Sunday, January 29, 2006

Movie Idiocy: The Island

I watched The Island last night (warning: reading this blog might spoil the movie for you, so please do watch it first). It met my low expectations fairly well. Sci-fi flick with a big budget ($120M), cute stars, and derivative plot. And that (element of the plot) is the focus of my Movie Idiocy blog today.

[What is Movie Idiocy? I like to watch movies, but I also like to complain about stuff. So -- perfect combination -- I will complain about movies. In particular, I will from time to time point out elements of movies that I consider to be truly idiotic.]

Call me a whiner, but I am frequently dumbfounded by how a company can spend $100M and more on a movie budget but not seem to be able to find someone who can write a script that doesn't have gaping wide holes in it.

I don't mean that the movie might rely on an idea that is outlandish. Outlandish is fine, cool, perhaps even really interesting. I mean that a movie should start from certain (preferably few and simple) assumptions and then stick to them honestly. Put us in that world and play by the rules.

Sure, most movies have a hard time doing this -- primarily because their producers and directors don't really care. And by this I mean that they don't seem to have much respect for us, the watchers. Either they think we are stupid or they think that we don't care. We just want another does of eye candy to help us get through another two hours of existence.

Does that sound like you? Doesn't sound like me.

All right, well, here is an example from The Island: the heroine, Scarlet Johansen, is captured by the Bad Guys (private security firm, best in the world, really know their stuff, uh-huh) right near the end. They take her back to Silo 3 and prepare to harvest her organs (whoops, gave something away). She is lying on a surgical platform, covered by a sheet. The security goon gets all creepy on her and then steps away...and pans back, we see her full body, and she reaches under the sheet, down near her crotch...

And pulls out a gun! A gun she took from the home of her best friend clone's original! And she shoots the creep in the knee!

A gun? You mean Blackhawk Security (could they be slyly mocking Blackwater Security, which is sucking up our tax dollars like crazy in Iraq?), world renowned, top-flight former Seals, etc., didn't think to frisk her for weapons? And she could lie there on that platform, wearing what seems to be tight fitting clothes, covered by a sheet and no one notices the gun?

I can't even make a joke about being glad to see me. She's a woman!

So...that is totally idiotic. Now you might say: Steven, chill. The movie is pretty stupid all around. They spent $120 million to create a movie about cloning that is itself a clone of several other movies (the producers of one of which actually sued them for copyright infringement). Their product placement is so blatant and pervasive that it seems mostly like an advertisement for Microsoft (Xbox and MSN in particular).

Still, I go back to my original, core complaint: if your budget is going to be $100M or more, surely you could set aside enough money to find a decent author who could think through a plot so that it didn't contain holes that make us feel stupid for watching it. Hell, pay me just $500,000 and I will do it. Guaranteed. No logical gaps. No obvious stupidities.


1beb said...


Tharg said...

I couldn't agree more.

I loathe scripting inadequacies, where it's obvious the film studio just couldn't be bothered.

I recall one Star Trek episode where the intrepid crew discover a super-weapon, after the usual brouhaha. To my utter astonishment, in the next episode, they haven't grabbed the damned thing and superglued it on the pointy end of the Enterprise, thereby making it a borg/klingon/Romulan/general baddie eliminator par excellence.

If they could just do something like "captain, the weapon is powered by planet-based generators which are too big for us to carry" or something, at least it would be a fig leaf over their logical nudity.

Or the hero of whichever movie it is, who single handedly karate chops 10 baddies into submission, but then doesn't bother to pick up the machine gun one of them was carrying...

But the lowest of the low, horror movies where the hero/ine is looking for the deadly dangerous monster in the dark foreboding place, and, armed with lethal torch, goes looking for the beastie, by walking backwards into the darkness, as the incidental music peaks.