Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Decade of Escapism in a Dream Factory; Hollywood Gives Us Fantasy to Soften Reality's Tough Blow

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Decade of Escapism in a Dream Factory; Hollywood Gives Us Fantasy to Soften Reality's Tough Blow

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES Co Hollywood picked the right decade to go over the rainbow.

In an era that brought harsh reality home with the war on terror and an economy gone bust, Hollywood became more of a dream factory than ever, embracing fantastic escapism at a time when audiences needed it most.

Though major fantasy franchises such as The Lord of the Ring s and Harry Potter were in the works in the late 1990s, the films began arriving just months after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Fantasy, science-fiction and superhero sagas have been around since the early years of film, with Batman, Superman and Flash Gordon serials, and such classics as The Wizard of Oz.

But escapism during the Depression and World War II mostly came in the form of breezy comedies or glossy musical romances.

The past decade solidified the fan boy as Hollywood's key audience, with the final instalments of George Lucas' Star Wars chronicle joining comic-book heroes (Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men), toy stories (Transformers), and revived franchises (Indiana Jones, Star Trek) to produce a succession of colossal opening weekends.

Teenage girls got their own mega-franchise as the supernatural romance Twilight and its sequel, New Moon, made pretty boys out of traditionally monstrous vampires and werewolves.

Computer animation, pioneered in the 1980s and '90s, reached new heights with such cartoon smashes as DreamWorks' Shrek flicks and Pixar Animation's stream of critical and commercial favourites, among them Finding Nemo, Up, WALL-E and Ratatouille.

Live-action filmmakers reinvented visual effects with dazzling digital worlds, from Peter Jackson's Academy Award-winning finale for The Lord of the Rings to James Cameron's Avatar.

Actors reinvented themselves, too, among them Johnny Depp, who went from that box-office-poison guy who makes weird little art house films to one of Hollywood's most-bankable stars with his Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. …

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