The end of the "Dark" era?

The whole idea of the 'dark and gritty' action movie has had plenty of discussion here. But it seems to me that this style has been falling on hard times lately: Batman v Supeman and Suicide Squad took a drubbing with bad word-of-mouth and even worse reviews, and the latest Bourne has been a bit of a dud too.

Granted, these films are quite different in content, but I think we all agree that there's been a trend of films that combine a 'dark' colour palettes and cinematography with themes of personal backstories, surveillance paranoia, collateral damage, and so on - all of it filmed on grainy stock. Bond was definitely not immune to this, especially QOS-SF, and maybe even SP.

But has the appetite for this faded? Are audiences and critics tiring of the 'dark and gritty' approach?

And more importantly, what will take its place? It seems that Bond is well placed to herald a new age here - campy? exotic and colourful? globetrotting and escapist? Bond's definitely got form on reinventing itself, and has lattitude that, say, the Bourne franchise doesn't.



  • ChriscoopChriscoop North Yorkshire
    edited August 2016 Posts: 281
    I think what's letting down the darker bond films are the stories, qos aside Sf particularly took a more serious theme despite Silva being as camp as daf's Blofeld, wint and kidd put together. The whole point of the Bourne films is his backstory and the main character finding out about himself, the batman films tied up Bruce Wayne journey in the first of Nolan trilogy, then set him off on adventure. With Bond we all know the back story, it's set in stone, and left bond to showcase his adventures on film, no backstory needed until the reboot, which gave us a fresh start and a new audience all looked to be going well until Mendes decided to undo the reboot and delve into a characters past we all thought we knew, Sf was dark and gritty with a tired and weary Bond, light relief brought from the main protagonist who was camp and psychotic and only out for personal revenge, some good ingredients but put together made a not wholly delicious dish.
    I love so many aspects of SP but again we have darkly serious mixed with a new campness to bonds character, a ridiculous personal revelation which leaves the franchise set on a ludicrous course and uneasy aspects of truly gritty scenes mixed with light almost comedy, IMHO they don't go well together. I personally would have liked to see DC's Bo d go down a frwl style route kerim bey is light and jovial, connery plays a perfect bond in a decent espionage story, a stand out explosive fight scene and a mission. Sanctioned by m. With modern cinematography techniques Eon should be able to deliver a globetrotting, sweeping spy film with great action smart dialogue and memorable characters.....for under 200,000,000 dollars. Lightness of touch is bonds way, leave dark and gritty to batman and Bourne, and let's have bond regain the spirit that the mission. Impossible films have used so well.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,020
    As usual BB + MGW sensed what kind of Bond was due in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

    Christopher Nolan and the directors of the first two Bourne movies have undoubtably paved the way for so many films that came after.

    QOS while being controversial at the time, mainly due to the editing and shortness of the movie, still was the right Bond in 2008. Most definitely. But it was a big departure from CR, so that was maybe its biggest obstacle to become a classic, which it probably isn't and never will be.

    SF on the other hand was perfection. It was the best Bond for 2012 and especially for the 50th Anniversary, Mendes and Deakins provided us with the perfect vision as how a action thriller should look and feel like.
    And it worked and put the franchise to another level of success monetary wise and was able to go back to ticket sales level that were last seen with TSWLM and earlier Bond movies mainly from the Connery era.

    SF was dreary, gritty, dark, humorless and even didn't have an happy end. But in 2012 it felt right and it was maybe the last such movie that really worked.

    After that things began to change. Especially in the spy/action/thriller genre.

    The movies that made it big with audiences were lighter, more comedic, and especially in style colourful movies that didn't have its plot playing out entirely in darkness.

    Kingsman may be the best example for that.

    In the comic genre the gritty dark approach never really worked except for Christopher Nolan. All other such movies failed? I believe including the Snyder DC movies.

    Marvel has gone a different route with only every now and then throwing something "dark" in it. And the success speaks for itself.

    SPECTRE again was a stroke of genius. While Mendes stayed true to his style, the movie provided fun, humour galore, but still darker scenery (Blofeld's media lair, crater room etc.)

