Revenge of the Summer Blockbusters – By Brian Morton

They
say that it’s summertime and the living is easy. But then they also sit
and watch American Idol every week, so I don’t really listen to them!
But, now that it’s summer, we’re being inundated with hype for all the
upcoming summer blockbusters. And since I’ve already succumbed to the
hype myself and stood in line to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of
The Sith, I thought that it would be a good time to take a look at
summer blockbusters of the past to see how they’ve held up over time.

The blockbuster as a genre of it’s own is a relatively new thing, in
the past movies were just released and then just happened to become
blockbusters, they weren’t marketed that way. Movies like Jaws and Star
Wars were heard of, but they weren’t originally sold as the "most
exciting thing of the summer" until after they were out there and they
had already become the biggest thing of the year. The first blockbuster
I really remember that was sold to the public as a blockbuster even
before it was released was ET, The Extra Terrestrial. Between the toys
that were out ahead of the movie and the introduction of Reeses Pieces,
this was the first movie that I can remember hearing people talking
about before they had even seen it. And how does ET hold up? Well, for
what it was, a kid’s movie, it holds up pretty well. For us grown ups,
this holds the charm of a Wizard Of Oz or something warmly remembered
from childhood, but if you sit and try to watch ET as an adult, you’re
probably going to need a large pot of coffee, you’re going to be a
little bored.

The next movie I remember hearing about before its release is probably
Raiders Of The Lost Ark. We’ve all seen this movie, but before it was
released this was one of the most talked about movies in history. The
combination of George Lucas and Steven Speilberg had everyone giddy
with anticipation. Then add into the mix Harrison Ford who everyone
loved as Han Solo and you had a genuine movie that people were
salivating to see! There was even the rumor that circulated at the time
that during the end of the movie, when the Nazi’s faces were melted by
the flying ghosts, there would be holographic images in the theatres
floating above the audiences heads….Shades of William Castle,
Batman!! And how does this hold up over time? Quite well, actually.
This is one of the best action adventure movies ever made and, despite
the advances made in special effects since, this is still a great movie
that the whole family will enjoy.

How about more current blockbusters? Well, let’s go back to the summer
of 1998 and remember, probably not so fondly, Godzilla, the American
version. This was, without a doubt, THE most hyped movie I can
remember. In fact, I still have in my collection the Godzilla
flashlight I got from Duracell batteries in a promotional offer, my
collection of Godzilla cups from Taco Bell, my Godzilla giant cup
holder from Taco Bell and to top off the collection, my Taco Bell
stuffed dog that says ‘Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard’ when you push it’s
button. And if you don’t remember the ‘Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard’
commercials, then you must’ve been living in the woods looking for that
damned Blair Witch! And the movie, you ask? Well, that didn’t hold up
as well as the promotional items. Besides just being the worst Godzilla
movie ever made, if in fact you’d even consider this a part of the
Godzilla series, this is one of the worst movies ever made period! It
moves too slowly, it’s a little too long and there’s a set up for a
sequel that we all knew would never happen even as we were leaving the
theatre. And how does it hold up on re-viewing? Well, about as well as
it did in the theatre. If you watch this at home, you’re going to find
yourself wondering how they got seventy hours of movie on one
DVD…yes, it seems that long!!

And what about the summer of 2004 and the movie version of the Hulk?
Well, in the theatres this had a whole lot in common with the earlier
mentioned Godzilla. No, not the star being big and green and
destructive. I mean that you felt like you might have missed a birthday
during the viewing of Hulk! And now, a year later, I could barely sit
through a re-viewing of Hulk. Like a lot of summer blockbusters, the
toys and promotional items for this movie were more fun than the movie
itself.

And this summer’s blockbusters? We all know that they’ll make a ton of
money, but will they still be good movies in years to come? Only time
will tell, but let’s wish them better luck than Godzilla or The Hulk,
but let’s remember, for every Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s a
Battlefield: Earth just waiting to happen. So, you should never judge a
book by its cover and, also, never judge a movie by its hype. Just buy
your ticket, grab your popcorn or JuJu Fruits and judge for yourself.
And by the way, just for everyone to know, it’s really bad ettiquette
to carry your lightsaber into the theater, you should check those
things at the door!