Hollywood sells us quick hits of entertainment, and counts on our attention-deficit disorder to keep us distractible. But Hollywood also has its own case of ADD, chasing fads and cool ideas, and then running them into the ground. That can be a very good thing, because some fads are so dumb you can't wait for Hollywood to lose interest in them.
Here are nine trends in movies and television that we're ready to see the end of. Please, Hollywood.
Movies based on toys/games
Sure, the Transformers movies have made more money than anybody except Batman and Harry Potter. But there are signs this trend is, thank god, waning. The first trailer for Battleship provoked near-universal scorn. The Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots movie, Real Steel (actually based on a Richard Matheson story) seems to be generating little buzz. Meanwhile, Universal pulled the plug on an in-development Clue movie (although director Gore Verbinski is still going forward, with funding directly from Hasbro.) Meanwhile, Universal also killed the Ouija movie that McG was hoping to direct, and the futuristic Monopoly movie is reportedly dead too. Also, Rubik's Cube: the Movie is apparently in trouble. Thank Nimrod.
Movie pitches in comic book form
Seriously — we're tired of seeing graphic novels that only exist to get someone in Hollywood interested in doing a movie, as if a comic book that nobody read is actually a proof of concept. It's not. A widely-read, well-reviewed comic book is a proof of concept, which is why we're clamoring for a Runaways movie and a Gotham Central TV show. So when you see a movie being greenlit based on a graphic novel that hasn't even been published yet — like, say, Joseph Kosinski's Horizons — just remember that the comic is basically glorified storyboards. And, judging from the total failure of Cowboys and Aliens, the fact that there's an obscure graphic novel buried in a movie's DNA does not actually guarantee anything. Now where's our goddamn We3 movie? Seriously.
Alien invasions that have no reason
Nobody loves alien invasions more than us. We are pretty much down for any attack by aliens, any time, any method. No matter how goofy. But it doesn't hurt if the aliens have a reason for invading. And you get minus 1000 points for saying "they're here for our water." Because, you know what? Water exists elsewhere in the universe. We're pretty sure aliens don't have to come all this way just for some liquid water, especially if they've got the technology to travel at relativistic speeds. We're pretty willing to switch off our brains and enjoy the alien mayhem, but a somewhat more logical reason for the aliens to show up, and some tactics aimed at achieving that goal, are a plus. (Bonus points to Falling Skies, which does seem to have a vague glimmering of an idea in that regard.)
Sure, Rise of the Planet of the Apes worked — but that's probably closer to being a reboot, along the lines of Batman Begins, than a prequel. We're ready for the trend of actual prequels, which aim to connect the dots with existing stories, to be over. There's a reason why Enterprise is the least popular Star Trek series, and why the Star Wars prequels are pretty universally reviled. And it's a hopeful sign that Ridley Scott decided not to make his new movie Prometheus an explicit prequel to Alien, but a new film that has undisclosed links to his 1979 classic. Maybe the upcoming prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing will surprise us — but we're pretty over the prequel trend.
For every Battlestar Galactica — which at least had a couple amazing years — there are tons of shows like Bionic Woman and V. Trying to breathe new life into shows from the 1970s and 1980s is usually a losing game, because you so easily veer into campiness. A lot of these shows weren't really that "classic" to begin with, and trying to capture what was great about them can turn into a misguided nostalgia trip. Meanwhile, trying to "update" them without fully thinking it through can just lead to poorly thought out mythologies. We're not sure whether to count the abortive Wonder Woman pilot as an example of this trend, or as an example of...
Superhero cheesiness on television
Sure, Smallville struck gold with its "Dawson's Creek with meteor freaks" formula. But most superhero shows have fallen flat since then, largely due to the sort of cheesiness that people like Christopher Nolan and Marvel's Kevin Feige have been helping to drive out of the movies. There was Birds of Prey, and then more recently Heroes became more and more ludicrous as it left its character-driven storylines behind. No Ordinary Family tried a "light family dramedy" approach but wound up feeling just too lightweight. And then there was The Cape, which was a guilty pleasure, but sort of dreadful all the same. Let's hope that FX's upcoming Powers series gives us a serious attempt at a superhero show.
Found Footage Horror
The first Paranormal Activity was pretty great, but by the time you get to Paranormal Activity 3, and they're delving into the childhoods of the girls from the first two films, well... see our point above about prequels. We also loved The Last Exorcism, but have zero appetite for a sequel. Meanwhile, the studios' attempts to deliver "found footage horror in space" have foundered — Apollo 18 is coming out with almost no buzz this week, and meanwhile Oren Peli's Area 51 is languishing with no release date. We're still excited for Peli's TV show The River, because it looks like it's going to rely on character development and mythos rather than jump scares — but we're ready for a long rest from gimmicky "someone found this videotape full of OMG what was that" movies.
Shaky-Cam and quick cuts
Speaking of which... yeah. We're ready for the return of tripods. The best thing about Transformers 3 being in 3D was, it forced Michael Bay to keep his camera from being quite so wobbly. Moving the camera around and making everything blurry, as a substitute for having actual action on the screen — or as a way to get away with some clunky CG effects that wouldn't stand up to scrutiny if they were properly visible — is a trend whose time is over. Which brings us to...
A handful of movies we've seen in 3D have actually benefited from the extra dimension — either because they had really clever use of 3D cameras, like Avatar, or because they were so completely frog-licking-crazy with it, like Drive Angry 3D. But we've gone from being apathetic about 3D to actively hating it, because several 3D movies in a row have bludgeoned us with unnecessary depth of vision, without ever using the 3D to good effect. Especially when you're watching a movie that's repetitive and draggy to begin with — like, say Conan The Barbarian 2011 — you don't want to be bludgeoned with crappy 3D on top of that. Only a tiny handful of film-makers know how to use 3D effectively, and everybody else should just quit. It's no longer goosing a movie's box-office take, like it used to — so there's really no point in subjecting us to it, except to amortize the theater upgrades.