You're 100 Percent Wrong About Blockbusters

Asaf Hanuka

I have to admit, the Indominus rex from this summer's Jurassic World gave me a little jolt. But watching audiences eat up the blockbuster's derivative action sequences, dumb dialogue and preposterous plot (even by dinosaur movie standards) had me quaking.

As an unabashed lover of Steven Spielberg's 1993 Jurassic Park, I found the most horrifying thing about the latter-day sequel was that about 80 percent of moviegoers gave Jurassic World a thumbs-up, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It's disappointing but not really surprising: Already the biggest box-office success of 2015, the film could hit a billion dollars globally by year's end.

If you don't share my outrage over Jurassic World, just wait. Some fall or winter release will have you grumbling about the decline of the blockbuster. Maybe you think Daniel Craig has watered down Sean Connery's martini. Or J.J. Abrams will push the Star Wars franchise toward the Dark Side. Or Point Break will have you praying to Bodhi for salvation (yes, they're remaking Point Break). Like the baby boomers before them, Generation X watches helplessly as studios transform their sacred cows into fast-food-grade hamburger meat.

Many recent big-budget movies are unwatchable: every Transformers installment, anything M. Night Shyamalan made after The Sixth Sense, all Johnny Depp films where he doesn't play a pirate (and a few where he does). But there's an uncomfortable truth that Gen X needs to face too: A lot of their touchstones are unwatchable.

Yes, every adventure Spielberg made between Jaws and Jurassic World devours Michael Bay's output. But you can't dismiss a new band simply by saying the Beatles were better, or ignore contemporary literature because it doesn't stack up to Shakespeare. Subtract Spielberg from the equation and the canon of '80s and '90s action films doesn't look better than today's releases.

Find me a Bond aficionado who prefers Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan to Craig. Screen Tim Burton's Batman and Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins back to back and pick out one thing Burton does better. Revisit The Wrath of Khan—yes, I dare to challenge Khan—and tell me it doesn't lack the art, intrigue and style of Abrams's recent Star Trek reboot.

For every Vin Diesel or Shia LaBeouf the new millennium spawns, Gen X had two equally offensive leading men: Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren. We're the generation that let Nicolas Cage go from awesome (Raising Arizona) to awful (Snake Eyes). On our watch, Rambo raked in three times the box-office haul of The Breakfast Club.

Blockbusters have changed. Studios have cut away at character development and quickened the pace. But directors who understand the new medium can use the too-fast-too-furious tempo as a tool (see Mad Max: Fury Road or the most recent Mission: Impossible for strong uses of breakneck speed).

I maintain Jurassic World fails as a film—c'mon, Chris Pratt as dinosaur whisperer?—but if millions of 12-year-olds (and many of their parents) want to proclaim it their favorite movie, then we shouldn't react so harshly. As part of a generation who watched, enjoyed and will defend Patrick Swayze's Road House, I should cut Indominus rex a little slack.