Film and TV

The Case for Celebrating the Blockbusters of 2015

It's easy to understand why so many people are down on Hollywood these days.

"Everything is a remake, reboot or sequel."
"There are too many comic-book movies."
"Too many movies need you to 'turn off your brain' to enjoy them."

And these are all fair points. Hollywood rarely wants to take a chance on new franchises. There are a staggering number of comic-book films coming from both Marvel and DC between now and 2020. Most blockbusters are pretty dumb.

Your cynicism toward Hollywood is only natural. Hollywood deserves it.

And yet, if you look at what's coming out in 2015, it's hard not to be excited about the year of blockbusters headed to theaters.

In May we get the last major film in the Marvel cinematic universe before they start swinging for the fences for the next five years: Avengers: Age of Ultron. While for Marvel the past few years have basically been about setting the stage for the inevitable Avengers movie at the end of the cycle (Guardians of the Galaxy being the notable exception), Marvel will spend the time between now and 2019 launching multiple new franchises, bringing the phase 1 series to a close and setting the stage for their two-part epic conclusion, Avengers: Infinity War.

It all sounds so exhausting. By the time Infinity War part 2 hits theaters in 2019, there will be 20 movies in the Marvel cinematic franchise to have seen, digested and hopefully remember while watching film 21.

Looking at it from that perspective, watching and actually remembering the ten films before Age of Ultron sounds like a cakewalk.

Age of Ultron is also the finale where director Joss Whedon bows out of the franchise, which is a bummer, because The Avengers really was a miracle of storytelling. In 2008, the idea of a group superhero was damn near unfathomable. Now we've got the heroes of Marvel and DC battling it out to see who can have the bigger superhero blowout.

So enjoy Age of Ultron for what it is, the end cap to a pretty amazing run of blockbusters, and for what it represents, the final moment of simplicity before the comic-book movie war begins for real.

Does the world really need new films in the Mad Max or Jurassic Park franchises? Perhaps not, but of all the series that are taking a new stab at relevance, Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World look the most promising.

If there were an Academy Award for Best Trailer, Mad Max: Fury Road would win in a landslide. Even if you don't know anything about the franchise, it's almost impossible to watch the trailer for Fury Road and not get excited. Who doesn't like a good car-chase scene that involves a fire tornado? The whole thing delivers, and catapulted the film from something to be interested in to something to see immediately.

The trailer for Jurassic World is one of the cleverest of the year. The bulk of it is spent setting up a film that looks fairly obvious for the franchise, and then BAM: Chris Pratt is riding a motorcycle through the jungle with a team of raptors. That may be the most WTF moment in cinema for 2014. Jurassic Park as SeaWorld? Great. Whatever. Tell us more about this team of raptors. Tell us everything about this team of raptors. That is a hell of a hook to get us into the theater.

While the 11 months before it will be full of highs and lows, a film coming out in December 2015 brings the most questions and arguably the most expectations. How could a new Star Wars film not be the most intriguing thing in cinema? Sure, between the two sequels and the spinoffs coming out over the next few years, we're likely to be sick of a galaxy far, far away before too long, but right now there's a sense of hope that's been missing from the franchise for a long while.

Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens be the film that rights the Star Wars cinematic ship? The odds are good. J.J. Abrams and his mystery box are a controversial choice for director, but the man does know his way around space-centric, history-packed franchises. If The Force Awakens is more Star Trek than it is Star Trek Into Darkness (the world certainly doesn't need a darker, less good version of The Empire Strikes Back), fans and regular moviegoers should walk away pretty happy.

And really, it's about time John Boyega got a major mainstream shot at stardom.

So yes, film fans will have to dodge the horrors of a 3D Paranormal Activity, the 13th film in the Friday the 13th franchise and the madness that comes with the existence of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Hollywood is still Hollywood at the end of the day.

Just don't let yourself become too cynical about the movies.

If we're lucky, there will be plenty to fall in love with in 2015.

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia