The 2000’s saw the rise of the franchise reboot – that is taking an established franchise and giving it a do-over after it’s been dormant for a few years. One of the biggest (and most recent) examples of this is J.J. Abrams new take on a 40-plus year old franchise, something which has given birth to everything from TV shows and movies, to whole conventions dedicated to it: Star Trek.
An easy job it was NOT for director Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to take all that mythos and put a modern spin on it. But they did so fantastically, finding the all-important balance of respecting the original Trek material (read: don’t incur the wrath of the Trekkies! :P ) but making it accessible to everyone else who were not fans of the series to begin with. It definitely worked, with Trekkies and non-Trekkies both agreeing it’s one of the most fun and all-round best films of 2009.
Other reboots of famous franchises mainly are in the horror camp: Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street… the list goes on and on. Although unlike Star Trek, a reboot of these franchises (it could be argued) were warranted since the current ones had long ago run out of steam. But where they differ from Star Trek is that the result wasn’t worthy of the franchise name (with the possible exception of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is still to be released). Inevitably, they’ve shaped the horror genre of the modern age by being the only exposure to these franchises that younger audiences will have, thus leading them to think they’re THE versions of each.
How wrong they are…
3. Superhero Movies Go Mainstream
In the very late ’80s and throughout the ’90s there was one superhero who dominated the movies: Batman. Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns were good, but Batman Forever showed signs of trouble and then came the travesty that was Batman & Robin, which in 1997 effectively killed the comic book movie for some time.
Then, in the year 2000 came Bryan Singer’s X-Men, which officially revitalized the troubled comic book movie genre (some argue it was Blade in 1998). It can’t be underestimated how much of a big task that was for Singer, to take that comic book/set of characters and make it work on the big-screen, keeping it true to the source material but still making it truly it’s own separate entity that non comic-book purists could enjoy.
X-Men paved the way for the mainstream success of the comic-book movie. The movie made almost $300 million worldwide, signs of more successful things to come: X2: X-Men United, Spider-Man 1-3, Blade 2 and 3, Fantastic Four on and on – comic book movies had suddenly become plentiful and successful in the world of movies. Whether good (X-Men) or bad (Spider-Man 3), they became a forced to be reckoned with and are now the dominant money makers and audience pleasers around.
2. The Long Wait Is Over
The first decade of the 21st century brought us a couple of major returns (there are more than that, but we’re only going to look at a couple): First, we finally, after almost 20 years, checked back in on our old pal Indiana Jones for a fourth adventure in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the return to greatness that we were all hoping it would be (maybe it was to SOME, but for most folks it was a huge letdown) with its silly action (not in the fun Indy way we’re used to) and often lame dialogue (amongst other things).
The second big return was of the legendary filmmaker James Cameron, with his 3D motion-capture sci-fi epic Avatar. It’s the man’s first film since the multi-Oscar winning, all-time box office juggernaut success that was Titanic. Cameron had the idea for the film over 14 years ago and he tried to make it then but was told the technology just didn’t exist. So he waited. And finally, around about the time he noticed the revolutionary work done with Gollum in LOTR, the special effects technology had caught up with him, and he could bring his other-worldly vision to vibrant, skillfully crafted life.
The hype for Avatar has been monumental – it being hailed as the next big step forward in filmmaking. And if you’ve listened to Cameron and those closest to him and the project, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Fortunately, the film lived up the hype (see our review).
1. Superhero Movies Get Serious
When comic book movies went mainstream and became successful, one thing was on the agenda for them to begin with (for the most part, anyway) – they were pure fun. They were looked at completely as their own category of movie, and you’d hear opinions such as, “It was good… for a comic book movie.” However, in summer of 2005 came the movie that changed all that: Batman Begins.
The Batman franchise before that (which was almost destroyed by Batman & Robin) was fun and light-hearted in many ways, but no one thought it could be anymore than that. That was until Christopher Nolan came along and breathed fresh life into not only the Batman series but comic book movies in general by getting serious… Deadly serious. Batman Begins was not just ‘a good movie for a comic book movie,’ but a quality movie in its own right that’s still very much respected to this day.
Then came its sequel in the summer of 2008, the juggernaut (in every sense of the word) that was The Dark Knight. The debate continues as to whether a lot of the buzz around the film was due to the untimely death of Heath Ledger before the film’s release. But there’s no doubting the impact the film had, as fanboys and critics alike hailed it as (what seemed at the time) the greatest thing to come out of the movie world since the invention of celluloid. The film went even further with the darkness that Begins introduced, by exploring such themes as chaos, mass murder (not in the campy way seen in previous comic book movies) and, if you look past the theatrics, statements about homegrown terrorism.
Other such serious comic book movies include 300, 30 Days of Night and Sin City, but one I want to highlight is one from earlier this year, the adaptation of the much-loved and much-lauded graphic novel, Watchmen. Extremely violent and strictly for adults only (I doubt parents who took a risk bringing their 8-year old to see TDK would allow them to watch the Watchmen come out and play), Watchmen no doubt made an impact on those who saw it, not only as one of the most slavishly faithful adaptations from one medium to another, but as a truly “proper” film its own right.
So there you have it, Screen Rant‘s list of 10 movie events that shaped the first decade of the 21st century. As I said at the beginning, it’s impossible for us to cover everything (that’s why we didn’t call it THE 10 movie events :) ). I’m sure you’ve got a few to share that we didn’t cover – and we’d love to know what they are! But what did you think of the points we DID raise? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.
Here’s to another 10 years of eventful and influential goings-on in the world of movies… What would we all do without them?
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