Thursday’s Thoughts: Men in Black 3 & The Chernobyl Diaries

Posted: May 24, 2012 by jperritt in Thursday's Thoughts
Tags: , , , ,

This weekend two ‘unoriginal’ films are being released, Men in Black III, and The Chernobyl Diaries (I understand that TCD is not a sequel or part of a trilogy, but it follows the reality/horror genre of The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine, & The Paranormal Activity franchise).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure both of these films possess creativity and there are other sequels and trilogies that are excellent (check out our posts on Top 10 Trilogies part 1 and part 2), however, both of these films are based off of pre-existing content.

I honestly don’t have a problem with sequels.  There are good ones and there are very bad ones.  The story of any film takes some level of creativity to make, so we should be cautious of knee-jerk critiques.  Yes, many sequels are simply money-makers for studios, but many people who critique these films have never actually made a movie, so that truth should keep us humble.

I for one, enjoy reboots and sequels, because it gives filmmakers the ability to improve their craft, tell a better story, or develop a character more deeply.  As I have posted before (here and here) I think there is a deeper longing to be re-created.  Everything gets old and worn out, therefore, we long – just as the filmmakers do – for this idea of being recreated.

All of that being said, there is also a chance that Men in Black III and The Chernobyl Diaries are simply trying to make money.  Therefore, what every box-office-watching movie producer knows, is that these types of films have made money, and money is very important to them.

In the book, Popologetics (P&R 2012), author Ted Turnau takes an in-depth look at such topics as pop culture, worldview, entertainment, & apologetics, to name a few.  This is a book everyone needs to read, especially those that follow this site.  It’s an excellent work that is very helpful.  In the book he states,

the entertainment industry is always probing to find out what the public likes, chasing popular tastes.  That is why there are so many sequels and why Hollywood studios bank on ‘star power’ to draw audiences.  They are risking money, and they want to reduce the risk by investing in names and stories that have already proved themselves at the box office.  In other words, for popular culture to succeed, it must connect with us, with our worldviews.  It must reflect back what is already there. (pgs. 20 & 21)

Turnau is on to something.  For some reason MIB3 & TCD have resonated with our culture.  That is why studios are making these movies; they will make money.  Watch the box office results after this weekend.  Even though TCD might not make as much, it will make money.  It is filled with no-name actors (cheap), therefore, the out-of-pocket costs will be less than what is received at the box office, most likely.  That movie can be made fairly cheap.  MIB3, on the other hand, is not cheap, but studios will spend a bit more because Will Smith has proved himself summer, after summer, after summer at the box office.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of why these films resonate with audiences.  So this is what I want you to reflect on, what is it about Will Smith fighting aliens in a comical sci-fi film and college students getting attacked by nuclear fall-out victims that makes people buy a ticket?  Is it simply because we like to laugh or be scared?  Is anything wrong with simply being scared or laughing?  What deeper Truth are these films hitting on that resonates with audiences?

  1. DustyOldTrail says:

    I always saw TCD as a remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Found footage and new location to get the new audience amped about something not so good.

    I think we seek remakes and reboots so much because we asume that “new is always better”. This is hardly ever the case (new coke, Star Wars prequels, New Jersey, babies) but we as a culture still actively search for something novel to declare as the best thing ever. As much as I love Tom Brady, he is not the best quarterback to ever play the great sport of football (yet). I think it’s because we are experiencing it at the moment, it belongs solely to our time and not our parent’s time. We want to believe that we are living in the best possible era with the best possible people. It’s a bit like that quote about patriotism, we believe our country’s the best simply because we were born in it.

    There’s nothing new under the sun and depending on your interpretation of Daniel, the empires of the world get progressively less great over time. Timelessness bores us because we’ve heard it a thousand times before. that’s why accents are so interesting, the same words said in a new, more attractive way. In the end though it’s the eternal things that are the most important. We’ve heard the Gospel story so many times that we tend to tune it out, I know I do. It’s like the children’s bible though, everything goes back to Jesus. His death was enough for my sins. His resurrection brings me to life eternal. It’s hard but we all have to pray that this one truth never gets outdated and that the reinterpretations of the gospel that we make inside of our heads always dissipate when met with the original.

    So I got bored again ok it happens. At least it keeps me of the streets.

  2. […] reviewing Ted Turnau’s book, Popologetics.  Some of you may even remember that I quoted it a few weeks ago.  It is not only an excellent book, but one that the Reel Thinking community should read.  P […]

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