The Modern Blockbuster: Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots
Co-existing uneasily on the film pages of the Guardian this weekend are two articles on the state of the modern blockbuster. The first, justifiably popping up all over the web, features Mark Kermode, in anticipation of his book The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex’s publication in September, railing against the contempt that blockbuster-makers in genera,l and Michael Bay, in particular have for their audience’s intelligence.
If you want kids’ movies in which cameras crawl up young women’s skirts while CGI robots hit each other over the head, interspersed with jokes about masturbation and borderline-racist sub-minstrelsy stereotyping, then Bay is your go-to guy… Down in the deepest bowels of the abyss there is a 10th circle of hell in which Bay’s movies play for all eternity, waiting for their creator to arrive, his soul tortured by the realisation that he knew what he was doing…
But, Hollywood isn’t listening to Mark. It seems as if it hasn’t finished with the robots. Before they all explode in a CGI fireball of ticket prices and audience expectations, there’s one more treat in store, Hugh Jackman vehicle, Real Steel, an impossible glossy and cheesy-looking film about, yet again, robots lamping each other in the robo-face.
Ben Child holds off telling us about how much he’s “loving the imagination and attention to detail put into the design of the various robots” to critique this summer’s blockbuster offerings: “a surprisingly decent one for fanboy fare”. SOURCE CODE, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES were all ok (as their Omniscores testify) but weren’t quite right…
The first looked like Duncan Jones’s foray into director-for-hire territory but turned out to be a pleasingly weird, sinister thriller with a classy Hitchcockian edge, a terrific cast and surprising heart. The next pair did all that might be expected of two of Marvel’s less-celebrated properties, and the latter was a supremely silly but intensely watchable update of the long-running intelligent monkey saga.
All very good. But what Childs is really hoping for is that Real Steel (or, let’s be honest, Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots – The Movie) will be the “well-realised popcorn flick” that 2011 so sorely needs.
Keep those fingers crossed, Ben and maybe have a flick through Kermode’s book while you wait for Real Steel’s release in October.