STARRING: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck
1998, 144 Minutes, Directed by: Michael Bay
Meeting overheard at studio exec's office, Hollywood:
Technical/script advisor: "Well, I've read the script and,
uh, I must tell out his, that, um, it's been done before. The whole earth
about to be destroyed by a giant meteor thing. Back in 1979 there was
this awful Meteor movie starring Sean Connery
and, yes, this year they did Deep Impact, with
Morgan Freeman and Robert Duval. So I don't know what the angle would
be . . ."
Studio exec: "Bruce Willis and Michael Bay, who directed
The Rock and Bad Boys. What else does one need?"
Technical/script advisor: "Um yeah, but would people want
to see the same movie again?"
Studio exec: "There are only three plots in Hollywood - and
the people are suckers for them every time "
Technical/script advisor: "Three? Judging from this script
I thought there were less."
Studio exec: "Lissen here, people don't care! Why do you think
all those sequels rehashing the same plot year after year keeps on being
made? Who wants to cope with a new plot?"
Technical/script advisor: "Um okay, but there are some other
Studio exec: "Shoot."
Technical/script advisor: "Nothing makes any scientific sense:
any meteorite the size of Texas would have been picked up by some amateur
astrologer years before it would strike the Earth, that is, if NASA did
didn't see it coming. Like in Deep Impact, you know."
Studio exec: "Doesn't matter - if audiences can buy a thirty
storey lizard like they did in Godzilla, they
will buy this. There must a clock ticking, ya know, to create tension "
Technical/script advisor: "Yeah well, as your script advisor
I must advise you that some of the scenes that has to happen before a
one minute deadline actually takes about five minutes."
Studio exec: "Done it before nobody complained. The
clock must be ticking. The editing must be quick and the soundtrack must
be LOUD so that even when nothing exciting is happening it must seem
that something important and exciting is happening "
Technical/script advisor: "Oh, that's another thing: this
must be the noisiest meteor in the galaxy. People shouting at one another,
the roar of engines, the crashes and booms and explosions. There is no
sound in outer space "
Studio exec: "If you make the soundtrack VERY loud then you'll
hammer the audience mercilessly so that they can't hear themselves think
about plot inconsistencies!"
Technical/script advisor: " there's no sound because
there's no atmosphere. So, like this one scene, in which the shuttle crash-landed
and is seen burning!"
Studio exec: "There'll be LOUD songs by Aerosmith."
Technical/script advisor: "Are you making a pop video or
Studio exec: "What's the difference?"
Technical/script advisor [checking his notes nervously]: "Uhm,
okay, gravity also seems to be acting selectively. For example, there's
gravity inside the space station Mir - which is impossible. After all,
it was partially built to study the long-term effects of zero gravity
on the human body."
Studio exec: "There'll be EXPLOSIONS!
LOUD EXPLOSIONS! REALLY BIG ONES!"
Technical/script advisor: "I, uhm, get that. But you see
there can't be real explosions in outer space "
Studio exec: "Then what's the point of a movie if there aren't
any LOUD explosions?"
Technical/script advisor: "I dunno. Science fiction like
2001 used to create a sense of wonder by exploring the
otherness of outer space."
Studio exec: "This is an ACTION movie - it'll work better
as an action movie than a science fiction movie. Even people who notice
all these things will find themselves strangely enjoying the movie despite
their misgivings. After all, we have lame ONE-LINERS! It worked for Arnie
in those Terminator movies, after all."
Technical/script advisor: "I can see that. But even as an
action movie why do you resort to the old cliché of whether the red or
blue wire should be cut? This movie has a bunch of cardboard cutouts as
main characters. In fact, the only character who seems vaguely human is
the NASA director, played by Bob Thornton. By the way, how did you get
such a respected actor to star in this movie?"
Studio exec: "A huge paycheck. A bit like yours . . ."
Technical/script advisor: "I see "
Studio exec: "But, for human interest we have that schmaltzy
relationship between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler - audiences are suckers
for that after Titanic."
Technical/script advisor: "But they aren't very believable
as a couple you know."
Studio exec: "So were Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
Technical/script advisor: "Point taken. I see what else was
there? I have a long list Speaking of NASA, they have none of the
technology you refer to. In fact, budget cuts have left them but a former
reflection of themselves. With enough money they could have put a man
on another planet by now "
Studio exec: "But didn't they put a man on the moon?"
Technical/script advisor: "Um, the moon is just that. A moon.
Not a planet."
Studio exec: "I see "
Technical/script advisor: "I don't
think you do, but anyway, why make fun of the Russian space program by
having the Mir blow up because of a loopy stereotyped cosmonaut? At least
they have some kind of manned orbital around the Earth even though it
is pretty decrepit and old. NASA doesn't even have something like that.
Don't you think that's rather patronizing? Like the rest of the movie.
All that America saving the world stuff again? Glorifying a space program
that would have been great had the Americans not decided to spend more
money on military spending instead?"
Studio exec: "A little American patriotism never hurt at
the box office. Like Independence Day and Air
Force One. We'll HYPE this movie to death and it'll make a killing!
But you dont really know anything about movies and the box office.
Technical/script advisor [in resignation]: "You're probably
right. I quit!"