When I was growing up, a trip to the cinema was a special treat. By that I mean that it didn’t happen that often – I feel almost every trip I make now is special, but for different reasons. Yet one thing was apparent – despite being the fourth tallest in my class at school at age 11 (and two of those taller than me were girls – yikes!), I was not going to be getting into anything other than U or PG films or the equivalent for some time to come.
The most gutting aspect of this came in the mid-eighties, when my friends and I came up with several sadly never followed through on plans to get into Gremlins, which looked ace but had picked up a dreaded 15 certificate, leaving us four years short. A gap like that can never be overcome, even by tying cans of paint to the bottom of your shoes to look taller. (Maybe it’s for the best we never got around to that.)
Thankfully I had an understanding mother who saw me for the mature, responsible individual that I was, so at age 12 I got to see my first 18 rated movie through clenched fingers; it was David Cronenberg’s The Fly. (To this day, I still can’t watch the bit where the baboon gets turned inside out – it’s the only bit of any movie I can’t watch, but I digress.) This was swiftly followed by the likes of Robocop, Die Hard and a slew of other eighties action movie classics, none of which I would have seen until well into the next decade if it weren’t for the wonders of home video.
But as good as they were on video, I look back now and feel a huge sense of regret that I never got to see the works of the Stallones, the Willises and the Schwarzeneggers on the big screen. Imagine the Nakitomi Plaza towering 30 stories high on a 30 metre high screen, or Arnie chasing down the Predator in the jungle when all you can see is foliage and explosions in your field of view.
Somehow, the action movies that followed over the next two decades were good, but were never quite the same, apart from the occasional good Bond or Bourne. But even they never had the easygoing pleasure and undemanding attitude of those eighties classics. Which is why it was such a pleasure to pitch up for Predators at my local multiplex this morning. Despite being a 10:00 a.m. showing, there was a healthy crowd (well, over a dozen – that is healthy for that time of the morning) who’d made the trip in, and satisfied grunts and chuckles could be heard from start to finish. Bullets, explosions and pumped up actions stars spouting one liners (even if it was Adrien Brody – go figure) – surely what cinema was made for first and foremost.
So I guess I’m the boy who never grew up. I’m still getting the same pleasure from cheesy action movies I did when I was thirteen years old, I’m just getting the chance to see them the way they were intended now. And if it was down to me, I’d bring them all back – thankfully, Sylvester Stallone’s had the same idea… Can’t wait.