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Monday, August 22, 2011

Movie characters yearn for death


You have a gun and you are facing a guy with a knife. Assuming you know one of you must die and one of you must live, and further assuming you are willing to hurt someone in order to survive, what do you do?
Logically, the smart move is to start shooting and keep your distance. You’ve got a range advantage on the other guy, so if you want to win, you use it. Certainly this is not a new tactic in military circles. So why can’t Hollywood pretend, just for one second, that some of their villains have an ounce of brains and can think of this revolutionary strategy themselves?
I watched X-Men 3 the other day, which is what brought this thought process on. Wolverine (stupid Wolverine, it’s always about Wolverine) has claws. A “bad-guy” sentry has the ability to create throwing knives at will. Wolverine charges the sentry, which is a smart move. The sentry can use his weapons up close, but he’s also good with chucking them, so his smart move is to stay out of reach of Wolverine’s pointy bits. Instead he also charges. The end (of him) is inevitable and easily predicted.
Watching movies can be a lot of fun but it can also be pretty painful. I can accept a ridiculous premise (super-heroes are real) so long as the movie is consistent within its premise. But when someone acts with suicidal stupidity, it takes me right out of the scene. Suspension of disbelief is shattered. This motif of “ranged fighters rushing to get within punching distance of a scrapper” is a pretty consistent one.
Captain America. I loved Captain America comics as a kid. Even then I always saw him as more of a closet Canadian. By the time I was reading him, he was a good bit more liberal than the usual American stereotype. So I wanted to love the movie. I still haven’t seen it, and I’m not likely to because Hollywood doomed it with the previews. They have a ten second shot of the Captain fighting gun-wielding soldiers, and they are all rushing helpfully forward to be clocked in the brainpans by his shield. You have guns! Take a step back, unload a clip. It really just spoils the whole idea. (Which is already a stretch. A shield-wielding soldier? Really?)
Sin City. Another great movie, with one of its best characters played my Mickey Rourke. The disreputable, cruel, blunt, and yet oddly lovable Marv is pretty cool. He is also a basher-type, using fists whenever possible. Yet when a group of baddies want him dead, they just rush right at him so he can chop them to bits with a hatchet. These baddies all have guns. All Marv has to do is set his feet and just whack away as they come hustling up to him, lemming-like, to die. Sigh.
Villains aren’t the only ones who do this. Lord of the Rings. Legolas uses arrows. So why does he leap into melee at least three times in the course of the trilogy? You are an elf. You use a bow. So use it! For example, they are riding down from Helm’s Deep in their final charge, expecting to die (maybe). Legolas leaps on a horse and goes with them instead of going to the summit with Gimli the Horn-Blower where he could safely shoot arrows. Long-life does not apparently teach wisdom, you pointy-eared dummy.
Those are just the ones I can come up with off the top of my head. Maybe no one else is bothered. Maybe no one else notices. Certainly Hollywood execs haven’t clued in yet.

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