I understand why Hollywood executives are so obsessed with remakes, returns and reboots. They know that the way to make money in films these days is to find something familiar to the ticket-buying audience and regurgitate it on to the screen for two hours.
In fact, we have hit the stage where the less original a film is, the more likely it is to make money.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a chart I totally didn’t just make up to show the correlation between doing the same old sh*t and making money:
The dip is for any reboot of The Fantastic Four.
Sure, some very rich people get to make a lot of money off the venture, but as an enthusiast it’s a little depressing. We’ve even reached the point where filmmakers have become so adept at working within the ridiculous confines of only making films people are already familiar with that they are making the formula work really well.
Take 22 Jump Street as an example. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took an idea that really should have been terrible and made a pretty great film. They did it for the Lego Movie, too. Hell, JJ Abrams made The Force Awakens work despite the incredible pressure he would have been dealing with. We’ve seen the future, and it’s made up of things you already know and have become somewhat bored of.
It’s therefore difficult to blame film execs for going down this route. If you were running the Disney film division of course you would order 8,000 Star Wars films in the next 2 years. You just have to mutter the words “Star Wars” and I start salivating like a Pavlovian dog, so you’d be stupid not to capitalise on that.
But what the hell is the logic for bringing Indiana Jones back?
Look, I’m a massive, massive fan of the original trilogy. Harrison Ford’s portrayal of the titular character is pretty much the definition of cool that I have tried and failed to live by my whole life, and the first film is so enjoyably 1980’s I can barely handle it. While others might see the 80’s as the decade of leggings and Rick Astley, for me it’s all about well-paced, needlessly-violent action adventure films. Of these, Indiana Jones is pretty much at the top of the pile.
But the time for this has come and gone. Were there really people out there who were longing for this to continue? Harrison Ford will be so old by the time the film comes out he will be one of the ancient treasures he has to find.
Apologies, Harry, but it’s kind of true.
That may sound like a flippant and unnecessary remark about a man’s age, but it’s important.
Something like Star Wars can be sequel’d in to a galaxy far, far away because that’s the universe it exists in. You could wipe out every character and start again and it would be fine, because are buying in to the idea of “Star Wars” more than they are the character development of Princess Leia. Same with Fast and Furious. The people who go to see this are meat-headed bros who want to see things go fast and explode and stuff (I imagine), and not how Vin Diesel’s character changes and evolves with the scarily escalating adventures he is experiencing.
Indiana Jones, however, is totally different. It’s about the man himself, not the stuff that goes on around him. What makes the original trilogy so great (particular Raiders of the Lost Ark) is that it’s this awesome, cool, handsome guy who runs around punching Nazis and finding mystical treasures. Seriously, look at this guy:
Tell me you don’t want to be him. I dare you.
But now? He’ll be 77 by the time this fifth one will come out, so I can only imagine the character will be as well. We already saw him ten years ago being significantly less awesome, are we to really expect that now he has a bus pass and a pension he’s going to be anything even close to as cool and handsome as he was nearly 40 years ago? I don’t know about you, but a retired teacher looking for old artefacts doesn’t sound that exciting to me. It sounds like an episode of Time Team.
All I can presume is that this isn’t actually trying to appeal to anyone. It’s just trying to wave something familiar and nostalgic in front of the noses of an increasingly easier to please audience and watching as they follow the trail like James Woods in Family Guy.
This pattern won’t change as long as we let it. There is zero pressure applied to the industry to come out with something unique or different. Hell, it’s not even looking for original anymore. And why should it? When Furious 7 can be the sixth highest grossing film of all time (!), why the hell would you bother going to the lengths to create something new? The power is in the hands of the consumer, and we’re just handing it back to the industry by doing whatever they want us to do.
Inevitably, this film will make a sh*ttonne of money. We’ll all know that it’s a cheap grab at stealing money from our pockets, but we’ll fall for it anyway. We’ll go to see it, it’ll probably be fine (it couldn’t be worse than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and we’ll leave the cinema ready for Ford to reprise his role as an 88 year old in 2030 in Indiana Jones: Search for the Lost Reading Glasses.
And when that happens, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
The Return of Indiana Jones Rating:
Yeah, you and me both, Indie.
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