Recently, I went with my dad and my nephew to see Taken 2, the sequel to the low-budget Liam Neeson action film from several years back. It was entertaining, but the film didn’t measure up to the tight, focused story of the first Taken. If anything, it was the equivalent of an elephant on roller skates careening awkwardly about a skating rink that has just been vacated by several hundred monkeys who left behind their banana peels scattered liberally on the ice. I suppose watching the elephant in such a setting would be entertaining, but not exactly memorable.

Unless, of course, she was accompanied by an Olympic ice skater like Evan Lysacek, the 2010 gold medalist for figure skating. I can just imagine Lysacek doing a Full Biellmann lift.

Announcer: Lysacek has moved into position for a lift…yes, it’s a Full Biellmann. He has excellent form. The elephant’s form, on the other hand, leaves a little to be desired. Plenty of energy, though, and fantastic presence. And Lysacek has completely disappeared now. Ah, yes. I’m afraid that’s the end of Lysacek.

Anyway, back to the theater. I was struck by the three trailers before the film. Two were horror and one was a Los Angeles gangster story starring Sean Penn looking rather old and wrinkled in a story that felt drearily familiar. All three were violent, creepy, dark and soul-less. Granted, I’m judging based on short trailers, but I think I’m relatively safe in my estimation.

Hollywood seems more interested in nihilism than redemption. Whatever happened to the Roman Holidays and Sergeant Yorks of the past? I’m not saying we need to return to some Mayberry vision of the 50s. What I’m saying is that the net effect of a story should be hope or, at the very least, an affirmation of life. What I’m saying is that a story can be dangerously wonderful or it can simply be dangerous. And things that are simply dangerous are in the same category as poisonous snakes, stonefish, and eggplant.

At the end of the day, I think Hollywood is our mirror, so we’re getting what we want. The one bit of blame I will throw back on them is that their mirror probably exists in the future. They reflect back what we are going to be, not necessarily what we currently are. They reflect back at us what we’re dreaming of for our future. At least, we used to dream as a culture, as a society. But I think our dreams for the future are fraying more and more into nightmares.

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