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 Decline of the R-Rated Adventure Film
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Enda80
Preeminent Apostolic Prelate of the Discipleship of Jabootu

108 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  7:11:09 PM  Show Profile

Somebody mentioned on wikipedia the 1997 film version of The Saint with Val Kilmer. Many people found it peculiar that in this film, the Saint never takes a life, even though the print version of the Saint, not to mention many contemporary thriller roles (such as those played by Mel Gibson, Van Damme, and Bruce Willis) had no such qualms. Well, it turns out that the need for a PG-13 rating will probably cause more of this to happen.

The tide has too some degree turned against R-rated adventure films. It took decades for the implications of the success of Star Wars to come clear, but PG to PG-13 films have a distinct advantage over R-rated films in terms of allowing a family audience.

Another problem for R-rated adventure films; many of the prominent performers from the 1970's and 1980's have faced serious problems:

Steven Seagal: not longer as fit and agile
Chuck Norris: eleven years the senior of Seagal, and while still fit for a man of his age, has seemed to focus more on his family life
JCVD: well publicized substance abuse and family problems
Charles Bronson: deceased
Clint Eastwood: has moved on to other projects and directing
Stallone: substance abuse, noticeably aged and weathered (actually, Stallone's Rocky films never received R-ratings)
Schwarzenegger: exit strategy of moving on to politics
Bruce Willis: actually moved on to other genres; note that the last Die Hard went PG-13

The collapse of Cannon also had a negative impact on Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson.

Note that some of the above performers such as Seagal, Stallone and Van Damme now see their films going to straight to DVD. I can think of few recent R-rated adventure film stars who first became famous in the last few years. Jason Stratham serves as the only possible exception I can think of, but even has largely made PG-13 films. Mark Wahlberg has so far only starred in one film as Bob Lee Swagger from the Stephen Hunter novels. Vin Diesel and the Rock have done Disney family films, which seems to vitiate them as replacements for Stallone and Schwarzenegger (though all of Stallone's boxing films never had R-ratings, I should note).

Possibly the decline of the Republican Party has something to do with this. Since 1979, about 20 of the last 30 years had Republican administrations, including three consecutive administrations from 1981 to 1993. However, with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the Republican Party, despite having achieved its goal, ironically removed a prime source of its continued legitimacy. The subsequent Republican administration following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact did not coincide with many new R-rated adventure films. Possibly, this has to do with the more complex aspects of the "war on terror". Instead of dealing with large countries with recognizable armies, people deal with small networks of foes without uniforms. Cultural sensitivity emerges as more of an issue. I can imagine that any films based on the Mitch Rapp novels by Vince Flynn (often featuring Al-Quaeda style terorrist networks) will get subjected to A Sum of All Fears style revision.

Even Gold Eagle, when it lost the Destroyer series, departed from past strategy and introduced the Rogue Angel series, featuring a female protagonist and less topcial material (i.e., she does not battle terrorists, near as I can tell).

A web acquaintance of mine notes that:
With the exception of Statham I can't think of many actors who specialise in action films at the moment. Most seem to make a mix of romantic comedies, dramas and action movies. Matthew McConaughy is just as likely to make a sequel to Sahara for his next movie as he is to make a rom com.

Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Vin Diesel have made Disney family films

I think part of the problem is the fact that Hollywood is openly critical of the War on Terror and its incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan so we get movies like Lions for Lambs and Stop Loss and Rendition.

I honestly thought that after 9/11 we might have seen a rebirth of the action novel/movies with terrorist hunters but that never really happened.



Most new book series started since the 1990's have failed to go beyond three books

Black Ops (Kasner) 3 books,
Code Name (Johnstone) 5 books,
Home Team (Chalker & Dockery) 3 books,
Black Ops (Johnstone) 1 book,
Stark (Johnstone) 2 books,
Border War (Johnstone) 2 books
Superhawks (Maloney) 4 books

Neville
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Spain
1590 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  03:25:03 AM  Show Profile
I think you're looking too early for the causes of all these. Cannon's bankrupcy and the decline of those actors as action heroes had already took place by the early 90s. It doesn't account for the current state of action films.

