Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Role Of Exposition In DEEP RISING

This is one of my favorite images from the 1998 Piscatorial Love epic, DEEP RISING.  Doesn't it remind you of this scene from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE?

I couldn't find an image on Google of Gene Hackman AND the steam jet, but this photo at least shows the right scene, complete with the red steam valve.  WE'VE ALL SEEN THAT MOVIE SO MANY TIMES.  Hackman does what he needs to in order to get his band of plucky Naked Ape survivors AWAY FROM THE FISH, and the operative in the image at the top coolly takes note of the menace, THEN GETS BACK TO BUSINESS -- bringing fish and Naked Apes together.  It's so symmetrical, you know?

...But I've strayed from the original intent of this entry.  I saw DEEP RISING for the first time in a while the other night, and it always leaves me with the same small irritation plucking at what's left of my frontal lobes.  I thought I might not notice it as much this time, but this week I noticed it more, not less.  So here's my question:  WHAT THE HECK IS UP WITH SIMON CANTON?  Remember that guy?

Yes!  Anthony Heald, so well-loved for his interpretation of the role of Dr. Chilton in THE SILENCE OF THE CLAMS LAMBS, made a crazy sideways leap from cruise ship investor to Exposition Lad in this movie.  He plays the same effete know-it-all in both LAMBS and DEEP RISING, but the subject matter is quite different.  When he's not wringing his hands in DEEP RISING about the rate of return on the money he put into this venture, he's explaining, seemingly out of nowhere, what ate the passengers (an "Octalus"), where she came from (a deep-sea trench, where they grow 'em bigger) and la de da.  Where he's getting this twaddle is rather unclear.  Until the very end of the picture, almost their whole awareness of what's recruiting stalking them is a lot of groaning sounds in the pipes overhead and the fact that they can't find anyone on board.  Let me point out that not one drop of the information Canton provides, REGARDLESS of where he got it, helps them avert the recruitment efforts of the film's key operative.  DOES THIS REMIND US OF ANYONE ELSE, MAYBE FROM ANOTHER 1998 FILM ABOUT PISCATORIAL LOVE?

That's right!  Matthew Broderick playing Worm Guy in FRAUDZILLA GODZILLA!  Broderick's character -- based roughly on Dr. Yamane from the seminal 1954 GODZILLA -- was brought in out of nowhere to comment on the reproductive capacity of the aquatic reptile.  WHY, I COULD NOT TELL YOU.  So what if the monster is self-fertile?  YOU MAY WELL ASK.  She came from the ocean; she eats fish; she is much, much bigger than you are; and she wants to add some featherless bipeds to her diet. HOW MUCH MORE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Well, many things, in fact.  But the Shaved Monkeys rarely seem to want to ask the important questions, IF THEY ARE EVEN AWARE OF THEM:

>> Why such a big Octalus?  COULD THIS BE THE SPECIAL CRUISE-SHIP VERSION CREATED BY PISCATORIAL R&D?  Nobody ever asks.  (Which is actually fine with me.)

>> Is this the real reason the absurd, topheavy cruise ship in the movie is a dumb thing to invest in? 

>> Why is nobody impressed by the fact that as soon as Canton launched this crazy floating hotel, it started attracting criminals like Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen), Mr. Hanover (Wes Studi) and Finnegan (Treat Williams)?  Is that the real reason it's a dumb thing to invest in an absurdly topheavy cruise ship?

>> Even after the last survivors made landfall, nobody stopped to ask whether the whole setup BENEFITED BOTH SIDES OF THE INTERACTION.  The landscum got rid of a collection of their scummiest characters -- the rich, and the Naked Apes who prey on them -- in one fell swoop.  Meanwhile, the Octalus got some really tasty recruits.  The recruits, for their part, can stop scrabbling after dollars and finally meet Dagon.  IS THERE A DOWNSIDE TO THIS FOR ANYONE?

>> Even after the last survivors made landfall, there were fresh problems waiting for them on the island.  And the only place to run?  Back into the ocean.  IS SPENDING THAT MUCH TIME ON AN OCEAN THAT WANTS TO EAT YOU the real reason it's dumb to invest in an absurd, topheavy cruise ship?

>> If Fraudzilla is self-fertile, does that mean she is the only one?  Or are there a lot of them lurking at the bottom of Long Island Sound?  That might be important to know. 

>> What if a unique, but self-fertile Fraudzilla had twins?  And what if twins turned out to run in the family, huh?  At that point you'd be OFF AND RUNNING, am I right?  RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE.

But I stray from my point again.  It just seems to me that almost every one of these movies has an Exposition Lad inserted, with or without a good reason from the fish point of view.  But I suspect they are absolutely necessary from a landscum point of view.  They seem to really feel they have DONE SOMETHING about the problem once Exposition Lad arrives and starts nattering away about nothing. In real life, as in the movies, as soon as an unanswered question pops up the Naked Apes are getting in line to explain it away.

Your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to put a smile on MY face by targeting Exposition Lad.  KILL him.  EAT him.  Let them all see how much his knowledge protects him from the fish.


Anonymous Doctor Kaiju said...

Thank you for review! Although I've only seen clips of this film, I am very familiar with "Expositional Lad."

This also occurs in "Phantoms," "Manitou," even "Alien" kind of.

I would kill them, but I have diarrhea.

1:50 PM  

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