|No cover is better than two dudes staring at each other.|
After venting an explosive torrent of rage on Tuesday over reactions to The Amazing Spider-Man, I wanted to go back in time and talk about an artifact of the early '90s, Demolition Man! Demolition Man is a fine piece of cinema about a 'doesn't play by the rules' cop named John Spartan, who after failing to stop his nemesis Simon Phoenix (Snipes) from blowing up a whole bunch of civilians, is put into cryogenic prison. Spartan is awakened from his icy slumber after Phoenix escapes during his parole hearing, and begins to wreak havoc upon the future society of San Angeles in 2032. This society is a utopia/dystopia, where everyone is a great big sissy, and anyone who doesn't fit into the perfect vision of it's administrator Raymond Cocteau is marginalized into the sewers.
|This is quality costuming.|
This movie is in my mind representative in a big way of 90s action movies. While there is a profound amount of science fiction on display here, not least of which is a bizarre future society with cryo-prison, the science fiction aspects of this movie exist more or less only to facilitate the profound amounts of destruction that Snipes and Stallone wreak while they duke it out. You aren't really expected to think hard about any of the wackier aspects of the world this movie is set in, and honestly it's probably better if you don't, given that a lot of the movies premise isn't terrifically thought out once you go past the surface layer. The idea that a self-contained society completely devoid of violence would spring up and sustain itself within the space of 30 years for instance is patently absurd, but you're just supposed to say "okay I guess that's the world they live in." I think really that action movies that are about explosions are better off that way. A lot of more recent action films try to add some degree of political, social, or scientific reflection to their proceedings, in a half-hearted poorly thought out fashion that only detracts from the film. When you spend 50% of the time being an action movie, and another 50% trying to be a weighty drama, what you end up with is a muddled mess that doesn't give you a clear impression of anything. Sometimes you want to just watch a movie where stuff gets blown up while the good guy fights the bad guy. This movie definitely delivers in that department, with exploding buildings, gunfights, a scene involving a laser gun, and a finale where Wesley Snipes gets frozen with liquid nitrogen and then smashed to pieces. Then that building explodes.
|Isn't she just the worst folks?|
That is not to say that the movie skimps on emphasizing in a goofy fashion just how goody goody the future world is, and how different it is. Apparently every restaurant in this world is a Taco Bell for instance. I mean that literally: After something they refer to as the franchise wars, only Taco Bell remained. I like to imagine that these were actual wars, with lines of people in fast food outfits killing each other with laser guns. Also the only music is old commercial jingles. Sex and kissing are illegal, as is swearing (automatic machines dispense citations). My personal favorite unexplained detail is the lack of toilet paper in bathrooms. Instead people apparently somehow use 3 seashells, and how that would be practical in sanitation has haunted me since I first saw this movie, so more or less for my entire life. Sandra Bullock plays a police officer in this future society who is obsessed with the sexy violence of the past, and is also a complete spaz. That can be said for all the denizens of this future world, including Rob Schneider! Man he really didn't move upward after this did he? (As a side note Jack Black also appears as an extra in this movie, he's one of the cowering filthy sewer people!) I also enjoy the fact that in this future world, Arnold Schwarzenegger was president. The Governator apparently DID move up in the world.
Whenever I think about this movie, I compulsively think about Judge Dredd, another future dystopian movie featuring Stallone as the main character, set up by his criminal opposite, also featuring Rob Schneider. The world of Judge Dredd exists to me as the sort of opposite way that the world could have gone, as opposed to the world of Demolition Man. Despite the similarities in form, I think that Demolition Man is a much better constructed film when compared to the muddled dreary wreckzone that was Judge Dredd. Neither is going to change your life, but I found Demo Man to be generally more entertaining. This movie also manages to be tongue-in-cheek without being just plain silly. Most of the more ridiculous elements of the film came off to me as being satirical, rather than just the result of bad writing. I will put on display silly, bad writing next Tuesday.
|Looks like regular old him to me.|
Notable shout outs also go to Denis Leary, who portrays the leader of the sewer dreg society as what I take to essentially be himself, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, as some very bad background criminal (for those who don't know, he is a professional wrestler turned politician) and Benjamin Bratt as goofy future cop B Alfredo Garcia (Bratt would later play opposite Bullock again as the second lead in Miss Congeniality). Sandra Bullock won a Razzie for this movie for worst supporting actress, which she worked hard to earn I'd say, if being just the worst didn't seem to come so naturally to her. Later in the month I may inflict her upon you all again, in a leading role (no I will not be reviewing Miss Congeniality).
Next week I start off on a low note, and inflict Joel Schumacher's war crime Batman & Robin on the good people of the world.