Well, I thought that I’d talk about creative “golden ages” again because I ended up thinking about a surprisingly recent one after I watched the 2017 sci-fi thriller film “Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets”.
Yes, this isn’t quite a “perfect” film (eg: corny characters, some cliched plot elements etc…) but it is a damn sight more imaginative and creative than most large-budget CGI-filled modern films. In addition to a quirky sense of humour and a wide variety of cool-looking location designs that create something between a neon-lit cyberpunk atmosphere and the feelings of awe and wonder you’ll get when you watch the very first “Star Wars” film, the film is also a comic book adaptation that doesn’t contain superheroes. It is a film that lets other comics have a shot at the silver screen 🙂 On a side-note, another good non-superhero comic film from 2017 is the spy thriller “Atomic Blonde”.
Anyway, the reason that I mention “Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets” is because there were at least a couple of other “really good, but not quite perfect” sci-fi films that were also released in the same year too. Whether it was the US remake of “Ghost In The Shell” or “Blade Runner 2049“, 2017 saw a brief resurgence in the type of cool cyberpunk-influenced sci-fi films that used to be a lot more common in the 1980s and 1990s.
In other words, whilst it wasn’t a full “golden age” for sci-fi cinema, it was at least a partial one. And it only happened four years ago. Just let that sink in for a moment.
It’s easy to think of the “golden age” of a creative medium as being a distant past thing that cannot happen again. For example, if you’re a fan of horror fiction, then you’ll probably look back fondly at how much more popular, “edgy” and emphatic the genre was during the 1980s. If you were a teenager in the early-mid 2000s, you’ll probably miss how horror movies seemed to appear in cinemas a lot more often back then. If you’re a gamer, you might look back fondly on the 1990s or possibly the early-mid 2000s as the “golden age” of gaming.
And, yes, there are a lot of valid criticisms to be made of “mainstream” media these days. Modern “AAA” games are often designed around – and filled with – greedy micro-transactions. The superhero genre has been massively over-played and over-saturated during the 2010s. There’s less variety in terms of musical genres in modern “popular” music compared to, say, the 1990s or the early-mid 2000s (where, for example, genres like pop-punk and nu metal also got some radio airtime etc…). I could go on for a while….
Still, the modern world can still surprise you if you are willing to look a bit more closely and not expect a “full” golden age or something completely identical to previous ones. For example, whilst the mainstream “AAA” game industry stopped making proper classic-style survival horror games sometime during the mid-2000s, there was a surprising resurgence in horror games on the indie scene during the 2010s.
Yes, most of these used a first-person perspective and relied much more heavily on suspense, stealth and/or player vulnerability (almost to the point of being a different genre of horror games), but some games reminiscent of the old survival horror games finally began to appear again in the late 2010s and early 2020s 🙂
Although Capcom’s remakes of the second and third “Resident Evil” games are the obvious examples (and, alas, not games I have played due to things like system requirements and DRM), it is important not to overlook other games too – whether it is ones I’ve actually played, like “Remothered: Tormented Fathers“, the demo of “Alisa” and “Simulacrum: Chapter One” or games I’ve heard of but haven’t played yet like “Daymare 1998” and “Them And Us” too.
The same sort of thing is also very much true if you are a fan of “point and click” adventure games too. Although the genre was abandoned by the mainstream “AAA” game industry in about the late 1990s, there has definitely been a large resurgence amongst indie and medium-size studios within the past decade or so. Even though “point and click” games may not have the mainstream popularity they used to, there is no shortage of modern classic-style games in this genre for fans to enjoy these days.
Plus, as hinted earlier, when a genre isn’t in a “golden age”, it will still exist – albeit in a changed form. Whether it is how a lot of 1980s horror authors wrote more “realistic” psychological thriller novels in the 1990s or how the urban fantasy and gothic vampire genres stepped in to help out monster genre fans back then. Whether it is how first-person indie stealth horror games filled the void left by the decline of classic survival horror games. Whether it is how simplified and streamlined “hidden object” puzzle games gained some mainstream popularity during the 2000s.
I could go on for a while, but not only do these altered replacements help to keep fans going until the next “golden age” but they often end up having their own “golden ages” too (for example, seen another way, the 2010s was a “golden age” for first-person horror games – with many classics like “Outlast”, “Monstrum” etc..). So, maybe this is all just an issue of perspective? Maybe “golden ages” don’t exactly go away, but just change into something that isn’t instantly recognisable?
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