Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' BBC's 100 Greatest American Films List Includes 'The Dark Knight,' 'Heaven's Gate,' 'Chinatown,' 'Tree Of Life,' And More BBC's 100 Greatest American Films List Includes 'The Dark Knight,' 'Heaven's Gate,' 'Chinatown,' 'Tree Of Life,' And More Ava DuVernay Says She Turned Down 'Black Panther' Because There Might've Been Too Much Compromise Ava DuVernay Says She Turned Down 'Black Panther' Because There Might've Been Too Much Compromise The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

Discuss: Where Has The Sense Of Fun Gone From Most Modern Blockbusters?

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 26, 2012 at 1:25PM

This past weekend, a film named "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" opened. And there were a number of surprising things about the movie: it wasn't an elaborate practical joke; it was greenlit with the expectation that people would want to see it and it seems the smart and capable cast and crew members didn't have anything better to do. But most surpising of all is the way in which a film with the words Abraham, Lincoln, Vampire and Hunter, in that order, in the title, is executed in such a relentlessly grim, humorless manner. Decades ago, it would have been the stuff of B-movies, and yet writer Seth Grahame-Smith and director Timur Bekmambetov play it almost entirely with a straight face.
30
Abe Lincoln Bane Snow White

This past weekend, a film named "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" opened. And there were a number of surprising things about the movie: it wasn't an elaborate practical joke; it was greenlit with the expectation that people would want to see it and it seems the smart and capable cast and crew members didn't have anything better to do. But most surpising of all is the way in which a film with the words Abraham, Lincoln, Vampire and Hunter, in that order, in the title, is executed in such a relentlessly grim, humorless manner. Decades ago, it would have been the stuff of B-movies, and yet writer Seth Grahame-Smith and director Timur Bekmambetov play it almost entirely with a straight face.

Pairing a silly title (which every time we saw the trailer with an audience, would elicit big laughs) with a deadly serious approach does not, it would appear, seem to have paid at the box office, with the film opening to a decidedly disappointing $16 million by Sunday, and critics mostly slaughtered the film (our own reviewer was, in fairness, one of the exceptions). Now, we're not saying it would have done any better with a more tongue-in-cheek approach -- "Snakes On A Plane" proved long ago that people might be amused by a joke title, but won't necessarily turn up to see it regardless of how silly the film is. But it does serve as the latest indicator of a steady trend across not only this summer, but also the last few years. Simply put, blockbusters are for the most part less fun than they used to be.

Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence Josh Hutcherson

Think of some of the biggest grossing films of the last year or so: "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2," "The Hunger Games," "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes." All dark, grim and pretty low in laughs. And not just laughs, but any real sense of enjoyment; the action sequences, at least in the first two, were harrowing more than they were thrilling, absent the gags and beats that generally make action sequences memorable. And this year has already seen a number of movies -- "John Carter," "Battleship," "Wrath Of The Titans" and "Snow White And The Huntsman" come to mind most immediately -- which also seem to take themselves a little too seriously. Even Pixar's "Brave" feels more serious-minded than we've come to expect from the company.

Does the fairy tale of Snow White really need to be treated like a big-budget version of "Game Of Thrones?" Does a movie based on a board game have to be so chest-beating and unaware of its own ridiculousness? Does a proposition as silly as "Cowboys & Aliens" really benefit from being treated like a John Ford picture?  Even "Men In Black 3" is actually pretty light on laughs, compared to other installments, preferring to focus on an angsty backstory that ties together the central characters.

This article is related to: Features, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises, Snow White And The Huntsman


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates