Don Bauder 10:30 p.m., July 24
Everyone complains about the weather...
...but nobody makes a movie about it. (The Day After Tomorrow doesn't count.)
Remember The Lorax? Pulled in around $350 million worldwide while smilingly castrating one of Dr. Seuss's more urgent moral messages: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot/ Nothing is going to get better. It's not." Why do I say castrated? Because the hero of The Lorax (the film) doesn't give a damn about the world he lives in: he just wants to impress a girl who happens to dig trees. And the villain? It's this one guy who gets rich by selling bottled air. So of course he wants things to be dirty. He gets taken down when the town decides to let a tree grow. That's the extent of the demand made upon them, sweet lines about how "it's time to change the life we lead" notwithstanding.
But of course, when it comes to the rape of the environment, we're the villains. All of us superconsumers who just want things they way we want them. I just want an English manor lawn here in this desert climate, I just want a cheap cheeseburger, etc. And lots of people have an interest in giving us what we want - and in keeping us from thinking about the consequences. (A dramatic example: I used to think it might be a decent anti-drug PSA to show a guy snorting a line of coke and suddenly seeing every awful thing that got done to deliver that coke to his nose.) The message of The Lorax (the book) is: if we want things to get better, we have to care enough to change in ways that cost us.
Remember Cloverfield? I liked it okay, mostly for its commitment to conceit: if you're going to make a handheld video movie, make a handheld video movie.
But I liked the marketing run-up even more, starting with the crazy website for the delicious beverage Slusho!, made with a secret ingredient harvested from the bottom of the sea! Then the "discovery" that Slusho! was made by the Tagruato Corporation, which specialized in deep sea oil drilling, plus, you know, genetic research on the side.
Then the Tagruato "oil rig collapse" video that bounced around the Internet, signaling the onset of nature's violent response to violent humanity.
When someone leaked a (sadly fake) sketch of the Cloverfield monster that looked like a giant mutant whale, I was positively stoked. Good horror plays on extant anxieties, and it's safe to say there is some anxiety about the state of Mother Earth floating around out there. Oh, crap - mutated whales.
Alas, the film itself left all this stuff in the backstory, even more than South Korea's very fine The Host. The critter was not a mutant whale, and it may have been woken by the recovery of a crashed satellite (glimpsed at the end of the film) rather than environmentally unsound practices. We would have to wait for the modern Godzilla, a new beast from the newly poisoned sea.
So imagine my joy at the first images from Pacific Rim: sea monsters that looked like mutated forms of extant sea life! Here we go! Giant robots! Mankind literally wrestling with the unintended results of its actions!
But again, alas. The monsters in Pacific Rim came out of the sea, but they weren't sea creatures. They were monsters from another dimension; the first wave of an invading force. Almost just exactly like the critters in The Avengers! Sigh.
But there's still good material out there for an environmental monster movie. How about extreme geological events? Earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis. Toss in the weather: hurricanes, heatwaves, etc. The earth is unrestful. What if these were signs of other sorts of unrest? We're already due for some more Norse action in Thor: the Dark World. Maybe a film in which the great worm Nidhogg, who has been gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, since forever, starts to do some real damage (earthquakes). Because, you see, he thrives on the poison we pump out, while Yggdrasil is weakened.
In which the Midgard Serpent looses himself from the bottom of the sea and starts to thrash about in his quest for sufficient food (tsunamis).
In which the dragon Fafnir stirs the winds with the terrifying beat of his wings (hurricanes).
The idea would be that all these monsters have been held in check for ages by nature's might; the earth was the prison Odin wrought for them. But now, the sickened earth is loosening its grip. Call it Thor: the Gods are Angry. It's a thought.
More like this:
- Casting Katy Perry's Blade Runner sequel the right way. — July 31, 2013
- Trailer Park: Compulsion — July 10, 2013
- What's in a role? — June 3, 2013
- Product placement is so yesterday — June 3, 2013
- Disney announces third entry in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" trilogy — May 17, 2013