Why 2016 is the Year of Nostalgia (Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, Zootopia)

2016 is a year with no theme. Films and TV shows have come to a point where over-saturation has unfortunately reached an all-time high, reboots and sequels are running rampant in the streets, and originality is being forced more and more into the realm of unknown indie films with little to no marketing budget. Needless to say, the year’s film line-up from January to now has been especially more dire than usual, so the most obvious course of action made was that of appealing to the nostalgia of the very people who complain for that very reason.

And that’s certainly not a bad thing. In fact, one of the recent efforts by JJ Abrams Super 8 did just that; it attempted to replicate the movies of the 80’s, with aliens, government conspiracies, and, of course, kids travelling from to via BMX (because of course they do). I personally love the film on a technical level, and now we are seeing so many products which are attempting the exact same thing.

My personal favourite product of the 80’s is one which only came out this summer: Stranger Things. The sci-fi horror drama starring Winona Ryder and David Harbour nails the 80’s aesthetic to such a precise extent that many have criticised it for being too similar to films of that era in some areas. While the similarities are there and very apparent, the show checks all the boxes in recreating the feeling of wonder and amazement people felt as children when watching, for example, an alien trying to get home with the help of a child.

In fact, it’s possible to easily compare Stranger Things and the aforementioned Super 8. Both are set around a group of teenage boys (and one girl who inevitably becomes the love interest of our main character), who find themselves caught up in a government conspiracy surrounding some sort of supernatural force. Clearly, they are trying to tap into that very specific formula, and I’d argue they are both successful in their intentions.

Another genre which has strangely been revived in recent years, especially this one, is the buddy-cop comedy. One such film is The Nice Guys starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, which attempts to imitate the feel of the 70’s, as well as movies of that era, and it accomplishes that brilliantly. Another one which nobody seems to have mentioned in this category is Disney’s Zootopia, which has a duo consisting of a rabbit and a fox, taking the ‘opposite partners’ approach to a whole new level.

And, of course, there is the endless number of reboots that have been released this year. The list is enormous: The Jungle Book, Independence Day, Ghostbusters, Ben-Hur (I know, it’s stupid), Blair Witch and so many others. The number of original properties being revived is alarming and, quite frankly, worrying. Cinema has reached a point where people demand original material, but also crave to relive their childhoods and remember the ‘good ol’ days’. Honestly, it would be quite unfair to blame Hollywood for everything but, given time, I’m confident things will turn around soon.


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