Movie Meltdown

Movie Meltdown is a proud member of the Battleship Pretension fleet!   

Cruel Summer? The Films of 2013, So Far.


by Dave "The Conduit" Davis

     Maybe it's just me, but has this summer's films seemed more violent than usual? 

     I'm not calling for Hollywood to examine itself, or that our children will be scarred ("Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?"). It's just an observation, and maybe it says more about me getting older than it does the silver screen getting bloodier. 

(Word of warning: I'm not trying to spoil anything, but I'm not going to hold back, either. Most of what I'm talking about can be found in the trailers of these films, or has been talked about in pop culture previously. Still, fair warning…) 

     I've done a little looking back, consulting the Internet for release dates and forgotten movies (did anyone else remember that the Tom Cruise film "Oblivion" came out on April 10? I remember the trailer, but kinda forgot all about it, as did everyone else, apparently). I think, for me, the focus on the bloodbath started with the Gerard Butler film "Olympus Has Fallen," which opened waaaaay back on March 22. The film dealt with a North Korean guerrilla assault on Washington DC in general and the White House in particular. The President is taken hostage, and disgraced former secret service agent Mike Banning (Butler) is the only one who can get in there and rescue him. (This, by the way, is not to be confused with recently-released Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx vehicle "White House Down," which deals with an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group. It's a real "Armageddon"/"Deep Impact" situation there). The think that I remember about "Olympus Has Fallen" is that there were a LOT of people getting shot in the head and cut into pieces by high-powered guns, including civilians. The film was a pretty hard "R."

      Well, y'know, when the North Koreans take on the White House, they're probably not going to knock politely on the door and just ask. I didn't give it much thought.

      The next film I saw was the remake of "Evil Dead," released April 5. That kind of film isn't usually my cup of tea, but it looked interesting, and I was not not entertained. Of course it had splatter and gore, and I'm not arguing that it shouldn't have (I'm not actually arguing anything; I'm just doing a mid-summer's recap). It probably just added to the attention I was paying towards the blood and whatnot.

      The summer started in earnest with "Iron Man 3." This, of course, wasn't a bloody affair, but it did have a body count. The fact that there were terroristic bombings portrayed right after the bombings at the Boston Marathon didn't go unnoticed. It wasn't the same situation, to be sure, but it was similar.

      "Star Trek Into Darkness" also had some terroristic explosions. Again, nothing that we haven't seen before, but it was another log on the fire.

      For me, the first film that took what was bubbling under the surface of my perception and broke it to the top was "Fast & Furious 6" (Feel free to read that part of my "Quick and Angry" project; I'll wait). There was one scene, dealing with a tank on a freeway in Spain (again, go look it up), where the bad guys are running over cars with said tank. Some people were able to get out of their vehicles before those vehicles were flattened, but many did not. And the cars weren't "wrecked" to the point where someone could stagger out. They were flattened to the point of two dimensionality. An open casket funeral weren't in these Spaniards' future. To be fair, the hero of the film, Vin Diesel, yells at his team to try and get all this away from the innocents, and the bad guys were very, very bad. Still, the thought of being completely crushed while driving home from work isn't a fun notion, no matter what country you call "home."

      Which leads us to "Man of Steel." Where a few people in Spain had a really bad day, most of the center of Metropolis (the DC universe's substitute for New York City) was flattened in the film's final battle between Superman and General Zod, and not in a way where everyone got out safely. In fact, someone has assessed what the damage to that city would have been, and it's kind of staggering. The estimate is that 129,000 would have died outright, with another 250,000 going missing before the rubble was cleared. The physical damage to the city would have been around $700 billion, with a total economic impact of $2 trillion. It's not a clean win for Supes, and it's just not that fun to see buildings come down like that anymore. We can't not picture the people inside anymore.

      More to the point, though, is the argument that while, yes, the bad guys picked the site of the battle initially, Superman did nothing to try to move the battle to someplace less densely populated than one of the most densely populated places on the planet. In fact, much of the damage inflicted on the city was inflicted by Superman punching his foes through buildings that, yes, probably had people inside them running the machinery of capitalism. 

     (Knowing that I'm a comic book fan, my friend and podcast compatriot Ben asked me after seeing the film "Would you like to live in a world where superheroes were real?" My answer was emphatic and immediate: "No!" The world is crazy enough without someone with the power of a million exploding suns walking around exploding all over the place.)

     I'm not the first one to point Superman's lack of effort in a change of venue, of course, and some have pointed to last year's blockbuster "The Avengers" as just as bad in the "urban relocation" category. There is an essential difference, though. In "The Avengers," the heroes did what they could to minimize the damage inflicted by the invading alien army. They didn't pick the place, but it did show them trying to get people out of the way. In fact, in one scene where Bruce Banner wakes up after being unwillingly hulked out, the first thing he asks is "Did I hurt anyone?" To my recall, Superman never really shows much concern for everyone trapped under the rubble of Metropolis.

      So, where does that leave us this movie season? "World War Z" certainly had it's fair share of destruction and death (it's got the words "World" and "War" right in the title). The eagerly awaited "Pacific Rim," and I'm one of those eagerly awaiting it, will certainly have its own body count. Was this year any worse than 2012? "Django Unchained" was a bloody affair, "Zero Dark Thirty" didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy, and there won't be a "Twilight" film in 2013, which is something for which we can all be grateful. 

     But, I've got to say, I'm good with not seeing anyone else crushed to death or cut in half by a machine gun for a little while. I think I've got a bit of death fatigue.

(For more from Dave and the great podcast he co-hosts, go to: )


Go Back