There is this magical moment in cinema where a fantastical plot flops because the extreme becomes a steam of you-know-what. You watch a spy investigate an incredible “larger than life” threat and then suddenly jump tall buildings in a single bounce. It´s that moment when the stalker-murderer of a slasher-flick can be in two places at once after being stabbed four times, shot, electrocuted, blown-up, voodoo cursed, drowned in holy-water and put a blaze with napalm. That special event when everybody around you sighs and the guy talking in the cellphone behind you in the theater isn´t bothering anymore because you know they are going to find each other in the end anyway. Today I want to point out some great moments in film when they “jumped the shark” or “nuked the fridge” or “surfed the giant villains wave”. Call it what you want, but it´s that moment in films when the plot got so effing stupid you become angry. “Why”, you ask? Why go back there? To learn the boundaries of the fantastic! To learn the rules of “This far, but no further“
Indiana Jones 4 – And the scull of implausibility.
Most intelligent movie goers know that sequels will not be as good as the original, and they are fine with that to. What sequel watchers want, is more of the same, in a slightly different way that is not a mockery of the first movie or the viewers intellect. How hard can that be?
Very hard, it turned out, as most sequels are annoyingly bad. Especially if the sequel was made in CG-times while the original was made before. There are movie directors, producers and other Hollywood hacks who believe that “Just because we can, we should“. If large buildings can explode, it should. If large creatures can walk out the abyss it must, and if there is any doubt show the implausible some more. Since computer graphics can make any character a superhero. then of course every character should. Even those characters that in former movies where established as regular mortals like you and me.
So it is with most George Lucas movies. Somehow George Lucas thought that adding some computer critters in all of his old movies would be great and so all of the “new” Star Wars originals are a pain to watch when all kinds of distracting things are moving around in the back.
It was fourth title in the Indiana Jones franchise, and expectations should have been low, but when people watch a movie they still try to get involved. Especially if they are a fan of the former established characters. Indiana Jones 4 had all of the wrong elements put into one movie. Not only was the plot horrendous and odd, it had so many implausible events and stupid plot-points I do not know why I watched the whole thing. This movie sucked and Indiana Jones sucked in so many ways we could believe it was a North-Korean prostitute. But the moment in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where George Lucas completely lost me was the infamous “Nuking of the fridge“.
Before that scene I thought “not as good as the other onces, but I guess I can stand it“. I accepted animals behaving like humans, and that Nazis became communists and that there seemed to be aliens not religious artifacts he was chasing. But at that magical event, I lost all interest in what happened. I don´t even remember what happened after that, except some images.
Die another day – Surfing the villains wave.
The laws of physics is sometimes bent in action movies. To my understanding you can´t stop a bullet with you teeth, jump from one moving car to another or survive great falls by holding on to something at the last minute. We accept that. But sometimes the laws of physics are raped in the ass in movies and that is a bit harder to swallow.
I have been a fan of James Bond since I was a kid. I have seen every movie, from Dr. No (1962) all the way through Die Another Day (2002). But when I saw Die Another Day, I could not stand another one. I have always thought I would see Casino Royale (2006) as it´s a new Bond, and it´s based on Ian Flemming´s (the original James Bond auteur) book by the same name; but somehow, I just can´t. Die Another Day was the movie where James Bond died.
Since the original EON movies Dr. No, James Bond has been an above average lucky man with way too fast cars, advance spy gear and too beautiful women to be real. We all knew that James Bond was a playboy fantasy about men being allowed to be men. It was a dream world where we accepted a lot of exaggeration and implausibilities because James Bond is James Bond. He can do anything. Speak any language, use any gadgets, hard trained to sustain great pains and attacks. He was great with a gun, great with the wine. In short James Bond was great. But he was never super. He may have bent the laws of physics, but he never broke them. There was always a deal that James Bond could die if shot and there was limits to what he could achieve.
In the Roger Moore Bond movie Live and Let Die (1973) there is a couple of silly scenes that´s far fetched. In once scene James Bond uses angry alligators as logs to run on. That is definitely a “jump the alligator” kind of moment, but still it´s also tounge-in-cheek. There is also the movie Moonraker (1979) where James Bond goes to space that also has a couple of stupid scenes. But one could forgive that because it was implausible, but not impossible. It was stupid, but not brain-dead.
In Die Another Day, James Bond got caught in a concentration camp and tortured while the Madonna theme plays. Fine. Very Flemming-ish to be honest. Dark and serious. Gives the promise of a thriller Bond movie more than a action Bond movie. Then Die Another Day had a cameo by Madonna as a fencing instructor (or something). That´s fine. We could pretend it´s not Madonna playing Madonna doing a Madonna thing. We could accepted that James Bond has moved into the post-modern “find the cultural reference“-winks.
Then I forget alot of the plot. I seriously can´t remember much after that, and I will not see that movie again. I remember something about Halle Berry being there and she being unlucky or something. Some feminist movie critic said that “the Halle Berry character was the first Bond girl that could give JB a run for the money” or something nut-cracking like that. There was even rumors of her getting a spin-off series.
Then they went to the antarctic or some other ice place and that´s where Bond died to me. In one scene, a great tidal wave flows towards Bond as he falls down a ledge or something and then he takes a wing from a plane and surf the wave. “Thank you. Good bye”, I thought but saw the movie to the end. When the credits fell, it was the end of my interest for Bond to. Not in the old ones of course, but I never saw a new Bond movie afterwards.
But it had a great Bond song. That´s one of the few things that kept up. The soundtrack is never stale.
(The Sigmund Freud part is kind of stupid though.)
This was part one: In part two I will look at some more of these unbelievable plot points and also force a conclusion at the end, to give us all an illusion of closure.