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W ate rs tone 's M agazine

W inte r/Spring 19 9 8

W h at's th e diffe re nce be tw e e n a H ollyw ood s pe cial -e ffe cts bl ock bus te r
lik e "Te rm inator 2" and a h ard-core porn fil m ?Ve ry l ittl
e , cl
aim s
nove l is t, e s s ayis tand footnote fe tis h is tDavid Fos te r W al l
ace .
19 9 0s m ovie goe rs w h o h ave s at clutch ing th e ir U.S. action m ovie s of th e e ntire 19 80s 2, w as a dark , bre ath -
h e ads in both aw e and dis appointm e nt at m ovie s lik e les s ly k ine tic, ne ar-brilliant pie ce of m e taph ys icalLudditis m .
"Tw is te r" and "Volcano" and "Th e Los t W orld" can th ank R e callth at it's A.D . 2027 and th at th e re 's be e n a nuclear h olo-
Jam e s Cam e ron's "Te rm inator 2: Judgm e nt D ay" for inaugur- caus t in 19 9 7 and th at ch ip-drive n m ach ine s now rule, and
ating w h at's be com e th is de cade 's s pe cialne w ge nre of big- "Sk yne t," th e arch onic diabolus e x m ach ina, de ve lops a lim -
budge t film : Spe cialEffe cts Porn. "Porn" be caus e , if you s ub- ite d k ind of tim e -trave lte ch nology and dis patch e s th e now
s titute F/X for inte rcours e , th e parallels be tw e e n th e tw o clas s ically cyborgian A. Sch w arze ne gge r back to 19 84's Los
ge nre s be com e s o obvious th e y're e e rie . Jus t lik e h ard-core Ange les to find and te rm inate one Sarah Connor, th e m oth e r-
ch e apie s , m ovie s lik e "Te rm inator 2" and "Juras s ic Park " to-be of th e future leade r of th e h um an "R e s is tance ," one
are n't re ally "m ovie s " in th e s tandard s e ns e at all. W h at th e y Joh n Connor3;and th at appare ntly th e R e s is tance its e lf s om e -
re ally are is h alf a doze n or s o is olate d, s pe ctacular s ce ne s -- h ow ge ts one -tim e -only acce s s to Sk yne t's tim e -trave lte ch no-
s ce ne s com pris ing m aybe tw e nty or th irty m inute s of rive t- logy and s e nds back to th e s am e s pace -tim e coordinate s a
ing, s e ns uous payoff -- s trung toge th e r via anoth e r s ixty to R e s is tance office r, th e e ve r-s w e aty but e xtre m e ly tough and
nine ty m inute s of flat, de ad, and ofte n h ilarious ly ins ipid nar- re s ource ful K yle R e e s e , to try de s pe rate ly to prote ct M s .
rative . Sarah Connor from th e Te rm inator's proph ylactic advance s 4,
"T2," one of th e h igh e s t-gros s ing m ovie s in h is tory, and s o on. It is , ye s , true th at Cam e ron's Sk yne t is bas ically
ope ne d s ix ye ars ago. Th ink of th e s ce ne s w e alls tillre m e m - K ubrick 's H AL, and th at m os t of "T1"'s tim e -trave lpara-
be r. Th at incre dible ch as e and e xplos ion in th e L.A. s luice - doxe s are re w ork ings of s om e fairly s tandard Bradbury-e ra
w ay and th e n th e liq uid m e talT-1000 Te rm inator w alking s cie nce fiction th e m e s , but "Th e Te rm inator" s till h as a
out of th e e xplos ion's flam e s and m orph ing1 s e am les s ly into w h ole lot to re com m e nd it. Th e re 's th e ins pire d cas ting of th e
h is M artin-M ilne r-as -Pos s e s s e d-by-H annibal-Le cte r corpor- m alevolently cyborgian Sch w arze ne gge r as th e m alevolently
e alform . Th e T-1000 ris ing h ide ous ly up out of th at ch e ck e r- cyborgian Te rm inator, th e role th at m ade Ah node a s upe rs tar
board floor, th e T-1000 m e lting h e adfirs t th rough th e and for w h ich h e w as utte rly and totally pe rfe ct (e .g. e ve n h is
w inds h ie ld of th at h e licopte r, th e T-1000 fre e zing in liq uid ni- goofy 16-r.p.m . Aus trian acce nt adde d a pe rfe ct little robofas -
troge n and th e n collaps ing fractally apart. Th e s e w e re truly cis t tinge to th e Te rm inator's dialogue 5). Th e re 's th e firs t of
