You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Not-so-special effects

Variety Editorial

If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.”

Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the hype over “Hulk” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full-Throttle” has already fizzled.

As a result, summer grosses are lagging behind 2002 levels despite elevated ticket prices.

Could it possibly be that Hollywood has finally eaten too much of the devil’s candy? With their relentless emphasis on effects-driven franchise fare, studios have sucked up so much oxygen that more down-to-earth titles seem like breaths of fresh air.

It says a lot, for example, that all the talk at Monday’s “Terminator 3” centered on its bracing dose of old-fashioned action. In other words, it may be a $200 million movie but it’s a $200 million movie without a lot of pretense.

More Scene

  • 'Milk Bar' Founder Christina Tosi Previews

    Milk Bar Founder Christina Tosi on Opening in L.A. and Whether She'll Do a Cooking Show

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Taraji P. HensonTaraji's Boutique of Hope

    Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Seeking Mental Health Treatment

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Bryan Cranston Reflects on Early Rejection,

    Bryan Cranston Reflects on Early Rejection and the 'Breaking Bad' Scene That Still Rocks Him

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Channing Tatum on Taking Time Off,

    Channing Tatum Says He's Ready To Get Back to Work After Quiet Year

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Zendaya Wants To Do a 'Little

    Zendaya Wants To Do A 'Little Mermaid' Live Action: 'Why Wouldn't I?'

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Meryl Streep Wants Tracey Ullman to

    Meryl Streep Wants Tracey Ullman to Run for President

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

  • Justin Theroux'Maniac' TV Show premiere, London,

    Justin Theroux Binge-Watched 'The Hills' While Making Netflix's 'Maniac'

    If this sequel-packed movie summer had a title, it would probably be “The Audience Strikes Back.” Ever since “The Matrix Reloaded” pulled a fast one back in mid-May, there has been a distinct skepticism about razzle-dazzle tentpoles. Lately, the more straight-ahead the better. “Bruce Almighty” and “Finding Nemo” have thrived on comic energy, while the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content