I think the causes of action films being watered down really took place during Clinton's period. It was then when the politically correct trend started hitting hard, and all Hollywood films, not only action movies, started getting sanitized. If you take a look at action blockbusters from the 90s, like Speed or Mission Impossible, the differences from their 80s equivalents are very noticeable: no sex, no eroticism, watered down violence, no swearing, no racism, no sexism.

The posterior abuse of CGI vs. practical stunts would also take its toll, ation became more spectacular than ever, but also more unrealistic (see MI2 and Speed 2). This also affected ratings, because when violence doesn't feel real, the "ouch" factor diminishes. Thankfully, the 00s seem to have seen some of a reversal. The films are still too PC when compared to their 80s counterparts, but blood and practical stunts seem to be coming back.
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RockerD
Archdeacon of Jabootu

12 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  04:36:15 AM  Show Profile
Watered down violence? No sex? Ultra PC? Wasn't this the same decade that brought us Basic Instinct, Se7en, The Crow, Natural Born Killers, Tombstone and Silence of the Lambs? Ah, nothing more PC then Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box.
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Neville
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Spain
1590 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  09:19:54 AM  Show Profile
Well, they didn't show that head. And none of those films is an action / adventure film, except maybe The crow.
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zombiewhacker
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

USA
1475 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  1:57:00 PM  Show Profile
The wane of the "R-rated" action film could also be attributed to the fact that the MPAA rating system simply has become more tolerant of violence in action films in general.

Take the 1987 film Lethal Weapon, which assaulted its audience with bare-knuckled brawls, high-body count gun battles, and excruciating torture scenes. MPAA stuck it with an R.

Flash forward almost twenty years later to Casino Royale, which barraged theaters with bare-knuckled brawls (check), high-body count gun battles (check), and an excruciating torture scene (check). The MPAA slapped it with a PG-13. Was Lethal Weapon any more brutal than Casino Royale? Hardly.

When Danny Glover kills a baddie with a nail gun in Lethal Weapon 2, that's R-rated material. When Daniel Craig does it, it's PG-13.

The truth is, the MPAA rating is highly subjective and not a fair and accurate barometer of whether Hollywood has "cleaned up its act."
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hbrennan
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Philippines
1455 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  11:52:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit hbrennan's Homepage
quote:
zombiewhacker wrote: The wane of the "R-rated" action film could also be attributed to the fact that the MPAA rating system simply has become more tolerant of violence in action films in general.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I find it interesting that the R-rated movies, that I saw as a kid, seem far more tame than the R-rated fare of current times. The first R-rated movie I saw as a youngster was "Cotton Comes to Harlem" on a double bill with Gaily, Gaily" (1969)- I can't even imagine comparing them to, say, "John Rambo"

"...yet it hadn't destroyed his brain."
re: Charles "The Butcher" Benton (1956)

http://www.henrybrennan.com/
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BradH812
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

USA
1294 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  04:02:22 AM  Show Profile
I agree. I'm still shocked that War of the Worlds, Cloverfield, and The Dark Knight all got PG-13's. If I had been the one rating movies, they'd've gotten R's. The MPAA loosening its standards on violence is the only explanation for this that makes any sense.
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Neville
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Spain
1590 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  07:13:52 AM  Show Profile
But still Die Hard 4.0 had to remove the blood splashes and some language to get a PG-13 rating.
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TheFoywonder
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

USA
833 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  2:46:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit TheFoywonder's Homepage
I'll give you a perfect example of how wacko the MPAA is with action movie violence these days. Slumdog Millionaire got saddled with an R-rating because of a brief non-graphic torture scene at the beginning and a rather tame shootout at the end, as well as being punished for "disturbing images" throughout the film, all of which are more implied than outright visualized.

Meanwhile, Taken gets a PG-13 despite being loaded with shootings, stabbings, limb breaking, hit and run, and torture, in addition to scenes involving teen prostitution and young women being forcibly strungout on heroin and other drugs.

