Monday, September 15, 2008

Movie Review

I never saw any promos or trailers, but the impact
of the sudden, nationwide release was undeniable.
(Later I heard they were shown in a few test markets,
but nobody paid much attention.) The marketing guys, the suits
must have loved the way we were all transfixed in our seats,
ignoring the oily smell of popcorn.
The title was inspired: no words, only a number
redolent of panic and screaming sirens, simple, graphic.

Obviously, the special effects were top-notch. I admired
the ironic beauty of the weather, that beloved clear bright blue
as a backdrop to flame and smoke, and the way the screen darkened
as the plot unfolded. The scene kept cutting to the crowd on the street,
upturned faces standing in for us, the audience,
conveying our shock, and later, running,
frantic with the terror we were meant to feel.

The pacing was odd. I kept waiting for an iconic figure
to emerge from clouds of dust, an Arnold or Bruce or Mel,
dragging a bloodied villain to justice. There could have been
a plucky girl, too, who distracted the bad guy
at a crucial moment, and then limped into the light,
disheveled, a photogenic smudge on her perfect cheek.

The guy who finally made the big speech was all wrong for the part.
There were plenty of rumors about the real reason
he had been cast, but none of that mattered
once the thing was a hit.

And it was, a mega-hit, a blockbuster, nobody talked
about anything else for weeks. It changed cinema forever,
or until the Next Big Thing. Everything since
has been big-budget thrillers, spy flicks, gritty
battle sequences, things going kaboom. At least
we got a new set of villains out of it. We were getting bored
with Nazis, even the neo kind.

What I remember most is the multiple subplots. There was
that immigrant guy who worked in the restaurant;
the couple having an office affair, leading to a tense
whispering scene in the copier room: that's what I call drama.
The stockbroker who had just found out she was pregnant
was one of my favorite minor characters, but in the end
there were too many of them, with too little screen time.
We never learned their names, just saw glimpses and flashbacks,
I suppose because they were not not the movers and shakers,
they didn't drive the plot.

I have to say, it's not my kind of movie.
I tend to prefer dialogue to explosions,
but they don't make them like that anymore.
I do know one thing:
there's a killer sequel in the making. Hold on to your hats, folks.
It's going to be big.

Submitted by Sandra Larkin

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