s pe ctacular im age s , and th e y re pre s e nte d e xpone ntial ad-
vance s in digitalF/X te ch nology. But th e re w e re at m os t
m aybe e igh t of th e s e incre dible s e q ue nce s , and th e y w e re th e
m ovie 's h e art and point;th e re s t of "T2" is e m pty and de rivat-
2Th e 19 80s oth e r B.U.S.A.M . w as Cam e ron's s e cond fe ature , th e 19 86
ive , pure m im e tic polyce lluloid. "Alie ns ," also m ode s tly budge te d, also both h air-rais ing and de e ply
It's not th at "T2" is totally plotles s or e m barras s ing -- and inte llige nt.
it doe s , adm itte dly, s tand h e ad and s h oulde rs above m os t of 3(W h os e initial s , for a proph e s ie d s aviour of h um anity, are notparticularly
s ubtle.)
th e F/X Porn block bus te rs th at h ave follow e d it. It's rath e r 4Th e fact th at w h at Sk yne t is atte m pting is in e ffe ct a re troactive abortion,
th at "T2" as a dram atic narrative is s lick and clich e and calcu- toge th e r w ith th e factth at"te rm inate a pre gnancy" is a pre tty w e ll-k now n
lating and in s um an appalling be trayalof 19 84's "Th e Te r- e uph e m is m , led th e fe m ale I firs ts aw th e m ovie w ith in 19 84 to claim ,
m inator." "T1," w h ich w as Jam e s Cam e ron's firs t fe ature ove r coffe e and pie afte rw ards , th at"Th e Te rm inator" w as actually one
long pro-ch oice allegory, w h ich I s aid I th ough tw as notw /o m e ritbut
film and h ad a m ode s t budge t and w as one of th e tw o be s t m aybe a bittoo s im plis tic to do th e m ovie re aljus tice , w h ich led to k ind of
an unpleas antrow .
5Cons ide r, for e xam pl e , th e now fam ous "I'llbe back " line took on a leve l
of om inous h is toricalre s onance w h e n utte re d by an uns toppable k illing
m ach ine w ith a _ Ge rm an_ acce nt. Th is w as ch illing and brilliant
com m e rcialpos tm ode rnis m atits be s t;butitis also w h atm ade
1(Actual ly de fine d in th e film as "m im e tic polyalloy," w h ate ve r th at's "Te rm inator 2"'s in-jok e of h aving Ah node re pe atth e line in a good-guy
s uppos e d to m e an.) conte xtis s o dis appointing.
Cam e ron's tw o gre at action h e roine s 6 in Sarah Connor, as "T2"'s oth e r im portant ironie s and paradoxe s , h ow e ve r, are
w h om th e lim pid-e ye d and leth al-lippe d Linda H am ilton unfortunate ly uninte ntionaland ge ne ric and k ind of s ad.
also turns in th e only gre at pe rform ance of h e r care e r. Th e re Note , for e xam ple, th e fact th at "Te rm inator 2: Judgm e nt
is th e de ns e , gre as y, m arve lous ly m ach ine lik e look of "Th e D ay," a m ovie about th e dis as trous cons e q ue nce s of h um ans
Te rm inator"'s m e ch anize d F/X7; th e re are th e noiris h ligh t- re lying too h e avily on com pute r te ch nology, w as its e lf unpre -
ing and D e xe drine pace th at com pe ns ate inge nious ly for th e ce de ntly com pute r-de pe nde nt. Ge orge Lucas ' Indus trial
low budge t and m anage to e s tablis h a m ood th at is both e x- Ligh t and M agic, s ubcontracte d by Cam e ron to do "T2"'s
h ilarating and claus troph obic8. Plus "T1"'s s tory h ad at its s pe ciale ffe cts , h ad to q uadruple th e s ize of its com pute r
ce nte r a m arve lous "Appointm e nt-in-Sam arra"-lik e irony of graph ics de partm e nt for th e T-1000 s e q ue nce s , s e q ue nce s
fate : w e dis cove r in th e cours e of th e film th at K yle R e e s e is w h ich also re q uire d digital-im aging s pe cialis ts from around
actually Joh n Connor's fath e r,9 and th us th at if Sk yne t h adn't th e w orld, th irty-s ix s tate -of-th e -art Silicon Graph ics com -
