Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Vision of the Future Through 1980s Films

As a big fan of dystopian literature, it is only natural that I check out films of a similar vein. I usually watch any movie set in the future, wether it is a utopian or dystopian world. Maybe I just enjoy downer movies and books because so many bits of culture have forced happy endings. I will always stand by my assertion that if "Minority Report" had ended with the girl being brought back to the temple and Tom Cruise in jail, it would have been the ballsiest endign to a movie since the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The utopian ones always seem a bit more gay. Unless set in the distant future, how truly different will the world be in 20 years?

One movie in the '80s tried to tackle that, and it was Runaway starring Tom Selleck, the blonde hot chick from Dirty Dancing and Gene Simmons. Michael Crichton was the director and writer. Surprisingly, it deals with robots that go haywire. No way, Michael! This always seemed like a reasonable future for the world to move towards. I notice that in the future full mustaches are still in style. Kirstie Alley is in this, when she still looked hot, and you forget how she was sexy at one point in time. Besides the cool premise, the feature of this movie that sells it for me is the horrible acting of Gene Simmons. He does not have many lines in this movie that are not dubbed over the action. Seriously, he is usually speaking over a phone, recording device or on a video image. He is that bad of an actor. As a kid, I never knew it was the guy from KISS because he looks so weird without make up.

Another '80s movie that had a plausible future but was far more dystopian than Runaway is the Running Man. The book by Stephen King is far superior to the movie, but the movie is a gold mine for action sequences, satire, and unintentional comedy. Arnold was in his prime durign this film, and soem of the stunts and action still stand up today. Jessie "The Body" Ventura and Jim Brown make appearances, as does "Sven", who is in all of Arnold's films. Some lines stand the test of time "Sub Zero now Plain Zero" or "steroids make you deaf?" I use these at the gym 20 years later. Mick Fleetwood even shows up, and it's implied that he is playing himself set in the future. No make up was required to age him 30 years. I enjoyed the satire of televsion and how America has a high threshold for violence. One of the creepiest parts of the movie that goes unnoticed unless you've seen it 30 or so times is when this women says to Maria Conchita Alonso that she is lucky to survive an encounter with Arnold, "You're lucky he didn't kill you, too. Or rape you, then kill you. Or kill you, then rape you". She looks really into it while saying the lines. Chicks write love letters to serial rapists for a reason. Shit, I'm watching this one tonight, "No, Last season's losers".

No 1980s visions of the future movie review is complete without the Road Warrior. This is one of my favorite films of all time. Far better film critics have said far better things about this movie than I ever could. It's just fun, smart and well paced. Mad Max's dog is also the coolest dog in film history. The final chase scene is magnificent, and the twist to the plan is brilliant. When I first saw the film as a kid, I never saw it coming. One thing that is cool about the film that few people remember is that the narrative is from the feral looking boy's point of view. It is his memory which is playing out on film. Maybe his hero, Mad Max, is a bit trumped up because he was a boy viewing all of these things. This is a fantastic film that all people should watch because it is timeless. There is not anything to this future which is timestamped by when it was made. Some of the future films of the 70s are dated because the computer stuff is so 70s. Mad Max has no computers because the world has crumbled to nomads and tribal arrangements.

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