A very short scene where the lead character in Slumdog is tortured by the cops by having a car battery attached to his feet helped earn that movie an R but the very long scene in Taken where Liam Neeson stabs a guy in the legs with two metal spikes attached to the light switch in the room that he uses to repeatedly torture a guy ending in that guys electrocution death was PG-13 worthy.

The MPAA just don't make any damn sense half the time.

Now Playing in Foyeurism at Foywonder.com: GOLDEN BAT - Behold the greatness of the obscure Japanese superhero Golden Bat
Plus: B-WARE THE BLOG is alive at http://www.livejournal.com/users/foywonder
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Enda80
Preeminent Apostolic Prelate of the Discipleship of Jabootu

108 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  7:18:59 PM  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by hbrennan

quote:
zombiewhacker wrote: The wane of the "R-rated" action film could also be attributed to the fact that the MPAA rating system simply has become more tolerant of violence in action films in general.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I find it interesting that the R-rated movies, that I saw as a kid, seem far more tame than the R-rated fare of current times. The first R-rated movie I saw as a youngster was "Cotton Comes to Harlem" on a double bill with Gaily, Gaily" (1969)- I can't even imagine comparing them to, say, "John Rambo"

"...yet it hadn't destroyed his brain."
re: Charles "The Butcher" Benton (1956)

http://www.henrybrennan.com/




Ah, but Cotton Comes to Harlem deals with social problems and situations that parents would probably not want young children encountering. Hence the R.
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zombiewhacker
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

USA
1475 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  9:06:13 PM  Show Profile
Enda80, you make a reasonable deduction. Unfortunately, even back in the day of Cotton Comes to Harlem the MPAA was usually not so reasonable.

Take Beneath the Planet of the Apes. That film's climax offered gun battle violence, a wince-inducing fight scene between James Fransiscus and Charlton Heston, gory-looking mutant humanoids, and a final shot of a dying Heston calling Dr. Zaius a "bloody bastard" before activating the doomsday bomb and nuking the entire world.

It got rated G.

Edited by - zombiewhacker on 02/26/2009 9:08:57 PM
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New Hinda
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Israel
469 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2009 :  12:49:59 AM  Show Profile
HELL IN THE PACIFIC (1968) got a G rating, despite what could be, for a small child, some very ugly fight scenes between Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. HARRY AND TONTO (1974) got an R rating because Harry's grandson makes an obscene remark to Harry's daughter. Angry at her cruel rejection of his grandfather, he says "You're a real ****, Aunt Shirley." MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON (1984) got an R rating because the protagonist takes a bath with his girlfriend.
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Neville
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Spain
1590 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2009 :  03:32:59 AM  Show Profile
You guys should watch This film is not yet rated. It's a documentary on the MPAA and its many inconsistencies.

Edited by - Neville on 02/27/2009 4:59:59 PM
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New Hinda
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

Israel
469 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2009 :  03:49:16 AM  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Neville

You huys should watch This film is not yet rated. It's a documentary on the MPAA and its many inconsistencies.


Thanks. If my DVD library has it, I certainly will.

Edited by - New Hinda on 02/27/2009 03:49:52 AM
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BT
Preeminent Apostolic Prelate of the Discipleship of Jabootu

USA
168 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2009 :  11:51:31 AM  Show Profile
Aren't we missing the obvious point that studios think PG-13 movies will make more money, as they will be available to a larger audience, and THAT is why adventure films are being watered down?

On that topic though I was shocked to watch the first 10 minutes of "The incredible 2 headed transplant" (or whatever one without Rosie Greer was called), and the first 10 minutes showed 2 bloody corpses lying on the floor, a woman tied up and bleeding, with a man holding a knife threatening her, followed by ripping her dress off (exposing her underwear), as he prepared to rape her.

It was rated PG.
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Capt. Nemo
Holy Cardinal and Five Star General of the Righteous Knighthood of Jabootu

630 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2009 :  11:55:39 AM  Show Profile
Ya know...

The wierd part about Foy\'s point is that Taken was EDITTED DOWN to a PG-13.

Strange.
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