built its ne bulous tim e m ach ine and s e nt back th e Te rm inat- pute rs , and te rabyte s of s pe cially inve nte d s oftw are program s
or, R e e s e w ouldn't h ave be e n back h e re in '84, e ith e r, to im - for s e am les s m orph ing, re alis tic m otion, digital "body
pre gnate Sarah C. Th is also e ntails th at m e anw h ile, up in s ock s ," back ground-plate com patibility, congrue nce of ligh t-
A.D . 2027, Joh n Connor h as h ad to s e nd th e m an h e k now s ing and grain, e tc. And th e re is no q ue s tion th at allth e lab
is h is fath e r on a m is s ion th at J.C. k now s w illre s ult in both w ork paid off: in 19 9 1, "Te rm inator 2"'s s pe ciale ffe cts w e re
th at m an's de ath and h is (i.e . J.C.'s ) ow n birth . Th e w h ole th e m os t s pe ctacular and re al-look ing anybody h ad e ve r
ironic m e s s is s im ultane ous ly Fre udian and Te s tam e ntaland s e e n. Th e y w e re also th e m os te xpe ns ive .
is jus te xtraordinarily coolfor a low -budge taction m ovie . "T2" is th us also th e firs t and be s t ins tance of a paradoxic-
Its big-budge t s e q ue l adds only one ironic paradox to allaw th at appe ars to h old true for th e e ntire F/X Porn ge nre .
"Th e Te rm inator"'s m ix: in "T2," w e learn th at th e "radically It is called th e Inve rs e Cos t and Quality Law , and it s tate s
advance d ch ip"10 on w h ich Sk yne t's CPU is (w illbe ) bas e d ve ry s im ply th at th e large r a m ovie 's budge t is , th e s h ittie r
actually cam e (com e s ) from th e de nude d and h ydraulically th at m ovie is going to be . Th e cas e of "T2" s h ow s th at m uch
pre s s e d s k ull of "T1"'s de funct Te rm inator...m e aning th at of th e ICQL's force de rive s from s im ple financiallogic. A
Sk yne t's atte m pts to alte r th e flow of h is tory bring about not film th at w ould cos t h undre ds of m illions of dollars to m ak e
only Joh n Connor's birth but Sk yne t's ow n, as w e ll. All is going to ge t financialback ing if and only if its inve s tors
can be m axim ally -- m axim ally -- s ure th at at th e ve ry leas t
th e y w illge t th e ir h undre ds of m illions of dollars back 11 --
i.e . a m e gabudge t m ovie m us t not fail(and "failure " h e re
6It is a com pl
m e ans anyth ing les s th an a runaw ay box-office h it) and m us t
e te m ys te ry w h y fe m inis tfilm s ch olars h ave n'tpaid m ore
atte ntion to Cam e ron and h is e arly collaborator Gale Ann H urd. "Th e
th us adh e re to ce rtain re liable form ulae th at h ave be e n
Te rm inator" and "Alie ns " w e re both violentaction film s w ith tough , s h ow n by pre ce de nt to m axim ally e ns ure a runaw ay h it. O ne
com pe te ntfe m ale protagonis ts (incre dibly rare ) w h os e tough ne s s and of th e m os t re liable of th e s e form ulae involve s cas ting a s u-
com pe te nce in no w ay dim inis h th e ir "fe m ininity" (e ve n m ore rare ,
unh e ard of), a fe m ininity th atis roote d (along w ith both film s ' th e m atics )
pe rs tar w h o is "bank able" (i.e . w h os e re ce nt track re cord of
in notions of m ate rnity rath e r th an jus ts e xuality. For e xam ple, com pare film s s h ow s a h igh R O I). Th e s tudio back ing for "T2'''s
Cam e ron's Ellen R ipley w ith th e panty-and-tank -top R ipley of Scott's w ildly s oph is ticate d and digitalF/X th e re fore de pe nds on
"Alie n." In factitw as flat-outcrim inalth atSigourne y W e ave r didn'tw in
th e '86 O s car for h e r lead in Cam e ron's "Alie ns ." M arlee M atlin inde e d.
M r. Arnold Sch w arze ne gge r agre e ing to re pris e h is Te rm inat-
No m ale lead in th e h is tory of U.S. action film s e ve n approach e s W e ave r's or role. Now th e ironie s s tart to s tack , th ough , be caus e it
