Summer movie season is upon us and we all know what that means, here come the newest entries into all our favorite franchises. I, like everyone, do get very excited for some of these films, Mission Impossible: Fallout especially, but when a hero hasn't died in five or six films, you begin to wonder if there is any real jeopardy at all.
A good example of this came in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, which was a good film, don't get me wrong. However, given that we already knew the Guardians were set to appear in Infinity War, whenever these characters got into trouble on the screen, I was never concerned that Starlord or Gamora might actually bite the bullet, and that takes away a large chunk of excitement from the film.
I then compared that lack of jeopardy and concern that I felt when watching GOTG Vol.2 to the emotions I experienced when watching Skyscraper, Dwanye Johnson's newest release. Although the film was not as entertaining or well plotted as Guardians, whilst watching it I was concerned for the safety of the characters. No sequel had been confirmed, they weren't contracted in for twelve more films, these characters could actually die. This is something that is very rare in mainstream blockbusters now, as with the rise of cinematic universes and franchises, studios are on the lookout for films and stars with longevity, and in my opinion, this means films are losing some of their magic.
The top seven grossing films of 2018 are all franchise films, whether they're part of the MCU or the Star Wars universe, there's no doubting that these films are good. What I don't want to happen though, is for studios to now abandon all original ideas in order to give a franchise film a larger budget. The eighth highest grossing film of the year, with a significantly smaller budget than all the films above it, was John Krasinski's A Quiet Place which was a cinema experience unlike anything else I have ever experienced. The film shook me to my core, had me on the edge of my seat, and moved me to tears. With the exception of a few, it was something I had never experienced in a franchise film. A small, contained film with limited characters that used sound unlike any other film I can think of, A Quiet Place is undoubtedly my favorite film of the year, and I dread to think of a time where films like this are no longer made. Original ideas can still succeed and are still massively important to the future of the film industry.
Another example of an incredible, original modern blockbuster was Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. Once again, a film anchored by sound in a very unique way, with the soundtrack edited to match the action on screen. Admittedly, I am a huge fan of all of Edgar Wright's work, I think his dialogue and editing style are up there with the best available at the minute. Baby Driver was, however, radically different to anything else he had done before and proved to be a risk worth taking, as the practical stunts and impressive performances earned the film a handful of Golden Globes, rave reviews, and a very healthy box office run.
Don't get me wrong, franchise films are, for the most part, excellent. Cinematic universes have revolutionized cinema and I for one, am very excited to see how they head into the future. The MCU shows no signs of slowing down and with the Conjuring universe ruling the horror industry, it seems that franchises can only be a good thing. Yet, I think studios should still keep faith in original stories as, just like my two examples above prove, they offer the audience new experiences and help keep upcoming releases fresh.