A nasty case of Originitis

As Pan flies into theatres, Imogen Scott-Chambers takes a look at some of the rot in today’s Hollywood - that tropey origin story

26th October 2015

In modern day cinema an illness spreads like a virus,  infecting Hollywood, this epidemic is called “Originitis”. You know it well; we have all fallen victim to its power. We are hooked in to an origins movie by the memories of that film which has vague connections to it; we are disappointed, realising that those connections are in fact extremely tenuous.

The worst case of “Originitis” can be found in the three Hobbit films. Firstly, how anyone managed to make the 300 page  book into three, two and a half/three hour films is a modern marvel. Moreover, the fact that the plot was edited substantially to connect it to The Lord of the Rings is irritating to any true Tolkein fan. Peter Jackson plunges poetic license to new depths when attempting to make the tale of how Bilbo came across the ring, link with the unquestionably successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. He gives the audience a ring-side seat (get it?) to hours upon hours of New Zealand landscapes and lost plot. Furthermore, don’t get me started on the awful origins story of Legolas carefully woven into The Hobbit  (in the second and third films!) It’s like an origin story within an origin story - it’s “originception”!

“Apparently, Hook, Finding Neverland, and 2003’s dreadful Peter Pan weren’t enough”

An origin story sitting between good and bad is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The hunky Hugh Jackman could motivate me to watch anything, but aside from that, the storyline is plausible for a tale about mutants. It fills in some gaps in the X-Men mythology from the successful X-Men films that precede it, but as is the case with “Originitis”, it stretches a story too far and there were times during Wolverine that contradicted the original X-Men films, causing frustration and posing  questions like: “Why, just why?”  and “Was the X-Men franchise such a great idea in the first place?”

Nevertheless, some origin stories work. A prime example is The Dark Knight trilogy. Despite a stream of Batman films hitting our screens throughout the decades, in 2005, Christopher Nolan treated us to his take on the infamous comic hero and it didn’t disappoint. Batman Begins was exhilarating and breathed a new sense of reality into the once quintessentially catchpenny story, of a man who saves Gotham from baddies, whilst dressed as an oversized bat. The subsequent Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises portray a believable modern day capitalist society in chaos, threatened by collapse at the hands of evil. With a sinister spectrum of blacks, greys and blues, the comic book story is comical no more.

“The film industry needs to work quickly on a cure, or cinema may never be the same again”

The latest origin story is Pan, yet another take on the children story Peter Pan by J.M Barrie. Apparently, Hook, Finding Neverland, and 2003’s dreadful Peter Pan weren’t enough, Warner Bros Pictures thought we needed another slice of Peter Pan. The truth is that despite starring the aforementioned “Hunky Hugh,” the film does not deliver . It is budget-over-plot and style-over-substance because the origin story was completely invented.

From nowhere, Peter is kidnapped by pirates and taken to Neverland and Hook isn’t actually a bad guy but some chap called Blackbeard is the new enemy. All in all, another crippling case of “Originitis”. The film industry needs to work quickly on a cure, or cinema may never be the same again. Audiences may even be struck down by the plague (or, at least, their wallets will be).

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