Movies of 2007

by Irma Arkus

When reviewing the movies of 2007, I was taken aback by the fact that it could be considered as the year in which, for the most part, science fiction and fantasy were largely absent from the silver screen.

Raimi’s Spiderman sequel was an embodiment of this “year of sequels.” 2007 was suffering from grand budget movie franchises: sure bets that if you invest $200m. in a superhero sequel, you will receive a double or triple return, regardless of ingenuity and originality…It is even sadder, when considering that Spiderman’s counterparts were remakes of nostalgic cultural productions, namely Transformers, and third remake of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

2007 was symptomatic of what our collective passions called on for decades, as we yearned for good quality superhero films, only to be disenchanted by their repetition, lack of ingenuity, and overwhelming serialisation. It is true, my heart yearns for a great superhero film, but has Hollywood delivered?

I Am Legend, hailed as a true science-fiction instant classic, was undoubtedly one of the better films of 2007. But even it falls short as its storyline does not quite portray the social horror of a man who represents the humanity and social order of the past, confronted by a new society, in which humanity has no place for someone like him. CG monsters are all fine and dandy, but Matheson’s infected were not only aggressive, mindless caricatures, but rather transformed humanity generating new social structures. It is the protagonists’ inability to forgo the past and accept the present state of human kind that is the disturbing element, and yet its cinematic version fails to show that.

So, no. I was not happy even with I Am Legend.

Stardust was actually surprisingly good. Even though I deem it to be too glossy, it is Hollywood’s first foray into the world of more sophisticated, adult fantasy that has finally made its way from UK. Even though I am shy on fantasy (I always preferred the cold steel of science-fiction to magical unicorns), Neil Gaiman is undoubtedly the one man who can bring fantasy storytelling to contemporary audiences. Stardust has enviable roster of actors, but let that not stop you from watching. It is one of the most enjoyable productions, showing great wit and an excellent storyline. If you haven’t watched this yet, I sincerely urge you to do so.

I foresee two major developments due to Stardust: more Neil Gaiman, and more fantasy on television. Both of which we can use more of.

The one movie that has made its mark this year, in both the world of cinematography and science-fiction, was Sunshine. This Danny Boyle film was the one film that for the most part was unnoticed by critics and audiences alike. Yet, Boyle’s cinematography has brought on new interpretations of space imagery, changing the way space travel is depicted forever. Moreover, Boyle has brought forth a new approach to concepts of light and darkness. He masterfully subverts these familiar concepts as light suddenly changed into something that can harm, something you can hide in, and a territory of the unknown.

The end is puzzling, but it brings on a quasi-eco view of the sun. It denotes our dependency on sunshine as a species, while exposing the primal human fears, and ancient pagan beliefs. If you are confused by all of this, let this be your clue – go watch it. Either way, you win, and the scenery itself will leave you in awe.

And that pretty much wraps up 2007. It was not the year of smart indie flicks. It was not the year of zombies or vampires, or space travel. T’was the year before 2008.