4 August 2010


Sometimes it's nice to just appreciate a damn fine film. I covered Three Kings on Monday, and then in the aforementioned absence of anything new in cinemas this week that I haven't already seen, I turned to the bargain bin at Blockbuster. And wouldn't you know it, I was able to pick up a damn fine film to write about today.

Sure, in 125 posts on this blog, I haven't once done a "my top 10 favourite films of all time" entry, but that kind of thing can fluctuate from the number 4 slot downwards. Instead, I'm going to talk about a film I like a lot, but not one that many will count as their favourite- Demolition Man.

This film is younger than I am, so I'm not sure why they open in the near-future of... 1996. Anyways, there we're introduced to John Spartan, a man whose moniker has surely predestined him to be a rampant super-cop, and Simon Phoenix, a dangerous terrorist who's brought Los Angeles to its knees with nihilism and outright dickery. They both end up cryogenically frozen after a tussle that kills 30 innocent people, and are defrosted to do battle in the utopic future of 2032.

It's occasionally easy to forget that Sylvester Stallone is generally a thoughtful and intelligent guy, for an action star. The star of films such as Spy Kids 3D, Driven and Judge Dredd also wrote and starred in the likes of Rocky, First Blood (but not the sequels) and this one, which is essentially an action-packed analog to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

The ramifications of that involve a pretty circular logic. As Lenina Huxley (told you!) puts it to Spartan, "whatever isn't good for you is bad", and so chocolate, alcohol, smoking, swearing and sex is outlawed along with murder, theft and the like. Oh, and you somehow use three sea-shells to wipe your arse in lieu of toilet paper. It's not really played as dystopic, because the attitude of those in the future makes for half the comedy in Demolition Man.

It's only sad that Rob Schneider, the man shat out by Adam Sandler, is the one who delivers a brilliant line about the police being ineffectual- "We're police officers! We're not trained to handle this kind of violence!" Well the last MurderDeathKill (as they call it) was on September 25th 2010, so why would they be trained for that? They haven't even thought to MurderDeathKill Schneider, who's uncredited nevertheless.

There is dissent within Nigel Hawthorne's dystopic utopia as a committed bunch of nostalgic freedom fighters led by Denis Leary live out their lives in the sewers, eating rat-burgers and driving then-vintage Oldsmobiles. In the end it takes, of all people, Detective John Spartan. It all ends a lot more amiably than Aldous Huxley's novel, and it's generally a much more enjoyable experience too.

Some will call Demolition Man a guilty pleasure, and perhaps that's all it is to some. But it really is a smart and funny action film that bears up despite being quite dated simply by the fact we weren't freezing cons in 1996. It's got a pretty good cast too- it's not a matter of target audience that makes this one of Sandra Bullock's better performances. Next time you watch The Blind Side, remember she started here, and she was better.

Stallone and Snipes are likewise having the time of their lives, and the whole affair is gloriously off-kilter. I got it from Blockbuster on 3 for 2 with Battlefield Earth and Zodiac, £2 each, so it was really a bargain. If you haven't already reevaluated this one recently, you need to go find it and give it a look.

Knowing that I'll inevitably pick up a lot of fines for violation of the verbal morality statute when I inevitably cover Battlefield Earth on here, I'll return to new releases on Friday with... (sigh) Cats & Dogs 2.

I'm Mark the mad prophet and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

1 comment:

Justin Switzer said...

This movie came out in '93. It was set 3 yrs in the future. Snipes even makes a reference to Jeffrey Dahmer in the movie as if he is frozen but he died in prison a little while after the release of this movie. But I agree...it's one of my favorites. And it's also one of those movies that predict the future. Many things he come true or very close to it. I can't wait to see if we have cryoprisons by 2032. Ha.