Monday, December 18, 2006

Not So Dumb Fun

Ah, the countdown to Christmas. With a week to go, peace on Earth and goodwill to all men, along with all the other baloney, appears to be in short supply.

Shopping for gifts in Central London means entering the seething cauldron of the stresses and strains this time of year brings. Unless of course you’re opting out of the festivities, whereupon it provides really excellent spectator sport. While there were no real knockdown drag-outs on show, heated exchanges warmed the cold December air as people are pushed close to meltdown in a bid to show their love for one another. One woman looked like she was about to punch a bus for getting in her way.

Before the television schedules are choked full with dumb Christmas specials of reasonably mundane fare, the channels are starting to mix it up by shoehorning in a selection of movies to replace the typical programmes. Growing up, this used to be a big deal but with the availability of films on DVD, nowadays not so much. Although, it does mean I can catch up with the sort of nonsense I wouldn’t have seen at the cinema or rented, let alone bought.

Last night Channel 4 showed The Core. I had meant to catch something else but the film was so bad it was hypnotic. Once I started watching, I couldn’t look away. There’s fun and then there’s dumb fun. The Core was just dumb. After the success of Armageddon and Deep Impact, some spark obviously decided that putting the Earth in danger brought its own rewards. But instead of the threat coming from out of the sky, it came from underground.

So in this instance, the planet’s magnetic core was fucked up and if it didn’t get sorted out, bad things would happen. You can imagine how utterly awful it was just by reading the last line back. I’m all for a journey to the centre of the Earth. But only if a Scandinavian with a duck under his arm goes along. Otherwise I’ll get my kicks from Steve Buscemi wigging out on an asteroid.

With all the money thrown at The Core it would have been good if the producers had employed a scientific advisor to shoot down the really stooped. Obviously crazy talk like that is worthy of heresy, but there are still some clever ideas around that can be wrapped up in entertaining ways.

Although I only made a few trips out to the cinema this year, there were still movies that I caught up with once they appeared on DVD. One of them was The Da Vinci Code. Which, I was surprised to discover, I actually liked. I still haven’t read the book. Some folk I know found it a real page-turner. Others were less than impressed. Either way, Dan Brown still wakes up every day smiling.

Watching the film there are certainly problems with the plot, especially when the characters manage to conveniently escape when they find themselves in a tight corner. And Tom Hanks’ pronunciation of “[Knights] Templar” is certainly ripe for debate. What The Da Vinci Code does extremely well is take a collection of ideas and beliefs and bind them together to create a narrative.

For all the criticism, the film does at least make you think. Which is something you’ll find lacking in a lightweight romantic comedy, or a dumb slasher flick that has people fannying around in the woods until its their turn to be bumped off in a grisly fashion. I’m certainly not blind to the almost ludicrous way the code, hidden for centuries, is cracked in a couple of days by Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon. But that’s the necessary compression of cinema for you.

In fact, it’s a shame The Da Vinci Code was made into a movie. Surely it would have worked better as a miniseries.


At 5:41 am, Blogger wcdixon said...

The Core was awwful wasn't it...but like you, I couldn't look away when it showed up on the Movie Channel.

And Divinci was a great read (I thought) and fun and clever - and so when I saw movie and was mildly bored and thought 'enhh', was also surprised to hear from someone else who hadn't read book that they thought it was pretty good. Not sure what that all means, other than Dan Brown still smiling.

At 12:11 pm, Blogger Piers said...

Pish, and Tush, and Fie on you both! The Core is a great film.

Nuclear bombs! Hacking! A giant mole machine burrowing to the centre of the Earth! Stanley Tucci! Hilary Swank!

Proper pulp.

At 8:40 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...

Hilary Swank...mmmm


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