Fan service has always been a part of the movie industry, and it's at its most prevalent amongst major franchises. So too are film studios forcing creative changes based on negative test screenings. Both of these factors can, for the most part, be considered as necessary evils in the world of Hollywood film making, but as the mob mentality of internet fansites, forums, petitions and YouTube rants increasingly gains traction in the media the so-called 'fans' are now wielding far more power than they deserve – or even know what to do with.
The adage 'be careful what you wish for' has seldom been more appropriate than the current climate in blockbuster movie making. Take for example Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film which had so much expectation lumped upon it (both in terms of box-office earnings and hardcore fan reaction) that director JJ Abrams was creatively boxed into a corner. For all we know, Abrams may have had some wildly original tale to tell in the much-revered universe that George Lucas created, but the pressure to deliver something that could wash away the taste of the prequel trilogy from our collective consciousness was so overwhelming that he decided to create a film that was fathoms deep in fan service.
you are not an authority on film just because you've watched hundreds of shitty movies on VHS in a Dorito-stained basement
As much as the idea of retelling the same story in a new way irks me, the real problem is the shameless pandering to Star Wars tragics. This resulted in having to endure references to space chess, a visit to a cantina (now playing intergalactic reggae) and far too much screen time dedicated to Getting The Band Back Together. In the meantime, the most interesting element of the film – exploring the life of a stormtrooper – was skimmed over far too quickly. Surely exploring more of Finn's backstory and showing the everyday routine of life on the Death Star 3.0 would have provided a more well-rounded picture of this beloved universe? I for one need to know if The First Order's mess hall serves meat loaf and whether or not they have adequate vegan options. Also, how did Finn develop that knack for quick-fire one-liners if he was part of an army of mindless drone soldiers? Do they have some kind of open mic night on their RDO's?
Just to be clear, you are not an authority on film just because you've watched hundreds of shitty movies on VHS in a Dorito-stained basement and have a YouTube channel where you discuss plot holes in Marvel movies. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, as Metacritic's User Reviews unfortunately remind us, but unless you've actually studied cinema and/or pop culture on an academic level then you should, in the immortal words of the Hound from Game of Thrones, 'shut your cunt mouth.' You can go ahead and publish all the fan fiction that your heart desires on your blog, but leave the filmmaking to the experts.
I'm already sickened at the thought of the clusterfuck that will surround the first official trailer for the Blade Runner sequel. This is a behemoth of the science fiction genre, loosely adapted from the pen of Philip K. Dick and light years ahead of it's time in terms of sets and art direction. It was a victim of the dreaded negative test screening and as a result had a film noir style voiceover added and some leftover footage from The Shining tacked onto it at the last minute. The follow up will have to carry the enormous of weight of expectation on its back and may well be a terrible film, but that's entirely Ridley Scott's responsibility.
Just because the fans have their own set of expectations and emotional attachments connected to the original, Scott has absolutely no obligation to cater to those needs, since this is neither a billion-dollar franchise nor does Ridley seem to give any fux about public opinion (except for the time he claimed that Promethius II wouldn't feature any alien xenomorphs and then retitled it Alien: Covenant and confirmed that the whole gang of creatures will be back on deck, but I digress.) I can rest assured that beyond the inevitable Harrison Ford cameo, there's no danger that Rutger Hauer or Darryl Hannah will be wheeled out as (spoilers!) rebuilt versions of the original replicants.
It's more important than ever – in this crowd-sourced, think tank environment – that film directors and screenwriters have the stones to stand up to ever-amplified public opinion and execute their ideas as the original intended. Anybody operating inside the Hollywood blockbuster system obviously has to play by the rules to a certain extent, but unless they can ignore the calls from the peanut gallery during the film-making process, pop culture is doomed to an eternity of movies that try to be all things to all people without satisfying anybody.