VHS Revival flexes its female prowess in a world of male-driven chauvinism.
Recently, I have noticed that some cable television outlets have taken to showing disaster movies.
I don’t know whether to be alarmed or amused by their schedule, but it started the old gears turning in my head. Why is it that when an impending cataclysm is looming Hollywood feels the need to turn to a beefcake-o-rama? Look, I am not going on a feminist rant or anything, but just think about it: besides Deep Impact, has there ever been a crisis thriller helmed by a woman? Have we ever gone to Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts to rescue us from all out destruction? I know for a fact that Meryl could save us by just reading a story from Dr. Seuss; she is a national treasure after all.
With this in mind, I decided to do a little research on the matter. Can everything be solved with some muscles and a hunky grin? Can we really affect world peace with “Blue Steel” from Derek Zoolander? See, I ask the hard questions. After all, I have nothing better to do. It’s not like I need to do laundry or… well, you get the picture.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Since the subject matter of this film was rather serious, (advanced climate change), we needed more than one impossibly good looking guy to lead us to safety. We can’t expect Jake Gyllenhaal to bat his big, blue eyes and make tsunamis recede now, can we? No! That is why Dennis Quaid is along for the ride. He’s rugged, he’s trustworthy, he’s 80, but he’s got killer abs so we are in good hands! More than likely, Harrison Ford was unavailable due to some scheduling conflict. While he was off making an Oscar caliber movie, Dennis raised his hand and said, “Why the hell not? It’s a big budget flick. I’ll get paid a ridiculous amount of money. The script is totally based on pseudo-science. I’m game! Where do I sign?” Don’t get me wrong, the special effects are pretty exciting, but that doesn’t make up for the paper thin storyline. Just to drive my point home, Jay O. Sanders, a wonderful character actor with credits like JFK, plays second banana to Quaid. Since he is not photogenic, he gets to plummet to his death, while Quaid and Gyllenhaal survive as heroes. Surprise! Surprise!
This effort stars one of the Grandfathers of the disaster genre – not Arnold but Sylvester Stallone. In this particular adventure, Sly plays ex-Emergency Medical Services Chief, Kit Latura, a beefcake called into action when a tunnel connecting Manhattan to New Jersey becomes the scene of an unfortunate accident. Naturally, only Kit can rescue those poor unfortunates trapped in a tunnel now blocked from both sides. Why? Because he’s Sylvester F. Stallone, that’s why! Pumped up and ready for action, I can almost see a strategically ripped shirt accentuating those giant pectoral muscles.
Dante’s Peak (1997)
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Pierce Brosnan. As a matter of fact, when I first laid eyes on him way back in his Remington Steele days, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. In this little opus from the 90s, Pierce plays a volcanologist. Of course, he does! When I’m looking for a scientist type, he is the first person who springs to mind. Another incongruity would be Pierce as an action hero. He strikes me as a martini-sipping-watching-the-action-from-the-beach bar kind of guy. Obviously, he lives to discover another dangerously dormant volcano as love springs eternal with none other than The Terminator’s Linda Hamilton.
War of the Worlds (2005)
In this Spielberg version of the H.G. Wells classic, Tom “Fricking” Cruise is the hero. Yes, TC of the toothy, boyish grin and floppy Hugh Grantesque mane. First off, we have to believe that he is a working-class stevedore from Hoboken. Really?! Once we get past this, we find that he is a divorced father of two: an estranged teenage son who detests him, and Dakota Fanning, a daughter who loves him completely. The story begins on one of those rare occasions when he has his kids. Of course it does! Then, all of a sudden, boom! Out of the blue (literally) aliens land and havoc ensues. Tom has to protect his children and outrun/outwit creatures from another planet while trying to get to his ex-wife. Even covered in alien mess, Tom manages to stay looking like, well, Tom Cruise. This is the hero of Top Gun, he had All the Right Moves and he took on a menacing Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. He’s got this world! So aliens beware, the grin is going to get you! And if that doesn’t work, there is always Scientology (no disrespect intended to my Scientologist friends, just a little humor).
A blondish Bruce Willis is a roughneck who has mastered the technique of drilling for oil. He and his ragtag crew of misfits are approached by NASA to save the planet by planting explosives on an asteroid that is about to decimate the Earth. Never mind that this is Hollywood fantasy at its most improbable – just go with it! Much like The Day After Tomorrow, we need two hunks to save the day as something resembling Armageddon approaches. If the sight of a beachy Bruce doesn’t set your heart aflutter, than perhaps a buff and camera ready Ben Affleck will do! This film was box office gold and it gave Aerosmith the chance to win an Academy Award for Best Song with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Yes, Steven Tyler has an Oscar. Let that one sink in!
What to conclude?
With so much oozing machismo, maybe it’s time for females to step up to the plate. I think society is ready for a film where women save the world. How about this for a potential plot? A retired model (Angelina Jolie) is recruited by Meryl Streep and Dame Judi Dench to stop an uprising on a distant planet that could have a devastating impact on Earth’s future plans to colonize the universe. Angelina enlists the help of Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Wilde and Charlize Theron to help her end the rebellion. Think of the fabulous form fitting Seven of Nine spacesuits, great hair and awesome make up! This smells like a blockbuster! Does anyone have JJ Abrams’ number?