s e cond R ipley for e m otionalde pth and s h e e r balls -- s h e m ak e s Stallone , turns out th at Sch w arze ne gge r -- or pe rh aps m ore accurate ly
W illis , e t. al.look m uddled and ill. "Sch w arze ne gge r, Inc.," or "Ah nodyne " -- h as de cide d th at
7(Th e re is a ponde rous , m arve l ous built-look ing q uality (com plete w ith
fe rrous clank s and/or pne um atic h is s e s ) th at-- oddly e nough -- atrough ly playing any m ore m alevolent cyborgs w ould com prom is e th e
th e s am e tim e also dis tinguis h e s th e s pe ciale ffe cts of Gilliam 's "Brazil" Le ading M an im age h is e lite and bank able re cord of R O I e n-
and PaulVe rh oe ve n's "R obocop." Th is w as notcoolonly be caus e th e tails. H e w illdo th e film only if "T2"'s s cript is s om e h ow e n-
e ffe cts w e re th e m s e lve s cool,butalso be caus e h e re w e re th re e talente d
young te ch -m inde d dire ctors w h o re je cte d th e airy, h yge nic look of gine e re d to m ak e th e Te rm inator th e Good Guy. Not only is
Spie lbe rg's and Lucas 's F/X. Th e grim y de ns ity and pre ponde rance of th is vain and s tupid and s h ock ingly ungrate ful,12 it is also
m e talin Cam e ron's e ffe cts s ugge s te d th ath e w as look ing allth e w ay back com m on popular k now ledge , duly re porte d in both th e trade
to M éliès and Lang for vis ualins piration.)
8(Cam e ron w oul d rais e th e us e of ligh tand pace to ne ar-pe rfe ction in
"Alie ns ," w h e re jus ts ix alie n-s uite d s tuntm e n and inge nious q uick -cut
e diting re s ulte d in s om e of th e m os tte rrifying Te e m ing R apacious H orde
s ce ne s of alltim e . (By th e w ay, s orry to be going on and on about"Alie ns "
and "Th e Te rm inator." It's jus tth atth e y're gre at, gre at, com m e rcialcine m a, 11Th e indus try te rm for ge tting your m one y back pl us th atlittle bitof
and nobody talks aboutth e m e nough , and th e y're a big re as on w h y "T2" e xtra th atm ak e s inve s ting in a m ovie a de ce ntinve s tm e ntis R O I, w h ich is
w as s uch a tragic and ins idious de ve lopm e ntnotonly for 9 0s film s butfor s h ortfor R e turn on Inve s tm e nt.
Jam e s Cam e ron, w h os e firs ttw o film s h ad ge nius in th e m .)) 12Be caus e Sch w arze ne gge r -- com pare d to w h om Ch uck Norris is O l ivie r --
9 (So actual ly I gue s s itw ould be m ore lik e "Luk e Sk yw alke r's is notan actor or e ve n a pe rform e r. H e is a body, a form -- th e clos e s tth ing
Appointm e ntin Sam arra" -- nobody s aid th is w as Art-Cine m a or anyth ing.) to an actualm ach ine in th e h is tory of th e S.A.G. Ah node 's e lite bank able
10(Viz. a "ne utralne t proce s s or" bas e d on an "uncool e d s upe rconductor," s tatus in 19 9 1 w as due e ntire ly to th e factth atJam e s Cam e ron h ad h ad th e
w h ich I grie ve to re portis a conce itrippe d off from D ouglas Trum bull's ge nius to unde rs tand Sch w arze ne gge r's e s s e ntialbionis m and to cas th im
19 83 "Brains torm .") in "T1."
and th e popular e nte rtainm e nt m e dia be fore "T2" e ve n goe s Cam e ron's pre m is e is financially canny and artis tically
into production. Th e re 's cons e q ue ntly a w e ird pos tm ode rn dis m al: it pe rm its "Te rm inator 2"'s narrative to clank along
te ns ion to th e w ay w e w atch th e film ; w e 're aw are of w h at on th e rails of allm anne r of m as s -m ark e t form ulae . Th e re is ,
th e bank able s tar's de m ands w e re , and w e 're also aw are of for e xam ple, no q uick e r or e as ie r ingre s s to th e audie nce 's
h ow m uch th e m ovie cos t and h ow im portant bank able s tars h e art th an to pre s e nt an innoce nt ch ild in dange r, and of
