Welcome, new Hollywonk contributor Jeffrey Seasholtz, aka Uncle Shappy, aka the “nerd of spoken word.” (Perhaps you also saw him in Fanboys?) Our first peek inside of SHAPPY’S LONGBOX OF OPINIONS reveals what made the movies of ‘82 so great — and whether or not 2012 can top that magical year.
Many of my nerd pals have been discussing the possibility that 2012 might go down as one of the greatest nerd movie years since 1982! For those of you who need a refresher, the summer of ’82 brought us:
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Conan The Barbarian
The Road Warrior
The Dark Crystal
As you can see it’s an impressive group of Nerd Classics, many of which set the template for many awesome movies down the road. For those of us lucky enough to live in Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is showing many of these films in order of their release dates. It’s a great idea and something I’ve been proclaiming for a long time — 1982 was a magical nerd movie summer! I should know, I was 13 then and all I did was hang out at the arcade, read comics and go to the movies.
In those primitive days, there was no internet. We had to trust our instincts by what we read in Starlog and Fangoria magazines or the clips we saw on Sneak Previews with Siskel & Ebert on PBS, not the thumbs up or down. There was no way I wasn’t going to see Friday the 13th Part III in 3D, no matter how much Roger and Gene hated it.
There were no studio-produced video games that came out weeks before the actual movies themselves with one exception — TRON. The TRON video games were in arcades before the movie came out. In fact, the arcade game made more money than the movie! In 1982, you had to figure out that 8-bit shit a quarter at a time! This might be one of the earliest examples of a studio creating hype for a film by using a video game as a promotional tool. And speaking of studio tools, who decided not to make TRON available on DVD before the sequel came out in 2011? Even when TRON: Legacy came out in theaters, fans were paying crazy amounts of money for the DVD that came out 10 years previously and for VHS copies from 20 years before!
Wrath of Khan was a direct response to fans’ displeasure with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Even though it made TONS of money, the Star Trek franchise could have died if fans hadn’t demanded better storytelling! Wrath of Khan was one of the first sequels to outdo the first film critically and financially and, of course, the beginning of every even numbered Trek film being better than the odd numbered ones. It also made the cast more likable. Part of why the 2009 Star Trek is so good is because the screenwriters did such a great job keeping that original crew spirit alive.
E.T. was a family film that was even more trauma-inducing than Bambi. And yet, it was a perfect film that taught an entire generation not to fear the unknown! With E.T., and Close Encounters, it could be argued that Spielberg is responsible for a majority of the US population believing (or wanting to believe) in UFOs. Watching E.T. I am always taken aback by how REAL the little alien looks and feels. Can you imagine E.T. as a digital creature? I don’t think it would be as effective or believable.
So what does the summer 2012 have to challenge such a mighty line-up? Well, we’ve all already seen The Avengers twice and it looks like it’s on track to become one of the most successful films OF ALL TIME! And like some of the films of ‘82, it has set a new template for super-hero/action movies. How will Avengers 2 top it? Can Batman beat the Avengers? So much nerdiness has just arrived, or is waiting in the wings!
Prometheus (Welcome back, Ridley Scott!)
The Dark Knight Rises
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Amazing Spider-Man
Men in Black 3
(And because I don’t know many Wes Anderson fans that aren’t nerds)
Will this year’s crop have what it takes to leave an impression on the future nerds of 2032? (Wow, just typing that year made me feel a twinge of mortality!) I think we are off to a good start with The Avengers, which has already become a must-see Nerd Classic and will most likely stand the test of time, but, as I look at this list, I see 3 re-makes, a prequel and 2 sequels. And as I look back at the 1982 list there are 2 sequels and 1 remake. The rest of the list are original stories and films that went on to spawn sequels and cults around them.
Will the summer movies of 2012 generate as many fans and followers? I think not. To me the summer of ‘82 was magical because these films were original and not made to feel like BLOCKBUSTER ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCT. So many tent-pole summer films made these days are made by a committee that would do well to watch some of the ‘82 films and see how originality paid off. It was good storytelling and special effects that enhanced the story instead of taking over the story that made these films work then and now.
The needs of the many filmgoers should always outweigh the needs of the studio!
I have been and always shall be your friend!