Thursday, July 17, 2008
with Nicole Kidman & Daniel Craig. Yay! Another zombie movie! With heart rending scenes AND car chases!
So I am thinking this is yet another remake of Heinlein's story, but no, this movie is based on the book by Jack Finney. Oh, yes, I remember hearing this once before. But I was sure Heinlein wrote this story. What's going on?
Well, a little research shows that Heinlein wrote "The Puppet Masters", which has a similar plot and which was also made into a movie or two. Heinlein wrote his story first, and there was some quibbling about the stealing of ideas. But there are two separate books, and they spawned several movies.
There were some interesting moments in this movie. One was the press conference where the zombified government official is issuing soothing proclamations for the consumption of the media. One female reporter dares to ask a pointed question and gets stonewalled/dissed for her efforts. Sounded like a typical Bush press conference.
Ms. Kidman, who is more of a girly-girl than my heroine Jody Foster, actually picks up a gun and shoots some zombies. She manages to hit her targets with one shot each. It is short range shooting, so it is plausible. But she drops the gun once she has dealt with the immediate threat. Of such actions are horror films made.
You are, no doubt, familiar with the delaying tactics some film makers use to increase your apprehension. The enemy is coming closer, closer, closer. You want to yell at the characters on the screen to hurry up and get out of there! But they sit and cry and comfort each other, apparent oblivious to their impending doom. Just in time they get up and go, just steps in front of their pursuers, and the chase is on again!
At least once in this movie the film editor interleaves some action shots with the maudlin tear jerker. You see the crying and the hugging, and then suddenly you see them fleeing, and then you are back to the crying and hugging again. So you get the best (or is it worst?) of both worlds. You get to see that they are going to get going in time to continue to elude their pursuers, but you also get to wallow in the crying and hugging for a while longer. However, the scene cuts are so abrupt and so short that they are a little disconcerting. Are we watching something that is going to happen, or something that might happen, or maybe this is just something that could have happened? Not sure what to make of this.
There is also the distorted sense of time they use. Watching the film it looks like the bad guys are going to catch up with the good guys any second now, but then we cut to a scene where the good guys have gotten completely away and you realize the film maker was tricking you with their timing. The bad guys were never even close.
Then there is the Army. They come in and save the day. Totally competent, totally in control. They look so good I began to suspect this was a propaganda film arranged by the ghost of Karl Rove, or at least a recruiting film paid for by the Army. They only show up at the end of the film however, and for all the grief they have been getting lately they deserve a little good press.
There are a lot of micrographs of biological material. How many were fictitious and how many were real is hard to say. There were quite a few and they varied widely. It would have been a good deal of work to make this all up from scratch, so I am inclined to think most of them were real. Some of them even had the look of pictures from electron microscopes, though I suppose a good graphics designer could fake that as well.
The movie does bring up a question about humans and morality. They bring it up more than once and they do so explicitly. Where the zombies have taken over there is no more war. Everything runs smoothly, no strife, no trouble, no turmoil. See, we are here to help you. Why won't you let us help you? Well, buddy, nobody tells me what to do or how to behave. If I want to be a big baby I will, and you and all your zombie buddies can eat lead. Which pretty much sums up why the world is the way it is, and all this crying about peace isn't going to accomplish much of anything. The only time there is peace is when somebody can make more money from peace than they can from war, which is a dubious proposition. Everybody knows there is more money to be made from war than from peace. As long as you have a few factories running that can make weapons, then you can keep making money selling them. It would take some serious warring to make a dent in the world population. I don't think the aliens-in-charge solution would work. Eventually alien splinter groups would form and then we would have zombie wars. Now there is an idea for a movie!