are to a big-budge t m ovie ; and s o one of th e fe w th ings th at cours e prote cting an innoce nt ch ild from dange r is h e rois m
k e e ps us on th e e dge of our s e ats during th e m ovie is our s us - at its m os t ge ne ric. Cam e ron's pre m is e also pe rm its th e e m o-
pe ns e about w h e th e r Jam e s Cam e ron can pos s ibly w e ave a tionalce nte r of "T2" to cons is t of th e ch ild and th e Te rm inat-
plaus ible, non-ch e e s y narrative th at m e e ts Sch w arze ne gge r's or "bonding," w h ich in turn allow s for allm anne r of fam iliar
care e r ne e ds w ith outbe traying "T1"'s pre ce de nt. and re liable de vice s . Th us it is th at "T2" offe rs us clich e e x-
Cam e ron doe s not s ucce e d, at leas t not in avoiding h e avy plorations of s tuff lik e th e conflicts be tw e e n Em otion and Lo-
ch e e s e . R e callth e pre m is e h e s e ttles on for "T2": th at Sk yne t gic (te rritory alre ady m ine d to e xh aus tion by "Star Tre k ")
once again us e s its (appare ntly not allth at lim ite d) tim e - and be tw e e n H um an and M ach ine (turf th at's be e n w ork e d in
trave lde vice , th is tim e to s e nd a far m ore advance d liq uid e ve ryth ing from "Los t in Space " to "Blade R unne r" to "R ob-
m e talT-1000 Te rm inator back to 19 9 0s L.A., th is tim e to k ill ocop"), as w e llas e xploiting th e good old Alie n-or-R obot-
th e te n-ye ar-old Joh n Connor (playe d by th e e xtre m e ly an- Le arns - A b out- H um an- Cus tom s - and - Ps y ch ology - From -
noying Edw ard Furlong13, w h os e voice k e e ps crack ing pu- Sarcas tic- and/or- Pre cocious - but- Bas ically- Goodh e arte d-
be s ce ntly and w h o's jus t clearly olde r th an te n), and th at th e H um an-w ith -W h om -It-Bonds form ula (q .q .v. h e re "M y Fa-
intre pid h um an R e s is tance h as s om e h ow capture d, s ubdue d, vorite M artian" and "E.T." and "Starm an" and "Th e Broth e r
and "re program m e d" an old Sch w arze ne gge r-m ode lTe rm in- From Anoth e r Plane t" and "H arry and th e H e nde rs ons " and
ator -- re s e tting its CPU's s w itch from TER M INATE to PR O - "Alf" and ad alm os t infinitum ). Th us it is th at th e 85% of
TECT, appare ntly14 -- and th e n h as s om e h ow once again "T2" th at is not m ind-blow ing digitalF/X s e q ue nce s s ubje cts
gotte n one -tim e acce s s to Sk yne t's tim e -trave lte ch nology 15 us to dialogue lik e : "Vh y do you cry?" and "Cool! M y ow n
and s e nt th e Sch w arze ne gge r Te rm inator back to prote ct Te rm inator!" and "Can you not be s uch a dork allth e tim e ?"
young J.C. from th e T-1000's infanticidaladvance s .16 and "Th is is inte ns e !" and "H ave n't you learne d th at you
can't jus t go around k illing pe ople?" and "It's O K , M om , h e 's
h e re to h e lp" and "I k now now vh y you cry, but it's s om e s ing
I can ne ve r do"; plus to th at h ide ous e nding w h e re Sch w ar-
13It augurs il
ze ne gge r give s Joh n a cyborgian h ug and th e n voluntarily im -
lfor both Furlong and Cam e ron th atw ith in m inute s of Joh n
Connor's introduction in th e film w e 're rooting vigorous ly for h im to be m e rs e s h im s e lf in m olte n s te e lto prote ct h um anity from h is
Te rm inate d. ne uralne t CPU, rais ing th at Fonzie s q ue th um b as h e s ink s
14A com pl e x and inte re s ting s ce ne w h e re Joh n and Sarah actually ope n up be low th e s urface 17, and th e tw o Connor h ug and grie ve , and
th e Te rm inator's h e ad and re m ove Ah node 's CPU and do s om e furth e r
re program m ing -- a s ce ne w h e re w e learn a lotm ore aboutne uralne t
th e n poor old Linda H am ilton -- w h os e role in "T2" re q uire s
