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Screw the high concept! Let's make 2024 the year where subtlety becomes a thing of the past in movies once again

Twisters? We salute you (and want more like you)

Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Looking at the new poster for the upcoming summer blockbuster Twisters, I was reminded of the value of simple ideas. Lifting inspiration from the iconic 1986 follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, Twisters takes a look at what worked about its original source material — 1996’s Twister, starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt — and asks itself the important question: what if there were more than one?

Hence, Twister begat Twisters, just as Alien begat Aliens. These aren’t the only culprits in this “the same, but more” formula — although I think we should all be a little surprised that it took 23 years and two movies before producers realized that after Predator, we all wanted to see Predators — but I’m being genuine when I I say that there’s something truly appealing to me about the simplicity of Twisters and Aliens as the obvious follow-up to their singular predecessors. Why overthink these things, after all?

It’s a question that occurs to me when I look at something like Godzilla vs. Kong; everything you need to know about the movie is right there in that title! You know simply from the title alone whether or not you’re likely to buy into the movie’s premise and execution. In that way, it’s the ultimate movie title: it tells you everything you could possibly need to know in just three words. That’s amazing! (Less successful is the follow-up: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Is that Godzilla times Kong? What does that even mean? What is this New Empire? Are the two of them a new empire? What was the old empire? But I digress.)

In an era where there are high concepts and double-bluffs and genre deconstructions that try to outwit the audience — or, for that matter, enough sequels and franchise extensions that make going to the movies an activity that requires some level of homework ahead of time (I’m looking at you, basically all-things-Marvel for the last few years) — there’s something truly appealing about the bluntness of a movie centered around the exceptionally basic idea “One of these things was bad, now there is more than one of these things,” or similarly simple, “Thing Y and Thing Z are fighting,” and with a title that makes that very, very clear. Sometimes, all you really want is meat-and-potatoes entertainment.

Related: Alien: Romulus director Fede Alvarez shares behind the scenes peeks for Alien Day 2024

(See also the movie Cocaine Bear, which really did turn out to be about a bear high on coke. Does it make a lot of sense? Nooooo, not at all; did the title give you every piece of information you needed to make an informed decision about whether or not you wanted to see it? Sure did.)

If anything, I want to see more of this in mainstream entertainment across the next few years. Let’s see Hollywood learn from the success of the Fast & Furious franchise — a series that really found its footing when it accepted the title basically meant “cars go fast and people are mad,” and leaned into that premise shamelessly and with increasing levels of overkill in each successive installment — and simplify its intellectual property. If we get another Ghostbusters, let’s lower the family melodrama in favor of, you know, busting some ghosts. Just imagine a movie called Superman that is… well, about Superman being Superman, and not the set-up for a crossover three years down the line. Let’s get rid of colons and subtitles in blockbusters for a few years and go for truth in advertising for awhile, just to see how it works out. I'd even be okay with 20th Century Studios renaming Alien: Romulus as Alien, But Again - just to see how it works out.

I’m not asking that all of these imaginary movies be classics of their genre, or even necessarily good — I have my doubts about Twisters, if I’m honest with you — but I want to know exactly what movie I’m lining up to see before I get to the theater, and I want moviemakers to be unashamed and unafraid of what they’re putting out in the world. Let Twisters be the start of a new vanguard of filmmakers eager to show the world what they're really all about, and bring cinema back in such a way that even Nicole Kidman would be amazed by.

It's time, finally, to let movies live by the pop credo established years ago by famous Swedish hitmakers Roxette: Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. The only thing we have to lose are our box office receipts.

Alien is chest-bursting its way back into pop culture this year, and we couldn't be more excited. Prepare for Alien: Romulus with Popverse's Alien watch order, see the face-hugging first trailer, and find out where Romulus fits into the Alien timeline from star Cailee Spaeny.