The Story Beind the Epic Summer Blockbuster Failures

Posted: August 19, 2013 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

  1. lukegranlund says:

    Great article…it encourages me to find a blog that thinks Biblically about movies. Story telling is dying because our culture, no longer grounded in the ONE TRUE STORY…has lost the ability to recognize the deeper meanings of life. If life has no meaning, then stories have no meaning either. I have a similar desire to view films through a Biblical lens…my blog is listed below.

  2. […] John C. Kwasny’s recent piece at Reel Thinking called The Story Behind the Epic Summer Blockbuster Failures. Summer 2013 has has disrupted the escalation of epic blockbusters Denby verbosely lamented. In […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s