Summer Blockbuster

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I can’t stand chick flicks.

Christina Dunham | Summer BlockbusterFor me, movies like Beaches or The Notebook are simply antidotes for lingering insomnia. Too many chick flicks go over the same thread worn plot over and over again, reassuring womankind that chivalry is not dead and that broken hearts will be mended by a knight in shining armor.

Being jerked to tears is absolutely draining. Seriously. Try watching Titanic ten times in a row and see how deeply you can dig yourself into misery. It’s a fact: what we see, hear and experience affect our emotional and physical state, stimulating happiness, anger, fear and sadness. And there’s already too much drama going on in the real world that I don’t have any energy left over to invest in fictional characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there isn’t any value in embracing deep, purging emotions. And occasionally, I do enjoy cheering on a forlorn woman besieged by a romantic quandary, especially if it involves Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig or Anna Faris.

But give me movies with elements of action, adventure or comedy. That’s a different story. Startling explosions and catastrophic calamities, incredible stunts and fight scenes, dizzying car chases and narrow escapes, high-tech gadgets and awe-inspiring special effects, swashbuckling heroes and heroines. The non-stop-edge-of-your-seat-action just gets my adrenaline going. Give me a combo action/adventure/comedy movie and I’m in seventh heaven.

This is precisely why I always look forward to the Summer Blockbuster season.

Take Summer 2012, for example. Hitting the box office are:

  • The Avengers
  • Men in Black III
  • Prometheus
  • The Amazing Spiderman
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Total Recall
  • Snow White and the Huntsman

Oh my! Just thinking about it makes me giddy like a 6-year old. Who cares that, predictably, the heroes always prevail over the evil villains – it’s fun finding out how they get out of their disastrous predicaments.

According to an article in BusinessWeek.com, “the birth of what we know now as the summer blockbuster season was in June 1975, when Jaws was released. The thriller about a giant man-eating shark is not only credited as the first-ever summer blockbuster, it also set the tone for summer movies for years to come.” At that time, movie ticket prices were only $2.00 each. You can’t even buy a soda with that today.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed action flicks. Perhaps because growing up with three brothers, I didn’t have much of a choice with what movies were rented for our trusty Betamax. From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to James Bond, it seems we watched every single kung fu, ninja and action movies produced in the 70s and 80s. I even fancied myself a Ninja at times, silently tiptoeing up the stairs to launch a surprise attack on my Yaya (Nanny) or throwing flying sidekicks at my neighbor’s son. Because he deserved it.

Truly well-made action/adventure films simply stand the test of time. Like the James Bond series. It’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most profitable and the longest running English language film series of all time. With his flawless fashion sense, fast cars, and clever gadgets, James Bond’s character is an often imitated hero. Even my father, Greg Macabenta, wrote, directed and produced a James Bond-type television series when I was growing up – Target: Agent 69 (which of course I was never allowed to see as a young girl. I can’t tell you to this day if I’ve ever even seen an episode).

My husband tells me that perhaps the reason I enjoy action flicks so much is because I like characters that rescue themselves. I just can’t identify with the damsel in distress who dawdles in her ivory tower, waiting for prince charming to arrive. Romantic, yes. Rational, no.

Take this scene from Shrek 3: all the princesses are imprisoned in the castle dungeon and Princess Fiona demands, “We have to do something!!!” Snow White then prompts the girls to “assume the position!” So Sleeping Beauty passes out, Rapunzel primps her long hair, Snow White sits pretty, and Cinderella starts scrubbing the floor.

My hero is Jack Sparrow, not Mia Farrow. Forget Mr. Knight in Shining Armor – I’ll slay the dragon myself.

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