BLOCKBUSTER V INDEPENDENT FILM: DAWN OF THE SNOB

It’s not old news for blockbusters to be snubbed or passed off in favour of more “compelling” independent dramas. It can be said that blockbusters lack originality and only rely upon setting up or continuing franchises, as opposed to creating original works. Personally, the size of the film is irrelevant, as long as the film has convincing characters and allows the audience to invest in the film. There’s two sides of the coin and there’s no right answer, but I do believe blockbusters should be given more credit.

In recent times, franchises are becoming a stronger concept and a studio can’t make a film without thinking of a follow up. An obvious example is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, originating back with 2008’s Iron Man. Gradually creating its own thing, it was like a cosmic explosion occurred with 2012’s Avengers Assemble and now the Marvel brand is stronger than ever.

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There’s at least a few Marvel films per year as opposed to times when there was only once a year. The films are becoming so interlinked, it’s hard to focus on one without considering the others. Let me state that I am a huge fan of superhero films, but I wonder what the end goal of Marvel is and how much bigger it can get. I miss the days when a film was a film within itself, without having to rely on other films.

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Recently, Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy blasted the “tsunami of superhero films” and told other indie filmmakers they were survivors of the attack. Gilroy further stated, “We have survived and we have thrived and I think that’s true spirit.To some degree, I understand what Gilroy means and it would be refreshing to see more original work. However, Gilroy should focus on his “true spirit” in filmmaking instead of wasting his energy blasting commercially and critically successful blockbusters.

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“…if you, as an independent filmmaker or a ‘serious’ filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken.” 

James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, rightly defended blockbusters (superhero films specifically). Just because a films budget is bigger doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of investing all of their energy to create a great story with great characters.

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“It’s something different. It was great because Christopher Nolan is an independent film-maker who happens to work at a studio. Yes, Interstellar is a big budget film, but it’s his voice, you feel completely like it’s his movie all the way.”

Jessica Chastian, who collaborated with Nolan on Interstellar, raises an interesting point. That in some cases, blockbusters can have their own unique style and that they don’t have to adhere to the latest trend. Christopher Nolan is a director I highly respect for creating intelligent blockbusters that have depth (and the fact he uses 2D). As stated before, he creates original epic blockbusters that allow actors to go deeper with their characters and to feature a thought provoking narrative.

That’s what I love about films, that you can watch an exciting action adventure and be thrilled or watch an independent film that tells a story in a raw and emotional way, you can get different things from different types of films. There shouldn’t be a prejudice against blockbusters. Film is film, enjoy it!

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Basically, don’t be a snob and enjoy great films that create solid characters and have a great narrative, no matter what the size of the budget. I know not all blockbusters aren’t perfect and I’m sure there are some bad indie films out there, but blockbusters should be given more credit in some cases. Peter Jackson created an epic blockbuster full of great themes and deep emotion and also received great reviews. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became the first fantasy film to win an Oscar for Best Film in 2004, I rest my case.

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