Beyond the Lights is released straight-to-DVD here in the UK this week, and this makes sense to a degree. On paper, it sounds exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to find in the bargain bin of a Matalan or appearing on one of the channels somewhere in the late 30s on the freeview listings. It’s a crying shame that it’s being judged on first impressions, though, because in spite of first appearances, it’s a passionate, emotionally intellgent film that transcends its clichéd concept through the sheer force of its writing and performances. It also helps that the film is committed to presenting its world as the same as our own: the places are real, the award ceremonies are real (the Billboards and BETs), the references to social media and other current pop songs don’t feel forced, and Chaka Khan even pops up at one point to compliment the protagonist’s hair.
Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It’s a trap that we humans allow ourselves to fall into over and over, content to reminisce over what we had yesterday rather than create something new today. It seems that now more than ever people are attempting wherever they can to monetise our collective craving for shared memories: entire internet empires are being built out of an endless stream of content that exists just to say ‘remember this?’ and it seems that Hollywood producers are bearing back ceaselessly into the past with abandon: if it’s not a superhero movie, it’s a remake, or a reboot, or a throwback. Sometimes, as with The Amazing Spider-man, it’s all three at once.
So it makes sense to reboot Jurassic Park now, at just the right time for the generation that saw it as kids to be coming into disposable income for the first time. Park inspires passionate nostalgia in millenials, and with good reason: looking at it now, it’s still something of a marvel – with special effects both physical and computer generated that somehow still hold up today, a cast chock-full of iconic characters, and Steven Spielberg behind the camera at his most technically assured. It’s one of the most taut, purely pleasurable action films of its time. Its sequels, too, featured some thrilling sequences, but each applied same format with diminishing returns; dinos can only get so big before they get weary, and though they do include some new ideas, they suffer from repeating many of the same beats as their gold-standard forebear.