Archive for August, 2013

Battleship-Box-OfficeWhich of the summer-movie season blockbusters did you enjoy the most-or actually go to?  The Lone Ranger?  Man of Steel?  Iron Man 3?  There were a whole lot to choose from, that’s for sure.  Some of the others you can choose from are: After EarthWorld War ZWhite House Down, Pacific RimR.I.P.D.Red 2Star Trek, The Wolverine, and Elysium.  Each of these big-budget, heavy action, CGI-enhanced movies hoped to be the next big thing.  Most of them were colossal failures, especially from a budgetary standpoint.  So the understandable question is now being asked on internet sites across the globe: Is the age of the summer blockbuster over?  And the related question: Why aren’t people coming to the movies in droves to see these amazing films?

In my reading, it seems like most analysts answer that question a couple of different ways.  First, we are being told that there were just way too many big-budget blockbusters made this summer, causing a glut in the market.  In past summers, people could take a breath between releases; this summer they just came too fast and furious (Yes, add that one to the list as well).  And, people only have a certain amount of money to spend at the movies, so the revenue just became too diluted.

Another common theory is that we are all suffering from either CGI burnout or superhero/comic book movie burnout.  While we have been enamored by the amazing technology that could make us go see terrible movies like Avatar, we have just had way too much of them.  Same goes for superhero movies with sequel after sequel, followed by a couple of spin-offs as well.  The movie-going public appears to be just sort of fed-up with mind-blowing action and computer generated images that skimp on content.

Now these are very good explanations to the epic failure of summer 2013.  But I would like to suggest that much bigger than these reasons is the fact that so many of these films tell incredibly lousy STORIES!  They are often so predictable as to be silly, and just go nowhere with their character and plot development.  Many of the writers of these stories seem to be more preoccupied with either the shock and awe of the technology or on advancing a political/social agenda than telling a quality story.  Creative writing with characters and plots we can sink our mental teeth into are just tremendously lacking.  Hollywood, as with most of our American institutions, seems to want us just to disengage our brains and sit back and be entertained by cosmic destruction, overpaid actors, and a joke or two thrown in for good measure.

So I take it as good news that these movies are failing.  Maybe we are actually longing to be told a good story.  Christians, with our minds being renewed each day, should want stories that will make us truly think and feel in God-honoring ways.  Even non-believers, made in the image of God, really desire to be told a story that will enliven the heart and mind rather than continue to deaden them.  Ultimately, our true longing is for the greatest story ever told–the grand story of redemption in Jesus Christ!

As much as we’re all probably getting tired of looking forward to big blockbuster movies only to be disappointed, there is really a much bigger problem out there.  It’s one thing for Hollywood to lose its ability to tell a good story; but the real worry is that Christians aren’t much better.  No, I’m not referring to the so-called Christian movie industry, but rather the main venues of our “storytelling”– the pulpit and the Christian Education classroom.  We too can engage in a whole lot of fluff, joke telling, and entertaining production that moves us away from the amazing stories of Scripture.  Instead of being passionate about the Word and becoming more skilled in the art of communicating it to the world, we can settle for lightweight sermons and Bible lessons that leave people empty.  Our prayer should be that a renewal of quality storytelling take place in our churches first, where hungry hearts and minds can engage with life-giving truth.  Then, maybe some gifted writers will once again give us stories in film that will encourage and engage us!

The Gospel Coalition was gracious enough to let me guest post for them today. Be sure and swing by to check out my post on Pacific Rim.