Have you been to the movies recently? Have you noticed how everyone gets killed off by the end of the movie? No, I’m not talking about any movie in particular, I’m talking about most of them1. To be fair, I won’t mention by names exactly which movies spurned this; rest assured their bitter, cheap, pseudo-artful endings will remain intact by the end of this mouth off.
Well except for one movie which is rather old. Do you remember Deep Blue Sea? They all die. Or maybe the not-hero survives, I can’t remember. Suffice to say that’s when I first noticed the trend. Killing off the entire cast in a surprise ending doesn’t and shouldn’t wow people; even if it’s an attempt at seething political commentary on our times, even if it makes for a cheaper sequel. I don’t care. It mostly means there’s something wrong with the script. Mostly.
What happened to Star Wars and Indy and that Ron Howard movie that was written by George Lucas? What about Labyrinth? Even the first two Alien movies had a few heroes surviving the slaughter. The eighties had it right.
Well, I do accept that there exists themes too complex for being told through classic eighties storytelling and then-not cliches. I can even understand when entire casts have to be killed off to make a point in the movie. The recent ones do not fit into that either of those genres. Years: 2007-2008—I’m looking at you!
There’s nothing clever about comedically impaling a character you’re emotionally invested in. It doesn’t help if you use the flamethrower instead, or if you have them bit apart. It’s not artful nor is it awesome. In fact, it’s full of suck and it’s a splash of water in your face. Cold water. I go to the movies for many reasons, none of them being pretendertainment with elements of soapbox satire2. It’s as though, because we live in what some consider dangerous times, that danger has to seep into the movies. Why? Is it not enough for the fraidycats to be scared everywhere but in the theatre? Must the last vestige of imagination be erased for the sake of “realism”?
Perhaps that’s why I’m so looking forward to seeing Indiana Jones 4. I’m almost certain that Indy, his companions and everyone else won’t be dead by the end of it. Some of them, sure, but not all of them.