Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, which means I’m uniquely qualified to write this article. I don’t know what the future holds. I am therefore going to use the next few paragraphs to manifest my ideal cinematic future into existence and pass it off as a prediction. Think of this as the mood board sequence from The Bling Ring, but in text.
In 2014, filmmakers desperately tried to convince us that their movies made sense. They tried very hard. Too hard, one might say. Not for the first time, Christopher Nolan wheeled out actor-cum-exposition-device Michael Caine to deliver a monologue justifying Interstellar’s approach to science. He then claimed that physicist Kip Thorne had signed off on the film. Thorne published a book explaining Interstellar. Earlier in the year, Caine’s partner in tedious exposition from the Dark Knight trilogy, Morgan Freeman, was called upon to explain the science of Lucy. The Internet went wild. Lucy and Interstellar spawned hundreds of articles analyzing their scientific foundations. Movies aren’t allowed to be patently absurd anymore and that’s everyone’s loss.
So here’s my prediction for 2015: This will be the year films stop pretending that they make sense. Please, cinematic Gods, let it be so!
I am not arguing that movies should deliberately attempt to make as little sense as possible. The Transformers franchise already has that corner of the market covered. Rather, I’m suggesting that it’s okay if bits of movies are ridiculous and unrealistic. Further to that point, if movies are going to be absurd, I’d rather they just embrace the absurd as opposed to trying to explain it away. The status quo is a sad charade that insults everyone’s intelligence.
Works of fiction only need to be internally consistent. They do not need to respect the laws of our universe. That’s the beauty of fiction. If picking at nits enhances your moviegoing experience, good for you. But films should not pander to or live in fear of nitpickers. Since there’s no way to prevent Neil deGrasse Tyson from pointing out that every space movie is absurd, we should just give up and let him be outraged. Gravity functioned as a movie even if various objects were orbiting in the wrong direction. I fear that our culture of pedantry will force filmmakers to explain the science of their movies.
Moreover, the explanatory instinct leads to bloated movies: two hours of science lessons commingling with one hour of plot. Explanations bring extra attention to the weak points of movies. Pretending that narrative flaws don’t exist and hoping the audience won’t notice is a more effective strategy. Non-Stop had an absurd premise that could not logically be resolved; someone hacked air marshal communication channels to toy with Liam Neeson’s character. The film worked well until it tried to make sense. Mercifully, it didn’t venture into logical territory until its final ten minutes. More movies should adopt this strategy.
There will be approximately 8,000 more Marvel superhero movies in 2015. Let’s not pretend that the existence of superheroes makes any sense. Instead, let’s embrace the absurdity and hope that filmmakers do the same. Insanity is good. Insanity is fun. Insanity is why we go to the movies. Hopefully 2015 will be the year silly movies stop pretending that they make sense.