Sunday, July 17, 2005

Batman Begins

Broog’s perceptual apparatus is complex and splendid. In the visual arena alone, he perceives the world in ways you cannot imagine; in order to observe your cinematic efforts, he must shut a large number of his eyes and limit his hearing with special earmuffs, including one pair given to him by a now-deceased grandchild which resemble tiny rabbits. That Broog can wear these earmuffs without affront to his dignity is a measure of his awesomeness, and also of the speed with which he can seize and devour anyone foolish enough to make negative comment.

Nonetheless, though the expression does not do justice to the truth, Broog may assure you that the Eye Of Broog sees everything. And thus it is that Broog knows what none of you has yet realised: you have been conquered and subordinated by the most devious and terrible human alive. He has shared with you his significant personality trait, and rendered you like him.

Broog refers to the strange and powerful individual known as Woody Allen.

The wise among you will see instantly that only this can explain the flood of angst-ridden, pseudo-therapeutic, Freudian-karma-laden action flicks which now assault the senses of the moviegoing throng. Information on the childhood traumas of heroes and villains sends your critic into a profound slumber from which he emerges irritable and peckish. Broog chanced to see Sin City not long ago, and was horrified to discover not a sprawling universe of evil, lust, and murder, but a violent group therapy session in which the angels and the damned alike reveal their emotions not through action but through sub-Chandler monologuing of which the master criminal in The Incredibles would be ashamed.

We know why Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. We know that he is twisted by the death of his parents and that he walks the line between good and evil; that he strikes terror into the hearts of criminals and that he is a man become legend in order to approach an impossible goal. It is only the mountainous nature of his task and his refusal to take life which can excuse the incredible resources on which he draws and the ludicrous mismatch between him and the majority of his opponents.

We want to see him kicking bad butt in new, devious, skilful batways. We want to see him scourge the criminal population and strike fear into the heart of monsters. We want to see him strive, fall, and rise again stronger. Batman Begins should be the story of the man’s transition into myth. It is instead the story of one man’s battle against himself, his early trauma, and a lot of people with bad moustaches. Which is not why we bought the ticket.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

War of the Worlds

Broog’s people do not go to school. The experiment was briefly tried, but the fatality rate (of seven thousand students and four hundred staff, only eight individuals survived morning prayers and of these four were so severely injured that the others assumed they were items of furniture) was prohibitive. Since coming to your wretched and ungrateful world, however, Broog has learned of a concept which expresses the issue he has with War of the Worlds. While your communication is impoverished and has a signal to noise ratio so negative it should be in analysis, what it lacks in beauty and expressiveness it occasionally makes up for in pith. The term in question is ‘schoolboy error’.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that Broog crushes your measly planet with knout and rod and pulls no punches in his search for aesthetic excellence. This is possible for him because his technological and cultural might is so unquestionable that there can be no rebellion against his rule. Any irregular readers who wish to dispute this should be advised that Broog has a special place in his heart for you, and it is the place where digestive acid and bile are mixed with radioactive gas to power the mighty pumping chamber which shunts the blood of your supreme critic around his unspeakably lovely body.

But Broog digresses.

The point is that Broog knows a thing or two about conquering Earth, and therefore has a unique perspective on Spielberg’s latest SF inactioner. Broog calls this movie an inactioner for the obvious reason that no one except the invading monsters actually does anything, Tom Cruise and his family being so rife with internal divisions and therapeutic mantras that no heroism of any appreciable sort takes place. The flick is therefore somewhat depressing whether you view it with sympathy for the thousands of exploded humans or the equally doomed invaders, whose plan of attack is so awful that it hardly bears contemplation for any length of time. This is a technological race of masterminds so consumed with the desire to conquer that they lay their plans for an invasion long before there are people on the planet – in defiance of the idea that they might just move in before someone else does the décor – and then barf themselves to death on day two. Since Broog has gone this far, he will enumerate the failings of the unseen, but hopefully eviscerated, alien general.

1. Biological screening. Broog cannot emphasise enough how important this is. If you are entering a new biosphere with an eye to ownership, have your shots. There is nothing more embarrassing than receiving the surrender of a puny civilisation whilst vomiting into a plastic bag.

2. This goes double if your attack vessels are cyborg technology. The only thing worse than the new Emperor of Planet Insignificant bringing up over the Imperial Throne is his entire fleet of battlecruisers hurling chunks into a planetary orbit.

3. There is no need, ever, to pick people up and juggle them. While it may seem like fun, this is undignified and inspires resistance.

4. There is absolutely no point in a masterplan so complex that it waits geological ages for the enemy to evolve and be defeated by it.

5. Unless you are naturally armoured and revolting, uniforms stay on until after the invasion. Naked aliens playing with bicycles are not scary.

6. ‘Similitude is Not Identity’. In other words, spraying a planet with human blood to make it red will not give it an ecosystem like Mars. Also, human blood goes brown and flaky.

7. A proper heat ray should cause the subject to burst into flames and scream, not vaporise them quickly, leaving only outer clothing and (mysteriously) no underwear. Although Broog accepts that it is statistically possible, he doubts that every human killed in the film was 'going commando'.

Broog’s technical concerns aside, the movie is long, spends a great deal of time on the interpersonal angst of a human parent with no parenting skills, and even more time underground listening to things upstairs going ‘crunch’; it visually namechecks a series of American nightmares – falling buildings, burning cities, infiltration from within, and crashing planes; and all that happens at the end is that the aliens get sick because they forgot to have their jabs.

In other words, the flick is a one act play about dysfunctional family life, with monsters.