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By Arun Gopinath
Whatever happened to creativity at Hollywood? Now, I am not going to start another rant about how Hollywood has become mostly a franchise and sequel-driven bandwagon which cannot think of anything new; that is something we all know. Wonder, what the Warner Brothers intend to do after the end of the Harry Potter franchise! Perhaps go on and make movies out of miniscule plots offered by ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them’ or from ‘Tales of Beedle the Bard’.

Okay, it is officially and unanimously known that we are all growing tired and weary of sequels, especially after Jack Sparrow returned to screen a fourth time in a very unflattering manner. Of course, there are a few that give us hope but simultaneously put us on a cautious back foot, true to the ‘once bitten twice shy’ adage, which include Peter Jackson’s two part prequel to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or the return of Sherlock Holmes.

Yes, sequels and franchise products have been given in an overdose. But, what worries one even more is that it is the supposed ‘original’ plots that are showing lesser and lesser originality than any of these sequels. Hollywood never seems to grow tired of certain things, even if a global audience is groaning in their seats. Just like USA could get away with bombing any part of the world at a time because they were the undisputed superpower, Hollywood seems to be getting away from amazing dearth of creativity just because there is very little competition in terms of size and global reach.

So, what is it that Hollywood never tires of? One: making films about how the erstwhile USSR hatches heinous plots to overthrow USA as the superpower, through military or spy operations, mostly nuclear submarines. Thank heavens that USSR only developed a nuclear arsenal as good as USA, not a film industry. Else we would also be burdened with films that showed the Russian view of things.

Two: about how extraterrestrial creatures periodically visit earth and try to overthrow mankind and how USA by its superior intelligence and military might is able to save all human forms of life. Occasionally the aliens are replaced by meteors or comets. This disaster genre did have an initial appeal, especially during the Armageddon, Independence Day times, but too many alien films have just pushed us to the brink of exhaustion. The designers especially seem to have run out of ideas for weird forms of extraterrestrials and that is why every new alien film always invokes a sense of déjà vu.

Three: The creature film; Hollywood’s favorite getaway when it does not have anything else to offer. The recipe includes taking a perfectly harmless animal – subject it to some human torture, scientific tests, radiation exposure, global warming etc., and produce a variant which is either a billion times larger or a million times more violent (or both put together) and let it loose in New York city (if there isn’t some other film of the same genre shooting there at the same time). It was an idea that worked well when it was still new, like King Kong or Godzilla. It still worked when the setting shifted to the jungles of Africa and snakes became the subject of interest; Anaconda, King Cobra and nearly half a dozen offshoots. The dearth of ideas and vicious creatures can be gauged from the fact that even insects became the chosen ones to overthrow mankind in the highly cheesy ‘Infestation’. I guess, it signaled the end of creature films.

No, I thought too soon. Hollywood is still not done with any of these. Least of all, the last two. And, it has been proved this past week. Cowboys and Aliens; how unimaginative can a title get? Trying to combine two of the best selling genres produced by Hollywood to make a movie which does not sell! The title of the film suggests that it is a B grade hit and giggle flick which has nothing but weird forms and lots of shooting to offer. No, it isn’t B grade, it has Harrison Ford (the most successful adventurer in Hollywood – Indiana Jones) and ‘James Bond’ Daniel Craig. If not for a classier script, it at least deserved a classier title. In fact, the title is so cheesy that it need not be changed while being dubbed into Tamil.

And, there is more of formula coming up. And, this time, it is of the third kind – the creature flick. And, now we go full circle back to apes. It all started with King Kong and we are back to the monkey stuff with ‘The Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. We know what to expect even without watching the trailers. And, there has been news that the makers have claimed the plot as original, not adapted from the original Planet of Apes. Yes, it would have taken an awful amount of thought to cook up a good enough reason to incite monkeys to go on the rampage! So, the plot is original! They expect us to buy that?

Fact is, Hollywood is the biggest film industry in the world and sometimes they get away with the most mediocre and unimaginative of films with some cool graphics and a Twentieth Century Fox banner because there is no other industry out there to challenge them. Even Hollywood is not always right or best and it is time we let them realize that.
Tags : Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Lord of the Rings, Armageddon, Godzilla, King Kong
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