Neil Calloway looks at why dystopias from thirty years ago are the biggest influence on Hollywood…
With a new Blade Runner movie opening to rave reviews, a new (and hopefully decent) Terminator film on the way, it looks like 80s science fiction is the way to go if you want to get a movie made now.
There are a few reasons for this, and probably the most important is that Hollywood, like publishing and the music industry, is extremely faddish; if something is a success it will quickly be followed by half a dozen very similar products hoping to hook themselves onto the bandwagon.
The other reason is that the people currently making movies came of age during that decade; the films that inspired them were the ones they are now referencing, making sequels to and remaking. It’s inevitable we’re going to end up with movies like Blade Runner 2049 and TV shows like Stranger Things. You’ll know you’re getting old when they start making new Spider-Man movies only about fifteen years after the first lot came out. Can you imagine that?
We all have movies we’d love to see remade, or updated from that decade. With the success of Blade Runner 2049, I’d love to see a new film to follow on the superb Escape From New York, at least to help wipe the memory of the less than stellar Escape from LA. (There’s been talk for years of a remake, most recently with Robert Rodriguez at the helm, I’m not holding my breath that it will happen).
If the new Terminator is a success, then expect more 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger movies to get the remake/sequel treatment. The Running Man is ripe for an update; the dystopian world it portrays, featuring a mix of politics and lowbrow entertainment (“Get me the Justice Department, Entertainment Division” is just one of the great lines in the film), feels very 2017 – the year the movie is set. Several newspaper articles this year have noticed the apparent similarities between the world in the film and current politics. A new Running Man film could also ride the post It wave of Stephen King interest; he wrote the novel it is based on using his Richard Bachman pseudonym.
There are countless 80s sci-fi movies that would – on paper at least – be great if they made a comeback. Who wouldn’t want to catch up with E.T. now, as middle age sets in?
I’m sure some of us would be disappointed if there was a new Back to the Future film that didn’t live up to out expectations (though I wouldn’t be surprised, having a pretty low opinion of the originals), but it’s inevitable that the 80s science fiction movie will be here to stay as inspiration and influence for some time to come.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.