Der Filmkritiker der NYT, A. O. Scott, bedauert, dass es dieses Jahr so wenige richtig schlechte Film gegeben hat. Wobei er „richtig schlecht“ mit the train wreck, the catastrophe, the utter and absolute artistic disaster umschreibt: Where Have All the Howlers Gone?

But what about the audience? As the grand follies are driven to extinction, so too are the cheesy, campy, guilty pleasures that used to bubble up with some regularity out of the B-picture ooze of cut-rate genre entertainment. Those cherished bad movies – full of jerry-built effects, abominable acting, ludicrous story lines – once flickered with zesty crudity in drive-ins and grind houses across the land. B-picture genres – science fiction and comic-book fantasy in particular, but also kiddie cartoons and horror pictures – now dominate the A-list, commanding the largest budgets and the most attention from the market-research and quality-control departments of the companies that manufacture them. There are exceptions, like the grisly Saw slasher franchise and the Rube Goldbergian Final Destination teen-horror series. And there are a few genre blockbusters – The Lord of the Rings most notably – that rise to the level of greatness. But for the most part, the schlock of the past has evolved into star-driven, heavily publicized, expensive mediocrities that carefully balance novelty and sameness. Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, Chicken Little, Madagascar, Flightplan, Stealth – the list goes on, encompassing movies that are not great, not terrible and not worth the money that was spent on them.

Sure, adequate is not bad. In the major Hollywood studios, at least, the technical standards are generally high, partly because the budgets are too. Fifty or a hundred million dollars can buy a lot of competence. In a run-of-the-mill studio picture, the story will move along crisply, the soundtrack will be full of pleasant pop songs, the stars will be nice to look at, the lighting will flatter them and a digital broom will have swept away any lingering infelicities. Eva Mendes and Will Smith look terrific in Hitch, and so does Manhattan, which looks nice in Prime as well. The robots in Robots are as pleasingly shiny as the chickens in Chicken Little are feathery, and precocious viewers will enjoy identifying the movie stars doing the funny voices. You won’t see the wires in the action sequences or the boom microphone floating down into the frame, and if you’re lucky you might hear a snippet of James Brown doing I Feel Good. The script will have been worked over by one committee, and another will have kibitzed in the editing room and collated results from the test screenings.