Friday, February 10, 2006

On the continual suicide of Hollywood

saw the trailer for Aeon Flux the other day. charlize Theron really should know better. There really is no excuse for another matrix/tomb raider crossover wherin the plot revolves around how much they can ripoff other films that have made more money. it will be one of those films that has clearly been put topgether by a committee of studio hacks who know bugger all about sci fi, or indeed filmaking. in other words it will be another Equilibrium.

That film ranks number one in the list of godawful sci fi films, lacking the heartfelt honesty that lifts any Ed Wood film above clumsy special effects, beating even by the numbers studio flicks with it grit and determination to be contradictory, confusing and utterly lame.
what makes it number one though, the thing about it that really, really pisses me off is the cast. The cast is great, some fantastic actors- it stars Christian Bale, with Emily Watson as the female lead, it has Sean Bean in (which is never bad) and an inexplicably good turn by rubbish comedian Brian Connolly.

God knows what atracted such steller actors to such shite, i heard a rumour Bale was smarting over passing up his chance to be Neo in the Matrix (how ace would that have been- for one it would have meant Keanu Reeves would never again be cast as every sci fi action hero ever) so he took on this attempt at a pale imitation. None of them could ahve red the script, which is full of silly dialogue or indeed the plot which concerns such mind bogglingly stupid premises it needs to be summarised thus-

in the future emotion is outlawed. Just that is enough to make a film crap, because films, as indeed all stories, rely on the characters exuding emotion in order to work, if they don't it ain't a story its a politcal debate or an episode of the archers. The guff behind this is that in this totaliatarian future society they have come to the conclusion that all humanities ills are due to emotions- they cause wars, crime etc and thus must be eradicated. This is total shite, wars are not caused by emotions, anyone who has studied history knows they are very rarely irrational exercises in stress release. wars are for many reasons, most of them have to do with money, and power- see Iraq for details. Its like when people blame religion as the source of all conflict, it may be the excuse people use but it ain't the religion itself- though shalt not kill and all that.

Anyway. The film discards this concept early on anyway, as the protaganist and antagonist spend the entire film emoting to all and sundry becasue otherwise it wouldn't actually be acting it would be that thing Keanu Reeves does when they point a camera at him (in fact he should have been cast in this, he would have been perfect). Both our hero Bale and villain whose name i don't rember are some kind of emotion police, this involves dressing up like they are in the Matrix (becasue if you wear shades it shows you have no emotions) and act like the Firemen in Farenheit 451. Exactly the same, to the point where you feel that ol'bradbury should have been threatening to sue the makers of this rather than frothing over Michael Moore daring to use his title in a way the characters of the book might actually have wanted, ie to make people stop watching TV and think a bit more.

The film starts with a raid on a house containing emotional things, which is art and books. the film starts as it means to go on, ie patronisng and dumb. Guess which painting they find and burn? yep its the Mona Sodding Lisa- cos that painting would just be lying around in britain/america/wherever the future city is. Basically they put in in becasue they didn't trust the audience to know any famous painting beyond this. somebody scans it too and declares it the original, i think this is meant to make us actually care when they burn it.
But Bale is the hard Fireman/emotion policeman with his buddy Bean and nothing can stop them. Except bean has started reading poetry and hanging out in abandoned churches- thus he has to be liquidated- which gives Bale the inevitabe doubts.
Bale gets a new partner, some keen for promotion copper who suspects bale from the start and becomes the inevitable antagonist. he struggles a bit to be unemotional but quickly gives up and acts crazy because he's the villain and thats what they do.
You get to see why the emotion police are so feared- they ahve developed for no real reason a fighting technique known as Gun-Do whereby they can dodge bullets, do stuff in slow motion and rip off the matrix even more. Presumably if you have no emotions you can do all this. So that means accountants, traffic wardens and post office workers can all do martial arts and shit if only they put their minds to it. A film about that i would much rather see.

i can't even be bothered to give the rest of the plot- there are rebels, a girl who was the wife of someone he liquidated-possibly even Bean. Bale brings down the fascist government, lots of people die. yadda yadda yadda. Its a rubbish film, i heartily recommend it, but don't buy it- i don't want to give the studio execs any excuse to make any other films like it.

The point is don't make sci fi, comic book or fantasy films unless you know something about the genre- never just think that you can slap together any old action hollywood identikit script but set it in the future of add superheroes. it won't work, and you'll lose lots of money and it will be catwoman or chronicles of riddick or any number of utter turkeys. lazy hollywood execs- all you have to do is pay a decent writer and stick to their script, it doesn't cost much especially if you pay them in whisky and whores , either that or just rip off something good for a change. remember the Dawn of the Dead remake- that was enjoyable even though it was just 28 Days Later.


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