proce s s ors and Te rm inative anatom y, and w h e re Sarah is s trung outand h e r not only to look lik e s h e 's be e n doing noth ing but
h as k ind of an unde rs tandable anti-Te rm inator pre judice and w ants to Nautilus for th e las t s e ve ralye ars but also to k e e p s narling
s m as h th e CPU w h ile s h e can, and w h e re Joh n as s e rts h is nas ce nt
com m and pre s e nce and bas ically orde rs h e r notto -- w as cutfrom th e
and baring h e r te e th and s aying s tuff lik e "D on't fuck w ith
m ovie 's finalve rs ion. Cam e ron's profe s s e d rationalfor cutting th e s ce ne m e !" and "M e n lik e you k now noth ing about re ally cre ating
w as th atth e m iddle of th e m ovie "dragge d" and th atth e s ce ne w as too s om e th ing!" and acting h alf-craze d w ith param ilitary s tre s s ,
com plex: "I could accountfor th e Te rm inator's be h avior ch ange s m uch
m ore s im ply." I s ubm itth atth e Cam e ron of "T1" and "Alie ns " w ouldn't
s tre tch ing H am ilton w ay be yond h e r th e s pian capacitie s and
h ave talke d th is w ay. Butanoth e r big-budge tform ula for e ns uring R O I is re s ulting in w h at s e e m s m ore th an anyth ing lik e a parody of
th atth ings m us tbe m ade as s im ple for th e audie nce s as pos s ible;plotand Faye D unaw ay in "M om m y D e are s t" -- h as to give us th at
ch aracte r im plaus ibilitie s are to be h andled th rough dis traction rath e r th an gooe y "I face th e future w ith h ope , be caus e if a Te rm inator
re s olve d th rough e xplanation.
15(Around w h ich th e s e curity m us t be s h ock ingl y lax.) can learn th e value of h um an life , m aybe w e can, too" voi-
16Th at's th e m ovie 's m ain pl ot, butlet's obs e rve h e re th atone of "T2'''s ce ove r atth e ve ry e nd.
s ubplots actually e ch oe s Cam e ron's Sch w arze ne gge r dilem m a and cre ate s Th e point is th at h e ad-clutch ingly ins ipid s tuff lik e th is
a k ind of w e ird m e ta-cine m atic irony. W h e re as "T1" h ad argue d for a
ce rtain k ind of m e taph ys icalpas s ivity (i.e ., fate is unavoidable, and puts an e ve r h e avie r burde n of im portance on "T2"'s digital
Sk yne t's atte m pts to alte r h is tory s e rve only bring itabout.) "Te rm inator e ffe cts , w h ich now m us t be s tunning e nough to dis tract us
2"'s m e taph ys ics are m ore active . In "T2," th e Connors tak e a page from from th e form ulaic void at th e s tory's ce nte r, w h ich in turn
Sk yne t's book and try to h e ad off th e fore ordaine d nuclear h olocaus t, firs t
by trying to k illSk yne t's inve ntor and th e n by de s troying Cybe rdyne 's labs m e ans th at e ve n m ore m one y and dire ctionalatte ntion m us t
and th e 1s tTe rm inator's CPU (th ough w h y Joh n Connor s pe nds h alf th e be lavis h e d on th e film 's F/X. Th is s ort of cycle is s ym pto-
m ovie carrying th e de adly CPU ch ip around in h is pock e tins te ad of jus t
th row ing itunde r th e firs tavailable s te am roller re m ains unclear and
irk s om e ). Th e pointh e re is th atth e protagonis ts ' atte m pts to re vis e th e
"s cript" of h is tory in "T2" parallelth e dire ctor's h aving to m uck around
w ith "T2"'s ow n s criptin orde r for Sch w arze ne gge r to be in th e m ovie .
M ultivalentironie s lik e th is -- w h ich re q uire th atfilm audie nce s k now all
k inds of be h ind-th e -s ce ne s s tuff from w atch ing Ente rtainm e ntTonigh tand
re ading Pre m ie re m agazine -- are notcom m e rcialpos tm ode rnis m atit's 17(H is h air doe s n't q uite catch on fire in th e m ol
te n s te e l,th ough , w h ich
fine s t. provok e s intriguing s pe culation on w h atit's s uppos e d to be m ade of.)
m atic of th e ins idious th re e -part loop th at ch aracte rize s Spe -
cialEffe cts Porn --

