Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Under the Dumb

'Under the Dome' was fairly enjoyable. But the characters were straight out of the Observer Book of Genre TV cliches. And why is it that tough and grim is the only way to play these things? Is it because they hope to make it seem 'serious' and dramatic? I yearn for more frivolity - or just horror / sf / fantasy that takes itself a little less seriously... or that can really tackle the macabre and the absurd and the nonsensical head-on without dressing it up as police procedure / serial killer gubbins with pretensions to 'darkness.' This applies to a lot of contemporary genre fiction, too, actually, as well as tv.

For me, it’s like when they adapt wonderful old 1960s Marvel comic characters for movies – and they make them ‘gritty and serious.’ The Fantastic Four and the Avengers and Spiderman are essentially silly and whimsical ideas from another time. The blockbustery and ‘dark’ recent film versions are just embarrassing – and, I think, all about flattering the middle aged men they’re made for into thinking they’re not really watching what are, essentially children’s stories. I can’t tell you how much I loathed the Avengers movie last Christmas. I loved all those comics when I was a kid. Every drop of charm had been wrung out of them. Ditto poor, dear Batman.

And why on earth take something as wide-eyed and wonderful as the original Star Trek and make it ‘gritty’?

Genre films and TV these days seem to be made by men of a certain age determined to prove something about their own potency. Years ago there was a comic book series called ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths.’ Science fiction on TV and film these days is all about the crises of the middle aged heterosexual male.


  1. I preferred the 1997 film with Uma Thurman & Ralph Fiennes over last year's "The Avengers". It felt like we were supposed to enjoy two hours of a group of well-paid actors babble pseudohip dialogue before the video game-style "battle" at the end, with no proper adventure in sight.