    It was the perfect mix and I believe that is what we will get in the near future. Not entirely happy shiny glossy looks in action/thriller movies but also not only dreary, gritty, dark.

    So I say it may be the end of the dark era, yes, but that doesn't mean dark will be replaced with colourful, light, bright movies.

    The challenge for every filmmaker is to get styles together and make it work.

    Spectre has provided the blueprint for it, and the success speaks for itself. Again a Bond movie broke ticket sales records in many countries and belongs to the greats like GF, TB, TSWLM. Monetary wise it is the second most successful Bond ever.

    As for Bond I expect EON to get it right once again with the next one. They will choose the right director I'm sure. Every director worked at their time. Yes, even Tamahori and Foster.
    How a movie will be viewed upon 10, 15 years later is another question.

    It may well be that SF will be viewed as a dreary and drab and boring in 2025. Or SP will be viewed as being neither fish nor flesh.
    Or both will become classics.
    Nobody can tell just now.
  • edited August 2016 Posts: 1,661
    When the role is recast it will give EON a good excuse to lighten the mood although I get the impression B Broccoli was heavily influenced by the Bourne films and tv show 24. Hard to reverse that approach, perhaps?

    I don't know if we'll ever see another Die Another Day/Moonraker type Bond film. Seems unlikely. Might be considered a bit too silly or light for the modern audience.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited August 2016 Posts: 23,883
    I personally don't think there's a turn away from 'dark' or 'deep'. The reason the recent DC BvS and SS films haven't done quite as well is because they were poorly written (and in some cases, poorly cast and acted). With Bourne, they are coming off a long 9 year gap (if you don't count Legacy, and I don't) and as I've said on the respective thread, I believe this film was to 're-establish' the actor in the role and the concept in the minds of the audience again, like TFA did for SW. The next film (if there is one) will likely break new ground.

    Bond hasn't set any trends whatsoever in the past 10 years imho. It has only followed them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully. Underlying the varying degrees of success is the ultimate brand name and the longest running movie franchise, so the tolerance for error (by the general audience) is quite high. They know that there have been poor Bond films in the past as well as exceptional ones, so they cut the franchise some slack. The only two definitive films of the past decade have been CR (for resetting the franchise on a new path with a new actor and a more realistic premise from the comicland it had delved into just before) and SF (for breaking new ground, even if in a derivative way, by connecting with the public and bringing in a whole new audience in every major market in the world bar China). The rest (I'm looking at you QoS and SP) just ticked along living off the goodwill established by the respective predecessor film but didn't reset anything with general audiences.

    So I think 'dark and gritty' is still in. 'Light hearted camp' can only work in small doses imho, unless Bond wants to go back to trying to own the 'action' genre, which I don't recommend. They tried to revisit that sector in the 90's (after dominating it in the late 70s and early 80s) and got creamed by other franchises. It's highly competitive now with FF and other competitors in the mix. They smartly decided to vacate the space after the 2002 debacle and focus more on the 'spy thriller' area (which they should own given they have the biggest brand name) and have done better as a result. If they want to stay in that 'spy thriller' space, then they have to stay relatively 'dark' in my view.

    The key will be execution, combined with an excellent script and superior casting/performances.

    If they strategically decide to go for a more 'light hearted' approach while staying the 'spy space', then I personally believe they should recast, because I'm not satisfied with Craig in that regard. I think he's much better in 'dark and gritty'.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,131
    They should just use Craig and the tone of CR as the template. I have no interest in re-entering the 'Brosnan era' tone...........i.e. Action over quality.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @
    edited August 2016 Posts: 16,341
    suavejmf wrote: »
    They should just use Craig and the tone of CR as the template. I have no interest in re-entering the 'Brosnan era' tone...........i.e. Action over quality.

    Nor have I.
  • BMW_with_missilesBMW_with_missiles All the usual refinements.
    Posts: 2,998
    suavejmf wrote: »
    They should just use Craig and the tone of CR as the template. I have no interest in re-entering the 'Brosnan era' tone...........i.e. Action over quality.

    IMHO the quality of that era was the action.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,131
    And that's not even as good as the Craig era either.
Sign In or Register to comment.