Monday’s Movie Musings: Summer 2014, a more intelligent blockbuster season or more of the same?

Children are back at school, it’s getting colder and cinema screens are quieter. It can only mean one thing; the summer movie season is over.

As has now become the norm, this blockbuster season was once again filled with sequels and comic-book adaptations galore. But whilst there’s still a considerable lack of originality coming out of Hollywood these days, have the sequels themselves become better?

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Two of my favourite films this year have been parts of a series; Dawn of The Planet of The Apes and How To Train Your Dragon 2. Both of these films did something different to the usual, focusing on story as well as action and packing big emotional punches.

Is it a coincidence then that they both smashed Transformers: Age of Extinction at the UK box-office? I don’t think so; and on the surface it suggests that audiences want more from their blockbusters than mindless, incoherent, fight scene after fight scene films.

In fact DOTPOTA, a film with considerable depth and meaning, took home the title of number one summer movie, with a total of £31.9 million made at the UK box office. Put into context, that’s a huge £12.5 million more than Bay-hem enhanced Transformers, also beating comic book franchises The Amazing Spider Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Before I get carried away with myself in thinking that this is a sure sign of cinema trends changing, it is important to acknowledge that these figures are based on the UK alone, and that in the wider world, Transformers has become this year’s biggest film so far.

As well as this, looking at the top ten highest grossing films in the UK, only three are what you’d call original films, and that’s at a push considering Guardians of The Galaxy is part of the continuing Marvel Universe and Godzilla and Maleficent are arguably re-makes.

It’s a shame that Edge of Tomorrow, another of my favourite films this year failed to make the top ten. Whilst I’m fully aware that it’s based on a novel (All You Need Is Kill), the film was an absolute breath of fresh air, and felt original despite remaining very generic.

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Despite all of the glowing reviews and the star power of Tom Cruise, it failed to get bums in seats. This shows that people would rather go out of their way to see a sequel than something original. Perhaps that’s because we are more willing to pay the price of a cinema ticket for something where we know what we are going to get, or simply because during the summer we just want to be entertained. It’s awards season that sees the more serious, more original fare.

To conclude then, Summer 2014 has been a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst it’s the strongest of recent years, with some better conceived sequels (mainly due to the talent involved), we’ve still neglected better and more original films (Edge of Tomorrow, Boyhood) in favour of more familiar franchises. It’s a shame, but it can only be a step in the right direction for studios that seem to be putting a more effort into their blockbusters.

Summer 2014: Highest Grossing UK Films

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, £31.99m

2. The Inbetweeners 2, £31.01m

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past, £27.13m

4. Guardians of the Galaxy, £24.50m

5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, £24.12m

6. How to Train your Dragon 2, £23.65m

7. Transformers: Age of Extinction, £19.44m

8. Maleficent, £19.25m

9. 22 Jump Street, £18.64m

10. Godzilla, £17.24m

Next week: A look towards 2015’s award season

Image credits to http://www.collider.com

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