Counterpoint: Are Action Movies the Best that Cinema Has to Offer?

Gustavo Damian Danemann Soto, Features Editor

   Think about the last five movies you’ve seen. How many of them didn’t have fight scenes? Not many? Well, you’re definitely not alone.

   When going to the movies, one hopes to be thrilled, surprised, and to walk out feeling satisfied. Few things in this world compare to discovering a new favorite film, a work that has moved you in unimaginable ways. For many, loud noises, crazy lights, people trying to kill each other, and explosions surrounding an athletic celebrity wearing a colorful costume does that for them. According to a statistics website, the average movie ticket in America costs about $9.16 dollars, and one doesn’t expect the film they’re going to see to be worth any less. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a spectacle that offers more violence than nuance; the problem comes when that’s the only thing you consume (

   It’s become clear that big-budget, adrenaline-filled franchises have no trouble making money regardless of an ongoing world crisis. However, stories with less commercial appeal have seen less than spectacular results at the box office. Back in December, Spider Man: No Way Home shattered pandemic box office records and expectations, becoming the first film to make over $1 billion dollars worldwide since 2019 and having the second highest grossing domestic opening weekend of all time, as per CNN ( That same weekend, Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro’s wonderful follow-up to his Best Picture winner The Shape of Water, was also released. The main difference: No Way Home made $260 million while Alley made less than $3 million, according to a box office data website (

   Since its beginnings, cinema has been an excellent form of entertainment and artistic expression. Renowned Director Charlie Chaplin’s films managed to walk the tightrope between excellence and enjoyment with style and wit, and directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder constantly won over critics and audiences crafting films we still cherish today. With the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood, however, the line between quality and quantity has become quite blurred. As a result of newer technology and the rise of television, originality and expertise has begun to matter less than ticket sales, meaning much less money is given to filmmakers looking to make a statement.

   It’s crazy fun to watch characters with all sorts of moves fight against each other. But after awhile, it can start feeling uninspiring and even redundant. While an admirable amount of work and money is put into making these projects a reality, it’s worrying when you start thinking about how many of these stories’ beats and threads are specifically placed to get a reaction out of you and ensure you buy a ticket to the next film in the franchise. Giving a character a new costume, nemesis, and sidekick isn’t being original, and yet that’s all it takes for many to be satisfied. Is a safely executed formula really enough? Is that all films are to us?

   On the other hand, less commercial movies offer a much more rewarding and memorable experience. “Artistic films have authenticity and so much more care put into the personal aspect of making cinema, something blockbusters lack,” said Sophomore Pilar Vitug. Vitug criticized how franchises spit out movies whether good or bad just to meet consumer demands. Yet she remarked that it’s not the medium’s fault, but a matter of the filmmaker’s intentions. “The bounds of movies are truly endless. There’s so many different themes and ideas a single movie could convey and it’s remarkable how directors go about this,” she added. Mindless fun is one thing, but interesting themes being imbued into an emotionally resonant story create a picture  much more bound to stand the test of time.

   It’s understandable why many consider films to be entertainment above all else. Not everyone wants to come home from working all day and watch a three-hour masterpiece about the human condition. Yet this doesn’t mean our sources of amusement should remain superficial. There’s a lot of spectacular films out there that offer much more than mere entertainment without asking too much of the viewer. To mention a few big names, Directors Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, James Cameron, Taika Waititi, Lana Wachowski, and Bong Joon Ho all have plenty of films equally as amusing as they are distinguished. 

   While not without their strengths, action films only encapsulate the flashy side of filmmaking, one that doesn’t do justice to the medium’s potential. Our time is worth much more than a retreaded story designed to appeal to the masses. So next time you feel the need to hit the theater, look to enjoy something with more purpose and creativity behind it rather  than just one with  people running around with capes in a world with tons of fake special effects.