I loved Duncan Jones’ Moon, so much so it’s probably my favourite sci-fi film of the last decade. It’s homages to 2001 make me go ‘squee’ considering it’s the best film ever made ever and if you disagree then you’re a silly sausage. Your opinion is wrong and mine is right. It’s odd then that Duncan Jones’ next expedition looks to be a massive departure from those big ideas, Source Code looks to be (essentially) a blockbuster that’s all about thrills and chills and Jake Gyllenhaal looking moody while the train he’s on EXPLODES.
See, if all the films I’ve written about in this here column nothing scares me more than seeing Jones go from super cool radio star to Michael Bay in a matter of one film. I’d be really saddened since it’s really downright plausible that, given the big budget, Jones will be typecast afterwards of pumping out blockbusters. It was rumoured he was going to get the helm of the new Superman director, which instead went to Zack ‘I ruined Watchmen, you jelly?’ Snyder. There’s rumours buzzing around that, depending on Source Code‘s performance, he’ll either be handed the keys to Nolan’s Batfranchise, to reboot The Flash or to helm Justice League that DC will likely do to spit in the face of Marvel.
I think Source Code has a dilemma then. Does it conform to the old ideas that were explored in Moon and try to perform them on a wider stage? Or does it go all Michael Bay and just shove science fiction nonsense everywhere. Personally I’m hoping that Jones will pull a Nolan and create a blockbuster that co-exists with its artsy nature. Moon was one of the great sci-fi films I’ve seen in the last few years and for that to be thrown away with a simple blockbuster would be a tragedy. Some early review of Source Code point it in the way of a middle-ground.
A middle-ground might be fine since Inception achieved a massive audience but a lot of them were just confused because people are stupid and Nolan is God. Having these ideas play on a wider space requires you to keep to attention of those who are just too thick to get your big ideas. Those sentiments aren’t insulting to said audience, hence why I say ‘said audience’, you either get it or you don’t. The job of a filmmaker is to first entertain and to, secondly, change perception and implant ideas. Nolan did this perfectly with Inception with having zero-gravity fighty fight scenes while still getting across messages about reality and our perception as human beings.
If Source Code strikes an even more middle-ground place, with higher blockbusting action on par with all the ideas-y bits, then that’ll be lovely. I’m just worried all of those ideas will be hard to be kept up with given the large scale of things. Nolan and Tarantino are my favourite modern directors and it’d be lovely for Duncan Jones to join them. I feel then that Source Code still has to ask itself the big question. To be or not to be? A blockbuster or an ideas-y weas-y film, since even Inception was largely a lecture on dreamscapes hidden behind a masterful action format.
It’s about layers with science-fiction, usually, those grand scale ideas hidden behind visual metaphors and traditional presentation (characters, plot and other literary devices). A blockbuster doesn’t typically confirm to these set ideals, it isn’t here to keep you intrigued, it’s here to make you go oooh and ahhh and to look pretty. I don’t see blockbusters as lower grade films, although they typically are, the idea of a blockbuster is to make you feel enthralled in the moment and that’s always a filmmaker’s first job. To keep you enthralled, not to make you think.
Source Code looks more like a blockbuster to me, whereas Inception was clearly an ideas-y affair from the trailer get-go. Nevertheless, I was surprised with Inception so I’ll let Jones surprise me if he wants to. The film has to pick a side or else it’ll stutter like a lot of sci-fi films do nowadays. Moon was massively an ideas film, it barely had any blockbuster elements, but Moon made its ideas into the chief blockbuster elements. I doubt this could be applied to this large of a scale and, being completely honest, I doubt it’ll be as good as Moon given said scale.
I’m open to surprises anyway.