Special Features – Have 2013’s Blockbusters Let Us All Down?

Jackson Ball asks whether 2013’s blockbusters have let us down….

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

Cast your minds back to April of this year; Iron Man 3 was just about to hit cinemas and was being heralded as the ‘beginning of Blockbuster Season’. Back then, of course, anticipation was bubbling over for a most promising summer of films: a Star trek sequel, a new Superman and the long-awaited adaptation of World War Z were just a few of these ‘promises’.

However if we fast-forward to now, 2013’s Blockbuster Season is almost over and for many people (myself included) it’s been a little underwhelming. Like every year in cinema, there have been films that fall flat on their faces and get savaged by critics (After Earth, The Lone Ranger), but those annual failures are usually balanced out by stand-out triumphs. Unfortunately, 2013 hasn’t really had any of those triumphs. It’s not all the films were bad, but even the good ones were nothing to really shout about. There has been very little occasion to leave a cinema and immediately tell your friends, family and anyone who will listen that they have to see this film.

Take Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel for example. Personally, I quite enjoyed it, although there are a substantial amount of people ready to disagree with me. The flaws in the film were there for all to see, but they were not cardinal sins and I thought overall the movie was fine… and that in itself is the problem. Like so many other summer ‘event’ movies, Man of Steel was subject to a massive marketing campaign, including many months of promotional material and years of speculation and discussion. All of this builds up the anticipation to the point of insanity, meaning you could be desperate to see a film you know is not released for months. So when it finally gets to the first viewing, do you really want to leave thinking that the film was just ‘fine’?

Hugh Jackman in The WolverinePerhaps then, it is this relentless marketing that is the problem; building up our expectations to unrealistic levels. Notwithstanding, the over-marketing has also been known to have the adverse effect by deterring audience members rather than exciting them. The case in point is the seemingly-endless promotional material that preceded the release of The Wolverine. Hugh Jackman’s latest outing as the clawed mutant was the subject of no less than six ever-so-slightly different trailers, as well as the ‘new’ footage shown at several global conventions. So much footage can bore a potential audience, or cause them to think that they’ve already seen most of the film in the trailers.

Despite to the opinion that this year has been a disappointment blockbuster-wise, there are those that disagree. Many people (you might be one of them) think that 2013 has been perfectly enjoyable and that there’s very little to complain about. Perhaps the idea that the notion every year needs a couple of stand-out blockbusters is born out of a false sense of entitlement. 2012 spoiled us with the likes of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man, so maybe, like spoilt children, we are overly-demanding of this year’s blockbusters.

There’s certainly some validity to that argument, and it’s reinforced if you can remember the year before 2012. In terms of blockbuster disappointments, 2011 was saturated with films like The Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. These films were (and still are) arguably more disappointing than some of 2013’s offerings, and yet 2011 did not suffer the same criticisms.

So perhaps we are a little harsh on this year’s blockbusters, or maybe they have been justly ridiculed, either way it’s certainly a divisive topic. So what do you think? Has 2013 been a Blockbuster let down? Would you rather have 10 mediocre films and 3 terrible ones, than 3 great films and 10 terrible? The season isn’t over of course; could Elysium and Kick-Ass 2 salvage the year? As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter….

Jackson Ball – follow me on Twitter.

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