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Film/TV 80s Films

Published on February 18th, 2019 | by voxx

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Our obsession with 80′s culture

If you are obsessed with movies like I am, I’m sure you are aware of the modern need to fill films with huge numbers of references to pop culture, but recently I’ve been noticing a trend in the revival of culture of the ‘80s, and I wondered why?

For a little context, many of my favourite movies come from this era of filmmaking, especially the classics we hold in high regard today – Aliens, Robocop, Terminator, Die Hard, The Shining, every John Hughes movie, Back to the Future, Rocky VI, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, The Princess Bride, Top Gun, The Lost Boys, The last two Star Wars movies, The Thing, Batman, and many, many more. I would argue that these movies have improved and revolutionised the genres they belong in, as well as having heavy impact on today’s pop culture. While we naturally moved on like we do from any phase, we’ve actually returned to this era.

If you look at the majority of remakes and reboots in recent years, most try to head for these movies, as they set the standard. However, they still usually fail to capture the feel of these titans. A great example would be 2014’s Robocop, which took all the charm, violence, humour and compelling characters of the original and turned it into a boring, bland, CGI-filled mess with barely any sense of effort. Every modern high school movie is a failed importation of John Hughes, while Die Hard and Terminator were adapted for a more child-friendly audience, and simply used as references. What makes most of these films fail is the loss of heart and charm, replaced with a shallow business attitude.

However, there has been a series that redeemed and improved on this formula, and that was Stranger Things. Setting itself in the era and taking from these movies it was able to not only look like a modern take on a classic ‘80s flick, but also replicate one, with references that would make sense for that period of time – not to mention it is very well written. Stranger Things takes the nostalgia but doesn’t allow itself to be consumed by it, or rely on it for the show to work. Personally, I think this is the best way to do this style of filming, using the style as influence and outlining for sets, references, props and music, but letting a naturally great independent story to play out at the core. The 2017 remake of Stephen King’s IT took this approach as well, and while it’s not as good as Stranger Things, it works, and it deserves praise for striking a great balance and having a reason for using that specific era, to modernise the original story for a new generation.

While it’s a nostalgia-filled mess, I also enjoyed Ready Player One. Even though the references take over here, it felt like that was the whole point, and most of those were from the 80’s era too. Even the box from Gremlins shows up! And then there’s Bumblebee, a revival of the heavily criticised Transformers movies, which actually freshens things up. The transformers were created in this era, and as such it’s natural to make a return to the old G1 designs. But it’s not just placing these designs that make the era its set in work. It also used it to effectively influence the tone and characters, along with utilising colourful visuals, great music, and finally a way to make Transformers fun again.

While it started out rough, the revival of this era does seems to have potential now, as every attempt after Stranger Things has been a success. Keeping that in mind, I hope this quality of filmmaking continues. As long as they don’t milk it and overdo it like Disney does with their remakes, I’m happy with what we have right now.

- By Sam Wood


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