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We’re Police Officers! We’re Not Trained to Handle This Kind of Violence!
When the request for today’s movie came from my friend Loni, I says “Fuck yes.” I not only know this movie, but I dig on this movie hardcore to the max. Is this a smart movie? Hell no! Is it comprised solely of the greatest actors of our time? Not by a long shot! Does it have a good message? No, not really. But is it fun? Shit yes. A big dumb action movie if there ever was one, I give you my review of Demolition Man, written by Peter M. Lenkov, Robert Scott Reneau, and Daniel Waters, directed by Marco Brambilla, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, Bob Gunton, Denis Leary, Glenn Shadix, Benjamin Bratt, Bill Cobbs, Rob Schneider, Jesse Ventura, and Grand L. Bush.
LA is a pretty shitty place in 1996. I don’t say “This movie’s version of LA” ’cause LA is still a pretty shitty place. Either way, violent criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) is holding a bunch of people hostage and only one person is willing to do anything about it. That man is Detective John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone). This badass mamma jamma busts in on Phoenix and starts whooping that ass, getting the building completely destroyed in the fray. Turns out that Phoenix’s hostages were not as dead as he led Spartan to believe, and Spartan is now responsible for their deaths. Both men get put into cryogenic prison, Spartan for 70 years, Phoenix for life. Somehow, in 2032, Phoenix comes up for parole first, and uses that (plus some new skills of mysterious origin) to escape. The world has become such a peaceful place and none of them know how to deal with Phoenix’s level of violence. Policeman Zachary Lamb (Bill Cobbs) suggests that Spartan be thawed out, being the best person at dealing with Phoenix. Obsessed with the old days, Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) is totally on board. Chief George Earle (Bob Gunton) is less enthused. But the man that saved the world and made it so safe for everyone, Doctor Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), told the Chief he could do anything within his power to stop Phoenix, and so Spartan is revived. Spartan needs to figure out this new time, while simultaneously trying to stop Phoenix from killing Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), who he feels strangely compelled to kill for some odd reason.
Not a smart movie, but definitely a fun movie. Many critics would hate on this movie for somewhat predictable story, some pretty awful dialogue, and mediocre performances, but that’s not what I offer you. I speak for the Every Man, for the working class. I dig this movie for it’s action and it’s fun. No one goes into this movie expecting to be blown away, but instead to see lots of people get blown away. There’s a lot of stuff you expect from this movie, and they don’t shy away from giving it to you. The characters all have one personality trait because that’s all they need. They love to throw out one-liners, which are hit and miss, and Bullock is going to throw them out, but get them very wrong. When Sly says “You’re on TV” before hitting Snipes with a TV set, that’s not a great line. When Simon says “You’re dead” and Sly says “You forgot to say ‘Simon says'” before electrocuting him, that works. When Bullock says “Let’s go down there and blow this guy”, apparently having forgotten “away” at the end, I couldn’t help but think the movie would have been more interesting if Bullock and Sly went down their and blew Snipes, Brown Bunny style! I don’t want to see it, but you couldn’t say the movie didn’t surprise you. I think Sly may have also responded to “See you in Hell” with a super-stinging “Not” retort. This was part of the dialogue during the last battle between Phoenix and Spartan, where the dialogue just seemed to have been taken out of a “What you’d expect to hear in an action movie” book and randomly thrown together, with no regard to if they made sense. I really liked when Sly says “You’re gonna regret this the rest of your life. Both seconds of it”. I also thought it was really funny that they were talking about Schwarzenegger having been president, which was such a ridiculous concept in 1993. Not as ridiculous to us in 2012, especially the ones of us from California. The story of the movie will not surprise you, but you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s just a fun movie. It’s like a classic action movie that was going on in the background of Back to the Future Part 2. They try to throw a little ill-conceived message in the end about not wanting the world to be so overly safe that you can’t be who you want to be, but there should be SOME control. It’s a bit “Duh”, but they don’t waste too much of your time beating you over the head with it. It actually looks pretty good too. It does look fairly futuristic, and throws a couple of cool ideas in there. They got a good deal of mileage out of the swear machine, cool stun batons, and self driving cars. Pretty interesting and good looking.
This movie does not raise many deep, philosophical questions, but one certainly has stuck with me since I first saw the movie: How do the three seashells work? I have a couple theories. The first, and most obvious, is that the shells are for scooping. Scoop once for each cheek, and one right down the middle. This would seem rather unsanitary, so I would assume they’re replaced into some kind of cleaning apparatus that completely disinfects them. This doesn’t seem like the best butt-cleaning solution because it’s really not much better than what we do now with toilet paper. Perhaps better for the environment that we’re not wasting paper, but I assume much worse because they’re reused. Another solution could be that these seashells weren’t actually seashells. Spartan could have seen something that resembled seashells and his neanderthal brain turned it into seashells. Perhaps a series of sponges or (and more hygienically) three seashell-shaped squeeze bottles filled with cleaning and disinfecting solution. Some theories on the interwebs assume that these seashells could, perhaps, actually be buttons that activate various stages of an elaborate bidet system. This would be very hygienic, but would probably be something Spartan could have discovered. There are some questions the world may never know the answer to, but we do have 20 years to figure that out.
Back to the review! The performances were what you expect out of this movie. Not great, but entertaining. Sly is in great shape in the movie, and lays a nice whoopin when it’s called for. He also pulls off being very puzzled by 2032. I could’ve done without having to see his ass and nuts when he was getting frozen, though. Snipes does a good deal of crazy in the movie as well. Sandra Bullock was the standout performance in the movie for me. She had a pretty adorable childlike innocence to her that I really liked. It also helps that she’s pretty. But she’s also kind of a whore. I mean, the chick mentally fucks Sly on the first date! I need a woman that respects herself, not some mind-slut!
Demolition Man definitely holds up for me. It’s the kind of big stupid fun you need sometimes. Fine story, hit and miss dialogue, cool action, and exactly the performances the movie calls for. It doesn’t aim to change the world, and barely tries to mean something. It just wants to entertain you, and I’m happy to say it does every time. I haven’t looked into how YOU can watch this movie, because it wasn’t necessary. It was already in my collection. Demolition Man gets “Looks like there’s a new shepherd in town” out of “Take this job and shovel it.”
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