in the stomach. The screenplay was all over the place. We get some great scenes of Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) teaching his class about his theories and research on the human brain; however, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) spirals out of control (or maybe into control) as she gains more control of her brain capacity. Of course this information is relevant, and it touches only the surface of what has actually become of Lucy.

I’m not sure whether Lucy is a revenge movie or a psychological thriller, or maybe just a movie named Lucy for the heck of it. The plot is simple and unravels quickly: twenty-five-year-old Lucy is kidnapped by a Japanese drug lord who uses Lucy and three other unlucky souls as mules to transfer the drug CPH4 into four different countries. Lucy’s situation differs from the other three mules in that the bagged drug has actually leaked into her system when she struggles against one of her captors, leading him to abuse and kick her, loosening the bag and leaking the powerful drug into her system. Suddenly, Lucy not only has her brain capacity freed, but she also quickly discovers that her brain capacity is extending at a fast rate, unlocking abilities no human being has ever been capable of. These abilities include controlling people with her mind, teleporting, and ultimately outsmarting and killing anyone in her way. Her captors and enemies are pawns, dying off one by one as Lucy seeks out Professor Norman to find a solution when she realizes the Professor’s theories on the human brain are true, and her rapidly growing brain capacity will kill her.

I didn’t find Lucy‘s plot to be significant or interesting enough to actually indulge in the full runtime of the film. I actually found myself bored most of the movie, wondering how the plot unraveled into an ending where Lucy’s brain capacity has reached 100%. This obviously means that with the help of Professor Norman and his colleagues, Lucy will die, and must choose to pass on her newfound information. To accomplish this, when she reaches 100%, she will dissolve into a black-ish liquid, seep into a computer, and turn into a flash drive full of information to pass on to the professor.

Scarlett Johansson seems to make more than a capable action star, having added her third Black Widow performance in Captain America 2 to her resume of great roles, but for me, she didn’t really work as an interesting enough character in Lucy, and I would probably blame more of it on the screenplay than Johansson’s efforts. Amr Waked plays a likeable cop who helps Lucy get to where she needs to be, but as for why Lucy selects his character to help her is never explained. Waked filled the role of a character that needed to serve the plot, much like the drug lord Mr. Jang (Min-Sik Choi), who played what I would consider an unmemorable role, bowing to the film’s premise of playing the stereotypical bad guy who dies in the end.

Most people compare Lucy to Limitless, which might be a better title for a movie with an uninteresting lead character but a thought-provoking plot. I thought Limitless was a better, more interesting movie. Neither movie is perfect, and I think like the plot, writer-director Luc Besson was scraping the surface when penning a screenplay about accessing a high percentage of one’s brain. There’s more to tap into. Abandoning the story to end with a pile of drugged-up girl turned black goo turned computer turned EVERYWHERE, with Morgan Freeman standing around, blindly understanding what no one else seems to be getting, is a poor ending for an interesting idea.

I didn’t care for Lucy, and I give it

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What are your thoughts on Lucy? Am I missing what made Lucy a 61% film on Rotten Tomatoes? Please join the discussion below, because I’d love to know your thoughts!

Twelve Months of Movies, 2011 Ed.

Instead of picking the best or the most interesting or even my top 12 movies of the year, I decided that with Christmas being this month, I would do my own segment of the “Twelve Months of Movies” — and choose my favorite film, a runner-up, my pick for worst movie, and if applicable, movies I still want to see for each month of this year.

January

FavoriteThe Company Men

Runner-UpThe Dilemma

WorstThe Green Hornet

February

FavoriteThe Other Woman

Runner-UpUnknown

WorstDrive Angry

March

FavoriteLimitless

Runner-UpThe Lincoln Lawyer

WorstBeastly

April

FavoriteSource Code

Runner-UpHanna

Wanting to See–Sympathy for Delicious

May

FavoriteMidnight in Paris

Runner-UpSomething Borrowed

WorstHangover, Pt. II

Wanting to SeeThe Beaver, Hesher, Tree of Life

June

FavoriteX-Men: First Class

Runner-UpSuper 8

WorstTransformers: Dark of the MoonBad Teacher

Wanting to SeeBeautiful Boy, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

July

FavoriteHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. II

Runner-UpLarry Crowne

WorstZookeeper

August

FavoriteThe Help

Runner-UpRise of the Planet of the Apes

WorstOne Day

September

Favorite50/50

Runner-UpMoneyball

WorstAbduction

Wanting to SeeWarrior, Puncture, Drive

October

FavoriteAnonymous

Runner-UpThe Ides of March

WorstTrespass

Wanting to SeeThe Three Musketeers, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Like Crazy

November

FavoriteThe Descendants

Runner-UpThe Muppets

WorstTwilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. I

Wanting to SeeMelancholia, A Dangerous Method, My Week With Marilyn, The Artist, Arthur Christmas

December

Expected FavoriteTinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Wanting to SeeSherlock Holmes 2: Game of ShadowsMission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, We Need to Talk about Kevin, The Girl with the Dragon TattooWe Bought a ZooExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Iron Lady

Expected WorstAlvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked