Thursday, November 8, 2012

Steven Spielberg and Robopocalypse: The Film Apocalypse?

After delivering War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin to audiences in 2011, Steven Spielberg will tackle the best-selling book “Team of Rivals” and bring the story of President Abraham Lincoln and the road to the end of the Civil War to the sliver screen.  Looking to projects beyond the film titled Lincoln, Spielberg briefly discussed his follow up film titled Robopocalypse, based on the New York Times best selling science fiction book by Daniel H. Wilson of the same name, with Time Out.
Spielberg offers some hints about what audiences can expect from the film, from the obvious premise of a global war between man and machine, and compares the upcoming film to another science fiction film directed by Spielberg himself-Minority Report. Now as a huge Spielberg fan who considers Minority Report to one his best films and an underrated one amongst cinema in general, I can’t help but be intrigued by the film despite the novel on which it’s based having strongly divided reviews and the title being admittedly ridiculous. However this comment from Spielberg himself on the films plot and themes stood out amongst everything else he had to say on the project:

“It’s about the consequences of creating technologies which make our lives easier, and what happens when that technology becomes smarter than we are. It’s not the newest theme, it’s been done throughout science fiction, but it’s a theme that becomes more relevant every year.”

What really caught my attention with his comments wasn’t the films premise, which was to be expected given the nature of the source material, but his input on exploring a theme that has been tackled numerous times in film before. Nowadays there are too many pretentious film goers who stick their noses up at any mainstream film-unless it was produced for less than one million dollars and distributed only into a number of theaters that you can count on both hands-for using a story, theme, style or even one single type of sequence that has been used before…ironically while losing their minds over films such as The Tree of Life for reminding them of the works of Stanley Kubrick.

Superhero films are the biggest victims of this over simplified method of judging films these days, however in the eyes of the “intelligent film goer” any film that doesn’t completely turn the conventions of film making on their head, or at the very least draw inspiration from the least common styles of film making, isn’t worthy of being referred to as “cinema”.  

The comments by Spielberg about Robopocalypse’s theme and how it’s not exactly the most fresh of ideas out there helped me fuel more arguments against these sort of “film fans”. Now this isn’t me fanboying over Spielberg or making it seem as though he’s come across some ingenious, undiscovered argument in favour of mainstream film. This also isn’t a premature review of the film stating its brilliance. Given the fact that the project hasn’t even gone into production yet, I’m well aware that the film could be a disaster. It’s simply an observation I’ve made about his statement that helped me realize a point I hadn’t considered all the much before.

The idea that plots and themes would be reused isn’t anything new considering many classic tales have been passed on through generations for ages. However the notion that they can continue to grow more relevant as humanity continues to grow and, in some cases, fails to heed the warnings of these stories is something to consider when criticizing a film for failing to completely reinvent the wheel.  For example, given the nature of our history, could themes of man’s evil towards his fellow man not be one that can only continue to evolve and have new examples with which to explore these ideas? It’s an interesting notion that not only does time warrant the reuse of familiar ideas, but it can also make them ever more significant and offer new methods in which to express these ideas. This to any sane person is a stronger way to judge films: How something is explored, not solely what is being explored.

Source: Time Out                                   

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