Suspense is a concept with which current blockbuster directors seem unfamiliar. Directors today build suspense by incinerating the top two floors of the White House or by making a dino-alien lay waste to the Golden Gate Bridge. But seeing the Eiffel Tower blown to smithereens or watching the Statue of Liberty topple sideways doesn’t make people afraid of visiting national landmarks — it just trains them to yearn for even splashier C.G.I. effects next year. The career of Roland Emmerich aside, you can’t blow up the White House twice. Next year you’ve got to blow up a city, a country, a planet. A few swimmers on a beach in Amity? Who cares? Every story now has to involve a threat to the entire globe. This is meant to raise the stakes, but it actually lowers them, both by removing the specificity of local places and individual characters and by making it impossible to go see an action movie today without also expecting to witness the demolition of some unfortunate metropolis.

Heather Havrilesky, “‘You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Skyline…'”, New York Times Magazine (4 August 2013), 45.

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