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Back to the future? Hollywood and nostalgia

Elvis is in the house. Maverick is flying again.

And Kate Bush has suddenly become relevant.

Cinemas and small screens have seen a recent surge in interest over offerings that basically are either retreads of tried-and-tested formula bringing back familiar iconic faces and mixing them with new ones, or paying homage to an era that was once true, great, and beautiful.

Sort of.

Take Top Gun: Maverick for instance. Buzz had been loud YEARS before the actual cinematic release. And the trailers have shown that that Tom Cruise-starrer is basically just that: a revisiting of the classic film that helped redefine the ’80s complete with the pretty much the same stunts that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Iceman, Goose and the rest of the dog fighting posse were known for.

And boy does it not disappoint.

Top Gun Maverick not just relied on the popularity of its still very bankable star, but it also leans heavily on nostalgia. This viewer in particular squealed with glee as the first few strains of the Top Gun theme started playing, and the credits started rolling with the exact same font as the original.

Lines were repeated, even entire scenes were replicated (what’s a good way to showcase all those beefcakes other than beach volleyball? Why, of course beach football!), and the final homage with Maverick flying a Tomcat F14.

Pure. Fan. Service.

A more subtle homage can be seen in the recently concluded Stranger Things. Or make that Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Serious Stephen King fans can see the immediate homage to the works of the horror meister from the font (it is known as the SK font by fans), to the heavy channeling of the Losers Club energy of the gang (all male and one female), to the Carrie type powers of of Eleven/Jane.

The Duffer Brothers upped the ante the time the fourth season rolls in as it becomes a bit heavy on homages to the 80s pop culture with a monster that, get this, attack people in their sleep.

Sounds familiar? It doesn’t help (or maybe it does) that one of the survivors of said attack was played by no other than Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund in impressive post-attack makeup).

Metallica (but of course!) rears its metal head with possibly one of the best renditions of rock music in recent TV history.

And who can forget Kate Bush, the forgotten relic of the era whose music plays a pivotal role in one of the most intense scenes of the series.

And then of course there’s Elvis, a bio by Baz Luhrman starring Austin Butler as The Pelvis and other Big Tom, Mr Hanks as his handler Tom “The Colonel” Parker. Fans of the rock and roll legend would no doubt enjoy the film as much as the songs.

Heavily praised especially for the uncanny resemblance of Butler to the legend, the bio is replete with accurate references to an era, a compleat and complete tribute to a man who was eaten up by his own demons.

Nostalgia. Hollywood might have been running out of fresh ideas, true, thus the reliance to the familiar, the tried and tested, the formula.

But for the older generation weaned on these types of material, it’s a look back to more innocent times, to a time when a Tomcat F14 hanging upside down and challenging a MiG fighter jet is the pinnacle of cinematic entertainment.

Hannah A. Papasin
Hannah A. Papasinhttp://facebook.com/hannah.mariveles
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.
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