As a fan of all things cinema, of course we must address the elephant in the room–the big media monopoly called Disney.
Throughout the last decade, the house of mouse has only gained a bigger following, receiving more revenue from each film released. Whether it is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Star Wars, live action films or Pixar, there is no sign of slowing down for Disney. While I am a fan of the MCU and Star Wars, recently it has bothered me how familiar and stale each film looks and feels.
Every MCU film is the same thing; beat the bad guy and have some funny quips here and there. Star Wars isn’t much different. This last slew of Star Wars films have been great (I personally think “The Last Jedi” is my favorite entry in the Star Wars franchise) but they have lost the risk-taking nature that makes Star Wars what it is. It was once a franchise built on innovation and pioneering the film industry as we know it.
This is definitely due to money, because if there is anything that places people in seats at the theater, it’s Marvel and Star Wars movies. However, there was a time when Disney had some flops here and there, and this is personally my favorite side of Disney because they weren’t afraid to take risks with their blockbusters. Even if they flopped, they still managed to make audiences smile.
In the 2000s and early 2010s, Disney was still making familiar and bland films for the sake of a profit, but they were also releasing new intellectual properties to the public. Some were even sequels to old franchises, but these films flopped hard and had extremely high budgets attached to them. Films like the first three installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, “TRON: Legacy,” “John Carter” and “Tomorrowland” were originals or sequels to classic franchises, but they came about when Disney still gave filmmakers free control of their projects. I seriously believe that the 2010 film “TRON: Legacy” is the best blockbuster from the last decade. There’s cool motorcycle battles and Daft Punk doing the music. What more could you ask for? The Pirates franchise is some of the most dark and metal filmmaking from Disney, and is something we don’t often see from them.
Sure, Pixar and Disney are doing original animated films, but that is not the same. The only film I could consider to be under this umbrella of risk-taking blockbusters is “The Last Jedi,” where director Rian Johnson subverted audiences expectations and had themes of being a Jedi without being related to a Skywalker. The things like that are what I want to see from blockbuster movies; they should be bold, fresh and thought-provoking entertainment.
I long for the days of Disney when they actually cared about what they were releasing, instead of being a greedy conglomerate of a company. Sure, these risk taking and ambitious films were not box office sensations, but it shows that Disney is not afraid to go outside of the norm. Unfortunately, we live in a world where every classic Disney cartoon is being remade into live action versions and continue to reign in the million dollar goalline. I hope Disney returns back to their risk-taking roots because it would be amazing to see what technology could do if they actually gave an oddball idea to a talented filmmaker.