Wednesday, 19 March 2008

They Don't Make Films Like This Anymore

The other night, Demolition Man was showing on ITV. A mate and I were watching the film and discussing it over MSN, and we came to an agreement: they just don't make films like this anymore. The recent Hollywood trend of resurrecting every successful franchise since sliced bread has blurred the line, but given the difference in body counts between John Rambo and the first Rambo film, and the sucky high-life aspect of Rocky Balboa, contrasted against the underdog aspect of the original, show that this new formula misses the mark by a long way.

I'm not sure what it is about Demolition Man, and similar old-school movies, that is too brilliant to make it into the attributes of modern movies. I don't think it's mere nostalgia, as that is usually shattered immediately upon revisiting the bygone remnant. Those of us who have dug out the NES or Spectrum et al to play the games of our childhood will attest to this - we swiftly realise that the game we loved were only good for their time, with a few exceptions. The exceptions tend to stand the test of time anyway, and we look at Zelda and Mario for examples of these. They provide us with modern variants, and do a great job of it, so we don't need to dig out the NES to play Super Mario Bros. - it's all still going.

So, is there a modern variant of Demolition Man? Has it simply evolved into newer films? Is Will Smith the new Sly Stallone? Is "*sneeze*, oh I'm sorry, I'm allergic to bullshit" the new "Hasta la vista, Baby"? Surely not. There's a gulf of semantics and context to these moments that could be better be described in an essay, and by someone who knows what they're talking about, but the macho, CGI-less action-movie has been supplanted by a set of plastic modular disaster movies and the foresight to retain international merchandising rights.

One question remains. What movies make up the subset of cinematic history that is the "they don't make films like this anymore" list? So far, we've got two:
  • Demolition Man;
  • Lethal Weapon.
Tonight the Rock was on the Beeb, and we discussed briefly whether or not it belongs on the list, but I asserted that it does not. I'll reserve that for a place on the "remember when Nicholas Cage was in good movies" list.


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