As Godzilla is accused of ‘Nolanisation’, one writer asks for the fun to be put back in his blockbusters.
Fuck you, Christopher Nolan. Got your attention? Thought so.
The age we live in is such that any opening like that is bound to send the fanboys into a demonic rage, bound to leave them disgorging vitriol onto their computer screens and into the little holes on the keyboard, so that when they type their venom it literally spews-up out of their laptops, dripping down onto the carpet, melting it, eroding it, creating a circular vortex beneath their chair so that they can fall through it and down, down into the hell I so obviously belong in for daring to speak out against Christopher Nolan.
You can see the effect of Nolanisation in perhaps every blockbuster in recent memory
But that’s what I’m doing, so here’s my usual disclaimer: I don’t hate Nolan – just like I don’t hate Danny Boyle or Leonardo DiCaprio – I just have some problems with him (what I do hate, incidentally, is that I feel the need to include these disclaimers, knowing full well that any attempt to go against the grain will result in cries of “idiot” on my behalf). Anyway, here we go.
I have it on good authority that the new Godzilla film is very serious. That is, serious in the face of the absurdity of a giant lizard wreaking havoc on a global scale, or something. And look, I know I can’t really comment on a film that I haven’t actually seen, but the thing is, I have seen it – seen it in perhaps every major blockbuster in recent memory. And that’s because the modern blockbuster has been Nolanised, is suffering from Nolanisation.
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What’s that, you ask? Well, Nolanisation involves taking pretty absurd stories of bat-people and dream invading detectives and telling those stories with such revered seriousness that one can only look on and marvel at how ‘deep’ and ‘dark’ these films have become, how damn important they are. If that sounds hyperbolic, keep in mind that we’re basically talking about comic book movies here, and to accuse someone of exaggerating in order to defend a superhero film rather defeats the argument, doesn’t it?
Why am I acting so pissy? Because blockbusters aren’t fun anymore, and I blame Nolan. What ever happened to fun at the cinema?
But of course I am being hyperbolic (to an extent), and Nolan’s films (to another extent) have some fine moments in them. If my hyperbolic tone is jarring with you, though, and you’re wondering why exactly I’m acting so pissy, I’ll tell you: blockbusters just aren’t fun anymore, and I blame Nolan. Fair enough, he achieved what he set out to do with his Batman trilogy and returned the series to its darker roots, but why does that darkness have to shadow pretty much every new blockbuster? What ever happened to fun at the cinema?
Anybody who knows me will tell you that darkness and angst and heartbreak are my things, that I look for them in every facet of what I read or watch. Everything except my blockbusters, that is, because, believe it or not, that’s the one place I wouldn’t mind having a bit of good old-fashioned fun. And don’t get fun confused with excitement here – Nolan’s films certainly are exciting, but fun? Nah. Fun they ain’t.
Yes, The Dark Knight Rises (the worst of all recent blockbusters) tries to awkwardly shoehorn in some kind of Occupy allegory, but against the backdrop of a man in a cape and a woman with cat-ears, the attempt loses credibility. Why can’t blockbusters be blockbusters anymore? Why is all the fun being sucked out of our summer at the cinema? I’m not saying I just want pure unadulterated FUN, Michael Bay style, but rather a smart(ish) two hours that might occasionally get a little deeper, but always knows its limits.
You won’t get an arthouse film trying to incorporate blockbuster elements, so why do blockbusters feel the need to do the opposite?
You wouldn’t get an arthouse film trying to incorporate the elements of a blockbuster, so why do blockbusters feel the need to perform the opposite? If I (or anyone) really wants to sit down and think and mull and ponder and expand my mind via film, I’m not going to put on a Nolan Batman film, am I? This is all relative though, because my point isn’t to demean Nolan and co. or to slate them for the sake of slating. But despite the fervour, there are negatives to his influence. It’s like The Joker said: “Why so serious?”
Not even this can save me from the fanboys though, those who disregard critical thinking and elect Nolan and co. to the realm of divinity, as I, lowly writer, sit and await their online shit-storm; sit and await the wild horses who will drag me away for daring to quote The Joker, for daring to suggest that the films they revere so much might be anything other than genius, for daring to have some god-damn fucking fun.
Another opinion: Is Nolan the most unfairly criticised director in Hollywood?
All images: Warner Bros