I had the occasion a few days ago to attend a meeting where the topic of discussion was a preview of some of the movies that will be coming out in the summer of 2014. Only science-fiction movies were presented, and I didn’t count how many there were, but I figure there must have been about fifteen of them. And they were all the same.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t mean that they were all exactly the same. Not at all. But in an overall sense, and in an creative sense, they were all very similar. Each of the movies had what could be described as a common set of ingredients: an absolutely overwhelming reliance on special effects, an alien or a monster (sometimes one and the same), lots of loud noise, explosions, massive destruction of people and buildings, and, perhaps, very little acting of any consequence. (I haven’t seen any of the movies, just the previews.) It’s as though the producers of these films have found a single, almost unique, formula for sci-fi movies, and don’t want to do anything differently. There was an overwhelmingly massive lack of imagination in what I saw. Each preview just presented the same crappy story over and over. Monsters/aliens, noise, explosions, special effects. Over and over. I couldn’t believe it.
There is nothing so simple and easy to write as a story about a monster that terrorizes some group of people, whether it’s one city, a continent, an entire planet, or the solar system. It’s been done to death. Throw in some special effects and you’ve got a movie. And there is nothing more complicated than writing a script where the real monster is not a humongous, ugly creature, but the forces that reside inside all of us, where feelings and motivations exist. A story where the thing the characters have to fear is themselves. A conflict of wants and desires, of goods and evils, of ambitions and fears, of mania and depression, of yearnings and hungers, of fulfillments and satisfactions. A story like that requires real creativity and ingenuity to put together, and that almost appears beyond today’s movie makers. They’re stuck on one thing because it makes money for them at the expense of good taste and perception. And money is how movies are rated nowadays. Isn’t anyone going to make another Star Wars, A New Hope? That show was more about imagination and internal conflict than it was about special effects.