Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Not like it was meant to be"

Well, some of the day was good...some of the day was bad. But today's post is not about me. Today, I have the much anticipated review of a least favorite movie by our own Mark Reed. A prolific writer with a lot to say. So I'll just step aside and let his words speak for themselves.


I used to go to the cinema all the time. A few years ago, I lived near a UGC cinema. They had a monthly subscription card, so for about £12 you could go and see as many films as you wanted. To staff, it was known as a Doley Card. Cinemas full in the day of the unemployed or the unemployable. I have no idea how the cinemas documented receipts and paid the film companies, but I used it frequently. Some days I’d pop in to see a film after work : some days I’d end up seeing a film in three parts. (“Chicken Run” made about as much sense when watched backwards as it does forwards).

One of these days, in late 2000, my Year Of Shit, I crawled out of work – and those days it really was work, I would come out feeling as if work had vampirically sucked me dry – and I went to see a film, the only film, in fact, I have ever walked out of.

And walking out of the film felt fabulous. My brother and Giles stuck with it til he bitter, stupid end. I went home, cooked a curry, listened to “Kid A”, and never regretted it.

To walk out of a film really does require a level of antipathy I’m finding hard to fathom, even now. As I said, I’ve only done it once. But the film?

Well,it really really is absolute codswallop. Popular opinion agrees with me that it really does blow and suck at the same time. This I can understand. Imagine a film where, if you like, plot is reduced to a set of broad stage directions, and characters have three words to describe their entire lives. “Bad Guy growls”, “Laughing Crony”, “Hopeful Fool”, for example. Characterisation is written on the back of a postage stamp with a paint brush.

Imagine a film where the central conceit is so implausible, it actually comes round the full circle of disbelief to being not only plausible, but actually likely.
Because, after all, whatever happens in life is so implausable and improbable, only the improbable must occur.

Imagine, if you like, Bad Guys who look like Rastas in Bondage Spacesuits, and who vary in height, weight, and general deameanour wildly. Like Sophie Dahl or Kelly Osborne, veering between being Godzilla and Godsuki in size. And not just between scenes, but sometimes between shots. In one shot he towers over a puny human, the next, they are at eye level.

Imagine, if you like, human beings who are barely cavemen, who found a fleet of obselete jump jets sitting on a runway for ten centuries, and they’re still in perfect working order. And still start Just Like That. Anyone who had left their car out over winter without ticking over the engine every couple of weeks knows that it is a scientific impossibility. About as likely as the same cavemen working out how to fly jets (torque, stick, joist, 6000 rpm combustion engine), without even writing one off in a moment of indulgent CGI whizz bang effects. About as likely as cavemen defeating their alien invaders using a fleet of rubbish model planes. Which is like
saying that the Vietnamese can defeat the Americans armed with sticks… Oh.

This is the work of Oscar-winning director, albeit the Oscar he won was for making model planes a quarter of a century before this film was released. Which is like saying that I should get the role of Managing Director of EMI Records, because I won a gold star for playing drums aged 7.

In short, Battlefield Earth is the biggest pile of crap you may ever see. In long, it is an incoherent, impossible, incomplete jigsaw of unrelated setpieces, insulting and nonsensical scenes with no relation to each other or anything else, and a waste of time. I have had more fun commuting. In fact, I chose to commute rather than watch the rest of the film.

When the end comes, the film feels less like an ending, and more of a glorious belief, like a condemned man on Death Row, finally, after two long decades of solitary confinement, going to ride the lightning for the last time. And oddly enough, about as enjoyable as being electrocuted to death.


Okay, all you closet Scientologists, go at it!


Bee said...

Ah, Scientology - the proto-New Age gobbledegook that was turned into a religion for tax purposes, and to stop the FBI from tapping L Ron Hubbard's phone.

I've never seen "Battlefield Earth". I generally only go and see films that I think will be good, and I don't think anyone in their right mind would have read the reviews of that film and thought, "Hey, that sounds great - let's go!"

I've only ever walked out of one film, too, but that was "Racing Stripes", which I hadn't paid to see (it was a free promotional screening thingy out of a newspaper). I went and had a milkshake instead, so that was OK.

Mr-Mystic said...

I am having a hard time understanding how someone who walked out of the film, knows so much about it. Including the end.

the urban fox said...

Never seen it. Never walked out of a film I don't think... or have I? No, don't think so. I have fallen asleep on several occasions though. Have walked out of a play, and loads of gigs.

On the basis of this review, I think I'll cope without ever seeing Battlefield Earth.

spinsterwitch said...

This movie I did see and sat through the entire thing.

Mystic - as to how one would know the end, I have to admit it was pretty obvious this was not going to be a complicated, twisty film from the very beginning. Even if Mark's brother hadn't been there to supply further details, he probably could have extrapolated pretty well.

I wanted the movie to be good (scifi/fantasy films are a passion), but it just wasn't. Indeed, it felt as contrived as Mr. Hubbard's "religion."

Mark said...

I caught the ending on TV last year. Absolute balderdash...