O NE: As tounding digitaldinos aur / tornado / volcano / Te r-


m inator e ffe cts th at cons um e alm os t allth e dire ctor's cre ative
atte ntion and re q uire m as s ive financialcom m itm e nt on th e
partof th e s tudio;

TW O : A cons e q ue nt ne e d for guarante e d m e gabuck R O I,


w h ich e ntails th e form ulaic e lem e nts and e as y s e ntim e nt th at
w illas s ure m as s appe al(plus w illtrans late e as ily into oth e r
language s and culture s , for th os e im portantfore ign s ales ...);

TH R EE: A dire ctor -- ofte n one w h o's s h ow n gre at talent in


e arlie r, les s e xpe ns ive film s -- w h o is now s o cons um e d w ith
re alizing h is s pe ctacular digitalvis ion, and s o de pe nde nt on
th e s tudio's m one y to bring th e F/X off, th at h e h as ne ith e r
th e leve rage nor th e e ne rgy to figh t for m ore inte re s ting or
originalplots /th e m e s /ch aracte rs .

-- and th us yie lds th e tw o m os t im portant corollary form ula-


tions of th e Inve rs e Cos tand Quality Law :

(ICQL(a)) Th e m ore lavis h and s pe ctacular a m ovie 's s pe cial


e ffe cts , th e s h ittie r th at m ovie is going to be in allnon-F/X
re s pe cts . For obvious s upporting e xam ples of ICQL (a), s e e
line s 1-2 of th is article and/or also "Juras s ic Park ," "Inde -
pe nde ntD ay," "Forre s tGum p," e tc.

(ICQL(b)) Th e re is no q uick e r or m ore e fficie nt w ay to k ill


w h at is inte re s ting and originalabout an inte re s ting, original
young dire ctor th an to give th at dire ctor a h uge budge t and
lavis h F/X re s ource s . Th e num be r of s upporting e xam ples of
ICQL (b) is s obe ring. H ave a look , e .g., at th e diffe re nce
be tw e e n R odrigue z's "ElM ariach i" and h is "From D us k to
D aw n," be tw e e n D e Bont's "Spe e d" and "Tw is te r," be tw e e n
Gilliam 's "Brazil" and "Tw e lve M onk e ys ," be tw e e n Bi-
ge low 's "Ne ar D ark " and "Strange D ays ." O r ch art Cam e r-
on's indus try ris e and artis tic de cline from "T1" and "Alie ns "
th rough "T2" and "Th e Abys s " to -- de ar Lord -- "True Lie s ."
U.S. e nte rtainm e nt m e dia re port th at Cam e ron's ne w "Titan-
ic," curre ntly in Am e rican re leas e , is (once again) th e m os t
e xpe ns ive and te ch nically am bitious film of alltim e . D oubt-
les s , Britons h ave be e n pricing tre nch coats and lubricants in
anticipation of its arrivalin th e UK .

Th e auth or of th e nove l"Infinite Je s t," D avid Fos te r W allace h as be e n


called by Th e Guardian's Jam e s W ood "a s upe rb com e dian of culture ." H is
ne w book , "A Suppos e dly Fun Th ing I'llNe ve r D o Again," is a collection
of s h arp, playfuland h um orous e s s ays th attouch on e ve ryth ing from
D avid Lynch to th e e q uivocalre lations h ip be tw e e n nove lis ts and
te levis ion. Fullof as tonis h ing ve rbalde xte rity, im pis h w itand off-th e -w all
analys is , th e is fre s h , funny and h uge ly e nte rtaining.

"A Suppos e dly Fun Th ing I'llNe ve r D o Again" is publis h e d in pape rback
by Abacus on 5 Fe bruary at£6.9 9

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