Once upon a time, movie palaces gleamed in the summer light and contained wonder: Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Jaws, or Aliens or The Matrix. But for the past few years, though, going to the movies in the summer has been more lackluster than blockbuster. And I think there are a couple reasons why that can't be dismissed as mere nostalgia, and also why this year's been so especially underwhelming for the fun-seeking moviegoer. Here, then, are the seven reasons summer movies are getting dumber.
1) Effects over Affect
Anyone who watched in awe and wonder as a silver, shifting Robert Patrick ambled out of a burning Big Rig in Terminator 2 knows that special effects are a huge part of a summer movie. But those wonderful virtual visions aren't the only part, and that's being forgotten in the real world of moviemaking. After being told that the transforming in Transformers was so complex, so 'real' that it contained more motions than the human eye can follow, all you can do is sincerely hope that someone out there can remember that the point of a movie is to be followed by the human eye, and the human heart. Yes, Robert Patrick walking calmly out of that fire is a great moment in special effects; but it (and our first sight of the shark in Jaws, or the first dinosaur moment in Jurassic Park, or Trinity's lotus-kick in The Matrix) was also a moment that changed the stakes of the story of the film, that affected people who mattered to us. Nothing this summer's been written with that kind of mythic scale in mind. (300 reached for it, but missed. And, despite my fairly heated dislike for the film, I can almost – almost – respect their attempt.)